GOD’S “FACE”

The Old Testament asserts that we cannot “see” God’s face and live. (Exodus 33:20)

Paul, in the New Testament, however, says: “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully even as I am fully known.” 1 Cor.13:12

How resolve this inter-testamental paradox?

I think the Old Testament was talking about “egos” – false selves that “die,” that is, become extinguished in any “direct” encounter with God. The New Testament, on the other hand, is talking about human beings who’ve been “born again” spiritually – when it becomes possible for a human spirit to actually engage with God’s Spirit directly because, qualitatively, and at the right place and right time, the two can overlap.

Even the briefest glimpse of God gets us “soaked” by Joy –

If God is Love, then, when we’re loving, even if only for a moment,
That’s when we experience God –
Not as a matter of belief, but of lived life.

Love is the aspect of God that resides inside us (Immanent) while Truth is the aspect of God that’s found outside us (Transcendent).

Experiencing the joy of God as a holy fountain inside us –
While having faith in a transcendent God
Who gifts us with significance, context, and meaning –

Turns out to be Heaven for most human beings!

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LET’S GET THIS STRAIGHT

Let’s get this straight:
God is not some kind of “super-human” who runs the universe –
God’s essential nature is one of “spirit” – such as “love” or “truth.”
Whoever experiences this, experiences “God”

So, the paramount goal is not to get into some place called “Heaven”
The goal – for each of us – spiritually –
Is to become love – become truth.

If this ends up as our reality – at least from time to time –
Then, when meeting other people, you’ll still be largely ignored,
But, subconsciously, they might intuit they’ve encountered something “Holy”
And that would be true –
And that would be you

So long as you remember
Never to take credit for it.

HEAVEN

When we fully accept and enjoy dwelling in God’s “home” –
(Which, of course, encompasses the entire universe)
While, at the same time, invite God to dwell inside us –
(By being willing to open up the spiritual doors to our heart).

By many, this can be experienced as “Heaven.”

IS “HEAVEN” ONLY A CARTOON?

Every “outer” God is a false God
And that’s why “Jesus” can’t be substituted for our own soul.

Everyone needs to walk by themselves –
To talk, and to make things –
At some point, each of us simply has to let go of all the “outer hands”
And trust to one’s “inner self.”

This might be taking a big risk, however –
Because if we’re not fully ready –
We might fall down –
Yet, without discovering our true self, we would be nothing –
Other than an imitative puppet – even though fairly effective in the world
And acknowledged to be such.

There’s really no approach to the real God without being one’s true self
Isn’t that obvious?

Jesus tried to explain this, in his teaching and life –
But people didn’t “get” what he was talking about
And so developed theologies of dutifully following “Others” –
Sometimes called “God” or “Jesus,” and, in other religions, something else –
But it’s still the “Other” – and not our true selves.

We know this is a serious problem
That the world religions, by their very nature, have been unable to address –

The essential problem is that many of us live too much like “puppets” –
In which case, “Heaven,” for us, would be a cartoon too.

DOWN HERE ON EARTH

If “life” after life were guaranteed
It might be easier to accept wasting this one.

But are we really so different from the leaves
Which bud, sway awhile in the wind,
And, eventually, join an autumnal heap –

Are they also going to heaven?

Or, rocks, which we know eventually turn into dust –
Will they one day find themselves reconstituted as “heavenly” rocks?

Paul tells us that we’ll have a resurrected body, just not our own flesh and bones –
But imperishable, perhaps hard as emerald.

Other people believe they can go on living – at least in memory –
Which is why they spend so much time building monuments to themselves.

But aren’t we all going to “drop” – eventually – just like the leaves?

And should we complain about this –
Given a lifetime of free activity,
And, hopefully, love –
Hasn’t that been a terrific bargain?

If death is real –
Then, logically, each passing moment is a unique miracle –
With the love we experience constituting our only “true heaven” –
And what we should be praying for –

Especially since – after we pass over –
Love will probably be the only gift we’re permitted to retain.

BORN AGAIN

“I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” John 3:3

Christianity teaches that Jesus was referring to salvation based upon a belief in him.

But Jesus was actually talking about being born “into the Spirit” – not about a commitment to himself.

So, what does it mean for one to be born “into the Spirit”?

I think, first, this requires a determination of the meaning of one’s “self.”

Each of us is born as a “true self” – but, at this moment in history, a “true self” probably wouldn’t be able to survive past his or her childhood. That’s why a person, while still young, accepts the substitution of an “ego” or false self in place of their true self – so that they can successfully integrate their “self” into the world – i.e., with their parents, community, and surrounding culture, including their nation and religion. This successor “self,” in most cases, takes the form of the strong and healthy ego that Freud described.

But what are the costs of living through an “ego” self, no matter how successful it may be in the world?

Think about consciousness as an open circle. Then picture the part accessible to the ego as a very thin slice – maybe 10% – 20%. From early childhood on, that’s the part of ourselves we choose to live within – with all our experiences needing to fit within that narrow slice or be excluded. Excluded how? The ego self requires, as the price of an effective existence, that each and every experience outside the scope of its chosen roles be methodically and ruthlessly pushed back into the unconscious – sealing those experiences off from our consciousness.

So, what happens when we’re “born again”? Upon being born again, we gain access to all our consciousness – all 360 degrees of it – and are able to experience full reality. We become completely “free” and totally open to all our experiences – just like when we first came into the world as a newborn baby – but we also retain all the experience and knowledge of the person we had become by the time we were “reborn.” This rebirth, however, doesn’t happen to an ego – it only happens when we’re able to break free of the ego we had earlier accepted – and start living outside it. That’s what Zen training, for example, prepares us for – to get “outside yourself” in order to become “free of your ego.” This is essentially the same path which Jesus taught – that we need to be “born again” in order to become our “true self” – the self God originally provided us with.

Once you become your true self, you’ll enter “Heaven” – and no longer be creating karmic problems in this world. That’s because you’ll be experiencing everything clearly – by being able to see yourself at the same time as you’re participating in the world – by an ability to stand “outside” yourself. This makes it possible for you to see what God wants you to do in any given situation – just like Jesus was able to – allowing you to act the same as God would act if God were a human being like yourself.

Let me say this as simply as possible – once you find your “true self,” you won’t be Jesus, but you’ll have become someone like Jesus – because you’ll have done what he recommended – spiritually, you’ll be “born again.”

All the “Angels in Heaven” start singing when this happens –

or perhaps,

You’ll simply be able to hear the angels who’re always singing – once you’ve gained the “ears to hear” that everyone receives upon being “born again.”

ADJUSTING TO THE COMING REALITY

“Heaven” is a place many wish for –
But wishing doesn’t make it real.

It’s not just children who cherish fairytales –
We all want to believe in them.

From a personal perspective,
If life doesn’t continue after our given span, it loses some meaning –
But, of course, that’s not how God sees it!

God gifts us with life and almost infinite opportunities to love –
But if we insufficiently value this –
Counting on greater gifts to come –
We are fools –
Entertaining, but, ultimately tragic, fools.

Living within the stream of life –
Going fast – and then – towards the end – even faster –
Working, eating – having fun –
When we finally reach the “ocean” –
It looks like, at least in our present form, we may simply disappear.

It’s no different than anything else –
We are what we are,
And, then, one day, perhaps, come to an “end”.

It’s a joyful sort of tragedy –
Which we’ve been fortunate to participate in –

Our minds, sometimes, however, refuse to accept this –
But our hearts know better –

Our hearts are always willing to give our minds permission
To adjust to the coming reality.

CAN TRANSCENDENCE BE ACHIEVED IN ONE GIANT LEAP?

Not normally. I think it comes more often in a series of modest hops, skips, and tiny jumps.

Moses went up to the mountaintop and got an entire set of laws for his people – in one trip.
Buddha sat under his friendly tree until, one day, it came – suddenly.

But there’s another way:

Every time you hear what you recognize as the truth – about anything –
Immediately accept it!

It’s not so much that these little truths can add up to transcendence, even though sometimes they might, but doing so strengthens your courage – and that does matter –
After all, experiencing God is not for the weak-hearted.

The same holds true for love, beauty, and justice – immediately accept and affirm them whenever they appear in your life.

This is a spiritual journey deep into the valley of the Holy – that is, the closer you get to God, the more exciting life becomes, the more intense the colors – the more “real” everything appears.

Your conventional self usually resists taking chances like this – especially in traveling towards God. However, the acceptance of a blind stasis, is your real Satan – i.e., the being, force, or energy that desires you to “stop” and “die” in every possible manner.

So, if Satan is “Death,” in all its various entropic forms; God, of course, must be “Life,” as represented in all its amazing manifestations. However, don’t make the mistake that God and Satan reside “geographically” in Heaven or Hell; they live, instead, in your heart where you are constantly having to make choices.

That’s why it’s imperative for you to develop healthy spiritual habits so that, without even thinking about it, you’ll always choose life.

A superhuman leap occasionally may achieve transcendence, but it’s only small steady steps in the right direction that will reliably get you there.