The God, Evil and Suffering Paradox.

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Rade said:
You raise many good issues. Here I will comment on one. I hold that since I have free will I can freely (and logically) chose neither heaven nor hell. How ? Did not God allow for so-called "third option(s)" with placement of tree of life in garden ? Did not Adam always have "third" option to live forever on earth if he had eaten from tree of life ? But is it not strange why tree of life is placed in garden if God is all knowing--e.g., why make big deal out of telling Moses about this tree if God knew all along it would never be eaten of ?
In order for me to understand your point, Are you talking from a literal interpretation of the bible? I was not there and I have never had God speak to me personally, but if there was a tree of life, it must have been put there for Adam to eat. Obviously I haven't heard of a 6000 year old man walking around anywhere, since he ate from that tree. If it was a tree of knowledge, where would we be if he hadn't? Perhaps this was the point in which mankind lost the knowledge of our oneness with God and started being more like a separate being, who has to search for God. More like a tree of lost knowledge. You should have a choice, since you have free will, to chose re-absorbtion with God or some other option. (I'm talking strictly from my theory here) However, if you believe those are your choices, and you choose the latter, don't do it to spite me. Choose whatever you want. I haven't given the afterlife much thought. For a long time I thought we weren't given a choice at all, we just died and returned to stardust. Like I said in my earlier post, I've only come to think that there actually is something out there we call God. Let me re-state that, I was always open to the possibility, I just recently cared enough to spend time thinking about the nature of God. I still have a lot of doubts on religion in general, more the abuse of it.

Les Sleeth said:
Google Christian mysticism, interesing stuff. A famous book called "Mysticism" was written at the turn of the last century by Evelyn Underhill. More recently Jacob Needleman wrote a book called "Lost Christianity." Those and many other works describe how some Christians (monastics mostly) pursued knowledge of God through an inner practice
I've spent the greater part of the day researching the subject. Not much info on the subject at our public library, so I was forced to strictly use the web. From my brief readings, I do think that some of what I said in my theory is consistant with Christian mysticism. More along the lines of my struggle to understand the nature of God. The methodology more specifically. From what I understand, they still think prayer and worship are necessary, and also the belief in Jesus as the son of God. I'm not sold on those aspects as necessary to maintain a relationship with God. Just being grateful for the experience we call life will suffice. If I have mis-understood, tell me. It's definately worth further study, thanks for the suggestion. It is interesting reading, for anyone else so inclined.
 
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Les Sleeth
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RVBUCKEYE said:
From what I understand, they still think prayer and worship are necessary, and also the belief in Jesus as the son of God. I'm not sold on those aspects as necessary to maintain a relationship with God. Just being grateful for the experience we call life will suffice. If I have mis-understood, tell me. It's definately worth further study, thanks for the suggestion. It is interesting reading, for anyone else so inclined.
Well, I wouldn't go so far as to point the finger at particular mystics who might have been, let's say, flexible on the theological questions of Jesus' divinity etc. (though you probably know one of the earliest Christian disagreements was exactly over that issue). But if one did not inwardly accept all the dogma and theology of the Church, one had to be very careful about expressing it. Two of the people below I quote, Teresa of Avila and Meister Eckhart, were both hauled before the inquistion for their views, and another monastic (John of the Cross) was imprisoned and tortured by fellow monks for his mysticism. Many others were persecuted as well.

You can read a little about Teresa here: http://www.rc.net/boston/st_theresa/teresa.html
and Meister Eckhart here: http://www.grailbooks.org/EckhartIntroduction.html [Broken]

Regarding the the mystics' prayer, for many was unlike what you'll likely ever run into in churches today. Let me give you a few quotes describing it:

A doubting aspirant questioned Gregory Palamas, the then archbishop of Thessalonica in the fourteenth century, who was experienced in inner prayer: “Some say that we do wrong to try and confine the mind within the body . . . and write against them for advising beginners to look into themselves and, through breathing, to lead their minds within, for . . . if mind is not separate from soul, but is joined with it, how can it be reintroduced within? I beg you my father, teach me how and why we take special care to try and lead the mind within and do not think it wrong to confine it in the body.” To this Gregory answered, “For those who keep attention in themselves in silence it is not unprofitable to try to hold their mind within the body. Brother! Do you not hear the Apostle [Paul] saying that ‘your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you’ [I Cor. 6:19] . . . Who then, possessing a mind, will deem it unseemly to introduce his mind into that which has been granted the honour of being the dwelling of God? How is it that God himself in the beginning put the mind into the body? Has He too done wrong?”

Teresa of Avila, a 16th century nun describes stages of contemplative or inner prayer that lead to the “mystical” experience. Teresa says, “the soul collects its faculties together and enters within itself . . .” In the final stage of prayer she calls union where awareness, “neither sees, nor hears, nor understands . . . How this prayer they call union comes about and what it is . . . . we already know since it means that two separate things become one. . . . While the soul is seeking God in this way, it feels with the most marvelous and gentlest delight that everything is almost fading away through a kind of swoon in which breathing and all the bodily energies gradually fail.”

In the tenth century the Greek Orthodox monk Simeon described principles of inner prayer such as found in these excerpts from the Philokalia: “There are three methods of attention and prayer by which the soul is uplifted and moves forward . . . . The distinctive features of the first method are as follows: . . . a man stands at prayer . . . . inciting his soul to longing and love of God. . . . The second method is this: A man tears his mind away from all sensed objects and leads it within himself, guarding his senses and collecting his thoughts, so that they cease to wander . . . . Truly the third method is marvelous and difficult to explain: . . . . the mind should be in the heart—a distinctive feature of the third method of prayer. It should guard the heart . . . remaining always within.”

The thirteenth century German Dominican, Meister Eckhart (one of my very favorite writers), said, “Go to the depths of the soul, the secret place of the most high, to the roots . . . . I have spoken at times of a light in the soul that is uncreated, a light that is not arbitrarily turned on . . . Thus, if one refers the soul’s agents back to the soul’s essence . . . [a person] will find his unity and blessing in that little spark in the soul, which neither space nor time touches . . . This core is a simple stillness, which is unmoved itself but by whose immobility all things are moved and all receive life . . .”

Also in the thirteenth century the Italian Franciscan monk, Bonaventura, stated in his famous The Mind’s Road to God, “It happens that we may contemplate God not only outside of us but also within us . . . [through] which one deals with God’s essential attributes . . .”

Walter Hilton, an English religious of the fourteenth century explained in The Scale of Perfection that, “. . . prayer is in the heart alone; it is without words, and is accompanied by great peace and tranquility of body and soul.”

The French Carmelite monastic, Brother Lawrence, wrote in the seventeenth century in his Spiritual Maxims, “Actual union is the most perfect kind [of union] . . . Its operation is livelier than that of fire and more luminous than a sun undarkened by a cloud. . . . it is an ineffable state of the soul—gentle, peaceful, devout, respectful, humble, loving and very simple . . .”

In the eleventh century the monk called Simeon the New Theologian says, “If you wish also to learn how it (inner prayer] should be done, I will tell you of this . . . . You should [first] observe three things before all else: freedom from all cares . . . your conscience should be clear . . . and . . . absence of passionate attachment . . . [then] keep your attention within yourself, not in your head but in our heart. Keep your mind there in the heart . . . your mind should constantly abide there . . . . One of the fathers says: ‘Sit in your cell and this prayer will teach you everything."


That goal of "union" is what distinquishes the prayer of those monastics from all other prayer. If you study Eastern mysticism, you find exactly the same thing, except instead of "union prayer" they call it samadhi meditation (samadhi basically means "union" in sanskrit).
 
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Les Sleeth said:
Regarding the the mystics' prayer, for many was unlike what you'll likely ever run into in churches today. Let me give you a few quotes describing it:
First, I want to thank you for your post. From what I have been able to gather from, not only this post, but other threads you've responded to, meditation is an effective tool you utilize to explore your conciousness. I can tell you that I always tend to be a little leary of any method with "religious" overtones. (not to sound ungrateful). I know I might seem to be conflicted on the subject of God, but it is mainly that I think people haven't answered the question for themselves. Unfortunately, they always seem to ask their local minister for help answering their questions. I did, like I said, my father's a minister. It didn't take me long to realize that there is no discussion. They speak in absolutes. I get the feeling you are trying to lead me to meditation in general, which is cool. Although I've never done meditation while I was awake, I do "lucid dream". Not so much as to ponder the ways of the world, but more to experience other realities. These tend to be more abstract and not really my preferred way to think or problem solve. I tend to do much clearer thinking in an open discussion, such as this one.
 

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