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551  Astral Projection & Out of Body Experiences / Welcome to Out of Body Experiences! / Are these the vibrations?.... on: September 12, 2003, 05:51:09
I have projected both ways.  No, that's not right!  I have projected in MANY different ways.  

In the beginning, I heard short zapping sounds and then longer buzzes in my ears and within a few weeks of this starting, I just slipped right out the top of my head! [Cheesy]  

I was not even trying though--every OBE I have ever had has been spontaneous.  So in the beginning, I just thought I was pushing the limits of sleep deprivation and that was what the buzzes were all about! [Cool]  

After over 8 years of projecting--I have yet to successfully do it at will [Sad]  Or at least every time I REALLY want to--I have so far been unsuccessful!  If I just relax though--and not really be attached to whether I project or not--then a lot of times I do! [Wink]

Now, I may hear buzzing--I may not.  I may feel the vibration sensations--but not always.  But I must agree with Tisha--overall, if you have to ask--then you probably have not.  You are probably feeling some preparatory energy movements, but this is not the same as the vibrations.  You will most definately learn the difference between an energy shift and a vibration![Smiley]  

But hang in there lovepoison!  It will happen, just relax and allow your body [bodies!] to get prepared!  

552  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Early Forms of Christianity on: September 12, 2003, 05:02:11

You wrote:
...the name of Jesus has had tremendous power. If the whole thing is just a story I guess it could have been any name then

Not necessarily. Think of this in different terms. There is great POWER in STORY and in NAMES.   We all live by stories and our entire identity grows around our name.  

The ancients were not only aware of this—but had very serious beliefs above and beyond what we do today.  First, they thrived on stories.  The literacy rate was nil compared to today and it doesn’t take much of an imagination to go back and visualize how much that was indeed the case.  They did not have radio, TV, movies, etc.  They did not even have books like we do.  The printing press was not even a twinkle in their eye.  Stories were told orally at the well, at the table, in the pasture, and in the temple.  Stories provided the ancients with a historical reference—without the demand for proof that we want today. For them, the gist was good enough. It had to be.

Imagine if you had heard stories of your grandparents or great-grandparents and how they lived and perhaps even died for their beliefs.  You didn't have the exact details, but you had the general overall story.  Let’s sweeten the pot, and say that you just happened to know how to read and write (which made you very special) and you also had a very keen talent for telling stories—much better than the average person.  And you were of course familiar with the secular languages in use at the time as well as the language of your particular minority culture.  What if you decided you wanted those stories to be preserved and never forgotten? Additionally, I would surmise that you would also possess the details of that belief system and would not want that to be forgotten either.  Moreover, what if people were still being persecuted for this particular belief system and you could very easily come under persecution yourself?  How would you accomplish this without being found out?

This is what the ancient writers of scripture could have been faced with—they wanted to accomplish both the creation of stories that in general recounted certain events, but more importantly they wanted to preserve the details of the actual belief system. Jewish writers came up with a brilliant solution to the problem—by using the structure of their own native language to their advantage.  They would write of Jewish ideas but hide these ideas within the Greek language.  How so?  Through the power of STORY and the power of NAMES.

The Hebrew vocabulary is built upon a three-consonant verbal root system. In other words, most every verb, noun, adjective, etc., is derived from a certain three-consonant root.  (I have to illustrate this solely in English because there is not a Hebrew font available.) Let’s take the noun salvation for example—the Hebrew verbal root ysh means to save or to deliver.  As a noun salvation would be spelled yeshua. Can you see the primary consonants in the noun form? All Hebrew proper names are constructed this way.  Every name carries within it an implicit meaning based upon the verb stems used. The proper names Joshua, Isaiah, Hosea and Jesus all share this same Hebrew root ysh, and therefore carry the same meaning—salvation.  

In Greek, however, the word for salvation is a completely different word, but what if you used the Hebrew proper noun that meant salvation as a proper noun in the Greek language as well?  The story-line could have a main character named Iesous—which is the letter for letter transliteration of Yeshua into Greek.  Every time someone read this proper name in Greek, it would be assumed the writer was talking about a person, but when a Hebrew reader read this word back into Hebrew, they would see that the text was really talking about salvation every time the word was encountered.  Get it?  The name Jesus (which is of course the letter for letter English transliteration from the Greek) carries within it the implicit meaning of salvation.

Because the writers of NT scripture were Jewish, they used the name Jesus throughout the Gospels (and other books that didn’t make it into the Bible) to tell not only a surface story about the persecutions of their ancestors, but also of a more hidden message of salvation. This not only kept the story alive, but perhaps more importantly, it also kept the controversial belief system alive.  It could have also protected the writers from persecution.  
Ancient writers of scripture were very cunning with their use of language! There are 3,000+ proper names found throughout the entire bible and there is most definitely a Hebrew meaning for each one.  If you know the key to understanding this, you can find a myriad of new meanings for individual verses, entire chapters or full books. In the case of the NT, Jesus is the main character and according to Christian doctrine it is salvation that the Name of Jesus offers to all who accept him as the messiah.  

 So now, when we use or call upon the name Jesus—on some level we are also calling upon salvation (albeit three languages removed!)  In my opinion, intention is everything, and as you know from your astral travels, all languages must surely be known by those who dwell on the astral plane.  So let’s say you invoke the name Jesus in an exorcism, or just a prayer for that matter, if your intention matches the meaning of the name, I assume those on the astral plane will know what it is that you are after and will help accordingly if they can.  (This is just an off-the-cuff guess.)

[portions of this post are taken from Fire on the Water: Biblical Proper Name Exegesis and Language Based Mysticism, Beth B. Phillips, Copyright, 2003]
553  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Early Forms of Christianity on: September 11, 2003, 17:36:42

I agree whole heartedly with you.  God does not need this much or this kind of complexity to communicate with us.  I also agree that being “spiritual” is not necessarily being “intelligent” by the way we gauge it today.  More often than not—true “intelligence”—is found in being kind, loving and forgiving—always with the intention of promoting peace.  

If you will notice from my posts, I never made the claim that only the “intelligent” or the “elite” class of academically trained people had access to the divine realm.  Personally, I have found this to be quite the contrary—most especially, and ironically, in biblical studies.  

That is not what my posts in this section are all about and I hope to clear up any assumptions that may have already been made.  First—I am not saying that only the “intelligent” can reach have access to the divine realm.  My posts are about “biblical scripture” and what biblical scripture has to say about all of the things that this board has been addressing for quite some time now.  And yes, it will take the academically trained to decipher the wisdom hidden within the actual books of scripture.  But just peruse this board to find that it does not take an intense study of scripture or an academically trained mind to make contact with the divine realm and be on one of a very diverse number of progressive paths toward spiritual enlightenment.  

Internet message boards such as this are one of the methods that we use to communicate the “mysteries” today.  The writer’s of scripture however, did not have that luxury.  The “truth” that will be communicated by me, is that the bible is not what most people think it is.  In my opinion, it is not a true historical document the way we try so hard to make it—and to me trying to make it so is entirely missing the point.  It is rather, historical in the sense that it tells of how ancient mystics communicated to each other about the divine realm.  Man did write these scriptures.  And man did make deciphering the scriptures very complicated.  As too the writers “hoarding this knowledge” to themselves, the NT very blatantly tells the story of how Jesus tried to share this knowledge with the masses, and the story ends by illustrating how people were brutally murdered for trying to do so.  The Pauline epistles continue in the same vein, illustrating how not only in spite of possible persecutions and murder, some people continued to pursue the sharing of this knowledge with the world.  To “hide” their knowledge was a matter of life and death.  We cannot even conceive of the political and economic turmoil that was present during this period, nor can we conceive of actually being persecuted for our beliefs.  Today—at worst—we get harassed and not even to any great extent.  As you can see from the “Satan is Deceiving You” thread—you can either jump-in-there and argue your position—or you can just ignore it.  But you do not have to worry about losing your life or leaving your children orphaned.

Many people today, want and perhaps need the Bible to be the ultimate source of wisdom regarding the divine realm.  The Church has done well in making that the case.  The nature of humankind in relationship with “fiction” has taken care of the rest.  People tend to “believe” in the fictional sometimes much more than their own experience.  So we read books, and/or go to the movies and get drawn into dramas that are more exciting than our own mundane existences—if just for a few hours.  Today we also “medicate” ourselves if we have “experiences” that we cannot explain, most especially if we go to the clergy and find no explanation or support there.  Aren’t they supposed to know about this divine realm stuff?  It is even more traumatic for some who hear that “Satan is Deceiving Us.”  I would venture to guess that at least once, at least for a fleeting moment, that this possibility has crossed the minds of many astral travelers. But upon reflection they somehow “know” this is not the case.

Many of us have struggled with the fact that what the Church teaches does not match our own personal experience—and yet—we keep wondering “why.”  At least I know that I have.  I kept being drawn back to scripture time and time again.  I intuitively knew that what the Church offered us—was not the whole story.  I was driven to “figure it out” I suppose you could say.  I did not take the route of trying to prove or disprove the “historical validity” of scripture.  I took the path of searching for the answers in the very scriptures that resonated within me regardless of how the Church interpreted them.  I had never been to Jerusalem, but I knew when I was 10 years old, that I had made contact with the divine realm. By the time I was 40 years old, I had had many mystical experiences that had eventually led up to numerous spontaneous astral projections.  That was what I was looking for—not the actual city of Jericho—but information about this otherworldly activity and the divine realms that I was visiting.  

On the surface of biblical scripture it only barely hints to this kind of activity.  When I found out how to use “these keys” and that my experiences were really truly “in there”—albeit that they were brilliantly hidden away within the scripture—I was absolutely thrilled, but I was also totally stunned—and afraid. Christianity has done great deal of harm through the centuries, especially to those who rise up against them.  But this was the 21st century, and I had to admit that Christianity has also brought about a great deal of goodness.  I became afraid because of the latter--who was I to tell the good people that their scripture was just a fictional creation?  But I have to take the position that it depends upon the person, and upon how willing they are to “allow the divine to come into them,” rather than falling into the false belief that you can somehow just say some words or go to a church every Sunday and “be spiritual.”  But—even that serves a great purpose I guess.  Some people need to be kept on a “tight rein” and/or “to belong to THE RIGHT GROUP” to stay on the “straight” and “narrow path.”   In my opinion, the biggest error the Church has made is making the claim that it is the “only way.”  But, that is what the surface level of their scripture tells them and the keys to understanding the scriptures were either ignored or driven underground.

These “elite” people that wrote scripture were not, I don’t think, deliberately trying to hide “their mysteries” from us—they probably never even dared to hope that their writings would actually be preserved over 2,000 years in the future—and further, to know that their writings would actually be “printed” to the extent that their words would be found in millions of homes across the world—well this would have probably boggled their minds!  Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, they probably never had a clue that their writings would be taken so literally to the point that their words would actually do more to harm their original cause than good.  

In closing, I want to say that it is not my intention to cause harm to anyone.  For many people, being exposed to what I have found may be very painful and could very likely cause some serious spiritual crises.  Yes, to the best of my knowledge the stories in the bible were originally written to preserve secrets that are really no longer that much of a secret.  I will for the rest of my days continue to seek answers for myself, but at least for now, I have been offered the opportunity to help those “who want to know” exactly “how” they can find “themselves” and “their experience” written within these ancient texts. I want to be considerate of their beliefs and try to show them that there is a great deal more to know and experience beyond the surface layer of scripture.  It took 1,700 hundred years to create this misunderstanding, and it will not be cleared up any time soon.  But, for those that need to know, whatever it was that was at work between the divine realm and the writers of scripture is still working today.  There are no doubt many people on this board that can offer guidance and information that will create a more full understanding of the divine.  I believe that with or without “the book” the divine realm is very much available to us, and the bible, if viewed in the proper light, can offer us some age-old validation for our experiences of that realm.

(Whew…1,500 words and three hours of writing…I think I will go mediate now and leave “words” behind me for a while!  After this one—I am going to strive for pith![B)])

[Post Script: Once again Mustardseed, you have made a post after I compiled my own!!!  We must be in different time zones!  Ya’ think?  LOL.  Anyway…all that you say is very true.  Maybe the above has clarified “why” I was taking the approach that I was.  I just came onto this board reading the “Satan is Deceiving You” thread and thought that perhaps this was the best strategy.  Please forgive me if I made an erroneous decision.  Just like Robert, and I am sure many people on this board, I just want to help.[Smiley]]  

[portions of this post were extracted from Fire on the Water: Biblical Proper Name Exegesis and Language Based Mysticism, Beth B. Phillips, Copyright 2003.]
554  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Early Forms of Christianity on: September 11, 2003, 04:48:06
Soulfire: I wish it were so simple to just give out the keys in a very straightforward fashion.  I guess I “could” just give them to you, but to do so may hold little meaning for you—as well as do you no real good.  You would still have to trust “me” on what I say about these things unless you are familiar with these ancient languages and have access to them in Hebrew and Greek.  These levels of meaning are very “fluid” so my interpretation would—by far—NOT be the “only” interpretation.  I can, and will, give many examples as this discussion unfolds.  So, I am being vague for a very specific reason and I realize this can give rise to suspicion.  I am not boasting of having possession of these keys—most all of the ones that I know of are available in books that you can purchase on I do, however, feel a great responsibility for the information that I personally discuss and give out. I do not know the level of understanding for those who may read these posts, and while I can discuss some of these keys, others will require preparatory work that I am not sure will ever be accomplished here.  There is A LOT to this.  It is NOT simple.  We are all very spoiled and usually enjoy instant gratification, but in this it will take time and a great deal of study.  It has taken me 10 years to learn what I do know.  

I will start off by giving you some ancient background and academic backup for that background.  The footnotes will provide you with a few of the major texts if you want to eventually purchase them.  (BTW: I certainly understand having a long “wish list” of books!  I have however, been blessed to have access to a major university library that is well-stocked with many of the necessary texts.  I will be glad to share with you what I have found in these texts as we go along.)  

Okay…we must first go to the Middle Ages to find one of the major keys.  In the late thirteenth century c.e, Rabbi Moses de Leon, believed to be the author of the well-known mystical Zohar, also wrote a now lost work titled Pardes, which literally means “paradise” or “orchard.”1   The title of this work hints at its acronym (PRDS), through which de Leon expounded four different levels of biblical interpretation:  P for peshat2 , the plain meaning known to the masses, R for remez, the allegorical level, D for derasha, the Talmudic and Aggadic interpretation and S for sod, or the mystical meaning. R. de Leon does so in reference to the famous Talmudic story of the four ancient rabbis that entered the pardes. The term ‘paradise’ is also used in and believed to be directly connected to Paul’s revealing statement of II Corinthians 12:2-4 which also implies an astral projection into the “third heaven.”3    This four-fold division is language-based mysticism and entering pardes therefore came to represent mystical speculations of the true meaning of Torah on all four of these levels of meaning.  

Since we are all familiar enough with peshat, let’s move on to remez. This is the level of meaning that arises from symbols and metaphors found within scripture.  The term “allegory” from the Greek allegoria, means most simply “to say something other than what one seems to say.”  In general, however, allegory must have a narrative dimension which serves to distinguish it from metaphor, simile, and allusion, all of which are actually tools of allegory.  

First let’s look at a few examples of metaphorical meaning.  In Sefer ha-Bahir for instance, “sea” is a metaphor for Torah.4    On the level of remez when Moses parted the Sea of Reeds (The Red Sea) what he really did was “part” or “open-up” the Torah.  At the opening up of the Torah, the Israelites were able to “pass through”—perhaps in understanding—and thus escape the ensuing Egyptians.  When Moses then closed the waters on Pharaoh’s army, they were subsequently drowned—perhaps you could say—they were way “over their heads.”  So, from the metaphorical meaning of “sea” as Torah, an allegory arises that only the Israelites, under the leadership of Moses, could truly understand the Torah.  This seems rather simplistic doesn’t it?—well perhaps it is—but that is one of the esoteric meanings that has been safely preserved within the surface story of Moses and the Israelites sojourn into the wilderness.  

Another example is found with the “food” and “eating” metaphors that abound throughout scripture.  “Food” was considered the metaphor for knowledge in general, and specially prepared foods or sacred foods were “higher knowledge.”  The word “eat” appears over 500 times in scripture.  Many instances of “eating” and the ability to digest certain foods are clearly obscure references when read on the surface level of scripture alone.  For example, there is the ever-popular example in Genesis about eating the fruit from the tree of good and evil.  Many misconceptions have arisen from a literal interpretation of this one!![Sad]  There is also the even more obscure references in Ezekiel. In just the first three chapters you can read of “eating scrolls” some of which were sweet and some of which bitter.  And finally, from the NT, just in the Epistles of Paul, the subject of eating is referred to on many occasions.  For example in Hebrews 5:11-6:3:

5:11We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. 12In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. 61Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3And God permitting, we will do so.    

With some reflection, this eating metaphor would also extend to Jesus and the Eucharist (The Lord’s Supper.)

So, the four levels of meaning within scripture are ONE "key." Within this is the second level of meaning or “allegory” and one of its tools “metaphor” becomes another “key”--a key that communicates a myriad of esoteric messages.  There are no doubt, hundreds if not thousands of these metaphors scattered throughout scripture.  See, I told you it wasn’t so simple!  And already, there are many people who may read just this one post, and potentially have a very hard time “swallowing” and “digesting” this information.  So please understand why I insist upon proceeding slowly.[Smiley]

  1-Scholem, Gershom, On the Kabbalah and Its Symbolism, pg. 57, and Scholem, Jewish Gnosticism, Merkabah Mysticism, and Talmudic Tradition, pg. 16.  
  2-According to Gershom Scholem, this designates the literal or simple meaning which is always preserved although made “transparent by the mystical light shining through it.” On the Kabbalah and Its Symbolism, pg. 56-57. This is the first way in which one comes to understand scripture, further explained that at this stage of understanding, the intellect is still undeveloped. See Idel, Moshe, Language, Torah, and Hermeneutics in Abraham Abulafia, pg. 83. In the New Testament, Paul refers to this as the Letter of Law, as opposed to the Spirit of the Law.  Paul further likens the Letter of the Law to a child’s mentality.  
  3-II Corinthians 12:2-4: “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know--God knows. 3And I know that this man--whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows-- 4was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell.”
  4-Kaplan, Aryeh. The Bahir Illumination, pg.2. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1979.

[note to Mustardseed:  Isn’t it interesting that you said “…you then have the whole truth served as a fast food meal” Huh   I will also address your questions tomorrow.  I will have to consult my Greek Lexicon and think about this for a bit.  I am also in the US and it is past my bedtime[|)]!!—((((yawn))))—so, I will get back to you soon!]

[portions of this post were extracted from Fire on the Water: Biblical Proper Name Exegesis and Language Based Mysticism, Beth B. Phillips, Copyright 2003.]
555  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / The Neverending Thread (was SATAN DECEIVES YOU) on: September 11, 2003, 04:14:41
Thank you Mustardseed!  

This is by far--NOT an easy topic. It is probably the most debated topic in Western Civilization for almost the entire 2,000 years since it all began!!  And--I do not presume for a second that the debate will stop here!! The best that we can do is learn what we can--as we go along.  There is so much to learn--an NO ONE human being has all the answers.  It will take experiences and understandings from many different people and many time periods to really begin to find understanding.

It is good to be here!  I look forward to it as well![Smiley]
556  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Early Forms of Christianity on: September 10, 2003, 23:39:46
Hey there!

Soulfire--you wrote several questions:

How do you feel the language barrier comes into play with this?

As in most cases the language barrier is most definately a serious issue when it comes to finding the original meaning of any text going from one language to another.  It is even more complicated when it comes to biblical scripture. The Greek Septuagint (a.k.a., the Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament written in Greek) for example is thought to have been translated from an original Hebrew text that is no longer in existence.  All very early copies of the Septuagint itself are long gone.  What we do have is a record/legend in an ancient letter of Aristeas that tells the story of the Septuagint being created. Now--going from an original ancient Hebrew text into ANY language would have be open to translation and interpretation primarily because the ancient Hebrew manuscripts did not have any vowels as such (other than a few of the letters that served both vowel and consonant purposes)nor were there spaces between words or sentences and no punctuation.  Thus what you had to start with was just row after row of letters--basically an untranslated text.  This made the way clear for NUMEROUS possible translations. What was of interest in the legend is that from this extremely large amount of "Hebrew Letters" all 70 translators came up with the "exact same" translation! This translation is purported to be what we have today (pretty much anyway!)

It would seem that this type of layered complexity would depend heavily on precise phrasing, grammer, and literary structure used by the original author to retain the integrity of its "deeper" meaning.

So true.  This is where it gets most "fascinating!" [Wink]  In the language based mysticism that I have researched through my studies I found that the ancients saw ALL of the potential that language offers.  Language can be used to communicate to the masses--and it can also be used to communicate esoterically.  To communicate esoterically--all one needed were the keys required to arrive at a particular interpretation--and viola--you would have access to one or more levels of deeper meaning.

On preserving the integrity of scripture.  I have no doubt that relatively speaking a great deal has been "lost through the cracks" of multi-lingual translations. And yes--I am sure that some redactions (editing) did take place by later more agenda driven scholars. BUT--if a person that was translating a text "did not know" about the "hidden meaning" in a text--then they would not know "how to edit" the deeper meanings out.  This is the beauty of scripture.  Buried within the surface stories found throughout both the Hebrew Bible (OT) and the New Testament--these hidden layers of meaning have been inadvertantly preserved!!! Pretty cool huh?[8D]

How much of this would generally be lost, distorted, our even destroyed by the translation process? How trustworthy do you feel the oldest manuscripts we have avaliable to work with are with regard to being precise and unaltered copies of the original works?[/

Like I just said...the meanings are buried within the surface layer of stories.  The only way to totally destroy the esoteric is to totally destroy the scripture itself.  As a result, the esoteric has all pretty much been preserved. Assuming there were later redactors that changed things to suit their own agenda...the affects were probably just minimal.  There will probably always be some parts of translated works that can be considered dubious--but there is little we can do about that.  But--there is A LOT to learn from what we have at hand! So many meanings--so little time!![Wink]

And James--yes...somewhere early on...the keys were lost, ignored or buried underground. There is no telling how many different "sets of keys" there were.  BUT--that is also the beauty of working with the divine realm.  The keys will always find their way into "this world" when the divine realm deems it necessary!!  It is not WE that are in charge here--in my opinion--it is the divine realm that is "calling the shots!!"

[portions of this post were extracted from Fire on the Water: Biblical Proper Name Exegesis and Language Based Mysticism, Beth B. Phillips, Copyright 2003.]
557  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Early Forms of Christianity on: September 10, 2003, 17:52:12
Hey there Soulfire!

Thank you for your welcome!

It would require another "very lengthy" post to do your question justice!!  (and I must go and accomplish a few things today--so I will be out of pocket for 8-7 hours.)

But I will give a quick overview of "some" of the primary ways in which the differences do exist "in meaningful ways."

1) First, biblical scripture, if understood properly contains a vast wealth of knowledge that has really only been barely tapped into.  The language of the periods in which scripture was written had a structure and understanding mostly unknown to us.  When you read scripture from a metaphorical, mystical standpoint--what you find there is absolutely amazing.  And what it provides as a starting point is the same. Sripture was a "springboard" so to speak--that was a stimulator for the conscious mind to expand.

2) The scriptures are not talking about a solid organized doctrine that we have today.  If anything, it is coming out against such an establishment.  It points the way to a "personal experience" the opportunity for "the divine" to "show the way."  It actually beseeches us all to open our hearts and let the divine realm lead us instead of falling into the "darkness" of what everyone insists that you MUST believe.  

3) During this period of time, Mystery Schools were prolific.  In this case, the education of Greek speaking Jews began with a Greek philosophical curriculum. This included langauge and grammar, mathematics, art, music, the sciences and their cultural literary corpus.  After these subjects were mastered, then the student could move up through the system and begin to address more specific topics such as we find in Philosophy today: more in-depth language studies, ethics, the law, and of course metaphysics. Within/beyond this level--the mystery schools appear to have branched off into different specialties.  For us in this discussion, this would now be considered Jewish Mysticism. Note that this was pre-Kabbalah as we have it today--but the word kabbalah itself means tradition--so at this early stage the tradition was definately being taught in some form or another.  To the best of my knowledge we do not have a full systemitized accounting for this early form of mysticism. We have a lot of information--but there are still A LOT of unanswered questions. Scholars are working hard, however, to try to recapture all that they can.  

5) In my experience, both personal and academic, the mystery school with which I am most familiar is a language based mysticism.  It was by interpreting scripture through many different levels that the sub-conscious was adequately stimulated enough for each person to experience the divine according to his/her capacity to learn, accept and understand.  This was not a static progression of learning.  As far as I know, no one who wrote in any of these ancient mystical texts ever claimed to possess all of the answers.  I guess you could say that it is truly "the journey that counts--not necessarily the destination."  

6) These ancient mystery texts do address many types of mystical experiences such as astral projection, lucid dreaming, prophetic dreaming, periods of heightened intellectual awareness, experiences of light and angelic manifestations, just to name the main ones we are aware of today.  These writers also had the same problems that we have today--i.e., if you have never had experiences such as these...then you cannot possibly understand. And yes, they also address encounters with "adversarial" entities (both human and non-human) and other adversarial obstacles that will be encountered on the spiritual path. But they were taught that their ultimate checkpoint was always to be their "rational mind" and "their strong moral fiber."  If they were still in doubt after these checkpoints, then I assume that they prayed fervently for the right answers and perhaps were then led to consult with others.

This is just a brief outline of some of the primary differences.  There is so much more to discuss, but alas, I must leave for now[Smiley]

I will, however, return later [Wink]

[portions of this post were extracted from Fire on the Water: Biblical Proper Name Exegesis and Language Based Mysticism, Beth B. Phillips, Copyright 2003.]    
558  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / The Neverending Thread (was SATAN DECEIVES YOU) on: September 10, 2003, 15:39:30
Hello everyone.

Well, I wish my entry into this discussion would have been more pleasant for me.  However, it seems that for some reason, I have already been labeled as an adversary to Christianity.  Wow.  That's too bad.  Do you think it takes a non-Christian scholar and a Christian scholar to hash this out?  Do you really think that only one from each side could accomplish this?  And how do you know what my position is on Christianity?  You have already assumed I am NOT one.  This just shows how some people make erroneous assumptions and develop immediate and unwarranted biases that ultimately lead to the massive alienation present in our world today.  

In my opinion, the tone of this thread is very disheartening.  It is also, in my opinion, very un-Christ-like.

I will not write my posts with a bunch of academic jargon.  I will write in as simple language as is possible.  This is not because I think it is too complicated for simple folk, but rather because it is the language that I prefer to use.  Too many problems have already occurred throughout the centuries by talking “over people’s heads.”  If anyone wants to get into a more technical discussion, then I will glad to do so, to a certain extent, or I can recommend some good books to get you started.  

DjM, your posts are very close to being correct as I have come to understand Christianity so far.  I agree with where you are going with all of this.  But, I must beg to differ with a few things.  First, it is "Knowledge" that is first and foremost necessary for all understanding.  It IS enough—it is all we have to go on.  Without knowledge, we all fall into error (see paragraph #1 for a common example.)  I cannot speak for you, but, from reading the rest of your posts, I think that a clarification on “knowledge” could be made.  

There are many levels of and ways to acquire knowledge.  One is to take the knowledge that has been compiled before us and learn all that we can from it.  This is the starting point.  

Then there is a more personal knowledge.  This personal knowledge is acquired on an individual basis.  Knowledge of this type ranges anywhere from the conclusions that are drawn from studying the knowledge of others all the way to receiving personal revelations. And yes, DjM, the mystery schools did thrive on this latter form of knowledge.  BUT, before initiates were allowed to learn the ways of acquiring such “higher” knowledge, many years of education were required, and a strong moral fiber must have been formed within.  You are also correct when you say that the esoteric keys are necessary to understand the scriptures.  I have at least a few of these keys that I can share with you.  BUT, I WILL NOT share these in a forum that has the argumentative and negative tone of this one.  I will not use the knowledge that I have in a heated argument about the validity of the current interpretation of Christianity.  And that is all that it is--One interpretation—albeit one that has been well hammered out on the anvil of time.  That interpretation needs no more seeking and no more answers.  All has been found for that one and as far as I am concerned, the book is closed.  Apparently it serves it’s believers well enough.

I am much more interested in participating in a discussion about different ways to interpret scripture.  And here is where I must disagree with you again DjM.  Going back to the “beginning” or the “age of Saturn” (whenever that was) is fine, but I would like to know exactly what you mean here. Maybe you could share with us the texts that you speak of.   It was my suggestion to begin with 300 b.c.e.  This date is just a good starting point.  This period is also based upon my own years of study, and I have found that we can learn A LOT from going “back over” the period of 300 b.c.e to 300 c.e.  There is so much history and background material for the development of both Judaism and Christianity that is little known to our society because it was later ignored and not canonized.

Mustardseed, you mentioned in part, some of the texts that must be studied to begin to formulate a more accurate picture of early Christianity--and those texts are the ones that were written by the early Church Fathers.  Your data on the available copies of ancient scriptures all sound correct as well, but if you will notice, with the only exception being small fragments, that all complete NT codices can only be dated back to the 4th century forward.  It was not until 325ish that Christianity even became an established religion when it was chosen by Constantine as the religion of his much dreamed of New Roman Empire.  The Bible as we have it today was actually put together during this time.  The bishops of several Council meetings, spent a very long time hammering out many differences of opinion as well as trying to decide what books should be included and what books should not.  For example, there were many heated debates about he purpose and methods of baptism, the Eucharist (The Lord’s Supper,) and the nature of Jesus Christ. Believe it or not, these are all still being debated 1,700 years later. That is why we have Catholics and all the different Protestant branches.  This is also why we have Orthodox, Moderate and Liberal.  At the time, however, the most heated debate was the latter--whether Jesus was fully human and received the holy spirit as an adult, whether he was born partially human and partially divine, or whether he was completely divine merely taking on a physical body as only a deity could do.  They never did come to a complete concensus on this.  On the scriptures: the Pauline Letters, the Gospel of John and Revelation almost didn't make the final cut. There was a great deal of controversy about these texts, but ultimately they were included.  This is no big secret and a little homework can easily verify what I say. Any textbook on the development of Christianity can inform any interested reader.  

Now, previous to there being a "closed canon" of NT scripture, A LOT happened during the first three centuries of this 2,000 year era.  Many books of “scripture” were written and many of these can be found in The Gnostic Gospels and The Dead Sea Scrolls that were discovered in the mid-20th century. These newly discovered texts shed a great deal of light on these earliest years. There is no way of knowing how many others have been long destroyed--or are yet to be found. The 300 year period previous to the 1st century, and the 300 years previous to the closing of the Christian canon is where there is a lot to learn for everyone whose posts I have read.  These are the writings of the early Church Fathers, Clement of Alexandria, Origen of Alexandria and many others. There is also the vast body of Jewish midrash that must also be taken into consideration as well as Greek Philosophy which is the over-arching culture within which both Judaism and Christianity flourished.   The first few hundred years of the current era was a VERY different Christianity than we have today.  Yes--they used the same scriptures--BUT it is the INTERPRETATION of those scriptures that is different.  In these arguments about the "validity" of NT scripture--it all depends upon what you are trying to validate.  If you are trying to validate Christianity as we have it today--you have to move further into the future of Church Fathers to find it (post 3rd century.)  If you are trying to validate that there was a very different Christianity in the first century, then the first, second and third century writings is where you will find your info.

An important note about scripture:  Translating from language to language is a very difficult process.  Many times there are not comparable words in the new language that will truly embody the meaning of the word that the originating language meant to convey.  For example, all cultures have their own metaphorical agreements, such as “I slept like a log” or “I feel like a ton of bricks have been lifted from my heart.”  These simple phrases that you and I do not have to qualify to each other became a serious problem for biblical translators.  You and I both know that I am not talking about a literal “log” or a literal “ton of bricks.”  But that is not always the case.  If someone were to read a statement such as this 300+ years into our future, they may not have clue what we mean.  There are literally thousands of possibilities for error in a book the size and the age of the Bible.  Mustardseed, the Greek NT that we have today is "what we have" to work with, but unless you yourself have studied these ancient forms of Greek and Hebrew (which shares most of its vocabulary with Aramaic,) then you would not pick up on the nuances or possible errors present there.  There were also many such words that originated in Hebrew and Aramaic culture that could not be accurately translated into Greek. Then to complicate matters even further, when the Greek texts became subject to Latin translations, and then again with translations into English, etc., we really cannot be sure what the original speakers "meant" by “looking at the scriptures alone.”  We must therefore go to these early non-scriptural writers to get a better look at what they, in their culture and their time period, were perhaps really talking about.  

Now—where do we go from here?  If you are interested in discussing things with all of this in mind, then someone post a particular question that pertains to such. I will be more than glad to help facilitate productive conversations about some of these topics with those who wish to learn more about and explore deeper into the Christian message.  I will share all that I have learned through the years, but I am also counting on learning a lot from all of you as well!  

To start with: within this one thread there are actually many topics being discussed.  Perhaps I am a creature of organization, but to be honest—this is a very messy thread.  For example, if you want to discuss/debate the “inerrancy of biblical scripture” then someone can create a thread for this—
but if you want to discuss/debate “historical evidence of biblical scripture”—that is another topic all together.  The first is a matter of faith—the second of facts. Personally, I do not think that there is much to learn in either one of these topics.  I really don’t think it matters, so I would like to see some different questions come up.

I am looking forward to participating in some spiritually healthy discussions.  I will always be candid (and at times perhaps a bit colorful!) but I will not respond to or with insults, nor will I be baited by being called a heretic should my views disagree with yours—and for some of you, my views most surely will.  

If anyone tries to “bait me” in any way—I will ignore you.  If anyone wants to pose a “question”—I will be glad to jump in there.  But if all you have to offer is “doctrinal answers”—then I am already familiar with what you have to say so don’t waste your time on me.  Create a thread that can become a forum for people who do not yet about what you have to offer.  Your position is a starting point, but I have already "been there and done that" and am ready to move on.

Just for the record:  I embrace the prerogative to be wrong.  For me, the “Truth” changes as I spiritually grow and mature.  I have lost count of how many times “Truth” has changed for me in my life.  God is constantly offering me the opportunity for more growth, and it is my daily prayer that I always avail myself to those opportunities and listen intently for that guidance.

SO--let the discussions continue.

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