Comments and Questions

I invite you to share any comments or questions with me here.  I do my best to answer each one personally, and welcome the discussion. 

~Jerry

 

 

15 thoughts on “Comments and Questions

  1. Richard Oxenberg Reply

    Hi Jerry,

    Thanks so much for your response of January 8th. As always, I find what you say provocative, and very well stated. As you suggested in your response, though, it does lead to even more questions.

    On January 8th you write:

    “To know God is to participate in and to actualize the life we share with the divine. In a sense, you don’t know that God exists until you have come to that deep personal appropriation of the divine reality within your heart, mind, and life.”

    That sounds exactly right to me, and it corresponds closely with my own thinking along these lines. But it does seem to me to present certain problems.
    .
    For instance, in your book God makes a rather big point of wanting obedience from human beings. But if we can’t even be sure of God’s existence until we have come to a “deep personal appropriation of the divine reality,” just what are we to obey? Are we to obey scriptural claims concerning what God demands? Whose scripture should we follow? How are we to know if the scriptural claims are accurate?

    In section 29 of your book God says: “My commands are more than sacred and more than those of a king. They are absolute, one almost wants to say absolutely absolute, not absolute in this or that context or up to a certain point, the way you have to follow a court order unless it is overturned by a higher court. Even Supreme Court decisions and kings’ orders can be questioned and criticized. That is within human competence to do. Not with my commands. . . the structure of the world and of the spiritual development of the world requires absolute obedience, total yielding.”

    But this way of speaking about God and God’s commands seems to me inconsistent with thinking of God as a divine reality that we can only truly know through a personal appropriation. What can it mean to say that we should obey God’s commands “absolutely” when the nature of knowing God is such that we cannot be certain what God’s commands are? What are we to obey?

    As always, there is more to ask along these lines, Jerry, but perhaps I’ll just leave it there for now so as not to overcomplicate our dialogue.

    And thank you once again for your willingness to entertain my questions!

    1. Jerry L. Martin Reply

      If obedience defines the right relationship with God, the question arises: How do I know what God wants of me? How do I know what I am meant to do with my life, or today, right this minute?

      I am told that God is communicating with everyone all the time. We just have to learn to pay attention. In my case, God made it easy by speaking to me in words – perhaps because He wanted me to write this book. But for most people, and for me too most of the time, the divine signals are faint or indirect. Even when they are loud or strongly felt, it is hard to be sure it is really a divine prompt rather than our own desires, fears, ego.

      So the first step is to be still, be quiet, get the clutter out of the way, get centered. Pray or meditate or think deeply, like going down toward the ocean floor far below where the waves are lapping. See what your deep self seems to be telling you. Also, pay respectful attention to events in your life. Don’t assume they are mere happenings. Look for those significant coincidences that Carl Jung called “synchronicities” and probe what you might learn from them. Look for doors opening in your life, inviting you to step through them. Listen to people who come into your life and have something to tell you. God may be speaking to you through them.

      The inconsistency or at least tension you note is real. We have to obey God, long before we know God in any deep, full way. We have to obey God “absolutely” even when we cannot do much more than guess what God wants of us. Nevertheless, the method works. By obeying God, we come to know God. And the mere effort to do so already puts our soul in the right relationship to God.

  2. Lukman Clark Reply

    For sure, every time I receive a vision or some other form of enlightenment it always raises more questions than it answers.

    1. Jerry L. Martin Reply

      Yes — and that is a very fruitful process, since new questions prompt new avenues of search and the possibility of new epiphanies.

  3. Lukman Clark Reply

    Hi, Jerry.

    I understand the reasons for leaving off with Jesus in the evolution of All-In-All, but so much more has gone on. By the 4th and 5th centuries C.E., the Christian message was being codified and those Christians not on board with what the burgeoning Church laid down were persecuted and at time killed. [I go into this in my novel “In Her Own Words: The Real Story of Hypatia of Alexandria.”] It was during this period, too, that Jesus’ message became officially distorted and otherwise altered. So, this is one thing on the religious side.

    Going back to the times of Joshua, Saul, David and others, Jewish armies dominated much of what we now call the Near East. Given that these were the Chosen People (I mean this in the sense from your book), they had an obligation you might say to spread the word. Perhaps they would have, had not the Romans confined them and eventually conquered them. Catholicism, as the carrier of the banner of Christianity, did what the Jews were not able to do but from the inside rather than through confrontation. The bishops essentially took over all the administrative mechanisms of the Imperial Empire.

    So, this was probably a step forward in evolution.

    However, due to the message getting distorted and the things of this world taking greater primacy in Church affairs, Islam came on the scene. I think it is fair to say that Islam actually constituted the first Reformation. Early Muslims also did what the Jews had not been able to do, which is take advantage of a weakened Empire and spread their “new” religion through strength of arms. Interestingly, Jesus (Issa) is honored in Islam as one of the major Prophets. Today, we do not think highly of spreading the faith by the sword, but unlike Joshua the Muslims at least gave people the choice of conversion or being relegated to the “dhimmi” community if they surrendered. Of course, it may be that this religion met with too much success too soon. It did not take long for political in-fighting and wars, not to mention exegesists, to warp this message, too.

    Of course, since then there have been other prophets. Baha’ullah in Persia. Pak Subuh in Indonesia. And lots more I know nothing about! Anyway, I think all of these other developments over the last couple thousand years helped to bring us to the new Axial Age in which we find ourselves, with all of the ongoing conflicts.

    1. Jerry L. Martin Reply

      As the book reports, I was told to pray about “Jesus going into Jerusalem, not Jesus coming out.” This provided a time-line cut-off for all the sacred texts I prayed about. It also implied that I was to pray about the Jesus of the Gospels, not subsequent Christianity. Following that guidance, I prayed about the sayings of the Buddha, not subsequent variants of Buddhism, and so on for other religions. Hence I have not prayed about Islam and other more recent movements. I don’t know if, at some point, I will be told about them. Yes, I did receive the message that we are “on the threshold of a new spiritual era, a new axial age.” That probably has to do more with current spiritual developments than with previous history. I have my own speculations, but we’ll have to stay tuned to find out. By the way, good luck on your very ambitious novel!

  4. Richard Oxenberg Reply

    Hi Jerry,

    First, let me say (again) how much I appreciate your book. It is exciting, provocative, at times quite inspiring, and extraordinarily rich. That you have somehow managed to wrap all this in a very human narrative that allows your readers to feel that they have gotten to know both you AND God a bit is to your credit as a writer – and one of the great merits of the book.

    The book does leave me with many questions, though, and I so appreciate your willingness to consider them.

    Let me say at the outset that I ask these questions, not from a spirit of skepticism or cynicism, but from an earnest desire to understand and to take your book seriously.

    Perhaps the first question that occurs to me is why, if God is able to speak to human beings as he speaks to you, does God not speak to us all as he speaks to you? I have known many atheists and agnostics who are so, not out of stubbornness or defiance or perversity, but simply because they have no experience they would identify as an experience of God. If indeed God is a person, somewhat like a human person, and God can speak in language to a human being, somewhat as one person can speak to another, and God wishes to be known by human beings (as he tells us in your book), then why does God not simply speak to us all in an unambiguous manner? Why is this God – who wishes both to be known by us and obeyed by us – so very coy with us? Why does he leave us so often in ignorance and confusion?

    So there is my first question for you, Jerry. I look forward to your reply.

    1. Jerry L Martin Reply

      Why does not God speak to us all as he speaks to me? Why does God not simply speak to us all in an unambiguous manner?

      In the course of the book, I am told that God communicates to us in many different ways – not just words, but epiphanies, intuitions, insights, conscience, “thoughts that seems as if they were your own,” even dreams, events that seem like coincidences (synchronicities), and tasks put in our path.

      God said, “I am not just typing out telegraph messages.” Why not? Why all these indirect, ambiguous ways of communicating, instead of just coming out and telling everybody the whole story? Well, look at analogies. Why does the teacher ask the students questions instead of just giving them the answers? Learning has to be active. Why does the psychotherapist ask questions, instead of just telling the client what’s wrong with him? Therapy has to bring about change from the inside.

      I am also told that God speaks with a soft “still small voice.” Why not in a loud voice? Well, that forces us to do our part. Sometimes a public speaker intentionally softens his voice. That is a way to make the audience quiet down, lean forward, and listen. To relate to God, we have to pay close attention. Many of the obstacles to “hearing” God are internal to ourselves – our ego, our desires, our dogmatisms, often simply the distractions of daily life. We have to get our own clutter out of the way. God is not trying to communication “information.” For that, telegraph messages would have been better. God is trying to open our hearts and orient our lives. Relating to God must be transformative.

      There may be something even more subtle taking place here. We and God are mutual participants in the drama of the world. There is not a predetermined script, either for us or for God. I am told at one point that God is like the director of an improvisational theatre. We are all making up our lines as we go along. And we the actors are deaf or not paying attention. God is furiously giving hand-signals, but we can’t decipher them or neglect to do so. Why doesn’t God write out the directions and put them on big cards right in front of the actors’ eyes? Well, in life, like in improv theatre, the actors spontaneously play off one another. They catch each other’s pace and direction, and creatively adapt and prompt in a way that moves the plot or the comedy along. To change analogies, think about the subtle communications between two lovers, which have their own suggestive rhythms and indirections that would be spoiled by explicit articulation. Even the diplomatic aspects of family life have this character of sometimes letting the glance or the gesture do the talking. That is a natural way for free, creative, growing persons, whether human or divine, to relate to one another.

      This is a profound topic, Richard, Please feel free to probe it further.

      1. Richard Oxenberg Reply

        Hi Jerry,

        Thanks so much for your response to my question. I find your answers interesting and helpful, although, as you yourself suggest, they lead to more questions.

        You say that God does not speak directly to us because he wishes to be like a teacher, who doesn’t wish to give his students direct answers that they will learn by rote, but presents his students with questions and suggestions that will prompt them to think and learn for themselves.

        I like that answer, but it raises for me another question: The teacher, after all, doesn’t leave the students in doubt as to the existence of the teacher himself! But God leaves us wondering, not only about the answers to our questions, but about whether a God exists who can or might answer them. God leaves us (many of us, anyway) in doubt as to whether there truly is a God.

        Why? What is the specific value of not knowing whether God exists, not knowing whether our lives extend beyond our earthly lives, not knowing whether there is a definitive difference between true and false, right and wrong, good and evil?

        It occurs to me that one way of answering this question might be to say that the relationship of a human being to God is not (ultimately) like the relationship of one person to another, but more like the relationship of a person in youth to the same person in maturity. In other words, maybe we only come to know that God exists as we grow in our understanding of the nature of existence itself; an understanding we can only approach through a process of maturation. That would account for why we must grow into ‘knowing’ God.

        But if this is the case then God is not really best envisioned as another person with whom we can have a simple conversation. God is better envisioned as a higher (maybe highest?) dimension of ourselves.

        Would this way of putting it correspond with your understanding, Jerry? If so, it leads me to yet another question, about the nature of your own revelatory experiences. What are they? Are they coming from an entity fully distinct from yourself – like another person? Or are they somehow coming from a higher dimension of yourself? Or might this question itself present a false dichotomy – insofar as God IS (in some sense) the highest dimension of ourselves?

        There is more to ask, but perhaps I should wait until I hear your response to these questions before I venture upon any more.

        And thanks so much again, Jerry, for your willingness to dialogue about these questions!

        1. Jerry L. Martin Reply

          Thanks for continuing the dialogue. We have to extend the analogy of the teacher and the lesson that knowledge has to an active coming-to-know on the part of the student. Psychotherapy works in much the same way. The patient does not just receive an analysis but is taken through a long process of questioning until the insights dawn on and are fully actualized within him or her. Now, ratchet that analogy up a few levels. Knowing God really requires, virtually presupposes, a total reorientation of mind-body-soul. A series of telegrams from God, including one that says “I exist,” would not achieve that. To know God is to participate in and to actualize the life we share with the divine. In a sense, you don’t know that God exists until you have come to that deep personal appropriation of the divine reality within your heart, mind, and life. Still, at a more basic level, God has not exactly kept His/Her/Its existence a secret. It’s just that some people, particularly in a secular age, find it really hard to believe. Or prefer not to believe.

          The only way to correctly describe my experience is as an encounter with a Person. I considered Jung’s theory of the Higher Self. Might my Higher Self announce itself as “God” and tell me a lot of things, including to write a book? Tell me things I did not believe and, in fact, sometimes found quite disturbing? Tell me, on my first read ever of the sacred text of another tradition, what God was trying to communicate to them?

          As you say, I am told that God is both same as other as us. But the way in which we and God are the same does not eclipse the way we are different. And, in God: An Autobiography, I am told why we must be different, why we must encounter each other as persons, and have a relationship, not just an identity.

          Every question raises more questions. Keep em coming, Richard!

          1. Richard Oxenberg

            Hi Jerry,

            Thanks again for your response. As always, I find what you say provocative and well stated, but it does lead me to more questions.

            You write:

            “To know God is to participate in and to actualize the life we share with the divine. In a sense, you don’t know that God exists until you have come to that deep personal appropriation of the divine reality within your heart, mind, and life.”

            That sounds exactly right to me, and it corresponds closely with my own thinking along these lines. But it does seem to me to present certain problems.
            .
            For instance, in your book God makes a rather big point of wanting obedience from human beings. But if we can’t even be sure of God’s existence until we have come to a “deep personal appropriation of the divine reality,” just what are we to obey? Are we to obey scriptural claims concerning what God demands? Whose scripture should we follow? How are we to know if the scriptural claims are accurate?

            In section 29 of your book God says: “My commands are more than sacred and more than those of a king. They are absolute, one almost wants to say absolutely absolute, not absolute in this or that context or up to a certain point, the way you have to follow a court order unless it is overturned by a higher court. Even Supreme Court decisions and kings’ orders can be questioned and criticized. That is within human competence to do. Not with my commands. . . the structure of the world and of the spiritual development of the world requires absolute obedience, total yielding.”

            But this way of speaking about God and God’s commands seems to me inconsistent with thinking of God as a divine reality that we can only truly know through a personal appropriation. What can it mean to say that we should obey God’s commands “absolutely” when the nature of knowing God is such that we cannot be certain what God’s commands are? What are we to obey?

            As always, there is more to ask along these lines, Jerry, but perhaps I’ll just leave it there for now so as not to overcomplicate our dialogue.

            And thank you once again for your willingness to entertain my questions!

  5. Ajit Dass Reply

    Thank you for your kind words Jerry. Chander now has an autographed copy of the book!!! He is full of wisdom and I am sure he will be further enriched by the messages in the book.

    I am taking the liberty to reply to question by a reader – “At the heart of your book is God’s desire to reveal himself to human beings, to be known by human beings. One almost senses a loneliness in God that he hopes will be resolved, or at least mitigated, through such revelation. But this raises many questions. Why – if God can speak to human beings as he speaks to you – does he not speak to us all as he speaks to you? Why, if God wants us to know him intimately, does he reveal himself (to most of us) so remotely?”

    Answer: At different levels of consciousness we will experience different aspects of God. An important purpose of life is to evolve and walk in greater and greater awareness upon this planet. As we do this, a natural outcome would be greater revelations of All That There Is which is God! A common example noticed by meditators is that trees look sharper and more vibrant against the backdrop of the sky after meditation!!!

    If All is revealed all at once to all, the purpose of life to experience all the levels of consciousness will be thwarted. Somewhat like, if the color “white” wishes to experience itself fully it would need to be all the seven spectrum colors one by one, and not all at once. To experience the aspect of All Knowingness one has to first experience not-knowing; to experience being tall one has to also experience being short!

    1. Richard Oxenberg Reply

      Hello Ajit,

      I posted my question of 9/27/16 before I noticed that you have already replied to another version of my question. I like your answer a lot and it corresponds rather closely to some of my own thinking. It does lead me to further questions, however – questions that pertain to how we are to read Jerry’s book and understand his experience. I’ve already posed some of these questions to Jerry offline and he suggested it might be profitable to discuss them online.

      So rather than push forward in asking these questions I think it best to await Jerry’s reply to my post. Then perhaps all three of us can continue to dig more deeply into this.

      But I do want to thank you for your thoughts on my question.

  6. chander prakash Reply

    Jerry, hi was introduced about you by a dear friend in Lucknow, India, Ajit Dass. We got talking on matters of the soul and the spirit. He spoke very highly of your book God: An Autobiography. Will go through the excerpts on your site.
    The journey beyond the dimensions of the human mind…the trajectory of a soul to a spirit while still being a part of the finite world….is a dimension limited to very few blessed ….being one with the infinite…is being one with God….and being able to transmit and cross the borders of finite and infinite at will …..is truly a blessing…..an indication how close you are to the eternal dissolution of your identity.

    Would like to remain in touch.

    1. Jerry L Martin Reply

      It is important that readers spread the word to friends who might benefit from the book. Ajit Dass has become my own faraway friend and is one of the book’s best readers. I am pleased now to know you both. As part of our agreement with Kindle, we do not post excerpts as such any more. However, if you register at the website, you can receive a free pdf of the first two parts of the book. Please let me hear from you again as you read into it. And please give Ajit my warmest greetings!

      http://godanautobiography.com/contact

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