Descartes Said It’s Necessary to Doubt All Things at Least Once

Rene Descartes on spiritual seekers
Rene Descartes, Philosopher

Don’t feel bad if you get agnostic from time to time! Doubting is a necessary thing according to the great philosopher and mathematician, Rene Descartes.

In the course of our homeschooling today (annoying Cartesian math for 8th graders!) we looked up Rene Descartes for the fun of it. Up came a bunch of his famous quotes — for once not the “I think, therefore I am” quote.

Agnostics, skeptics and spiritual seekers will appreciate his words.

If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.

I tried to think of when this doubting of all things might have happened to me. Then I remembered as a young college student my jaw dropping over the Mithras-to-Jesus similarities. Birthdate, Roman-style worship, 12 disciples, etc.  I was already upset by the absence of a God-the-Mother and God-the Daughter, and suspicious of all the (wonderful!) pagan elements in Judeo-Christianity. The Mithras stuff and Acharya S’s exaggerated correspondences pushed me into full doubt-mode for a short while. I had to rise up from either / or belief and mature into both / and.  As in, yeah, Mithras, Jesus, Dionysius, Adonis, were probably the same — and Horus the Light of the World. Then there is Helios, El, Allah with the “EL” name of God hiding in there. Adonis is similar to Adonai, also. Paganism, Monotheism, Gnosticism, ALL of it. It is the same. They are BOTH true, this AND that and that and this, too. There is no black and white, no either / or in spiritual truth.

Then again, I will probably never grasp the Truth with a capital T.  I really like the title Gnostics gave to Mary Magdalene. She was the Woman who knew the ALL. Gnostic knowing is spelled with a g. She gnew it in her marrow, it was the ultimate gnowing.

Just rambling here…

Huston Smith World Religions Scholar Has Died

The World's Religions by Huston Smith, Ph.D.One of our Seminarians told me today that Huston Smith died on December 30th. I somehow missed it in all the craziness of the news lately. All those losses in 2016: Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, Prince, George Michael, Mohammed Ali — and also Huston Smith.  I used to get a Religion-in-the-News email “newsletter”. Since everyone seems to prefer news delivered by Facebook or blogs these days my inbox doesn’t get newsletters anymore.

We use Dr. Huston Smith’s famous book, The World’s Religions, in our seminary training program — as do countless colleges and universities.

CNN says:

Huston Smith sat at the bedside of his firstborn child, watching her life ebb away.
“I have no complaints,” Karen Smith told her father. “I am at peace.”
During their last moments together, Karen told her father that she was thinking of angels. She told him not to cry. She told him how much she loved the ocean.

“Religion,” Smith once wrote, is “the call to confront reality; to master the self.” Smith had strived to answer that call for much of his life.
Smith’s public persona has long been established: He is the tall, thin, affable scholar who can distill the essence of the most esoteric religious subject in concrete language.
* * * * * *
Here at the multi-faith Esoteric Interfaith Church, Inc. & Theological Seminary we are quite fond of that word esoteric. We like the interpretation of the word as “inner” because we often focus on the inner traditions of Christianity, Judaism and other great world religions. Our seminary offers a distance-learning Ph.D. in World Religion, Religion, Religious Studies, etc.
I love the cover pictured above. It’s Norman Rockwell’s famous “Golden Rule” painting. “Do unto others,” he reminded us right on the canvas. When I had The World’s Religions as a textbook in university it had a rather plain and boring cover. This edition would have kept me staring to the point of distraction during every lecture. Some very cool elements and even a couple esoteric symbols hiding in there despite the fact Rockwell wasn’t known for esotericisms.
Oh hey, I just checked Amazon and see they have another version of this classic called  The Illustrated World’s Religions: A Guide to Our Wisdom Traditions. You can click and see inside the book to enjoy some of the many photos.
The seminarian who mentioned Smith’s passing also has a Ph.D. in World Religions from our seminary. He said he had read many of his books, even the ones not assigned in our seminary degree and ordination programs, and this great scholar of religion will be missed.

Try this Spiritual Practice: People Watching from Eckhart Tolle

For esotericists, clergy and ancient wisdom practitioners, PRAXIS (spiritual practice) is everything. Here’s a quick lesson from Eckhart Tolle teaching the spiritual practice of people watching. Fun.Ordained clergy often fear public speaking

Tolle addresses people looking back at us. As ordained clergy, teachers and/or public speakers we sometimes flip out when we think “all those people” will be “staring” at us. (laugh)
Tolle explains how to eliminate that fear by realizing — convincing your fraidy-cat brain — that “even the attention of 100 people doesn’t add [or detract] anything to who you are in truth.”
Who you are in truth. Right.
I also liked Tolle’s point about dogs being easier to trust / love than humans because there is no big fat ego — human mind — in the way to clash with our own big fat ego!
From http://communicate.eckharttolle.com/news/2016/12/13/the-practice-of-people-watching/

The Practice of People-Watching 

A little spiritual practice I recommend is to go to a public place where you can sit and watch human beings, perhaps at a café or in the park. I call it “people-watching.” The only difference between ordinary people-watching and this kind of people-watching is that your practice is not to attach any label or judgment on any human that you watch; you allow them to be as they are as they walk along or do whatever they do, and enjoy the incredible spectacle of the multiplicity of human forms.People Watching as Praxis or Spiritual Practice
 
There is no judging as good or bad; just allow them to be, so the mind does not call them anything. You’re there as an innocent observer. It’s a beautiful thing; it even does something to the energy field where you are, where you’re sitting. You bring in a different frequency, but that’s a secondary thing. Don’t start thinking, “I am here to bring in a different frequency…”; just be there an alert watcher.
 
As you do this, something amazing can happen: you begin to love other humans, which for some people is a difficult thing. It’s easier to love a dog, for example, than a human, usually, because there’s no mind to get in the way: a dog doesn’t judge you; a dog has unconditional love. It’s easy to love a creature like that.
 
But humans are different because they’re often burdened by mental activity and thoughts, conscious or otherwise, like, “Who are you? What do you want? What does he want from me?”
 
So, the next step up, of course, is to watch people that you know very well in the same way—at home or wherever there’s a lot of past that you share. And then be present, even with people with whom you share a lot of past. But at first I recommend limiting your practice to observing strangers, with whom you don’t share any past. Next step up is you practice with relatives, friends, and family; just in little moments when you watch them without wanting anything.
 
Do it with your children, without saying, “you should be doing this; why are you doing that?” Just watch. You can also say, “yes, brush your teeth;” it’s fine, but just watching is beautiful.
 
So, that’s an enjoyable method for incorporating awareness practice into everyday life. I’ve been practicing people-watching for many years. And after a time, you begin to love everybody, no matter what they look like, because it’s all the human form expressing itself in so many different ways.
 
You very rarely actually attract attention to yourself—which to the ego may not be such a great thing. There are two egoic states that could arise while people-watching: one is to want to be seen and the other is to be afraid of being seen. The purpose is going beyond both, and if people are looking, if you’re not there as a thinking person—in other words, if you’re there as presence—it doesn’t matter if they’re looking. It doesn’t add anything to who you are nor does it detract anything from who you are; even the attention of 100 people doesn’t add anything to who you are in truth.
 
To the ego it could be a great thing; many egos love attention, except for those who fear attention. So, if you are in a position where people are looking at you, again, to be still and present, you go beyond both the timidity of not wanting to be seen or the pride of, “oh, they’re all looking at me.” In ancient Greek mythology, Narcissus was a young man who saw a reflection of himself in a pool of water and became obsessed with his own reflection. That story speaks of the arising of the human ego. It’s the image of who you are in your mind, which gets reinforced by others. It’s ultimately a phantom. People-watching can help us go beyond the ego in everyday life.

Heavenly Mother Increasingly Mentioned by Mormon Church Leaders

Veiled Mother of the World by Russian esoteric Christian Nicholas Roerich
Veiled Mother of the World, 1930, by Russian esoteric Christian Nicholas Roerich

Yay. God-the-Mother is coming out more and more in various religions. The Mormons have always believed She existed, and a Heavenly Mother has been in their doctrine all along. But they have told their leaders not to preach sermons about Her (due to persecution, being called a “sex cult” back in the 1800s). Now that is changing. Pretty cool.

Mormons also believe Mary Magdalene was Jesus’ wife. My daughters love hanging out with Mormon friends, one whose parents have prominent paintings of Jesus and Magdalene on the wall. (Painted by Mormon artists).
Here’s a news article about the Heavenly Mother being increasingly mentioned by LDS (Mormon) leaders. It has an interesting Madonna-like picture of Her with a hidden face.
 

http://www.sltrib.com/home/4549096-155/meet-the-heavenly-parents-mormon-leaders

God Has a Wife! (and Goddess has a husband) — as we’ve been saying here on this website since 1999. Here’s our 2006 God Has a Wife! slideshow for more images of Her…

 

Absorb some Super Moon Light for Stability, Magic and Wisdom

Super moon has magic and religious significanceThe moon is the closest it’s been in 69 years and thus is called a SUPER MOON. It actually appears larger, see image.

Be sure to get out, or at least sit by a window and experience her special light. Put some jewelry, talismans, prayer beads, knotted prayer rope or rosary in your windowsill to absorb the light of the super moon.

Also, soak your face in her light and ask, “Do you have a message for me?”  For thousands of years people (and Magi, the “Jedi” of earth) have done that.
In the Holy Land the moon was viewed as male, but then so was the sun and everything but Venus. Very male-centric solar system in the eyes of our Middle-East forbears. The Norse also view the moon as male and this may be where we get our “man in the moon” concept, just as we get our weekday names from the Norse. The Norse believed the sun was female (a warm loving mother) and the moon her husband. In ancient Sumeria and what is now Iraq / Syria, the earth was a woman and the moon her husband. His name was Sin pronounced Seen, and we now have the Sinai peninsula and of course Mount Sinai named after her beloved.
Without the moon we would scoot around from north to south poles and agriculture would not survive due to unstable weather patterns, neither would we. We might even fly completely out of orbit. S/He stabilizes us. It’s pretty cool!
Absorb some of that magical and yet stabilizing energy this week…. especially Monday night when it is strongest.
Esoteric spiritual clergy gather for super moon ordinationWhen you gaze at the Moon, know that hundreds of thousands of people are doing the same thing at that same moment. Know that some are fellow esotericists like yourself. Some will be putting things in their windowsills, especially silver is said to be nicely “charged up” by moonlight. I will be thinking of you all when I do my moon-work this week.
“See” you there!
Bishop Katia

Martha – Sister of Mary Magdalene and Lazarus – added to the Gospel later

Margaret Starbird writes this morning:

Master's Degree Thesis Martha Mary Magdalene
Jesus, Mary and Martha (Lazarus in background) at their home in Bethany

Elizabeth Schrader, [aka singer-songwriter Libbie Schrader] whose “Magdalene Song” is dear to my heart, has just had a paper published in the Harvard Review at this link: Was Martha of Bethany Added to the Fourth Gospel in the Second Century?  (abstract below)

The article is technical with regard to ancient Greek and Latin texts, but the gist is that the presence of “Martha” in John 11 and 12 is “unstable” in many of the earliest copies of the Gospel, suggesting that she was added in to the story of the Mary whose tears moved Jesus to raise her brother Lazarus and at the supper in Bethany where Jesus was anointed by the same Mary, the sister of Lazarus [and Martha].
I hope many of you will find time to read this article for the light it throws on the New Testament Gospel of John and the woman who was later identified with the title  “the Magdalene.”
Peace and light,
Margaret
The Woman with the Alabaster Jar
Here is a video where Libbie Schrader talks about raising money to make a music video of her Magdalene Song. She shows a few clips of her trip to France to secret Magdalene gardens, destroyed churches, etc.
Here is the Abstract of Elizabeth’s Master’s Degree Thesis:
Abstract

This study examines the text transmission of the figure of Martha of Bethany throughout the Fourth Gospel in over one hundred of our oldest extant Greek and Vetus Latina witnesses. The starting point for this study is instability around Martha in our most ancient witness of John 11–12, Papyrus 66. By looking at P66’s idiosyncrasies and then comparing them to the Fourth Gospel’s greater manuscript transmission, I hope to demonstrate that Martha’s presence shows significant textual instability throughout the Lazarus episode, and thus that this Lukan figure may not have been present in a predecessor text form of the Fourth Gospel that circulated in the second century. In order to gain the greatest amount of data on the Fourth Gospel’s text transmission, I rely on several sources. Occasionally these sources conflict in their rendering of a variant; I have tried to make note of these discrepancies and look at photographs of witnesses whenever possible. Although this study is primarily focused on Greek and Vetus Latina witnesses, an occasional noteworthy variant (e.g., from a Syriac or Vulgate witness) may be mentioned when relevant to the subject at hand. The work of many established redaction critics, who have already hypothesized that Martha was not present in an earlier form of this Gospel story, will also be addressed.

Read the whole Master’s Degree Thesis here: Was Martha of Bethany Added to the Fourth Gospel in the Second Century?

Sacred Partnership of Jesus & Magdalene

Magdalene anointing Jesus
Magdalene Anoints Jesus making him “the anointed one” aka the Messiah

Margaret Starbird wrote on the GoddessChristians forum:

When Pope Francis announced that Mary Magdalene’s “Memorial” on 22 July would henceforth be an official Feast Day of the Catholic Church, he commented that “She loved Jesus and Jesus loved her.”

I’ll be doing an interview with Kris Steinnes for “Women of Wisdom” on Friday afternoon October 14th (1-2 PM Pacific; 4-5 Eastern)–centered on the Sacred Partnership of Jesus and Mary Magdalene at the heart of the earliest Christian community. Please tune in here for the live broadcast or later archived segment: http://www.transformationradio.fm/host/kris-steinnes,16.html

 
In memory of Her
Margaret
“The Woman with the Alabaster Jar”

Saint Francis of Assisi Mother Cathar Heretic Praying Hands Letter X

The current pope, Pope Francis, was so inspired by St. Francis of Assisi to choose his name for himself when he became pope. I wonder if he knows about Saint Francis’ possible heretical background.

Margaret Starbird wrote:

October 4 is the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi—13th century founder of the Franciscan order.  I was baptized on his feast day many years ago—and have always had a special love for him. The “Song of Saint Francis” and his “Canticle to the Sun” are beloved around the world. [Hear it in the video below] His message of joy in God’s creation resonates with all generations.

Cathar Heretic praying hands
Clasp your hands like this but then point your fingers down toward the floor. You will see the heretical little X’s appear made by your fingers

One of my favorite movies—from the 1970’s(!)  —is “Brother Sun, Sister Moon,” [movie trailer below] based on the life of Saint Francis, whose mother is alleged to have been from a prominent Cathar family from Provençe.  At one point in the movie, Francis notices that his mother is praying with her hands folded, fingers crossed in little X’s and pointed downward. Saint Francis comes over to her and straightens out her fingers pointing them all upward in the traditional Roman Catholic prayer position, but after he turned away to go back to his friends, his mother put her hands back in the “alternative” Christian position of “prayer form the heart.”  My mother, who was an Episcopalian, used to pray in that Protestant hand position, and I’ve found numerous paintings of Mary Magdalene with her hands folded together that way as well. It’s interesting that the fingers form little X’s because the letter X was one of the prominent symbols of the “Grail Church” that recognized Jesus and Mary Magdalene as partners. Details are available on my website: www.margaretstarbird.net

Here is the url for the trailer for “Brother Sun, Sister Moon” in case you’ve never seen the movie.  It’s a classic…

Peace and light,
Margaret
“The Woman with the Alabaster Jar”

August 15 Assumption of Mary God-the-Mother, Our Christian Goddess

Mary, Our Christian Goddes or Heavenly Mother, Divine Mother at her Assumption
Mary crowned & enthroned as Queen of Heaven

Today is the day Mary Mother-of-Jesus was said to have ascended into heaven and to begin her reign as Queen of Heaven, crowned by the Father & Son, becoming a member of the Trinity. It makes sense to me that she was our Heavenly Mother and like her Son decided to incarnate here on earth to bring about the Work, to deliver the Message (aka the “Good News” literally gospel).

Margaret Starbird writes:

August 15 is the official Catholic Church Feast Day celebrating the assumption of the Virgin Mary—body and soul—into heaven (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assumption_of_Mary ) validating a folk commemoration of this event over hundreds of years.

In medieval lore, two other female saint were alleged to have been assumed bodily into heaven:  Mary Magdalene and Mary the Egyptian (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_of_Egypt), another “Fallen Sophia” revered by medieval Christians. Carl Jung was apparently thrilled when this feast day was declared because it elevated the “Feminine”  status, completing (in his view) the “quaternity” (the classic Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit completed by the addition of the Feminine “Mother of God”).

What will it take for the Church to recognize the archetypal Sacred Complement of Christ in the person of Mary Magdalene—his Bride in Exile? She represents the entire human family (flesh and blood) as “Bride”/Partner and co-Creator with the Divine.
In memory of Her,
Margaret
“Mary Magdalene, Bride in Exile”

The Problem of Evil

The Problem of Evil

by esotericist Mark Stavish

The problem of evil is a perennial one for students of esotericism.  Various philosophies address the problem in different manners, but in synthesis, there seems to be several distinct areas of overlap and agreement.

While alchemy does not address the idea of evil directly, it speaks of purification, sublimation, and other acts that suggest that our emotions, physical matter, and thoughts can exist in an imperfect state and somehow brought to perfection, or at the very least, a more desirable condition. All matter is imperfect compared to its spiritual archetype that it incarnates, but it is not evil, that is, in active and conscious rebellion against the ‘Good.’

Gnosticism addresses evil in two ways: relative and absolute. Matter and material life are seen as undesirable, as they are prison houses of the spirit.  Like various schools of yoga and Buddhism, material life is to be escaped from and is de facto ‘evil.’ Matter keeps us from being free, unhindered, and spiritual beings without temptations and passions.  This is interesting in light of the idea that the early angels united ‘with the daughters of men’ and thereby created offspring of legend referred to as ‘giants’ in the Old Testament.  Clearly being ‘spiritual’ or without a physical body isn’t enough when it comes to being ‘passionless,’ but this seems to escape most of the discussion in this area.

Qabala is among the most balanced of the approaches in that it sees evil as relative, and necessary.  It is to be overcome without condemning the material world.

In fact, in Qabala and Alchemy material life is our life.  It is where we are in the here and now. We can think of earth as a school, a prison, a blank slate, or as whatever we like. Even if we believe in life having an evolutionary purpose and the influence of astrological Signs and Ages to push humanity along, life has no meaning until we give it meaning.  All the guiding and directing in the cosmos is worthless unless we commit ourselves to a cause, something greater than ourselves, and work to express it, even if we may not live to see it.

The great cathedrals of Europe, temples of the ancients, and other places of majesty and wonder were built by people who would never live to see them completed.  While for many of them it was just a job same as any other, or forced labor as a slave or serf, many of the artisans and professional builders employed took great pride in their work and saw it for what it was – a monument to something greater than the limits of earthly human life. Even in anonymity, their lives had, and still do, great meaning as we worship, tour, or simply admire from a distance, their labor, centuries after it was completed.

If you see material existence as good or evil, this is a reflection of your inner life. We hear often of the power of positive thinking, and the more cynical among us, who are often the more intelligent as well, sneer and either disregard it or simply pay lip service to the idea.

In truth, “Positive Thinking” is in many ways a lie.  However, the reason is not in the idea, or theory, but the language used to transmit it. When we conceptualize the idea of thinking, it is often relegated to the idea of problem solving, and as such, rational and logical processes.  However, thinking is more than logic, or problem solving, it is our worldview.  Our thinking is the filter we use to process the world, how it works, our place in it, and relationship to others.

The greatest power in our ‘thinking process’ is not our ability to reason and use logic, but our ability to feel.  Our emotions are our greatest asset in this area.  If we ‘feel’ positively about life, then life takes on a flavor, color, or experience that logic and reason cannot transmit.  Emotions are the driving force, the energy of the psyche, of human consciousness.  When talk of the “Power of Positive Thinking” what is really being said is the “Power of Positive Feeling.”

Studies have shown that ‘optimists’ are more successful than ‘realists.’  This fundamental fact explains why so many smart people are often so under-achieving, under-paid, and under-fulfilled with their lives.

Modern educational systems develop the rational and logical at the expense of the emotional. Cynicism is encouraged and rewarded by the media, and academia.  Yet if we look closely at ‘realists’ we see that they are essentially looking for an excuse not to act. They are afraid of failure, of making a mistake, of essentially living, and also of dying.

If you come to accept your mortality, then fear drips away, and problems of success, failure, even good and evil take on a more manageable perspective.  Accept this – you will die, so act, and act as if it is today, for someday it will be.

This doesn’t mean that we throw away our resources, or ignore reason and logic, but instead, that after considering them, we still pick something and dedicate ourselves to its realization.

If you would like to be successful, and find meaning in your life, you must first decide what is the single thing you want to accomplish. What do you want to dedicate your limited, and numbered human days to promoting, building, and embodying even if you do not live to see its fruition?

Second, turn off your television.  Get rig of cable, satellite TV, [Katia inserts: Pokemon Go, Facebook, Cellphone addiction] or whatever it is that you plug into that drains your life force.

Third, meet and collaborate with others who are seeking to build and promote their lives, even if their projects are not esoteric or spiritual in nature, so long as they are developing, encouraging, and demonstrating the effectiveness of an ‘optimistic’ attitude.

Fourth, do not discuss your plans with anyone who cannot directly assist you in their fruition. Avoid nay sayers and similar ‘realists’ who will tell you from their position of superiority, built upon a mountain of failure and self-imposed fears and limitations, that what ever ‘It’ is, ‘it can’t be done.’

Fifth, read biographies about the great men and women who have overcome all obstacles to achieve their dreams.  Even if the books are older, and the stories slightly romanticized, read them anyhow. It is inspiration and example that you are seeking to internalize and emulate, not a ‘tell-all’ expose. A wonderful example of this kind of inspirational biographical writing is Twelve Against the Gods by William Bolitho.

Sixth, and finally, give back, here and now. Generosity is a form of confidence in the future, as well as gratitude for what you have. Give of your time, knowledge, and material wealth.  All three must be given for this to work, because in doing so, you create a chain of events and habits, that will cascade back onto you and reward you with opportunities otherwise outside your reach.  In your acts of generosity of time, talent, and treasure, your true inner attitude, deepest held feelings, are revealed.  However, the time is now, and without concern for your ‘personal reward’ that might come as a result of your actions. Give, give generously, give wisely, give regularly, and give impersonally.

In doing this, you create a better life for yourself, and a better world for others in which evil has no place to hide or to grow.

This document may be cross-posted as long as the authorship and copyright attribution remains intact.

For more information on how to use the power of belief and emotions to create a better life for yourself and others, see [Mark Stavish’s awesome new book] :

The Inner Way – The Power of Prayer and Belief in Spiritual Practice