Does the universe have a soul?

Does the universe have a soul?

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks digging back into the Torah and Talmud with an objective and academic lens. I’ve always enjoyed the stories in Genesis. I’m not saying I believe in talking snakes and donkeys or that a 500 year old man loaded a boat with 2 of every kind. It’s not necessary to believe these stories as historical events to learn from them. Instead, one can look at the various ways men and women are portrayed. (As a side note Sarah and Rebecca, are clearly more influential than their husbands. How’s that for the man inspired myth of male dominance?)

The Talmud makes so many interesting points on the incorporeal nature of god. This got me thinking about how many religions have always done the exact opposite. They’ve applied characteristics like “jealous god” or even actions like “walking in the garden” or “remembering.” How would an incorporeal spirit do this? Isn’t it more likely that the writers of these text were just personalizing god because its easier to understand when we make god like us? The Torah is a book of instructions (not just rules) and I believe Genesis does more teaching because it really does have the best stories.

Now… let’s step out of the Torah and the Talmud and look inward. We all think, act, and feel things in our own way. We tend to “think” that we know what love means, but does my concept of love align with yours? Does my sense of morality align with yours? Can you really “know” how someone else is “feeling?” Think about that for a minute. We all exist in a physical sense, but then there is that other part of us. The part that “feels” and “loves.” Whether these are merely neurons and electrons firing in certain sequences, does not take away the fact that these are actual nonphysical or visible attributes. What’s to say the universe with its numerous stars and worlds teeming with life in forms we have yet to comprehend, doesn’t also have this attribute? Wouldn’t that explain your ability to “connect” with someone you love by merely making eye contact? Wouldn’t that explain those occurrences when you are thinking of someone only to find in a phone or text conversation that they were thinking of you at the same time?

The mystery of the universe is the greatest of all mysteries and our desire to understand it and relate to it is manifested in many ways.. worship, experimentation, exploration, reverence, appreciation, and inquiry. We all try to discover that mystery in our own way. It’s how our soul interacts with the mystery, that universal soul…

Life is a blessing, not a curse

Sometimes it is all to easy to forget just how lucky a person is to just be alive and well.  The fact that we are even born is nothing short of a miraculous event.  It is a hard-fought battle just for the seed to make it to the egg to begin with and then once it does, there are so many things that can go wrong before the embryo actually becomes a little person.  Even then a myriad of other things varying from irregular heart beats, to slowly developing kidneys, to autism, and even death can still occur while in the womb.  If by chance you are lucky enough (blessed is a better word) to be born, even more challenges lie ahead as one goes from infant to toddler to child to adolescent to adult.

With life itself, being the miracle that it is, why do some people seem to be more concerned about an “after-life” instead of enjoying the every day miracle of life?  Why do some religious teachings harp on how wretched we are or even worse, that we are cursed at birth due to someone else’s impulsive dietary error?

Life is a blessing. To deny that is to destroy the basis of all religion, natural and revealed. The very foundation of all religion is laid on the firm belief that life is good; and if this life is an evil and a curse, no such belief can be rationally entertained. – Albert Pike
And why hope for an after-life?  Why not enjoy the life you actually have?  We have no guarantees in this life, so the idea that there is an everlasting one that follows defies reason and logic.
Wait, don’t panic…. I am not saying there is no life after death.
What I am saying is that regardless of what religions teach, we really don’t know what comes after death.   So we should focus a lot more on this life.  If you are reading this then you probably have a computer or a smart phone (or a friend does and they printed it for you).  You probably also live in a house with running water and electricity.  Did you know that those very simple things alone – things that you can’t imagine living your life without – make you wealthier than at least a BILLION other people on this planet?  Yet, there is little doubt in my mind that you probably wish you had more.  I am guilty of wanting more as well sometimes, however I have gotten a lot better at appreciating the things that I have and not “coveting” the things I see that others may have. 
If people spent more quality time with their families and less time at work, more time outdoors and less inside watching trash TV, more time being thankful for what they have instead of always wanting more; maybe, just maybe life can be seen as the blessing that it actually is.
Typically a cancer patient wants just one thing – to live.   Why should a healthy person be any different?
Life is a blessing.  Live it!

Yet Another Paradigm

King James Version of the Bible

Image via Wikipedia

Lately, I have had something tugging at my soul due to some pretty deep discussions with a few of you. So much so that I have begun to rethink what my beliefs really are (not that they have ever actually been crystal clear to begin with). For the better part of 2 years now I have been restricting my religious studies to that of Rabbinical Judaism (Torah, Talmud, Mishna and Kabbalah). The knowledge and sense of fulfilment that I have felt in this process is beyond words. However, for some reason I have felt something was missing.

Then while I was delivering a charge in the Lodge (remember I’m a Freemason) something, as if by Providence, clicked while I recited this line in the charge right as my eyes gazed upon the open Bible on the altar. For those of you who do not know, every Masonic Lodge has an altar and while the lodge is at labor (or the meeting is in progress) the Bible is open.

Finally Brethren, be ye all of one mind and may the God of love and peace delight to dwell with and bless you.

Yes, I just quoted the Apostle Paul.

Freemasonry uses the Holy Bible as its rule and guide in life. When a man is Raised to the degree of Master Mason he is presented with a Bible. Not just any Bible but, a Masonic Bible. Now, before you conspiracy nuts get all crazy on me, a typical Masonic Bible contains the following:

  • Record Pages to record the dates a man goes through the various degrees of Masonry.
  • Essays on the importance of the Bible as the Great Light to ALL Masons
  • Concordance on Masonic principles and tenets and where to find them in the Bible
  • The Old Testament*
  • The New Testament*

*The translation used by Masons is the King James Version.

As I finished the charge I found myself staring at the Bible. As I did, all the recent discussion I’d been having started to replay in my head and I realized that I’d been leaving out the central point within the circle of Freemasonry. Freemasonry has always been a “Fraternity of men under the Fatherhood of God”. We use symbols and allegory much like the teachers of antiquity. The Torah has always been viewed by the Jews as more than just a literal text. Much literature exists – especially for the Torah – on the various ways to discover the hidden meanings in the text. So I got to thinking… I’ve been paying no attention to the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) as it was my belief that Jesus was only a radical rabbi who was the victim of the tyrannical Roman Empire.

But, wait a minute…

With the exception of Luke and Acts, all the books of the New Testament were written by Jews. Some of which were highly educated and some of which were not. All of them knew Torah and all of them wrote about Jesus. So if these men knew of allegorical meanings within text and they wrote about a man who always taught in allegory (parables), what is the possibility that the books of the New Testament also have hidden allegorical meaning? (The most obvious of these is Revelation of course).

With this in mind I put all my Rabbinical Torah Commentaries, Talmud, the Zohar, and my (dusty) Christian Study Bibles into a cabinet and for the last 2 weeks been using my Masonic Bible (refer to the above). It contains no study notes or commentary within the text. It is just the Old and New Testament and it is in the beautiful KJV translation (to be honest I prefer KJV because it forces you to focus on what you read). I focused strictly on the text itself without any commentary or other distractions to unearth the message one layer at a time. I can see allegory and I see a messianic message as well. Keep in mind that when I say messianic it is in the context that Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Zerubbabel were messiahs for their time. The life, teachings, and death of Jesus had a purpose and a significant impact on just as broad a scale, if not broader, than the others. His failure to bring upon the long-awaited Messianic Era leaves me to believe that another figure will rise to the occasion. Whether it will be Jesus returning, all of them returning together, or  someone else altogether remains to be seen.

I have to be honest. I feel a comforting familiarity with reading the Gospels and Epistles again. I saw some things I’d missed before and have a new perspective on things now that I’ve sanitized myself of the dogmatic teachings I grew up with. There is wisdom, beauty, and hope.  I see parallels of  the same wisdom in Proverbs, beauty in the Psalms, and hope woven through the lives of patriarchs in the Torah. I will keep studying… The quest goes on.

© Nelson Rose, The Quest for Light

“Freemasonry is a satanic cult and they can’t be trusted.” OH NO YOU DIDN’T.

It’s been far to long since my last blog post. Truth be told I’ve been a bit busy. Ever since I started my blog I’ve had a steady readership and for the most part positive feedback. Unfortunately ignorance and self-righteous arrogance bleeds through and I get comments and email that are pretty harsh and typically ignorant. One such person is a Baptist Minister from Mississippi who I will call Rev. X. He has accused me of being a stupid atheist and a minion of the anti-Christ. As ridiculous as this is he recently sent me a nasty email about Freemasonry (I”m a Freemason) with “evidence” to base his pathetically stupid position on the matter. Below is my response to him.


Rev. X,

First of all the organized leadership of the various Christian Churches are so ridiculously ignorant on what Freemasonry is all about it’s laughable.

Freemasonry is an ancient fraternity that uses symbolism and allegory to teach lessons of morality and to imprint on the mind wise and serious truths. It was a common method of teaching in medieval times when textbooks, reading, and literacy were rare. The foundation of Freemasonry is “The Fatherhood of God and the Fraternity of Man. ”

I find it ironic that the religion that kneels at an altar of sacrifice, under a roman torturous execution device (the cross/crucifix), drinks blood (which is what the wine symbolizes), eats human flesh (which is what the unleavened wafer symbolizes), on the day of the sun-god Ra (origin of the name for Sunday) can question or condemn the use of symbolism.

Jesus taught in parables, the story of Jonah is widely accepted by scholars as folklore, the book of Revelation is all symbolism and allegory, as well as Job and some of the Psalms. So for Christians to object to the use of allegory is mind numbingly hypocritical.

The real issue is that Christians feel their way is the right and only way. They have slaughtered millions of people in wars and inquisitions to make it the largest religion of the world today (and ironically vilify the Muslims for doing the same thing). Most people have no clue of Christianity’s true jewish origin and how the “apostle Paul” (and some of the early “church fathers”) corrupted it from the deeds based teachings of Jesus, which are some of the most noble and admirable teachings, to the faith-based nonsense it is now.

Christians consider it idolatry that Freemasons pray to the Great Architect of the universe and emphasize that deeds are critical to the future state of the soul (again a Jewish teaching as well as a Jesus teaching). The grand architect is not a “Masonic” god. It is a universal term for deity that enables a Jew, Christian, Muslim, Deist, or person of another faith to pray without another religion’s name for god. This is taught in the first degree of Freemasonry. In today’s world it fills me with pride when I can pray alongside a Muslim and a Christian Brother peacefully.

I saw a pathetically ignorant comment in one of the articles you reference that a Freemason couldn’t be trusted as a political leader. Really? What about – George Washington, James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, James Polk, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, James Garfield, William McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt, William Taft, Warren Harding, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Gerald Ford? They were all Masonic Presidents.

What about guys like Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Paul Revere, John Paul Jones, and almost every general in the continental army?

What about Walt Disney, Dave Thomas, Samuel “Mark Twain” Clemens, John Wayne, General Douglas MacArthur, Brad Paisley, and I could go on.

The fact of the matter is America was founded on the Masonic principles and morals of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the freedom of religion. These virtues are what framed the philosophy of our entire country in a time when religion (predominantly the Catholics and Anglicans) was incestuously married to governmental power.

As for your view on Deism as heretical goes, that to is baseless. In its purest state Deism is the most accurate of all religious philosophies. Pure Deism believes in God and holds to the idea that we will never understand the incomprehensible power and ways of God. Personally, I believe religions are man’s way of trying to put a humanistic box around the awesome nature of our Creator. It compensates for the fact that while Reason and Free Choice are divine gifts, they still need moral boundaries. The flaw in religion is when they overstep that context and try to control people and influence them through violence. Thomas Paine, while masterfully brilliant in regards to reason, fell into the same trap when he relentlessly bashed religion and the Bible in the Age of Reason. Now, don’t get me wrong, it was a brilliant literary masterpiece but, some of the rhetoric was a bit harsher than it needed and can be compared to the brashness of an evangelical bashing an atheist for not “knowing the truth.” Nevertheless it should be required reading as it states a powerful case for the existence of God to people who want to believe but, have issues with the revealed religious movements of the world.

Christians should really remember the teachings of the man they worship, some of the most moral precepts ever uttered by a man:

Judge not, lest ye be judged.
Love thy neighbor as thyself.
Feed the poor and aid the needy.
Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

While all of these except the last one really originate in the Jewish Torah, these are commonly avoided teachings that Jesus emphasized in so many of his parables (aka allegorical teachings). Christians need to walk the talk of the man they follow. A man who was comfortable sitting with common sinners instead of self-righteous hypocrites. Before they open their often ignorant and self-serving mouthes they should think – what would Jesus do?

© Nelson Rose, The Quest for Light