No need to fear, NO ONE will burn forever.

 As a result of my last couple of posts, and a few others from some of my friends in the blog-o-sphere, a big debate has spurred about eternal punishment and biblical literalism.  If  you haven’t figured it out by now I am pretty open from a theological perspective.  While I do heavily rely on and reference the Bible, it is not my only source of theological concepts.  There are other theologies and cosmological myths that predate the Bible.  Many of the concepts in the Abrahamic faiths were adopted by religions that preceded it.  While I try to uncover the wisdom within the great book I have found that many of the doctrines of the established church are either not biblical or literal interpretations of a hidden source of wisdom that only an inquisitive mind is capable of uncovering.  As a result doctrines like original sin, the trinity, predestination, biblical inerrancy, faith over deeds, and the rapture are dogmatic doctrines that have seeped their way in to a religion that was intended to be based on LOVE and not FEAR. 

OK.  Now that I let all that out, if any one is left let me turn to the defense of He who’s name we can’t pronounce and who’s essence no one will ever be able to comprehend.  First, we need to erase the myth that Jewish Scripture (or as the uninformed refer to it, Old Testament) is all about showing us how we are imperfect and destined for eternal punishment.  There are a few verses in Jewish Scripture that talk of God as “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth.”   There are so few that I can only rattle off a handful off the top of my head like: Exodus 34:6; Numbers 14:18; Deuteronomy 4:31; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalms 86:5; Psalms 86:15; Psalms 108:4; Psalms 145:8; Joel 2:13….  These verses say crazy things like:  “Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches;  but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight, says the LORD.” ” Jeremiah 9:23-24

Literalness is a cancer and does not do the Bible justice. The layered meanings are what matters the most. I for one get tired of seeing people who think they know scriptures and try to slap people around with passages as if they are holier than thou.  The problem is they use bits and pieces and take the passages out of context.  Worse yet, they take it literally and in the process completely miss the underlying and hidden meanings within.  If anyone were to think that I am making up the concept of reading in layers or that it is some failed Jewish concept, I suppose that these words are nowhere in the Bible:

“And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to him who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.  This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.  With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says: ‘You shall indeed hear but never understand, and you shall indeed see but never perceive.  For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are heavy of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn for me to heal them.’  But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.  Truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. ” Matthew 13:11-17

“But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glorification.  None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” 1 Corinthians 2:7-8

“The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”  1 Corinthians 2:14

To much scripture for one post?  Well,  I have often been accused of not using enough scripture to back up my opinions so the last thing I wanted was for anyone to accuse me of coming out here and creating an argument that I can’t back up. Let’s face it, in the hands of a madman the Bible can be equally as effective as it is in the hands of someone like Mother Teresa.  My opinion is it’s not Sunday-only finger food.  In order to be useful and understood it must be critically read and  investigated.  Not just quoted by a pastor or an easy bake devotional.

Now, I have given a concept of a pure, loving, and merciful God that is not an angry tyrannical narcissist.  If you can refute my claim that NO ONE WILL SUFFER ETERNAL TORMENT than feel free to do so. My question is – Why in the – firey made up place for eternal torture that doesn’t exist – would you want to defend such a horrible concept?

Never gonna give you up..

 Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna run around and desert you…  Yes, I just lured you in with a Rick Astley song.  For whatever reason I thought that set of lyrics was pretty relevant to what I am going to cover in this relatively brief post.  My recent post “Who’s in control?” garnered the biggest single day number of hits for this blog.  It also had a good number of comments and email responses.  It seems my Christian friends have taken issue with my position that as human beings we are not wretched, worthless, disgustingly sinful beings.  That we are not building up a debt of sin that will justify eternal torment and punishment forever, which can only be paid and forgiven by belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus.  That all of our actions and imperfections somehow get erased by faith alone.  Well, aside from the fact that the words of Jesus himself contradict the concept of faith alone in favor of “what you do to the least of these my brethren you do unto me“,  it really doesn’t portray God as has often been the Christian position that God is love

So, is God love?  I believe so.  Mostly because no science has been able to prove what causes love and that particular feeling or emotion is the thread that weaves humanity with a concept of morality.  So what exactly is love?  The Apostle Paul, who as most of you know I have been pretty critical of, wrote one of the most inspirational chapters of the Bible and it happens to be perhaps the greatest description of love.  The chapter, for those of you who may not have guessed it, is 1 Corinthians 13.   As the Bible has multiple translations this chapter reads differently from version to version.  The most obvious difference is when comparing the KJV and the NIV.  (to those not familiar – the KJV is the King James Version which was translated in 1611 and the NIV is the New International Version which was translated in 1984. These are the 2 best-selling translations)  The KJV doesn’t use the word Love, it uses the word Charity.  To the skeptic this would seem to be a problem, but not to me.  Charity is, after all, a tremendous example of unconditional love.  When one exercises charity, they give for the sake of giving, with no expectation of reciprocation.  There is no doubt that is love.  So, if God is love, why not use 1 Corinthians 13 as a description of God.  For the sake of brevity, let’s just take the core of  the chapter which are verses 4-7 and replace the words “love” and “it” with “the Lord” (note- I am removing a few “it’s” for the sake of flow):

The Lord is patient, the Lord is kind. The Lord does not envy, does not boast, is not proud.  The Lord does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs.  The Lord does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  The Lord always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Now I ask you again: Is God Love?  If so, than we have never been rejected, nor will we ever be.  Why else would a word like “Father” be invoked so often?  The way I see it, our Eternal Father never gave up on you, me or anyone else.  It seems that for many people it really is the other way around. 

For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you.. – Deuteronomy 4:31

Why am I a Mason?

Recently someone questioned me as to why I am a Mason.  At times this question is usually followed up with the ridiculous accusations that we are some kind of a cult or New World Order.  Since Masonic philosophy makes up a significant portion of my own philosophical views it seemed relevant to share my reply to them:

I am a Mason for a number of reasons. Mostly because after leaving the military there was a camaraderie void that I deeply needed to fill. Contrary to a lot of public myths, Masonry is not a cult or an anti-christian organization. We aren’t a New World Order, which to me is the funniest of accusations because we can barely organize a BBQ. It is not a religion either. Anyone who claims it is really doesn’t know anything about it. It’s pretty much a fraternity with some deep philosophical roots. The description “A moral institution veiled in allegory and illustrated with symbols” simply put just means we use the Bronze Age method of teaching moral truths – we tell stories (or parables) and use symbols. The problem that the big churches have with the Masonic Fraternity is over our stance that we require belief in Deity, but that the choice is up to the individual who they believe in. So we have Jewish, Christian, Muslims, Deists, and others amongst the membership. When you have multiple faiths gathered together like that and you require all men to act in a moral way and be held accountable to their God, an invocation, or prayer, is required when we open and close our meetings. So, in order to not offend the Jew or Muslim by invoking the name of Jesus, or offend the Jew and Christian by invoking the name Allah, or confuse the heck out of the Christians and Muslims by saying HaShem – we simply say Grand Architect. It’s not a made up God, it is just a universal name that is used because as Masons we consider each other as equals and builders of an allegorical temple of human morality and brotherly love. Just as builders get their directions from a blueprint (or Bible) and the designer (or author) of that blueprint is the Grand Architect (or God).

To me, as well as other Masons who actually study the philosophy and theology behind the fraternity – religion is not what the public perceives it to be.  Religion actually has a Biblical definition – “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:26-27

I hope this answered your question and perhaps cleared up some false impressions you may have of us. We actually have some great guys amongst our ranks. Guys like – George Washington, Ben Franklin, John Hancock, Paul Revere, FDR, Harry Truman, Gen. McArthur, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), John Wayne, Dave Thomas, Walt Disney… I could go on but, that should give you an idea of the type of organization we are.

Who is in control?

The notion that we are all sinful wretches worthy of punishment and that the physical world is the dominion and under the tyrannical control of a being known as Satan, is a dogma that I have always opposed. Satan, as Christianity perceives him, did not originate until the Gospels and Epistles. The very few references to Satan in the Jewish Scriptures paint this being in a far different way then the mainstream belief of the Christian and Muslim faiths. Satan is not the serpent in the creation account found in Genesis, nor is he the Prince of the Earth (whatever that means) that we see portrayed in gospels and epistles. Satan, in Jewish Scripture, is the “accuser” and “tempter”. He is not a fallen angel, as some wrongfully interpret Isaiah 14:12 (which when read in full context is an allusion to King Nebuchadnezzar). Satan, according to Jewish Scripture, is and always has been a servant of God. The servant who test one’s faith and resolve, but as clearly displayed in the book of Job, Satan acts and operates at the will and pleasure of the Almighty God.

So where did the concept of the evil, horned, red body-suit wearing, pitch fork carrying sovereign of hell come from? Well, truth be told, the devil that billions of Christians despise and the Hell they hope to avoid by having faith in Jesus are NOT Biblical. Both of them find their origins in a fused interpretation of Dante’s Inferno, the Divine Comedy and the Greco-Roman character known as Hades. The very few references to hell that exist are all in the Gospels and Epistles and they are better translated as the “pit” or Gehenna, which was an area outside the Jewish tribal camps (and later Jerusalem) where the worshippers of Baal and Molech would sacrifice their children by fire. This was an area that the Jews knew physically existed and they feared it. If Torah observance was not strictly adhered to one could get thrown out of the camp or city and face the threat of the “pit”. How a physical place was spun into a place of eternal torment is the crafty work of Augustine and it’s purpose, one could argue, was to scare people into conformity.

Let’s now apply reason and a rational view here. If God is all-powerful than he is all-powerful and the Sovereign of the Universe that Abraham claimed the Almighty to be. This means God and only God is in control and not a rebellious servant in the fiery bowels of the earth. If we are created in the image of God, than we have all the attributes of the Divine. We could not therefore be insignificant wretches that are full of sin and because of poor choices we may have made are somehow worthy of ETERNAL punishment. Let’s think for a minute about this gross implication of injustice. Most people live less than 100 years. What kind of justice is displayed where the mere lack of believing in something for the decades we spend on earth would somehow justify an ETERNAL sentence to torture and punishment? Not a life sentence, but a relentless and unending sentence with no hope for reconciliation or even parole. Where is the grace mercy and peace of the Father? Would the very Creator who created all things and imbued us with Reason and intellect really require that faith and faith alone ensure eternal bliss? Would the divine inspiration that is claimed to have been revealed to a small number of sages in the most primitive and ignorant corner of the earth, be the only source of this critical message? If this be true, why would the message be so cryptic and have so many examples of injustice within it?

Let me propose the following:

  • You are not a filthy wretch.
  • You are not unworthy of love.
  • You are not flawed.
  • You are not a disgrace.
  • You are not worthy of punishment.
  • You are not under an inherited curse of a sin that someone else committed.
  • You are not under the dominion of a powerful evil being who’s out to get you.

What you are is a living, breathing, and beautiful person. You have good attributes and you have bad. You have the freedom to choose how you use the strengths you possess and how you surrender to your weakness. If you have read this far, than you have a contemplative sense of reason and are willing to go behind the veils of dogma and uncover the purest source of truth. Everyone has the need to feel a sense of hope and an element of higher purpose. The idea that we are merely a carbon based collection of molecules and cells that act in repetitive and sometime meaningless ways and are destined to be inanimate patches of dust, is hardly inspirational to most people. This is why people feel deep within the recesses of their mind and soul that there must be something greater than ourselves. How can the wonder of time and the majesty of nature be the product of a Divine Judge that places matters of thought over physical actions?

Am I speaking against Scripture? No. I am merely providing my view of the Divine, just like the authors of the various books of Scripture did. Call me heretical if you want, but we know a lot more now about the universe, earth, the human genome, physics, medicine, human psychology, and a host of other quantifiable facts than any of the Bronze Age authors of Scripture ever knew. There is a strong argument that Biblical inerrancy is only in context not in content.

But Nelson, my pastor says this or Joel Osteen says that, or Joyce Meyer advocates this and Rick Warren wrote that… Well, why don’t we compare their motivational factors to mine. What exactly am I asking you for? Have I passed around an offering plate? Have I told you to call my prayer line and contribute to my ministry? Have I told you that I need you to “give all you can” and promised a ten-fold blessing from God in return for your offering? Nope. I am just on a quest for light and have welcomed you to accompany me on it and nothing more.

All I have ever asked is for 2 very simple things:

That you think with an open and rational mind.
That you love one another.

Ask yourself this question:
If this is the only life you will have and there is no resurrection or after-life, are you living life to the fullest?

One more question:
Why not?

Reason vs. Religion

Nothing defines the battle that is going on in my mind more than the words Reason vs. Religion. A child-like faith is not possible to the open and contemplative mind. It is Masonic philosophy that faith begins where reason ends and this is unequivocally true. How would someone deduce with any shred of reason events like the 10 plagues, Jonah and the giant fish, and the resurrection of Jesus? What about the pillar of fire by night and smoke by day, the parting of the Red Sea, the turning of water into wine (that I would love to learn) or even the Apocalypse?

The fact is you can’t rationally explain any of these things, nor with any facts prove that they actually occurred, but this is where faith comes in. Faith allows one to believe that the laws of science and nature can be suspended and that the Creator is capable of anything. While I do not personally believe that any of the events I have stated actually happened, I cannot resign myself to believe that the same Supreme Source of all things is governed by what we as people perceive as the laws of science and nature.

So am I rejecting the Holy Scriptures?

No, not really. It is necessary to acknowledge that the Holy Scriptures are the works of men and regardless of whether they were divinely inspired or not, no original manuscripts exist and there is a constant debate over what manuscripts are the most authoritative. As such, given that they are the works of men, I do not view the Scriptures as being inerrant and without flaws. For the Jewish Scriptures (or the Christian Old Testament) is the Masoretic or Septuagint the most accurate and authoritative text? What about the New Testament? Are the Textus Receptus, the Alexandrian Text, the Byzantine text, the Codex Vaticanus, or the Codex Sinaticus the most accurate and authoritative text? When translated what is the most accurate? The KJV, NKJV, NIV, TNIV, MKJV, ESV,NASB,NET, NLT, NWT,NJT,JPS….

But 2 Timothy 3:16 says:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

Yes, this is true however at that time the New Testament didn’t exist and I can assure you Paul didn’t think he was writing scripture. The only scriptures that existed at that time was the Jewish Scriptures (or Old Testament). To circle back to my position on the Holy Scriptures and what my opinion of them is. Please consider that I refer to them as the Holy Scriptures, Holy Writings, or the Great Light. So while I do not consider them without error, I do sincerely believe they are inspired in some form or fashion and that within those texts all of life’s trials can find answers, pain can find solace, and sorrow can find comfort. That is not to say that other sacred writing are of no use though. The Holy Quran, the Zend-Avesta, and the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Emerson, Locke, Hall, and Pike – just to name a few – are unquestionably inspirational and worthy of study.

But which one wins, Reason or Religion?

Well, let’s do some comparative analysis:

  • Religion can not reveal the chemical properties of salt and Reason can not reveal the source of love.
  • Religion can not accurately explain the source of life and the creation of the cosmos, neither can Reason.
  • Religion gives hope and Reason leads to inquiry and knowledge.
  • Religion gives a person a moral compass and Reason enables a man to determine right from wrong.
  • Religion is restrictive and at times oppressive, Reason deems everyone to be equal and of independent thought.

It is my belief that a person can be happy with either religion or reason. However, faith in God and adhering to the rites and tenets of a religion does not automatically bring a person happiness and the use of Reason does not automatically make a person intelligent or an intellectual superior. As with all things they must both exist and it is the responsibility of the individual to find the right balance.

Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear. ~ Thomas Jefferson

The “power” of the mind and prayer

The human mind is an incredibly powerful and amazing creation. When you think (pun intended) about the things the mind is capable of you have to wonder why the words I can’t are in anyone’s vocabulary. The subconscious mind controls the senses, the emotions, and the essential life systems and cycles of the body. The mind truly is a terrible thing to waste on some of the mundane silliness we seem to waste it on this days (ie. “Reality TV”)

If the mind is capable of creating an entirely parallel universe while you are dreaming and if we, as it is written, are created in the image of our Creator, how can anyone doubt, question, or even fathom the limits of the power of the mind? The even greater power of collective consciousness can even be physical felt by those around it, whether they wanted to feel it or not. Collective consciousness is, in simple terms, a group of people thinking and focusing on the same thing. The easiest examples are pep rallies, funerals, and even a business conference room. Think of the almost electric positive vibe you can feel at a pep rally, the somber sadness you can feel during a funeral, or the tension in a conference room when opposing parties are engaged in a serious ideological debate.

So what does this have to do with prayer?

When someone prays it is a deep mental process (unless it’s a shallow recitation or going through the motions). So depending on the depth of a person’s consciousness, a prayer by a single person can very easily change their mood and perceptions of their situation. Now, add a few people who have the depth of consciousness and who knows the possibilities. This is where some “prayer circles” may have the “power” to impact their surroundings. I’m not saying a group of people can form a prayer circle and eliminate cancer, however imagine if for a few moments the entire planet at the same time focused on the same topic… The outcome could be astounding. I realize this may seem completely irrational to the secular mind. To those people I revert to my previous examples of the energy at a pep rally and the somberness you can feel at a funeral and ask them to come up with a better explanation than collective consciousness.

Do you know someone who is extremely persuasive? You know, that friend who can talk you into anything or that sales guy who can sell ice cubes to Eskimos. Have you considered the fact that this is a person, whether they know it or not, had the ability to use their mind to influence yours? Think of the scores of motivational speakers, religious teachers, even regular teachers that with their words (which originate from their mind) plant seeds of hope and knowledge into the minds of the people they speak to. These seeds then grow into other thoughts based on that person’s perspective of what they thought they heard.

In today’s world people really don’t use their minds as much anymore. The rise of technology have made things like spelling and grammar to be unnecessary skills. Studying and reading have been replaced with television and video games. As smart as we think we are, we are probably less intelligent than people were just a century ago. Think of people like Thomas Jefferson, Isaac Newton, Leonardo da Vinci, and even further back – Pythagoras. Do we have anyone even remotely comparable to these people? In ages past some people, like Nostradamus, were so in touch with their subconsciousness that they could pinch the ripple of time and predict events that would occur centuries later.

The power of human thought is immeasurable. Sincerely focused prayer from a non-dogmatic perspective is literally a person tapping into the innermost recesses of their mind and consciousness. The possibilities of those thoughts really could be limitless.

Think about it.

What is the true nature of God?

English: Vitruvian man by Leonardo da Vinci

Image via Wikipedia

With all the pain and suffering we see in the world one of the primary weapons an atheist has against the concept of deity is why an all-loving and father-like deity would allow bad things to happen. As we have advanced in science and technology the concept of an anthropomorphic deity is a very difficult concept to defend. Many people casually dismiss the argument with statements like “The Lord works in mysterious ways” or “Trust in the Lord”, but I am pretty sure in the back of most people’s minds the question of “Why?” and the statement “it’s not fair” still lingers. Blind faith is not easy for the contemplative mind and it is almost impossible to measure with any sense of reason. I know what some of you are thinking, “We can’t understand the nature of the Divine”, but I think that’s because we try to humanize the Divine way to much. Rather than try to measure ourselves up to it, we diminish the greatness of that great unknown element of the first and perpetual cause of the cosmos by applying human attributes.

Whether you are Jewish, Christian, Mormon, or Muslim all of scripture originates in the Torah. Regardless of your stance on reliability of translations, divine inspiration, historical accuracy, or the infallibility of the text there is one undeniable truth that no one can dispute – It was written by men in an attempt to explain the unexplainable. What if we, the more technologically advanced version of the Patriarchs, are completely missing the point? What if understanding the concept of deity is really achieved by making a real earnest effort at understanding ourselves?

The human body is essentially a microcosm of the universe and the brain a mini version of the Divine. I realize this borders on heresy to some of you, but bear with me here. The Divine is in complete control of all creation, much like the mind is in complete control of the body right? Then why did you let yourself stub your toe the other day? Why did you say such a harsh thing that you later claim you really didn’t mean? Why did you cheat? Why do you allow yourself to get a paper cut? Why is your hair not cooperating with your comb? Why do you have to brush your teeth to prevent decay? These things happened and you didn’t want them to. I thought the brain controlled everything.

Getting the point? There is a difference between Divine Consciousness and Divine Control.

I am pretty sure you have gotten angry and snapped at someone and then regret it later. Is that your mind admonishing your instinctive reaction? You ever forget something and then remember it later? If you remembered it, you really didn’t forget it. (ie. “The Lord remembered Noah“) How can I be so bold as to say we are like the Divine? Need I remind you that we are “created in the image and likeness” of the Divine. Perhaps getting to know the nature of the Divine is only achievable when we try to understand ourselves. Meditation and prayer to many, have been ways to relax and to find solace. It is a bit ironic that this is an exercise you do on your own. But are you really alone? When you close your eyes and clear your mind, focusing on each breath as it enters your lungs and is then released, you aren’t alone. In fact this is probably the only time you are focusing on your breathing when your brain has been gauging the activity of your lungs since conception. When we were created we received the “breath of life” and that one breath started a reaction within us that continues with every single breath we take and just as our body evolves, so does the rest of creation.

Perhaps the answers to our questions have actually be in right in front of us the whole time – looking right back at us in the mirror.

© Nelson Rose, The Quest for Light

The Winding Path

The Quest has always been about searching for and understanding the nature and essence of Divine Truth. Rather than focusing on dogmatic concepts and restrictive rules there has to be more rational approach to something seemingly so enigmatic. For thousands of years man has been searching for answers and trying to discover our purpose in the grand design. The search for answers has resulted in the various different religions that have existed throughout history. I have spent the last several years contemplating and searching for answers and now find myself on a journey that has broadened my sense of purpose and brought me closer to understanding how the complex can be made simple and the seemingly simple becomes more complex. Several months ago I began an in-depth study of the Torah. The primary reason is that the majority of the people of the world are adherents to one of the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) and the foundational text of those religions is the Torah (even though most of the followers of those faiths have little to no knowledge of it). I realize that taking a non-literal approach to the Torah rocks the foundation of both Christianity and Islam but, truth be told, the Torah is more than a literal text. In fact, it is my belief (and anyone who has really studied it) that it was never intended to be just literal. As one begins to peel off the several layers you discover an ethical application which we see through the Mussar teachings, there is also a theocratic legal code which you see in the Halacha system, a modern commentary approach, and the mystic and esoteric approach found in Kabbalah.

The Zohar is a literary body of work that is the foundation of Kabbalah. Kabbalah has gained in popularity recently due to certain celebrities who claim to be adherents to it however, what they really follow is a store-front blend of mystical, astrological, and self-help precepts wrapped up in a Kabbalah bow. I’ve read a number of books about Kabbalah and some books based on its concepts and they all make it very clear that in order to absorb and retain any of the teachings and precepts of Kabbalah requires an understanding of the Torah. So I studied the Torah mixing the yearly plan of both the Orthodox and Reform Judaism. They both touch on Kabbalah and to my surprise the foundational text – the Zohar – is in fact largely another commentary on the Torah itself.

We now start a new leg of the quest. While this too may be an old path, it is different as it does not use a rigid dogmatic system. It is mystical and open to giving the Divine the liberty of multiple emanations and dimensions. As I now begin a deeper study of the Zohar it is evident that it will take me quite a while to walk this path because it is a winding path to the summit. Most religions force you into a straight and narrow path with no liberty to go to the right or to the left. Kabbalah is different – the path is winding and at times it even requires you to circle back before you can ascend further.

Questions are immensely important as they are half of an answer. Without questions there can be no answers. So here are some questions for you to ponder.

  • What is the purpose of creation?
  • Is there an active Divine presence, is it in exile, or is it merely an illusion?
  • Does human action have an effect on the cosmos?
  • Are our thoughts and prayers mere electromagnetic impulses or do they gain substance?
  • Is there an essence of evil or is it merely an absence of light?

I hope that those of you reading this will open your mind to the concept that this quest can be yours as well. You do not have to force yourself into beliefs because of family traditions or fear of damnation. We were given a mind to reason and to think. The more we begin to unravel the mysteries of nature through science, the more it is evident that simplistic and dogmatic views of the Divine will eventually be obsolete and unfulfilling. Science may prove a lot of things but, it requires an element of faith and pre-existence. Science can begin to explain the unknown with theories but, even theories themselves have an element of unknowns and preexistent origins and fundamentals. If life and science have layers then wouldn’t the Divine as well?

To close I would like to offer a thought: Our Creator created us to be happy. From our very beginning the intent is happiness and bliss. The proof of this is evident when you observe a child..

© Nelson Rose, The Quest for Light

The Balance of Reason and Nature

Reason is a reflection of the Supreme Intelligence within each of us. Reason united with nature demonstrates the infinite perfection of Deity and deciphers the mysteries of nature and of man. Through reason we are capable of obtaining true balance. Just as the tide ebbs and flows and the sun rules the world by day while the darkness rules the night, we use reason to balance the light and dark sides of our souls. Our Creator designed us with free will to choose our own course in life. We were equipped with reason to govern our actions. Our sense of reason is what separates us from being mere beasts of burden. The less we use this gift, the more mundane and meaningless our lives will become. It is by reason that we are enabled to balance our lives, our passions, and our future.

We are created with the ability to love yet we are also created with the ability to hate. We are given the ability to reproduce and the voracity to kill. We are created with the ability to give and are also readily willing to receive. We are given the tenderness of compassion and the cruelness of neglect. We are brave and yet we show fear. All of these attributes are governed by our sense of reason. It is our own choices that define who we are and not those of our ancestors. The actions we take are a result of a conscious decision we make of our own free will and accord and in doing so we are our own masters.

In using our sense of reason, we are able to see that the myth of original sin is neither natural nor sensible. We do not “sin” because of the fall of man, which is Paul of Tarsus’ interpretation of the story of Adam and Eve. We just make bad choices. Saying otherwise is a cop-out that does nothing but pass on the responsibility to someone else. Take responsibility for yourself, your actions are your own doing. Whether it’s our inability to control our inner greed or whether it is our inability to control our jealousies, it is a conscious decision of the individual that causes them to do wrong and not some implanted defect that is inherited from father to son and mother to daughter. Nor is it the overwhelming power of an evil deity or devil that causes all the pain and suffering in the world. In order for there to be good, there must be evil. We all must “take the good with the bad”.

Where there is light there will always be darkness, where there is hope there will always be fear; for neither can exist without the other. Just as Jesus cannot exist without Satan, there is no purpose for one without the other. Without Satan man would not have fallen from the grace of God, so Jesus would not have had to die on the cross. Is this a fact? Or is this another allegory, another hidden example of how we need to balance our lives? Is this perhaps an allegory that defines the fact that one cannot see the light without first being in darkness? One cannot understand joy without first experiencing sorrow. We will fall before we can walk. We must fail before we can succeed.

Balance is the result of the use of reason. The concept of good and evil and the balancing of both through reason was a concept that predated Christianity. You can find this in the early Egyptian religions, the ancient Persian religion taught by Zoroaster and even the Hindus. Zoroaster was explicit in the distinction of good and evil and that life would be a constant struggle between truth and lies. He taught that the actions of an individual were their own choice and thus the responsibility and consequences for those actions were their own.

Nature is perfect in every way. Nature is the infallible revelation of God, and it is undoubtedly the easiest way in which we are capable of seeing the power and glory of our Creator. Sure, there are things like earthquakes and hurricanes that we as people may not necessarily like, but they are necessary for nature to maintain its continuous cycle. They are part of the divine architecture from which we all came and eventually we all return.

© Nelson Rose, The Quest for Light