Thoughts: Compassion is spiritually superior to love and forgiveness

spiritual fiction compassion love buddhism christianity metaphysical new age novels

The Eastern principle of compassion is spiritually more mature than the Western principles of love and forgiveness in terms of social interaction. In short, in order to love and forgive you must believe that you and I are separate and that I can judge you. For example, I feel superior to you because I love and forgive you whether you deserve it or not. In Buddhism, however, there is no place for judgment. In order to feel compassion, you must recognize that there is no separation between you and the person you are interacting with, which requires a higher level of spiritual maturity.

Love and forgiveness beget judgment

Many people say that the primary (and some say, only) rule of Christianity is Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31–“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” which includes love and forgiveness. The two cannot be separated. In order to love unconditionally, you also must forgive unconditionally. However, forgiveness requires separation, which opens the door to judgment: God says I must love and forgive you–even you haven’t earned it–so I can become a better person. You bestow your love and forgiveness upon others as if it were a gift, and in return you feel superior. For spiritually immature individuals, then, forgiveness legitimizes judgment and feeds the ego’s desire to feel righteous and superior.

The emotions of separation and judgment are present when a parent teaches a child to love and forgive. Children learn to act as if they love and forgive, and their reward is parental approval and a sense of superiority. This relationship of the Father to his children is key in Christianity.

Compassion, however, is what the parent feels for the child. As a parent, of course you love and forgive your child. That is never in question. Your children are part of you, and you are part of them. A well-adjusted parent cannot not feel love and forgiveness, no matter what the child does.

Mature spiritual growth, then, means to evolve beyond God-as-Father and be the Father/parent–“be as God” (Genesis 3:5). Spiritually evolved individuals are able to experience compassion, for they recognize we are all connected. We are all part of each other, the world, and the universe, as the parent and child are part of each other. Therefore there is no need to give love and forgiveness, because those emotions are implicit when all things are connected.

Buddhism embodies compassion

A more profound spiritual growth is required to practice compassion. In Tibetan Buddhism, compassion is defined as wanting others to be free from suffering; the Latin word for “compassion” means “co-suffering” (Wikipedia). To be compassionate, you must feel empathy and recognize that there is no separation between you and the person you are interacting with. Everyone is on the same long journey of self-discovery; we all have made the same mistakes, and we all are doing the best that we can at this time.

Of course, the world is full of many spiritually evolved Christians (and atheists, and Muslims and so on), and they interact at the level of compassion.

How to live in compassion

When you meet someone and become frustrated or angered, you remember that, not only does a deep connection bind you both in the way a parent is bonded with a child, but you also understand, at the deepest level in your being, that you are that other person: At some point in the infinite universe, you have shared the same breath, the same physical space, the same atoms. And at some point in your infinite lifetimes, you have been that person: the zealot warrior, abusive husband, conniving merchant. You comprehend that you truly are that person (although not in this time or space) and you do not judge that person or see them as separate from yourself.

You understand what drives people at the core of their being, and you remember that you have experienced those motivations as well. You empathize deeply with them and feel overwhelming compassion–the same compassion you feel when you witness your children learn a difficult lesson.

Compassion sometimes means not interfering

You may wish you could lessen another person’s suffering. But you know you cannot, the same way you know you cannot take away the pain of your child’s first love, or rejection, or failure. You know they must experience those emotions and resolve the conflict themselves in order to learn. And all you can do is empathize with them, understand their missteps, and love them with all your being.

But you also experience their successes and their joys. As such, every interaction with every living thing is filled with pain and suffering but also with love, triumph, appreciation. And you focus on the good, and recognize that often the best way to help is to not interfere in their journey.

A note from PJ: This is the first time I’ve ventured into expressing my own openions. Am I off base? I’d love some feedback on this notion. Thanks, all.

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Fourth Awakening: New series features enlightened souls

Fourth Awakening Chronicles Novella Pennington metaphysical fiction spiritual novel

The Fourth Awakening series just got an exciting little brother. Authors Rod Pennington and Jeffery A. Martin have launched The Fourth Awakening Chronicles, a series of novellas based on the characters and concepts explored in the full-length novel The Fourth Awakening. The story picks up where the second novel in The Fourth Awakening series, The Gathering Darkness, leaves off. Each novella features a person who has arrived at the fourth awakening.

The Fourth Awakening has been the Amazon Kindle #1 Bestseller in “New Age > Mysticism” in the US for three years and in the UK  for two years. Rod Pennington, author of 11 novels, graciously granted me an interview.

Why novellas?

What we wanted to do with the Chronicles series is introduce some Enlightened Archetypes. There seemed to be some misconception that all enlightened souls wear Birkenstocks, eat organic granola and hum Kumbaya all day. Nothing could be further from the truth. By using short fiction, the reader can focus on a single enlightened person and we’ll attempt to explain how they arrived at that point and what it means.

Will the novellas eventually become a novel?

While each Chronicle will focus on an archetype and the story will be complete and free-standing, it will be part of a bigger story. I plan to do the first six Chronicles and then have them published in an anthology.  This would be roughly the equivalent of a 100,000 word novel. The best way to describe what we’re reaching for would be the old “Fugitive” TV series. Dr. Kimball will have a new adventure with each episode but will never stop searching for the one-armed man. The over-story is as quickly as Penelope can find enlightened people to interview, they mysteriously disappear. Who is doing this and why will be a huge element of the plot.

What will you accomplish by changing to this format?

In first book in the series, The Fourth Awakening [read this site’s review], we gave an overview of the current science and a brief history lesson about the three previous Awakenings. This book has been wildly popular and has been the #1 Kindle Bestseller in “New Age Mysticism” in the US for over 3 straight years and 2 years in the UK. The Gathering Darkness has also been a #1 Bestseller but because of the content hasn’t had the popularity of the first book. It is basically a road map that anyone can follow to become enlightened. But because it requires hard work and makes it clear all of your personal demons must be confronted and dealt with, many who are looking for “instant Karma” just don’t get it. Or don’t want to.

By using the “Chronicle” format, we will be able to show the wide range of enlightened people who are walking amongst us. There is no cookie-cutter or one-size-fits-all answer. There are people who spend a lifetime in prayer and meditation who never get there. While there are people who have never been to a yoga class or even church in decades who step off a curb in Milwaukee and before their foot reaches the pavement are fully enlightened. There is also a sub-group of enlightened people who have no idea they are enlightened. Some attain enlightenment and lose it. Others attain enlightenment and reject it.

What we want to do is show how real flesh-and-blood people deal with enlightenment. We’re going to kick over some rocks and shine lights in some dark places people try to never look. For example, Chronicle II will feature a man who after becoming enlightened walks out on his wife and family, then point out that is exactly what the Buddha did as well. We want to make the bigger point that the path to enlightenment is not all lollipops and rainbows. To get there, something things must be rejected and often the things you hold the most dear may be exactly what is holding you back.

What do you think has kept you on Amazon’s Bestsellers lists for so long?

 The Fourth Awakening was written with classic Joseph Campbell “myth” pacing. It was intended to be a timeless story where you have the reluctant hero, Penelope, who meets the wise old man, Michael Walker, and they set out on an epic adventure. These kinds of stories resonate on a primal level. Other examples of this writing style would be “Star Wars” or the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. It is the kind of story that could have been told around a campfire 10,000 years ago.  Interestingly, the people who get it, really get it and those who don’t, don’t. There is very little middle ground in the reviews.

The hardest part about writing this novel was I made the conscious decision to not have any violence, no foul language and no gratuitous sex. Since nearly every thriller or suspense story opens with a body on the sidewalk, it was exceedingly difficult to maintain tension and drive the storyline. Fortunately, because violence has become such a part of modern fiction, I was able use the expectation of violence to build the tension to keep the plot moving.

What draws you to metaphysical fiction?

 I’ve been drawn to [spiritual/metaphysical fiction] because I see so much harm fakes and charlatans are doing to vulnerable people. Most of the “self-help” material on the market is utter claptrap that may work on a rare occasion but more often than not will do more harm than good. When I see a group of smooth talkers getting rich feeding off the souls of people desperate for a lifeline who will believe anything, it makes my blood boil.

Most people way over-think all of this. Everything you need to know to lead a life of abundance is right in front of you if you will simply calm your mind. Release the negatives in your life, forget about them and move on.

Rod Pennington has published 11 novels, one novella, and two screenplays. In addition to The Fourth Awakening series he recently launched a new dark comedy series about a dysfunctional family of four of the world’s best assassins working as the enforcement arm for a shadowy Zen cabal that has been around for thousands of years: A Family Reunion (The First Three Charon Family Adventures).

Wonderous words: Mahatma Gandhi

Book review: Mayan Interface

Award-winning visionary thriller a rollicking, thought-provoking read

mayan-interface-coleman-perrin-visionary-fiction-metaphysical-novel-spiritual-fictionRating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

“Mayan Interface,” a new spiritual thriller from Wim Coleman and Pat Perrin, is a wonderful example of the growing genre of visionary fiction. Winner of the 2012 Silver Medal for Adventure Fiction from Living Now Book Awards, “Mayan Interface” is a marvelous mix of science, psychology, metaphysics, and mysticism packaged in a fast-paced thriller that keeps you guessing to the very end.

Story:  An ancient myth is happening right now, changing all who discover it. Near the end of the Terminal Classic Mayan period, a high priest commits a murder where a sacrifice is needed. The consequences of his deed will reach across worlds and ages. In our own time, Lydia Rosenstrom is a master translator working with an archeological team in Yucatán and on a virtual reality simulation of the ancient site. She is drawn into a dangerous convergence of realities. This tightly woven tale blends mysticism, technology, archaeology, authentic Mayan history, and Mayan prophecies for 2012 into an engrossing story about challenges, consciousness change, and transformation. (From amazon.com)

Spiritual/metaphysical content: Medium. Lydia is an archaeologist and a practicing shaman in the Mayan tradition. The novel explores how ancient and contemporary shamans use crystals, tarot cards, and other tools to create a state of shamanic awareness or “wide focus,” which encompasses both intense concentration and a free flow of thought, say the authors, in a “paradoxical feeling of reverie and alertness.”

A fascinating aspect of Mayan Interface is the interplay of science and metaphysics. If you enter a computer-generated virtual reality in a shamanic state, the authors say, the virtual world becomes real. Is it magic? Is it reality? To the brain, it really doesn’t matter;  you experience what you think and perceive.  In some cases, a somatic shift happens in your brain–your sensory apparatus “buys into” the illusion; what was cartoon-like before suddenly takes on depth, color and richness. That shift is not produced by the software but only by the brain, particularly if the individual has a rich inner life. Virtual reality can merge with shamanic reality. There is a fine line, say Coleman and Perrin, between shamanism and schizophrenia.

My take:  This wonderful visionary fiction novel asks, What is truth–your sensory experience, or how your brain interprets that experience? (Perhaps there is more than one “truth” in any experience.) The plot seamlessly fuses computer science and metaphysics to explore this question and many more, including how the bicameral brain may have evolved during the height of the Mayan culture in a way that changed the very nature of human consciousness.

The authors incorporate broad-based research and attention to historical detail. For instance, Mayans have a rich oral tradition, but they do not tell stories–they “converse” them with other people. Story-telling is a participatory experience. The authors’ detailed research into Mayan glyphs is integral to the plot, not just window dressing.

Coleman and Perrin are master storytellers, ratcheting up the suspense until nearly the last page. They are adept at  unusual and effective character development for even minor characters (such as a nerd/poet). The spiritual novel‘s pace is rollicking, keeping you on the edge of your chair until the very end. Although the book is a fast and easy read its depth is surprising, pulling in principles from so many scientific and philosophical sources that your head swims with new concepts. Take, for example, the importance of story: “. . . that’s what stories do. Re-write the mind.” What greater goal could fiction have?

My question to you: What role should fiction play in fostering spiritual/metaphysical growth?

Details:
Mayan Interface by Wim Coleman and Pat Perrin
Madeira Press, 2012
Paperback, 314 pages
Buy at Amazon

Guest review: Celtic Twilight by W.B. Yeats

The Melancholy of a Gentle Race

yeats-celtic-twilight-metaphysical

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Guest reviewer– Reviewed by Judy Croome, Johannesburg, South Africa

In his retelling of the folktales of “The Celtic Twilight,” WB Yeats reaches back into his Irish roots to explore the tension between a by-gone age, where the connection to the Divine was part of life, and his contemporary age, where science and reason too easily dismiss that which is unseen.

Story:  The Celtic Twilight includes forty-two Celtic folklore tales, and Yeats — who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923 — makes no secret of his fascination and even belief in the world of the occult and the existence of faeries. Yeats’ passion in these tales comes forth through the pages and adds a new dimension to these age-old tales. Though the stories are short in length, there is no scarcity of depth. (From amazon.com)

Spiritual/metaphysical content: High. Every story is steeped in mystical elements and ancient wisdom.

My take: In The Celtic Twilight Yeats, the spiritual mystic and poet, is in ascendance over the Nobel prize winning playwright. He gathers a delightful assortment of old Irish Folktales dealing with the Faerie, and the world beyond the veil of understanding. The stories are told with a casual acceptance of the existence of spiritual truths beyond our rational knowledge, tinged with embarrassment at that acceptance.

Underpinning the beautiful, lyrical writing, lies the melancholy of a gentle race, a mystical race, whose ancient wisdom has become lost as the world progresses scientifically and intellectually:

“…that decadence we call progress … they are surely there, the divine people, for only we who have neither simplicity nor wisdom have denied them, and the simple of all times and the wise men of ancient times have seen them and even spoken to them.”

The significance of these tales, apparently told to the poet by simple, country folk, is almost cautionary. Scattered throughout the stories are hints at Yeats’ despair for humanity, for the spiritual centre that is struggling to hold in an evolving world becoming ever more sceptical of the presence of the Divine and materialistic in their ambitions:

“… all who sought after beautiful and wonderful things with too avid a thirst, lost peace and form and became shapeless and common”

This shift away from the “Golden Age,” the age where the Divine presence permeated life on all levels, is not beneficial:

“… still the kindly and perfect world existed, but [lies] buried like a mass of roses under many spadefuls of earth”

“They are getting tired of the world. It is killed they want to be” (the second, amended, edition of this book was published in 1902 – the end of the Anglo Boer War, a dozen years before the Great War and only a generation away from the horrors of World War II)

For all his lamentations about a more kindly world than his contemporary world of the early 20th century (or ours in the 21st century for that matter!), Yeats never completely gives up either his belief in a mystical world which rational understanding can never quite explain, nor the hope that the connection between man and the Divine can be regained.

The text is not always easy to read due to the archaic prose style (single paragraphs flow over more than one page with no break) and there were numerous typographical errors in this particular e-Edition (Digireads.com July 1, 2004.)

Despite this mild challenge, though, the overall effect was of holding an intimate conversation with a master storyteller. I could feel the damp Irish night air; I could smell the peat fire burning; I could hear the soft lyrical tones of a man whispering his understanding of things beyond my ordinary knowledge…and I swear, at times, I heard the tinkling laugh of a Faery, there, just beyond my sight.

Details:
The Celtic Twilight by William Butler Yeats
Published by Digireads.com July 1, 2004
Paperback, 330 pages, Kindle Edition (File Size: 152 KB)
Buy at Amazon

Guest reviewer: Judy Croome lives and writes in Johannesburg, South Africa. Shortlisted in the African Writing Flash Fiction 2011 competition, Judy’s  independently published novel, Dancing in the Shadows of Love (2011) and her debut collection of poetry “a Lamp at Midday” (2012), are available from Amazon and other on-line stores. Visit www.judycroome.blogspot.com  or follow Judy on Twitter @judy croome.

Book review: Lamb–The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

Clever plot, profound insight, and breezy writing make Lamb a delightful read

Lamb Gospel According to Biff Christopher Moore metaphysical fiction spiritual novel
Ratin
g: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Christopher Moore channels the light-hearted spirit of Douglas Adams and the soul of a philosopher in “Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Friend.” The combination is a profoundly moving and yet breezy read that manages to lift your spirits and lighten your soul, no matter what your religious beliefs.

Story:  The birth of Jesus has been well chronicled, as have his glorious teachings, acts, and divine sacrifice after his thirtieth birthday. But no one knows about the early life of the Son of God, the missing years — except Biff, the Messiah’s best bud, who has been resurrected to tell the story in the divinely hilarious yet heartfelt work “reminiscent of Vonnegut and Douglas Adams.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Spiritual/metaphysical content:  Jesus goes by the Hebrew name Joshua–Jesus is the Greek translation. Growing up, Joshua and Biff’s early spiritual growth is informed by Cynics (a school of Greek philosophy whose goal is to live a life of virtue in harmony with nature, which includes being free of all possessions). They also learn life lessons from Josh’s father the carpenter and Biff’s stonemason father.

As teens, they journey across the Middle East, China, Tibet, and India to study with the Three Wise Men who attended his birth. Josh studies Confucius, Lao-tsu, the Tao, the Bhagavad Gita, and Buddha. Yoga teaches him perfect control of the body and mind, and control over manifestation and the physical world. He studies each region/religion’s holy books while life experiences help him separate the wheat from the chaff. We watch Joshua develop his philosophy and parables slowly during the course of his journey, accumulating the wisdom of scholarship and experience that becomes the basis of his teachings. For example, he learns the hard way that you should treat others as you would like to be treated. As Joshua perfects his mind and body during their travels, Biff learns the Kama Sutra and Tantric disciplines in addition to studying alchemy, explosives, Sun-tsu and The Art of War, and kung fu–ideal assets for a faithful sidekick and bodyguard.

Our spiritual understanding progresses with theirs. The final, bloody learning takes place in India, where Josh learns from the god Kali that all people deserve to be touched by God (even gentiles,  which he has trouble convincing his Jewish disciples of), and that he must sacrifice himself in order to finally end the practice of blood sacrifice.

My take:  The Son of God is an odd child. He plays games with the other kids by bringing animals back to life after they are killed. Joseph asks Biff to be Josh’s friend to “teach him how to be human. Then I can teach him to be a man.” Biff is wise to the world in all the ways in which Josh is innocent: how to manage money, how to bargain for goods, and most importantly, how to be a good friend. Biff looks out for Josh and helps him bear the burden of being the Messiah. Although Biff’s wisecracks and antics are the main source of the book’s humor, Josh gets in on the fun occasionally. When the apostles marvel as he walks on water, Josh replies that he just ate and can’t swim for an hour. “I might get a cramp. What, none of you guys have mothers?” Biff makes life enjoyable, which the Son of God desperately needs as he knowingly and willingly progresses toward his destiny.

Moore shows how many of Christ’s teachings may have originated from his study of other holy texts and explains the familiar tenets of Christianity in a way that makes me see the religion in a new light. For instance, while they’re still in Jerusalem Moore describes, in graphic detail, the lambs and other animals being slaughtered as temple sacrifices and why Joshua realizes how inhumane and unnecessary all the bloodshed is. This is the first time that I truly understood, at a visceral level rather than an intellectual level, that Jesus offered a final sacrifice of his own life as a way to end the senseless blood sacrifice and usher in a new era. And even though I grew up Catholic, Moore manages to explain the Holy Ghost in a way that finally makes sense to me.

Despite the novels inevitable tragic climax (which begins with a quote from Anonymous: “Nobody’s perfect. . . . Well, there was this one guy, but we killed him”), Moore manages to wrench a happy ending out of the story, in keeping with the overall tone of the book. Moore’s clever plot and breezy writing make this spiritual fiction novel a delight to read in addition to a revelatory experience.

Details:
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, by Christopher Moore
Harper Perennial, 2003
Paperback, 440 pages
Buy at Amazon

Book review: Dead End Date

Adventures of  a Lightworker series mates chick lit and metaphysics

Adventures of a Lightworker Caroline A Shearer new age fiction metaphysical novel spiritualRating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Dead End Date, the first book in the Adventures of a Lightworker series by Caroline A. Shearer, is an entertaining romp through metaphysics and relationships. The tone is light and fun, and the pairing of spiritual concepts and the narrator’s relationship challenges helps make the book both amusing and insightful.

Story: Dead End Date chronicles a woman’s mission to teach the world about love, one mystery and personal hang-up at a time. Faith’s dating disasters and personal angst have separated her from her purpose of being a lightworker, and she has only one year to prove she is capable of fulfilling her life purpose. The death of her blind date launches her first challenge. Working with angels, psychic abilities, and even the murder victim, Faith begins a personal journey to help heal those around her while proving she can fulfill her life purpose. (From book jacket)

Spiritual/metaphysical content: High. Faith’s life purpose is to be a lightworker, which Shearer defines as an evolved soul sent to Earth to increase love. Metaphysical concepts such as trusting intuition, looking for signs, staying mindful, and connecting with guides (angels) are a substantial part of the book’s theme. For example, she demonstrates meditation fundamentals and energy work, including the real-world challenges of both. Practical advice includes energy work  such as how to do a space clearing and basic feng shui. An important theme she emphasizes is the interconnectedness of everyone and everything; the story line demonstrates how our smallest actions can have wide-reaching effects on everyone around us.

My take: I enjoyed this book. Using the popular chick lit genre, Shearer weaves basic metaphysical concepts such as mindfulness and energy awareness into her philosophical musings about whether men are worth the bother. Although some of the plot points are forced, the end result is a feel-good mystery that strives to both entertain and enlighten. Note that this is Shearer’s first book; I expect that the quality and consistency of the writing will improve over time. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Details:
Adventures of a Lightworker: Dead End Date, by Caroline A. Shearer
Absolute Love Publishing, 2009
Paperback, 230 pages