Sunday, October 23, 2011
Why do we ask Jesus about what is good? Do we expect a direct answer?
This question is not simple and requires long-term personal introspection. What are our expectations of a so called God-man who is to "save" us and answer our life existential questions? The group discussion, by elucidating the complex nature of this question helped map the path towards a meaningful answer:
Day - Nowadays, the Internet and other entertainment is a form of material wealth that can be very distracting from what Buddha has called the Middle Path, which best balances one between the delusions and distractions of material wealth as well as the hardships of poverty. The Middle Path is best to discover and deepen one's spiritual perspective and realization over the long-term.
Bob - People have an early basic sense for right and wrong, just by sitting and naturally listening to what is going on.
Francis - Ignorance is bliss. The more you know and perspective you gain, the more clear and responsible you become to understand and manage the complex ethics of mature adult reality.
Pastor Dan - It is our responsibility to have the discipline of love.
Bob - In the bible, the blind Bartimeus had a lot more to benefit from by immediately dropping his possessions before Jesus. The rich man has more external responsibility and a complex set of priorities that made him more attached and thus slower.
Rose - I think we get bogged down by our nuances of the questions - "What is good?" and "Who do you think I am?"
FOR NEXT WEEK: Please continue to read Chapter 2, focusing on the questions on pp. 19 & 23.
List of possible after New Year 2012 readings:
1. The Red Tent (novel)- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Red_Tent
2. The Poisonwood Bible (novel)- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Poisonwood_Bible
3. Everything Must Change: Global Crises and a Revolution of Hope, by Brian McLaren – http://www.gci.org/book/mclaren.
Friday, October 21, 2011
With love, respect, and hope, Jesus repeatedly inquires of his followers, “But who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29; Luke 9:20; Matthew 16:15) At some point along our faith journey, Jesus turns to each one of us as well, and asks us this same question. “Who do you say that I am?” (p. 13)
And so we responded:
Charles – Jesus was a humanization of God so people could relate, to make humans in God the focus.
Rose – What’s the difference between Jesus and humankind? I see Jesus as a mentor, showing people how to live. Jesus was fully human and divine. I give my all to work. How much energy at the end of the day do I have to ponder who I am?
Bob – We, in Western society, can’t help but anthropomorphosize ourselves.
Day – It’s an identity question. Are we the body & our set of relationships? What are our potentials and potencies? I’ve been reading about the concept of divinity in humans. Check out “The Spark of God lives within the Heart - http://ebookbrowse.com/guidance-the-spark-of-god-lives-within-the-heart-pdf-d54467180.
Pastor Dan – The kingdom of God lives within. God is everywhere. The Dalai Lama, Bishop Tutu, and Mother Theresa cleanly see divine reality everywhere.
Bob – E.g., Mother Theresa says that Jesus’ pronouncement to seekers of the divine to give up our material wealth truly means to give up the veil of our egos.
Charles – It’s important to understand our use of the word “ego”. As we use it, “ego” is actually “Id”. The id comprises the unorganized part of the personality structure that contains the basic drives. The id acts according to the "pleasure principle", seeking to avoid pain or displeasure aroused by increases in instinctual tension. Ego is trying to make reality fit us. Instead, God wants us to serve others as a vessel of the divine reality.
Bob – People learn separation over time to survive in the world.
Charles – The ego helps us relate to the world. Jesus wasn’t appealing to the ego, but to the reality of our divine source.
For Next Week (10/23): Reread Chapter 2, as we only got through a few questions.
We're just starting to read the book, The Questions of Jesus - Challenging Ourselves to Discover Life's Great Answers, by John Dear.
On the back cover is written:
This illuminating examination of the Gospels reveals how the questions Jesus asks of his followers lead the way to a deeper understanding of the meaning of life and the mystery of God.
The Gospels are filled with stories, parables, miracles, commandments, and dramatic incidents that trace Jesus’ life and recount his teachings. A close reading of the Gospels reveals, however, that they are also filled with questions. As John Dear points out in this remarkable book, Jesus, like any great teacher and rabbi, “has a question for everyone he meets, for every occasion, for every experience, for every potential disciple.” Dear uses these questions as a starting point, an invitation to readers to discover the lessons they contain by searching their own hearts and minds for answers.
Throughout The Questions of Jesus, Dear interweaves insights from ethical and religious teachers ranging from Buddha to Gandhi to Martin Luther King, Jr. Using recent events as powerful and poignant examples, he shows why a renewed commitment to Jesus’ message of nonviolence, compassion, justice, and peace is essential to healing a world torn by violence and war.
* There's a decent book review at – http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/books/books.php?id=9503
FRANCIS reflected that Jesus not answering some sorts of questions is a kind of answer itself. That way Jesus doesn’t just prescribe simple answers to complex problems, but he leads people to find answers in their own lives, which is more useful. In this way, Jesus manages to put bridges between the cliffs in people's life. Often what we need is to get the assurance of love to lead on through life.
TOM mentioned that since God is the ultimate reality, spiritual seekers aren’t necessarily finding solutions via analytical logical answers, but instead through contentment and repose.
BOB – For example, a man in a grocery store asking “What are you looking for?” is easier to answer. But, regarding meta questions, one can’t so easily answer.
GISELLE revealed “Jesus helps me to get guidance regarding my own expectations. It’s one of the strongest questions I can ask my kids.”
* Day suggests our next book to read and discuss be, Everything Must Change: Global Crises and a Revolution of Hope, by Brian McLaren.
What do you think? Please check out a review – http://www.gci.org/book/mclaren.
FOR NEXT WEEK: Discuss Chapter 2 – “Identity” (30pp.)