Quakers inherited various elements, good and bad, from the Puritanism of the times from which our movement was born. One was the belief (echoed by Barclay) that our 'natural' self is naturally inclined to sin. Quakers said that Christ, the Light in each person, could overcome that tendency, but through most of our history our theology has been that this required the complete demolishment of that natural self, which was held to be entirely disjoint from, unlike, typically at war with the Light in us.

Most people do have at least one person, close enough to matter deeply, who really wants us to be one kind of person -- although in fact, that isn't who we are at all.

I don't even know how many people would like themselves to be some kind of person they simply aren't.

For God to be making such demands on us would suggest a flaw in the Creation. That we grow up, yes. That we develop what's good in us and come to behave better -- much better! -- yes. But that there's been a Mistake such that the wrong person got Created and we ought to be someone we aren't?

Is this as common as I fear? Isn't it mistaken?

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I once lived a life wherein who I (my consciousness and conscience) was was anchored in and informed by those outward institutional, political, religious, and social, forms (and the leaders who nurtures and professed those forms) I identified with and participated in. Then it was discovered to me through the interpentration and impulse of an immanent Presence shining within me that there was a Life that was not of the nature of a consciousness anchored in and a conscience informed by outwardly taught and imposed instrumentalities. This inshining impulse discovered to me and through it I am come out a consciousness anchored in and informed by these instrumentalities. I am now longer in identification with or participation in these instrumentalities to guide or inform or to sustain meaning and purpose in this Life and in my relationships with others. I am come, and I am coming, into a Life, a self-existence, and way of relating to people that is not of the nature of identification with and participation in outward instrumentalities.


It is also discovered to me through this different way, this different Self, that it is the outward instrumentalists that people are taught from birth to identifiy with and participate in that overshadows and usurps the Life with which we were born into this world. These “given things,” these shadows and images are the manufactured contrivances of a consciousness and conscience that cannot exist and does not know the Life itself and itself and must cling to these outward instrumentalities or contrivances to sustain consciousness and conscience, meaning and purpose.


It is not that we are not of a Life anchored in and a conscience informed by inshining immanent Presence, that Life is inherent. It is within us and it is all around us, however, we are blinded to it (relatively speaking) by the outward instrumentalists and contrivances taught to us that we may gain a sense of consciousness and conscience (artificial though it may be) to sustain meaning and purpose in this Life and to sustain and guide human relationships.


I am come into a new Self, a different way of being than I was given through the powers and instrumentalities of this world, and in this way I am come, and I am coming, into a consciousness and conscience that no longer values those things given through the institutions, leaders, instrumentalities, traditions, practices, philosophies, theologies,etc.


I not sure how common it is. I am sure a consciousness and conscience anchored in and informed by the outward instrumentalities of this world to support and which sustain meaning and purpose is very common. I am one of those you fear.


Whether it is mistaken, I leave to the conscience of everyone. For conscience sake, I affirm I am come out of a mistaken and flawed way that is of the nature of the first Covenant (which is a consciousness anchored in and conscience inform by outward Forms) and I am come into the Second Covenant which is a consciousness anchored in and a conscience informed by immanent Presence itself in itself.

As I believe I've seen happen before, you've misread a brief piece of mine and come in with an off-topic phonebook. Nothing was said, at least, about fearing anybody; it was about fearing the likelihood that a condition I've found in myself is pretty widespread.

It's good you've found the Light. We agree that it's what we all need, that it provides all that we need, and is disregarded far too often.

I do feel that you've come to replace it with a form of words that prevents you from seeing where your own idiosyncrasies blur your view, and from recognizing it in all the other places and ways It can also manifest.

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Roberta Bondi [in _To Love As God Loves_]: "It would be inappropriate to give directions here on how to pray like the desert dwellers of the fourth and fifth centuries. For one thing, there is intentionally a huge variety in their prayer, for they insist at every turn that God reveals God's self to each person according to each person's needs."

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If the Light as you've seen it in yourself has not yet clarified that fact to you, perhaps what Light reflects your way through me can be of use.

Thank you for correcting my misunderstanding of what you meant by what your fear and for sharing your judgement of me concerning your perception of my idiosyncrasies. Your judgements against me help me understand you better.

Rather than tongue-wrestle over whether I'm wrongly devaluing your claims, I would like to discuss my own subject. That this is a recurring situation is not a criminal offense on your part. I really would like to discuss my own subject, if there's anyone left to discuss it.

What I do think, rather than 'a judgement against you' is that you saw the Light once and have been groping behind an afterimage ever since. That is not to deny that the Light is still in there, or to claim that you should rely on me to get the wood out. Find another mirror where you can.

If you'd like to discuss Keith Saylor's and my shortcomings elsewhere, let me know.

I posted this in hopes of at least one on-topic response, from someone, before you would dive in.

I agree to stop trampling all over your posts (I see you don’t like it much, even though you have no compunction to to do same to myself) when you agree to show the same courtesy relative to that of my own. Perhaps it is time that you and I re-new our previous agreement to not participate in the discussions we initiate? I am more than willing to honor such an agreeement.

I think it was relevant to your subject that you weren't really talking about early Friends determined to crush the Light in their opponents -- but about people who were finding different Messages in that Light, unable to see how anyone not spiritually dead could view an issue differently.

Much like you and me, in that respect.

George Fox, while clearly a pill, did not do time in cells with running cold sewage on the floor so that he could someday lord it over his fellows or quench the Light in them.

He did join with others to tighten the organizational discipline of the Society. Those who fell outside their rules were quite free to worship with Friends -- as some later dissidents did in fact do -- or with anyone else inclined to worship with them.

The various dissident bodies that have formed -- up until the American schisms of the early 1800's -- were not crushed by military force; they ran out of spiritual juice and fell apart. Their writings were not suppressed (though some Friends may have wanted to); they simply weren't accepted as official Quaker publications.

The effect of the tightening -- aside from the fact that outright persecution gradually diminished -- probably was spiritually cramping on the movement. There's been ongoing conflict ever since between the control freaks and the wild-haired crazies, generally resolved peacefully as religious conflicts go...

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Humane treatment of each other is not contingent on whether another person has done well or badly. If you want to behave better, please do so.

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I want to discuss the subject. I want to discuss the subject. I want to discuss the subject.

Forrest,

Not sure if you've read the spiritual work, A Course in Miracles; but it somewhat addresses your question. If I can paraphrase my understanding of that massive spiritual work: "Some tiny aspects of God (the ALL) are in process of having a nasty dream that they are separate from the ALL; and they are in various stages of waking up from their pretend realities.  These realities are what we think we are experiencing, all the while we are actually safe at home within God who is really not that concerned about a stupid dream that's not real anyway. Yet for our comfort he is attempting to wake us up from this nasty dream".

This massive spiritual work along with workbook lessons attempt to demonstrate to us that this is what is happening.

While I'm not certain about this theory, this massive spiritual work is worth reading (and doing the workbook exercises) because it does provide the reader a deeper experience in the Christian spiritual walk, tackling difficult issues like forgiveness, the ego, the illusion of separateness from God (and others), and the true reality of Oneness with Christ and God. It purports to be authored by Jesus and basically elaborates on all the things he taught 2000 years ago and would have told us then if we could have grasped it at that time.

I don't like what I've seen of the book.

I'd agree (along with quite a few yogis) that we can't be truly separate from God. Given that, it makes no sense that we would have been afflicted with the illusion of being separate in the first place.

A developmental model: God first puts a piece of God into a world of similar pieces, to establish our individual identity, as a finite instance of God's infinite self. Without the illusion of being alone and limited, we'd hardly develop any characteristics different from anyone else's. "Ain't no point in talking to me; it's just like talking to you." As we mature, we start getting hints that there's more to life, and to us, than that separateness.

Bondi interprets the Desert Fathers (4th-5th Centuries) as seeing the purpose of life (their own lives, at least) in becoming 'perfect': 'being perfect' meaning that we go on developing greater and greater love. That would be love of God and all people, of course, as is. (Not necessarily Spontaneous Natural Affection, but love anyway, not love in any abstract sense, but a compassionate sense and appreciation of the specific character of each lovely or ornery being. Sonia's love of Rasknolnikoff might be a good example.)

I really can't imagine Jesus talking like the Course of Miracles book; I can see his influence behind that monastic and Eastern Orthodox outlook.

It's hard to know this mystery.  The words in the 'Course', as in any spiritual work, are trying to convey a reality beyond words or our human understanding. There are inspirational reaches by all flavors of spiritual works that have been sourced from that divine energy - in the hopes of revealing the nature of God (love and light) to everyone - each written compatible to the myriads of readers' own inner self at a given moment. Yet, each spiritual work has human ego and error mixed in to varying degrees.

It is all a mystery except for the resulting love and light that melts all divisions and separateness.  Due to this, the 'Course' concludes at the outset that 'Love' is the only reality, and then attempts to convince the reader of this through logic. 

For me, this spiritual work opened my eyes to the importance of love and the hopelessness of emotional fear in all its forms for one's eternal existence.  

Another meaningful spiritual work for me has been the Tao Te Ching. Again, it convinced me that God (the Tao) is in charge and we are One with it.  So accept this reality and flow with it and enjoy the ride.

The Bible holds little interest for me any more, except for the words of Jesus that were recorded (although who knows how true or accurate these are). It is obvious that there has been some human idolization of him inserted in the rendering of those words of his.  But the truth of his intent still comes through. He was an amazing person.

Still, even with all the energy that has gone into spiritual exploration for eons, the whole truth of what is going on is still a mystery.  I am grateful that the liberal Quaker tradition readily embraces the mystery and chooses to concentrate on the result of a Spirit-filled life rather than the intellectual reasoning of a mystery we will never be able to dissect. 

It's a Mystery that wants to be known, that makes use even of children's books. Different flavors for different folks.

The Bible at least offers a wide selection of examples of how this Mystery has looked to different people, with different cultural expectations, approaching It with different hopes. It's a different book to different people, which makes reading through it in a group open to different readings a rich source of insights.

As the product of an ancient state religion, it illustrates how readily religion can be diverted into smug self-congratulation -- while that (ever-present) Mystery refuses to let that cloud our minds forever.

But yes, after I'd to read it pretty thoroughly and reached a pretty strong sense that I'd found what it pointed me to, I've eventually lost my appetite for wrestling with it.

I consider it a mistake of the Liberal tradition to have tried to leapfrog that development and expect to escape the pitfalls our spiritual ancestors all too often fell in...

(?)

My understanding is God's goal is to create beings He can fellowship with who would be in unity with Him.  At the same time He doesn't want yes men but beings that are one with Him of their own free will.  In my understanding of God, He is Love.  That means God wants other beings who are love.  Not loving but love itself.  This means transforming a nature that is capable of love to one that is love.  This is done through Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  Think of an apple farmer who finds one of his trees is bearing perfect apples.  There are several ways he can proceed to convert his one perfect apple tree to many but he believes the best way is to graft the branches of the perfect apple tree onto the trunks of existing apple trees.  Such existing apple trees are still apple trees but they are now producing perfect apples and the farmer has access to an unlimited number of perfect apples.

Just trying to keep it simple.

Becoming "love itself" sounds like jumping through a pretty tight hoop. More, it sounds like getting bronzed, not like a job for a live critter.

What I liked about the Bondi woman's way of putting it was that 'perfection' by the understanding of these old desert guys:

begins with loving God-and-us-all with whatever juice we've been given for now

and goes on by letting God increase that. So far as we're working with God's help to increase our lovingness, that's 'perfection'. Not a warm-fuzzies sort of love, nor an abstract one, nor a moralistic stance, but continually learning to love as God loves, each specific little being for what it is... Even us ourselves!

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