This post is likely to run to some length. For that, to the extent the reader finds interest lagging, I apologize. Feel free to comment on the part(s) you find interesting, or not at all, as you like.
The topic of this post is sober and serious, at least to me. It seems likely, given the nature of our unique experiences and personalities, that at least some of what is here posted is destined to be troubling or challenging to many readers. That is not intentional.
As noted in the title, we are in week 24 of the Masterkey Mastermind Alliance experience. Week 17 had two parts, as also Week 22, hence the total time being slightly different from the title designation.
The main benefit I’ve received from the MKMMA experience so far is to begin to become a truly independent thinker. By that, I mean to indicate true independence in thought. Or, in other words, to have gained the hope of being in complete control over my own thoughts.
One of the impacts of this process has been significantly increased insight into the writing of those authors assigned and suggested.
An option this week was to read Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay Self-Reliance from 1841. I was struck by the similarity in tone and message to Compensation, earlier assigned, also from 1841.
A further option was to read (or hear recited) Wallace D. Wattles’ 1910 work The Science of Being Well. That short work is apparently the sister text to Wattles’ The Science of Being Rich.
Charles Haanel, who authored The Masterkey System, wrote contemporaneously with Wattles, as also did William Atkinson, who wrote The Law of Attraction, or Thought Vibration in the Thought World.
Wattles, Haanel and Atkinson were all proponents of “New Thought,” which seems another term for the Transcendentalism of Emerson and his contemporaries.
I am a very casual student of these authors, and I feel, like Emerson, entirely free to express my opinions without feeling the least compulsion to ascribe my reasoning to authority figures nor to be bound by my conclusions in later musings. I suppose that is either the height of naiveté and ignorance or the epitome of independent thought. I leave discernment to the reader’s discretion.
That being said, I write with compassion for the humanity expressed in what I consider sincere attempts at expressing personal gifts of enlightenment. These gentlemen (our authors) apparently wrote with the intent to share gifts of light and knowledge they found personally useful and valuable with the world. A person can only express the light he or she perceives. Even then, spiritual truth is hard to express in words, as these truths are spiritually discerned, and a variety of words can easily be crafted to express the same perception.
Part of my compassion for the writers above named stems from a consciousness that the 21st century in which I write is a far different world from that of the 19th or early 20th centuries in which they wrote. Knowledge and information is essentially instantaneously available in our world. Not so in theirs. Their world was bound by different traditions and social strictures than ours, too. In some cases these were more liberal; in some cases not.
Unfortunately for us, however, the education common to the 19th and early 20th centuries has been replaced with a command of information. Thus, they generally had a greater capacity to “think” whereas we often have a greater knowledge of “facts.”
I may herein refer to all or some of these authors as “our writers” or “our authors” to designate that their texts have been incorporated in the MKMMA coursework either explicitly or by reference.
Now, on with the thinking. Please buckle your seatbelts and keep your arms and legs inside the conveyance.
I Regarding Jesus of Nazareth
Each of the authors cited above refers, with approbation, to the words of Jesus of Nazareth, as the same are reported in the New Testament of the Bible. And, yet, each author denigrates the same Jesus by referring to Him as a teacher or by some other title.
Clearly, they’re confused or uncertain.
It is impossible to read the accounts of the life of Jesus with any degree of care and miss His central message. The central message is this: “I am the Christ, the Anointed One, the promised Messiah of the Jews, the Son of God made flesh, the Mediator of the New Covenant, and the Savior of mankind.”
C.S. Lewis, whom I have also not well studied, does a masterful job in Mere Christianity in exposing the perfidy of the practice of approving Jesus’ words while denying His divinity. Lewis points out that a fair reading of the accounts of the life of Jesus leaves us only two choices. Either Jesus was a kindly, benign lunatic, or He is who He claimed to be.
If a lunatic, one may not logically cite His words approvingly. If divine, one may not logically refer to Him only as a teacher.
Emerson, et al. as noted above make these logical errors. For the same, they ought not to be excused. Some of our authors’ words may have beneficial application, but their core intellectual integrity must, as a result, be questioned.
II Regarding Creation
Each of our authors refers to a creative force, power or influence. However, the sum total of their descriptions is comical, even farcical. In Compensation, Emerson pokes fun at the Greeks for embodying the creative force in Zeus (Jupiter) while ascribing to him ill intended caprice and whimsy, and restricting him so that he must go to Minerva for lightning bolts (power). Emerson’s comment is that the tradition of the Greeks witnessed of truth by tying the hands of so bad a conception of God.
Again, our writers were confused.
A fair reading of Emerson, Haanel, Wattles and Atkinson leaves one with the impression of a consistently expressed concept of God.
• Incorporeal, impersonal, and insubstantial, without body, parts or passions
• Universally present
• All Powerful
• All knowing
• Capable of Thought
• Author of Creation
And, yet, each author, betraying an unvoiced yearning, cannot resist referring to the creative force as God, and, at times, by the masculine personal pronoun. The use of the masculine personal pronoun at once affirms personality or personhood, together with gender, directly contravening the basic assertion of impersonality.
Other inconsistencies in the writing about supernatural power and creation include:
• The only creative power is thought, and God, having thought, created the Universe. However, having once thought, God suddenly lost the power of thought and ceded the realm of independent thought to His creations, becoming their slaves, willing to be impressed at any time with their will.
• Despite having the power of thought sufficient to create the Universe, God apparently had no central purpose in our creation, except to gain life by living through us. As if an entity with sufficient power to create life had no life of His own and needed to become the slave of the experiences of His creations. Talk about tying the hands of a bad God!
• God, having sufficient grace and power to create the universe, has no power of communication, and is willing to let His creations wander around their world with no central direction or guidance on good, evil, right or wrong. Each author affirms the contrary in his own way, admitting that there is a “right” way to be, and asserting that it matters. The only way it would matter whether one did “right” is if there is an arbiter or judge. Our authors again admit, by inference, that there is a judge. And the only fair judge is God.
• We individually have an unrestricted power of creation, but, yet, we must “align” our will with the divine in order to be assured of manifesting our creation. Clearly, God cares what we do, and He has a purpose or purposes with which we’re not allowed to interfere, despite inferences in these texts to the contrary.
This could go on a while, but these examples suffice me. And, if our writers were expressing religious beliefs instead of purporting to expound philosophy, one could excuse them these gross inconsistencies. After all, religious beliefs are faith based, and no religion of which I’m aware purports to answer all logical questions. Neither do religions feel the need to apologize for logical inconsistencies.
Philosophy, on the other hand, purports to be “the rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge or conduct.” www.dictionary.com The key difference between religion and philosophy is the difference between faith and reason. Therefore, when a philosopher is irrational, his philosophy is subject to question, and logically so. That it is all but impossible for a human to be completely rational is no excuse.
III Regarding Sin
Emerson and Haanel find themselves at pains to condemn the apparent inconsistency of the mainstream Christianity of their day because God created beings capable of sin, and then punishes them for sinning.
Again, they’re confused.
Do we or do we not have free will? Our authors find themselves at some pains to assert the power of choice inherent in each individual. What is that power of choice but free will? As noted above, every man, including our authors, knows that there is right and wrong, and that it matters which we pick.
When you pick up one end of the stick, you automatically pick up the other. Choice is inexorably bound up with accountability. Emerson knows this, paradoxically in this context, as he explains in detail in Compensation, teaching us that there is no way to detach the sensual sweet from the moral sweet, etc.
The unasked and unanswered question, which is perhaps a failure of inquiry by our authors, is “Why?” Why does God judge? The answer is easy and obvious. God, being just, must promote justice and punish injustice. As Emerson points out by inference in criticizing the illustration of Zeus, if God were not just, He would cease to be God.
Our authors knew, however, even if mainstream Christians of their day did not, that the essential element of creation is intelligence. And intelligence, if treated justly, cannot be coerced. It must be invited. Therefore, God could not “use” intelligence to create. He must, by necessity, invite intelligence to cooperate in creation. And, intelligence, being intelligent, would only cooperate in creation if there was an immutable promise of justice.
And we, also being intelligent, let alone partaking of the Spirit of God as our authors correctly assert, also cannot be used or coerced. We must be invited. And, God, being kind, loving and just, must provide us with the essential elements of choice. These are knowledge of good and evil, the power of choice, knowledge of the consequences of choice, actually having options from which to choose, and the manifestation of the consequences of our choices.
“Wrong” choices are thus “sin” when knowingly in contravention of “right” because such choices must, of necessity, separate us from God. No unclean thing can enter into His kingdom.
Thus we see that our authors are correct to encourage us to use our powers of choice, especially the power of controlling our thoughts, while simultaneously being incorrect in ignoring or disclaiming the role of God in holding us to account for the consequences of those choices. All debts to justice must, in the end, be paid. Either we’re free to sin, as we are, or there is no God because there is either no justice or no choice.
IV Regarding Atonement
Now we come full circle to Jesus of Nazareth, my Christ.
God does have life in Himself, and He need not live through us to gain knowledge, glory or experience. To the contrary, His purpose in creation is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” Moses 1:39, Pearl of Great Price
In other words, God has a perfect, exalted existence, and His purpose in creation is to make the same existence available to us, His children.
However, sin would be a problem but for the perfection of God’s Plan of Happiness. As noted above, all debts to justice must be paid, and it is not possible for the unclean to share God’s presence. John clearly tells us, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” 1 John 1:8
The harmony is found in the concept of Atonement, where a qualified benefactor may expiate the sin of another by enduring the suffering which would otherwise be required of the other. And Jesus of Nazareth, in performing his role as Christ or Messiah, having lived sinlessly and having life within Himself, being the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh, was a qualified benefactor. Christ suffered once for all, that He might draw us unto Himself on conditions of repentance.
Thus we, in confessing Christ through faith, on the conditions of repentance and a covenant to follow Him, gain access to grace via The Atonement. Our debt to justice is paid in the sacrifice of the sinless Son of God, and His mercy claims us on the conditions noted.
Thus we also see that the “Hero’s Journey” is in fact a pale reference to Christ’s Atonement and not the other way around. I’ll explain the various pre-Christian motifs of the same in the next section. Christ is the archetypal hero, and we are, indeed, called to take up our crosses and follow him, proceeding in faith to face adversity, conquer the abyss through grace, and be resurrected into a new life of discipleship where we can lead others to follow a like path of purpose, service and happiness.
Some things are true, whether you believe them or not.
V Regarding Revelation
Our authors visibly yearn for ongoing communication with God. One who knows what they want can sense the angst of knowing real communion is possible but not being able to find it. What our authors desired might be called revealed religion.
This is different from random insight or intuition that comes regularly as a result of meditation or otherwise embracing what Haanel calls “the stillness.”
The type of communication to which I refer is the sensitive, sacred whisperings of God’s Spirit to His child or children.
Historically, if you believe the Bible is at least part history, God provided guidance to His children through prophets. A prophet is a person chosen by God to be His messenger on earth. And in each age or epoch there was at least one prophet who had face-to-face communion with God. Noah, Abraham, Moses and Elijah are all examples of this calling or role and the corresponding experiences.
At the beginning of each age, God revealed himself fully to the chosen representative who would then have knowledge, not just faith, of God’s existence, His attributes and His purposes. And that knowledge was published as far and wide as the messenger’s sphere of influence extended.
Another aspect of the role of a prophet is the receipt of divinely granted authority to administer holy rites and ordinances. In those ordinances, supplicants and disciples may be granted the gift or privilege of ongoing fellowship and communion with the Holy Ghost, whose role it is to witness of the Father and the Son and act as conduit for revelation from heaven.
Thus, any and all faithful persons having access to divine authority through prophets had the privilege of direct communication with heaven in a way far deeper and more significant than the previously mentioned random insight.
This gift of prophecy and revelation, as it is sometimes called, continued with adherents from the dawn of history through the early ministry of the New Testament apostles. The so-called dark ages followed a universal apostasy, and a restoration of knowledge and authority followed in God’s due time in the early 19th century.
Thus, the saving mission of the Messiah was known to God’s children from the earliest days of the world, and His sacrifice was prefigured in various rituals, including the sacrifice of paschal lambs.
As mentioned above, free will is a fact of human existence, and part of that is the presence of more than one choice. Therefore, there must needs be a voice of opposition. God does not originate or restrict that voice, but it serves His purposes. And the voice of opposition began to make itself known also from the earliest days of human existence.
Where God would say, “I AM. Worship me and prosper,” the opposing voice would constantly affirm, “Believe it not.” The methods of opposition include deception and twisting, half-truth and counterfeit. One twist is to call history allegory; one half-truth is to treat the Atonement as an example of a theme rather than the archetype of that theme. From this opposing influence flowed all types of deception and error.
Christ alluded to the sweetness of ongoing companionship of the Holy Ghost when He uttered the parable of the Pearl of Great Price. In that short parable Jesus compared the Kingdom of Heaven to a merchant seeking goodly pearls, who, when he had found one of great value, sold all that he had to obtain it.
Up until this week, I understood the parable of the pearl of great price from a commercial point of view, but I never understood the emotions of the merchant. As I pondered the topic of this post, I was initially miffed by having to wade through half-truth, supposition and error as part of the MKMMA experience.
Then, later, I understood better. I could see clearly that our authors were well intended, and they did their very best to enlighten the world. Indeed, I have been well served by my study, casual though it may be by academic standards. I can see clearly the benefit of independent thought, and I’m grateful for the sacrifices of our authors.
And, most recently, I’ve become empathetic with their searches and their individual journeys. I just did not see at first that for which they really yearned. They all sought knowledge and experience that have been common in my life for decades. Net result: I can see better the life altering value of that which I had too frequently taken for granted.
If they saw in the gifts with which I’m conversant the value I now see, they would be just like the merchant, willing to sell all to gain that value.
It is my witness to you, dear reader, that God lives. He did create us, and His purpose in doing so is to invite us to return to His presence and enjoy with Him the blessings of eternity. He cares about us enough to send messengers, and we have the option to listen and, if we will, embrace the message. Jesus, His Only Begotten Son, is our Savior and Redeemer, and the Holy Ghost is His emissary and our available companion.
Intelligence is the basic building block of creation, and we, being intelligent, are invited to participate in the ongoing process of creation, not for God’s benefit, but for our own.
Thank you for joining me in making the world a little better, one day at a time.by