I just had respond, because you nearly perfectly described myself, except that my beliefs changed far more recently. I was raised Baptist, and essentially lived in a bubble the first 17 years of my life.
Selflessness is undoubtedly what life is about!! Makes me excited that other people feel that way too.
Even though in my personal experience Christianity didn't offer a route to spirituality (almost the opposite), I have seen very spiritually advanced Christians, very in touch with the world, filled with compassion, etc. It's a winning solution for some people, but in all my experience, I've found there is no correlation between "good people" and religion, political affiliation, ideology, whatever. Some people have the need for religion, but I caution against it. I think the only thing you need to get close to God (and I use that word for lack of a better one, I strongly dislike the associated perception) is yourself. To believe anything else is essentially disempowerment.
Jesus was one of the greatest philosphers, thinkers, and men ever to walk the earth though, no doubt. Too bad the "Holy Roman Empire" decided to use him as the centerpiece of their social construct (a.k.a. the Bible). Although, I have heard from someone that Jesus believed he truly was the son of God. Will we ever know beyond a shadow of a doubt??
I am sorry if I offended anyone, I do try to encourage everyone in whatever path of life they so choose. This is just an opinion, after all
It's hard enough having a face to face chat about these things, let alone typing away, hoping it comes across as how one intended!
I was of course wrong to suggest that most, if not all Christians fall short of spiritual awareness. That simply isn't true. But as a religion it really is going to some crazy extremes . Who on earth would imagine a loving God is going to appear out of the sky and bang bang bang his enemies!? People are waking up internally, and now the nature of God is being realized as more in line with people's own spirits. I have no guilt in me when I reject the idea of a warring god , for example. I know that this was a mis-percetion from older cultures, and probably a great weapon for anyone wishing to motivate an army and take over someone else's land, or pass a new policy through!
I really agree with your statement that one's self is all that is needed in order to come in touch with this Creative potential that all people have.
And Jesus as well aware of reincarnation and the circle of birth/rebirth. If death is the end, then the story of Lazuras would be pointless, as there would have been nowhere to have caused a regeneration. The texts ommitted from the bible show a different Jesus, more in line with Eastern Philosophy.
I had a Baptist girlfriend in the early 1980s, and I did go a few times to her church. They were a lot more open than the Catholics I had left behind.:-) But, like most other Christians, they feel guilty about questioning. Whereas the truth should never fear being questioned. So I set out on other journies, in order to find out for myself, and that's when I realized that the bible was not complete, and in fact pretty altered.
Other religions seemed to express the fragements of truth I'd found in the bible, so much more elaborately. Anyway, as you have been a Baptist, you will recognise some biblical stuff in the following examples:http://www.cosmicharmony.com/Wi/WImain.htm
The Vedas deal with the science of the spirit. They contain the knowledge and procedures necessary to liberate oneself from bondage and blindness. But mere learning of them is no use. They have to be put into practice. That is the purpose of these revelations. The Vedas are the whisperings of God to man and they have been passed down and kept intact since ancient times. The vedic teachings are explained and elaborated in the Upanishads, Sastras, and the Puranas. The same teachings are enshrined in the popular eastern classics: Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and the Bhagavata. All these teach the ultimate truth that "all this is Brahmam" (the eternal transcendent God who permeates all and is given various names by different religions). The individual arises as a wave on the ocean and eventually merges back into the ocean of Brahmam. The mergence is an ecstatic reunion after a prolonged journey of isolation through space, time and form. Sages who have attained to this state of ultimate knowledge of God have proclaimed that everything in this world and the entire universe is nothing but this Brahmam who shines with the effulgence of a billion suns. This is the highest state that can be achieved and is referred to as Advaitha (A or not, Dwaitha or two). In the Advaithic state of ultimate realization, Brahmam or God is experienced as the One without a second. In this state of ecstatic union with Brahmam the appearance of duality, of forms, people, animals, objects that were previously seen to exist separately in this world as what we call objective reality dissolve into the single sight of the entity of Brahmam which is eternal and formless and yet contains all form within it. This transcendent state of ultimate union is referred to in the powerful mantras Aham Brahmaasmi (I am Brahmam) and SoHam (He am I).
This state of mergence with the Absolute is referred to by many terms in various religions. It is often called Nirvana in the West, Kensho or Satori in Zen Buddhism, the Void or at-one-ment in Tibetan Buddhism; also variously Enlightenment, Self realization, and in the East - Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Christ referred to it in his statement "The Father and I are one" as he attained to this pinnacle of realization towards the end of his earthly career.
Vedanta is that body of thought which contains the wisdom of the Vedas. It deals with this science of self realization by which the individual and temporary wave of consciousness can merge into the eternal ocean of Sat-Chit-Ananda (Existence, Knowledge, Bliss) which is Brahmam or the highest God. This state is attained only through sacrifice, the transcending of likes and dislikes, desires and prejudices of the ego and the state of individuality. One who has attained this state sees all as inherently divine and therefore strives to serve all others as repositories of that same Godhead.
In the Vedantic knowledge, the eternal witness within every living being is called the Atma. The word Atma means light or effulgence. The Atma is the very core of each individual which registers all feelings, thoughts, consciousness, and awareness. Western science has taught us that our living forms or bodies have evolved from simple one celled organisms into the complex organization of the human body as it exists today. Inherent in this view is that our thoughts and feelings arise as illusions from the electrical nerve activity in the brain. But the sage knows the body to be secondary and dependent on the primary spirit within. Without the spiritual Atma, the perceiver of all thoughts, feelings and sensations; the organically living form would fall down senseless in an instant. The spiritual entity is the cohesive force behind the physical organization and once the Atma withdraws from the body, disintegration begins immediately.
The Katha Upanishad contains the story of the young and virtuous Nachikethas. When the father of Nachikethas gives away inferior gifts as part of a ritual ceremony, the boy tries to lessen the impact of this serious error in judgment. The father gets angry and in disgust at his interference shouts that he is going to give the son away to Yama, the god of death. The son resolves that the words uttered by the father should not be untrue so he proceeds to the residence of Yama to offer himself up as a ritualistic gift. The boy spends three nights waiting to see the god. When Yama discovers his presence, he feels sorry that the boy had to wait so long, so he decides to grant him three boons, one for each night he waited.
Nachikethas asks first that when he returns home, his father will have shed his anger and gained mental equanimity and so welcome him home. Second, he asks to know the secret of the absence of hunger and fear of death in the heaven worlds. Yama gladly grants these boons and further initiates his new disciple into the details of a special ritual ceremony. Yama sees the reverence, intelligence, and eagerness of his new pupil and is much pleased with him. Nachikethas then asks for his third boon. He tells his new teacher: "some say that death is not the end; that there is an entity called the Atma which survives the body and senses. Teach me that secret of the Atma". Yama at first resists and decides to test him to see if he is deserving of this unique knowledge. He offers him many other attractive boons involving worldly prosperity and happiness. But Nachikethas firmly declines these ephemeral favors. "The alternative boons you hold before me cannot assure me the everlasting benefit that Atmajnana (Atmic knowledge) alone can bestow". Yama is again pleased with his pupil and decides he is fit to receive the highest wisdom. The remainder of the Upanishad contains his teachings to Nachikethas. The young disciple grasped the teachings immediately and thoroughly and, putting them into practice, he attained to Brahmam.
The Bhagavad Gita (literally the song of God), is the recording of a conversation between Krishna (a descent of the Godhead on earth) and Arjuna. It is one of the most popular works of literature in the East. Although small in volume, it has within it all the essence of the Vedas. The Bhagavad Gita contains one of the most potent and lucid explanations of this inner essence referred to as the Atma.
Know this Atman, unborn, undying.
Never ceasing, never beginning.
Deathless, birthless, unchanging forever.
How can it die the death of the body?
Worn out garments are shed by the body.
Worn out bodies are shed by the Atma.
New bodies are donned like garments.
Not wounded by weapons nor burned by fire
Not dried by the wind not wetted by water.
Such is the Atman.
He who dwells within all living bodies
remains forever indestructible.
Therefore never mourn for anyone.
You must be free from the pairs of opposites.
Poise you mind in tranquility.
Be established in the consciousness of the Atman always.
You must not desire for the fruits of your work.
Perform every action with your heart fixed on the Supreme Lord.
Be even tempered in success and failure.
Unite the heart with Brahman, and then act.
That is the secret of non attachment.