A Reason to Smile

A Reason to Smile

Higher Truths; Or, digital spirituality II

posted by B. Dave Walters

The Truth is all around you, you just have to know how to see it....

“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”
-Buddha (Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.)

The purpose of these articles was never to attempt to convert anyone into a new way of thinking or belief; but to challenge people’s assumptions.
Since, the reality is, many of us go through life believing the same things that we were spoon fed as children, without ever taking the time to truly THINK about what we believe; to wrestle with the mysteries of the Universe and come out stronger for it.

The purpose of this article, then, is to present some new ideas for you to try on, and see if they make sense to you, and your world view. Feel free to accept or reject any of them, with one condition: you are clear on * why * you feel this way. Various teachers and scriptures can guide you along the way, but in the end, we must each walk the path alone.

So please consider, pray, and meditate on, and by all means enjoy these ideas, and become a better person for it.

1. No one KNOWS where we come from, or knows what happens when we die.
Passionate belief is not the same as empirical knowledge.

2. Since we do not, and can not, know for certain, all we are left with are our own opinions, and what we choose to believe.

3. The ultimate answers to the questions of life can only be found within (Gnosis); God exists at all time and all places, and takes an active hand in the Universe (Theism).

4. “As above, so below; as within, so without.” Everything that exists outside of us exists inside of us, too.

5. Knowledge of yourself leads to love of yourself; love of yourself leads to love of others.

6. There is no nobility in ignorance, and no greater task in life than working towards learning about and connecting with the Creator of all things.

7.Science and religion do not stand in opposition to one another,  they simply serve different purposes.

8. The Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path provide a keen insight into why we suffer, and how to end the suffering.

9. The religions of the world agree on far more points than they disagree; confusion only arises when people claim their truth is the ‘only’ truth.
There is no ‘only’ truth! Our most closely held beliefs would probably be radically different if we’d been born in another place or time.

10.The Bible, the Koran, Bhagavad Gita, and any other scriptures are useful tools towards explaining the Universe and our place in it; but there is no wholly Divine or infallible scriptures. If it was written by human hands, it is flawed.

You are great, and I love you!

And if you love me back, click ‘share’ up at the top!

B. Dave Walters

Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host

Find out more about me:
http://about.me/BDaveWalters

Ask me anything:
http://formspring.me/BDaveWalters

Pages I support:
Jesus and Buddha  – Interfaith dialog

Gnostic Theism – Religion and Spirituality for the 21st Century (Join the Movement!)

Love One Another –  A safe place to come find more reasons to smile!

Why God, Why; Or, Letting Go II (VIDEO)

posted by B. Dave Walters

You have to let go!

The Root of pain is Attachment; this is the second Noble Truth.
-Buddha

As I have mentioned in the past, Los Angeles has quite a few bitter, unhappy people in it. Because for whatever reason, their goals have not manifested in the time and way that they would like.
And along with an understandable sense of disappointment, comes an inevitable desire to know ‘why’. Why did this happen, or why didn’t?
Why has God / the Universe abandoned them?

But the fact of the matter is, no such thing has happened.
I wrote previously about how to let go of your attachments, and the video below gives you many more tools on how to know what you need to release, and how to do it.
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So for this article, I’d like to talk more about how we form our attachments, how to make new and better decisions that will serve you, rather than work against you.

I wrote previously about how to be committed without being attached and that is an important idea to keep in mind; that it isn’t necessary to go through life as a door mat, nor is it necessary to go through life as a control freak, either.

The key, then, is to be consciously aware of two very important things:
what are you committed to, and what are you attached to.

Let me explain the difference again: commitment is wanting to have a nice meal; attachment is refusing to eat anywhere but a single restaurant you have decided on. Commitment is choosing to spend your life with someone; attachment is refusing to let go of a bad situation because you’re afraid you can’t do any better.

Here is a very simple test as to whether you are committed to something or attached: how do you feel about it?

If it makes you feel good, and you know it is going to work out for the best, then congratulations: you are committed!
But…if it feels bad, or you are filled with fear about what might happen, then you are attached.

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So, then, how do you go about converting your unhealthy attachments, which can ONLY cause you pain, into healthy commitments, which make life uplifting and enjoyable?

First and foremost: trust.
Trust God, trust the Universe, trust life, and above all else, trust people.
Trust that things are going to work out the best that they can.
Note, I didn’t say they will work out how YOU want them to, I said for the *best *.

I’ve said before, you can worry or you can have faith, but not both; when you worry you are telling God / the Universe that they can’t handle it, so you have to. The fact of the matter is you trust God COMPLETELY, or not at all.

Once you start to believe and accept the Universe is on your side, then it becomes easier to remain cheerful and positive no matter what, and because of that you can start attracting better and better things into your life.

I’m going to cut this one short to give you a chance to watch the video below, or read what I already wrote about a step by step process for releasing your attachments.

You are great, and I love you!
And if you love me back, click subscribe over on the right hand side!

B. Dave Walters

Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host

Find out more about me:
http://about.me/BDaveWalters

Ask me anything:
http://formspring.me/BDaveWalters

Pages I support:
Jesus and Buddha  – Interfaith dialog

Gnostic Theism – Religion and Spirituality for the 21st Century (Join the Movement!)

Love One Another –  A safe place to come find more reasons to smile!

The Heart Vs. The Mind; Or, Science And Its Darker Twin

posted by B. Dave Walters

There are different ways to look at things

There have been a handful of times in my life when I felt like certain things were ‘given’ to me by a higher power, and all I had to do was get it out and written down.

This is one of those pieces.

I originally ‘received’ this, right after my ‘Gnostic Theism; Or, Digital Spirituality‘ article:

The reason why I write this blog is to help people make sense of the world, and all the things that take place day to day.

Now more than ever, we are being pulled in different directions and taught conflicting things, and it can easily put us in a position of having to choose between our heart and our mind, or rather whether or not we want to be ‘logical’ or ‘spiritual’, religious or scientific.

I suggest, you don’t have to choose between the two.

Before we can get into it, we need to clarify an important difference between science and religion: science is king, where it applies; religion is king, where it applies.  Science can tell us how, Religion can tell us why.  Unfortunately those lines have become blurred, giving rise to Science’s darker twin: Scientism.  Using science in an attempt to disprove the existence of God is like trying to use a knowledge of music to disprove the existence of Beethoven…it can’t be done.  By the same token, using Scripture to try and disprove empirical realities is just as pointless, but we’ll talk about that on another day.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines Science as:

1. The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation,   and theoretical explanation of phenomena.

2.     Such activities restricted to a class of natural phenomena.

3.Such activities applied to an object of inquiry or study.

It also defines Scientism as:

1. The collection of attitudes and practices considered typical of scientists.

2.The belief that the investigative methods of the physical sciences are applicable or justifiable in all fields of inquiry.

Now this seems harmless enough on the surface.

And, while science has unquestionably lead to many advances that have improved modern life,  it has also given rise to an increasingly more sanitized and lifeless existence.

An easy example is it has come into vogue for anyone of a scientific mind to be an atheist, and outright reject anything that can’t be perceived in a laboratory setting.  They will say that believing human beings were sculpted out of clay and life was breathed into them is an ignorant superstition (and, we are not arguing for its literal truth either).  And yet, in the same breath they will try and convince you that life began on this planet when a bolt of lightening hit a puddle of chemicals at some point in the distant past.

And that is presented as the ‘logical alternative’.

Now, some adherents of Scientism will make the argument that life was seeded here (by chance, of course) by meteors from other planets, but even that explanation does not provide an answer for the riddle of life, it simply pushes the question  further back into time.

Or, for the hotly debated Theory of Evolution, it is not so much an issue of it being right or wrong, but being highly over-stated.  Aspects of it can be easily observed, such as Micro-Evolution and Natural Selection: the process by which a bird’s beak adapts to eat a certain kind of seed, or where a species of moth with superior camouflage will outlast a species with no camouflage at all.

The problem is with Macro-Evolution, which explains how one species becomes a whole new species.  The problem is, there is no hard evidence that this process occurs.  It is supposed to be a constant process of tiny changes, but if that were the case, any and all fossils should show some signs of modification, but they don’t.  And if a creature were to spontaneously mutate into an entirely new species, it would be faced with an immediate breeding problem since it would be the only one!  The wild card variable they will plead is ‘time’; that it simply takes too long for us to observe a supposedly constantly occurring process.  But even then, populations like fruit flies or certain types of bacteria can move through an entire generation in days or even hours, and have been under constant observation in laboratories, all over the world for decades.   And though some changes may be identified, they are still fruit flies or bacteria.

And the biggest problem is the theory in it’s current state stands in opposition to two fundamental laws of science: The Second Law of Thermo Dynamics, which says if left to their own devices things break down rather than become more complex, and the Law of Biogenesis, which says life can only come from life; it is flatly impossible for something inanimate to come to life.

Now I will issue the disclaimer that standard Evolutionary Theory doesn’t deal with the origins of life, but in this day and age they are often lumped together.

It is not our purpose to debunk Evolutionary Theory, but to point out it’s holes in the hope that they can be filled.  It may well be that the mechanism by which species arrive on this planet can be fully understood, but it won’t happen until the scientific establishment can put aside their own ego, vanity, and desire to protect their pet theories and misconceptions and dedicate themselves to a full and accurate comprehension of the natural world.

The point is, the issue is not so simple as Jesus vs. Darwin, not by a long shot.  The world is full of wonders, some that can be explained in ‘rational’ terms, and some that can only be dealt with intuitively.  It’s up to all of us to be aware of the fact that we were given a heart and a brain for a reason, and to make good use of both!

You are great, and I love you!
And if you love me back, click subscribe over on the right hand side!

B. Dave Walters

Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host

Find out more about me:
http://about.me/BDaveWalters

Ask me anything:
http://formspring.me/BDaveWalters

Pages I support:
Jesus and Buddha  – Interfaith dialog

Gnostic Theism – Religion and Spirituality for the 21st Century (Join the Movement!)

Love One Another –  A safe place to come find more reasons to smile!

Giving thanks; Or, 10 Things to be grateful for (VIDEO)

posted by B. Dave Walters

Everyday should be Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving here in the U.S., but I want to take some time out from cooking turkey to have a quick talk about what you’re grateful for.

First, let me say that even though Thanksgiving is set aside as a day to give thanks you should take some time every day to review all the things you’re thankful for.

Just in case you don’t realize how good you’ve got it, here, in no particular order, are 10 great things you may not have considered:

1.You woke up this morning
This one seems simple but the fact is thousands, if not millions of people woke up this morning and didn’t know it was their last. Just being alive is a tremendous blessing, and means you still have at least a little more time to enjoy your life and everything in it.

2.You can see and hear
If you are reading this, that means you can probably see! If I get around to recording a podcast of this, we can find out if you can hear, too! For my blind or deaf Brothers and Sisters out there, you can still be grateful for the fact that you live in a time where technology exists that still lets you live an independent and self-sufficient existence.

3.No one shot at you today
It’s very easy to take for granted that you don’t live in some sort of a war zone. Right now millions of people live in a constant state of fear that some sort of violence will break out, and if you aren’t one of them you should be thankful. Realize that some of those people live right here in this country!
The fact that we have police and military who are willing and able to protect us and come to our aid in and emergency is a luxury that not everyone has.

4.You didn’t go to bed hungry
Self explanatory, but I can guarantee unless you live in an ultra wealthy area, someone within 1 mile, if not 1 block of you, did go to bed without enough to eat.

5.You have a roof over your head
Whether or not you live in your dream home, it is probably a lot nicer than a park bench or an underpass!

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6.You’re healthy
We all have our bumps, bruises, and issues; but by healthy, I mean you haven’t been diagnosed with a terminal illness. If you have been diagnosed with something, refer to the earlier points: you’re still alive and have access to healing the likes of which the world has never seen!

7.You got educated for free
Kindergarten through 12th Grade education was probably yours on Uncle Sam’s nickel. Remember, large portions of the world will never even get to learn to read, much less read Shakespeare or Voltaire.

8.You can decide who and what you want to be
Economic down turn aside, if you live in the “Western” world, you have a level of freedom and self-determination that people would be willing to die to have (and many do just that trying to get what you were born into!)

9.You know someone loves you
If you can’t think of at least one person who loves you (including dogs and cats), then at least know that God loves you and so do I!

10.You live in the single greatest time in history to be alive
There has never been a better time to be alive then this.
Technology has made it possible to travel further in a few hours than we could have in months by horse, train, or ship.
Hollywood studios spend hundreds of millions of dollars just to entertain you for a couple of hours! All the knowledge of the world is available at your finger tips through the wonder of the World Wide Web.

And, in case you don’t believe me that you’re lucky to be here right now, I have a simple test:
Is there anyone on this Earth that you’d be willing to switch places with, 100%? And I don’t just mean their fame or fortune, everything. You give up all your friends, all your family, everyone you know and everything you’ve got to take on their life. Their face, their body, their ups and downs.

For all the people I’ve ever asked this question, the answer is always no. If you think the answer is yes, message me  and we’ll talk about it.

Otherwise, there you have it; plenty of things to hit your knees and give thanks for.  I’ve attached a short video to help you keep things in perspective, too.

Enjoy your Holiday, and have some extra cranberries for me!

You are great, and I love you!
And if you love me back, click subscribe over on the right hand side!

B. Dave Walters

Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host

Find out more about me:
http://about.me/BDaveWalters

Ask me anything:
http://formspring.me/BDaveWalters

Pages I support:
Jesus and Buddha  – Interfaith dialog

Gnostic Theism – Religion and Spirituality for the 21st Century (Join the Movement!)

Love One Another –  A safe place to come find more reasons to smile!

Which Ten Commandments; or, What Jesus taught in secret

posted by B. Dave Walters

Gustave Dore does it again! Credit: http://2.bp.blogspot.com

“Be calm, be loving unto others, be gentle, be peaceful, be merciful, give tithes, help the poor and sick and distressed, be devoted to Deity, be righteous, be good that ye may receive the Mysteries of the Light and go on high into the Light Land.”

- Yeshu (Jesus) Pistis Sophia 102

Over the years, many conflicts have arisen around the ’Ten Commandments’, and what place they should have in public life. The most recent conflict was in Alabama in 2003 when a significant battle erupted over a monument to the Commandments and whether or not it should be allowed to remain on the footsteps of a government courthouse, from which it was ultimately moved.

Many people would say they ‘believe’ in the Commandments, but the immediate follow up question has to be: which one?

Here is a quick test: name all ten commandments.

Did you do it?

Now, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about The 10 Commandments; let’s compare what you think they are against FOUR different versions floating around out there:

Protestant

1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

5. Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

6. Thou shalt not kill.

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

8. Thou shalt not steal.

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s.

King James Bible, issued by the American Bible Society.

 

Catholic

1. I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not have strange gods before me.

2. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

3. Remember thou keep the Sabbath Day.

4. Honor thy Father and thy Mother.

5. Thou shalt not kill.

6. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

7. Thou shalt not steal.

8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife.

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s goods.

Catholic Catechism by Peter Cardinal Gasparri, “published with Ecclesiastical approval” and bearing the imprimatur of Patrick Cardinal Hayes, Archbishop, New York. P. J. Kenedy & Sons, 1932.

 

Hebrew – First Tables of Stone (Exodus 20)

1. I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

2. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any manner of likeness, of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; Thou shalt not bow down unto them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; And showing mercy unto the thousandth generation of them that love Me and keep My commandments.

3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain.

4. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work. But the seventh day is the Sabbath in honour of the Lord thy God; on it thou shalt not do any work, neither thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.

5. Honour thy father and thy mother; in order that thy days may be prolonged upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

6. Thou shalt not kill.

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

8. Thou shalt not steal.

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

Bloch Publishing Company, New York, 1922.

 

Second Tables of Stone (Exodus 34) (“the words that were on the first”)

1. Thou shalt worship no other god (For the Lord is a jealous god).

2. Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.

3. The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep in the month when the ear is on the corn.

4. All the first-born are mine.

5. Six days shalt thou work, but on the seventh thou shalt rest.

6. Thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, even of the first fruits of the wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.

7. Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread.

8. The fat of my feast shall not remain all night until the morning.

9. The first of the first fruits of thy ground thou shalt bring unto the house of the Lord thy God.

10. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother’s milk.

K. Budde, History of Ancient Hebrew Literature

 

Now, we have said before that the Bible is not infallible, and isn’t proof of anything, but this is pretty significant.

The foundation of morality that most of us have been raised with is highly variable, pending who you ask and what version you take as authoritative.

The point here is not to diminish the value of these Commandments; they still provide an excellent moral framework to live a successful spiritual life.  It should, however, provide the thinking believer with significant food for meditation on why these different versions exist, and what it means to you and your relationship with your Creator.

And finally, if you are wondering about the quote that opened this article it came from the book Pistis Sophia, originally translated and published by G.R.S. Mead in 1921.  It is supposed to be the record of what Jesus taught his disciples in private in his own words.  As with any other holy book, there is no way to know how ‘true’ it is, and whether or not these are Jesus’ actual words; but it is interesting to see the Messiah’s interpretation of the Old Testament Law that he came to fulfill:

 

Pistis Sophia Chapter 102

“Say rather to the men of the world: Be calm, that ye may receive the mysteries of the Light and go on high into the Light-kingdom.

“Say unto them: Be ye loving-unto-men, that ye may be worthy of the mysteries of the Light and go on high into the Light-kingdom.

“Say unto them: Be ye gentle, that ye may receive the mysteries of the Light and go on high into the Light-kingdom.

“Say unto them: Be ye peaceful, that ye may receive the mysteries of the Light and go on high into the Light-kingdom.

“Say unto them: Be ye merciful, that ye may receive the mysteries of the Light and go on high into the Light-kingdom.

“Say unto them: Give ye alms, that ye may receive the mysteries of the Light and go on high into the Light-kingdom.

“Say unto them: Minister unto the poor and the sick and distressed, that ye may receive the mysteries |260. of the Light and go on high into the Light-kingdom.

“Say unto them: Be ye loving-unto-God, that ye may receive the mysteries of the Light and go on high into the Light-kingdom.

“Say unto them: Be ye righteous, that ye may receive the mysteries [of the Light] and go on high into the Light-kingdom.

“Say unto them: Be good, that ye may receive the mysteries [of the Light] and go on high into the Light-kingdom.

“Say unto them: Renounce all, that ye may receive the mysteries of the Light and go on high into the Light-kingdom.

“These are all the boundaries of the ways for those who are worthy of the mysteries of the Light.

 

And for those of you who are REALLY into Hebraic law, try keeping all 613 Commandments!

You are great, and I love you!
And if you love me back, click subscribe over on the right hand side!

B. Dave Walters

Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host

Find out more about me:
http://about.me/BDaveWalters

Ask me anything:
http://formspring.me/BDaveWalters

Pages I support:
Jesus and Buddha  – Interfaith dialog

Gnostic Theism – Religion and Spirituality for the 21st Century (Join the Movement!)

Love One Another –  A safe place to come find more reasons to smile!

Q&A: “Why do all guys cheat?”

posted by B. Dave Walters

All these guys only have one thing in common....

(Unedited) Question submitted via Formspring
“Hello Dave, I must admit that I like your articles on beliefnet and will like you to keep it up. My question is why is it so hard trying to get involved with a guy that doesn’t cheat, because all the guys I have been with had cheated at one time or the other.”

First of all, let me say clearly: not all guys cheat, since I myself never have and I have several guy friends who never have.

That being said, though: *LOTS* of guys do cheat.   And there are two main reasons why you keep ending up with guys who do:

The first is rather simple, and unavoidable: it is impossible for a man to stop looking at other women; he can’t help it, it’s in his blood.  But that is NOT an excuse for cheating; being able to control our impulses is what makes us different from the animals.

The second, much bigger reason you are having problems: you pick the wrong guys.

It seems based on your statement “because all the guys I have been with had cheated at one time or the other” you have what Dr. Drew calls ‘a broken picker’.  For whatever reason, you gravitate towards the type of guy who ultimately cannot be trusted, and there is probably a very good reason why.

Look at your relationship with your father and his relationship with your mother.

Chances are extremely high that either 1. Dad cheated on mom, 2. Dad wasn’t around, or 3. Both.

It is very possible that you learned at a young age that ‘men who love me cheat/leave’, and you’ve been living into it ever since.  If the issue isn’t with Dad, if you look into your early life, there is probably someone close to you who violated your trust, or seemed to leave you when you needed them most.

The solution, also has two parts:  1. Recognize you have a broken picker, and that the first guy who gets your attention is probably not the best guy to get involved with.  I for my part am attracted to crazy girls with lots of baggage; once I realized this and started paying more attention I was able to find the right woman and have been happily married ever since.

2. Forgive the person who hurt you, even if you weren’t consciously aware that it hurt before now.

Since it is only after your forgive them for what they did (or didn’t do) that you can be free from this pattern and able to create something new.

Add to this truly loving yourself and recognizing that you are good enough and your problem will magically fade away.

You are great, and I love you!
And if you love me back, click subscribe over on the right hand side!

B. Dave Walters

Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host

Find out more about me:
http://about.me/BDaveWalters

Ask me anything:
http://formspring.me/BDaveWalters

Pages I support:
Jesus and Buddha  – Interfaith dialog

Gnostic Theism – Religion and Spirituality for the 21st Century (Join the Movement!)

Love One Another –  A safe place to come find more reasons to smile!

Jesus and Buddha, their sayings compared; Or, meeting with the Masters

posted by B. Dave Walters

We have discussed Buddhism and how to ‘properly’ interpret scripture before, so today we will discuss the parallel sayings of two of the world’s Great Masters: Buddha and Jesus Christ.
Originally, this article was intended to compare, contrast, and explain these passages; but upon reflection there is nothing that can be added beyond the Great Teachers’ own words.

It is sincerely hoped that by reading these few short parallel sayings, that it may awaken in you a desire to know more; and a realization of the common ground between not just these two, but of all the world’s many religious traditions.

These passages are reprinted from “Jesus and Buddha: The Parallel Sayings” edited by Marcus Borg, published by Ulysses Press.

Jesus: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:31
Buddha: “Consider others as yourself.” Dhammapada 10:1

Jesus: “If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also.” Luke 6:29
Buddha: “If anyone should give you a blow with his hand, with a stick, or with a knife, you should abandon any desires and utter no evil words.” Majjhima Nikaya 21:6

Jesus: “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” Matthew 25:45
Buddha: “If you do not tend to one another, then who is there to tend you? Whoever would tend me, he should tend the sick.” Vinaya, Mahavagga 8:26.3

Jesus: “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take the sword will perish by the sword.” Matthew 26:52
Buddha: “Abandoning the taking of life, the ascetic Gautama dwells refraining from taking life, without stick or sword.” Digha Nikaya 1:1.8

Jesus: “Those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.” Mark 8:35
Buddha: “With the relinquishing of all thought and egotism, the enlightened one is liberated through not clinging.” Majjhima Nikaya 72:15

Jesus: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19-20
Buddha: “Teach the dharma which is lovely at the beginning, lovely in the middle, lovely at the end. Explain with the spirit and the letter in the fashion of Brahma. In this way you will be completely fulfilled and wholly pure.” Vinaya Mahavagga 1:11.1

Buddha: One is the way to gain, the other is the way to Nirvana, knowing this fact, students of the Buddha should not take pleasure in being honored, but, should practice detachment.
Jesus: No slave can serve two masters For a slave will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

Buddha: Just as a mother would protect her only child at the risk of her own life, even so, cultivate a boundless heart towards all beings. Let your thoughts of boundless love pervade the whole world.
Jesus: This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

You are great, and I love you!
And if you love me back, click subscribe over on the right hand side!

B. Dave Walters

Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host

Find out more about me:
http://about.me/BDaveWalters

Ask me anything:
http://formspring.me/BDaveWalters

Pages I support:
Jesus and Buddha  – Interfaith dialog

Gnostic Theism – Religion and Spirituality for the 21st Century (Join the Movement!)

Love One Another –  A safe place to come find more reasons to smile!

Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional , Or, why things go wrong, and how to make them go right

posted by B. Dave Walters

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.”
-Buddha

As I have said before, I like learning new ideas and exposing people to new ideas. Unfortunately, there are times when people will ignore great ideas because of their own preconceived notions, so I have to be a little sneaky.

What I’m about to share with you will be life changing for some, and completely obvious to others.
For those of you who know where it came from, take it as a challenge to better apply these teachings in your own life!

So here are 4 Truths I’d like you to consider:

1. Life consists of pain; this is the first Noble Truth.
From the day we come into the world, to the day that we leave it, we all experience pain; it is universal.

2.The Root of pain is Attachment; this is the second Noble Truth.
Have you ever heard  that ‘the Great Way is not difficult, for those who have no preferences”? If you think about it, many (really, all) of the things we get upset about aren’t particularly good or bad in and of themselves, only how we relate to them. Let’s say that you’re running late for a movie, and are getting stressed out. There is nothing particularly bad about being where you are when you are there, except for the fact that you have decided you’d rather be somewhere else!
Or maybe you hate your job, but remember there was a time you were praying they would hire you; the only thing that has changed is your perception of what it is you want.

3. The End of all pain is attainable; this is the third Noble Truth
If Attachment is the root of all suffering, then their must be a way to end it; which leads to….

4. There is a Path to the End of all pain, and that Path is the Teaching, this is the fourth Noble Truth
The simple answer is give up your attachments, and you’ll stop feeling any pain. Now, this doesn’t mean that if someone steps on your foot you won’t experience a physical sensation; it only means that the accompanying emotional response will be gone.

I hear you, how do you give up your attachments? You’ve spent your whole life collecting them!
Don’t worry, people have been asking that question for about 1,500 years and have come up with 8 steps to take: right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.

Let’s look a little closer at these 8 steps. There is no way I can do them justice in a single article, but I can try to point you in the right direction:

Right View means seeing things as they really are, which is no small feat! I’ll give you an easy example: imagine someone cuts you off in traffic, your normal response may be to honk and shout at them; but maybe that person is racing to the hospital for a sick spouse, or racing to pick up their child from school. Maybe they didn’t even see you there, who knows. Or when I deal with my Clients who tell me people are spreading rumors about them, I point out that most people are so caught up in their own lives that they aren’t thinking about you at all! And if they are, it’s probably to try to hide and compensate for their own insecurities.
The point is to try and see past your own judgments to look at things objectively.

Right Intention means to genuinely try and do the right thing. If you know you’re doing something wrong, petty, or hurtful…don’t.

Right Speech means to tell the truth, and not say things you know are going to hurt someone else. I don’t mean lie or avoid telling a person something because they may not want to hear it. But there is always a way to express yourself that will maximize people’s understanding and minimize confusion.

Right Action means to do the right thing! But beyond that, it’s doing what you know is right all the time, even when no one is looking. When you’re at work, work hard; don’t slack off because the boss isn’t looking. Or put another way, how you do anything is how you do everything; so always do a good job!

Right Livelihood means to stop doing things you know are hurting yourself or someone else. Maybe you smoke and know you should quit, or you know you should lose some weight. Well…do it! We have already talked about how to make change quickly, but if you need more help contact me and I’ll help you out.

Right Effort means always trying to do better. It’s very easy to get caught up going through the motions in life and turn around and years have passed. Think about it, how long ago was your High School graduation, or your wedding day? The next 20 years will go by in a flash, and one day there will be no more years; the sooner you develop the habit of self-improvement the greater your life will be.

Right Mindfulness means keeping your mind on the present moment. Remember when we said that Fear only lives in the future, and guilt only lives in the past? The present moment is the only time you have power, but it is where you have ALL power! Keep your head where you are and what you’re doing, and you’ll have the calm, peace, and happiness of a Saint.

Right Concentration means learning how to focus on one thing intensely. It’s very closely related to Right Mindfulness, but it is more about having a time set aside for prayer and meditation, and communing with your Creator. In my experience, this is what is most lacking in most people’s lives, even religious ones, since it doesn’t do much good to show up at Church or Temple, and shut God out of your life until next weekend’s service.

“More I would say, but words profit not. God be amongst you.”
-Archangel Gabriel

What do you think? Feel free to comment down below!

You are great, and I love you!
And if you love me back, click subscribe over on the right hand side!

B. Dave Walters

Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host

Find out more about me:
http://about.me/BDaveWalters

Ask me anything:
http://formspring.me/BDaveWalters

Pages I support:
Jesus and Buddha  – Interfaith dialog

Gnostic Theism – Religion and Spirituality for the 21st Century (Join the Movement!)

Love One Another –  A safe place to come find more reasons to smile!

Interpreting Scripture; Or, I don’t think that’s what Jesus/Buddha/Muhammad (PBUH) meant….

posted by B. Dave Walters

Jesus, Buddha, and Muhammad (PBUH)

10:34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace but a sword. 10:35 For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, 10:36 and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.”
-Jesus Christ, Matthew 10:34-36

People have been writing various Holy Books for as long as there has been writing. Pending how you choose to interpret certain cave paintings, people have been recording experiences with the Sacred from *before * there was writing!

Some of the earliest known, if not absolute oldest writings every found are the Sumerian Epics of Creation, the Enuma Elish which outlines the creation of the Universe and how Man came to exist. We will look at the Enuma Elish a bit closer later on.

Needless to say, quite a bit of emphasis is placed on who’s Holy Book is ‘most accurate’, and the unadulterated word of God, so let us clarify the issue right off.

No one’s Holy Book is the unadulterated word of God.

This bold statement can be readily supported by two facts: one, unless it was written by God’s own hand, it was filtered through human beings on the way to the page, and filtered again when it was compressed into language. In the case of the Christian New Testament or the Qu’ran, these books were not written by Jesus or Muhammad (PBUH), but by followers who recorded their words to the best of their abilities. In the case of the New Testament, it was recorded by the followers of followers, usually decades after the events actually took place.

The second point, is if God had absolutely said what He mean at one time in one place, that would be the only Holy Book and that would be the only religion. The fact that an (assumed) all-knowing, all-powerful Deity allows multiple paths to exist, would seem to imply there is some value in multiple paths. How to know what the Deity is like has been explored here, and the logical flaws with believing any one Faith has all the answers has been addressed here.

What is Scripture?
First, what Scripture is *not *. Scripture is not PROOF of anything.
The argument that the Bible / Qu’ran / Torah / Bhagavad Gita says -blank- only works if the person chooses to accept the book as an authority!
Since whatever argument you are making can probably be refuted from inside your own Holy Book, much less from someone else’s.
Remember, believing something passionately is not the same as absolute empirical proof.

So what, then, is the value of Scripture?
Quite frankly, the value of Scripture is to gain an insight into the minds of people who ideally witnessed fantastic events, or at least had dedicated their lives to the service of their Creator. They provide a brilliant insight into history, mythology, and life lessons that still apply to every facet of our modern lives.

If you choose to believe that one Holy Book is vastly superior than all the others, I would pose two question: one, have you ever read any of the other ones? They may have more to offer than you think! Two, if you are unwilling to read any of the others, then take the time to educate yourself on the history of your Holy Book. Where it came from, who wrote it and when, who edited it and why, and who translated it. Just learning about what happened at the Council of Nicea should be fascinating study for any Christian, Muslim, or other related Faiths.

What, then, is the best way to interpret Scripture?
First and foremost, realize that your interpretation is just that: your interpretation. And here is a secret: your Rabbi, Imam, Preacher, anyone else only has their own interpretations as well. God is more than capable of revealing to you what God wants you to know.
A good way to answer questions and solve problems is to sit down with your chosen Holy Book and just open it at random and let your eyes fall onto the page and read it. Quite often the answer you are seeking will be revealed to you!

And above all else: wrestle with it.
If you haven’t read you Holy Book from cover to cover, make a plan and do it. If you are REALLY serious, learn it’s original language and read it there, since the process of translation always takes something out of a work, as any person who speaks multiple languages can tell you.

And when you are trying to understand things, they often make sense out of context.
For instance, at the beginning of this article is a quote from Jesus saying that he came to bring discord, not peace. Look at it in the context of the verse that come before and afterwards (this and all verses taken from www.netbible.com):

Fear God, Not Man
10:26 “Do not be afraid of them, for nothing is hidden that will not be revealed, and nothing is secret that will not be made known.
10:27 What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light, and what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the housetops.
10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the one who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
10:29 Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.
10:30 Even all the hairs on your head are numbered.
10:31 So do not be afraid; you are more valuable than many sparrows.
10:32 “Whoever, then, acknowledges me before people, I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven.
10:33 But whoever denies me before people, I will deny him also before my Father in heaven.

Not Peace, but a Sword
10:34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace but a sword.
10:35 For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law,
10:36 and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.
10:37 “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
10:38 And whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
10:39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life because of me will find it.

Rewards
10:40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
10:41 Whoever receives a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward. Whoever receives a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.
10:42 And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple, I tell you the truth, he will never lose his reward.”

Jesus is talking to the Disciples about the need to live and apply his teachings, and not to be afraid of other people’s judgments or criticisms, and to be fearless even in the face of death.
While this is clearly a Christian slanted message, it applies to any Spiritual person across all areas of life: stand up straight! Know your passions and convictions and live them, since you are utterly invincible. And if the time comes that you should fall, you can either fall knowing you did your best or reaping your rewards in the next life.

And so what out of context seems like a few verses advocating arguing with your parent, in context is showing the need to be committed to your ideals and convictions no matter what life throws at you.

Understand?

*NOTE: the beautiful image that accompanies this blog post can be found and ordered at  http://www.vargagallery.com/VARGATriptych.htm  Artist: Christina Varga – VARGA Gallery – WOODSTOCK, NY.*

What do you think? Feel free to comment down below!

You are great, and I love you!
And if you love me back, click subscribe over on the right hand side!

B. Dave Walters

Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host

Find out more about me:
http://about.me/BDaveWalters

Ask me anything:
http://formspring.me/BDaveWalters

Pages I support:
Jesus and Buddha  – Interfaith dialog

Gnostic Theism – Religion and Spirituality for the 21st Century (Join the Movement!)

Love One Another –  A safe place to come find more reasons to smile!

Pornography, masturbation, and sin oh my!

posted by B. Dave Walters
http://pix.motivatedphotos.com/2008/8/14/633543387524313739-masturbation.jpg

Tell them to knock first next time!

Unedited questions submitted via Formspring:
“I have a great girlfriend and we have a good sex life. But I watch porn everyday and I feel ashamed. I’ve tried to stop but after about a week I go back to my old ways. She would be very upset if she found out.”

“I masturbate every day thinking bout my GF, I know its bad when its too much but I am helpless at times because I miss her , what should I do? I am really depressed ? How to control it ? Thank u ….”

These may seem like two different questions, but I post them here because the two are highly related: the morality and immorality of pornography and masturbation (since no one watches porn just to watch it).
Also, both questions deal with seeming addictions off a sexual nature

First and foremost, here is the best way to know if you are addicted to porn, masturbation, or anything else: if it is causing you negative repercussions and you are doing it anyway, then you are addicted.

As for whether or not these things are ‘wrong’, most every religion and culture has some opinion on the matter. The Christian Bible has many verses warning against ‘sexual immorality’, without ever clearly stating what ‘immorality’ is! On the one hand it says things like
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). But, then it has an entire book dedicated to graphically describing sex between two unmarried people…one of which was married to someone else! (The Song of Solomon).

We’ve spoken before about how there is no single ‘correct’ system of morality or immorality; most anything we hold to be absolutely true someone else holds to be absolutely false, so the true benchmark of right and wrong can only be found within the confines of your own mind and heart.

The reality is, Human Beings are sexual creatures, we are born with certain urges and desires that were placed in our hearts by our Creator. It’s possible to believe our own natural urges were placed there by some sort of Adversary or Devil, but to believe that means you believe God is so weak He can’t control His own Creation; something I personally can not accept.

So, then, if it is is normal and natural to feel certain urges which ALL of us experience, then why would safely expressing them in a way that is not hurting us or anyone else, be ‘wrong’? And if even wanting to do something is truly the same as doing it, then all of us are damned in advance; but that just doesn’t seem what God is really like.
Also, notice that anyone who is too adamant about what you should and should not do sexually, probably expects you to do what *they * tell you to do in this and every other area of your life.

The reality is looking at pornography or masturbating are neither good nor bad in and of themselves; like watching football or listening to opera isn’t bad in and of itself. If you begin to mistake either of these activities for what love or sex is really like, then that is a problem; since real sex  and porn sex are basically unrelated. And as we said before, if doing these things are costing you in your real life, in the sense of damaging relationships, missed work or other obligations, etc. then you may need to look into getting some help.

There is one wild card variable in all of this, however: and that is people who are sexual abuse survivors. People who were touched inappropriately as children often grow up to have warped sexual sensibilities that can manifest in unhealthy ways. If you have had something like this in your past and now you are having unhealthy sexual appetites (be it too much, or too little) then you really should seek some sort of professional help.

So, let us look specifically at these two questions specifically:
For the first question, why are you ashamed, and why would she be upset?
Do you have some particular fetish that you think is unusual, or embarrassing? Is it something you can keep private, or do you think you will have to express it inevitably? If you like something that is extremely unusual (I hesitate to use the word perverse) than it may be better to keep it to yourself or stop doing it completely.

Have you tried talking to her about it? Be sure to let her realize you aren’t looking at these things because something is wrong with her, and that it truly isn’t the same as going out and doing it. In my personal relationships coaching experience, most women are at least somewhat open to the idea of pornography, but almost never on the level that men are. This is because sex for men and women are two VASTLY different experiences. Your average woman who caught her man looking at porn would think he’s doing it because something is wrong with her; a man who caught his woman looking at porn would think it’s HOT!

As for the second question:
Give up the idea that it’s ‘too much’; the reality is that it is what it is.
Some guys, especially younger guys, can go many times in a day; so if you have the time, desire and the opportunity, have at it.
The deeper question is, where is this girl and why do you miss her? Is she still your girlfriend and just not around as often as you’d like, or did you break up with her? If your relationship is on the rocks, or if you are currently single holing yourself up in your room self-servicing yourself is not the best way to find a new relationship!

The reality is, sexuality is natural and attempting to repress it will NEVER work for long (just look at all the ‘holy men’ sex scandals in the world).
The goal, then is to find a way to express it in a healthy way that isn’t hurting you or anyone else; what one or more consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes is their own business.
Whether or not it is ‘wrong’ or not will be debated for eternity.
If someone tries to convince you that it’s wrong, I’d say that they are almost CERTAINLY a hypocrite, and on the off chance they aren’t: tell them if they believe that then don’t look at porn and don’t masturbate. Easy.

It is really no one else’s business what you do and don’t do, AS LONG AS you aren’t hurting yourself or someone else with your behavior.

What do you think? Feel free to comment down below!

You are great, and I love you!
And if you love me back, click subscribe over on the right hand side!

B. Dave Walters

Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host

Find out more about me:
http://about.me/BDaveWalters

Ask me anything:
http://formspring.me/BDaveWalters

Pages I support:
Jesus and Buddha  (Interfaith dialog)

Gnostic Theism (Religion and Spirituality for the 21st Century)

Love One Another: A safe place to come find more reasons to smile!

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