Archive for March, 2011
The Eternity of Hell

One of the major objections that people raise with regard to the doctrine of hell is that it is unjust to punish for eternity for only a lifetime of sins (75 yrs give or take). I wanted to note a few things in response.

First, that is not an exegetical argument. Scripture is our final authority and this objection does not touch upon what scripture teaches. We would know nothing of the afterlife if it were not for scripture. Unless God reveals something about what happens to us after death, we will know nothing. This is not to say that we cannot ask questions such as these, only that such questions are not sufficient. At some point we have to make our case in scripture.

Second, it seems odd to believe that the unregenerate will become completely holy once they die. But that has to be the presupposition for this objection to work. However, if people continue to sin for eternity, then it is appropriate to punish them for eternity. I like the description that NT Wright gives:

So my way of describing it is that once this life is over, people who have decided not to worship God cease to bear God’s image. The thought of an ex-human being is something that some people find shocking and horrifying. In a sense, it is shocking and horrifying. Think about people we know! I’m sure most people, unless we live in very enclosed worlds, must know some people (if we truly hold to a theology of hell) who are going there! That should give us pause. That should cause us to pray for them and to weep over them. So I don’t say this with any relish at all.

We will not become holy and perfect, we will likely degenerate even more. We will not become more like God. As Wright says, we become like what we worship. For believers that means that we are being conformed to the image of Christ. But for those who have rejected God and refuse to worship him, they continually diverge from the image of Christ. In hell, without God’s common grace helping to restrain sin, people will likely degenerate to even greater levels of sin and therefore merit greater punishment.

Third, can we necessarily equate an eternal punishment with and infinite punishment? Infinite is a measure that needs a unit – infinite apples, infinite love, infinite space, infinite time (eternity). “Eternal” answers the question, “How long?” “Infinite” answers the question “How much?” They are not the same thing. Jesus himself indicated that there would be degrees of punishment in hell. But here is the problem. If eternal in duration means that the punishment is infinite, then everyone will experience an infinite punishment. But if that is the case, then there are not degrees of punishment as Jesus said.

The problem is in assuming that eternal punishment is equal to an infinite punishment. They are not the same. Consider this function: f(x)=1/(1+x^2). The integral of this function is plotted below.

Evaluated from zero to infinity, it resolves to a value of less than 1.571. Not all functions evaluated to infinity result in an infinite value. Asymptotic functions resolve to finite values. This is not to suggest that this is actually how God works the punishment. But it does prove that, in theory, a finite amount of punishment can be experienced over an infinite duration.

This objection against the doctrine of hell has a certain rhetorical flare to it, but it is not really sustainable upon closer examination. Let God be God and develop your doctrine from his revelation, not from your gut.

Thought on the Rob Bell Controversy – Part 6

These are all still preliminary comments about all the activity I see surrounding Rob Bell’s new book, Love Wins. Many people seem confused as to why there would be such an impassioned defense of the doctrine of hell. Why do people love this doctrine so much? Here is my attempt at an asnwer.

IF the traditional doctrine of hell is correct, then if we love people, it would be the most hateful thing in the world to let them go there without sharing the good news of Jesus Christ that would save them from it. It is not because people find hell to be such a beautiful doctrine that they fight for it, it is because people find it to be so horrible that they don’t want anybody to go there.  It is because they love people that they are so motivated. It is like discovering that a bridge is out. You are trying to warn people so that they will not, in the fog, go over the bridge and die. Then someone begins to oppose that message saying, “Naw, the bridge is just fine.” That is something that is very dangerous to say. That is how most people who are convinced of the doctrine of hell react. Perhaps you think they are mistaken and that the bridge really is just fine. In which case they are just inconveniencing a lot of people by insisting that they stop their car. But it is easy to understand why there is such fervency in people’s defense of this doctrine. It is a very important question to answer. If we get it wrong, it could be fatal.

Even rank unbelievers get this. Atheist Penn Jillet (of the Penn & Teller magic team) said the following:

“If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell and people could be going to hell—or not getting eternal life or whatever—and you think that, well, it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward. . . . How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”

So if you believe that it is true, how much do you have to hate somebody to tell them that they will have a second chance? Again this is presuming that it is true. I will get to that later. But for now, it is easy to see why some people would give such a passionate defense of the doctrine. They love people and they believe hell is real. How can you not warn people?

Spurgeon has some powerful words as well:

To be laughed at is no great hardship for me. I can delight in scoffs and jeers. . . . But that you should turn from your own mercy, this is my sorrow. Spit on me, but oh repent! Laugh at me, but, oh, believe in my Master! Make my body as the dirt in the streets, but do not damn your own souls. . . If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one person go there unwarned and unprayed for. . . The Holy Spirit will move them by first moving you. If you can rest without their being saved, they will rest, too. But if you are filled with an agony for them, if you cannot bear that they are lost, you will soon find that they are uneasy, too. (HT to Collin Hansen for mining these quotes)

If it is real, how can we not tell people about the good news, and how can we not speak loudly aganst those who seem to urge people to drive over a bridge that we believe is out? This is what is at stake. I would love to be wrong. But when people’s lives are at stake, it seems best that we not treat this as a minor point that doesn’t really matter.

10 More Transformational and Spiritual Aphorisms

Recently, I posted an article showcasing 10 Transformational and Spiritual Aphorisms where sages, thinkers, luminaries, and awakened individuals put into words thought-patterns that resonate with the truth of a more objective Reality than that which is constructed by the cultures in which we grow up in and are influenced by. Looking around us, we can see that there is a lack of true leadership (or very little authentic leadership, in more realistic terms) within the forefront of societies and cultures we all find ourselves in. When there is a lack of true motivational and inspirational leadership, we have to look to those profound visionaries and awakened individuals of times past to gather growth-encouraging insights that will help us in our self-growth and enlightenment.

When the future looks bleak and the motivation to excel and advance seems pointless, we can look up to those who have lived and are still alive, who possess that inner wisdom which they had realized through their own personal experiences of an enlightened state of awareness. The transformational and spiritual aphorisms that such guiding lights to humanity express to us can raise our level of hope once more to the domain of energy that makes us more proactive. Reignited excitement and passion can drive us closer to the successes we imagined and dreamed would come true. We are all capable of incredible feats. Ask yourself if your state of mind is stopping you from realizing that realized life success story that you undoubtedly had played within your head so many times before. Don’t let it stay a dream, let it become a reality.

Aphorism 1

You should be an island to yourself, a refuge to yourself, not dependent on any other but taking refuge in the truth and none other than the truth. And how do you become an island and a refuge to yourself? In this way. You see and contemplate your body as composed of all the forces of the universe. Ardently and mindfully you steer your body-self by restraining your discontent with the world about you. In the same way, observe and contemplate your feelings and use that same ardent restraint and self-possession against enslavement by greed or desire. By seeing attachment to your body and feelings as blocking the truth, you dwell in self-possession and ardent liberation from those ties. This is how you live as an island to yourself and a refuge to yourself. Whoever dwells in this contemplation, islanded by the truth and taking refuge in the truth–that one will come out of the darkness and into the light.

- The Digha Nikaya

Aphorism 2

Loving this world, seeing the beauty in everything.
Appreciating every moment as a beautiful, wholly contained,
pearl of eternal nature, this is the world to me.

A never ending string of pearls…. every moment is in and of it’s self a life time,
and when we have affection and let ourselves experience life without expectation…
that is when the majesty of the world opens her petals to us…
And welcomes us home.

-Carlos Castaneda

Aphorism 3

Learn to look without imagination, to listen without distortion: that is all. Stop attributing names and shapes to the essentially nameless and formless, realize that every mode of perception is subjective, that what is seen or heard, touched or smelled, felt or thought,expected or imagined, is in the mind and not in reality, and you will experience peace and freedom from fear.

-Nisargadatta Maharaj

Aphorism 4

Every man has his woman within him and every woman has her man within her. Only the mediator comes to know his whole being. Suddenly his inner woman and the inner man melt and merge into each other. That creates an orgasmic state in him. Now it is no more a momentary experience that comes and goes; it is something that continues, day in and day out, like the heart beating or breathing.

-Osho

Aphorism 5

When we experience the pain of another person, we instinctively want to take away that pain. But by taking away the other person’s pain, we also take away his or her opportunity to grow. To be truly compassionate, we must be able to share another person’s suffering and pain — knowing there is nothing we can do to relieve it and that we are not responsible for it, and yet knowing and understanding what that pain feels like.

-John Gray

Aphorism 6

Throw away holiness and wisdom,
and people will be a hundred times happier.
Throw away morality and justice,
and people will do the right thing.
Throw away industry and profit,
and there won’t be any thieves.

If these three aren’t enough,
just stay at the center of the circle
and let all things take their course

-Lao Tzu

Aphorism 7

Keep your thoughts positive, because your thoughts become your words.
Keep your words positive, because your words become your behaviors.
Keep your behaviors positive, because your behaviors become your habits.
Keep your habits positive, because your habits become your values.
Keep your values positive, because your values become your destiny.

-Ghandi

Aphorism 8

If we understood the power of our thoughts, we would guard them more closely.
If we understood the awesome power of our words, we would prefer silence to almost anything negative.
In our thoughts and words we create our own weaknesses and our own strengths.
Our limitations and joys begin in our hearts.
We can always replace negative with positive.

-Bettie Eadie

Aphorism 9

As human beings we all want to be happy and free from misery. We have learned that the key to happiness is inner peace. The greatest obstacles to inner peace are disturbing emotions such as anger and attachment, fear and suspicion, while love and compassion, a sense of universal responsibility are the sources of peace and happiness.

-Dalai Lama

Aphorism 10

Greet everyone you meet with a warm smile, no matter how busy you are.
Don’t rush encounters with coworkers, family and friends.
Speak softly. Listen attentively.
Act as if every conversation you have is the most important thing on your mind today.
Look your children and your partner in the eyes when they talk to you.
Stroke the cat, caress the dog.
Lavish love on every living being you meet.
See how different you feel at the end of the day.

-Sarah Ban Breathnach

Thoughts on the Rob Bell Controversy – Part 5

Continuing my review of Mars Hill’s clarifying statements.

Does Love Wins promote Universalism?

No. Rob isn’t suggesting Universalism [all will be saved, regardless of their faith]. He is proposing that God’s love is so big that the invitation to God’s grace may extend into the next life so that all could be saved.

Atctually, this is a form of universalism. They wrongly define universalism as “all will be saved, regardless of their faith.” That is one form of universalism (more narrowly known as inclusivism), but there are many varieties, and Rob Bell’s position fits perfectly under the umbrella of universalism. His position (as much as has been revealed thus far) can be what is known as “evangelical universalism” or “hopeful universalism.” There are many different and even contradictory forms of universalism out there. It is improper for them to pick just one and say that they are therefore not a unilateralist. That is a category mistake. It is like saying “My Springer Spaniel is not a dog [German Shepherd].”

Love Wins clearly points to the centrality of Jesus and the work of his life, death, and resurrection and the hope that Christ’s work will bring restoration to all. Jesus is the only way to God. God’s love does not force anyone and there may be those who continue to reject the invitation extended to them. Love Wins speaks often speaks of human freedom [72-73, 103-104, 113, 115, 117]. Rob shares, “Love demands freedom. It always has, and it always will. We are free to resist, reject, and rebel against God’s ways for us. We can have all the hell we want.” [113]

There is a tension here. Either some people will continue to resist or love wins all. Both cannot happen. They redefine hell again as just bad experiences we have, but that is not the biblical notion. I would also take exception to the notion that love does not force itself. It sounds nice in the abstract, but at a concrete level it doesn’t work. I love my kids with all my heart, and if my 2 yr old was wondering into the street, and a car was coming, I would forcibly yank them out of the street whether they liked it or not. I don’t see how I could profess to love them if I just let them go.

Some may object that while that may be true in saving the life of an child, it is not true with marrying someone. Love will not force itself. But we are not consigned to hell because we wouldn’t marry Jesus. We are consigned to hell because of our sins and the fact the we reject God’s only means of salvation. Perhaps a better analogy is someone who is drowning. They got into their predicament through their own actions. You throw them a line so that they can grab hold and be saved. They refuse. What do you do? In love do you leave them there, or in love do you jump in to save them? You’re a strong swimmer and you know you can do it. Maybe they will hate you if you actually save them. But what does love compel you to do?

Japan’s Impact On Our Awareness Of Mortal Existence

By now, you have all heard about the situation in Japan that is still enfolding even as I write this. The earthquakes, tsunami, and nuclear meltdowns have collectively created a situation that many people have become intimately involved with, either by experiencing the catastrophes personally and directly, or by becoming aware of the devastating situation unfolding there. Although affected in different degrees, we have all been impacted by the recent events in Japan through our connection to each other through the human consciousness matrix that we find ourselves a part of. Oneness is an ancient truth that is becoming more evident as each day passes.

This article won’t go into that, rather the focus is on how we often taken for granted the mortality of physical life. Without the feeling of being connected to each other, we cannot put ourselves in another’s shoes and try to experience what another person is going through, such as someone in Japan who is one minute walking down the street talking and laughing with a friend and the next moment becoming aware of a deep rushing sound and rumbling sensation that they instinctively realize is something terrible, prompting them to go into survival mode and run frantically away from…even if their attempt is a lost cause.

The situation in Japan (the earthquakes, nuclear meltdowns, and tsunami) is extremely serious and significant enough that it would negatively affect even those of us here in America (as if there is a full meltdown, the nuclear core can melt through the containment vessel and melt down through the ground until it hits the water table, causing a disaster that will affect much more than just Japan). When a “worst-case scenario” such as this happens (and there is a strong possibility that such a situation or similar one will happen in our lifetimes) we will have to put everything in our lives on pause immediately in order to simply survive. All our plans for the future will either not be possible, become greatly modified, or have to be put off for an undetermined period of time. The situation in Japan can be used as an opportunity for us to stop the motions of our daily lives for a few moments and contemplate how unpredictably our life path, mission, and goals will be changed out of necessity to survive another day. These are not enjoyable things to think about, but given all that is happening in the world these days, it is something that deserves the time of day to think about.

The world may throw some very difficult curveballs at us, and indeed tens of thousands of people in Japan had recently received just that. Let’s say you had all the life plans you do now, and you envision a certain kind of life or state of mind or moment in your life, but you’re living in Japan…now all of that has to be set aside, for you are battling for your very survival. Thousands of people faced a dire situation when they thought about their entire lives before losing them because of the earthquakes, tsunami, and nuclear fallout that’s occurred in the last few days. All of us who live far away from Japan cannot truly feel connected to what is happening there because we are not experiencing it through the lens of our personal positions of awareness. However, we can create a reality within our minds where we are within the crisis zone of Japan’s catastrophe and try to feel what it would be like to be going through what many are experiencing there at this very moment. It is catastrophes such as this that are truly the tests of our spiritual and self-growth. Will we resort to our primal nature and let the ego take over or will we unite and work through this together? The choice will be ours to make, and hopefully it will be the latter.

In order to help ensure that you make the positive and growth-encouraging choice, try putting your awareness into the awareness of others who are facing life and death situations like in Japan, because it will make you feel more connected to humanity and the troubles it faces. Those of us far away from apocalyptic-like situations like in Japan feel quite disconnected because we are not experiencing what they are experiencing. Human beings, that could have been you and I if we had lived out our lives there rather than where we live, will have had their lives end, at the unfulfilled lives that many people have, which may be so young that we have not even experienced the basic joys of life such as falling in love, sexual intimacy, birth of a child, and many others.

It is calamities such as those happening in Japan that remind us of our mortality that help us remember that “it could have been me”. Hopefully, we will be able to take away something positive from such a negative situation within our reality. Hopefully we can realize that the only moment in existence is the present one. We should not wait for the tomorrow that may never come. Hopefully we will collectively transform our perceptions so that they include a fully-realized understanding that we cannot be certain of how long our mortal existence within our frail human bodies will be. Instead of putting things off into the unknown future, manifest it within the existing present. Many of those in Japan never had a chance to do so, and may have had their lives end unsuspectingly, with great sadness that they never experienced or achieved the things which they envisioned they would all their lives. Let us become free through the awareness that now is the only moment that will ever be, so we have to make the most of it while it lasts.

Thoughts on the Rob Bell Controversy – Part 4

Continuing my review of the clarifying statement from Bell’s church:

What does Love Wins say about heaven and hell?

Love Wins recognizes heaven and hell to be realities all around us. We see hell everyday through the atrocities of war, famine, human trafficking, broken relationships, and abuse. We also see heaven all around us through acts of love, kindness, and compassion.

The first sentence is a bit anachronistic. Scripture never speaks of “hell on earth.” In contemporary usage of the term I can agree with what is said, there are all kinds of atrocities to which people turn a blind eye. We must never do that. I also agree with the notion of restoring the earth. I think that is part of the logical outworking of the creation mandate, and I think that is part of what the gospel itself entails. God is in the process of rolling back the curse and the church must play a pivitol role in this process. We are his body carrying on his work. So I agree with much of what is said here in contemporary terms.

The danger, however, is in the possibility of confusing our contemporary usage with Biblical usage. Acts of love, kindness, and compassion may be performed by and on non-believers. But you will search in vain for biblical support for unbelievers being in heaven. Likewise, while believers can and do experience some of the most horrific treatments (though not much in the west) there is no biblical evidence for believers going to hell. This sets the stage (especially for lay people) for some very confused theology. They may wrongly infer that believers can experience hell (in the biblical sense) and unbelievers can experience heaven (in the biblical sense). If that is the case, then one’s experience of heaven or hell is not a matter of Jesus at all. It is more a matter of how we position ourselves in this world to minimize our exposure to unpleasant things.

There is also the reality of heaven and hell in the future. Our ultimate future hope is a restored creation under Christ where God will dwell with us forever on a restored heaven and earth [Rev 21-22]. There are many who accept the invitation of the life of heaven and many who reject the invitation.

No real arguments here. I would, however add that I think it can be a present reality too. Scripture speaks of heaven and hell as another realm, separate from earth, to which people go when they die.

Those who reject the invitation experience a purifying “fire” of judgment in hell, yet there is hope.

Here is where we begin to have problems. We have no indication in scripture that you can get out of hell. It is a nice idea, but there is no real biblical support for it. There are vague references with universal language, but nothing specific. Moreover we do have specific references that militate against universalism.

We live in the hope that the redemptive work of Christ is beyond what we can ask or imagine. Love Wins helps us have a biblical imagination that leaves room for the hope of the redemption of all while recognizing humanities free will to continue to reject God.

Amen to the first sentence! I even like the beginning of the second sentence. A “biblical imagination.” I have often contemplated the new heavens and the new earth with my kids. I always make it clear that we are speculating. We spin all kind of fantastic tales! Probably most of it is wrong, but we are told that it is more than we can hope or imagine and so we do just that! We imagine. And when we are done we sit back in awe knowing that while we were probably wrong – whatever we guessed – the reality will be even better.  I also try to imagine what it would be like to have been in certain places within scripture. I imagine the cold on my feet as I read that Peter stepped out of the boat. I imagine the thrill and exhilaration that he must have experienced. But again I hold it all loosely. Biblical imagination.

They used the right words. Our imagination must be limited by what we see as true in scripture. It is at this point that I think they fail. Our fate in the afterlife is determined by our choices in this life. We are not free to imagine things that are contrary to scripture. I will deal more with this in future posts.

Thoughts on the Rob Bell Controversy – Part 3

Mars Hill Church, where Rob Bell is pastor, has issued some clarifying statements regarding his new book. I wanted to comment briefly on some things.

Does Love Wins affirm that Jesus is the only way by which we are saved?

Yes. Love Wins is clear, our only hope for reconciliation with God is found in Jesus alone because of all he accomplished through his life, death and resurrection. Rob shares in Love Wins his belief that the only way to God is through Jesus by quoting and affirming Jesus’ statement, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” [pg. 154]. Mars Hill affirms that Jesus is the only way to inherit salvation, how exactly that happens, however, is a matter of mystery that we do not claim to have all the answers to. As Rob says after quoting Jesus, “What he doesn’t say is how, or when, or in what manner the mechanism functions that gets people to God through him” [pg. 154].

I like most of this. But the last two sentences are a bit confusing. It is Christ who saves, but the mechanism is a mystery? Perhaps I am misunderstanding what they mean by “mechanism,” but I would think the mechanism is faith. Jesus was not silent about the need for faith, nor was God unclear in the rest of His word. Faith is the means by which we lay hold of the atoning work of Christ. It is by faith that we are united to Christ.

If by “mechanism” they intend “messenger” then I agree. The messenger is normally people preaching the gospel. But on occasion God may speak directly to people (as with Paul) or he may speak through a dream (as with Cornelius) or through an angel. The normal messenger is people. But the message (the gospel) and faith in that message are essential to salvation and clear in the pages of scripture.

Controversy

Thoughts on the Rob Bell Controversy- Part 2
I have been watching some of the controversy about Rob Bell’s new book as it unfolded and I have a number of thoughts. The first post, as well as this one are just some miscelaneous thoughts before I get to the substance of my disagreement with Mr. Bell.
Much of the furor ha surrounded whether Justin was right to give his thoughts before he actually read all of the book. I was going to blog on the matter but I see that Steve Hays has already hit on what I intended to say (and he says it better) so I’ll just post his comments here:
Justin Taylor has been come under fire for rendering a provisional value judgment on Rob Bell’s forthcoming book. As Justin explains, “I have not read all of Bell’s book, though I have read some chapters that were sent to me.” This is in addition to Bell’s now notorious video teaser. I find the attacks on Justin misdirected. Why would Bell’s publisher send someone like Justin a sample preview of the book in the first place? I assume publishers do this to gather glowing dust-cover blurbs for the book. “Pre-reviews” which plug a forthcoming title. Therefore, the publisher (with the author’s consent, I assume), is inviting someone like Justin to offer his initial impression of the book.
So it’s difficult to see how Justin wronged the author when his publisher is, in fact, soliciting Justin’s opinion of the book. Isn’t that the point of sending representative chapters of the book? Justin is a prominent figure in Christian publishing. He also runs one of the A-team Christian blogs. Presumably, then, the reason Bell’s publisher sent Justin this material in the first place was to garner a high-profile recommendation. Something to juice sales or preorders. Assuming that’s the case, it’s passing hard to see how he did anything untoward by offering his admittedly provisional judgment of the book. If it turns out that he misjudged the book, that’s the fault of the publisher for sending him misleading material on which to form a preliminary assessment.
Thoughts on the Rob Bell Controversy- Part 1

This seems like a good definition of what seems to have happened over the last few weeks regarding the release of Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins. There have been some people who have criticized Bell’s book. But then supporters of Bell criticize those who criticize. Some of the most judgmental people in the world are those who object to judgments. Some of the most intolerant people are those who advocate tolerance.

Saying that judgment is wrong is, itself, a judgment. Calling people out for their criticism of another person is, itself, a criticism. These are self-refuting stances. People who take such stances, therefore, reveal themselves to by hypocrites.

One may feel that another person’s judgment was in error, but that is something different from saying that judgment itself is wrong. One may believe that another person’s criticism was unwarranted, but that is something different from whether criticism itself is wrong.

Many of the people are have been criticizing John Piper and Justin Taylor fall into just this category. Both Piper and Taylor believed that Bell’s new book taught universalism.  So they warned people about it. Without any regard for the truthfulness of the warning, people criticized Piper and Taylor for their criticism of Bell. These people raised a stink that a Christian would criticize anyone.  The complaint of these critics was not the substance of Piper and Taylor’s warning, but the mere fact that they criticized at all. This is self-refuting and hypocritical.

10 Transformational and Spiritual Aphorisms

Throughout the ages, there have been many who have transcended the domain of the ego and had gotten a taste of those delicious higher states of consciousness. Rather than keep their experiential knowledge and wisdom about the higher aspects of existence to themselves, they spread the word to others, be it through spoken word, written works, or other methods. Thanks to the sages, spiritual teachers, and every-day people who had an enlightening experience, we can ignite the light of expanded awareness concerning the higher aspects of the human experience and of existence itself from such people. There are an untold amount of such spiritual aphorisms to be enjoyed by our higher selves so we will take a look at 10 such aphorisms. May these timeless words nourish your mind and soul.

Aphorism 1

A human being is a part of a whole, called by us a universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest … a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

-Albert Einstein

Aphorism 2

“Life is what you make it,” this is very true.
Find beauty and magic in all things,
and the Love that sees you through.
When you look at the world where you live,
seek not your gain, but what you can give.
When a man is poor, and hungers, and thirsts,
serve not yourself til you serve this man first.
When a man is down and seeks shelter from cold, give him shelter.
You’ll receive blessings untold.
Live by the Golden Rule:
Do unto others as you’d have done unto you.
And always remember:
When you destroy, you destroy a part of you, too.
Life is what you make of it!

-Unknown

Aphorism 3

We may liken truth to a mountain, and the various interpretations of that truth to different paths leading up to the summit. Many people are traveling along all of these paths and every one, while he is at the bottom, thinks his path is the only one; he sees only a small part of the mountain, and may therefore be justified in crying to his brothers, “You are wrong! Come over to my path; this is the only one that leads to the top.” But as all these people progress upward, they will see that the paths converge at the top and that they are all one in the ultimate.

-Max Heindel, The Rosicrucian Fellowship

Aphorism 4

Do not believe anything
because it is said by an authority,
or if it is said to come from angels,
or from Gods,
or from an inspired source.

Believe it only if you have explored it
in your own heart
and mind and body
and found it to be true.

Work out your own path,
through diligence.

-Gautama Buddha

Aphorism 5

When you find the way
Others will find you
Passing by on the road
They will be drawn to your door
The way that cannot be heard
will be reflected in your voice
The way that cannot be seen
Will be reflected in your eyes

-Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Aphorism 6

How people see the world is often a reflection of how they see themselves. If they think that the world is just a cesspool of lies and deceit, then they themselves may be full of lies and deceit. Watch out for those people who are always telling you just how corrupt the rest of the world is. As the saying goes, “It takes one to know one.”
-David J. Lieberman, Never be Lied to Again

Aphorism 7

Ego is a structure that is erected by a neurotic individual who is a member of a neurotic culture against the facts of the matter. And culture, which we put on like an overcoat, is the collectivized consensus about what sort of neurotic behaviors are acceptable.
-Terence McKenna

Aphorism 8

All the forms of Life in the Universe may be looked upon as being manifestations of the One and Universal Principle of Life in various forms; the whole of the Cosmos, being a product of the Universal Mind, may be regarded as universal, absolute consciousness becoming relative in separate forms. The universal consciousness of the Universal Mind forms spiritual centres of consciousness in living beings, whereby each being may feel and know its surroundings; and as the kind of living beings expands, their consciousness and power of sensation and perception expand with it; for all their powers belong to the mind. and not to tbe body: the latter without the mind is merely a form without life.
-Franz Hartmann

Aphorism 9

Since time without beginning, the nature of Awakened Mind and Emptiness has consisted of the same, absolute non-duality of no birth or death, no existence or non-existence, no purity or impurity, no movement or stillness, no young or old, no inside or outside, no shape and form, no sound and color. Neither striving nor searching, one should not use intellect to understand nor words to express Awakened Mind. One should not think that it is a place or things, name or form. One should not think that it is a place or things, name or form. Only then is it realized that all Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and sentient beings possess the same natural state of great Nirvana.

-Huang Po

Aphorism 10

There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.

-John Lennon

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