Raised as a Methodist Christian, my first exposure to the “fate vs. free-will” conundrum was understood, at the most basic level, through the Divine words of Jesus Christ:
25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
-The Gospel According To Matthew, Chapter 6: 25-27-
-The New Testament of The Bible (King James Version)-
In fact, Christianity is overflowing with poetic pearls, like this one, that suggest we should all just relax, a bit, about the future and take comfort in the knowledge that God is the one “driving the car” of our reality. However, for all of its wonderful advice, it was my choice to constrain my religious perspective to “Jesus ONLY!!!”, that helped to keep me unaware of The Wetikó.
RE-CLAIMER: I no longer consider myself to be ONLY Christian…but rather…ALSO Christian. I have decided to embrace the perspective that ALL religious perspectives are correct (AND incorrect) in their own UNIQUE ways. To me, the point is to take the best of each, recognize the flaws in each, and DO MY BEST to find the true and common aspects among them…that I may become ever-more tolerant and accepting of all individual perspectives. After ALL…we are all ONE!
Known, with no small degree of pride…I imagine…as, “Catholic Guilt,” in the most influential and powerful Christian faith…nearly all religions encourage their flock to ONLY trust THEIR version of the whole “God” story. But…even Catholics defer to “Jews” on who’s been “dealing with the whole guilt thing” for longer…if one decides to look into the question, of course. Thus, having spiraled out from my initial “New Testament” teachings, I found that there is this whole other tome…NAMEd “The Old Testament!” In true modern “style,” it is even conveniently “attached” to “my” book!
But seriously…our Jewish history, too, is replete with advice regarding the requirement for humans to believe in, and live our lives with, the understanding that there is a “larger plan” playing out…in which we each have a meaningful role waiting for us to embrace.
The story, in The Book of Genesis (Genesis 22:1-14), regarding the “Binding of Isaac,” (Pictured below) is paramount for this topic! Especially for those of us lucky enough to have children!
Abraham was willing to kill his own son to show his loyalty to…what he thought was…God’s plan! (Interestingly, I have yet to engage any parent in the present age, personally, who is willing to consider Abraham’s dilemma…ironically telling me, in one way or another, that “You cannot understand or engage in this topic without having had a child of your own!”)
I believe this is an irony that was not lost on the ram that Abraham pulled from the bushes and “sacrificed,” after God gave “the pass” on MURDERING his firstborn! If one looks closely and follows The Angel’s pointing finger…hiding-in-plain-sight at the bottom-left of the artistic rendition above, is The Ram!
Poor Aries (The Ram constellation and the 1st Sign of the western Zodiac in traditional Astrology)…in my imaginary, picayune, yet prophetic pedagogy that takes place after the Ram dies…between God and ah…other parts of God…played by Aries in this case, Aries (after realizing he was gonna be sacrificed) says, “Argh! Come on! Why didn’t ‘Ab’ just do like usual and sacrifice the Bull!?!?” (Taurus is “the Bull” in Astrology, the 2nd Sign of the Zodiac after Aries…profoundly, it is also the “Astrological Age” preceding Aries in the 24,000-year cycle…or dance…of the stars, known as “The Precession of the Equinoxes”…or as Plato NAMEd it, “The Great Year”…we’ll get to that later too.)
But God softly replies and, for some reason, God sounds a lot like Ronald Reagan to me in this farce, “Nope…we are headed for the Age of Aries now, Lil’ Buddy…and that ain’t no Bull!”
Or, one could choose to consider the karma Aries (Also the God of War in Greek mythology) engendered by hiding in the bushes, hoping to get a “front-row-seat” for the way-misunderstood and undoubtedly PTSD-inducing “Execution of Isaac”! What kind of ram hides in the bushes with those motivations anyway? WetikóRAM does. But…Karma can be a Bitch, with a capital ‘B’!…as The Wetikó has learned over the ages, I imagine.
Apropos (From the French meaning, “(with regard) to (this) purpose)”…my incredibly hilarious and wise friend, NAMEd Gemini/Cancer75 (That means he was born on June 21st, the cusp (Or joining) day between the two signs…also the most energetic and longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere…the Summer Solstice!), was responding to my request for his perspective regarding Abraham and Isaac, and touched on one of the most important themes, if you haven’t guessed it yet, of this journey-o-mine…humor.
I also love the story of Abraham getting ready to sacrifice his son. But I love it, because in my version as they are walking down from the mountain, Abraham’s son is all like, “You just wait until I tell mom!” and Abraham is like, “I love you son . . . but you see God told me to do it and . . .” And his son is like “Yep! Word of advice Dad! Think about changing that story when you explain how you were going to KILL ME to Mom!!”
Like my good friend, I do not have children…yet…and like him, I imagine that God is the funniest comedian out there. Thus, His dark/ironic humor is the funniest dark/ironic humor out there…if one decides to look at it that way, of course. After all, God created The Devil…The Wetikó…therefore, it is part of God too…and laughter cures MY pain. Thus, not surprisingly, humor is another powerful tool that NAME! employs to not only reveal, but also to disarm The Wetikó.
Incidentally, there was Divine foreshadowing in Gemini/Cancer75’s comments (FYI…The combination of his Zodiac sign and birth-year is my way of protecting his privacy!), as he unknowingly unveiled a concept that did not come into focus for me until MUCH later in my journey, as I began drafting this first episode.
That is the idea of a story changing over time…that, in fact, historical stories could change or be changed, to serve the purposes of those in power at any given point in history. The Divine aspect, though, was learning that there is evidence of this truth hiding-in-plain-sight within the different versions of Abraham and Isaac…
History is written by the victors.
–Walter Benjamin (1892 – 1940)–
Thus, in the spirit of “looking at things from a fresh perspective,” allow me to offer a brief “comparative-anatomy” of Abraham and Isaac…as seen through the eyes of the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim versions of the story. For it is Divinely significant to “blare out” what both my friend and I originally thought about the telling of this story…since we grew up…albeit in different sects/types…hearing ONLY the Christian version.
As the story reads in most versions of the Christian Bible, Gemini/Cancer75 and I were both under the impression that; (1st) Abraham was instructed by God, as a temptation, to sacrifice/murder his son, (2nd) he then proceeded to lie to his son and his two servants about what they were going to sacrifice, and then (3rd) came to the “knife’s edge” of a killing downstroke, when God’s Angel stopped him:
1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, “Abraham”: and he said, “Behold, here I am.”
2 And he said, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.”
3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.
4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
5 And Abraham said unto his young men, “Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.”
6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, “My father”: and he said, “Here am I, my son.” And he said, “Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”
8 And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering”: so they went both of them together.
9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.
10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
11 And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham”: and he said, “Here am I.”
12 And he said, “Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.”
13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.
14 And Abraham called the NAME! of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.
-The Book of Genesis, Chapter 22: 1-14-
-The Christian Bible (King James Version)-
However…in the Torah, which is the “original” Hebrew Old Testament that the Jewish religion considers the sacred text, there are a few VERY significant differences in this story. The first occurs is in the 1st verse:
1 And it came to pass after these things, that God tested Abraham, and He said to him, “Abraham,” and he said, “Here I am.”
The second…in the 2nd verse:
2 And He said, “Please take your son, your only one, whom you love, yea, Isaac, and go away to the land of Moriah and bring him up there for a burnt offering on one of the mountains, of which I will tell you.”
(1) “Tested” in the Torah versus “tempt” in the Bible and (2) “bring him up there” in the Torah versus “offer him there” in the Bible. “Bring him up there” does not explicitly suggest that Abraham is supposed to use Isaac as the sacrifice…just that his son should be taken along with Abraham, perhaps simply as a witness, for whatever this “test” was going to be. The Bible, conversely, directly attempts to “tempt” unsuspecting Christians into the interpretation that God directly instructed Abraham to kill/sacrifice his son…not as a “test,” but to “tempt” him. Huh!?!?
Hmmmm…I have to ask…does God really need to tempt us to do anything? Isn’t that the role of a…darker…character in this story? Veeerrrrrrry interesting, nay! Who knew? Let’s see what else is different, shall we?
8 And Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And they both went together.
“Provide for Himself the lamb” versus “provide himself a lamb” in the Bible. As in the first example, the flow and arrangement of the words here is different in the two versions…which, to me, suggests something unusual is occurring in the minds of the original Bible authors. Also significant, the “H” in “Himself” is capitalized here and not in the Bible.
12 And he said, “Do not stretch forth your hand to the lad, nor do the slightest thing to him, for now I know that you are a God fearing man, and you did not withhold your son, your only one, from Me.”
“You are a God fearing man” versus “thou fearest God” in the Bible. As in the other verses, the arrangement and choice of wording is different in the Bible. But again, more revealing, is the Torah’s use of capitalization to indicate who is speaking. Notice that the lowercase “h” in “he” (meaning the angel) suggests that the angel is speaking, but the voice of God is coming out of the angel’s mouth…it is not the angel’s voice…further clarified by the “M” in “Me” being capitalized in the Torah…while NOT in the Bible.
Most compelling of all, to ME, is a FULLY capitalized word in the Bible that is not capitalized…at least not in the same way…in the Torah:
Channeling the best impression I can conjure of my mother: “Ohhhhh Lord!!!”
Yup…it would seem, upon CLOSE inspection, that there is FAR more going on than meets the eye, with this particular…four-letter-word! According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, Lord, means: “One having power and authority over others.”
“Keep your pantyhose on.”
-Ed Harris as, “Virgil” in The Abyss (1989)-
I believe that in both the Bible and the Torah, God is God…and the LORD or Lord is not…exactly…God! Ruminate on that one for awhile and we’ll come back to it…or as the non-smoker says to the smoker, “Put THAT in your pipe and smoke it!”
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
–Francis of Assisi (1181 – 1226)–
From what I have read so far, Islam too, emphasizes the imperative viewpoint of “trusting in fate.” I have only been studying this religion for a few years, so my opinion is, admittedly, novice in comparison to what I would imagine most Muslims would consider a “correct” interpretation of the Qur’ān. However, before discussing the Islamic version of Abraham and Isaac…
Since it is simultaneously one of the primary targets of the 9/11 attacks and the youngest of the three religions that I have chosen to reference for this topic, I would like to preface the conclusion of my “comparative-anatomy” with an essential tenet of the Muslim faith: ENDURE WITH PATIENCE…regardless of what choosing to do so may entail.
One must endure with patience everything while observing all the acts of worship, refrain from all acts of disobedience and resist whims and perverted desires. Calamities and misfortunes must also be faced with patience.
-Muhammad Ibn Ridā Murād (Arabic-to-English Qur’ān Translator)-
Undeniably, human comprehension of “the Divine Plan” is something that only comes when God decides it is time. We must always remember to be patient as we wait for that understanding…and to not be angry with God about His timing.
Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better to take things as they come, along with patience and equanimity.
–Carl Jung (1875 – 1961)–
What I found truly fascinating in my research into Islam…which synchronously began by meeting a young man NAMEd Mohammad Ali (Calm down, it was not THAT one!) in a line at Walmart during Scorpio (November) 2010…is that the Qur’ān closely mirrors the Old Testament of the Bible!
Qur’ānic chapters are called Suras and verses are called, Ayahs. Like the Bible and the Torah, passages are conveniently referenced by using the numeric combination of Sura and Ayah…as you will see below!
One DIVINE difference, though, is that…by design…the Qur’ān (Which means, “the Recitation.”), remains unaltered from the time it was originally written down…which took 23 years to complete! It was not permitted to EVER change or amend the text, once it was finished in 632 AD.
This suggests, in my opinion, that the Qur’ān may be a “more reliable” historical source, than its two counterparts…which have changed dramatically over the years, in their MANY incarnations and translations. The Qur’ān was written in Arabic…ergo, it has never been in need of translation into another language…even though attempts have, obviously, been made to do so.
As The Devil is in the details, the choice of the wording in the Qur’ān is crucial. Like a math formula, no word was chosen by accident or in an out-of-control manner. According to Islamic beliefs, every word and expression was deliberately chosen by God. In fact, when Muslims recite…the Recitation…its sounds, to me, more like they sing it, than they speak it. To me, listening to someone recite the Qur’ān is beautiful and Divine.
God respects me when I work, but He loves me when I sing.
–Rabindranath Tagore (1861 – 1941)–
The Islamic version of Abraham and Isaac (37: 100-110) Divinely reveals how drastically the versions of this story have…diverged…over the years. Taking the lessons to a completely different level, the Qur’ān never says that God told Abraham to kill/sacrifice his son. Instead, the Qur’ān teaches us that Abraham had a dream in which he saw himself slaughtering his son. He believed the dream and thought that the dream was from God (The Qur’ān never says the dream was from God).
And when he reached with him [the age of] exertion, he said, “O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think.” He said, “O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast.”
-The Holy Qur’ān 37: 103-
Also OBVIOUSLY different, is the fact that Abraham did not LIE to his son!
In fact, Isaac not only knew that he may end up being sacrificed…he was “totally cool with it,” if that was the will of God!
As far as I can tell, neither the Torah NOR the Bible speak of the dream, or deal with the dishonesty, in their versions of the story!
The Qur’ān specifically teaches us that God never advocates immoral acts, bad conduct, or oppression…which are all forms of evil (7:28 and 16:90).
It is The Devil who advocates evil and vice (24:21).
In other words, both the acts of lying and a father slaughtering his son, are evil acts that cannot come from following God. It can only come from being tempted by, and then “choosing” to follow The Devil.
And do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is EVER a great sin.
-The Holy Qur’ān 17:31-
Thus, despite what we have heard on television since 9/11, Islam HAS NEVER, DOES NOT TODAY, AND WILL NEVER advocate human sacrifice.
According to Islam, God would not contradict Himself and order Abraham to commit what He prohibits…even as a test!
Most importantly for ALL religions to address, in my opinion, is that…according to Islam…prophets are normal human beings who are also, and as much, susceptible to the tricks of The Devil as everyone else.
And We did not send before you any messenger or prophet except that when he spoke [or recited], Satan threw into it [some misunderstanding]. But Allah abolishes that which Satan throws in; then Allah makes precise His verses. And Allah is Knowing and Wise.
-The Holy Qur’ān 22:52-
Thus, fiendishly fooled, Abraham thought the dream was from God and proceeded right to the…”edge of the knife.” But, at the last minute (When the hero always saves the day…) God sent Abraham “the lamb”…to be sacrificed instead…preserving the sacred father-son relationship.
What a nice…wholesome…story to teach to our children!
It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.
–Julius Caesar (100 – 44 BC)–
To bring us “full spiral” back to this episode’s theme, I offer what I consider to be the most important statement ever written on this fate vs. free-will dilemma:
Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season?
Or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?
-The Book of Job 38:32-
-The Old Testament of The Bible (King James Version)-
What is important to know, is that “Mazzaroth” is the ONLY word in the entire Bible that was, purposely in my opinion, left untranslated from the original Hebrew. That is because it translates as “Zodiac!”
“Arcturus,” by the by, is the fourth-brightest star in the North sky and is the primary star in the extra-Zodiacal constellation (Pictured above) NAMEd “Boötes” (Greek for, “Plowman” or “Ox-Driver”), Boötes is associated with the Ursa Major family of constellations that includes the well-known asterism, the “Big Dipper.” (Asterisms are not necessarily actual constellations, but can simply be shapes that people see in the sky…like the Big Dipper!)
This paramount statement, spoken by God to Job, is easier understood in the context of the entire Book of Job, as this is the climax of that story. However, to me, it essentially means DO NOT “delight myself” in the LORD…because God created EVERYTHING we see, if for no other reason than so that we may have the experience of seeing it. EVERYTHING…even 9/11…
For me, I have decided to think about it like this…do not ever think that I KNOW what God would want or what God intends to have happen in any future situation…ever. NEVER delight…always DO MY BEST to stay humble, patient, and ever-attentive to the signs that God offers.
And so, I ask for your patience as you read what is simply my perspective on some very tough realities. 9/11 is just the “tip of the iceberg.” It is not an easy journey, but remember that every single difficult paradox is also an opportunity for light and knowledge to emerge…so it ends happily…always!
become that trusting
OPEN SURRENDERED BEING
the ENERGY can’t come in
that is the kingdom of heaven
it is the same thing
–Baba Ram Dass–
With that in mind, this “soil preparing” Episode ONE will conclude…in Part 3…with some advice, from the Mayan culture, on how to be in the only place we can, the present moment. For me, that is where the real magic awaits each of us.
Next Piece: Act I, Episode ONE, Part 3