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#1962 - Wednesday, October 27, 2004 - Editor: Jerry  

    From Eric Chaffee's 
Nondual Bible Verses Project:
(submissions invited)   My prayer is not that you take
them out of the world but that
you protect them from the evil
one. –John 17:15 n i v


The world can be a scary place if we believe there is an evil presence lurking in the dark. As a child I was healed instantaneously of fear of the dark. One evening when I was about seven my dad asked me to bring him his slippers from under his bed, which was upstairs. (There was no wall switch in the bedroom; the light could only be turned on near the bed, after entering.) As I approached my parents' room I became terrified of reaching under the bed; so I went into my own room. I reached, instead, for a newly acquired book. It was my first Bible. It had belonged to my great grandmother, given to me by grandpa after her funeral. I opened it, and a verse from Psalms 139 presented itself to me that spoke of an Ever Presence that dispels all fear. The fear departed immediately. I confidently retrieved and delivered the slippers. (And I put a trophy, which will never be lost, into my conceptual display case.)

Our verse above seems to indicate that there is such an entity that would keep us intimidated, but is this what Jesus is praying? Actually, the phrase 'the evil one' does not include the word 'one' in Greek, but says 'the evil': tou poneros, the wicked, or the worthless. Some translators (most) include it, as they feel it is implied. (I should emphasize that I am not a scholar of NT Greek; but anyone can view this verse by consulting an interlinear Greek-English version of the text, and then reviewing the history and meaning of the individual Greek words in a lexicon such as Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. (Available abridged in English from Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, through Baker Bookhouse.) So here we have an example of how the devil is inserted into scripture by translators. And most Bible students will argue vigorously for the justification of the devil's place in the book. (Apparently many people need an antagonist to keep the book moving; but the letters a-g-o-n in that word mean 'to wrestle.' Are you tired of wrestling yet, Jacob? –Holler 'uncle' once you figure out that you won't win by wrestling with the darkness.)

We are all translators, interpreting the events of life that surround us. Some events are immediate, as my healing of fear of the dark; some are vicarious, as we learn from the experiences of others, through stories and writings. Translation is a delicate art. Anyone who has struggled with language skills in either their own primary language, or in an additional language they are attempting to acquire, knows this firsthand. Add the dimension of time to the assignment, and we see how challenging it is to recover meanings penned in another tongue thousands of years ago. Yet we can squeeze juice out of the lessons of the past, if we persist.

But beware mere persistence. It can cause us to cobble together a dark view of the world. Indeed, the 'world' (kosmos) in our verse has as its primary meaning 'beautiful, orderly,' but also has a hint of corruption (chaos, its antithesis) mingled into it historically by our fellow translators, some of whom have been hired to publish bibles and preach in places of worship. My point, I guess, is that we need to be mindfully engaged in doing our own translating, enlisting the listening ear of the heart, which we have all been given. Invite your heart to hear what the Spirit is longing to tell you. You don't need a guru, a course, a miracle, or a book. Your inner ear is not deaf!!! Go within and listen. Yearn to hear. "One thing have I desired of the Lord. That will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple." –Psm 27:4 k j v.


Bernadette Roberts and the Self  

by Jerry Katz  

The affective system, Bernadette Roberts says, is the cause of all suffering. Out
of it arises all fear, anxiety, and psychological suffering.

It would follow, she suggests, that those who have lost the affective
system, are free of psychological disorders and would have no reason to
seek professional help, and that is why the psychiatric literature has
no description of those who have gone beyond the self.

Among the questions that arise is the concern that the lack of an
affective system might lead to lives that are cold, detached,
robot-like. Roberts says that one has to live the no-self life to
understand it.

She says, "All that need be said is that it is a dynamic, intense state
of taking care of whatever arises in the now-moment. It is a continuous
waking state in which the physical organism remains sensitive,
responsive, and totally unimpaired. When fully adjusted to the dimension
of no-self, nothing is found to be missing or wanting. It is only in the
encounter with other selves that a self or affective system is a
reminder of what >was<."

She says that one of the reasons people cannot imagine life without an
affective system is that few grasp the whole picture of what the
affective system is. It is not merely the extremes of love and hate. It
is personal energy and will, and these giving rise to all desire, and
these desires or expectations coloring our world, our thoughts and
perceptions, our experiences, our spiritual experiences of love, bliss,
lights, visions, sounds, ecstasies, etc.

It is all the self, the affective system. It is who we are fooled into
believing who we are.

So when the affective system, our psychological familiarity, our
spiritual feeling, our desires, our self, falls away, what is left to
serve as a standard? There are no standards, no values, from the
perspective of the no-self.

The no-self needs no values. It is already in the now moment. There are
no options to consider, no standards to consult. The no-self is so empty
that is is empty of love, bliss and joy, and empty of hate, sadness and
evil. It is in the now moment. The practice of virtue is absent. Virtue
is simply present. The bottom line is that the will, which is the core
of the affective system, disappears, and it was will that had put virtue
and vice into motion in the first place.

This was Roberts' major discovery about the self: "that its very nucleus
is the will or volitional faculty." When the affective system first
falls away, it is the will that abruptly goes, and later the emotions
and feelings.

One of the difficult aspects of the journey, then, is acclimating to a
lack of movement of the will, or the complete dissipation of personal
energy. That is why lifelessness and lack of energy were experienced by
her along with the disappearance of the self.

In fact, much of Roberts' journey was the process of becoming accustomed
to life without personal energy (or will) and without the experiences
personal energy draws and gathers. And when personal energy is no more,
perhaps, Roberts suggest, it is easier to see how there would be no
results of that energy: no virtues, no vices.

So there is only living in the now moment, without feelings or practice
of virtue, without struggling or the measuring of action. Roberts says,
"Somehow each moment contains within itself the appropriate action for
each tiny event in life without the need for thought or feeling."

She calls the preceding description, "doing." Because of the extreme
condition out of which "doing" arises, it is very difficult to
understand, and it raises many questions pertaining to ethics, morals,
society, and so on.

From all this, Roberts asserts, it follows that there is a better way of
knowing a person than by the fruits of their actions (which sounds, and
is, contrary to a Christian standard.) And that better way is by knowing
God, and not by knowing the person at all.

For how can we know another when there is no self, no other, as such?
And how, then, can there be a relationship? Again, this becomes very
difficult to grasp as virtually everyone is dependent upon
relationships, even those who have strong inner resources may not be
strong enough to be independent (not absent) of relationships.

People who are dependent upon relationships tend to view life as an "I"
and an "other" affair. The true Other, and therefore the true "I", is
found by turning within, not outward toward another.

Once wholeness is won by the turning within, then one can withstand
relationships with other people, be truly generous, and be conscious in
love, wanting only growth for the other, whatever that may mean.

And what is the true Other? It is the still-point at the center of our
being. "The real problem in life, then, is not between people, but
between the individual and his true Other," says Roberts.

And so having found the Other, relationships are founded on That. We now
love not the affective, emotional self of the one with whom we are in
relationship, but the true Other, the still-point, God in others.

Roberts admits that is not so straightforward a seeing. First one must
face and see the individual. And, secondly, see God.

It is only after the self disappears that the self in others disappears,
and that only God is seen in the other, and the individual fades into
still-point awareness.

This sameness of seeing God, and the goneness of emotion is not as plain
and boring as it sounds. Roberts points out that infinite varieties of
shapes and forms are made out of the same clay. Even individuality
exists in the absence of self. People with no self, and snowflakes, have
no self.

What is really plain and boring, Roberts says, is the self, the
emotions, self-identity, self-possession, the 'I am this', and the 'I am

The life beyond the self is more free, open and diverse, as it is
centered in the right place: the still point, the I AM.

Summarizing what she learned about the self, Roberts says that a self is
necessary in order to know, feel, and experience. It protects us against
death. It is necessary for survival and existence.

Just as self is developed, a time comes when it passes and fades away.
This movement, all movement through all steps of growth, is the only
thing that neither changes nor passes away.

The contemplative is one who is aware of the movement, first working at
going with it, later discovering he is effortlessly moving with it,
finally realizing that he is the movement Itself.  

~ ~ ~  

Read more at    


When all thoughts
Are exhausted
I slip into the woods
And gather
A pile of shepherd's purse.

Like the little stream
Making its way
Through the mossy crevices
I, too, quietly
Turn clear and transparent.

ODewdrops on a Dead Leaf :
Zen Poems of Ryokan   (submitted to The Other Syntax list)

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