A Reason to Smile

A Reason 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!

Immortals; Or, the greatest stories ever told

posted by B. Dave Walters

Classics are classics! =)

“For fathers are all too jealous against their children . . . What woes did Danae endure on the wide sea through her sire’s mad rage!”
Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4. 1090 ff (trans. Seaton) (Greek epic C3rd B.C.) :

I’ll make a deal with you.
I won’t spoil the movie for you with this article, but I WILL explain to you why the movie is worth seeing, and more importantly why mythology is worth paying attention to.

As of the time of this writing, Immortals is leading at the box office, and receiving generally mixed reviews. Personally I found it to be AMAZING. Like 300 on steroids…and I *really* loved 300.

The movie loosely follows the story of Theseus and Phaedra, but before I go too deeply into Theseus’ story, and why it still applies to your modern life, let me tell you a little bit about what Mythology is.

One of the biggest discoveries of the 20th century was Joseph Campbell’s discovery of The Heroic Journey.
In a nutshell, the Heroic Journey is a story where:
“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man”

Have you ever noticed that Star Wars, The Matrix, Lord Of The Rings, and Avatar are all basically the same movie?
What the Heroic Journey teaches is that certain stories keep getting told again and again across time because they apply to all of us, and the stages we all have to go through in our own quest for spiritual growth.

It’s outside the scope of this article to explain all 17 steps of the journey here, but it would serve you well to read them and see how it applies to what you’ve gone through up until now, and will probably face in the future.
Wikipedia gives an excellent overview of the stages, and how they apply to famous stories and even bible passages.

For our purposes here, I want to talk about Greek Mythology, and how it still applies to our day to day lives.

Mythology was never meant to be a collection of ‘boring old stories’, but the living breathing history of the human race. It’s a combination of actual events and fundamental lessons that should never be forgotten.

Immortals (loosely) combines to major aspects of Greek Mythology: Zeus’ overthrow of the Titans, and the story of Theseus, Zeus’ favorite person born of a mortal woman.

In extremely broad strokes, the back story is Cronus, God of time, overthrew his own father Uranus who was the God of the Sky.
Then Cronus married Rhea (Goddess of motherhood and female fertility), and had his own children: Zeus (God of sky and weather, law, order and fate), Poseidon (God of the sea, rivers, flood and drought, earthquakes, and horses ) and Hades (the King of the Underworld, the God of death and the dead).
In time, Cronus’ children overthrew him like he’d overthrown his own father, a cycle that played out again in the hero Theseus’ life, and his prophesied salvation of humanity.

But HERE is why this story is important:
Beyond just an interesting story about war, deception, intrigue, and sex (as if that wasn’t enough!), these stories give an insight into the very foundation of reality and all of creation.

Notice, Cronus (Time) is the offspring of Uranus (the Sky) and Gaia (the Earth). Without an earth and sky to observe, how would we even know time was passing? Once the limitations of a 24 hour period was established, it was possible for the Earth’s own creative ability (Through Gaia’s daughter Rhea) to combine with time (Cronus) to give rise to weather and seasons (Zeus), oceans, tides, and droughts (Poseidon) and even death and an underworld (Hades). The Titans give, and the Titans taketh away!

Add to that the continuing evolution from huge general concepts like Uranus as the entire sky, and the entire Earth (Gaia) down into a more concrete time (Cronus) and femininity (Rhea) into the even more distinct forms of their children Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades. And their children are even more specific.

For instance, Aphrodite (Goddess of Love) has an affair with Ares (God of War) to give birth to: Deimos (fear, dread, terror), Phobos (panic), Harmonia (harmony), and Eros (love). Passion and aggression can unite to create both beautiful and terrible things!

Thousands of pages have been written about mythology across thousands of years, so there is far more that could be said then I have space to write.
If you want to find some easy introductions to mythology, see Clash Of The Titans (new or old)! Or NBC did a great version of the Odyssey a few years back and there is also Troy, which was like the Illiad without the Gods, but still tells a good story.

Or even go to the book store or library and check out a children’s book on mythology; don’t feel embarrassed, it is easier to get started when it’s written in plain English! Every nation on Earth has their own mythology, if Greek isn’t your thing, maybe Chinese, African, Native American, or some other nation or culture’s is!

I hope you see and enjoy the movie, but even more I hope you start a love affair with the same stories that have captivated the minds of people for thousands of years!

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!

Homosexuality, virginity, guilt, and sex; Or, does God want you to wait till marriage?

posted by B. Dave Walters

Michelangelo clearly understood....

This was one of my my controversial (and popular) articles to date.   In honor of the Beliefnet post on “Who said it: Jesus or Paul” (and the challenge of Christianity vs Paulianity) I am reposting it here:

Question submitted via Formspring.me:
“I feel guilty for not being a virgin and sometimes having gay feelings (because I was raised with the belief that both are wrong). I feel like less of a spiritual person because I had pre-marital sex and I feel lesbian sometimes. What’s a girl to do???”

The first thing to do, is split this question into two parts: 1, is it necessary to wait until marriage to have sex, and 2. is it ‘wrong’ to be a lesbian.

Let’s look at the first part, first.
While Christians are not the only ones who hold these beliefs, they certainly are the most common in the United States at least; so let us look at a passage from the Bible that is most often used as ‘proof’ that pre-marital sex is wrong.

1 Corinthians 6:12-20 (New International Version)

Sexual Immorality
12″Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13″Food for the stomach and the stomach for food”—but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”[a] 17But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

18Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Seems pretty straight forward, right?
Or is it?

First thing, who wrote this, and who was it intended for?
Paul wrote this somewhere around the year 55 AD; DECADES after Jesus Christ was already crucified. Add to that, Paul never even knew the man, ‘being struck blind on the road to Damascus’ notwithstanding.
And just in case you take Paul’s word as Gospel (pun intended), remember Peter was the rock that Jesus said his church would be built on. And Peter and Paul became *bitter rivals * while they were both still alive.

In these verses, Paul is advising against sexual immorality…what is that?
What does morality or immorality even mean?
I’ll tell you: it’s *totally relative *.

There is no universal definition of morality; it varies from place to place, time to time, situation to situation, and person to person.
I’ll give you an example: most people would agree murder is wrong, yet soldiers win medals for killing large numbers of people.
Or we agree stealing is wrong, but what about police raiding a drug dealers warehouse and stealing their drugs? That’s a ‘good’ thing, even though they are still breaking, entering, and stealing from those people.

Understand?

So is the point that you shouldn’t listen to Paul?
Not necessarily, the point is you should decide how much weight you should put into a letter written 2,000 years ago to a group of people you’ve probably never heard of!

Another point that was made in our previous talk about sex is that in the past, land and title were passed along by bloodline; so being ABSOLUTELY SURE a child was yours was top priority. In that case, making sure your wife was a virgin on your wedding night was the best way to make sure the child was yours.
In the year 2011, however, we have a little thing called a DNA test. It’s no mystery who the father is anymore, so that reason for waiting for marriage is out.

And for the arguments that it is ‘better’ to wait: no one knows if it’s better to wait or not.
Why? Since the people who waited, waited; they don’t know what it is like to have pre-marital sex with someone. And the ones who didn’t wait, didn’t wait; they don’t know if it would have been better on their wedding night or not.

So what’s the answer to the first part of the question?
Sex is only a ‘sin’ if you think it is.
There is no logical reason to believe it; biological drives are biological drives. If two consenting adults decide to SAFELY lay with one another, who are we to judge?
Just be sure not to mistake sex for love; the two quite often have nothing to do with each other, especially for men!

Now to the second part.
Whether or not it is a ‘sin’ to be gay is a HUGE can of worms that I couldn’t do justice if I wrote 100 more pages, so I will try to be brief.

A lot of the Bible based arguments against it were written by our good friend Paul.
Recognize also, he was actively trying to preach to the Greeks, where homosexuality was VERY common. The Greek solution to the problem of keeping women virgins (an idea they came up with quite independently of Christianity…see? Culture.) was for men to have sex with men.

Sex was also a big part of the Greek Mystery Religions, which were the popular faiths of the time. What’s the best way to get people to stop doing something? Convince them God hates them for it.
What’s the best way to get new converts? Promise them you’ll tell them how to make God stop hating them.

Here’s the challenge, though.
Most of the anti-gay passages in the Bible are aimed at specific individuals, like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, who were terrible for MANY reasons. Look up the Book of Jasher and see what it says about them in there! None of these verses exist in a vacuum; they were written by someone, for someone, at a certain period in time; it’s a mistake to look at them like absolute statements that apply at all times to all people.

The Bible, and any other ‘Holy Book’ only has what power and authority that you give it. If you’ve ever wondered why you quote Bible verses to people and they don’t care, this is why. Same as if someone comes at you with verses from the Koran, Torah, or Rig Veda it may not have too much of an impact on you, either; if you haven’t decided to ‘believe’ in the authority of those books.

But let’s say it is a ‘sin’ (which I don’t personally believe): then
“23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
Romans 3:23 (New International Version).

And add to that

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
John 8:7 (New International Version).

The bottom line is this:
there is NO absolute benchmark of right and wrong in this world; almost any situation you can think of either has situations where it is accepted, or at least was accepted at some point in the past.
And if there is no absolute benchmark of universal morality, then right and wrong is how you define it. If you choose to define it in a Christian framework, that’s fine; but you can do it in a Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or even Atheist framework just as easily.

Remember, the person you need to be concerned about is not your family, friends, and church members. You should *only * concern yourself with He who hung the stars and put the planets in motion.
And I can tell you, that God doesn’t think like we do.
God knows everything, who you are, who you came into this world to be; your mind, your heart, your impulse, and what is ‘right and wrong’ for YOU.

If you are curious about girls, mess around with one, and see if you like it.
If you decide you are a lesbian, or bisexual, then be the best one you can be.

Turn within, talk to God, figure out what’s right for you and do it.

The world would be MUCH better off if more people followed their own bliss and served God in their own way to the best of their own ability, rather than trying to dictate to OTHER people how *they * should live.

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!

How to Trust; Or, how to Forgive (VIDEO)

posted by B. Dave Walters

You have to trust *yourself* before you can forgive others!

If you have been following this blog, then you have no doubt heard that you have to forgive the people in your life who have hurt you.
No matter who it was, no matter what they’ve done: forgive them.

The reason why this is, is as Buddha says: “holding on to anger with the intent of hurting someone else, is like picking up a hot coal with the intention of throwing it: you are the one who gets burned.

Above all else, realize that forgiving someone doesn’t mean you are saying what they did is OK (it’s not); forgiveness means you are giving up the negativity and anger you still harbor inside.
It’s not a gift that you give them, it’s a gift you give YOU.

Recently many people have asked HOW to forgive, which we have talked about before; but there is enough to say about forgiveness that it could fill up hours of time!
So here in Episode 52 of All About You, we discuss both how to forgive, and how to trust (which actually is a by product of forgiveness, or at least the ability to forgive):

Part 1, on forgiveness

YouTube Preview Image

Part 2, on trust (the last 10 seconds of the episode were cut off by accident, but my point was already made!)

YouTube Preview Image

Please enjoy these videos, and resolve today to stop giving away your power to other people. Remember, no one can make you feel inferior without your permission; learn and apply these tools to forgive and trust YOURSELF first, and then those in your life. Once you gain the ability trust and forgive unconditionally, you’ll be able to love unconditionally; once you can do that, you can do anything.

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!

What God is like, Or, how to see for yourself (VIDEO)

posted by B. Dave Walters

All you have to do is listen....

“All complex things decay…work out your own salvation with diligence”
-Buddha’s dying words

The reason why I became a Spiritual Coach, and do the work that I do, is because I am working hard to bring God back to the forefront of people’s minds and lives.

And even as you read that, you probably reacted in one of two ways: if you are a religious person, it probably filled you with some sort of pride about ‘your side winning’. And if you are a non-religious person, it may have made you roll your eyes in semi-disgust. So if you are still reading, I appreciate it!

The fact is, over the centuries, quite a lot of damage has been done to this world ‘in the name of God’; and there are some who would try and paint our current political and military conflicts with the same white wash.

Now, in the video below, I explain many ways about how to know what God is like, how to know it in your heart, and how to experience it for yourself.

So here in this article I’d like to expand a little more on the barriers to knowing God, and how they can be overcome.

For reasons I also give in the video below, no one KNOWS where we come from, or what happens when we die; fervent belief is *no substitute * for absolute empirical knowledge. Ttherefore all we are left with are our faith, and our beliefs. In other words, all ANY of us have to go on, are our opinions. As such, I am not holding mine out to be the absolute truth; that is something you must decide for yourself. But I’d like to share with you some ideas to try on, which will help you find and connect with your Creator like never before.

First, give up the idea that God chooses sides.
Consider, when you watch a little league baseball game, are you REALLY rooting for one side to win or lose, or are you hoping they all enjoy playing the game? Or, if you truly are hoping one side wins, are you wishing ultimate and total destruction on the the losing team?
This seems to be a simple analogy, but I believe it to be an apt one. The majority of the world’s religions teach that we are all God’s children, and that this Deity is All Knowing, and All Powerful.
So consider, how can an All Knowing, All Powerful Deity be ‘against’ anything? If God was against something, it simply wouldn’t be.
If God has the capacity to eradicate something at any time, and doesn’t, then that thing must serve some purpose. Of course, this raises quite a few questions about the ‘problem of evil’.

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Second, give up the idea that you are somehow separated from God.
I have discussed in the past how the entire concept of ‘Sin’  has been massively blown out of proportion. If you look across time, the bigger a given Church or religious authority became, the bigger deal that sin became.
Remember, for our purposes, God is both All Knowing, and All Loving, or at the *very * least, neutral. How then, can you be separate from a God who knows all and sees all? How can anything you’ve done, or thought about doing, ‘offend’ a mind like that?

Consider again, how we are with children. It is a parent’s role to teach and guide a child, and punish them when necessary; but even when you have to discipline them, do you HATE them? Do you wish your children to suffer for the rest of their lives for spilling juice in the car?
Of course not. Then how can we believe our Father (or Mother) in Heaven can hold an eternal grudge, when we don’t even given our limited awareness?

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Third, give up the idea that there is only one truth.
Let me be clear, I am not saying give up YOUR truth. If you have found a religion or system of belief that helps you make sense of the world, to feel safe and connected with the Universe, and generally positive and happy: stick with it! What I am inviting you to do, is to give up opposition of people who see things differently then you do. There are over 6 billion different people, with different perspectives and combinations of experiences and cultural heritage; it is impossible to dictate to someone else what is right for them, when most of us have difficulty finding it for ourselves!
And remember, even your most deeply held convictions would probably be vastly different if you’d been born 1,000 miles east or west of where you were, or 100 years into the past or future. Many things that seem like absolutes are still byproducts of our *own * perceptions, culture, and experiences.

Fourth, give up thinking God thinks like we do.
Consider, how smart would you need to be to memorize every book ever written? Or the words to every song ever sung? Or even something easier: the name of every single person you’ve ever met ever.
Can’t do it?

Compare that, with a Mind  that not only conceived of all of Creation, but actually set it in motion! A Mind that (I believe) is still monitoring and interacting with that Creation all the time.

And then think of what that Mind must be like.
Does it seem like a Mind that will get ‘offended’ by the fact that you eat pork, or miss a trip to the Temple from time to time?
Now let me be clear, there is a lot of value in strict adherence to religious rules and guidelines, but the point I am making is that is for our Human benefit, not for the sake of a Creator who is beyond logic, comprehension, or limitations.

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Finally, know that God loves you.
God loves you.
Let me say it again: God loves you.
And just in case you missed it, or it makes you feel somehow unworthy, or not good enough: GOD LOVES YOU!

How can I say this with certainty? Simple: you got to live.
God set all of Creation in motion, to align forces to create you, just you! Think about it, out of 500 million sperm cells, it was just you that emerged. Out of every near miss in your life, you have survived, Your parents met and survived, and theirs before them; the odds of you existing are incomprehensible! You are a Miracle. An absolute, Divine masterpiece. You have all the power of the Universe coursing through every inch of you, every cell.

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You are made in the image and likeness of your Creator, however you conceive of it. You are the child of royalty, the absolute center of the Universe: you are perfect.

Give thanks for the great gifts you have been given, and show your gratitude  by making the absolute most you can of your time, and getting to know your Creator in ways like never before.

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!

 

What’s so special about 11/11/11?

posted by B. Dave Walters

It's always 11:11 twice a day!

I must admit, when  my little girl was born 1 year ago today (at 10:10 am no less), I was a little excited about the fact that she’d be one on 11/11/11.

So, what’s the big deal about 11/11/11?

Wikipedia states: “Numerologists believe that events linked to the time 11:11 appear more often than can be explained by chance or coincidence.[1] This belief is related to the concept of synchronicity. Other authors believe it is an auspicious sign, and others that it signals a spirit presence.[2]

Another Numerology website states:

“In the study of Numerology most double-digit numbers are reduced down to the vibration of a single number (i.e. 12 is reduced to a 3 by adding 1+2, and 13 becomes a 4). However, in numerology 11 and 22 require special emphasis and attention. These numbers are called ‘Master Numbers‘.

People with an 11 or 22 appearing in their name or birth date are endowed with special gifts of leadership and high-level inspiration, but they are also very challenging and highly paradoxical. They radiate enormous potential, accompanied by a high level of inner tension resulting from an overwhelming desire to achieve something extraordinary.

Due to the intensified vibration and potency of 11 and 22, those who are born with them often feel a heightened sense of obligation in life and a greater need for self-discipline and purity of consciousness. They tend to have challenging childhoods, yet often lead extraordinary lives after learning to utilize their full potential – therefore many are late bloomers.

People whose core numbers reveal Multiple Master Numbers often experience more challenges in life than most, evidence of their higher-self’s intense inner drive to propel itself onto a higher path in this lifetime.”

Now all this is well and good, and the fact that three master numbers are occurring on the same day would certainly make it seem like an auspicious day.   My only personal hang up, is the fact that today is 11/11/11 is *completely arbitrary*.

Here in the west, we follow the Gregorian Calendar, which began on 24 February 1582.  Other cultures that follow different calendars, such as the Arabic or Jewish Calendar, have completely different dates today.  So while we all may agree that today is special, I am not convinced it actually MAKES it so.

For my money, the fact that right now there is a Full Moon in Taurus is MUCH more significant, since the motions of the planets and their affect on us is Universal; everyone on Earth is feeling it however they choose to measure the time.

At any rate, whether you believe today is special because of the 11/11/11 synchronicity, or because of the full moon, or because it’s Friday doesn’t matter as long as you make the most of it.

The day does certainly seem to be alive with it’s own unique power and opportunities…but so is every other day once you start paying attention to it.

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)

 

 

Veterans Day Quotes and Inspiration

posted by B. Dave Walters

 

 

 

Thank you all for everything you do

Happy Veterans Day to the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces.

Thank you for the tremendous sacrifices you have made to defend us and our freedoms that we all too often take for granted.

It is my sincere hope that this day finds you in safety and comfort surrounded by loved ones, as we all work towards the day that all of mankind can live together in peace.

The following is a sampling of inspirational quotes for Veterans Day; you can find all these and more at:  http://www.beliefnet.com/Love-Family/Holidays/Veterans-Day/Veterans-Day-Quotes.aspx

“On this Veterans Day, let us remember the service of our veterans, and let us renew our national promise to fulfill our sacred obligations to our veterans and their families who have sacrificed so much so that we can live free.”
- Dan Lipinski

“My heroes are those who risk their lives every day to protect our world and make it a better place–police, firefighters, and members of our armed forces.”
- Sidney Sheldon

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. ”
- Joseph Campbell

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)

 

 

 

Gnostic Theism, Or, Digital Spirituality

posted by B. Dave Walters

The Rose Cross

People often ask me what I personally believe; what follows is the sum total of my life experience, as well as spiritual and philosophical thought…so far at least.

The points below came to me suddenly, or were ‘received’ over a period of a few days. I have not changed them, other to correct some grammar and typos, hence the almost stream-of-consciousness quality to it. Some of it has been covered in bits and pieces in my other articles, but I leave it in tact here to give to you as it was given to me. I have absolute faith that in the fullness of time these ideas will weighed and considered in hearts and minds all over the world.

Gnostic Theism It is not a religion, so much as a philosophical world view and approach to life, meant to inform and animate an individual’s beliefs, but it certainly could serve the function of a religion standing on its own. It is an intellectual framework to hang your experiences on and help make sense of life.

Gnostic Theism is the evolution of spiritual thought:
Gnostic – Gnosticism is an ancient belief system that holds that a connection with the Creator and the real answers to life’s problems and challenges can only be found within.

Theism – Theism is a school of philosophy that conceives of God as personal and active in the physical world and universe at large.

Gnostic Theism is non-dogmatic, in that the PROCESS of deciding what you believe is more important than what you believe. Though you may find various guides along the way, the fact is in the end, we must each walk the Path alone.

As such, there is room in this Philosophy for people of all Faiths and world views. As with any system of thought, there are some fundamental ideas to be weighed and applied, or discarded, as necessary. Again, it is more important to know WHY you believe or don’t believe a thing, than whether or not you actually believe it.

The fundamentals of Gnostic Theism are as follows:
The universe is vast an infinite, and one of an infinite number of vast and infinite universes.

The Grand Creator exists outside and independent of these universes, and outside of time and space. This Being is the Author and Architect of all things, and can not be known in any way at the human level of consciousness.
The Grand Creator has given Divine Mind dominion over this entire universe, which It interpenetrates in all ways and at all times. This Divine Mind is ‘God’ as it is conceived of by most people.

Divine Mind is everywhere at all times, overseeing and animating everything in existence from the tiniest of particles to the planets and the universe itself; this Mind oversees. Divine Mind is not limited by time and space as we understand them, and It is aware of all occurrences in all dimensions simultaneously.

The Universe is designed and run like a tremendous machine; its individual functions are delegated to conscious and non-conscious beings to perform. These beings, pending the scope of their activities are the angels, gods, and spirits of common experience.

Everything exists, whether in physical, or non-physical form. It is easier to assume any given being, entity, god, demon, alien, etc is real or based on something that was real, than not. It is impossible to say if a given deity, Apollo for instance, exists because he was created to serve a purpose, or centuries of veneration and belief have given him a conscious existence. Imagine how leaves and branches flowing in a river collect into masses that can become so large they block the river itself; it’s the same with energy. Enough energy directed by enough people accumulates to form or strengthen the thing believed in.

Mankind is a microcosm of the macrocosm; any and everything that exists outside of us exists inside of us. Our outer experiences constantly reflect our inner state in an attempt to reach equilibrium; the easiest way to enact outer change it to enact inner change. As the Hermeticists say: As Above, So Below; As Within, So Without.

Each individual human being is infinitely powerful. You literally have all the power of the universe at your disposal, if you would just dedicate your self to its mastery.

Science is king, for its purposes, and religion is king, for its purposes. Science can tell us how, religion can tell us why. 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. The Philosophy of Gnostic Theism, for our purposes, is a hybrid approach that allows us to not only know the Creator by knowing the Creation, but to know the Creator by truly knowing ourselves.

Gnostic Theism, therefore, is the study of the Divine and Its hand in existence by comprehending ourselves and our True Nature. Any other pursuit in life will necessarily fall short of the value of truly connecting with the source of All That Is.

Our current religious, scientific, social and political mechanisms have largely failed. Religions have been used as a tool of domination and social control for so long they are largely devoid of their original anima. Science has largely given way to Scientism, the arbitrary belief that the only things that are real are what can be measured in a lab or seen under a microscope. This was a necessary push back against domination of the Church, but in the modern day it is contrary to common experience, and puts human beings in the impossible situation of being forced to choose their minds or their hearts. This false division can only lead to stress and inner turmoil, the likes of which we see played out every day in the lives of Humanity.

Our social system has been crippled by negative ego and greed. Consider, if asked the average person on the street may say they don’t believe in UFOs. But consider what that person is really saying. They are saying that millions of people, over thousands if not hundreds of thousands of years, were ALL wrong in their accounts of UFOs. Even if you say they were mistaken instead of outright lying, you are putting yourself in a position of intellectual superiority over legions of strangers, and passing judgment on events you didn’t even witness. This type of negative ego based thinking is rampant in the world today, and causes each of us to live in glass towers of self-serving vanity that are as imprisoning as they are fragile. And to the counter arguments given that “I don’t believe it because there is no evidence”, I can only say that there are mountains of evidence that you may either be unaware of, or perhaps you have simply misinterpreted it.

Politically we suffer from the same misguided concepts, as our other conventions have failed we seek to fill them in with something else to believe in. But consider how in our current system, nothing ever really gets done. Because the politicians aren’t actually concerned with accomplishing things, but with doing just enough to get reelected. The actual good of the people represented runs a distant second to their own self interest. There is more than enough resources to go around, if the Governments of the world were more concerned with human rights and dignity, than global grandstanding and selfishness.

In the absence then, of functioning structures we must create new ones. And the place to create them first is in our own hearts and minds. Gnostic Theism will provide you with an intellectual framework to hang your experiences on, and make sense of day to day existence as well as your greater place in the cosmos

You are cosmically important. Everything you do, every thought you think, radiates out through eternity. Your purpose in this plane of existence is to realize this, and access your own true power and Inner Divinity. You can not afford the luxury of even one negative thought, just as you would not eat food with just one drop of sewer water on it.

It is our belief that life on Earth is a school, and you will continue to return to this Earthly plane again and again to learn the lessons placed before you. But while an idea of reincarnation may seem imprisoning, it is in truth the most liberating of ideologies. Because, rather than see things that happen to you as trials and tribulations in a limited life, you can instead see them as experiences in an infinite existence. It becomes that much easier to co-exist with others and accept their life choices, since it may be the lesson of this life for them to experience the worst forms of negative existence, either to work off past karmic debts, and or to prepare them for brighter incarnations in the future.

There are those in the world right now who have a vested interest in keeping you weak and bound. And I’m not talking about some shadowy conspiracy, but something much more mundane. Fear keeps you tuning into nightly news broadcasts. Feelings of inadequacy fuel a multi billion dollar fashion business. Paranoia generates billions of dollars in legal profits, and crippled health care systems and even bigger health care industry. Your dissatisfaction keeps sports teams and movie theaters going strong. Spiritual destitution keeps churches and temples open around the world.
Unfortunately your bondage is big business; there isn’t much money to be made off of free, intelligent, self-determinant people.

We exist at the crossroads of unbridled achievement, and abject ruin.
The current road we are traveling is leading us towards inner spiritual and outer social and economic collapse. It is only through the creation of a new class of free thinker, able to weigh situations critically, logically and thoroughly, that the potential crises can be averted, and victory achieved.

All things being equal, a person with no cause to lie, with no evidence of deception, should be believed or at least weighed impartially. Just like people are considered innocent until proven guilty, they should be considered honest until proven deceptive. A healthy dose of common sense is of course necessary, in that a person who says “An angel appeared in my bedroom last night” is one thing, if that person says “give me $500 and I’ll show you the angel” then you should probably be concerned.

It has always struck me as odd that people reporting unusual experiences are often accused of doing so to gain attention, or get on television; but consider, who’s more likely to be grandstanding: the person who risks ridicule and embarrassment to come forward, or the professional skeptic who’s claim to fame is shooting down other people and their beliefs.

“”Men are not punished for their sins, but by them” — Elbert Hubbard
Over the centuries, much has been made of the concept of ‘sin’. The original Greek word Harmatio means: “sin, to miss the mark; error; failure”, which is a far cry from the one way ticket to damnation it is often touted to be.
It is our position that the Divine is transcendent in every way (although still imminently present), and by Its very nature is beyond the ability to be offended by anything we do. The easiest explanation of what God is like is that of Divine Parent (Father or Mother, as you choose to perceive it); just like a parent has to discipline an unruly child, it doesn’t mean you hate that child or choose to imprison them for the rest of their lives.

Moreover, it does not follow logically that an all knowing, all loving, God can condemn people to eternal damnation. It also speaks to the greater ‘problem of evil’. Consider: if God is all powerful, He (or she) could miracle the Devil (or evil in general) out of existence at any time. And yet, He doesn’t. Even more, an all knowing God would have known what Lucifer was going to do when he was created, but He did it anyway, why?
The only answer can be that Lucifer’s rebellion, and ‘evil’ in the world must serve some sort of Divine purpose.
And if it does, how can you label it as ‘evil’?
Now, let me be clear: I am not arguing that there aren’t reprehensible acts, but that labeling a given thing ‘good’ or ‘evil’ is completely relative.

Let me give an extreme example: imagine if a 35 year old person were killed suddenly in an accident, a tragedy by any standard. But, what if you knew, with absolute certainty, if that person hadn’t died that day they’d have have contracted a painful degenerative disease, and lived every day of the rest of their life in constant agony. Is it still as tragic?
Or an even more extreme example: assume a woman has an abortion, something that no matter what your political affiliation we all can agree is unfortunate. But, again, what if you absolutely KNEW that child would have grown up to be the next Adolf Hitler. Is it still so terrible?

Obviously these examples are reaching. But they are illustrative of a greater point: life in this Universe is simultaneously more complex than you can ever imagine, and simpler than you can ever believe. The need for ‘redemption’ would require some form of ‘fall’ that has been massively over played across time. Our current misconceptions are the result of thousands of years of social engineering, designed not only to build better mousetraps, but to condition the mice to willingly lay their necks across the block.

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 (My own personal spiritual path)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Dr. Laura: Why Can’t I Own a Canadian?

posted by B. Dave Walters

So...why can't I?

*Note, I didn’t write this; but it’s been floating around the internet for a few years now, and every time I read it, it makes me smile (especially since my wife is Canadian!).

It highlights the real difficulty of *situational* use of the Bible as an authority, which doesn’t work for reasons we’ll discuss a little later.

Why Can’t I Own a Canadian?

October 2002

Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a radio personality who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. Recently, she said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22 and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura penned by a east coast resident, which was posted on the Internet. It’s funny, as well as informative:

“Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them:

When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15:19- 24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination – Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this?

Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? – Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted fan,

Jim”

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

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