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"Merging" with the spiritual world, and the everyday reality of the world

Reader comment on item: Musing on History
in response to reader comment: Friday night conjectures

Submitted by Michael S (United States), Oct 28, 2015 at 14:07

Hi, Moh Waz

Interesting points.

"Well if it's true then this suggests that there is the possibility of merging one's awareness into something that has a component of it that is completely out of time."

Ezek.37
[1] The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones...

That seems to imply some sort of immersion of Ezekiel in a non-terrestrial realm: a dream or dream-like state, but connected with a reality not of the mind's invention.

Gal.5
[16] This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh...
[25] If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
[26] Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

This seems to be talking about something else. Paul is talking about following the inner instruction of a guidance that is universal (can be followed by many individuals at once), external to mental internal mental processes connected with our "flesh", or physical being.

On the "immersion" track, we have the mysterious

John 17
[20] Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
[21] That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
[22] And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
[23] I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

  • Jesus here speaks of several mergers:
  • that his father (God) is in him,
  • that the disciples may be in both Jesus and God,
  • that the disciples may be "one", and made perfect in "one", with the same type of "unity" Jesus enjoys with God

All of these can be understood metaphorically; and I have cited this passage to refute "Trinitartians" who say Jesus has some unique, mystical union with God that we do not have.

Ignoring science, which doesn't seem to offer any knowledge of these matters, let me try to construct from these passages a consistent message: Ezekiel, Jesus and Paul all appear to be speaking about an objective, invisible realm, which consists of "spirit" and is under the authority of the individual, "God".

I've elsewhere spoken my conclusion that the word "spirit" (with or without capitalization, which was never in the original) as something powerful but invisible. It can be animated, either actually or metaphorically; but it seems to describe a "substance" analogous, in a supernatural way, with fermions, bosons Higgs and yet-undiscovered natural phenomena.

Paul's admonition that the believers "walk in the spirit", "live in the spirit" and elsewhere, "be led by the spirit". I was once part of a Pentecostal group, where most of the parishoners went about being "led" by "the spirit" into the most anti-biblical situations, such as adultery. Somehow, they did not seem to find the "connection" Paul was admonishing the Galations to acquire and move in.

The Apostle goes on to speak of a spiritual "substance":

Heb.10
[32] But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;
[33] Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.
[34] For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.
[35] Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
[36] For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
[37] For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
[38] Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
[39] But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

Heb.11
[1] Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

In using the word "substance", Paul seems to be saying that the supernatural world (i.e. the world outside of our human sensory experience) has a character analogous to our own. He further says that the "connection" between the worlds; i.e. between the seen and the unseen, is faith. "Faith", in an individual, is a mental process; but it isn't altogether subjective. It is connected with an objective, unseen reality; and when a person engages in faith, he powerfully re-orders this present reality. Here's an example:

Through one's senses and natural understanding, one might presume that the way to always have possessions when he needs them, a man must grasp for them and hoard them. Such a person might attract an entourage of favor-seekers; but he will have few friends. A liberal person, on the other hand, who freely lends what he has, will have many friends, friends he can depend on in time of need when his own possessions fail him.

The first person in the example is following his fleshly perception and fleshly desires, which are subjective and short-sighted by nature. The second person has opposed his fleshly urgings, to enter into a place of objectivity, a place one might call "out-of-body". His viewpoint, taken to its extreme, is the viewpoint of God.

Because we are naturally so bound up with fleshly thinking, God has seen fit to appear to humans at times in a figure, to directly instruct them in the "Godly" way of thinking and behaving. The Bible contains a chronicle of people trying but failing, over the ages, to conform their natural lives to the spiritual model. Enter Jesus, who condensed "correct living" into the example of suffering death at the hands of the selfish religious leaders. God then put his "seal of approval" on this conduct, by raising Jesus from the dead. In doing so, God showed His approval of not only Jesus' self-sacrifice, but also of all his teachings -- and demonstrated them to be superior to the teachings of the religious leaders.

When a person expresses "faith in Jesus", therefore, in the correct sense, he is proclaiming faith in a direction in life that is not sensually driven, but rather driven by an external director, namely, God. The NT writers say that we who do this store up for ourselves "substantive" treeasures in the unseen world that awaits us beyond the grave.

This appears to be the "merging" you mentioned. My Pentecostal friends attempted to attain such a "merging" by sensual means, seeking out mentally-generated thoughts and feelings; but they failed to connect with the universal reality of the heavenly realm in that way. Faith, on the other hand, properly understood, does make such a connection and provides us with the "substance" of reward in this world and the next.

I am not speaking about these things, in any way separated from the context of what is going on today in the Middle East and the rest of the world. Our world is beset by, frankly, insoluble problems; and it is right on course for fulfilling the nuclear disaster spoken of in Zechariah 14. I would utterly fail the readers, if I offered up a future hope that depended upon what we can see and feel of our human experience; and I would likewise fail them if I offered up hope in some sort of "Jesus Christ Superstar" arriving on the scene like Superman, beating up all the "bad guys" and making everything better (mainly because we, also, are among the "bad guys"). I am left, then, with speaking about the hope of a world and of a reality which we will encounter -- not thousands of years from now in some vague resurrection or reincarnation, but in "substantive" present reality, not many years in the future. That is the sort of hope that can sustain us during these times, which will surely only get worse.

Submitting....

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