Tag Archives: freewill

Manifestations of the Mind (part 5)

Posted by: David

What’s important for all of us to understand is this: our thoughts are a force that not only affect our sphere of influence, but they also affect reality itself. Before you press the ‘X’ on your browser window, please give me a chance to explain.

We all have a sphere of influence and this may be limited to what our hands can do. We can use our hands to paint a pretty picture for someone to enjoy or use our hands and arms to give someone a hug to make them feel cozy. Our bodies do these things through the instructions of our mind.

The Mind’s Eye

What is the mind? The mind is the ‘seeing’ and ‘visualizing’ that is akin to our actual bodily senses. The mind’s thoughts are a tapestry of  senses, feelings, memories, knowledge and logic.

Before I decide to give someone a hug, my mind consciously or unconsciously envisions giving someone a hug. Something in me decides whether to go through with that action. If I act upon the mind’s vision, the person gets the hug. This is a simple example of how reality itself is changed by a simple vision or a thought.

But does reality change if we simply think about something? Okay, we might not be able lift an X-wing fighter out of the swamp like Luke did. But what we think about affects our perceptions of our world. It affects our awareness. Our thoughts are reordered and a new landscape is burnt into our mind. This affects who we are, physically as well as mentally, and it changes the way we evaluate and make decisions. It affects our perceptions of the world. Our mind is active much of our days and some of the night. Our thoughts are continually shifted and reordered and a new community of neurons is established in our head. Our relationships with others change. Our work habits can change. And this can be a vicious cycle, depending on where we are grounded. If we are grounded, our mind’s landscape tends to stay relatively stable. These thoughts, whether grounded or not, drive us through our own personal and collective histories. And don’t think it tumble us haphazardly through time. It drives us toward the visions of our minds, individually as well as collectively. It drives us towards the reality that we focus on. If I were to choose one word that defines what most of us focus on it would be: “me.”

In some cases, we have choice on which of varied subjects we dwell. In other cases, we seem to have no choice on the matter whatsoever. But even in those cases, in the most extreme examples, where someone might be ‘tortured’ with obsessive thoughts, we still have choices. We will always have choices in our lives.

I’ll take the extreme example of being ‘tortured’ with obsessive thoughts. It’s extreme, but it’s probably common in degrees to most of us at times in our lives. It is at these times that we cycle thoughts through our head. Over and over these thoughts resurface. We may try to push them back into the recesses. Even though we may not have a choice whether these thoughts pop-up into our minds, we do have a choice how we interact with them. We can hate them, push them away or get angry at them. We may also try to neuter them through reason. But none of these approaches really do any good. On the other hand, we can look them straight in the eyes and see them for what they really are. We can look at them with honesty, repentance, compassion, mercy and love. If we learn to look in these ways to our innermost thoughts, we will simultaneously learn to look at tangible people and circumstances in this way.  I know, easier said than done. I’ve been there. But the important point is that these thoughts are a force and they affect us and our reality. And we can look back at them with the force of truth and love.

Thoughts can be both scary and alluring (push and pull) and they must not be allowed to control our will. They will be in our head all of our lives, but we must make the choice how we deal with them. We must be active participants in our inward and outward lives.

A Choppy Inner Sea

In looking back at my life, I notice that most of my conscious moments have been filled with varied thoughts fading in and out of view much the surface of a choppy sea. The only times that I have not had that sea of thoughts was when I was engaged in some extremely difficult mental enterprise, such as computer programming or some other intense focus From talking to others over the years, I find that they are no different than I.

And please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we should try to control or stop this plague of thoughts. That’s what people consciously and subconsciously try to do with food, alcohol, drugs, sex, work, escapism, exercise, distractions and other methods. They use these techniques to block the choppy sea of visions and thoughts that is so difficult for many to deal with. They are trying to cope as best as possible. Of course, as we see time and time again, these approaches mostly just exacerbate the problems. Too often, the plaguing images and thoughts within the mind only get worse with the rational and irrational fixes that we apply. Or they may subside and emerge again at a later date, or transform into something different but equally difficult to deal with. This is a common human predicament and I believe common to the entire human race. Pure and simple, it is an effect of our consciousness.

The Dilemma of Repricocity

Let’s look at Newton’s third law of motion: “To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” What was placed in motion at the very onset of our becoming conscious beings has plagued every last one of us, because it has been a chain of events, just like Newton’s third law describes. So, when you have a disturbing thought or someone causes you pain in your life, if you fight back, your reciprocation will just cause the dominoes to continue to fall. Likewise, if you just build a castle wall around your emotions, psyche or body, you will just cause others to build bigger walls around there’s and so on. The other option would be to rationalize the pain. And that’s probably the worst thing you can do. That traps the pain into ideas, thoughts, words and writings. This is the true K-bomb of Part 4. The pain is packed densely into a mental or social algorithm. It’s packed so tight that one day it will explode, and maybe not in your lifetime. In Part 6 we will look at how to diffuse the K-bomb.

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Re: Salvation

Posted by: David

To understand “Why Salvation” we need to first consider whether not we think we have actual choice or “freewill,” and secondly, we need to consider whether or not we think there is a natural justice within the universe. If we grapple with these two concepts (freewill and justice) and decide, “Yes, I do have choices, and yes, there is true justice in the universe,” then the need for salvation becomes more clear.

I do not think that we could answer “no” to either of the questions independently. They hinge on each other. One could answer “no” to both and that would certainly be a sad Nietzschesque world.

Let’s skip freewill for now, that’s a whole topic on its own and I currently don’t have any convincing argument either way. It’s my “choice” that I believe we have freewill. If I had any argument, it would be that if there’s no freewill then there’s no real need for justice, because all things will just follow their predetermined routes. But I do believe in a perfect justice.

Justice is either all or nothing. The universe is either ruled by perfectly just rules or there is no justice at all. Could we live in a partially just universe? It must be a perfect justice or else it wouldn’t be just, would it? If a judge was to rule properly only some of the time, then he wouldn’t be a very good or just judge, would he? On the other hand, the universe could be ruled by haphazard rulings. This is how many religions and belief systems work. In these systems of belief, there are various gods that decide things on their various whims. It’s our role to capitulate to those whims. This system of belief is not one that believes in a just universe.

Natural laws abound and are all around us in our every day lives. If you fight those natural laws, it is to your own demise. I see the effects of a just universe (a just God) all around our natural world. There are clearly natural laws that rule the forces and matter of our universe. Fighting the law of gravity by jumping off a cliff would show me quickly that there are natural laws, and there are consequences when one doesn’t follow the laws. It seems to me that our universe is ordered. And in my understanding of things, when there is order, there is a justice that sees to keeping that order. In our government we call that the justice of the peace. The same name could be applied to the Governor of the universe.

So, let’s now suppose that there is true justice in this universe and we do have freewill. Then if we knowingly make destructive choices, then the justice that we live under will convict us. Or if we are falsely accused, this justice will acquit us. And here is our fate: all of us knowingly make destructive choices and we live in a just universe. Thus, if the governor or the universe is just, we will be convicted.

And it’s not just Joe or Adolph who should be convicted of a penalty worth death. We are all in the same family. We are all connected and co-conspirators. All of our subconscious minds have similar horrific thoughts. Some of us stab others with words. Others stab with swords. Some of the most pernicious acts are done with the eyes or a long, drawn out sigh.

This curious relationship between freewill and justice is seen in the story of the Garden of Eden. The mysterious first few chapters of Genesis can shed some light on what justice is and how we relate to it. In this story, that most everyone is familiar with, God gave man and woman choice. He gave us one rule and that rule was specific to us and our freewill. None of the other animals had that one law. The one law was that we couldn’t eat from the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Notice that the tree didn’t have some obscure ancient name. It was written out clearly so we would all know what the fruit represented: the knowledge of good and evil. It was essential that a species with freewill not understand the difference between good and evil. For some reason, which we discovered later, we were not designed so that we were capable of dealing with that knowledge. By having that knowledge our species was doomed. We couldn’t handle it. That is why there was a law against it.

And let’s not think it’s unique to our species to have a unique law established for it. Each species or organization in our universe has unique laws that apply to it and not to others. A seagull cannot lay eggs in the pounding surf, but smelt can.

What makes us unique to all the other species on Earth is that we have freewill, which is why we were given that all important law, one that was essential to our distinct nature. Basically, God was saying, “You are special, and to keep this extremely special trait of yours, you must not know the difference between good and evil.”

You know the rest of the story. Unfortunately, now that we have the knowledge of good and evil, this has posed the most difficult problem to us. By possessing both freewill and knowledge of good and evil, we became self-destructive. We knowingly choose things that hurt others and ourselves. And by knowing this, we also try to prevent others from hurting us. We become bent on saving ourselves from the destructive habits of others. It is at this point when History began. Agriculture emerged. Cities dotted the landscape. Resources began to be depleted. War arose. Pointing fingers began. And that’s an important point of the story: with the fall we became aware of evil within others. We became the judge of others. We made our own government. We convicted others and were convicted. We became our own god.

However, unlike the natural justice described earlier, our judgment is not perfect. It is always a selfish judgment. The self will bias its rulings based on its desire for survival, which skews the weights and balances. Collectively, if not individually, we become psychotic, bi-polar, and communally and subsequently personally self-destructive. This is why the story of Cain and Abel follows the expulsion from the garden. Self-destruction became our nature. This nature could not be changed on its own, from within. The knowledge was with us and would be with us until the end. We must be transformed through an intervention, from outside our species to the innermost inside of our species.

This is why there is a need for our salvation.

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Re: What’s Wrong with Calvinism

Posted by: David

This is a response to this article: http://www.catalystresources.org/issues/351Walls.htm.

What do I think about Calvinism versus freewill? Jesus lays the answers to this issue in his parables. And there’s not a clear answer. Jesus uses parables because some things are only known through stories. Some things cannot be known through a true/false dichotomy.

In my opinion, one of the main early errors of Calvin was his interpretation of Romans 13. Calvin used Romans 13 to justify his actions against the Catholic Church at the time. It was clear that certain members of the Catholic Church at the time had strayed far away from Jesus, but his interpretation created many of the messes we see today. These messes were probably inevitable. We know how to create messes and some messes we don’t know how to clean up. Nuclear waste is a material example. Hate and contempt are non-material examples.

Here’s an excerpt from Romans 13. Read more to get a clearer picture.

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

From my understanding, Calvin interprets this passage so that it is intended for only certain authorities. However, if you read the passage just before it in Romans 12, you see that Paul meant every authority and for good reason. Our authorities sometimes become our enemies and when they do you don’t revolt:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Now one of those messes that is in direct line from Calvin’s interpretation of Romans 13 is the re-development of the republic form of government in America. Because of discontent toward the Pope, Calvin and others revisited the Scriptures and remade church government into a form that is representative rather than one that dependent on a Pope. Some, not all, early Christians in America decided that it was okay to rise up against England, again based on Calvin’s interpretation of Romans 12 and his justification for the breakaway from the Pope. And when they won the war, America’s governmental structure was then based on the Presbyterian interpretation of church leadership, which has its root in Calvin. The warrior has to justify his acts, even if he does wish to follow Jesus to the cross.

However, the fact is, in my understanding, that neither Paul, Peter, James, nor Jesus (those who wrote or spoke on the topic of submission to rulers) said that it was okay to revolt against one’s leaders. In fact, they repeatedly said the opposite. And there’s good reason. Because when one submits in God’s love to an evil ruler, something amazing, transforming and miraculous happens. This is why Jesus went to the cross and didn’t summon all the angles in heaven to overthrow the Roman and Jewish establishment. He went to the Cross.

Calvin was angry at the Catholic Church, and understandably, but his misinterpretation of Romans was a result of his contempt towards the Pope and corrupt aspects of the establishment. He didn’t understand that God puts even the ugliest rulers over us, sometimes it is for our own humility and sometimes it is for the destruction and/or healing of that ruler which is placed above us, which is counterintuitively accomplished through submission. And the important point is that God places that ugly ruler above us. Sometimes the work that we do here on earth is far from pretty.

That ruler is sometimes a head of state. That ruler is sometimes a police officer. He is sometimes the one with the bigger gun, a parent, or a husband. Few people understand this today, no matter what church they go to or don’t go to.

The main issue brought up in the article was the difference between Calvin’s and Wesley’s interpretation of freewill.  To this I say that God made us in his image not to be like robots. The special characteristic of being children of God is that we are creative like he is. We could not be truly creative or free without him. The irony (and this is where Calvin got it right) is that when we are apart from God we are slaves to sin. And being slaves we are not free, we do the bidding of our master, whether we know it or not. But when we are bound into God, through Christ, we can then be truly creative and free. And this freedom is transforming not only to ourselves. Our creativity transforms the material and non-material things around us. That’s what true creativity does: it transforms and manifests freely God’s plan for us upon our environment, communities and relationships.

With this freedom, only then can we invent songs and music that the universe has never heard before. We can then tell stories that talk of special people that have never set foot on this planet. We can then manifest truth and love upon the earth. And this is where our role as free and creative beings becomes most important of all. We are given the task to transform this world and we do it through our freedom in Christ. And sometimes it’s not a pretty painting. It can be no prettier than Jesus on the cross. But we do it through love, grace, mercy, and submission. We do it all our lives until we sleep. The one day we will awake into the transformed world and that world is beautiful.

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