Friday, April 29, 2016

For The Kingdom Of Heaven's Sake

In the Bible (Matthew 6:33), Jesus tells his followers to eschew material concerns completely. He admonishes his disciples to take no thought at all towards things such as food, clothing, and shelter. He is instead adamant that the FIRST thing they must do is to seek the kingdom of God.  "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

Jesus is also quite clear about the path (way) to the kingdom of Heaven, and the fact that the way is unclear to most  (John 14:4) "And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know."  (Matthew 7:14) "Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." (Matthew 13:11)  He replied, "Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.

Christ is also quite specific about where the kingdom of God is located.  (Luke 17:21) "Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you."  (Luke 11:52) "Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered."  (John 14:20) "At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you."

He also clearly indicates the physical nature of the kingdom of God, as well as route to take to access the kingdom of Heaven.  (1 John 1:5)  "This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all."  (Mathew 6:22) "The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light."  

God's nature as a being of light, and the process for accessing His kingdom is described completely when Jacob wrestles with God in the Book of Genesis.  (Genesis 32:30) "And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved."  Let's summarize:

Jesus commands his followers to seek first the kingdom of God above all things.  Jesus has revealed the method for accessing the kingdom of God to his disciples; but this information is not common knowledge.  The kingdom of God is within each of us, and Jesus chastised the Pharisees and scribes for teaching otherwise.  God is light, and you can access this divine light by making sure your "eye is single."  The place where God may be seen face to face is called Peniel. This final bit of the story is possibly quite profound! Some believe that it was meant to teach about God, and more importantly, about a spiritual journey “within.”  According to them, it is this same “within” that Jesus speaks of when he states that the kingdom of God is within you.  For example:

In reference to this profound spiritual transformation, Jesus is not talking about the two eyes that humans see the physical world with. Rather, he is talking about your Pineal gland, or what ancient cultures called the “third eye.”  It is known as an eye because the Pineal gland in your brain has a special relationship to light. Just like the retina of your physical eyes, the Pineal gland also contains light-sensitive cells. In fact, they are similar to some of the cells that make up the retina.  Jesus refers to this as a single eye because the pineal gland would not have a left and right hemisphere like your brain.  A pineal gland that is “full of light” is representative of an extraordinary spiritual experience, where we transcend consciousness on the physical plane and merge with God on the spiritual plane. The pineal gland has more to do with the seat of the soul and consciousness than the actual brain, and thus, this type of experience with the pineal gland could expand your consciousness. At least this is what the spiritual men of many ancient cultures believed, and since even modern medical science still sees the pineal gland as an enigma, I wouldn’t be so quick to pass this off as ancient hogwash. We do know that the pineal gland regulates and affects sleeping and waking patterns through its interpretation of light. ~ Joshua Tilghman

Modern scientists are only really beginning to unravel the mysteries surrounding the tiny endocrine gland, known as the pineal gland or Third Eye.  The pineal gland is small but powerful. One of its roles is the secretion of melatonin, which regulates our sleep and wakefulness routines. Melatonin is also an anti-oxidant which slows the aging process, as well as protecting the body from the effects of electromagnetic pollution.  Another function is the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates moods and the feeling of well being.  There is research to suggest that the pineal gland also produces a substance called DMT (N, N-dimethyltryptamine). This substance is present in certain plants, which create hallucinogenic effects when ingested. It is believed that the pineal gland produces DMT during mystical experiences, as well as during the birth and death process. ~ Katie Gray

Let's get to the point

At this juncture, this post could legitimately go in a lot of possible different directions.  So, for the sake of clarity:  The takeaways for me personally from all this are that Jesus and the Bible, via these passages and many others, confirm a Gnostic centered approach to religion and spirituality.  Christ claims that the kingdom of God is within us, and that meditation and "knowing thyself" or "intimate self knowledge" are the true pathways to spiritual enlightenment, and accessing and experiencing the kingdom of Heaven.  Since I personally define spiritual enlightenment as "peace of mind," and I believe this peace of mind is attained through real knowledge of self, this has also been my personal life experience.  I do believe that true knowledge and real understanding of self gives one a window into everyone's soul; warts and all.

Note also, that the story in Genesis states that Jacob was “alone” when this encounter with God happened. This lines up with another prescription of Christ's and signifies the necessity of going to our prayer closet to get in touch with our inner selves through prayer and meditation.  According to this interpretation, meditation is one preferred method of having this type of Pineal, or Peniel, experience.  Meditation is one key, and self-knowledge and subsequent spiritual enlightenment are the potential rewards waiting to be unlocked.  There are other methods to obtain this self-knowledge...and spiritual transformation to a greater state of awareness and peace of mind, but that way is not open to all.

I wish I could tell you that this experience is simple and quick.  It wasn't for me.  My personal road to self-discovery has been decades long and filled with potholes and pileups.  If you read Jacob’s life story, you’ll see that life was rough on him, and he also traveled a long, hard, winding road. But in the end Jacob had his Peniel experience (a born again resurrection experience) that made him “Israel” instead of Jacob. Jacob was a physical man. Israel was the transformed spiritual man. 

This would also explain why the Apostle Paul writes that being an Israelite has nothing to do with a blood line, but it is a spiritual definition. A spiritual Israelite is one who has had the Peniel experience. Think about Paul’s experience with the Cosmic Christ on the road to Damascus.  Didn’t he have his spiritual revelation of Christ through the presence of a “bright light!?”

Okay, so what am I really driving at here???

Anyway, with all this discussion in mind about "self-knowledge" potentially being the "key" to accessing and experiencing the kingdom of God/Heaven, let's deconstruct two of my very favorite Bible verses; Matthew 19:11-12: 

But he said unto them, "All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. 12.  For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it."

Many Christians and some religious scholars will tell you flatly that Jesus never mentions homosexuals or transgendered individuals in the Bible.  Based on the scriptures above, I hotly disagree.  I believe wholeheartedly that the verses above translate as follows, "Not everyone will get this, but some are born homosexual and don't desire a marriage coupling with a female, some are castrated against their will as servants or slaves, and some castrate themselves in homage to the clear understanding of the true nature of their innermost selves...or restated, "for the kingdom of heaven's sake."  Only those with an accurate understanding of the true nature of the kingdom of heaven (illuminating self-knowledge) will understand this...such as Jesus' disciples.

Many will claim that instead Jesus was saying, "Some men are just not into marriage; it's not in their nature" when he speaks of those born as eunuchs.  I disagree due to the reinforced statement that understanding of their condition "cannot be received by all men" and the obvious reinforcement that he is not speaking literally, but in parable form.  This is also true of the reference to gender reassignment.  If Jesus were talking about people castrating themselves as a means of showing religious devotion, as some ancient pagan sects did, he would not refer to their acts as leading to his Father's kingdom, or imply a difficulty in understanding the act.  Instead, the disciples, who were given the knowledge of the kingdom, would know precisely what he meant.  Intimate self-knowledge, self-observation, and constant self-awareness of a kind experienced by those who feel they were born into the wrong physical gender, is the very definition of the path to the kingdom of heaven for all.  For the sake of the kingdom, they made themselves eunuchs; evidencing a more complete self-knowledge and totality of inner understanding.

Some of you out there (few there be that find it) get this completely.  As for the rest, I don't expect everyone out there to agree with any one interpretation; I simply find the idea interesting.  For the sake of brevity (and my own sanity) I've left out loads of material in support of this argument concerning transgendered individuals possessing a "higher" sense of self-awareness.  Hopefully, I've included enough, and been coherent enough in my presentation to make people think, or even begin their own investigations into this subject.  If you have read this to the end, I simply request that you consider it.

Dave ~ Thanks for your time.  I hope we get to know each other better.