Wed Nov 21, 2012
Time to give my two cents worth on the assignment. The question: Is it immoral or unproductive to pay kids to read books or to entice people with money to motivate them toward a good end?
The first thing one needs to do to answer this question with wisdom is to rid himself of his bias toward money. There are many who see money as evil or the root of all evil. Interestingly, this includes not only religious people but also non believers.
Money is a neutral energy like gravity, the rays of the sun or the wind. All can be put to destructive or constructive use depending on the intent, direction and intelligence behind them.
Many who see money as evil see it as a corrupting influence in most ways it is used. Some even refuse a high paying job in favor of a low paying one to escape the evils of possessing too much of it.
These people with a bias toward money will see evil in its use in many instances where it can produce good. For instance, a wealthy woman a while back started paying poor women to get their tubes tied so they wouldn’t bring children into a bad situation.
It is interesting that she gained some fierce opposition, not from conservatives but liberals who supported abortion but felt somehow that this approach was just plain wrong. Why? Because money was used as a motivator.
Another interesting case is the idea of paying people to donate their organs on their death. Some consider this a great way to provide a little extra inheritance for their kids. On the other hand, those who see evil in money strongly object to this and preach to us that we should be willing to donate organs of our own free will and not get paid. To get paid for such a thing is wrong they say.
But what makes it wrong? No one gets hurt and many benefit, As it is, we rely on volunteers there is always a shortage. Again, they feel paying for organs is wrong because of their bias toward money. Interestingly, they have no problem with a surgeon making a small fortune transplanting the organs.
Similarly, many of those who are against using money to motivate kids will often have a bias toward money and see it as evil. Therefore, they want to get their kids to do every good deed because they want to, not because they are paid.
To get to the truth of the matter must first rid ourselves of this evil money bias and look at each situation objectively and use the second key of judgment. There are times when paying a child money will create a positive influence and other times when it will not. Each circumstance must be assessed with judgment.
Take myself for example. I had never read a regular book in my life until I was thirteen. Before that, all I read was comic books, which I loved. I just considered regular books boring. What changed me was the accident I had at thirteen that laid me in the hospital for a month. Friends and church members brought me all kinds of books to read. Many of them were religious which didn’t interest me at all at the time.
Finally, someone brought me a book that caught my interest. Even though the cause of the accident was me making a rocket, someone had the gall to bring me a book on rockets.
Normally, I wouldn’t have read even that but I was so bored out of my mind with all that time on my hands that I decided to read it from cover to cover. When finished I not only had a great sense of achievement but discovered that I really enjoyed regular reading. I was hooked on books from that moment on. My only regret was that I didn’t get started earlier.
Actually, getting me sated earlier would have been easy to do. If one of my parents had given me an interesting book at the age of ten and given me $5 to read it all I would have done it and made the discovery earlier.
A kid who is a true seeker at heart would not have to be paid to read every book for once he gets started he will read a lot of his own free will. Like me he may need something to jump start him to get him going.
How about the kid who is not a seeker but just wants to get by? He may need more than a jump start. Maybe paying him whatever it takes to read a dozen books will make him realize the value of books. I wouldn’t recommend paying any kid forever to read books but if he doesn’t read much in the present the motivation of money may be just enough to direct the kid toward a new habit.
I’m a big believer in teaching kids the value of money and believe that it helps children to pay them for work that goes beyond mild chores. When a kid asks for extra money, instead of just giving it to them say, “I just happen to have a job for you so you can earn that extra money.
Each child is different so the parent will just have to do some experimenting to discover what will motivate him. I know that when me and my friend Wayne were growing up together we were motivated to do almost anything to earn a few extra dollars spending money. We would have gone to school dressed as dancing girls if someone would have paid us enough.
Nov 21, 2012
Good logical post Rob. I wish more gays would present their case as you do.
You say: “I wanted to add my thoughts on this topic, but also because I haven’t seen my opinions heard elsewhere.”
Actually what I have written is pretty close. I have previously stated that the answer to the marriage/gay problem was to get the State out of the marriage business and create a plan of legal contracts for all. Then each group can call and define marriage however they want.
You did come up with a point I have not heard before – that the state’s involvement in marriage is unconstitutional. A case can be made for this if marriage is determined to be a religious institution. On the other hand, if it is defined as a civil one then it would be Constitutional. I suppose the case could be made that many are married by a judge in a courtroom wit no religion involved at all.
Nov 21, 2012
Re: Paying Kids
To Dean, I read through your post carefully and can’t find any point that you have made that made any sense in proving anything I said wrong. All you are saying is, “JJ, you are wrong and research proves it.”
It would be helpful if you actually quote a point I made and then quote the research which is supposed to refute it.
Yes, it is quite obvious that continuing to pay students to develop a love of a thing will not increase or decrease the love of that thing. I have said nothing contrary to this.
I did say this. That had I been paid years earlier to read a book I would have discovered earlier the rewards of reading and would have had several years head start beyond that which happened. As it was, I still required incentive to develop a love of reading – boredom. Boredom forced me toward my discovery of the benefits or reading, but money could have done the same thing.
My point in my post is that judgment is they key to using money as an incentive and that is a point not covered in ANY research. Research generally uses black and white parameters with little or no judgment involved.
For instance, good judgment would indicate that money would not be much incentive to read books for a kid that already loves to read. On the other hand, good judgment in the use of money can help even a good reader to increase their knowledge.
Let’s suppose the kid has a part time job to earn money for something important in his life. The kid mentions to the parent that he wishes he had more time to read books, but his job seems to take most it.
The parent sees the value of the kids desire for knowledge and replies, “I’ll tell you what. If you will indeed spend your spare time in reading you can quit your job and I’ll pay you to read instead. How does that sound?”
The kid is thrilled and is much happier to get paid for reading than dreary work. It’s a win win in his book.
Money is an incentive to any chosen action, but it is not an incentive to create love. It can push in a direction so you can discover something you love or provide the free time so you can do what you love.
How you can so cantankerously disagree with me on this with absolutely no evidence is a mystery. You seem to be disagreeing just to be disagreeable as of late.
Nov 21, 2012
Re: Paying Kids
Dean: Your overall reply you are basically saying that paying kids to read is good because it gets them interested in books that it’s beneficial that was your argument you were making yes?
JJ No. That’s not what I was saying. I was saying that if one uses good judgment in providing incentive through the use of money the results can be positive. If good judgment is not used the results can be mixed or negative.
Dean I was saying that it’s not good because by paying them to read that adds an extra incentive factor into the mix, that interferes with the natural incentive (called intrinsic incentive) needed to fulfill certain ambitions that is to do with self esteem and satisfaction of obtaining a self set goal (that cannot be brought and monetary rewards only interferes with that process)
JJ Concerning some black and white program with no judgment involved such as paying kids a set amount to read books I don’t see the results as 100% bad the way you seem to but mixed.
The bad is that the kid is not relying on his own incentive and if the program continues too long he may not read much unless he has outside incentive.
The good is that he reads books he otherwise would not have read and will have the knowledge in his head the rest of his life. In some cases the habit of reading will grow into a love of reading that will continue with him when the payments cease.
Dean: So that is the point of research that can be verified, I suppose you want me to get quotes from specific journals then? This is not an essay I’m just telling you what I know of the research on that incentive theory. But if you cannot understand my point there is no way you would find the research on it even if I pointed the direct quote you still wouldn’t get it.
JJ You do not provide enough information about the research for us to even make a judgment on it.
Dean: Initially the debate or subject was about paying kids to read and if that’s beneficial to their achievement of learning. That was the context and subject matter. The judgment of that is through discerning which is more productive lol. And the research says it’s best not to pay them. So the best judgment to have about it, is to not pay them to read books as an incentive.
JJ You’re being black and white here, allowing no room for judgment. Suppose we applied this reasoning to a study that says that kids who watch TV are not as smart as those who do not watch it. By your reasoning then kids should never watch TV.
On the other hand, a parent with good judgment can guide the kid to watching programs that will stimulate his learning that will be missed by the kid with no TV.
You are wrong to say point blank that money cannot be used as a good incentive to read if good judgment is used. As I said, if my parents had promised me $10 to read a book at the age of ten I think that would have been a great help.
Dean: But you have gone back to “it’s a judgment”, as your point. And my point is that the theory established on it already says paying them to read is not productive to their well being.
So you are trying to bypass the incentive theory here and ignore the research, by making your own logic up on it again.
JJ I’m not bypassing it but speaking from the wholeness viewpoint on the overall principle of being motivated by money. Any incentive theory is just part of the principle involved.
Dean But this is completely different to our initial issue and you have thrown a totally different condition in there now. You are adding variables into the subject that we have not even discussed.
JJ That is what I do here. If you want a teacher that follows black and white protocol and is 100% predictable you are in the wrong place. Follow what I say and comment on my actual words and you will be less discombobulated.
Dean; Here is a parable that might further help explain. A baker tells an apprentice I will teach you how to bake a cake, so that you can become a really good baker and the worlds best cake maker. The student agrees. But every time the student does well the baker announces that I am the teacher am to get another medal this month, for teaching this student how to bake more to my standard and this re-affirms my teaching ability to even teach an ordinary person such skill
Eventually the student becomes the second best baker in the world. And the teacher says to him. Now look what you have achieved. You have become the second best baker in the world, But not the best, because I taught you everything you know and got you through it all and encouraged you all the way, and all the work you did, was cause I was teaching you. How does the apprentice feel about that? The apprentice feels robbed of his ambition and self initiative, his independence of the task at hand, the credit has gone to something else, in this instance the bakers ability to teach.
This is the same metaphor, for as paying the student to read, because by the time the student learns or appreciates the value in it, he’s going to be left with the fact that he was paid, to do so. And this is an assault to their goal setting initiative and overall capability at the task at hand.
JJ Your comparison makes no sense and the parable itself makes little sense. First, if I had a teacher that wanted to take more credit than he deserved or was just feeding his ego with my success I’d tell him where to go. I’d neither give him glory neither would I allow him to take away any of mine. He would in no way interfere with me basking in the gory of my own accomplishments with or without him.
Then linking money to the teacher doesn’t correspond much. Money has been partially responsible for a lot of things I have done in my life, from going to college to learning a number of valuable skills. I don’t go around moping “I am unworthy” because money is involved.
Nov 22, 2012
Re: Paying Kids
Larry writes: You know what I think? I think JJ was exactly right that many people have an emotional blind spot about money. I think you are one of them. You show every symptom of judging anything as bad if it involves money.
I think you are correct. This statement by dean illustrates his money–is-evil mindset
Dean: Why would it have been such a good help? Because you base your life around monetary gain and not what you should be doing? I don’t think it would have helped you much in the long run to be honest. I think it’s just a misuse of money and it teaches bad habits by sending a message that you are not capable so we must pay you to be capable of doing what you should be doing. That’s the only message you get out of that arrangement.
JJ He’s certainly got me wrong. My life is not built around monetary gain and there are many things that money cannot buy from me, but if someone offered me $1000 to read a book I would probably do it, for there would be no harm and I might learn something.
Nov 22, 2012
Rick: Back in those days, many parents still believed in the old saying, “Spare the rod, spoil the child”, so, ouch, I do have a few memories of harsh spankings and getting my mouth washed out with soap.
JJ For some reason the image conjured up in my mind of Rick having his mouth washed out with soap was amusing as the dickens, though I’m sure Rick didn’t see the humor at the time.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.
Nov 22, 2012
One More Time
I had wanted to leave this convoluted conversation paying kids to read, but on reflection I thought I would make another post – in the hope of presenting some clarification.
Let me recap the history.
I posted a video by Michael Sandel who supports the theory that paying kids to read books has negative results and asked the group what they thought.
After the group response I posted my overall view which was basically this. Money can be used as in incentive for almost anything and in some cases the results will be positive and in others negative. One must use good judgment on a case-by-case basis if he wants positive results.
For some reason my answer inflamed Dean who not only thought this was totally wrong but accused me of changing the subject.
I think the key to Dean’s thinking here is to look at why he accuses me of changing the subject and here is my conclusion.
I think that Dean was wanting me to give a black and white answer that didn’t involve the concept of judgment. He wanted me to either say paying kids to read is 100% a good thing of 100% a bad thing. He didn’t want me to give any answer that was in between the extremes.
The reason, I see as twofold.
(1) Of late he is bent on proving me to be wrong and if I gave a black-and-white-paying-kids-to-read-is-good answer then he felt he had the necessary ammunition to go after me.
(2) He sees money as evil, except for buying necessities, and if the case is made that paying kids to read is sometimes helpful then this goes against his mindset and cannot be accepted.
So the problem boils down to this. Dean wanted to argue on black and white letter of the law turf and not on anything involving judgment or exceptions. Even if I had said that paying kids to read was bad 90% of the time and good 10% of the time he would have been upset and attacked me over the 10%, as if I had said 100%. That’s the way black and white thinking works. Even a 1% exception is like 100% to them. I am 100% wrong in his mind, case closed.
The result of a mind using judgment arguing with a mind using the black and white mode is almost always misunderstanding. I have understood Dean, but he doesn’t understand me. For instance, he thinks I disagree with the research he presents. The truth is nothing I have said conflicts with his expert which says this:
“that reward can actually stifle intrinsic pleasure in learning- a prediction largely supported by available data.”
I agree with this 100%. Reward “can” stifle pleasure. Notice the use of the word “can.” This means it does not always do this but can have that effect at times. In other words, it would take judgment to see the difference and guide the outcome to success.
This is the same principle as rewarding the poor with money and food stamps. This can stifle them from achieving success, but not always. For some it will help them to survive until they can take care of themselves.
The bottom line of the whole situation here is that Dean is not arguing with me but a straw man as we basically agree on the core principle. I just do not go along with the idea that paying a kid to read is flatly 100% bad or that paying money to create incentive is 100% evil. Each situation requires some judgment.
Nov 24, 2012
The First Stage of Discipleship, Part 1
Rev 2:4-5 in The Unveiling
Duke was talking about the part of my book that covers the first stage of the path of the seeker after he discovers the Christ within. Since this is an important step I thought I would post the section covering this. This will be in two installments. Here is the first.
Ephesus: Gaining Permission Let us look at the first set of instructions:
“Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;” Rev 2:1
Ephesus basically means “given permission.” Why is permission an important word as the seeker begins his path to discipleship? It is indeed of extreme importance, much more than has been realized in the past. Throughout his long struggle the pilgrim has only acted when given permission from some earthly authority. That authority may be a priest, prophet, king, teacher, book, belief system, political party, group etc. Because the average person can only act under the permission of earthly authorities the inner voice is muffled. Why? Because the inner voice gives permission that overrides all outer authorities. A great problem then arises when the inner voice is recognized. The authority of the inner voice conflicts with the authority of the outer. Which is the seeker to follow? At first he has many fears of defying the outer authorities and hesitates. Later, after he takes the initial plunge, he goes to the other extreme and defies all authority almost mindlessly. He makes many mistakes until he learns the true lessons of harmonizing the inner voice with the outer world. To help the seeker put things in perspective he is told that the voice holds “the seven stars in his right hand, (and) walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.” The seeker is reminded that he is only lighting the first candlestick on the path to discipleship. He has six more great obstacles to hurdle and six more teachers and belief systems to transcend before he becomes a disciple. He must eventually realize that all seven stages are under the guidance of the inner Christ. Even though there are many perils, the path is a part of a grand design.
Praise from the Master’s Voice “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:” Rev 2:2
Nothing can be hidden from the inner God. He knows all thoughts and intents of the heart. The works of the newly aspiring disciple are seen and known. Three things are known about the aspirant by the Observer within: (1) His works Working for a spiritual ideal that goes beyond serving the lower self must take place before the seeker begins to tread the path of liberation. If a person thinks he is on the path but has no works, then he only has passing interest and has not yet gotten serious about moving forward. Nothing important happens, even for the spiritual seeker until actual work is done. The pilgrim will try every avenue possible to avoid work and take shortcuts until, after lifetimes of frustration, he finally realizes that there is much work to do and he must do his part. (2) Labor It would seem that there is not much difference between labor and work until we examine the Greek and realize that this is an incomplete translation. The word used for labor is KOPOS, which is more accurately translated as “strenuous and painstaking labor.” When the seeker begins a work he often thinks it will be painless and fun. He begins with an attitude that he is going to have a good time as he proceeds in the work. Even though there are always good times to be had (and one should make the best of all situations) all is not fun and games in the spiritual work. It is not long before storm clouds arise and troubles come. That which seemed to be easy becomes difficult and that which was fun becomes tedious and challenging. (3) Patience/Endurance Patience comes from the Greek HUPOMONE; “endurance”, or more specifically “steadfast endurance”, is a more accurate translation. This translation makes more sense and adds depth to the work of the aspirant. Many times the seeker begins an unselfish work but then quits after a few obstacles get in the way. When it looks as if the work will not bring immediate results he loses faith. Finally, after numerous cycles of labor and quitting he realizes that he must attain the added quality of endurance, an endurance that can carry the seeker through pain, grief and disappointment until results are obtained. He must obtain a living witness of the words of the Master: “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” Matt 24:13 He who endures until the work is done takes the first step in his own salvation or deliverance. Notice that the seeker is being praised for having achieved these three qualities in the first stage of discipleship, but the voice of the Master does not stop there. He gives additional praise: “thou canst not bear them which are evil.” This is awkward to interpret in isolation. Many people have different definitions of what is “evil.” We are clearly told though that the aspiring disciple does not embrace that which he sees as evil or destructive, but is repulsed by it. Apparently, he sees true evil, for the inner voice acknowledges his intolerance as a good thing. The next part of the verse identifies a particular evil that must be confronted: “and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.” A particular evil faced by the aspiring disciple are those who say they are apostles and are not. Who are such people? The word “apostle” is generally linked with the twelve disciples of Jesus, but many people surfaced with the claim of being the true successors of the original twelve or apostles in their own right. “Apostle” comes from the Greek APOSTOLOS and means “one sent forth with orders.” This implies that such a person has strong external authority. Now let us look again with whom the aspirant is dealing. These are they “which SAY they are apostles.” In other words, as the seeker begins the path of liberation one of the first great evils he must confront and overcome are those who seek authority over him to give him marching orders. Where do they get their authority? They only seem to have it because they (or their followers) “say” so. In order to make his first step of granting himself “permission” to listen to the inner voice, he must free himself from false unearned outer authorities. But note that he does not mindlessly reject an outer authority just because it is there and attempting to instruct or order him about. What does he do? The Master gives him praise for testing such people, and John himself, in another scripture, talks about the importance of such tests:
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” I John 4:1
Now the question arises as to how the seeker is to test such people. The next verse seems to give a simplistic answer:
“Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” I John 4:2-3
So is that all there is to the test? If they confess that Jesus came in the flesh then we know they are of God, right? Not quite. First we know this is not correct based on observation alone. Many tyrants and people of great evil have confessed the coming of Jesus. Cortez and other Conquistadors confessed the coming of Jesus in the flesh and forced thousands of Native Americans to also make such a confession or die. If this common interpretation is not correct, then what is? To understand, let us examine the verse more carefully. The key to the meaning is found in the phrase: “Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.” We covered in the beginning of this treatise that the name Jesus Christ means “anointed to deliver”, and applies not only to the Master in Galilee, but to all who successfully follow in his footsteps and seek to assist those who tread the path of deliverance. “Is come” is from the Greek ERCHOMAI and is the middle voice of a primary verb used only in the present and imperfect tenses. Here it is used in the imperfect tense which implies a thing that is in the state of progress or happening in the now, whenever that now is occurring. If we take this into consideration, then what is the verse really telling us? Who are those that pass the test? The orthodox version reads: “Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God.” A more accurate rendering as far as the meaning is concerned would be:
Everyone who confesses in spirit that (the name of) Jesus Christ is manifesting in (their own) flesh is of God.
This agrees with another scripture written by John:
“And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.” Rev 14:1
The name given of the Father is Jesus Christ and is written in the minds and hearts of all true followers. What then is the test of the true apostle? The seeker must search him out and discover this one thing: does he see himself as a representative of Jesus Christ in a way that you are not or could not be if you so chose? Or does he see you and himself as equals in the opportunity of manifesting the Christ within our fleshly tabernacles? Does he allow you to speak the words of your innermost soul and allow you to follow them without trying to place his outer authority over you, above your own inner authority? If he respects your inner voice as he does his own, and if he allows you to manifest Christ with the same authority that he does for himself, then he is of God. But if he seeks authority over you for the sake of glorifying his ego, then he is not of God – no matter what words of support he gives to Jesus. The seeker at this stage is thus praised by the Master’s voice. He has seen the deceit behind those who sought to control and direct him toward their own ideal rather than that of the inner Christ. The next verse reads:
“And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.” Rev 2:3
This reinforces the praise for the seeker’s endurance. Endurance is reiterated because successful endurance in keeping the mind steady on the Inner Light is much rarer than the performance of a labor. Many labor for a while and give up in the heat of the day, but those who have securely entered the path of liberation must be able to “endure all things” and continue until the work manifests the desired fruit – even if that end seems far away.
Freedom Without Responsibility The Master follows the praise with some criticism:
“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” Rev 2:4-5
Scholars are somewhat mystified as to what was the “first love” of the church at Ephesus. Some think that it was the original enthusiasm, brotherhood or ideals of the members that just wore off and they were being admonished to get themselves recharged. A closer examination will reveal that this was not the problem. To understand what the first love is we need to return to the key word which is “permission.” As written earlier, the first real step toward enlightenment and movement on the path occur when the seeker gives himself permission to follow his internal authority rather than the outward. To discover the first love we must ask ourselves what the seeker was attracted to that caused him to take the steps to find the path in the first place – before he followed his internal self. In other words, what virtue did he have before he was enlightened that made him move toward Spirit to begin with? The answer leads us to his first love. Before he was ruled by internal permission, his life was governed by external authorities who gave him permission. These external authorities were seen as representing the voice of God. As such, the seeker took these outer commands and instructions very seriously. He felt that if he disobeyed the prophet, priest, guru or book it was the same thing as disobeying God. He was thus very assiduous about honoring that voice and being a good servant for God, as he understood the concept. This was his first love. Then, at the start of his new journey, he discovered that the authorities representing the voice of God knew no more about the truth than he did – that his internal voice was what he needed to follow. The problem is that there are two internal voices. One is the voice of the Spirit and the other is the voice of the lower self, expressing lower desire. When the seeker first begins his journey on the path it is true that he does indeed contact the real voice, but neither is he perfect nor has he overcome selfishness. The lower voice is much easier to hear and requires no meditation or concentration of attention to get its message. Thus, when the aspirant begins his spiritual journey, he hears the lower voice much more than he hears the higher. In the past he had some protection from following the lower nature because he followed his “first love,” his teachers and the voice of God they represented. Despite their faults, these outer authorities admonished him to exercise self-control over his passions and lower nature. They encouraged him to have self-discipline. When the seeker discovers his inner authority and gives himself permission to ignore the outer, he (for a period of time) goes from one extreme to the other. He goes from obeying every external word that seems to come from God to ignoring all he has learned in the past. What does he do now? Now that he has released himself from outer authority he follows the inner, but the trouble is that the spiritual voice does not lay down the law in detail, as did the outer. If he has a decision to make and does not receive clear instruction from the Spirit, he falls back on lower desire. When he makes this mistake he is left with a choice between lower desire and outer authorities BUT he has rejected outer authorities, so in all areas where he has no clear communication through the soul (or perhaps ignores that communication), he is left with following lower desire. The net effect of this situation can be summarized as follows:
(1) The seeker makes the breakthrough and clearly hears and follows the still small voice. (2) He releases himself from the bondage of outer authorities. (3) He feels free and this freedom seems to be what enlightenment is all about. He now goes overboard and follows every desire that comes to him, ignoring the discipline he learned in the past.
This explains a popular criticism that many who consider themselves “enlightened” receive from the rank and file religious people. With some justification they will accuse them of being carnal, undisciplined, licentious, rebellious, etc. The seeker will often laugh such criticism off as being somewhat primitive and unenlightened, and continue to follow any impulse that feels good to him. This takes him away from the soul for a period of time. He will find that he will need a wake-up call from the Master’s voice to set him back on track. In a moment of sanity, when he sees that the lower impulses lead to disaster after disaster, he hears the higher voice:
“Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”
Upon hearing this message he realizes that he has discarded many principles from his past that harmonize with the voice of the Spirit. He has merely used his new freedom as an excuse to follow his lower nature. He sees that if he continues on the current course he will lose contact with the true inner voice and the light (candlestick) will no longer shine within. He must “repent,” or change course. He must honor those things from the past which were good and lead him toward Spirit, and follow the voice of the soul to yet higher realms of understanding.
Nov 25, 2012
The First Stage of Discipleship, Part 2
“But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” Rev 2:6
The voice of the Master gives another word of praise, and a somewhat odd one at that. The disciple is complimented for hating the same thing that God hates. But wait! We are not supposed to hate anything, are we? And yet a voice representing Christ or God speaks of his own hate. Now one could argue that Christ would never hate and perhaps this is merely John’s interpretation of the mind of God, putting a thought of God in language to which the seeker can relate. Yes, it may be true that in the higher spiritual spheres hate may not exist and the reason is that it is not a necessary means of communication there; but when any intelligence, whether man or god, descends to the earthly sphere, the language of emotion applies to all. I think, then, we can agree that the voice of God clearly states that it disapproves of the Nicolaitans in a way that we would interpret as hate – that is, if such a God were a human being speaking with us. So what is it about the Nicolaitans that cause the emotion of hate to come not only from the aspirant, but from the voice of God itself? Scholars have difficulty with this because there is little written about this group. Most of them, however, believe they were either founded or inspired by the disciple Nicolas who is mentioned once in the Bible. In Acts 6:5 his name is given as one of seven called to assist the Twelve Apostles. It is thought by some that he apostatized from the teachings of Christ and must have started a reprobate group after his name. Actually, the few writings we have from the early church fathers tell a different story. Here is an interesting account recorded by Eusebius giving a story told by Clement of Alexandria about Nicolas:
This man (Nicolaus), it is said, had a young and lovely wife. And when he was reproached by the apostles, after the ascension of the Saviour, for jealousy, he brought her into their midst and bade anyone marry her who wished. For this action, it is said, was in accordance with that saying (of his),
One ought to abuse the flesh;’ and, as a matter of fact, the members of his sect have followed both example and precept absolutely and without question, and commit fornication freely. But for my part, I understand that Nicolaus had intercourse with no woman except his wife; and that, as regards his children, the daughters grew old in a state of virginity, while his son preserved his chastity. Such being the case, when he brought the wife, whom he jealously loved, publicly into the midst of the apostles, it was to renounce his passion; and it was self-control, in the face of pleasures men eagerly seek, that taught him to say
abuse the flesh.’ For, I imagine, in accordance with the Saviour’s command, he did not wish to serve two masters, pleasure and the Lord.
The Nicolaitans then pursued the unrestricted license to pleasure and gratification in food, sex or whatever they fancied. To justify their actions they cited the story of Nicolas and his willingness to give up his wife to marry, or pleasure, any who wanted her. Since no one condemned him for this, then they reasoned it must be okay to share sexual favors, have group sex or whatever. The interesting thing is the Nicolaitans confiscated the name of a man who was doing his best to control passion and corrupted his teaching to give them license to have no self-control whatever. In the above quote we are told that in deed Nicolas was a very ascetic man who believed in sexual purity. He only had sex with his wife and his children were virgins and chaste. So it turns out that those who used his name to promote their doctrine of licentiousness were claiming to be followers of Nicolas, but were not. Indeed they were the opposite of Nicolas, or anti-Nicolas. This point sounds familiar, does it not? It does indeed when we go back a couple verses to these words spoken to Ephesus:
“thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.” Rev 2:2
This makes sense when we realize that the true seeker cannot bear false apostles, but neither can he tolerate those who falsely use the name of Nicolas, an assistant to the apostles. While it is true that the Master doesn’t approve of either extreme – asceticism or promiscuity – neither was offensive enough for him to use the word hate. Jesus did not show hate toward the prostitutes of his time. What offends the Spirit much more than indulging in the pleasures of the flesh is taking the teachings of a just man, corrupting them, and leading the people in the opposite direction. We are told that this happened with false apostles, and that there are those who corrupt the teachings of Christ and are antichrist. Finally, there are those who corrupt teachings of lesser saints such as Nicolas and hypocritically use his name. Another hint as to what is so disturbing to the voice of the Spirit is found in the name itself. Nicolaitans, derived from Nicolas, comes from two Greek words. The first is NIKAN, which means “victory or conquest.” The second is LAOS, which means “the people.” This implies one who is such a powerful personality or of such powerful authority that he dominates the people. Common people can easily accept the word of a powerful leader above their own inner voice. It is quite possible then that the meaning of the name of the Nicolaitans reveals that God is disgusted with the fact that men often set themselves up as an authority over the people and in doing so claim to be spokesmen for God. This causes them to replace the inner voice of God among the people with their own voice and ideas, thus deceiving the people out of their own inner contact and free will. We can conclude we are on the right track in identifying the things that God hates because they are the same two things that Jesus hated, which were:
(1) Those who were in charge of the temple claimed to be the rightful heirs to administering its services. Instead of keeping with the original intent set forth by Moses, David and Solomon, they corrupted it to their own ends. Jesus hated this and called them a “den of thieves” and made a whip and chased them out. (2) Jesus hated the hypocrisy of the leaders who would not let the people think for themselves. These leaders claimed to speak for God and that they should be followed without question.
To them Jesus said:
“But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.” Matt 23:13-14
Jesus never expressed disgust toward the typical sinner, but had compassion toward them. But he did express very negative feelings toward unjust leaders. The hate expressed by the voice of the Master toward the Nicolaitans was merely a reiteration of the disgust Jesus had toward the leaders in his day. It makes sense that the aspiring disciple, who has gained a sense of spiritual freedom, would hate the doctrine of the Nicolaitans who would seek to corrupt past teachings and force followers to conform to that corruption. It is interesting that misplaced hate still runs rampant in the churches today. They will tolerate that which God hates – corruption and unjust authority – while hating any type of sexual talk or indiscretion. Promiscuity is not the way of the disciple, but it is a much lesser wrong than that which is committed by those who seek to control the minds of men and take away their free agency.
The Spiritual Connection
“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” Rev 2:7
The Spirit gives an important message to the seven churches, or seven groups of aspiring disciples. The message is one of extreme importance: “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” The first thing to note is that one must “overcome” to partake of the tree of life. So many spiritual teachers are promising shortcuts and an easy path if we just follow them, but there is no shortcut for anything worth having. Instead, the seeker must make a strenuous effort to achieve the goal. It is interesting that Jesus compared himself to a vine connected to a tree, which gives life:
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” John 15:4-8
The idea presented here by the Master is a branch needs to be connected to a vine to stay alive. If it is not connected it does not receive the life-giving fluid and becomes “withered” and dies. Even so, the comparison fits the aspiring disciple. He connects with soul energy and feels spiritually alive more than any other time in his history. The problem is that he will often abuse the feeling of freedom that comes with this new life and, for a period of time, he will sever himself from the vine. When this happens he will be lead by the lower desire energies and his spiritual life will wither and die. He must awaken to his terrible situation and reconnect to the spiritual flow so he can continue his journey upon the path. The tree of life is “in the midst of the paradise of God.” True paradise is found in the center of our own being where the voice of God speaks to us. The seeker must center himself in the light at the core of his being so he can connect to the spiritual flow. Yes, we can die and go to paradise, but first we must live and go there. Just as there are many leaves, branches, limbs, and larger limbs in a tree, even so are there many states of consciousness to be attained after a permanent link is established.
The Ray of Ephesus Ephesus represents stage one for the seeker after the birth of Christ occurs in the heart. He or she uses the power of Ray Three to discern the true from the false. This represents the aspect of light and is called The Ray of Active Intelligence. In Ephesus the aspirant learns to use the light and active intelligence of Ray Three to discern the false teachers, break off from them and begin a journey on the great path of liberation.
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