Conversation with Master Buddha and TMichael: Gay Marriage
TM: I’ve been reading news accounts of the battle between those who favor gay marriage being sanctioned under law and those who oppose it. Some oppose it on religious grounds and some on biological grounds in that it doesn’t facilitate pro-creation naturally. What is your view on the religious grounds for or against gay marriage?
Master Buddha: If a man and a woman have sexual intercourse, there is a probability pregnancy will result, and a second probability that child birth will follow. This is commonly known and understood in modern society. That wasn’t always the case—many centuries ago it was a mystery how offspring were conceived by the vast majority of human population. There arose from the mystery many superstitions around conception and child birth. Conception and child birth require the engagement of male and female contributing each their part. This is a biologic fact. It doesn’t require a social bond to be successful. As a matter of modern fact, it doesn’t require that they ever physically engage in person (artificial insemination).
TM: Ok, I’m with you so far. Creating babies follows sex between a man and a woman, or by artificial means. A long time ago, and I hope a very long time ago, people didn’t quite make the connection and so developed superstitious beliefs around baby-making.
Master Buddha: So, by biologic fact a gay male marriage cannot produce offspring between the two partners, but can enlist a female outside the marriage to perform that role. The same of course then for two female partners. This means that gay couples are capable of producing offspring by proxy of a third partner if they so desire. This is the same for heterosexual couples who are unable to conceive a child. It merely accommodates the biologic fact.
TM: If it’s a biologic fact, then how does it become a religious issue or even a social concern?
Master Buddha: I’m pulling this apart for you, because it can get very tangled. At some point in human history there was a shift in social belief that the chief role of marriage between a man and woman was to create offspring. To ensure that their offspring would not just be running around in reckless abandon they also created social convention around the single-family household and the early beginnings of property rights. The child belonged to the parents and the household and was subject to their supervision and responsibility, and they together as a household subject to the larger society and community.
TM: You’re saying it was a social evolution, not a religious one. Is that correct?
Master Buddha: It is difficult to separate religion from social, because religion is a social enterprise. This is why this subject is so impossible for some people to intellectually grasp. I will continue now to explain.
Religion is a social enterprise, which means that humans have created religions and formed into social sects in order to propagate their religious beliefs and social tenets.
TM: Hold on a second, almost all religious people will say that religions were created by God, or Gods through prophets or enlightened intermediaries (present company included), and that they are followers of that particular religious teaching. God laid the foundation and they followed his word to build on it.
Master Buddha: Please refer to other conversations we’ve had on the subject of truth and how it is convoluted with faith and a state of not knowing everything. Humans will posit truth on a great many things, but that doesn’t make it true. It is merely their belief in what is true. Let’s assume for a moment that religions were founded on direct expression of truth from God or Gods. Humans, as you suggest, interpret that and build on it to make it a social belief system. The filter applied is still of human origin, and therefore subject to the ignorance of humanity.
TM: I don’t mean to stray from our topic, but this seems important to clear up, because so much of what follows is dependent upon this point. You’re saying that religions are social institutions and are birthed and propagated as social tenets, not the word of God.
Master Buddha: I don’t wish to belabor the point of origin of religious beliefs, and so for our discussion I said we could assume that religions spring from the word of God or Gods. Humans the take that word and add to it their interpretations and filter it into social conventions by which they live. That means that religions become social entities imbued with human constructs of socialized behavior. May we continue?
TM: Yes, but maybe we have to come back to this at some point.
Master Buddha: The great problem for humanity in building laws that govern society is that they cannot separate social convention from religious teachings. Gay marriage as it relates to law must pass through the filters of social convention, which is conditioned by religious beliefs. So you can easily see the conundrum. And this provokes a challenge to the truths held by those who believe that the word of God prohibits such human relations.
For them the syllogism flows like this:
God has said that the purpose of a man|woman relationship is to create babies and form single-family households and rear their offspring.
Gay couples cannot create babies directly.
Therefore, gay marriage is not sanctioned by God, and must be excluded from human options.
For religious believers, denying this logic is tantamount to denying the word of God. It will then undermine a society based upon the word of God and eventually lead to the ruin of society. How it reconciles with many other words of God in which it produces conflict and contradiction is inconvenient, but doesn’t cause their belief to waver. They must default to the only intellectual escape possible, which is that God is mysterious and knows more than humankind, and so it isn’t the place of humanity to question this contradiction. It is for humanity to follow the things that are clear as well as the things that aren’t without fail. God will sort it out later.
TM: Yes, I believe you’ve stated that correctly according to what they believe. But is that correct?
Master Buddha: The question is presented incorrectly. Let me re-frame it. What is the role of religion for humanity and what is the role of social convention in creating laws that govern human behavior?
TM: So, you won’t just come right out with an answer to settle the question will you?
Master Buddha: I’m taking an approach that will help you understand the issue and formulate an answer. As we have stated previously in these conversations, the role of religion is to represent spiritual theories for individuals to ponder in an effort to expand their imaginations and range of possibilities for living a better life. Religions form from spiritual ideas and concepts, that in the pure state apply to an individual. Religions become social institutions because they are comprised of like-minded individuals. The purpose of which is to share and discuss the spiritual idea and concepts.
Humans have taken religions in this social form and expanded them into governance entities. Therein lies the problem. It sets up massive conflicts between different religions and between members of society who subscribe to those different religious beliefs. The only way for a system of religious-dominant laws to work without constant and violent conflict is too segregate inhabitants by religion and assign each to their own geographic place. Since that isn’t practical today, you must have a different way. Democratic societies have created a separation of religion and government. Ideally, this should work in a pluralistic religious society. But, it doesn’t work as perfectly as intended, because those who are aligned with religious beliefs that have been interpreted to guide their daily lives in an integrated society, immediately come in conflict with behaviors they find inconsistent with their beliefs. The resulting dissonance cries for resolution. They seek to alter laws to remove the dissonance.
TM: I can see why you’re not so popular with Christians and Muslims. From what I observe both religious groups would love for everyone to line up with them to rule the world according to their beliefs. In that scenario they could outlaw all the behaviors inconsistent with their beliefs and presumably find the harmony in governance.
Master Buddha: Well, secretly all religious groups wish for that scenario, but some are more vocal than others.
TM: Years ago when I visited Nepal and spent some time in Kathmandu, I noticed the incredible non-hostile melding of Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and Christians. But back to our topic. How do we bring this conversation to a conclusion?
Master Buddha: Gay marriage could only be subject to religious scrutiny within a purely religious context. Religious context is confined to individuals and their peers for introspection. Social institutions that are erected for governance must take into consideration that there are many types of life styles and it is the responsibility of government to create laws that promote harmony among the differences while removing violence. The fact that gays must seek legal sanction within your laws informs us that the separation between government and religion is not yet a reality.
TM: Will it ever be?
Master Buddha: It’s possible of course, but only when people representing religions surrender to living peacefully with others with different beliefs and abstain from their agendas of hegemony in thought and behavior.
TM: I’ve received quite a few inquiries about money and requests to talk about it. There has been a great body of writing on this from a spiritual perspective. What do you say to someone who asks, “What is the proper relationship to money, how much to have, how to use it, how to get it, etc.?”
Master Buddha: First of all, there isn’t just one way to view this because each person has his or her particular orientation to money given his or her life path. Anything I say must be understood as general statements and then I can offer examples of individual circumstances to show how some principles may apply.
As viewed from the spiritual perspective, meaning from a non-material realm, money is as worthless as a bicycle would be for travel across an ocean. It is purely a human creation. So your question presumes a spiritual oversight that doesn’t exist except in the form of advice and counsel that may be offered from time to time. That is the spirit in which I present these ideas today.
Let me attempt to simplify the concept of money in relation to a person. Humans have decided that money shall represent a value of some thing. Those things may include the physically inanimate object (house, car, etc.), a personal action (one’s labor), a promise for future delivery of value (speculation), restitution for past value (grievances resolved), a gift of love or social obligation, so on and so forth. The second premise is that the value of money shall equal approximately the value of that thing in the exchange. Sometimes the values are not equal, and if they are too unequal, then one or the other person feels either elated or cheated.
The third premise created by humans is a system of ethics regarding transactions between one another using money or the thing valued as the currency. This is a point of departure between the diverse cultures of the world. The one dominant force has been the Western philosophy governing the use of money. The ethics of the Western system have varied over the past two hundred years, but for the most part they have represented an idealism that while noble in its aim has not achieved its goal.
TM: So is it possible to answer my questions?
Master Buddha: I’m getting there, but needed to frame my response for clarity. The proper relationship to money must take on a general perspective representing larger society (we’ll call general ethics) and the particular relationship of an individual to money. From the general ethics, the idea of freedom to choose one’s occupation and one’s level of income and expense, is I think the best arrangement. As we have discussed in these conversations there is a point that one must consider that individual freedom intersects with group harmony. This means that it is necessary for individuals to contribute to the whole in a way that brings harmony to the whole and doesn’t disturb the peace of the many. This is the greatest insurance for all. The current system in Western society doesn’t achieve this goal, but with modification it could.
TM: I’m not clear on what you mean. Are you saying that there needs to be a balance in interest between the range of individual freedom and the needs of the whole population?
Master Buddha: Yes. For example, in Western society a person is permitted to amass unlimited wealth. On the other end of the scale a person is permitted to starve to death or die due to exposure to the elements because he cannot afford shelter. What is preventing Western society from implementing safeguards at the bottom end of the scale?
TM: We don’t allocate budget for it because we’ve determined other things are more important.
Master Buddha: And the contradiction is that your idealism states that you cherish life above all. Your military runs to all ends of the earth to rescue those in peril. Your governments send aid to foreign countries in an attempt to prevent starvation and lethal diseases from spreading. Yet in your own domestic domain you have families living in such poverty that their lives are at risk daily.
TM: It isn’t a perfect system for sure and most Westerners will agree that we can do more to clean up our domestic programs.
Master Buddha: What do you think is stopping you from doing this?
TM: We have an overly complicated and increasingly corrupt political system that can’t philosophically agree on just how much we are our brother’s keeper.
Master Buddha: It is first and foremost the obligation of your governments, using the general treasury, to prevent starvation and health-related problems derived from poverty. This cannot be left to the generosity and goodwill of individuals. It must begin with your domestic sphere first. It is there that you work out the ethics of being your brother’s keeper as you phrased it. Once you have mastered that step then sharing that wisdom with other cultures is a natural extension.
TM: We have the resources to do what you suggest, but not the collective resolve to do it.
Master Buddha: This is true, but you asked for a perspective on the proper relationship to money. You will have to work out the politics in order to deliver a just relationship.
TM: Okay then, maybe you can state what a person should be required to do in order to receive assistance that raises his status above poverty. That’s where we fail; we can’t agree on that. Some people say we should be self-reliant and others want to give to others with little or no requirements for self-responsibility. So, what is the answer?
Master Buddha: Ah you see, now you are into the business of designing a society that grapples with such ethical obligations yet stumbles at the final step failing to complete the mission. If the US government felt the collective will of its citizens favored a system whereby no citizen would be permitted to fall into poverty, could they achieve that?
Master Buddha: Then it must be that the collective will of its citizens do not favor such a system.
TM: How many citizens create a collective will?
Master Buddha: Enough that under your political system you could legislate and implement the system.
TM: Then you must be correct. Sadly it must be true. But you still haven’t answered my question of self-responsibility.
Master Buddha: Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. Your society has through its own design created an array of citizens from the genius to the infantile. Your society is responsible on a par level with the individuals that make up society. It will take many generations of enlightened governance to correct the mistakes and injustices created by past policies and practices. It will likewise take time for individuals to climb out of their ignorance or unfortunate circumstances due to conditions beyond their control.
Wandering your streets are the insane and the helpless. They cannot take responsibility for themselves in any way.
You have many people who are indolent and averse to responsibility through personal predilection and familial training. They will have to be educated on a new understanding of their responsibility.
You have a growing number who have turned to crime and are either incarcerated or among the general population. They will have to be educated, and until they are they will remain incarcerated because you have no other way to assimilate them.
There are those who through no fault of their own have fallen upon hard times due to major shifts in the economy. They will need to be retrained in new occupations and helped along the way.
When there are enough enlightened citizens there will be a more enlightened government and they will realize the long-term commitment required to correct your system. It is a race against the clock.
If you do nothing to correct this situation, because as a society you think it isn’t your responsibility, then you will suffer the consequences of doing nothing. The consequences will include a greater divide between the economic classes, thus more poverty; less efficacy in minimum education achievement among the lower classes; increased criminal activity; reduction of individual freedoms due to crime prevention measures; compartmentalization of community along class lines further reducing the efficacy of government and the erosion of community infrastructure. You can probably project from there what will transpire next.
If however, you find the collective will to make a long-term commitment to correction, then you will begin to see minor changes for the good. It will take patience beyond one, two or three generations. That is perhaps the greatest challenge for a society that has come to expect immediate gratifications of its goals (even though this hasn’t really been the case).
TM: What can you say to the questions regarding individuals and their relationship to money? What are some guidelines to follow is really what I’m asking.
Master Buddha: As individuals you must graduate through levels of ethical refinement regarding the role of money in your life. What is good for one person may not be good or right for another. For that reason do not be hasty in judging others for their view in earning or handling their money.
As Master Jesus and I have maintained throughout these conversations, release judgment from your view. Find your relationship to money based upon your path and your understanding and allow others to do the same without inveighing their choices. When you have come to peace with your relationship to money then you may offer a helping hand to others who may wish to hear from you.
Conversation with Buddha and TMichael: Anger Management
TM: May I ask about anger and its role in our lives and relationships? Will you begin with offering a definition of anger?
Master Buddha: What may seem obvious to most everyone is that anger is a reaction to not getting what you want when you want it or in the way you want it. It can be your fault, or it can be someone else’s fault. The second reflex of anger is retribution or evening the score to recover what you didn’t get plus a bonus for having suffered the agony of anger and inconvenience. There is also anger once removed, meaning on behalf of an injustice done to another for which you have a connection or affinity. The reflex of retribution is the same.
TM: I have a difficult time knowing when to express anger, that is, when it’s appropriate and when it isn’t. Sometimes I wonder whether or not anger is necessary or not, even though it seems to arise as an involuntary reaction.
Master Buddha: Let’s start with the involuntary reaction part of your statement and then move to the rest. Anger is a natural human emotion just like love, sadness, grief, joy, happiness, bliss, disappointment and others in the spectrum. They arise spontaneously as a reaction to what is happening in your life. This as a general statement is true for every human on earth. Then how do we account for the differences in reactions among people? Why do some people react violently to the slightest provocation and others almost not at all to severe events?
Humans share in common an emotional body that works in concert with your physical and mental bodies. There is an influence based upon one’s past life history—what must be experienced this lifetime? There is group connection—what must be worked out for this group of beings? There is the influence of parents, family and community that impacts one’s emotional body and conditions its reactions. Beyond these local influences, there is responsibility from humanity’s role on Earth.
The confluence of these many factors produce differences in reactions from one being to another.
As a social concern, there must be a range of acceptable reactions and for that humans have erected laws to regulate behavior. Within those laws one will find instances that permit retribution resulting in death of the offending party that passes as justifiable because of the provocation of anger and the acceptance that that person is not liable for such reactions, or as is in some cultures, entitled to the justice of the extreme reaction. Other cultures don’t condone anger reactions to that extent, but make some allowance for it that support the concept of it being involuntary if acted out spontaneously. There are also social customs below the threshold of laws that regulate behavior.
To answer your question of whether or not anger is necessary, we must ask to what purpose is it necessary.
TM: Some people I’ve spoken to about this usually say that expressing anger is natural and involuntary and that it releases the energy from you and that’s a good and natural thing, then you move on. Their assertion is that anger is within the constellation of natural human emotions as you just said and that we eventually evolve to the point that we can freely express anger without killing one another, but express we shall just like any other emotion.
Master Buddha: Would you say that as a rule, expression of anger has the potential to be more destructive in its effects than the expression of joy or sadness?
TM: In some cases yes. But maybe that’s because people overreact to some things due to repression of anger until they explode disproportionately.
Master Buddha: That’s possible, but let’s go back to your question to what purpose it serves and so is it necessary. If our definition of anger described the circumstances of anger, then let’s answer what is anger energetically? What purpose does the delivery of that energy serve?
Anger, energetically speaking springs from the desire nature, which in turn reflects human survival needs, and desires beyond the necessities of life. Anger is the defender of those personal and group needs and desires. If they are threatened, then anger arises to defend. Energetically, it is linked to desire and it does not discriminate between basic needs and frivolous wants without the help of the mental body. Anger at its root level, just is the defender that can be, when combined with mental energy, an impetus to aggression.
TM: In the desire nature and its list of wants, do you include things like dignity and respect?
Master Buddha: Yes, of course. That is a matter of ego interpretation of necessities that we have covered elsewhere.
I wish to draw your attention to the fact that anger derives its force and origin from its role as defender within the human realm of physical, emotional and mental.
TM: From that are you implying that anger doesn’t exist in other realms, such as spiritual?
Master Buddha: I say emphatically that anger does not exist in the spiritual realm because there is no need that goes unfulfilled.
TM: What about the whole Lucifer rebellion? That sounds like some needs unfulfilled.
Master Buddha: That was a matter of pride and desire, not of anger. It was a calculated, creative execution of a perceived right of domain. It failed.
TM: So spirits in the universe weren’t angry with Lucifer and his minions for disrupting and corrupting everything? I mean it seems like a major conflict and you’re saying there was no anger involved and I find that hard to believe.
Master Buddha: What can I say other than what I know to be true? There was disappointment in the whole affair, but not anger or retribution associated with anger. There were consequences that were accepted with responsibility by all involved.
TM: Okay. Please go back to your line of thought.
Master Buddha: Anger finds its origin in the human realm. Given that, we can look for its necessity there. Its purpose is to defend. But is that necessary?
TM: I think I know where you’re going. You’re going to argue that our desires aren’t necessary, neither is defense of them; so, anger isn’t necessary.
Master Buddha: That would be a difficult argument wouldn’t it? Many people would disagree that desires are unnecessary. What about basic survival needs? Don’t those need defending? Can’t anger be necessary for that?
TM: Yes, I suppose so. But couldn’t they be defended without anger? Why is anger necessary to arouse defense?
Master Buddha: Because it is. This is where humanity is right now. As the human race evolves closer and closer to its spiritual nature there will be a diminishment and eventually a disappearance of anger as the impetus for defense. Over time there has been and will continue to be this gradual receding of anger.
TM: I’m surprised. I never would have guessed that the official ‘Master’ position is that acting out anger is okey-dokey.
Master Buddha: Well, we have to cover this a bit more to qualify that position. I think what you’ll discover is that our understanding of human nature encompasses a realistic perspective of long term evolution of human characteristics and traits. The expression and use of anger as a defense mechanism is one. There are others.
TM: I think I need some elaboration on this, because it goes against what I believe.
Master Buddha: And you believe?
TM: Anger is a natural emotion arising from our attachment to what we desire and feel entitled to have. I don’t believe it’s necessary, but we are conditioned to express it, violently sometimes, and to accept it and actually be entertained by it. I believe there are ways to express anger without being harmful to others and that seeking revenge and retribution create more attachment to the experience. I agree this is an evolutionary process, but surely we at the point where we can see that anger isn’t necessary so that we can explore other ways of providing for our survival.
Master Buddha: Does it make you angry that others can’t see this point and share your belief?
TM: A little.
Master Buddha: This is one of those conundrums for which we can’t assert what should be based upon what we’d like it to be—it just is what it is. And at this point in human evolution there is a substantial number among the world population that experience anger differently from the belief you have stated and it’s going to take some time for the weight to shift. In the meantime there is progress toward peaceful solutions among people who have recognized, if nothing else, that peaceful solutions grant more security to the protection of needs and wants than it does by using anger and retribution. It’s a start. You don’t make the shift by being angry or judgmental towards those who still regard anger, violence, war, or force as the natural solution to feeling threatened. It is the natural solution for those grounded in the materiality of humanity, and that is the majority population of the world.
It will change over time through the enduring examples by those who have mastered peaceful solutions to threatening situations. It will happen. Patience is required.
TM: It always requires patience doesn’t it?
Master Buddha: Patience and a non-judgmental perspective.
Conversation with Jesus and TMichael on Sexuality in Western Society (Part 2)
TM: We left off in the first conversation talking about infidelity, divorce, and the role of guilt, shame and judgment within a heterosexual marriage (also monogamous relationship). What would you like to add to that part before we move on?
Master Jesus: What do you wish to know?
TM: Is there anything that husbands and wives, lovers, mates can do to better understand the contemporary shifts occurring around sexuality within their relationships that would help them provide more joy for themselves and their families?
Master Jesus: First of all, they can stop and recognize that there are many changes going on in Western culture and that as much as each one is a part of the shift each one is also affected by the shift. This requires compassion for all, even when one feels more affected and less the one producing the effects. This wouldn’t be so difficult if there weren’t so many changes occurring simultaneously in your society. The compounding of so much cultural shift is devastating to sensitive ones and challenging to everyone. There was a time when most people knew their place in society and knew the code of behavior that went with it. This has been disintegrating for some time now and it is blurry for most people.
This is why you see a severe clinging to groups and organizations that emphasize the ways of the past. It’s an effort to put the brakes on rapid changes. So, for those of you who feel changes are not happening quickly enough to satisfy your desires, have compassion for those who feel it is happening too quickly and they want relief from the compression of fear.
I can tell you the number of prayers that are uttered each day to slow down society’s speed of change and to return to better days. Also, I can tell you the number of ones that wish for it to speed up to get to the point of new awakening and joy. The goals are the same; both types want peace and joy in their lives. They have different tolerances and notions of how to get there. Have compassion for each other.
TM: So, what is the most significant change with sexuality between marriage/life mate partners?
Master Jesus: The most significant change will be equality between the genders. The imbalance of male dominance as the authority will give way to equality. This is not easy, as has been evidenced over the past one hundred years and more specifically in the past fifty years. Some men are reluctant to give up this power and some women are all too anxious to take it from them abruptly. It will work out steadily over time. There are a great number of people of both genders who embrace this and make it work in their daily lives even though they don’t see it routinely supported in society at large. That will change as more and more people shift into this mode and more examples and reinforcement are evident.
TM: What kind of time frame are you suggesting?
Master Jesus: I’m not suggesting a time frame, but pointing out the process. Time is shifting according to the acts and acceptance of all those beings in the process. Understand the process and where it is going and do what you can to support and encourage it with love and compassion for how difficult it is for everyone.
TM: To continue with heterosexual relations, is sexuality between men and women more about social adjustment right now rather than sex acts (physically speaking)?
Master Jesus: It always has been, it’s just more exaggerated now given the major shift we just discussed. There are the basic physical acts between partners and those are important in conveying intimacy, tenderness, comfort, passion, intensity, joy and an array of emotions that spring from each person and from togetherness. But sexuality is not confined to those acts and represents attraction on all levels. Whether or not this is registered, depends on the conscious awareness of the partners. In other words, there are energetic exchanges occurring on many levels and some people are aware and others are not.
You’ll witness the current interest in tantric sexual practices, which is an effort to connect to the many levels of consciousness available. The emotional level most people experience, but many still are blocked in this way. Others are primarily attracted to the mental level. These are represented by fantasy exploration and imaginative experimentation. The spiritual level is rarely if ever experienced by humans. Those who do experience it have a difficult time describing it to others because it is beyond your normal sensual range.
TM: Is the spiritual level more related to the emotional level?
Master Jesus: Yes, in that it is a hyper-feeling sensation. Yet it is beyond the one-to-one experience of the physical sex act; meaning that what many mystics reported in their experience of rapture, a feeling oneness with all, is closer to the reference.
Conversation with Jesus and TMichael: Sexuality in Western Society (Part 1)
TM: I realize that we may not be able to cover this topic in one conversation, but at least we can start. Please talk about the role of sex in Western society. Specifically, what do you observe as the general state of sexual health among our population?
Master Jesus: This is sure to provoke more than a few people who stand in judgment of sexuality when it deviates from their spectrum of acceptable behavior. Likewise, those who feel that anything goes will likely rise in defense of their personal honor if Master Buddha or I speak disapprovingly of their behavior. You’re right in that it will require several conversations in order to present a full picture of the state of sexuality in Western society. It is not our intent to approve or disapprove of human sexual behavior, but we can speak to what we observe from a perspective of what is serving humankind positively and what isn’t.
TM: Okay, that’s fair enough. I didn’t expect either of you speak from a judgmental perspective, but certainly some folks hope that you will. So, back to my question, do you want to begin with an overview?
Master Jesus: Ask a more specific question and let it lead us into what you really want to know.
TM: It seems that over the past century we’ve come through some dynamic changes from a moralistic and conservative view of sexuality to a liberal, more open view. Even though I know that doesn’t represent everyone, I’m referring to the norm. Has that shift been beneficial to our society?
Master Jesus: Yes, Western society has made a dramatic turn, more so than you are implying in your question. Observing from our perspective it is quite astounding. Most people will agree that there have been some benefits as a result of the shift, while others believe it has planted the seeds of ruination for your society. As with most subjects, there is a little bit of truth found in all points of view. But let’s see if we can shed some light on the various parts to indicate what has been beneficial and what needs to be adjusted to provide future benefits.
First of all, it’s difficult to speak about human sexuality without carefully painting a context for each part. For this part, let us talk about heterosexual conditions within the institution of marriage and romantic relationships in which there isn’t a marriage.
It’s clear from our perspective that many benefits have accrued to married and unmarried men and women from the shift in attitudes about sex over the past fifty years. However, with the relaxing of judgment and guilt around sexual behavior there has sprung up a great deal of confusion. This confusion has contributed to a lot of stress and tension between men and women over their respective roles. Over time this will work out and the major benefit will be a sense of equality. This was missing before the shift and has been slowly coming after a sudden lunge forward. The natural reaction has been two-fold. One is an opening of the floodgates to celebrate the release of age-old restrictions and the second is a recoiling of restriction to maintain the old ways. There is a growing middle that represents the balance between the two extremes.
TM: I agree with your observation. But there still seems to be a guilt-shame axis running through sexuality.
Master Jesus: Yes, this is true. But keep in mind that it is less than it was only fifty years ago. And fifty years from now you will observe even greater erosion in the role shame, judgment and guilt play in the enforcement of restrictions in sexual relations.
TM: But there are some folks who will argue that shame, judgment and guilt are sturdy enforcers and that we shouldn’t allow them to erode. If anything, we should reinforce their power to keep good people in line and get bad ones back in line.
Master Jesus: Shame, judgment and guilt have been the faithful servants of a philosophy that people are inherently bad and need the threat of punishment in order to deter them from wrongdoing. The problem in that philosophy arises in that it forces a belief contrary to the true nature of humankind, which then conditions you to perceive yourselves in constant need of redemption. The fatigue that comes from such an exercise is understandable. But the greatest harm is that it stunts your growth because you are constantly vigilant for wrongdoing and judging one another in an effort to correct or prevent wrongdoing. Add to that you have identified things as wrong that are social conventions created out of ignorance in some cases, and then perpetuated through superstition.
TM: But some things that have become social conventions regarding marriage have served to build families and then community, haven’t they?
Master Jesus: Shall we keep the context to sexuality so that what I am saying does not get confused with statements about marriage in and of itself?
TM:Yes, that’s what I meant.
Master Jesus: Let’s take the social convention of sexual monogamy, or partner exclusivity within a relationship. This is for the purpose of forming a family unit comprised of a husband and wife with one or more offspring. It provides a tight unity and strength to weather challenges on many fronts, economic, health, etc. It does that while at the same time connecting to families once removed from the immediate family. This forms a larger family unit that again provides reinforcement to the core family unit. Containment of sexual partners to the husband and wife ensure this family unity by restricting the likelihood of offspring from various sexual relations.
What protects this arrangement is fidelity to one sexual partner during the lifetime of the family. What has disrupted this pattern is a loosening of the shame grip on divorce and the subsequent remarriage and combining of families from more than a single pair of parents. In some cases this new family unit shares the connection with as much grace as a family unit from single parentage. In other cases, this is not true. Infidelity is the chief cause of hostility between marriage partners and can last a lifetime. Fidelity is considered a sacred trust and when one partner betrays that trust, the sense of betrayal is felt by the extended family and in some instances by the community at large.
TM: I think wounded pride, loss of self-esteem, shame, embarrassment and ego also play a part in this.
Master Jesus: Without question this is true. However, those personal components are activated because of the larger context of social convention that defines what causes shame for an individual or disgrace upon the family.
TM: So, you’re saying what some folks argue is that shame of getting a divorce kept the family together through tough times and in turn preserved the family values of unity and strength.
Master Jesus: You keep leaping over the sexual issues and grasp for the marriage issues beyond sexuality. We can have that conversation if you like.
TM: Thanks for keeping me on topic. Let’s stay focused on sexuality because it’s expansive enough as it is. So, you were saying that infidelity, that is, marriage or romantic partners who don’t honor sexually monogamous agreements, create discord within their relationship and the family and is likely the eventual cause for divorce. Most people would agree. What’s the point?
Master Jesus: The point is that if you take the social convention of sexual monogamy as a sacred trust and then violate it, you begin the breakdown of that institution. If it becomes widespread, then more rapidly does it breakdown. Once shame is removed as a barrier to divorce the offending mate, then you compound the acceleration of breakdown. Shame and guilt once prevented the infidelity, but in most societies males were often excused from this public humiliation. Although, this isn’t entirely the case. Witness the standard that your politicians must withstand in this regard. The general public still holds the sacred trust of fidelity as an accepted standard for your leaders, while lessening its application to your peers. And divorce is still considered a shameful failure in some circles.
To summarize, you began with the question of what is the health of your general population in regards to sexuality. We have taken a part of that in order to avoid generalizing across all relationships. Now we are only talking about heterosexual relations; specifically long-term monogamous relations. We are discussing the role of fidelity to a monogamous agreement and the results of infidelity. Are you ready to continue?
TM: As usual I want to know where this is going.
Master Jesus: I ask for your patience. In order to have some understanding you must go through the exercise of discovering what your beliefs are around sexuality in marriage. There must be some context in order to gain that understanding and to draw out your beliefs.
Conversation with Buddha and TMichael: Truth and Trust
TM: I can see upon reflection of what you have said about reincarnation and karma that I had a notion that it was a form of punishment to correct wrongdoing, or reward for good things done. And one has to come back time and time again to get it right. That’s not it though, is it?
Master Buddha: Getting it right, meaning purifying your essence while in material form, and consequently purifying your material form would be one way to see it. Punishment and reward is wholly a human concept.
TM: But we have so many stories of God(s) punishing people for all sorts of things they did wrong, or for disobeying God(s). How do we change our orientation toward that model?
Master Buddha: I don’t know. You could just give it up because it no longer serves you.
TM: Well, that’s just too easily said. Much harder to do I think.
Master Buddha: You have to make that choice whether to hold on to what you once knew and cherished as truth or to embrace a new idea that better suits your current state.
TM: How do you know when it’s time to do that?
Master Buddha: Ask yourself, what is the worst that could happen if I embrace this new thought? Can you not retrieve the old one? Who gave you all these rules that you must rigidly follow?
TM: I suppose at some point I accepted them as truth and have clung to them because I want to live according to truth.
Master Buddha: Truth shifts with you. It is not a fixed thing that you can cling to and drag it around. Truth represents reality. But remember that your journey on Earth in material form presents you with an avalanche of illusion. You must be adaptable and truth seeking, not truth-clinging.
TM: Don’t you have to have something to hold onto for just a little while? I mean, isn’t truth-seeking a truth to follow? When would you give that up?
Master Buddha: As soon as I believe it no longer serves me. And service to me could mean something very different than when I adopted truth-seeking in the first place. You like many others are afraid of losing control and so you place limits; you reduce meaning and experience. Reincarnation and karma allow for a non-judgmental experience of life in material form. If you are fluid enough in your orientation you can experience all that there is in the world of illusion in a very short time. If you’re not, then you can take a long time to spin around in the same space until you realize that is what you’re doing.
TM: How do we know which truths to trust and to follow?
Master Buddha: You don’t know based upon trust do you? You know based upon deliberation in a mental process. You know based upon what has been handed down through the ages in the form of teachings and social norms. You know according to your familial orientation. And you know according to what serves your ego.
If you knew based upon trust, you would not need those other inputs would you?
TM: So you’re implying that I need to find trust first?
Master Buddha: The ego does not trust; it scans. It searches high and low for signs of agreement or disagreement with its agenda. It will play any role that serves to maintain its primacy. It is, in fact, the most worthy foe of any one you could meet. And it is who you think you are.
Trust is incongruent with ego. That is, unconditional trust is in congruent with ego. Trust based upon conditions and waivers abound with the ego. To seek truth with such a handicap is nearly impossible if not maddening.
In ancient cultures, trust was based upon instinct. With modern civilization, the mental faculty has replaced instinct. Beyond the mental faculty you will discover the true seat of trust for your purposes of living on Earth. Then you may choose truths based upon trust.
Conversation with Buddha and TMichael: Fear of Death and Life
TM: How does one accept death and the will to live at the same time?
Master Buddha: That’s not so easy to explain or understand. The reason is because of attachment to living and then attachment to accepting death in order to be free from fear. There is, in between the actual truth of acceptance of death and the first step, a period of elation at no longer sensing any fear around dying. When the fear of dying has so long ruled the physical life it is quite a relief to no longer walk in fear of it. However, there will come a test. And that test will present an option to die or an option to live and that is when you’ll discover how attached you are to the notion of dying versus the notion of living and which one actually carries the most fear. There are two parts to the fear aspect of living in the flesh. The first is fear of dying and that preoccupies all your thoughts, emotions and energy to avoid its actuality. Then there comes the fear of living, which exposes all the painful self-inadequacies. That’s enough to make one embrace death, now no longer feared, as an escape from the fear of living.
Just as one has to face the fear of death, one has to face the fear of living. The fear of living is the more difficult of the two because it is more difficult to imagine. Death is universally the same, except perhaps in the actual method or circumstances of death. Living on the other hand can be a slow form of death or a joyous expression of all that is. You can choose which it is. Again, just because one has the power to choose doesn’t make it easier. You must understand what it is that you are choosing and have the skills to choose according to your individual nature.
TM: So, my question assumed there was no fear of living, only fear of dying. How does the will to live then resolve with the fear of living?
Master Buddha: The will to live requires no effort because it is your innate spiritual will, which in the flesh is instinctual. The fear of living is concerned with those matters of quality and choice. How shall one live? What occupation shall one choose to provide the essentials of living? Shall one create a family, a marriage? What will engage my thoughts and my energy? Those are the questions of living that determine the quality of one’s life.
TM: Where do the self-inadequacies come in?
Master Buddha: That is the lifetime struggle for most humans. It depends greatly upon the wisdom of one’s parents and the living environment that one is exposed to during one’s formative years. But even under the best of circumstances it is unavoidable to deal with self-inadequacy to some degree. In the middle, that which is normal, one sees that before a child reaches school age already the seeds of self-inadequacy are planted and many more shall also be planted during the years of attending school. This is a tremendous challenge to change because parents are still struggling with their own self-inadequacies while trying to raise children, schools are populated with adults who are struggling with their own self-inadequacies and of course the children are in the thick of it as well.
TM: So, if I understand what you’re saying, it is self-inadequacy that is the root of our fear of living, not fear of dying.
Master Buddha: Fear of death is first, but it’s a mask for fear of living based upon self-inadequacies. One must first confront fear of death and then begin the process of awareness of self-inadequacies and correction in order to reach the joy of living instead of the fear of living.
TM: What similarity is there between self-confidence and self-adequacy? In Western culture anyway, adequate is mediocre and not good enough if one is to get ahead in life. So where does this reconcile?
Master Buddha: Well, adequacy is a relative term in this case. If the standard in Western society is excellence then that is what is meant by adequate, that is one must be excellent to be self-adequate.
Self-confidence can be genuine or a rationalization that one has created to cover for self-inadequacy. There are only a handful of truly self-confident people, those who have mastered the fear of death and the fear of living. Most people are spread along the spectrum of self-confident, yet still self-inadequate underneath, to self-inadequate as a constant in their daily lives. The meaning of self-confident is to be truthful with one’s self. So, in that case, there can be a conscious level of self-confidence and fears around self-inadequacy at the same time. What I mean, is that you can be aware of your perception of self-inadequacy and still be self-confident in an honest way. That is the point of transition that many people find themselves now. They are exploring self-awareness, which leads to coming face to face with their self-inadequacies, which is giving them a genuine self-confidence that they are progressing toward joy in living. It’s not always perfect and there is still illusion, but it is in the right direction.
TM: Can any of us really be inadequate?
Master Buddha: That’s for each person to determine.
TM: Yes, but we’ve determined for the most part that we are inadequate and you’re saying that’s a problem. So, clearly we’re incapable of making this judgment.
Master Buddha: And by what standards have you determined that you are inadequate?
TM: We set the standard by looking around us and seeing the ones among us who are adequate and then compare ourselves to them.
Master Buddha: And how do you know what makes someone adequate?
TM: We’ve determined through our social consensus the traits that are desirable and those are the ones that form the foundation of our adequacy. Then there are individual traits that one can have that deviate from the social norm that enhance our adequacy.
Master Buddha: So, under your system the guidelines are derived by social consensus and then measured by each of you as you see it in others in contrast to yourself. Do you see others who are less adequate than you are?
TM: Of course we do. There are others who are more and some who are less.
Master Buddha: Have you ever heard someone say really flattering things about you and you felt those things weren’t true?
TM: At first it feels good to hear those things, but there have been times then when I doubt those things are entirely true, maybe a little.
Master Buddha: Do you tell yourself about your qualities that make you adequate?
TM: Not often, but sometimes.
Master Buddha: Do you tell yourself about the times you are inadequate?
TM: Probably more so than the other way.
Master Buddha: Why is that?
TM: Because I’m inadequate more often than not?
Master Buddha: Well, you were a good sport to fall into my trap on this one. Although I know that a part of you believes there is much truth in what you said. It’s hard in this world to counter the many messages of self-inadequacy. And that’s what everyone wants the most, to feel adequate and have others recognize them for this. It’s understandable that if you are telling yourself than you are inadequate that you would turn to others to get the feedback that you are adequate. What happens though when they confirm your belief that you are inadequate?
TM: That’s the worse when it all coincides to tell you that. That’s the worse kind of depression and despair I think; to feel worthless and incapable of living a good life.
Master Buddha: You have a fairly simple prayer that you recite to accept yourself as you are and know you are loved. Because ultimately adequacy has to do with being lovable, don’t you think?
TM: Are you saying they are synonymous?
Master Buddha: I think so, even though adequacy has to do with a performance of talents that in total can make you lovable, what is someone if they are adequate but unlovable? Are they happy? What if they conform to all of the social standards of adequacy, yet they don’t feel others see them in that light and they don’t experience love in their lives?
TM: Well, that pretty much sucks. So you become bitter or you try harder and harder to prove your adequacy, and lovability I guess.
Master Buddha: What is the prayer that you recite?
TM: It’s Love in Abundance. There’s one line in particular that resonates with me in terms of self-acceptance and self-love. “I am that I am and thus receive the blessings of love in abundance.” If I’m feeling critical or judgmental of myself, I often recite that line with a substitution for “that I am”. It could be, “I am selfish and inconsiderate and thus receive the blessings of love in abundance.” It has the effect for me of embracing the worse things I could think about myself in love and then I just feel love and not the power of the criticism or judgment.
Background Conversation with Jesus and TMichael: Love and Loneliness (Part 1)
This is the third conversation with Masters Jesus and Buddha. I’m never sure how it’s going to start. I sit. And wait. I think of things to say but they’re not really the things to say only forced ideas that my mind impatiently pushes into the foreground to get it going. But then a question springs up and that’s the beginning.
Conversation with Jesus and TMichael: Love and Loneliness (Part 1)
TM: Why are people in my culture so lonely and are people in other cultures lonely too?
Master Jesus: That’s a good question. Relevant for many people, yet misunderstood in this age of plenty and hectic daily living. As I look at the times that have passed and note that throughout human history and human suffering, never has there been as much loneliness relative to so much material and social progress. How could this be?
TM: That was my question.
Master Jesus: Don’t you have an idea why it is so?
TM: I don’t really know. I observe people who are lonely and I feel sad for them. Sometimes I see people who are surrounded by friends and family and still they are lonely. They’ve somehow lost contact in a way that they don’t know if they exist or not I suppose. I’ve had moments when I felt alone, but they seemed fleeting like a day or two and then I remembered something that connected me and I was back.
Master Jesus: Do you imagine hope has anything to do with the feeling of loneliness?
TM: I don’t think so, but since you brought it up I imagine that you think it has something to do with it. Do you?
Master Jesus: No I don’t. But I can tell you that people who are experiencing loneliness feel as if there is no hope for them. They are hopelessly isolated.
TM: If that’s so, then hope does have something to do with it.
Master Jesus: Really? And how is that?
TM: Well, if there’s an absence of hope, then hope has something to do with it then hope has something to do with it—the reason why they’re feeling lonely.
Master Jesus: What if they’re wrong? What if hope is just something that fills the gap in a perception of life filled with holes? What if hope merely replaces for a moment the underlying sense of despair that is the theme of a disjointed view of life?
TM: Yes, but that is the point of hope. It’s sort of a wild card, a get out of jail free card. It bails you out when you don’t know exactly what has you down, whether it’s loneliness or depression or sadness. Hope is a handy antidote.
Master Jesus: That’s an interesting way to view it. I see love fulfilling that promise. So is hope a bridge then to something else?
TM: I guess so in a way. It’s getting out of someplace, an emotional place that feels yucky. I’d say it’s more of an escape “out of” rather than a bridge. Although I think in order for it to work, obviously it has to be a bridge to something better than the thing that one is getting out of. But since you brought up love, how is that different from hope? Isn’t it the promise of something better but in a more generalized way?
Master Jesus: Love is more than the promise of something better. It is all there is. Any other state is a creation of someone who isn’t connected consciously with the only state there is. So that that doesn’t confuse you, let me state it another way. When you are experiencing loneliness, fear, doubt, depression or sadness, you have created those states, but they’re not real. They’re illusions. Love is real and the only state.
TM: When you say they’re not real and love is, what do you mean? What does ‘real’ mean?
Master Jesus: The limitations of language are real. ‘Real’ means the genuine thing, the enduring, absolute thing. It is the be all, end all. There can be no other. Something is unreal when it poses as something real. Sadness poses as reality, and so does loneliness. Those states pretend to be real to give you the experience of what it would be like if they were real.
TM: That’s fine for you to say, but how can we know that is true? When people are lonely or sad they are those things. That is a real experience.
Master Jesus: I see how you trap yourself in believing that those states are as real as love. Let’s say that only one thing can be real. Let’s also say that everything other than that thing is unreal. The only reason you would believe that the unreal things are real is that you believe the real thing is unreal.
TM: Now you’re messing with my head. I don’t follow you. I know love is real. When I experience love I know it and it’s real. Then there can be a moment when I experience loneliness and it’s different than love and for that moment it is real and love isn’t activated or present, at that moment, so the other thing is and it’s real. Why can’t they all be real?
Master Jesus: So, by your reasoning all things are real and none are unreal?
TM: Yes, I guess that’s true.
Master Jesus: But only one of them can be real at one time, is that it?
TM: For the most part, yes. But I think there are times when I experience more than one state at a time, or there’s some overlap. Often I can sense the transition from one state to another.
Master Jesus: What causes the shift then, from one to another?
TM: I don’t know, it just shifts. Thoughts trigger the shift I suppose.
Master Jesus: And you create the thoughts, is that correct?
Master Jesus: And you create the thoughts with the intent to shift from one state to another, or is it involuntary?
TM: Well, mostly I think if you’re depressed or lonely then you’re motivated to shift out and so it’s a conscious act. If you’re in a happy or joyous state and you start to slip into another state it seems more of an unconscious act. I mean people basically want to be happy and so they strive to stay that way. If they’re sad they try to get to the happy state.
Master Jesus: I noticed you used happy and joy, not love. Why is that?
TM: I remember what you’ve said, that happy and joy are states of love.
Master Jesus: So does that make love a meta-state?
TM: Could be I guess.
Master Jesus: If love is a meta-state and happiness and joy are states that reflect love, then what meta-state does loneliness and despair reflect? Or do you consider them to be meta-states?
TM: I consider them to be undesirable states. But I don’t know the answer, maybe they reflect evil.
Master Jesus: Now we’re getting somewhere. So, you believe then that love and evil are the meta-states and from those the others come into momentary reflection?
TM: I wasn’t aware that I thought that, but maybe I do or maybe I just don’t know and you’re putting words into my mouth. I have never thought that deeply about it. I guess I’m like most people I just live my life from one state to the next trying to stay a little longer in the good ones and avoiding the undesirable ones.
Master Jesus: Well, that’s an honest answer and one that represents the majority, if not all, the human race. But surely you have thought deeply about these things, as have others. Is it that you don’t trust the conclusions you’ve reached?
TM: I think it’s more like I’ve never really concluded anything. I resort to the old story of love and evil, good and bad, happy and sad, because that’s easier than risking a new story that may not be true. And at least the old one is accepted by nearly everyone.
Master Jesus: It’s time to risk a new story. I think you already have, but you’re not sure whether or not you want to tell it. What if you’re wrong, right? Then you’ve duped yourself and everyone else who believed you. I’ve told it and others have told it. It gets changed a little here and there so that it looks more like the old story to make it more comfortable for everyone. So, I’ll tell it again.
TM: Please do. I’m willing to listen. Is this going to answer my original question about loneliness?
Master Jesus: Yes, and more. Love is all there is in this universe. It is the meta-state. Every other state of emotion you experience is either a reflection of love, or it is a state you have individually and collectively created in order to experience that which isn’t love. Evil is the creation of humanity and is unreal. It appears real because you believe it is as part of your collective agreement to do so.
You experience life one moment at a time on Earth. You experience life on more than the Earth dimension. The meta-state of love is on all dimensions. You create within the realm of Earth during your incarnation here. Your creation does not extend beyond this dimension. You can choose to create with love or you can choose to create with that which is not love. At the point when your creation is purely from love then your boundary of creation will expand. That is the moment we are all waiting and working for.
The challenge of humanity is to synthesize all that is in your human nature with all that is in your spiritual nature. Love is in both and will temper the fusion. Give up your addiction to your own creation when it isn’t in alignment with love.