About buddha-consciousness.org

Our Philosophy

We are strongly in favor of individual spiritual exploration and development, rather than attempting to abide by the tenants of any particular religion or creed, unless that religion or creed truly assists each person in their respective individual spiritual exploration and development. We acknowledge that, while we consider ourselves as Christian (we see both the redefinition of “the God of Moses” into “the God of Jesus” and Jesus’ Resurrection as the true defining points), those steeped in traditional Christian (religious) concepts may well not. We only request that those taking that view look within themselves as they properly evaluate both current research results and the vehicle-channeled words on this site (as a “right brain”/intuitive approach). We would respect non-abusive adverse comments to be thought through and not be taken out of context. “If you are on the path you are meant to be on, everything falls into place; the Universe is telling you that. If you are not on your right path, you will experience roadblocks all along the way, and this is also the Universe telling you to stop, look, and ask if this is where you are supposed to be.” by Dolores North, as reported in Unfinished Business, James Van Praagh, HarperCollins, p.102 Remember a quote by Mahatma Gandhi, “I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

 

Topics of Discussion and Where We Stand:

The Bible

A theology professor in San Diego (USCSD) estimated that there are literally thousands of Christian religions and all of these different beliefs are supposedly “based upon the Bible.” From (channeled) information of many years ago, the statement was made that there are approximately 14,000 errors of omission and/or commission in the Christian Bible. However, from modern textual analysis of various Biblical manuscripts through history (beginning as early as 1707, in which John Mill had found over 30,000 manuscript differences – a “mere handful” compared with what is known today), it has been said that “there are more differences among our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament.”(1) While many such differences reflect editorial changes from an (unknown) original form are of little significance, other changes have established a basis for significant church doctrine that have every appearance of having been established for various political purposes. Additionally (according to Reference #2), it has been speculated that if the books of Thomas (which may have generated the gospel of John as a reaction) and Mary (heaven’s no – not a woman!) had ever been allowed into the New Testament by the church in the decisions of 325 and 533 A.D., many westerners might have never felt that they had to look for answers in various Eastern religions and philosophies. (I see Buddhism as a philosophy, not a religion, although many of the offshoots of the Buddha’s original philosophy now begin to look like religions.) Some of these “disallowed gospels” apparently advocated the “going within” that the Christian churches, in trying to build their power structures, couldn’t allow, both then and now.(2) Some of the so-called “New Age” religions are getting more back to that philosophy, with – we believe – Unity being one of the closest (although, for each organization, this is quite dependent upon the individual minister’s philosophy). Therefore, since there have been approximately five “linguistic removes” of what we know of as the Bible (most without recourse to the original Hebrew), even after the first 300 years of free-wheeling copying and subjective interpretations, we view the Bible as an historical document, a man-made instrument that has many spiritual truths within it (as well as religious opinions as a result of the “doctoring” it has received through the millennia), rather than a document dictated by God. We suspect that other such religious “holy books” are in a similar category. However, because of the infinite multitude of paths back to a true self-realization, it is the feeling and resonance within the reader of any document or passage that should be looked to, rather than any formal human designation of a document’s “holy origin.” To be honest, even the books presented on this website as coming through Diane have a “human vibration” within them. First, they were transcribed from audio tapes into the written word (remember WordStar of the days of the CPM operating system? :-), then edited for printed-word clarity, not changing the words, but extracting noted pauses, etc. to maintain continuity. The vast majority of channeled texts from other sources went through the same process.

Deity

Considering the experiences I have had in this incarnation (Intro,” “Engineering Your Spirituality, Appendix 3”), God is in everything we look at and everything we touch. God is within every person, every animal, every “inanimate object.” God is not a person in a different geographic location, but an omnipresent energy, a consciousness that permeates everything and everyone. We know that God is NOT an elderly, superhuman and fearful male with a white flowing beard who lives in a remote place “up there.” We believe he/she exists in all things, throughout all creation, and is, therefore, directly accessible within each of us (the Christ within). We need only to quietly turn within ourselves to contact God. We are all created in the image and likeness of God… but not in the physical form. We are all aspects of God and, therefore, incapable of “sin” as normally defined in religious doctrine. Our personal experiences echo what is stated in “Starseed: The Third Millennium,” by Ken Carey: “Matter is conscious. Every atom is aware. The earth is a living being, conscious of the life on her surface and daily making choices that affect that life.” Virtually all Native American tribes had the same philosophy (mistakenly interpreted as classical polytheism by our “more advanced” white ancestors) and some of my personal experiences as delineated in Appendix 3 of Engineering Your Spirituality, bear that out, (click here). Among other topics, see 6, 20 and 24. – Don As aspects of God, we are endowed with our own and individual inalienable rights, and our individual and collective Free Will is an inherent aspect of these. Further, we have a responsibility to develop our own individual relationship with our Father, which cannot be dictated or governed by outside influencing factors. This individual relationship takes many different routes and is called by different names (because of the severe limitations of language in this regard), depending upon the individual participant. Some of these names are gnosis, inner peace, feelings of grace or joy, knowledge (not the acquisition, but the experiencing), etc. These “feelings” cannot be generated by a mental condition or activity, but only by fostering that inner connection.

Jesus Christ

Despite a quotation attributed to Pope Leo X (1513-1521), “All ages can testifie enough howe profitable that fable of Christe hath ben to us and our companie,” everything that came through Rev. Diane Chapin affirms that yes, Jesus (the demonstration of the inner) Christ lived. His main teaching was to change the God of Moses (that God is a fearful god, which was necessary for the time) – to that of the God of Jesus, which is the God of Love. His “death” demonstrated very clearly that death is not “the all to end all,” for, without the events that came after His “death,” i.e., His re-appearances and the manner in which His apostles carried the word around the known world, it is quite likely that there would be no Christian faith, and that both Jesus and the God of Jesus might not have been remembered. We reject the traditional views that Jesus is a deity to be worshipped, that he intended to start a church within today’s concept of such institutions or that he came to “die for our sins.” Interestingly, there is no real mention in ANY religion that the resurrected Jesus “hung around” the Earth plane for about another 40 years! Rather, He came as a 9th Dimensional Being (humanity is 3rd dimensional, moving into the 5th dimension possibly after the year 2012, as potentially predicted by Nostradamus, the Cheops Pyramid, the Mayan calendar, etc.) to alter the Mass Consciousness of the Earth and much more, all of which has been badly misinterpreted and “re-engineered” by Christian religions. Yes, he was Divine, as are we all. Yes, you can call upon Jesus Christ to help you in a spiritual sense and He WILL provide whatever assistance you will allow, but we look upon Jesus as a great healer, miracle worker, and mystic who was conscious of His direct access to God and that, given sufficient personal development, or insight, we COULD emulate his capabilities and actions today (“These things ye shall do, and more.”). Jesus, Buddha and others were Teachers who demonstrated the importance of thoughts, words, and deeds in shaping our lives. However, we cannot accept the tenets that the only way to God is through Jesus Christ. The experiences of many other individuals and religions around the world dictate otherwise. In a private reading of Nov 8, 1998, Quest stated “Jesus had obtained the pinnacle of spiritual development. He did come to save the world by taking upon himself the (sins of?) mass consciousness rendering the world free of guilt, shoulds, coulds and woulds. He also left an avenue of clear love and freedom from mass consciousness.” Notice that he worked on the mass consciousness of that time so as to provide that path of love and spiritual development. This did not mean he was absolving each and every individual, through all time, from their own lack of individual self-responsibility and karma. Yes, a true ‘conversion,’ so to speak can wipe the slate clean for any individual, but this is subject to that individual’s inner level of commitment, cannot be judged by humankind, and does not permit that individual to feel he/she can go out and repeat his/her previous pro-or-con behaviors without additional karmic consequences, pro or con.

What is a Christian?

We accept as Christian any individual or group who devoutly, thoughtfully, seriously, and prayerfully regards themselves to be Christian. Included are a thousand or so religious organizations that identify themselves as Christian as well as those who consider themselves to be Christian even though they do not identify themselves with any particular religious group… this site included (Adapted from http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_defn3.htm) It should be noted that even Thomas Jefferson, in evaluating the New Testament, found many dichotomies within it, including between the Gospels concerning Jesus resurrection. He therefore cut up a Bible to boil everything down to what he could accept, and “published” this version (alongside translations in French, Greek and Latin) which depletes virtually all of Church doctrine (see “The Basic Text of the Jefferson Bible” at http://www.angelfire.com/co/JeffersonBible/). In a correspondence to Benjamin Rush, Jefferson wrote, “To the corruption of Chris­tianity I am indeed opposed, but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself.”

The Virgin Birth

This is another church-ordained belief but, after all, what does this “fact” have to do with what Jesus evolved into? Whether there was a true “virgin birth” (which, if memory serves from several years ago, is supposedly a medical potential in 1/1,000,000 births, but this does not take into account the practice of Light-Conception), or whether Joseph was the biological father, is of no real consequence. Technically, while this would be claimed as a “miracle” by the church, there are still the facts that (1) this same scenerio was prevalent in prior cultures, particularly among the Essenes and Magdalenes where the practice was called Light-Conception and (2) this was not an original tenet of the early church, but was adopted from these prior cultures (even as the topic was hotly debated pro-and-con) as the Christian church developed a “uniform” set of belief structures through the first few hundred years. According to quite reliable sources (“Anna, The Voice of the Magdalenes,” by Claire Heartsong) Jesus (Yesua be Joseph) sired a number of children in this manner with his three consorts/wives – the three Marys. Given the above, it appears that the Christian church advanced Mother-Mary to sainthood (but ignored Anna, Mary’s mother and Yeshua’s other two Marys), indoctrinated the masses, and the energy from attention and veneration of the masses has provided the entity that was Mary into the spiritual powerhouse we know of today. Look at the evolution of the Eastern equivalent, Quan Yin (can be spelled different ways), which started out as a Hindu imagined male god, then into a buddhavista, and yet again into the Eastern Goddess of Compassion, Mercy and Healing (See Topic 23 here).

The "Second Coming" of Christ

The only true “second coming” is the awakening of our own individual god within…the Christ within each of us. This was the TRUE meaning of the words “Only through me…” We do not believe that this occurrence will be/is being manifest in the second physical appearance of Jesus Christ on the earth plane. We see this Second Coming as currently in process – as the opening of each individual to the Christ within. As this occurs in each individual, a not-so-subtle shift in mass consciousness also occurs. From “Starseed: The Third Millennium,” by Ken Carey: “Yet the event the Christian world looks toward as the Second Coming of Christ is no spectator event. It is a participatory current of dynamic transformation, a rapidly flowing stream of consciousness into which all are invited and through which all must pass as this consciousness grows to eventually en­gulf the earth.”

Prayer

We believe that God answers all prayers, with no exception. Prayer is normally used in the context of asking for God’s assistance in some manner, but we believe that prayer does not involve begging God for a favor, or repeating standard prayers in a ritual setting. If you are asking for something, don’t say “I want,” since the universe will simply agree with you that, yes, you do want that. Be intentful and know that whatever you “want”/ask for has been provided. Also, we strongly believe that (as some Native Americans seem to(3)), while ritualistic prayers may help invoke age-old energy patterns (such as East Indian Mantras), the most beneficial prayers are those which come spontaneously and from the heart, with feeling and intent behind them.

Meditation

This is an act of communicating with God… an act of becoming spiritually one with God. Meditation can be accomplished in hours, minutes, or seconds, it depends strictly upon the individual. It is entirely possible to conduct one’s life as a walking prayer, or a walking meditation, while still engaged in daily activities. This is a function of mastership on earth (or in whatever realm one is in). Either one’s prayers or one’s meditation, or both, can be directed at all those who are receptive (this was a key factor in healings of any kind, including those that Jesus accomplished).

Service

This is generally seen as an external manifestation… as helping individuals or groups of humanity to (a) provide basic necessities, or (b) to better themselves by self-empowerment. However, we would contend that an even more effective, albeit unseen and longer-range manner of higher “service,” is through personal self-empowerment/self-improvement, thereby shifting Earth’s mass consciousness. A subset of this approach is working, through energy methods as depicted in www.lprww.org, on a global basis. Numerous examples can be see of the first application, but, with the second application it is virtually impossible to point to examples. Some few individuals, such as Mother Theresa, can be easily identified as operating with both applications, but the vast majority of those using the second application only are, by its very nature, virtually impossible to externally identify. A very personal and profoundly impacting experience demonstrated what the term “service” really means, see Topic 6 here. From “The Crystal Stair,” by Eric Klein: “The hierarchy of beings who are serving are always eager to find a new way to express their love, a new way to focus the light through themselves to assist others. This is truly what service is. It is not a matter of good deeds or noble activities. Service is simply those actions which you perform coming from the inner plane of love in connection with your divine breath, surrendering to the Holy Spirit. You might say that service is the root of all Creation. The universes are always expanding, new creations occurring constantly, new opportuni­ties for service. New opportunities to shower forth that light which is flowing through. And when you align more and more with that light within you, you will find a great desire within you to share it spontaneously, in just the same way that you were laughing previously. You will find the desire to share this energy spontaneously. And it will be this desire of your heart which will counsel you and direct you in your next phase of service.”

Heaven

Heaven is not a place “up there” to be experienced as a reward after death, but is a state of mind – of attitude, thankfulness and receptivity, and, therefore, a state of being – that is/can be experienced anywhere and at any time. As Jesus is reputed as saying: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and “The kingdom of God is in the midst of (within) you.”

Hell

The traditional concept of hell, as a place of eternal torment, in which people are eternally punished with fire because of their beliefs and /or actions during life (i.e., Dante’s Inferno, which also came from prior cultures), was, we believe, promulgated by the church to help control the populace. Rather, similar to how heaven can be experienced, hell is a state of consciousness to be suffered here on earth when we are simply out of harmony with our natural being.

Satan

If God is All Things, then how could there be an “opposite” of God? How could there be a “bad” “fallen angel?” “In the beginning” God formulated what might be considered a “lower nature” in order to experience him/herself and, from this, the legend of “Satan” was born. Satan is not a separate entity, but can be described as our “lower nature:” selfishness, greed, a separation from God. “Satan” can be resisted by systematically striving toward our higher nature. “Lucifer,” on the other hand, was/is an entity, as can be verified in various works.

Sin

Traditionally, sin has been defined as falling short of perfection, including the “original sin,” of which mankind must continually atone. We totally reject this traditional concept, since, as we are an aspect of God, this would also imply that God can be “sinful.” The only true sin, we believe, is the illusion that we are separate from God. (Reference our Quick-Quotes and Book #10, specifically Chapter 8 for this and the topic above. Also see the second paragraph under the topic “Jesus Christ,” above.) From “Starseed: The Third Millennium,” by Ken Carey: “Those who day after day continue to think of them­selves as sinners have no intention of changing. They deny the grace that would fill their lives with love; they betray the consciousness that would reflect in them the clear, undiminished beauty of their eternal nature. “Repentance is a doorway, not an abode; it is of value only when it inspires healthy change and passes on into a state of restored self-acceptance. To value yourself less than God values you is not humility, it is pride of a most destruc­tive nature. “When repentance is prolonged, when it is dragged on into a lifestyle or institutionalized in a religion, it is repug­nant to the spirit, as spiritually divisive as the pride in which it is rooted. Prolonged repentance destroys the bridge that I would establish between Creator and Creation. It closes the human heart to the love that would otherwise pour through it and outward into the world.” Here is another channeled version of exactly what I tried to say on this topic, although Chief Joseph, “coming through” John Cali with the title “The Sense of Sin” (doc), is much more to the point, including what I’ve also tried to say about a formal religion.

The Trinity

This is another church-developed concept. In Reality, ALL ARE ONE. The Father – God – is ALL and we are all “Sons of the Father.” For those who cannot tolerate such a concept because of life-long church indoctrination, please begin investigating the works of both modern research AND Chapter 1 of Book 10, “The Sacred Heart.” (There is also a Quick-Quote summary of the key paragraph in that document.)

Reincarnation

Many people around the world believe in a form of reincarnation, in which each lifetime is viewed as a preparation for the next life in human form, leading toward eventual “perfection” (as interpreted for each individual). This is not to be confused with transmigration, which (in our definition) can be likened to a “revolving door” between human and animal life forms, and which we believe is not in keeping with the best interests of continued spiritual progression (although there are some who might think that certain human individuals might be better off in animal form 🙂 After “death,” the soul leaves the body and, after a “period of time” in spirit, to be ready to live again in another human body. This is/was a common belief among:

  • Present-day Eastern Religions
  • The early Christian Church, prior to the Council of Nicene in 325 AD, but particularly before the Second Synod of Constantinople in 553 AD
  • The Essenes, one of the Jewish sects active while Jesus was alive and the one from which it is believed he emerged. (Note: The concept of reincarnation was common during Jesus’ time and there is no evidence that Jesus criticized the people for their beliefs, or declared reincarnation to be heresy.).

We believe that the concept of reincarnation is only logical and is supported by a tremendous amount of evidence in the common literature, as well as many Chapters presented on this website.

Worship

Worship can be accomplished at any time and location. It can take the form of a liturgical practice, a prayer, a meditation, or simply be a “looking within” for that re-connection to God…which we have never lost, although we just may not realize that fact. (Therefore, we do not believe that a “free church” needs either a formal edifice or a list of worshipers/attendees/etc. to be considered a “church’ in the terms normally applied by the United States’ IRS.)

Some "Sacraments"

Baptism

Within various Christian groups, some use a total body immersion in water, while others simply sprinkle drops of water on the person. We believe that this is an event that is unique and deeply personal to each individual, as a “re-union” (a re-remembering) between each “individual” and God, which cannot be adequately symbolized by any form of external function.

Communion

In the words of St. Paul: “The Kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Communion becomes a close encounter with God in prayer or meditation, in which one becomes aware of the impact that God is making in all areas of one’s life. Although there is a mystical meaning in the details and purpose of the conventional rite of Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper, we prefer the concept of an “inner communion.”

Marriage

Again, we believe that this is an event that is unique and deeply personal to each individual and couple, no matter their race or sexual orientation. “Civilized” societies now “require” that a State certificate be accomplished, whether by a minister (or equivqlent), witnessed and properly recorded for “recognition” purposes by the State. Alternatively, in various states and municipalities, a governemt official may perform a marriage ceremony. This is considered “acceptable” in our “modern” State-dominated societies, but the true dedication is to one another, particularly in maintaining the marriage through the succeeding years, where many forces (including uneven spiritual development) often “work” to separate the couple. Under the U.S. Constitution, we do not agree that the State should be involved in any way in such an event and are in full and total agreement with the opinions espoused in this newspaper Editorial piece and the following article. We believe the government should stay as far away from this Marriage Sacrament as they do those of Baptism and Communion within the Christian Church and equivalent activities of other religions.

On Religions; Churches

Consider what Abraham Maslow, in “Religions, Values and Peak-Experiences” had said about religion: “In a word, organized religion can be thought of as an effort to communicate peak-experiences to non-peakers, to teach them, to apply them, etc. Often, to make it more difficult, this job falls into the hands of non-peakers. The peak-experiences and their experiential reality ordinarily are not transmittable to non-peakers, at least not by words alone, and certainly not by non-peakers.” Essentially, a spiritual person that experiences certain “peak experiences” is admired by those that never have experienced these phenomena, but who then start a “religion” based on that (non-experiencer’s) interpretation of what enabled the spiritual person’s peak experiences. That religion then follows a step-by-step interpretation of what enabled the spiritual person’s experiences to occur, without regard to the fact that the contributing factor behind such peak experiences is path independent. Then (in my own extrapolation), along the way, the non-experiencers’ human aspects get the better of him/her, and the need for power and money steps in. This turns what may have been great peak experiences into a fixed-idea religion based on power and money, and which then “requires” a church to demonstrate/practice their piety. Of course the “worshiper’s” within this religion also contribute by giving their power for their own spiritual development over to those leading the church or religion, since this is far easier to do than work with and within themselves as we each have the capability to do. We believe that William James, in “The Varieties of Human Experience” summed this situation up quite well with: “Religion, in short, is a monumental chapter in the history of human egotism.” We have found another correlation to this concept in a surprising scource by Alan Watts, author of UFO Visitation, which we call: Religions Distorted. Also, note the quotation attributed to Pope Leo X (1513-1521), “All ages can testifie enough howe profitable that fable of Christe hath ben to us and our companie,” as previously mentioned in the section above on Jesus Christ. So much for a pious, believing papacy, eh what? It was during this Pope’s reign that, Martin Luther (1483–1546) first accused the Roman Catholic Church of corruption (primarily for the practice of “selling indulgences”). Yet the Protestant Reformation brought a tremendous number of Catholic doctrines along with it. And so, we feel that the God-given “Free Will” mentioned above in the “Deity” section, is VERY often violated by those of us giving our innate freedoms over to those “in power” in a church or religion. Additionally, the conservative/ultra-conservative factions of various religions and political parties also often use fear-based scenarios to assume such power. (And we see the very same occurrences under many governments of this Earth.) Unfortunately, too many religions focus on fear – fear of God (particularly Old Testament), fear of “Satan”, fear of death, fear of whatever the afterlife is – all in order to control the members. It is also evident that a large number of Western “Protestant” Christian churches have automatically adopted many of the belief systems that had been advanced by the Roman Catholic church over the centuries, without regard as to whether or not these beliefs were actually promulgated by Jesus Christ. A number of the topics briefly discussed above are in that category. Similarly, although we are not of that persuasion, the Buddhist philosophy has undergone many revisions and modifications, from that originally formulated by Siddhartha Gautama, even though, as best we can determine, it is the only major world philosophy/religion that has never been engaged in a war to promulgate or defend its beliefs. Additionally, based upon a brief explanation of the main tenets of the Sufi Ruhaniat sect, we would also endorse their approach, as it seems to mirror many of the individual-instruction beliefs of what we might call the more “in-depth” religions of the world. From “Starseed: The Third Millennium,” by Ken Carey: “The dawn that is rising upon this world brings an end to the age of religion, but the ego must understand that the sun’s rays come not to harm, but to free those who are oriented to these visions of the past.” We are also VERY strong believers in complete separation of “church” & state. While we, obviously, do not like the term “church,” in order to maintain our independence from governmental oversight in today’s world, we call ourselves a “Free Church” (reference our “Bylaws,” “Article 1, Organization”), which is, in corporate-speak, an unincorporated church, which is automatically a non-profit organization without IRS 501(c)(3) “official” recognition. Also see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirituality

Women In the Church/as Priests

On May 30, 2008 an Associated Press headline read, “Vatican says female priests and those who ordain them will incur automatic excommunication.” This headline sparked similar headlines all around the world, with many rightfully adverse reactions. This action on the part of the Catholic church is simply WRONG and on a par with the church’s persecution of Galileo and the Inquisition!!! The fact is that women held very influential positions in Christian churches for several hundred years, until the Vatican, for some inexplicable reason, decided to lapse into a male-dominant role. A couple of good web sites presenting strong positions on this topic are http://www.romancatholicwomenpriests.org and http://www.womenpriests.org/index.asp, with a good discussion on this particular news item at http://www.romancatholicwomenpriests.org/pressrelease4.htm. An extract from this last link: “Pope Benedict XVI, written when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, in the commentary section of the Doctrine of Vatican II, volume V, page 134, stated: ‘Over the Pope as the expression of the binding claim of ecclesiastical authority, there still stands one’s own conscience, which must be obeyed before all else, if necessary even against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority.'” THIS is the same pope that is excommunicating ordained women priests AND those that would ordain them????? Now I have to get this straight… there are women that have been (and are) good enough to be classified as Saints by this church, but NOT good enough to be priests??? WHAT HYPOCRISY!!!!!

Could We Be Evangelical?

Christian, yes, but evangelical? Absolutely not! And we present the differences… There appear to be about four criteria that are somewhat widely accepted as necessary to be an evangelical:

  • Conversion – the belief that lives need to be transformed through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Where we are – See Jesus Christ, above.
  • Belief in the Bible as the supreme authority. Where we are – See The Bible, above.
  • Cruci-centricism – the emphasis on Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross. Where we are – Again, see Jesus Christ, above.
  • Activism – living out one’s faith through witnessing to others, social action such as serving the poor and disenfranchised, and developing a holy life. Where we are – We feel this “definition” is somewhat backwards. Going back to The “Second Coming,” above, we believe that the development of “the inner” must come before there is any true dedication to others…and such dedication may well not look like what others may feel/believe is “the right way.” Only on a personal and individual basis can we have any real idea what is going on within ourselves, and the business of “witnessing to others, social action such as serving the poor and disenfranchised,” etc., will assume personal and individual expressions of service.

Specific References (among many others)

(1) Ehrman, Bart D., “Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why,” HarperCollins, San Francisco, 2005 (2) Pagels, Elaine, “Beyond Belief, The Secret Gospel of Thomas,” Random House, NY, 2005 (3) McGaa, Ed, “Mother Earth Spirituality: Native American Paths to Healing Ourselves and Our World,” HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1990

The Difference Between Spirituality and Religion (author unknown)

“Spirituality is the process by which you experience what you know, what is true for you, rather than observe, or be referred to what is true for others. The more you come from what is true for you, the more you have a direct experience of GOD or whatever words you want to use to describe that energy force: Chi, Life Force, Prana, Shiva, God, Goddess, All That Is, etc. “Religion does not care about your own (internal) experience. Religion does not invite you to explore too much of that. In fact, religion steers you away from it. Some religions actually forbid you to question, forbid you to deviate, forbid you to seek your own personal experience. It is the job of religion not to invite you to experience what is true for you, but to tell you outright what should be true for you.” “Religion and spirituality are two very different and distinct concepts. A religious person is not necessarily spiritual, and a spiritual person is not necessarily religious. Spirituality is how one expresses one’s spirit. Religion is a set of rules and limitations that are placed on an individual’s spirit. The first is natural and infinite; the latter is a human construct and finite.” Unfinished Business, James Van Praagh, HarperCollins, p.160

When does a cult become a religion?

(from “Jupiter’s Bones,” by Faye Kellerman, Avon Books, 1999, p.139) – (Although this referenced book is fiction, it is quite accurate in its description of the way religions are initiated.) “There are open cults and closed cults. Most of your religious variants started as open cults, founded on isms by a charismatic leader who held a vision. Some examples: Christian Science developed by Mary Baker Eddy, the Shakers forwarded in this country by Ann Lee, Mormonism with Brigham Young’s sighting of the angel, Moroni, Jewish Chasidism with the Ba’al Shem Tov. Today, many of these cults have been integrated into standard American religious practices. But way back when, these leaders were ridiculed and ostracized.”

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