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The Book of Job

ImageI started thinking recently about the story of Job in the Bible.  I don’t know about you, but I always disliked this story.  The story always left a bitter taste in my mouth, and I think many people feel that way about it.  However I recently began to see this story from an angle which makes more sense and teaches us about the nature of the human condition and the nature of suffering.  So the story of Job in a nutshell is:  Job is a happy guy who loves God, has a loving family and lives in abundance.  The devil one day challenges God and says that Job would not love God anymore if he did not have the abundance and happiness that God had given him.  To prove the devil wrong, God allows the devil to take everything from Job.  Job loses his family, his wealth, his land, his health, everything – except his own life.  When Job challenges God asking why, God answers him by telling him that he cannot know the depth and greatness of God, that he cannot understand the infinite nature of God.  So on the surface this appears to be a story about a mean God who would rather win a bet with the devil than protect one of his own.  But let’s go deeper and look at it from the higher perspective of oneness.  First, we know that in actuality God and self are not separate.  Thus God in the story can be seen as the higher self of Job.  The devil is therefore the lower self of Job.  One thing to notice is that things only start going wrong for Job when the devil enters the picture.  When it is just him and God everything is abundance and happiness, it is the devil’s willingness to bet against happiness that starts the cascade of negative events.  I do not believe in the devil, but there is an energy which the devil represents.  The devil represents the polar opposite of the higher self.  The higher self is always in alignment with the universe, the ‘devil’ is that which is not in alignment, it is that which allows you to believe that you are separate from God, separate from your higher self.  Sometimes this part of oneself is referred to as Ego.  To be clear, Ego is not evil, but Ego is the aspect of you which allows you to perceive yourself as a separate entity in the universe, and therefore can lead to a belief that you are separate from God (though it does not have to).  Ego is the ‘lower self’ not because it is bad or wrong, but only because distinct from the whole, rather than the connection to the whole itself, which is what the higher self is.

Many of us live in relative abundance while simultaneously worrying that if we lose what we have, that we would lose ourselves too.  Who would I be if I lost everything?  How would I survive?  If my happiness is gone, what is the purpose anymore?  In other words, if I lost everything, if the things that make me happy go away, would I ever be able to align with my higher self again (and recognize that ‘aligning with higher self’ could be considered another way of saying ‘love God’)?  We think it’s easy to align with our higher selves (i.e. – be ‘happy’, or ‘love God’) while we are in abundance, and that it would be hard if we are not in abundance.  This however is backward thinking, because alignment with source, with higher self, is where abundance flows from.  Abundance is not required first in order to have connection to higher self, rather connection with higher self is required first to have abundance.  Abundance means happiness, it does not mean material wealth alone.  Remember many who are very wealthy are also very unhappy, so that is not true abundance.  True abundance extends to all areas of life and translates into true contentment, joy and peace in life. 

Back to Job.  This is essentially a story, a cautionary tale of you will, of what occurs when the lower self (ego, played here by the devil) is allowed to challenge the higher self (God).  Because we are free beings, we are allowed to do this, we are allowed to follow our ego instead of our highest selves if we choose this.  From this perspective, Job is not a victim, rather this is a choice Job makes on another level.  This leads to disastrous consequences, in a word – suffering.  Job suffers when the ego is allowed to challenge his alignment with higher self.  Then when he is at the bottom, the lowest point, he asks a logical question: “why?”  God’s answer is that he cannot understand the infinite nature of God.  This is Job’s higher self trying speaking to the ego, the higher self trying to re-integrate with Job’s ego, by making him realize that the infinite aspect of who he is, is the part which truly has the power in this universe, and that the ego’s power is an illusion.  The ego of Job is disconnected and cannot know abundance, and will only know suffering.  The ego believes in limits, therefore it cannot know the abundance that the highest self does. 

I always find it interesting to put a new spin on an old story.  This story like many in the bible is easier to understand when we look at the symbolic nature of the story rather than trying to take it literally.  Humanity has evolved since this story was written, and the original way it was presented worked for people of that time perhaps, but it does not work for people now because we have evolved past this notion of the human as separate from the rest of the universe.  We have evolved past the notion of a punishing God.  This story still has a fundamental truth hidden within it, but needs to be looked at from a new angle to see it.

Love and Light,

Rhea Jamil

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Questions You Can’t Ask in Sunday School: Where did God Come From?

Galaxy

This would have been a blasphemous question at one time, and there is always part of me that loves these kinds of questions.  If it was once blasphemous, and it still can’t be asked in Sunday school, then it must be onto something.  Growing up in a traditional religious fashion, this was one of my earliest questions – if God created everything, then who or what created God?  I remember hearing a story once about a culture of people who believed that the earth rested on the back of a giant turtle.  When an anthropologist asked what the turtle was standing on, the reply was – ‘that’s easy, it’s turtles all the way down.’  I’m not even sure this is a true story but is illustrates my point – the elephant in the room of all thinking about any God, or turtles holding up the earth – is where did they come from in the first place?  What creates them?  What is the origin?  Then, as I grew spiritually and begin to see God as consciousness itself, as consciousness which is the creative force behind all things and is also in all things including me and you, the question of where did God come from also becomes the question of where did we come from, where did everything come from?  What was the original impetus that created all there is?  Just as scientists struggle to explain the beginning of the universe, we begin to realize it is all the same question.  How did the Universe, or God, come into being in the first place, and why?

So, what does science tell us about where it all came from?  We know there was the big bang, but where did the energy for the big bang come from?  The answer is (drum roll please…) from nothing.  From nothing, came everything.  The truth is, scientists don’t really understand what banged or what caused it to bang, and all the evidence suggests that before there was everything, there was nothing.  The big bang was the creation of time itself, of matter, energy and space, none of which existed before the big bang.  So, as we grabble with the scientific explanation, let’s turn to religion to see what it has to say.  I’m no biblical scholar and I rarely quote the Bible (for me the truest scripture is within), but there are some gems in there and I always liked the first line of the book of John which describes the beginning of creation – it says – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  Everything was made through Him and without Him was not anything made.”  The “Word,” used in this sense, is the essence of creation itself.  It is the impetus, the vibration that has awakened consciousness and existence.  The Word is with God and is God.  “With” God implies outside of God – as something that is with something else is separate from it, even though it is with it.  But the Word also is God.  So God is simultaneously along side of creation (“with” it) and creation itself, and creation itself happens at the beginning – which must be the beginning of time.  God is both the subject and object of creation.

Furthermore, and here’s the kicker for me – “…without God was not anything made”.  It is the term “without” that strikes me here.  “Without” implying the lack of existence of God.  So, without God, there was nothing, with God, there was everything.  So, from nothing, came everything.  Sounding familiar?  This is what the science tells us as well, as strange as it is – everything came from nothing.  This first sentence in the Bible is not implying that God existed before creation, but that God was, and is, creation itself.  God is the big bang.  God is everything that exists.  God is the word, the word is creation, creation is God, and so on in an eternal loop.  There are others who will interpret this differently, but I believe this is a valid interpretation that is in harmony with what science tells us – that nothing, not even time, or God, existed “before” the moment of creation, and that everything, including time, and God, existed and was created at the moment of creation or what we call the big bang.  God popped into existence out of nothing.  God is creator and the creation itself.  The beginning and the end.  Ultimately, neither science nor the Bible give any specific cause for creation.  It seems that it simply happened.  The Universe has no cause.  But really this is not a surprise, after all the concept of ‘God’ would be the one who has no cause, but is the cause itself.  It appears the last turtle is standing on itself, and thus it is, in fact, turtles all the way down.

This is something I was spurred to write in response to Seven Hawking’s assertion that there is no God because there was nothing before the moment of creation – there was no energy, matter, space or time before the big bang, so there could not be a God.  He’s both right and wrong in my opinion, and much of it hinges on your perception of God.  Since I see God and creation as one, I see no conflict between the science of the big bang and the philosophy of God as creation itself and the creative force within creation.

Love and light

Rhea Jamil

Limiting the Infinite

  

The Adoration of the Golden Calf

The Adoration of the Golden Calf

The divine has no limits. The more limits one tries to put on the divine, the farther they are from the whole truth. Those who tend to cling to narrow, dogmatic or fanatic belief systems are putting strict limits on something that is limitless. In some ways this is necessary. It is hard for the human mind to grasp something infinite, so putting some boundary conditions on the divine helps us. However the stricter those boundaries are, the more they constrict the whole infinite truth, and then it begins to look like something that is not divine at all. It can turn into something intolerant. One is only seeing a tiny point of the whole and is convinced that tiny point is the whole, insisting that anyone seeing something different is wrong. Since they have captured the whole of the divine inside a tiny, narrow point of view, they can tolerate very little opposition to that. One who sees a bigger picture will be less likely to be offended if something in their perspective is challenged, in fact they may welcome the challenge because they can see how it might help them expand. Someone who sees only the narrow view of the divine will cling to it since any challenge could be the final blow to their entire belief system. It is like having a house of cards instead of a house made of bricks. The slightest wind will blow down the house of cards, so the owner of that house feels a desperate need to defend it against all potential opposition, even a gentle breeze. The one in the brick house has no need to fear a gentle breeze. I believe this is the true message behind the much miss-interpreted meaning of the prohibition against idol worship in Judeo-Christian religion. It is not that one should never try and express the divine through symbols, for that in and of itself is basic to human nature and poses no problem. The problem is when you limit the totality of the divine within something that is too small or narrow to contain it. If all the power of the divine resides inside a golden calf for you, then you are in trouble. What happens if someone destroys the golden calf? If you truly believe the divine resides there, you will easily become terrified that anything will happen to it. That fear then becomes your driver, it becomes the place that you react from instead of love. Even though your original motivation, to protect what you perceive as divine, is not inherently evil. Most of the more orthodox traditions are meant to create peace and harmony within a group. This is a noble cause. It backfires only because the narrow point of view becomes difficult to defend. The traditions that take a broader view, or the individuals who choose a broader view of the divine are less likely to react from fear. The divine encompasses so much they do not feel the defensiveness. They can see the divine in the pages of a book as well as the tree, the sky, the love in their partners’ eyes, the song of the sea, the vastness of space, the laughter of their child. It is not contained in a small, narrow place where it needs defending.

Rhea Jamil