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Posts Tagged ‘G-d’

OTM of Being Human

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on January 6, 2010


“You don’t get harmony when everybody sings the same note.”
Doug Floyd

I participated in a discussion about ‘What is Our True Nature?’

In one post I wrote:

My question [What if we ARE awake but believe that we are asleep?] comes from all the ‘high-flying spiritual stuff’ that we pander to each other in our attempts to figure out what is often – to my mind at least – either inexplicable or for lack of better word, redundant.

We chase enlightenment, awakening, salvation, tzaddikheit, as if it’s the holy grail, at the beckoning of others who somehow manage to convince us that we are all asleep and need what ever ‘cure’ they have for that.

But can humanness be ‘cured’? Is it supposed to be cured?

One of my favorite Rabbi Sayings goes: When I get to heaven, they will not ask me why I was not Moses, but why I was not Zuzya.” (Rabbi Zuzya of Hanipoli)

…perhaps “Our True Nature” doesn’t exist, all that is is Your True Nature and My True Nature, and the point is to honor that and live it the best each of us can?

I am Unique. G-d Created me in Their Image, and I will worship Him as I see fit. I will seek Her in my way and play my Music my way. You pander your solutions to me, proffering your nuggets of lead at me, claiming they are gold – but they are stones to me, they do not come from my claim, that G-d gave me on the Day I was born, the Day She whispered my Name and said: You are Mine!

What if we do not have to chase anything, what if all our cures for Humanness are nothing but chaff and ash, and all there is is the Whisper: You are Mine and the answer is a simple: "Yes!"?

Posted in spirituality | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Sukkot – Dwelling in Trust

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on September 26, 2007


Torah Portion: Leviticus 22:26 – 23:44 & Numbers 29:12 – 29:16 Haftarah Zechariah 14:1-21

Focal point: Vayikra/Lev 23:34

“Say to the Israelite people: On the fifteenth day of this seventh month there shall be the Feast of Booths to the Lord, [to last] seven days.”

“Sukkot reminds us that ultimate security is found not within the walls of our home but in the presence of God and one another. Indeed, there is a midrash that says that sukkot are not buildings at all but the glory of God. This holiday helps us understand that sometimes the walls we build to protect us serve instead to divide us, cut us off, lock us in.

The walls of our sukkot may make us vulnerable, but they make us available, too, to receive the kindness and the support of one another, to hear when another calls out in need, to poke our heads in to see whether anybody is up for a chat and a cup of coffee. In contrast, our walls of concrete and steel can enslave us in our own solitude and loneliness. Sukkot reminds us that freedom is enjoyed best not when we are hidden away behind our locked doors but rather when we are able to open our homes and our hearts to one another.” From Kolel

This ties in very nicely with what I quoted from Alcoholics Anonymous when I wrote about G-d, Promises and The Days of Awe:

That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that G-d is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.” (Alcoholics Anonymous p83-84)

On Yom Kippur we had a close encounter of the third degree with G-d during which we looked at who we are, what we have been and how to go on, and now on Sukkot we are asked to trust that G-d is going with us into the New Year, just like He went with the People during the forty years of wanderings in the desert. In fact we are to physically build that trust as we build the sukkah, and dwell in it for seven days, eat in there and invite our friends into our sukkah to share with us. And we are to visit others’ sukkot and share with them.

The sukkah is a fragile building, but as it is made of tree branches it is also resilient. It gives some protection from view, but that’s it. Trust is the same, it does give protection – inner protection – because when we trust, G-d, ourselves and others we build strength and wholeness, we learn to deal with the past, let go of it and move on with our Program trusting that G-d will care for us like He took care of our ancestors.

In one of our Bed Time Prayers we say: “Spread over us Your Sukkah of peace, direct us with Your good counsel, and save us for Your own Name’s sake.”

There are many versions of this line – some have say “wings” others say “presence” – but I like this version best, because it indicates something tangible, a structure, and since it’s G-d’s it’s constant, it’s always there for us, to take shelter in and learn more about what trust and wholeness is.

Amen

Posted in Sukkot, Torah, Weekly Parasha | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

G-d, Promises and The Days of Awe

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on September 21, 2007


If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that G-d is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.” (Alcoholics Anonymous p83-84)

“This Phase” of course refers to working the 12 Steps of Recovery 1-9.

Note that it says, “before we are half way through…” – what’s half-way through 9? 4.5 – so perhaps we are teetering on the edge of Step 5 – what an excellent opportunity to do our 5th Step right before Yom Kippur, so that we can turn to G-d having cleaned out all that old shame, fear, guilt about what we have lived through! Regardless what we decide to do, the result will be a renewal.

Another angle:

“When you make any vow to the L-rd your G-d, you must pay it without delay…If you refrain from making a vow, that is no sin for you; but you must be careful to perform any promise you have made with your lips.” (Deut. 23:22)

I seldom make promises to G-d, but I sure make them to myself all the time – and somehow I think Torah here is talking about both kinds of promises. Promising things and not keeping them, forgetting that I made that promise – somehow I and G-d always end up with the shorter end of the stick in the Promise department. They get shuffled out as “not important”. But Torah says that they are. One reason for this is that broken promises, or non-fullfilled promises erodes our trust and our sense of self-worth. Constantly making little promises to oneself and not following through is demoralizing. Torah abhors broken people, so Torah creates a mitzvah – “Follow through also on the vows you make to G-d (and yourself).”

Yom Kippur has a very specific formula to take care of the erosion of our souls tha comes from making all those little promises, commitments and resolutions to ourselves and G-d that we failed to honor: Kol Nidre.

The Ashkenazi version, which has “from this Day of Atonement until the next (whose happy coming we await)” rather than “from the last Day of Atonement until this one”, in my mind is rather useless in terms of having any healing properties, so I will quote the Sefardi version:

“All vows, obligations, oaths, and anathemas, whether called ‘konam,’ ‘konas,’ or by any other name, which we may have vowed, or sworn, or pledged, or whereby we may be bound, from the last Day of Atonement until this one, we do repent. May they be deemed absolved, forgiven, annulled, and void, and made of no effect; they shall not bind us nor have power over us. The vows shall not be reckoned vows; the obligations shall not be obligatory; nor the oaths be oaths.”

This is said 3 times – so it should give us plenty of time to let go of all those failed promises made to ourselves and G-d, during the past year, so we can step into His Presence and get straightened out, so our recovery can continue unhindered, that we may be all we can in the time until the next Yom Kippur.

May our sealing be for life, goodness and healing!

Amen

Posted in The Days of Awe, Torah | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

On the Matter of Belief in G-d

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on August 21, 2007


My very good friend Dale Husband commented

if you rely only on scientific methods for knowledge, without any input from any religious dogmas, then the idea of a Supreme Creator might occur to you as a hypothesis, but an untested, unfalsified, and therefore unscientific hypothesis is all that it would ever be.”

Which gave me reason to say:

“Correct. Which is why it’s both bad science and bad religion to mix them with each other. But it is equally bad science and bad religion to claim either redundant.

To me this is where Philosophy enters the scene – it is apparently possible to arrive at the hypothesis of a Prime Cause through experience, as well as it is to arrive at the hypothesis of a Non-Prime Cause through experience – but both are dependent on further elaboration of the experiential evidence from a personal stand point to have any meaning. From a philosophical point of view both are equally valid.
It is when we elevate unfalsified hypothesis’ to doctrine that we enter the realm of bad theology and bad science.”

I then had the idea that:

“One of these days I am going to give the justifications behind my personal beliefs, *lol* I seem to be running into the issue a lot these days.”

So I’ll have a go at it…:-)

I agree that there is no scientific evidence either to prove or disprove the existence of G-d, and in fact such evidence is not needed. Why is that? Because when we enter the realm of theology we also enter the realm of Belief, where there is nothing to guide the human mind but circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence is defined as ‘evidence providing only a basis for inference about the fact in dispute’. Basically what it means is that there is no hard, physical – scientific – evidence for the hypothesis of G-d being a reality in the Universe, but that it is possible to understand experiential evidence in such a manner. Circumstantial evidence is a weak form of evidence, but it is nevertheless a valid form of evidence. In matters of Law and Science it needs physical evidence to back it up, but for the purpose of personal meaning it works just fine.

When the Author of Tehillim/Psalm 8 says:

“When I see Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and stars that You have established, 5. what is man that You should remember him, and the son of man that You should be mindful of him? 6. Yet You have made him slightly less than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and majesty. 7. You give him dominion over the work of Your hands; You have placed everything beneath his feet. 8. Flocks and cattle, all of them, and also the beasts of the field; 9. the birds of the sky and the fish of the sea, he traverses the ways of the seas. 10. O L-rd, our Master, how mighty is Your name in all the earth!”

he is looking at the Universe and all the wonders it holds and from this experiential evidence he concludes that SomeOne is ultimately responsible for this abundance of wonders. That is my personal position. To me the existence of all those wonders, from the microscopic one-celled organism to the Planet Itself and the Space beyond it is inference enough to spark a Belief in G-d as the Ultimate Cause of it all.

I find it difficult to accept the idea that the Universe as it appears to me on a daily basis is the result of chemical and physical laws, without any form of Ultimate Source.

Carl Sagan wrote:

How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, ‘This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant’? Instead they say, ‘No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.’

I feel that he was mistaken on one point – what the Hebrew Scriptures actually convey in terms of the Magnificence of our Universe and its Creator and what we are told it means are not the same thing. What is the basic dogma of a religion and what is what its Scriptures actually say is rather divergent matters. The seeming limits of experiences in the times when those Scriptures were presented to the world are just that SEEMING. We assume that because there is no detectable preserved Scientific understanding of the Universe among the authors of the Hebrew Bible that such Scientific understanding didn’t exist. The arrogance of such assumptions is staggering, in my opinion.

I would also like to disagree with the assertion he makes about what people of Faith say about G-d. I disagree simply because as one of those People of Faith I do not describe my G-d as little, nor do I disregard what Science says about the Universe and it’s intricate and magnificent mechanisms and laws, on the contrary I accept Science’s assertions of these matters, and in my mind it only increases the Magnificence of what I believe to be the Ultimate Source.

As I have said in other posts:

Many years ago I resolved the seeming conflict between Science and Religion by looking at what questions they answer respectively on the matter. I think perhaps I intuitively knew that the conflict lies not between the two Disciplines, but between the Disciples of both, because the answer to the conundrum of Science vs Religion I found looks as follows:

Torah/The Bible/Religion answers the Questions “Who and Why?“
Science/Evolutionary Theory answers the Questions “How, When and Where?“

in my opinion Science as such doesn’t give MEANING to human existence. It provides us with a basic idea of what we are in terms of biological, chemical and physical set-up, but it doesn’t explain the ontological aspects of human existence. It doesn’t explain why we, as a cultural species seem to be on the constant look-out for something beyond ourselves. It doesn’t answer the existential questions of human reality.

Correctly or incorrectly, Faith does explain and answer these queries to an extent that to most people seems satifactory, or at least enough to keep us looking.

Belief or non-belief in an Ultimate Source is a matter of personal preferences.

Ultimately I believe in G-d because I want to, because I need to and because I have found no reason not to. Belief in G-d as a statement is extremely personal and while the theological workings of such belief can be questioned and should be, ultimately it all boils down to very personal and very fundamental reasons, that cannot be questioned other than by the individual.

Posted in On the Matter of Belief in G-d | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The G-d Delusion Part 1

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on August 20, 2007


The First Chapter of The God Delusion:

Also available here at NYTimes.com

“The boy lay prone in the grass, his chin resting on his hands. He suddenly found himself overwhelmed by a heightened awareness of the tangled stems and roots, a forest in microcosm, a transfigured world of ants and beetles and even – though he wouldn’t have known the details at the time – of soil bacteria by the billions, silently and invisibly shoring up the economy of the micro-world. Suddenly the micro-forest of the turf seemed to swell and become one with the universe, and with the rapt mind of the boy contemplating it. He interpreted the experience in religious terms and it led him eventually to the priesthood. He was ordained an Anglican priest and became a chaplain at my school, a teacher of whom I was fond. It is thanks to decent liberal clergymen like him that nobody could ever claim that I had religion forced down my throat.

In another time and place, that boy could have been me under the stars, dazzled by Orion, Cassiopeia and Ursa Major, tearful with the unheard music of the Milky Way, heady with the night scents of frangipani and trumpet flowers in an African garden. Why the same emotion should have led my chaplain in one direction and me in the other is not an easy question to answer. A quasi-mystical response to nature and the universe is common among scientists and rationalists. It has no connection with supernatural belief. In his boyhood at least, my chaplain was presumably not aware (nor was I) of the closing lines of The Origin of Species – the famous ‘entangled bank’ passage, ‘with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth’. Had he been, he would certainly have identified with it and, instead of the priesthood, might have been led to Darwin’s view that all was ‘produced by laws acting around us’:

Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

Carl Sagan, in Pale Blue Dot, wrote:

How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, ‘This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant’? Instead they say, ‘No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.’ A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.”

Dawkins draws some weird conclusions about Einstein and his faith later on in the Chapter – I will get to those as I go. Initially (in the quoted section above) he makes the same mistake that many other Religionists do – he assumes that if the experience is similar, the out-come must necessarily be the same. That is actually a logical fallacy, common, but one would expect a scientist like Dawkins not to make it.

He equates “similar” with “same”, when he relates the stories of the two boys and questions why the Anglican Priest didn’t become an Atheist Scientist, like himself.

Similar= Related in appearance or nature; alike though not identical.

Same= Identical with what is about to be or has just been mentioned.

From Dictionary.com

No two people experience their surroundings identically. That is simply not possible. But the same Aurora Borealis can very well evoke completely contradictory responses. To argue that similar experiences by necessity should lead to the same response in two different people only shows the Dawkins in his quest for proof that he is right, rather than a scientific exploration of the evidence – which at best would lead him down an agnostic path, is very much employing presuppositions about the nature of empirical data arrived through non-scientific means. Or in short – Dawkins assumes that the interpretation of the experience of the Anglican Priest, which lead him to belief in G-d is wrong, simply because it lead to something Dawkins cannot accept.

Dawkins prejudice against religion, and thus, I guess, his need to disprove it becomes very visible in the first paragraphs: “It is thanks to decent liberal clergymen like him that nobody could ever claim that I had religion forced down my throat.”

That smacks of dishonesty, and makes me wonder if Dawkins isn’t in all actuality re-acting to exactly the kind of force-feeding that he claims he was not exposed to. He equates religion with force – despite the fact that he also claims that the Anglican Priest he starts his first chapter with has not represented any such force.

Employing Giants like Carl Sagan and Albert Einstein (I’ll get to him later 🙂 ), and twist them to fit his own agenda, is not only dishonest – it’s immoral.

Carl Sagan’s ideas is very clearly reflected in Psalm 8:4-10:

“When I see Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and stars that You have established, 5. what is man that You should remember him, and the son of man that You should be mindful of him? 6. Yet You have made him slightly less than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and majesty. 7. You give him dominion over the work of Your hands; You have placed everything beneath his feet. 8. Flocks and cattle, all of them, and also the beasts of the field; 9. the birds of the sky and the fish of the sea, he traverses the ways of the seas. 10. O Lord, our Master, how mighty is Your name in all the earth!”

It seems to me that the author of Psalm 8, Carl Sagan, the Anglican Priest and Richard Dawkins are all describing similar experiences!

I suppose that the portion of Carl Sagan’s work “The Blue Dot” that I linked to above, didn’t fit Dawkins ideas – but the portion that he quotes in his book, certainly doesn’t reflect the entirety of Carl Sagan’s Scope. It is also worth to note that two Giants Richard Dawkins choose to quote are both Jewish, and had a Jewish up-bringing. This does put their statements about G-d and the Universe in a slightly other light.

Judaism has the existence of G-d, or a Prime Cause, as an axiom. This is never questioned in Judaism – not in modern Judaism, and definitely in the Judaism brought to Carl Sagan. Carl Sagan lived an died a skeptic, an agnostic and a freethinker, but nowhere does he deny the existence of G-d. The manner of thinking, unique to Judaism and thus to its adherents is exactly the attitude of questioning and analyzing everything from a point of view of finding the truth of things and align those thoughts along lines of logic. It is very unlikely that someone Jewish would look at the Universe and come to the conclusion that there is nothing out there – it would be intellectually dishonest and a logical fallacy in and of itself, something Carl Sagan wouldn’t be guilty of, I am sure.

The thinking Dawkins ascribes to Carl Sagan (and later Albert Einstein) comes from an ignorance of the inner workings of intellectual Judaism and the manner in which Jews of Sagan’s and Einstein’s generations were trained from an early age to deal with intellectual problems, it is further driven by his need to prove the truth of Atheism.

Dawkins is a Religious Atheist – a Fundamentalist Atheist – which means he will be making the same logical mistakes Fundamentalists, whatever their Creed (and don’t be fooled – Atheism is a Creed to Dawkins) make and he is Preaching his Creed as well as ever any Evangelical Fundamentalist.

It was put very nicely in one of the Big Morning Papers here in Sweden on Saturday: “G-d doesn’t exist and Dawkins is His Prophet.”

It doesn’t mean that his message shouldn’t be taken seriously, or that Atheism as such is bad, but one need to realize that this is a man with an ego larger than his logic. He even has a page he calls “Converts Corner” with testimonial letters from readers who have converted to Atheism as a result of reading his books. In the end he is the one who comes across as delusional – not because he denies the veracity of Religion, but because he doesn’t draw the LOGICAL conclusions from the scientific evidence he is supposed be so well acquainted with. It shouldn’t land him in Fundamentalist Atheism, it should by all logic land him in Agnosticism.

I will come back and deal with the rest of the first chapter of Richard Dawkins’ book.

Posted in On the Matter of Belief in G-d, The God Delusion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

“G-d – Imaginary Friend for Grown-Ups?”

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on August 1, 2007


I was looking through my Favorite Blogs on Technocrati, and came across dC – de-conversion where Roopster blogged on G-d being an Imaginary Friend for Grown-Ups. I was so impressed and inspired by his (her?) Blog Entry, that I just had to Blog on his (her?) Blog…you know the way Bloggers usually do. This lead me to two other Blog Entries, both on the matter of Prayer. I have to hand it to you guys on De-Conversion – you are honest, diligent and extremely spiritual – if religious people took their relationship with G-d (or lack thereof) as seriously as you do, we would have a far better world than we have.

From God: An imaginary friend for grown-ups?

Have you ever had a conversation with God? Have you ever heard his voice? There was a time when I would have absolutely answered these questions in the affirmative. After all, modern day Christianity is all about having a “personal relationship” with God. As with all good relationships, this relationship includes regular communication.

In reflecting on my past relationship with God, I have to ask- How is this any different than my daughter’s relationship with her imaginary friend? I recall listening to long conversations between her and “Digget.” Well, the most obvious difference is I am an intelligent adult who can use logic and reason- and she was three. Needless to say, now as a teenager, she no longer talks to Digget. (Roopster)

From What’s the Point with Prayer?

Why pray to an omniscient god? After all, it by definition knows whatever you’re about to say already. There is absolutely nothing you can tell an omniscient god. There is no point in communicating your desires to it, because it knows already, even before you yourself are aware of them. (Simen)

From Prayer: Communion with yourself

However, as my life moved on and as I learned more about the philosophical problems posed by such a transcendent Deity and by the differing “Gods” offered us by scriptures and by theologians, I began to doubt not only the efficacy of prayer but even the very concept of “prayer.”

My devotion time changed from simply receiving pre-chewed information from Christian sources into a rich time of personal thought, journaling, and a more careful selection of reading material, ones from a vast variety of sources, not just from Christian ones. Once I abandoned those preconceived notions about how we are supposed to pray, I began to trust myself again and realized that I had never really taken it too seriously from the beginning. In fact, I don’t claim to ever have communed with “God,” but I got to know myself pretty well! I think THAT alone is what scares Christian leaders the most. (-Mystery of Iniquity)

Ever since I joined a 12 step Program back in the 90’s, the idea of “G-d as we understood Him…” has been one of my lead themes. I still remember when I was having trouble with my image of G-d – having spent most of my adolescence in a charismatic branch of Xtianism, I was badly damaged, as you can imagine – and my image of G-d, or “A Higher Power” was dark and vengeful. Anyway I sat in a meeting and was just meditating on the Topic, when I had this cartoony like (I often see life in cartoons before my inner eye) image of a Big Burly Leatherman (Tom of Finland style) on a Harley coming at me – crashing through a thick brick-wall. On his leather cap the word “Bear” stood out in white. At closer analysis of this image, I realized that the image fit very well with my Inner Kids’ need for a Big Brother they could take with them everywhere. Someone that would definitely be able to defend them if they were in trouble.

For several years I called my Higher Power “Bear”. I still do at times, and I still see that Burly Guy on a Harley when I am really scared. Talk about Imaginary Friend for Grown-Ups…:-)

So what is the purpose of Prayer – if G-d (or Bear) already knows everything I am going to say? For starters – G-d is not Co-Dependent. He isn’t mind-reading us (that would be extremely unethical). One of the things we humans seem to have big trouble with is asking for help, admitting that there are actually things we cannot or do not know how to handle – practicing this skill on G-d (who won’t be offended) is a good way to start…

Then there is the matter of “Do we know what we need?” – sometimes prayer is actually discussing with ourselves to sort and crystallize things, so they become clearer to US, not to G-d (Bear). So that we know how to proceed in giving ourselves the best we can.

The last Blog entry quoted here illustrates this very well – Pagans call it “Grounding and Centering“, and that is essentially what Prayer is – whether it is directed at G-d (Bear) or just focused on “devotion time”, because we enjoy spending time with ourselves and our favorite books, music, journal.

“Prayer” is a tool for focusing, for centering ourselves, for unloading what troubles us or for simply being – the recipient is of less relevance.

I Pray Therefore I am

Posted in G-d, Religion | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

 
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