Tuesday, 6 April 2010

My Selection of Must Read World Religious and Spiritual Literature

I thought I'd start off a sharing of my most appreciated books from the literature of 'spirituality', but also sources on the web for out of copyright material. So here goes, not in a particular order, but trending from those most influential to those I still value.

I would love it if readers would add to my list with their suggestions. I will keep this up to date on Facebook and my Blog - this is just a starter.

First - contemporary writers and novel format material :

Kahil Gabril - The Prophet and other works: http://leb.net/~mira/
Paulo Coelho - particularly The Alchemist and the Zahir
Good Compilation of English "Spiritual poets" from Bede to the 1920s - The English Spirit (The Little Gidding Anthology of English Spirituality) DLT

Film - to be added

e.g The Matrix, Avatar

Books I have in my Library:
Radical Amazement - Judy Cannato ["Awareness of the Divine begins with wonder" - a Herschel quote]
Integral Life Practice - Ken Wilbur and others: http://www.integralinstitute.org/?q=node/1
Ken Wilbur - A brief History of Everything
David Tacy - The Spirituality Revolution
Eckhart Tolle: The Power of Now
Neale Donald Walsch - Conversations with God - and many more

Christian Writers:

Marcus Borg - Reading the Bible Again for the First Time & Meeting Jesus Again for the first time (and almost everything else he has written)
John Shelby Spong: Liberating the Gospels, A new Christianity for a New World (and most of his books since - including Jesus for the NOn Religious and Eternal Life - A new Vision.
Adrian B Smith - Tomorrow's Christian (O Books) and lots more
Deepak Chopra - Quantum Healing and lots more
John Hetherington - Booklet "Reshaping Christianity - Mysticsm. Spirituality and Global faith" - avilable from Free to Believe: http://www.freetobelieve.org.uk/booklets2.html

Christian Scriptures - Psalms, Wisdom, Proverbs, Gospel of John and early Pauline genuine epistles. Gospels of Mary (see: http://www.gnosis.org/library/marygosp.htm)
and Thomas (see: http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/gosthom.html)
and the Pistis Sophia (http://www.gnosis.org/library/pistis-sophia/index.htm).

Also see: http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/index.htm

Other Christian writings: St Augustine - The City of God - http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf102.toc.html
Also The Confessions of St Augustine - http://www.ccel.org/ccel/augustine/confessions.html
Julian of Norwich - Revelations of Divine Love (14th Century): http://www.ccel.org/ccel/julian/revelations/
William Law - (17/18 C) - A serious Call to a devoit and holy life: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/law/serious_call.html
Thomas A Kempis - The Imitation of Christ: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/kempis/imitation.html

For the whole corpus visit and search in http://www.ccel.org/ and http://www.sacred-texts.com/

World Religions:
Taoism - The Book of the Way: http://www.taoism.net/ttc/complete.htm
Zoroastrian: http://www.sacred-texts.com/zor/index.htm
The Vedanta (Indian Religious Scriptures): http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/
Covers: Vedas (http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rigveda/index.htm),
Upanishads (http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/upan/index.htm)
Bhagavad Gita (http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/gita/agsgita.htm)

Buddhism: http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/index.htm

Islam: http://www.sacred-texts.com/isl/index.htm [Includes a full range of Sufi material - Rumi poetry can be found here: http://allspirit.co.uk/rumi.html
Bahai: http://www.sacred-texts.com/bhi/index.htm [Also see: http://www.bahai.org/]

Sites cover not just English translations - but references more general text.

[TO BE UPDATED - so keep popping back, please and add your own lists.]

Copyright © 2009: Rev John Hetherington. All rights reserved. Permission is granted for this content to be reproduced upon condition that full acknowledgements of author and copyright details are made. John Hetherington - January 2010

Monday, 5 April 2010

Christianity and Easter Symbolism

I picked up the following ideas from a post on Facebook - linking to a Website http://www.truthbeknown.com/easter.htm  - almost all of it ties back to the information in "The Pagan Christ" which I read recently [a very good read] and is the foundation of many esoteric belief systems. It sure makes you think!!

You will need to visit the link above - for the full explanation of the dates that make Easter move - and were known many thousands of years ago. It is a fascinating and scary article. Page down to find the text after the book adverts.

There is a really good argument that Christianity started as just one of several mystery cults which were common across the Roman Empire and, via the fertile crescent, go back to the Egyptian and north African civilisations and through Persia and Afghanistan on to India and even China, with the festivals also linked (by communication or because the dates are global) to other cultures in the Americas and South East Asia and even to Australia and other ab-original cultures and belief systems. The astronomy and skills needed to work it all out go back to thosands of years BC and were progressively refined.

It is fascinating that the early Pauline Epistles have no literal historical Jesus - just a conversion or awakening experience - that led Paul to to proclaim that the God 'in whom we live and move and have our being' is to be known in the incarnation of the Crossified One.The Gospels link this to an historical Jesus figure - but by the time they were written the myth was being adapted to the Judeo-Roman world, and the historicity is suspect. The package of early Christian practice and belief is best gleaned from Paul's letters.

The New Testament is thus a reworking of the myths of the Sun God, and his Divine-Human Son [Horus in Egyptian religion or with other names in other places] which couches the ancient myth in hidden language under the cover of a literal story about a Divine- Human Jesus figure who lived in Galilee, was cruxified [crossifiied] and raised (ascended) to the heavens. Christians need to take seriously the propect that their core beliefs are really a lieralising of a long standing myth - though of course "myth" does not mean an 'untruth', rather the telling of a powerful truth in coded ways.

The common core of almost all religions worldwide is that in our humanity there is also divinity. The Horus / Jesus figure is thus 'everyman' / everyone. The role of the religions is to awaken us to the divinity within so as to enable 'return' / reurrection. The package of belief in which you wrap the myth is neither here nor there - what matters is the truthfulness that lies hidden at the core of the myth - the divine presence in all that is.

The Gospels are as good and well written a literalisation as any to capture the truth of the human - divine leader (avatar) who dies and is raised - just as the sun dies in the autumn and rises in the spring to bring new life. I can still go to churches and enter in to the mythic story under its literalising crafting - and use the framework to remind me how to live - in recognition of the divinity in humanity, the power of of that presence to enlighten and change us, and the joy of the company of those on the way - even though I more and more think that the story that infuses Christianity is not a history at all, but a powerful mythic truth about the way this universe is, and the way we should live in it.
Your views most welcome.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

An alternate Easter Day Gospel

On the first day of the week Mary of Magdala went to the garden tomb with spices to anoint Jesus body.

Finding the stone rolled away, she went in but found the tomb empty, Fearful she cried bitterly because of her deep love for The Teacher whom she loved with all her being: body, soul and spirit.

As she turned to leave, wiping her tears away with her long hair, she glanced across to where a man stood in gardner's clothes, She rushed across to ask why Jesus body had been moved. Her heart began to pound as she got nearer, for a glimmer of recognition struck her - was this her lover? Her teacher and friend? Was it possible? The man turned to her and opened wide his arms just as he had been hung on the Friday cross.

She ran to him and clung to him, wrapped by those strong arms. He held her tight as they kissed passionately. After many minutes of heart rending joy and sorrow Jesus said to her, do not cling to me any longer Mary, there is God's work still to do.

My life is returning to God, your life continues here. You are my friend and companion always. You are to continue in my name as Teacher of the ways of Knowledge, with my commission to lead and teach my followers. I will come soon to you all as you gather the scattered ones back to the meeting room where we shared supper. So be strong - I live as all shall live - remade to know more and more of my wonders. Do not let the hateful and the prejudiced scatter my Friends.

Remember all the words and ideas we have shared, the stories from lands afar and from our own people. Remind them of the joy of life and the wonder of love. Remind them of the simple life and the compassion that must flow from all who will know of me in the future.

Above all tell them of my infinite love - gifting the world and cosmos, of the myriad forms of spirit infused life on world after world. Remind them that the Creator knows this humanity and has shared the wonder of human being too, and found the joy of infinite giving in our passion together. I am who I am and you are also who You are.

Tell my disciples that each and everyone of you has life in me and I in you. Make this day a Holy Day for laughter and feasting, for passion and compassion, for the ache of loss to be filled by loving friends and friendly lovers.

Do not let the angry men and fearful women twist the truth, or make the simple complex, or turn our story into anything that diminishes the literal truth that the spark of divinity is in you just as divine life and light is in me too in this humanity - the glorious work of eons of letting life be life.

Kiss me Mary, cling to me, for we are one.

I have other life forms to awaken across the infinities of space and time.

You have known me most fully and my love remains true. Love others as I have loved you, that is the measure. But never stop loving yourself if you fall short or struggle with the burden of living and loving to the full. There are no ranks, no prizes, no second bests in my creation, no heirarchy to my love.

What is is what is. This is my simple good news. Tell this to my followers and teach them simply and in depth the knowledge I have given and will keep on giving to humanity.

I am going on to other mansions, other worlds of similar beauty, to draw them to me in the highest form familier to each world. Then shall all be one, and all that is shall sing and dance and live and love beyond all imagining.

Listen Mary, in that place of fullness you will live as I live, full of joy and in infinite friendship, knowing as I know, that everything shall be well and life shall stand always.

Go now to my friends and tell them of what you have seen dawning this day, and the words I have given you to share. See even now I am fading from you. Do not cling to me - remember this life is for passion not fear. Love me always as I have loved you. My Mary, my love my friend.

With that the Jesus Mary knew faded from sight as the sun rose. And full of joy Mary ran to awaken her friends with the good news. Jesus is not dead. He is living in the All that is his God and our God.


Let us today 2000 years on, also listen to the words given to Mary and the words he gives to all who have ears to hear.