Monday, May 01, 2006

Spiritual Truth and Religion

All religions have in them the core of Truth, a core of Reality. They point to the same thing. The problem is that when the Buddha and Jesus died and their immediate followers who knew them started dying, people started to forget the oral wisdom they had learned. So, they wrote the sayings down. Then along came regular, ordinary people some time later who decided to edit and collate all the sayings into a book or set of books. Being people of their time and culture, they omitted some books and kept others and altered them whether from bias or prejudice. Constantine altered some beliefs to keep Heaven in the sky or in another realm far from political earthbound concerns when the early Church was writing the Latin Bible and Christianity was being turned into an organized set of beliefs. And being ordinary people, they interpreted simple ways to Enlightenment, to be a difficult and hard path that few can attain. That is the way the mind likes it because it fears to lose control. Even Buddhism is tainted by Ego because the majority of Buddhists think that it takes multiple lifetimes to achieve Nirvana.

Making someone a deity makes them special when in fact, if Tolle is right, Jesus and the Buddha were more ordinary than ordinary men because they didn't have egos. They wouldn't stand out in a crowd. I always wondered why Jesus wasn't noticed more during the three years of his ministry. If he was doing all those miraculous things, then he would have come to people's attention much sooner. But if he didn't stand out and call attention to himself, then it would explain why he only got into trouble when Judas turned him in.

Everything written about Jesus was written 50 to 400 years after he died from the oral traditions he left behind and some of it was embellished. "Half of writing history is hiding the truth," says Mal Reynolds in Serenity. The Bible is a historical narrative from times and cultures and places that are gone except maybe in name only. Some things are true. Some things are made up, and some things are outright lies. Every religion is tainted. It's up to each person to find the jewels of spiritual Truth buried in the Holy Books and religions. Someone like Tolle is just giving you the Truth as he knows it. He's just honest enough to tell you to not use him as a stumbling block and to trust yourself. (I was told much of what Tolle says by a relative in 1976. Tolle just made the knowledge I already had more comprehensible and confirmed what I had been told.) Truths are generally simple. Lies are usually complex and elaborate.
Well yes, anybody can do that. Interpret everything according to his understanding or background. This is thinking for yourself. This also with very little authority, from religious or very spiritual people. But he shouldn't also say or teach things with authority; this is not necessary. People should be allowed to think for themselves too. But he shouldn't be selling this.
(Buy the truth but don't sell it. Proverbs 23:23, if I am not mistaken.)
Anyway, too much speculation is not a good thing. What he is doing doesn't seem to be relevant; trying to reconcile conflicting beliefs. I also think all religious founders, without being aware of it, founded organizations that contradicted and conflicted with each other. If we drop all beliefs especially about who this or that person or diety is, and what he did to save all mankind, would we actually be rid of so much confusion?
Most likely, because beliefs have divided and divides people, and trying to reconcile them will bring about more confusion, I'm afraid.
Perhaps, I should try to find out more what Tolle is trying to teach before I make any further comment.
You are confusing the message and the messenger again. Jesus and the Buddha did not "found" anything. It was ordinary people who had agendas who founded the religions called Buddhism and Christianity for their own purposes, usually as a form of control over people. Whereas Jesus and the Buddha were trying to free people from erroneous ideas and beliefs, religions try to control and limit people through beliefs. Jesus spoke out against sexual inequality (the stoning of the adulterous woman) and organized religion (you go within to talk to God). The women were the ones who stood by Jesus as he died. The men, with the exception of John, ran away. Yet, in one of Paul's letters, slaves are supposed to obey their masters. In another letter, Paul admonishes women to be silent in church and to cover their heads. You can see what would become Christianity being molded to accomodate social prejudices and institutions of the time. How can Jesus be at fault? He was long dead.
People are divided. They use beliefs to enforce their division, excuses. Religion is just one of those excuses.
If Tolle's message didn't fill a need and didn't ring true, then likely his books wouldn't sell. In this society, it costs money to print books and publishers feel they need to make a profit. Are you blaming him for the way the publishing business works, or the fact he makes a living from what he does? Isn't he entitled to reap the benefits of his work. Besides, you can't walk into a bookstore and walk out without paying for a Bible.
Hello jbmoore,

I agree with your post. I like how you write. Thanks!
I'm not sure that the teachings of Jesus conflict with the teachings of Buddha. I'm glad to have joined the Wisdomreading group because I had previously read the epistles much more than the Gospels... but there's something very different about hearing Jesus speak. He's the one who gets it, trying very hard to explain, failing and failing again... Mary Magdaline gets it, and the disciples scorn her...

Great observations here, John.
"It's up to each person to find the jewels of spiritual Truth buried in the Holy Books and religions."

Cliche as it may be, most of us still spend our whole lives studying the finger which is pointing at the moon rather than the thing to which the finger is pointing.

Most good teachers (like Tolle) will tell you that they themselves or their teachings may or may not be of use to you... most bad teachers will tell you that you REALLY need what they're offering.
I think what everyone needs is more and better Jesus and less peter paul and harry.
Good one!

I don't have much time to think or talk about this now. I don't like writing long arguments. But anyway, I appreciate your attempt to pacify my soul for not believing in the diety of certain human beings. I needed that.
However, i found a weblog mentioning Tolle in one of the entries:
I haven't read all of it yet. I'll try sometime.
Thanks for the ideas.
Tolle gives you other ways or portals to happiness. Not just the Now. All the Now means is that you honor the Present moment and give it your full attention. You observe your mind and thoughts and don't get lost in them. Tolle is just giving people pointers to experience what he already has. Some of what the guy says is the same stuff that Tolle says. He just says that the Now is illusion because it already is Now. However, Tolle points that out as well. Tolle just points out that the normal human condition is like day dreaming. You'd rather think about a past event or a possible future event rather than experience the moment you are living right now. Have you ever experienced a satori as the Zen Buddhists call it? If so, then you are awakening already. The process has begun in you. Once you've gotten a taste of Enlightenment, then you generally want more and you know what you need to do to attain it. But in all honesty, you should read one of Tolle's books and decide for yourself if his message is genuine or snakeoil. Pick and choose what works for you as far as what makes you a happy and content human being. I have given his book to close friends who have rejected it. I got fired from one job for recommending The Power of Now to a coworker as a birthday present which was just a really weird experience. It's just a book full of ideas that any one is free to embrace or reject. Just because I embrace them, find some truth in them, doesn't mean that you will. But something within you feels threatened or at least, resists. If you are honest in your inquiry, you'd read Tolle's works before you criticize the ideas in them openly. Then feel free to reject them once you've read them in context.
I must confess that I've listened to two of Tolle's recordings, but I didn't find them very helpful. I actually gave up all forms of meditation, and discipline and seeking for enlightenment. I just observe my thoughts. I also don't do any form of willful mind control. That's all.
It's too bad that people could still do that; I mean fire someone for trying to influence other people. This is something I am completely against, punishing people for what seems to me perfectly normal. You should not let this happen. Altho where I work, talking about religion and spirituality is considered almost taboo. Most people suggest that this is not good; that it can even lead to insanity. Well, I don't let people intimidate me in any way. Sometimes I pretend to be crazy, while at the same time laugh at them. Inspite of this I feel very much at home and accepted.
Tolle confirms my prior knowledge
also.I love getting his fresh perspective (like Ram Dass was for me for a long time.)The refreshing of my knowledge and faith are so important to me. I used to pray for new ways of seeing God's presence in the world,like touching the face of God in another form.

Speaking of history, don't you get a kick out of major turning points caused by fleas, food or lack of, poisons,storms, and various diseases?

Thanks for your blog.
Thanks for your comment. Diseases that affect us and our food supplies have changed human history more than we know. WW1 ended because more soldiers were dying from the flu than from bullets. They didn't have enough men to continue the war. The Mesoamericans know this better than any one. Smallpox killed 90% of the Indians in Central Mexico and just about every other population that didn't have any history of exposure to it. Jared Diamond's PBS show "Guns, Germs and Steel" pointed this out and showed just how powerful germs are in shaping humans and human history.
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