Given that we can't know for absolute certainty, what are your personal theories regarding the story (legend) (truth) of Christian figure of Jesus?

I don’t mean to be entirely dismissive, but for me this question verges on absurd. Not that I haven’t encountered it before — in fact my first interactions with Christians who were striving to convert me centered around the various approaches to evidence or “proofs” concerning the person of Jesus and his miraculous acts. In the context of many Christian believers I met, it was these proofs that justified their beliefs…and so I think they assumed that the copious amounts of what they considered persuasive evidence would rock my world (though for some I suspect this was more about reinforcing their own self-justifications). But there was always something…well…that felt like a serious falling short on this particular road to any meaningful conclusions about Jesus and the Divine. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it…and so I shrugged off this rationalistic approach, along with many of these overeager evangelists.

Time passed.

Then one day - at the encouragement of a friend - I decided to read the Gospel of John. And the more I read it, the more a lot of things began to fall into place for me — in terms of understanding the early Christian message, and also understanding myself and what was really important to me. This has to do with what I would call “the felt reality of truth.” To know something in one’s bones in a non-rational but nevertheless profoundly persuasive way. I didn’t know Rumi at that time, but he spoke to this experience artfully:

“Intellect is good and desirable to the extent it brings you to the King's door. Once you have reached His door, then divorce the intellect! From this time on, the intellect will be to your loss and a brigand. When you reach Him, entrust yourself to Him! You have no business with the how and the wherefore. Know that the intellect's cleverness all belongs to the vestibule. Even if it possesses the knowledge of Plato, it is still outside of the palace.”

And of course the non-rational gravity well that the Gospel of John describes is all about agape — Divine love. Something Rumi and Hafiz also expounded upon extensively, and their writing would later me into “a felt reality of truth” in much the same way that the Gospel of John did. Some other Christian and Jewish texts have had a similar effect — Psalms, Ecclesiastes, The Shepherd of Hermes, The Gospel of Thomas - but the Gospel of John really grabbed me in a way that was meaningful…and enduring. Because it spoke to my heart in a language that my heart knew, but my mind…well…it didn’t really understand anything at all.

In any case, this message of love “rang true” in ways that invited relationship with the Divine. And so I embarked on a journey to intimately know “the enigma in the mirror;” to explore and eventually embrace a deep and abiding love affair with God. And without the Jesus described in the Gospel of John — without the words and deeds attributed to him in that book — I would not have experienced this transformation. I would certainly still be a spiritual person, indeed I would be a mystical person, and perhaps even a person who learned over time how to be more compassionate and kind to others…but I would not have become devoted to love itself. And I don’t think I would have been as empowered in this journey (in a spiritual sense) to seek the good of All.

So for my experience of faith (and I do not mean belief, but Faith as an Intentionally Cultivated Quality of Character), this Quora question is a mighty distraction from what I feel is essential - from what I now discern to be important and vital in my own religious experience. And, further, I would say that I “know” (in the sense of gnosis and sophia) the spiritual truth of love as an “absolute certainty.” How do I know? Because I was willing to practice, as best I could, the mindset, attitude and relating to others that the story of Jesus conveys — and because I was willing to invite holy spirit to assist me in these interior and exterior efforts.

In this context - the context of experiential certainty of transformative power - “personal theories” about Jesus of Nazareth are intellectual exercises, distractions that do little more than inflame egos into defending or assailing them. Perhaps, as the question poses, such theories can form the basis of a “rational discussion” that appeals to some - perhaps to a fruitful dialectic. But for me it is like trying to explain what it feels like to jump naked off of a cliff into an icy lake…using math, when it really should be poetry.

My 2 cents.

From Quora:

How can educated, intelligent people believe in a god without proof of one?

Because they don’t limit themselves to an extraordinarily narrow, mechanistic or reductionist slice of acceptable “proof.” Almost all discussions of “proof” regarding any given POV (for, against, agnostic, etc.) are understandably restricted to the kinds of proof that are acceptable to the belief systems of those participating. This is a classic example of confirmation bias and it’s sibling exclusionary bias across all spectra of beliefs. It’s very human, but it’s inherently polarizing. There are people who don’t “believe” that human beings ever walked on the moon, or that anthropomorphic climate change is real, or that Donald Trump is an idiot, or that cigarettes cause lung cancer, or that eating lots of beef is unhealthy, or that extraterrestrial life is possible, or that fine art is culturally important, or that wealth doesn’t provide happiness, or that empathy is a critical component of human relationships. It doesn’t matter how much evidence we offer…they just won’t accept evidence contrary to their belief investment. In fact there is ample research to suggest that countervailing “proof” just amplifies cognitive dissonance and pushback. In other words, humans are pretty consistently irrational beings - and most especially when they “believe” they are being rational. So for one person, there are qualities of proof that allow them to accept a spiritual dimension of existence, whereas another person just doesn’t trust those flavors of proof at all. And since we tend to be aggressively self-justifying regarding our beliefs, of course we also “believe” that our particular standard of proof is superior to those who disagree with us. IMO this is really the heart of substantial disconnect between theists and non-theists. Beyond that, there is also a frequent inability to accept the other person’s position at all - not even in a speculative sense - so that opposition becomes that much more entrenched. It’s silly, really, because when one person says “my experience has shown me that trusting in, and relating to, the Divine is a worthwhile, self-justifying and intrinsically valuable practice,” that is not inherently contradictory to another person saying “my experience has shown me that trusting in and relating to the Divine is a fruitless superstition with no intrinsic value at all.” These are two separate experiential truths, and both are inarguably true from the perspective of the issuer. At this point, asserting that one position has intellectual voracity and ego superiority to the other is vainglorious masturbation…but that never stopped anyone from dismissing another’s belief as being “without proof.” Just as, in fact, this question has done.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post:

Are you a spiritual hypocrite?


I got a good laugh from this one, because OF COURSE I am a hypocrite - on spiritual and countless other levels in nearly all of my habits. I think it is part of being human. For example:

1. I detest conspicuous consumerism and rail against it constantly…while also consuming beyond what I really need (that is, for the pleasure of consuming).

2. I believe that compassion is the truest expression of spiritual development - and that I have cultivated manifestations of my spiritual Self - but I make choices that are not compassionate all the time.

3. I decry the irrational stupidity of conservative Americans for their self-contradictory choices and reflexive groupthink…while at the same time I will sometimes defend contradictory progressive values without carefully thinking them through.

4. I encourage my clients and students (in meditation, coaching, etc.) to let go of animalistic reflexes in favor of conscious, skillful self-nourishment…but I feed my inner primitive wolf quite often with my own reptilian frustration and impatience.

5. I am confident that the Universe advances along its given trajectory with or without the involvement of my will…but I can still be willful or try to control outcomes in a way that contradicts that belief.

At the same time, I also do TRY to overcome this rampant hypocrisy by adjusting my thoughts, behaviors and responses to align more with my professed values, and avoid situations that would entice me to undermine them more easily. And of course this is like a game of Whac-A-Mole. Ha. But really I think this should flow effortlessly out of my way of being, not in response to conscious discipline. And so for now I must just accept that I haven’t progressed as far as I sometimes wish that I have…and try not to judge myself (or anyone else) too harshly for being a raging hypocrite.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post:

Could someone into Christianic monasticism/mysticism tell of what I describe below?

It is known by some Greek orthodox people as ”άκτιστο θείο φώς”/ non-material-divine-light. Most likely there's a feeling of God, and likely an out of body experience/altered state of consciousness.

Thank you for the A2A Chrysovalantis.

Encountering light, working with light, entering light, being filled with light…these kinds of experienced are referenced in the literature of nearly all mystical traditions - theist and non-theist. Sometimes the light is associated with God, sometimes with a particular Buddha, sometimes with life-force energy, sometimes with the unmanifest aspects of the Divine, sometimes with one’s own soul, sometimes with angels or spirits, sometimes with a particular region in a spiritual realm, sometimes with a particular form of consciousness or peak experience. It’s everywhere. Among the gnostic Christians there seems to have been a major interest with one’s own “light,” as well as the light of Christ, and the gospel of John is replete with references to light as a manifestation of the logos, then stating directly in 1 John 1 that “God is light.” The Apostle Paul, in Ephesians 5, pretty much spends that whole chapter discussing light, and I would encourage you to read it and meditate upon it. Also, throughout the Bible we find encounters with the Divine - and agents of the Divine - as often accompanied by a blindingly bright light. So again, it is everywhere.

Regardless of mystical tradition, entering the light, dwelling in the light, and/or allowing the light to dwell in you is more than a metaphor. It is part of an initiation and an ongoing practice. And the many forms of meditation or prayer that invite these conditions are central to mystical practice.

My 2 cents.

Is any theodicy reasonable?

Which do we trust - our hearts or our minds? Where do Reason and Passion intersect?

I think the details of this question are the answer to the question. Where reason and passion intersect is what is important. Continually navigating the relationship and synergy of felt experience and rational consideration is what is important. Developing a sense of discernment that proves itself reliable in predicting the rightness or efficacy of a given choice in terms of outcomes…this is what is important. Learning how to most skillfully express compassion for another human being and for oneself…this is what is important. Cultivating wisdom about how best to stimulate love-consciousness in others, and help them make wise, discerning and effective choices for themselves…this is what is important. Learning how to consult the spirit within, and adding this to the mix of inputs to synthesize final insight and judgment…this is what is important.

The goodness of God, in these contexts, is basically irrelevant. If you have a friend that you love, and who loves you, and your experience over a lifetime of friendship with them has been positive, supportive, edifying, empowering and encouraging to your maturity and wisdom…well, would it matter if someone could “prove” to you in some logical way that your friend was more bad than good? Or that they seemed hypocritical or insincere according to that outsider’s perspective? If your experience of that friendship - and your observations of your friend - contradicted these criticisms in fundamental ways, you would know how to answer that person, wouldn’t you, from your own experience? Your convictions about your friend would likely override abstract suppositions…because you know and love your friend.

I think it is such experience of relationship within which passion and reason intersect, and instructs us on how best to trust all of our being rather than just one part - our hearts and minds…and our spiritual insights, our somatic intuitions, our social intelligence, our learned life lessons and so on. Over time, experience instructs us how to integrate all such input streams into a sense of discernment and wisdom. It is from this perspective that a person can say to me: “So all of these internal contradictions I’m observing about the Divine make me just want to run away and deny the Divine exists at all!” To which my response would be: “That’s interesting. My experience of those same contradictions has deepened my wisdom and encouraged me to look deeper within myself for answers. In fact, I would say that my ‘disagreements’ with the Divine have been some of my most instructive experiences.”

From Quora question:

What specific beliefs in a religion would tend to indicate that its other beliefs are misguided?

Interestingly, individual beliefs really aren’t that indicative of anything but the viability of the individual belief itself. Believing that a purple rhinoceros mated with the moon to produce the Earth’s sky doesn’t mean that some other belief is, purely by association, misguided or faulty. That is a bit of a classic “composition fallacy,” and can quickly lead to converse errors. Of more import, IMO, are the values, virtues and resulting ethos that a coherent and cohesive body of beliefs consistently support and inspire. That is, for me it is more about the aims of a hierarchy of beliefs - and whether that hierarchy constructively reinforces and enables those aims.

But first, why are coherence and cohesion important? Only in that, over time, if the belief and values hierarchies are rife with contradictions, inaccuracies, fallacies, etc. we can observe this will likely encourage an authoritative, dogmatic orthodoxy - one that seeks to remedy an otherwise ever-enlarging cognitive dissonance, and often becomes institutionalized. In other words, in response to an inherent instability in those hierarchies, its proponents can become more and more rigid, legalistic and controlling of each other, and in increasingly harmful ways. It is an understandable human reflex - though not a particularly attractive one - to avoid questioning if those questions can quickly undress core beliefs or undermine the structure and interdependence of a given set of values - especially if this then destabilizes social cohesion or personal status.

Also, the issue of emphasis is important. I’ve used the term hierarchy to specifically call this out. There are core values and core beliefs that are often intimately related, and tend to be grounded in human relationships and interdependence. For example, if I love my father and observe that - in our family at least - his role is to protect my family and materially provide for them, then it is much easier to cultivate a core belief that he is somehow deserving of that role, and that a “father” is in fact defined by these responsibilities. In this way values and virtues like loyalty, respect, obedience, self-sacrifice and so forth can quickly fall into place as consequences of those core assumptions and experiences. Once this is then observed and agreed upon within a community, supportive beliefs and values - and their cohesive and coherent hierarchy - can become generalized and self-perpetuating.

But what if, at some point, I ask my father where the sky came from, and he tells me about the purple rhino? If I accept the story, it is incorporated into my belief hierarchy…but far down the chain. It’s veracity is dependent on a very large tree of branching beliefs that are rooted in my love for my father and acceptance of his role in my life. Believing in the purple rhino - misguided as it may be - in no way dilutes the importance and operational basis of all the beliefs that came before it. It would only become problematic if I then inverted the belief and values hierarchy, and placed ritual and dogma regarding the purple rhino (or some other core belief or value not grounded in relationship) above my love for my father. This inversion is warned against in most religions. For example, that is the essence of the teaching in 1 John 4 “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” And of course warnings against dogmatic inversions is a central theme of the New Testament narrative as a whole. More importantly, if a given belief or value isn’t facilitative of a given core set, it’s going to become vestigial or be entirely discarded…eventually. We might call this “pruning the belief tree.”

Circling back to the central question, then, I would recast it in the terms I’ve just described. Are the hierarchies consistent and coherent? Do they align with subjective and observed experiences? Do they facilitate core beliefs and values that have arisen from - and are intrinsic to - human relationship? Viewed as a whole, does a given belief and values system actualize and sustain itself, synthesizing outcomes that reinforce and amplify core beliefs and core values in its final ethos? If not, then there will be “misguided” consequences.

My 2 cents.

From Quora:

In which verse of the St. John's Revelation the equivalency of Jesus with Lucifer is made?

If you are restricting yourself to the King James Bible, that mistaken correlation could be made between Isaiah 14:12 and Revelation 22:16. Not a very interesting answer without additional elaboration, however, and although I’m not certain you are looking for that, I’ll provide it for you and anyone else who reads this. :-)

References to the day star or morning star aren’t abundant in the Bible, and are used in strikingly different contexts. Most scholars believe these instances - which, it should be noted, may use differing words in the original language - are referring to the planet Venus as metaphor. Thus among our plethora of versions of the Bible we find this metaphor used for the King of Babylon (Isaiah 14:12), King David (Psalm 110:3), Job’s reward for repentance/rededication to God (according to Zophar in Job 11:17); an implied taleos of Divine revelation (2 Peter 1:19); ascendent authority on Earth to those who keep their faith and do good works “until the end” (Rev 2:28), and Jesus (Rev 22:16). And among these instances, sometimes the metaphor has positive connotations (Psalm 110, 2 Peter 1, Rev 2:28 and 22:16), and sometimes more negative ones that imply a level of arrogance or self-righteousness (Isaiah 14, Job 11). And of course this kind of variation is the case for many words and phrases in the Bible - and indeed many words and phrases in all the languages on our planet - so we must look to the context of each passage to understand the specific meaning.

Now since the King James version uses “Lucifer” in Isaiah 14:12, having relied on St. Jerome’s Latin vulgate translation of the Hebrew (הֵילֵל - heylel), this has created some confusion. However, “lucifer” as a word is purely St. Jerome’s invention from many centuries before…and one which he himself did not capitalize into a proper name when he invented it. But it gained popularity over time, and by the time of the KJV compilation, Lucifer had become capitalized, personified, and associated with Satan. In reality, however, all of this is just an arbitrary development of cultural mythology…without any exegetical basis.

So, really, the answer to your question is: there is no such equivalency, only folkloric contrivance.

I hope this was helpful.

From Quora question: "In which verse of the St. John's Revelation the equivalency of Jesus with Lucifer is made?"