All Reality is but a Stage

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
~ Shakespeare – As You Like It, Act 2, scene 7

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I believe with regard to religion and spirituality. I’ve come to realize that I need to be clear on my beliefs so I have a better understanding of how to explain them to others. With that, I’m going to spend some time here to give a more thorough examination of my current beliefs and I will utilize some real life experiences and analogies in order to explain them. It’s important to know that as I learn and grow, so do my beliefs. I take time to re-analyze my beliefs against any new awareness and decide if it needs to be updated, added or removed.

Recently I was invited for lunch with my friend Joshua because we had been dialoging via email on various topics surrounding religion and we thought that we could really make some ground on our conversation by meeting in person. Upon arrival at our meeting, I was surprised at how quickly he wanted to dig into the topic at hand and dispense with too much small talk, but in a way I was glad of it. (As a side-note, Joshua is Christian who is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and I’m not – even though it is the church of my birth) I decided to back up a bit and give an overview of my personal position on why I’m not a Christian. After doing so, Joshua continued into a line of questioning that was mainly asked in order to obtain a better understanding of my beliefs. While the conversation was quite lively and interesting, I became concerned about the kinds of questions he was asking as they did not seem to be in line with what I thought I had explained as my beliefs. Even in subsequent emails over the following day or two after our lunch, I was still confused on why the conversation went down the path of being more of an offense/defense around religion. He even recommended that I read the book “Letters from a Skeptic”, in order for me to have a resource to answer my objections to Christianity. This book is about a son (the Christian) who invites his father (the Agnostic) into a letter dialog to enable his father to pose all his objections and questions around Christianity and the son would answer these letters in hopes of “saving” his father.

I took Joshua’s advice and downloaded the unabridged audio version of the book and I listened to it over the next couple days. What I found in listening to this book is a range of emotions. First I was angry at what I felt were not only ludicrous and ignorant questions (from the father in the story), but also I was angry at the answers being given by the son as I felt they lacked any real motivation to “convert”. My emotions then moved into boredom as the book when on and on with questions like, “… well if God is love and he loves his creation, then why are their natural disasters and pestilence in the world?” to answers like, “… there are bad people in the world because of a great cosmic war between good and evil that we are caught in and cannot save ourselves.” I was tired of the story and seeing that I had about half the book left, I thought more than once to abandon it and move on. I decided that there must be some reason why this particular book was recommended to me so I trudged on and what I found is that once I gave up my emotions around listening to the book, I began to really hear the conversation. I also was able to see a different perspective on the stories of the Bible including those of Jesus. I also came to the realization (based on the questions Joshua was asking) that I’m doing a really bad job at being clear as to what my beliefs are. I realized that how I approached the reasons around no longer being a Christian (or any religion for that matter) not only challenged Joshua’s beliefs (which would naturally put him on the defensive), but it also clouded what I really wanted to share about me.

With the new awareness in place, I decided to outline my personal current beliefs in writing and here is how it came together (in no particular order):

  • I believe in an intelligent, universal energy that is All, it binds all and is pure love and pure creation (e.g. The Universe, The Divine, God, Yahweh, Ein Sof, Allah, etc).
  • I believe my Higher Self (HS) is but an extension of God and is not in any way separated. My HS is not my humanity. The HS knows all and is completely enlightened within its connection to The Divine.
  • I believe my Soul is my consciousness in and around my human body. It is my HS’s representation of itself as I am in human form, but the soul has chosen to “forget” who he really is as the HS.
  • I believe God can only truly know herself through experiencing all facets of creation through a virtual separation or dis-memberment from herself. The dis-memberment is a veil of “forgetting”.
  • I believe the dis-memberment I create from God is only an illusion that I agree to before becoming human.
  • I believe that everything returns to God because nothing is truly separated from Him.
  • I believe free will enables us to create a vast number of experiences and opportunities for The Divine to know Herself.
  • I believe that when we die from the human form, our Soul goes back to be part of All – Always
  • If we do bad or “evil” things during our lives, or we experience evil, this is an experience we have chosen.
  • I believe that if we put (create) enough negative or “evil” energy out, it will manifest into its own force with apparent intelligence. I believe this force can cause problems, death and destruction but has no power over The Universe. I believe this force can be transmuted by (not only God) but easily by a direct focused intention of any human commanding it with Love.
  • I believe hell is only a part of our human reality and is a deliberate denial of being connected to The Divinity within us. It only exists individually for a person’s lifetime as a human. Hell can also be conditions brought upon by an energetic imbalance from society. Hell is also a chosen experience.
  • Whether the bible or any religious text is real and/or actually happened is irrelevant to my beliefs.
  • I believe we can choose to be incarnate in human form multiple times.
  • I believe religion came about because of a natural evolution of Man discovering and remembering it’s truth. Religion is not right or wrong, it’s simply a tool used as we become more enlightened as humans.
  • I believe the human ego is a purposeful way to experience our humanity. Once we understand this, each experience can be reviewed, considered, and then released.
  • I believe our reactive emotions (anger, fear, depression, happiness, etc) are the domain of the ego – they are conditional. It’s when you can allow the emotion to pass through and out (release) and observe it for what it is, then you can truly be the master of your ego.
  • I believe that there are many roads Home and it’s our choice which path to take (free will). But no matter the path, we all go Home.
  • I am no religion. Nor do I claim to fit into any category of organized spirituality.
  • I am not a Christian because I do not need to be saved by having Christ die for my sins.
  • “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” – John 14:12
    – Even if everything taught to me about the stories of Jesus are true, I believe the actions by Jesus were primarily a guide to living life and showing us that we just need to let go and believe in our connection to The All that Is. Jesus was another example given to us over human history (also like Horus and Osiris) .
    – I believe I am just as much a part of God as Jesus. I believe Jesus was just more naturally (by intention and design) aware and humanly conscious of this connection to The Universe than most. He was this way on purpose to help us evolve our awareness and our collective consciousness.
  • I believe we have had many Masters come to earth over time to teach us the same truths that was taught by our ascended Masters. I believe that over time we have become more enlightened as humans, that we now have access to more “connected” humans giving us more guidance and truths.
  • What I see is that the illusion of daily life as an experience that we can truly see and re-member the Divinity within ourselves.
  • I do not believe that God has the emotions of humans and that She is pure Love. Love is not an emotion, it is a way of being that is all accepting.

I have an analogy that helps me to explain our existence as it relates to our humanity, the ego, the soul, and our Higher Self (Godself). The example that I am giving is to compare these things to a stage play. The primary aspects of a play include; the set (or stage), the actors, the characters, the audience and the script. Each of these components I will relate to how I see myself as a spiritual being having a human experience.

  • The set or stage represents the earth as well as the visible known universe. This is where I “exist” in my reality.
  • The actor represents our soul which is veiled in its full knowledge of God and is more closely related to our physical human experience, but takes guidance from the Higher Self.
  • The character is our humanity or our day to day facade that we portray during our life including the effects of our ego
  • The script is our overall plan for our experience that we designed before coming to earth as a human
  • The audience is our Higher Self and God, witnessing and experiencing the interactions between all aspects of the play.

As we live our lives as characters in a play, we play out using our free will and some guidance from the script. The actor or soul is the connection to spirit or our Higher Self and it experiences the interplay among the self, other characters and the set. If we choose (using free will) to ignore our guidance and take a different path, this is acceptable and is honored, but we find our lives to be incomplete and we struggle.

Before we are born unto humans, we have already decided the main experiences we want in our lifetime. Some people refer to these as lessons, but that is not my view. I believe we already “know” everything conceptually, but not experientially. It is our wish to truly know via experience. The problem we face as humans is that we deny the truth of our existence as it has been shown to us many times (including by Jesus). We do not know how to manage our experiences of life as just that, an experience – then it should be released. Upon human physical death, the experiences of the life is re-membered All the consequence of the life are no longer relevant, but yet does create a Karmic resonance that can continue to be felt and can seek resolution within the next life. If we haven’t been able to release our experience, we will never really know it completely. Therefore, if we choose to re-incarnate, some of these experiences may be played again in the next life.

As I look back onto my lunch with Joshua, the book I listened to and the validation of my belief systems, things became clearer about life and my existence. I am slowly becoming even more aware of each interaction I have with everyone in my life, no matter how seemingly insignificant. I can step outside of the experience and see it for what it really is. I am more cognizant of what I’m being shown in the experience and how it is teaching me more about myself and re-membering who I really am. This awareness has brought me peace and fulfillment to my life. I believe it is in the awareness of the re-membering where I fulfill the script or “plan” of my life. It is the whole point of my existence.

What I Believe Changes as I grow and become more attuned to my true self.
 

Dwight Raatz

Jesus Drives a Pickup Truck

Very recently I had the opportunity to help a friend and her family move to a new house.It was a typical Saturday with a variety of people there doing the best they could to stay organized, help where they could or just stay out of the way when necessary.At one point I overheard my friend’s daughter exclaim that her and her husband really liked having a truck for their own use, but found it to be a pain in the butt because everyone would ask them to haul stuff or volunteer them to move things.This isn’t a new statement, as I’ve heard it for years and honestly I’ve been one of those people asking for help from a friend with a pickup.I’ve also been on the other side of that scenario having a truck and being asked.To be honest, I really like being on the truck side of the story.I liked being able to help people when they needed it most and I have never felt like I was being taken advantage of.

If you think about it, when people are moving or doing some kind of large project, they are already stressed and feeling very vulnerable.This is a time of big change for them and their vulnerability will generally cause them to be very cautious of everything going on around them.This also includes the people they choose to have around them at that time.Granted, there may be those who ask for help or assume you will be available and don’t necessarily show their appreciation (like your children) but these people aren’t acting this way to be mean, it’s probably because they just aren’t attuned to what it all means.

I can honestly say that being asked to help someone (whether it’s moving or anything else) is truly on an honor.This means that I have been selected not only because I have some kind of asset that can help them, but I’m also someone that they trust enough to handlesome of their most precious belongings.And, I’m someone that they want to spend time with and share this time in their life.If you think back on the times people have helped you move or do some kind of project, I bet you remember every person that spent time with you.I bet you have an emotional connection and vivid memories of large portions of that time with them.You probably worked hard, took breaks and talked, ate a meal together, problem solved issues, celebrated, smiled, laughed and maybe even cried some.

The moving or project was something that needed to be done.It was a domestic task that enabled you to enjoy your living environment in some way.But of everything you did on that day to move or finish the project, the part you will remember the longest and the clearest is the people who were there to help you.These are the important parts of life that go beyond the new house or large deck or the new brick patio.

As I was driving home from the day of packing, hauling and becoming quite tired, I started to think back over the day.I was thinking about how much fun it was to share that time with my friend, her family and other friends.I was thinking about the feeling of community and fellowship that we shared, even if it was only for a few hours.I thought about how important it is that we all help one another in their time of need or change.It didn’t matter to me the kind of house or neighborhood she moved to.It didn’t matter who was there to notice I helped.It wasn’t about these kinds of superficial things.The time I spent helping was what it really means to love someone and be glad you are part of their life.It is a time to cherish and behold the beauty of the sharing.

If you have a truck, be glad in the difference you can make in someone’s life and be prepared for the changes you will receive in yours.After all, WWJD? 😉

Dwight Raatz

A Slow Moving Storm – Part I

A Slow Moving Storm of Change Looms on My Life’s Horizon ~ Dwight Raatz

The following text was written on February 2nd, 2008.  While my ideas and beliefs have evolved in the past two years, this will give you a glimpse of my thought process at the time around life, religion and how those things affected me on an emotional level. I have come to understand that the “awareness” that I write about is my intuitive nature, my sense of “knowing” without having to experience with my normal senses.

The title of this piece is really about the feeling of foreboding or anxiety about the possible outcomes and fear that was out there, barely visible, but looming and in a way I knew somehow to be inevitable.

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It might seem obvious to some what thoughts and concerns most men have of life.  I don’t feel that mine are earth shaking and I don’t feel that they are unique or revolutionary.  I do feel however that I seem to be aware of more than what is set in front of me.  I feel that my awareness has not only been my guide in life, it has also been my curse.  Seeing and feeling things that I don’t understand and have no point of reference has made my life’s journey painful, confusing, and depressing.  With the exception of this last year, I have felt very little joy or happiness.  Much of this distress has been due to the internal torment of my mind and the feeling of loneliness and of being lost.

While I have always had a connection with God in my life, I feel that as I get older, my understanding of God becomes clearer.  What I struggle with is reconciling my internal innate understanding of God with what has been taught to me my whole life.  There are parts of my teachings that have fallen in line with what I know to be true, but these parts are few and far between.  I think my first inclination that I was a part of a larger spiritual picture is when I was about 9 years old.  I remember laying out on the front step of my parent’s farm house looking up at the sunny sky that had a few high clouds.  I wasn’t thinking of anything in particular, just being in the moment, feeling the heat of the sun and the warm air around me and feeling a general sort of peacefulness.  I remember looking at a cloud, and then suddenly a face appeared there.  It wasn’t a cloud that looked like a face; it was a man’s face.  I saw it as clearly as if I was looking at a picture in my hand.  The face was smiling and looking at me directly.  As you can imagine I was startled and blinked my eyes.  As fast as it appeared there, it was gone.  It’s as if once my mind was “engaged” in reality, I lost my right to see this face or know it more.  Somehow I knew that this was God or Jesus or some angle peaking at me, giving me a glimpse.  I really don’t know what to make of it exactly, but it has always stayed with me.

I have many thoughts, questions, and feelings about religion in general and its relative nature to God and my faith in him.  This has left me wanting.  I want to find one or more people to talk to about these feelings.  I want someone to be strong enough in their own beliefs, but willing to have an open mind to discuss these things with me without trying to discount what I am saying, dismiss the topic, or preach to me what the bible states as if that is the black and white decision maker.  I would prefer to have someone that has a good solid knowledge of bible’s contents, but it isn’t an absolute necessity.  Having someone with this knowledge would at least be able to give me a perspective of the teachings as they relate to my questions.

If you feel that you willing to embark on a journey of discovery and consideration of alternate truths, then continue reading.  I don’t want to be “saved” by someone.  I want to have an ongoing open truthful relationship with a willing soul to not only be a guide, but to also be willing to be guided.

<continued in Part II>
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Just so you know, I did try engaging with this type of conversation with some people I considered to be highly faithful and educated in their Christian religion, but ultimately it became obvious that the topic was just too uncomfortable for them to give me good constructive feedback or perspectives.

Part II sets out some definitions, questions and opinions related to the above.  These will be things you can ponder and possibly respond to and give your own perspective.

Dwight Raatz