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Suffering and spirituality

Discussion in 'Spirituality and ME/CFS' started by Nielk, Aug 17, 2011.

  1. Nielk

    Nielk

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    Hi Rich,

    Is there really such a concept in Christianity of the soul being consigned to Hell for eternity?
    There is no way for that soul to redeem itself and be elevated?
  2. richvank

    richvank Senior Member

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    Hi, NeilK.

    Yes, that's the way I understand it. It very much raises the stakes for making a decision to accept Jesus as Savior during a person's lifetime. Jesus made a very exclusive claim: "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me."

    This has raised the question "How could a loving God consign anyone to Hell for eternity?" and the response that God doesn't consign people to Hell. They do it themselves by rejecting the Savior He has provided for them.

    I realize that this is a very divisive concept, and that it usually breaks off discussions of this type, and Jesus recognized this. He said, "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." He recognized that this would bring divisions, even within families, and he commented on this. I'm just relating what Jesus taught, not trying to cause discord here.

    Best regards,

    Rich
  3. Nielk

    Nielk

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    Hi Rich,

    Thank you for your informative answer. I always like to learn about the different religions.
    In Judaism, for example, there is also a concept of Hell, to cleanse the soul of sins but the longest time served is one year.
    That is the reason why we say the prayer "Kaddish" for a departed soul for one year after it's passing. After that time it is assumed that the soul has been elevated from Hell.

    Thanks again,
    Nielk
  4. K2 for Hope

    K2 for Hope ALways Hoping

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    Hello:

    Neil, thanks for posting this. I was outside drinking my tea and watching life and thought "I would like to post something about how other ME/CFS'ers are approaching spirituality." I came in to do my daily "vote" and found this!

    As to your 4 questions, my response is "yes" to all even though I would have said "yes" prior to having ME, I now would say "YES, definitely and more intensely".

    I have always known, seen , felt things that were in the future or past about me or other people and wondered:

    - Did my knowing, feeling, thinking make it happen? Or was it going to or did it happen already and somehow I knew, felt or thought it would... (The chiken and the egg theory.) In other words, "How did I know these things?"

    I tried to "stop knowing" when I was much younger as there were as many bad things as good and I didn't want to know about the bad things. I finally went to a Psychic who worked with the local authorities so I could understand why I seemed to know these types of things. As my session with her began, she said to me, "Why are you here, you already know, yet you close this part off?" She taught me better ways to cope with this situation which is a different topic.

    Because of this, I have tried different "religions" and to me, personally, they all seem to be somewhat similar in their spiritual means, but maybe different protocols or processes. In my humble opinion, almost all religions, when the end is "good for the world", would serve each person their own personal path to spirituality.

    Which brings me to my current thoughts on spirituality:
    I am beginnning to believe more in a "Collective Consciousness". What we tell our consious mind percolates through to the subconsious, then to the universe to be picked up with other thoughts by other "souls". If we "tune in and listen", we will have a knowing....

    Sometimes, I get stuck or forget about a spiritual path, but that happened even before I got ME. I was always busy with something... Type A+ personality...

    I am now currently reading the book "You Can Heal Your Life" by Louise L. Hay. I see it as "positive thoughts project positive future outcomes". Others may see it differently. What I have noticed is that based on the PENE protocol, I am using less energy on negative thoughts (Why did this happen to me? When will they find a cure? I hurt so bad. Oh, I have so much I cannot do.. etc) and have been able to use the energy to fix better foods, sleep better, feel less pain, start excersizing again (and this is right after a severe relapse.)

    I am also expecting another spiritual path to emerge for me that will help me to continue the process of learning, living, loving and enjoying life.

    Love and peace to all,
    Karen
  5. Nielk

    Nielk

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    Hi Karen,

    Thank you for your very interesting post. It sounds like you have a special sixth sense. I believe many people have this to different degrees. It is very special and in my opinion shows how we are not just physical beings made up of molecules.
    My husband also has this. Sometimes it's eerie, the things that he knows or the sense that he has. Many times, he can read my mind. (scary thought). This is really a special gift. Why some people have it and others don't? I have no idea. Maybe someone has a theory about this?
  6. richvank

    richvank Senior Member

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    Hi, NeilK.

    In Christianity, God is so holy that He cannot tolerate any sin. Since all we humans fail to measure up to God's laws, we are all sinners. Because of this, we cannot be in communion with God on our own. Jesus died to pay the price for the sins of all mankind. Because of this, if a person will accept his death on their behalf, their sins are covered, and they can then enter into communion with God. Accepting his death on their behalf also means that they must commit to trying to live their lives in accordance with his teachings, i.e. loving God with heart, soul, mind and strength, and loving others as oneself. Of course, everyone fails to do that completely, but the Holy Spirit is available to help a person in their resolve to do so. In Christianity, people do not get a second chance after their life on earth. Either they accept Jesus's sacrifice on their behalf, and are accepted into heaven after death, or they suffer the consequences of their sin by being separated from God for eternity, which is Hell.

    This is the reason for the urgency of Christian preaching and for the effort to spread the gospel, because accepting it is the only way to save people from Hell in Christianity. If a person is a Christian and does in fact love others as oneself, then there is no real choice but to try to let others know about this and to encourage them to accept Jesus as their savior.

    There have been attempts on the part of some to modify this teaching. For example, in Catholicism, they introduced the concept of purgatory, where a soul would go temporarily after death, and then others could pray to help to release them from purgatory. This sounds somewhat similar to what you described. However, there is no basis for this in the teachings of Jesus.

    Another example is the Jehovah's Witnesses. This organization was started by a person who would not accept the idea that people could be sent to Hell eternally.

    This has been a very unpalatable concept to many people historically, and there have been attempts to ameliorate it, but it is the clear teaching of Jesus.

    Well, I guess I've said enough about this to clarify it, so I'll let it rest there unless somebody has other questions about it.

    Best regards,

    Rich
  7. kurt

    kurt Senior Member

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    Hi Neilk and Rich,

    Speaking of hell and ME/CFS...

    There is a hell concept in the NDE literature, and as I mentioned in a prior post, the NDE literature strikes me as modern data-points, a type of modern update to the historical revelations, to use the religious terminology. So I find their hell concept interesting, in the NDE experience, some people have 'manifested' their own hellish post-life experience. Various NDE experiences seem to progress to different levels, perhaps depending on the underlying spiritual maturity of the individual. Those who have progressed farther in the experience before returning to earth tend to say that we continue manifesting the belief systems we held in this life for a time after we cross over. So some people who are attracted to a hellish reality, or believe that is what they deserve, do seem to experience that for a time. But eventually they learn to stop manifesting the hell experience, or a white light appears and rescues them.

    Another common NDE experience is the past-life review, although this is not universal. But many NDE experiencers review their entire life, in a type of multi-media format, seeing their lives from many different perspectives, including from the experience viewpoint of those around them. And they usually report feeling and experiencing all the pain they have caused others during their life, in first-person format, from the other person's perspective. Even the more ethical and careful souls appear to often cause pain and report this is something they would never, ever want to experience again. Often this 'hell' experience alone changes their life after they return. Danion Brinkley probably has one of the more complete explanations of this short-term hellish part of his NDE experience.

    Of course there is also a common 'heaven' experience in the NDE literature, and the positive unconditional love experienced by many NDEers has also had the power to change lives after the NDEer returns to regular living.

    Also, speaking of reincarnation and Christianity, there is a Christian faction that believes early Christians did in fact believe in reincarnation, but that doctrine was removed by about 500 AD as it contradicted some of the views of the doctrinal authorities gaining power over the Christian world at that time. Just google 'Christian Reincarnation' and you will find a number of websites with data on this time period. But of course that remains a somewhat heretical view in mainstream Christianity today, since that time.
  8. Nielk

    Nielk

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    Hi Rich,

    Thank you so much for this fascinating synopsis of Christianity and the role of Jesus Christ.
    I guess, it propels one to be absolved of all sins while on earth. Since no one knows when their day will come, there is a perpetual need of absolving one's sins. (or not sinning at all- which is impossible).

    It's fascinating.
    Thank you,
    Nielk
  9. Nielk

    Nielk

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    by: Toni Bernhard, author of the book titled "How to be Sick"

    This stroked a chord in me. I (and I'm sure many others), have anger that I'm holding on to like dear life. For what purpose?
    As if, if I let go of that anger i will disintegrate? This quote explains the poison of holding on to anger so well!
    It's easier said than done, I know but, definitely something to strive for.
  10. Wayne

    Wayne Senior Member

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    My best understanding is that no branch of Christianity endorses the concept of reincarnation as part of their doctrine. But Ive also read that a relatively small minority (about 3-5% if I remember correctly) of Christians do accept reincarnation as a reality. They point to some Biblical references that suggest this, and others have come to believe in it because of a variety of evidence that has come their way.

    One example I read recently was about a Christian family who had two children, a daughter 6 years old, and a son 3 years old. They asked the daughter what she would like for Christmas (or perhaps her birthday), and she replied she would like a game of checkers. Since they were unaware of her ever having been exposed to the game, they asked her where she got this idea of having a game of checkers. She replied that she used to play a lot when she was old. Puzzled, they inquired more about this. She said that she used to play a lot when both she and her younger brother were old, at a time when they were married. As the conversation took place, the younger brother would look up and nod in agreement that this was true.

    With their interest piqued, they decided to get a game of checkers, and see what might happen. When their two children sat down to play for the first time, they were amazed at how well they were able to navigate the board and play with a dexterity of someone having had lots of experience doing so. This led to more conversations about the time when they were old. Turns out, the daughter was able to remember some of her departed relatives, and was able to describe them in remarkable detail.

    These events apparently led the parents to reconsider how to weigh Church doctrine against the experience they had with their own children. I dont know what they decided, but I think they did what many in a spiritual organization do; choose to believe that makes sense to them, even though it may not necessarily closely adhere to all the tenets of their Church. I thought this story was interesting; thought Id pass it along.

    Best, Wayne
  11. K2 for Hope

    K2 for Hope ALways Hoping

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    NielK:

    In regards to holding onto anger, that was one of the most disturbing things that permeated my issue with ME/CFS. It's one of the things that kept me up at night, wouldn't allow me to eat properly, stopped me from going anywhere (even the mailbox), etc. (Even after multiple types of meds, supplements, treatments, etc.)

    That may be why Louse L Hay's book appeals to me so much right now. There are excersizes on how to release all types of anger, which helps to change the mind's thought processes. Didn't take long to do or work, at least for me. I'm not saying I don't get angry, but I am working on releasing the past things that angered me and kept me awake at all different hours of the night. (You know, when the body is tired and the mind says Hey, let's talk about this issue even though it's 1:00 AM...)

    If we only "use" 10% of the brain, what is the other 90% doing? I find it hard to believe we evolved with this large brain and 90% is doing nothing. Something must be going on whether it's another perception (IE: ESP), or some type of spirit work (religious or other) or organizing the main system (IE: our body) or all and more.

    After explaining some of the symptoms of ME to my sister, she promptly replied, "You need to reboot your entire system". Which made perfect sense to me having spent most of my working life dealing in some form of technology.

    And don't worry about him reading your mind, if it's like mine, it's so jumbled up there from ME/CFS, he'll jump out quickly.... LOL

    Bet you didn't know you would get so many different responses when you posted this... I truly enjoy and accept everyone's ideas and differences. I continually learn...

    Peace,
    Karen
  12. Lou

    Lou Senior Member

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    Hi Rich,

    With regard to attempts to modify the bible there was a very successful one a few centuries A.D. in Constantinople. If my memory of history is correct entire books were left out at this gathering. Also, I think it was here that references to reincarnation were deleted as well. This too, is offered with all respect, and I await being stood corrected if in error.

    Poets seem able to tap areas of the brain not readily accessible to most of us. Quite a few have something to say about reincarnation. William Wordsworth(I've read he was Christian) had this to say in one of his poems:

    "Our birth is but a forgetting. The Soul, our life's star, hath had elsewhere its setting, and cometh from afar."

    Thanks, Kurt, for your post. I have a friend who had a very deep NDE, and much of what he says about it agrees with what you related.
  13. Ember

    Ember Senior Member

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    As you mention, Rich, this certainly isn't the only view within Christianity. It does impede interfaith dialogue though, both for those who believe it and for those who are wary of it.
  14. richvank

    richvank Senior Member

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    Hi, Lou.

    Well, of course, I didn't attend that gathering, but in the past I have read some of the so-called apocryphal books and so-called "lost" books of the Bible. Of course, everyone is free to reach their own conclusions about them, but from my point of view, I can see why they were left out. They aren't consistent with the teachings of Jesus as recorded in the gospels. Some of them are pretty bizarre in my opinion.

    Sometimes people get the idea that a group got together and decided on their own what should be in and what should be out. My understanding of the process was that the group actually got together and endorsed what had already been decided by usage in the local churches. There was a continuous history of the church from the time of Jesus's life on earth, and those who wrote the books of the New Testament were known to the people in the churches initially. Again, I wasn't there, so all I can do is to read what they put in and what they left out and draw my own conclusions.

    The other aspect of this, which of course requires faith to accept, is that in Christianity it is held that the Holy Spirit was involved in guiding this whole process.

    Best regards,

    Rich
  15. richvank

    richvank Senior Member

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    Hi, Ember.

    I understand your views. The first one gets down to the issue of what is "true" Christianity, and it's true that people have all sorts of views on that.

    The second gets to the question of which is the higher goal, being true to the teachings of Jesus, which Christians believe will have important eternal consequences, or having peaceful, harmonious dialogue between people of different faiths during our few years here on earth, and in doing so, failing to make the gospel clear enough that more people can have the opportunity to hear it without compromising it, and thus the opportunity to accept it and have a much to be preferred experience for eternity than they otherwise would have. Things can look quite different when viewed from an eternal perspective.

    Best regards,

    Rich
  16. richvank

    richvank Senior Member

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    Hi, Neilk.

    Yes, that's right. The life of a believing Christian involves continually trying, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to live in conformance to the teachings of Jesus, and to avoid sinning. No one is completely successful with this, and that's why Jesus taught his followers to continually pray (in what has been called the "Lord's Prayer") "Forgive us our trespasses (or 'debts'), as we forgive those who trespass against us (or 'our debtors')." There is the promise that over time, a Christian can become more successful in avoiding sin (called sanctification), but it is acknowledged that "all sin and come short of the glory of God," and "There is none good, no not one."

    This gets into the so-called doctrine of eternal security, sometimes expressed as "once saved, always saved." Is it possible to lose one's salvation, as a result of "turning away" from the gospel after having accepted it at one point in time? Different branches of Christianity have had different views on this.

    There's also the question of what happens if you die before you have asked forgiveness for all of your most recent sins.

    I think the key to these questions is to recognize that God looks at the heart, and he's an excellent judge of character and motivations. I'm content to leave these issues to Him.

    Best regards,

    Rich
  17. Nielk

    Nielk

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    Karen said:
    Talking about re-booting our system, I had a very bizarre experience which resulted in 6 weeks of remission of all my symptoms of ME.
    This happened about five years ago. My doctor put me on the medicine xyrem for sleep. It worked for 5 nights. On the sixth day, I had an episode that lasted for three days where I was in a constant state of hallucination. It was not an NDE experience but, resembled it in many ways. I felt like I was outside my body. I felt like I totally understood what life was all about. Everything that ever happened to me, I was able to see the meaning of it. I felt God and total peaceful love for everyone. (no, I did not take LSD- as a matter of fact I never had the experience of taking illicit drugs). It was obviously a side effect of the Xyrem but it didn't make sense that it lasted for so long since Xyrem totally leaves your body between 12-24 hours. My husband rushed me to my doctor and he gave me medication to take to bring me back down. My doctor had to report this event to the maker of Xyrem and they called me and I had to fill out papers explaining what my experience was.
    The most important part is that I think I got a RE-BOOTING of my system and felt a total remission of my illness. I thought that this was a miraculous cure. Unfortunately after about 6 weeks, the symptoms started to come back. So, Karen, your sister makes some sense when she says that we need a re-booting.
  18. Sallysblooms

    Sallysblooms P.O.T.S. now SO MUCH BETTER!

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    I don't know about reboot. Ar least for me, it is about rebuilding things I need that illness take out. I have improved a lot with that.
  19. madietodd

    madietodd Senior Member

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    I feel that this whole thread is about an "eternal perspective." That's what spirituality is, IMHO. Whether an individual's spirituality involves Jesus, or the Buddha, or Mohamed, or nature spirits....or whatever....the wonder of this thread is that we're exploring, together, the inter-relationship between our illness and our spiritual lives.

    The biggest change for me has been in the whole arena of compassion, gentleness, kindness, patience, etc. I still fall flat on my face all the time, but still, I'm a much nicer person....or nicer in a deeper way. So my ability to live up to my own spiritual ideals has improved, because of my struggles. I'm actually very grateful for that bit.

    Thank you Nielk for this exploration.

    Madie
  20. Nielk

    Nielk

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    Thank YOU Maddie and all the others for your contributions to this thread. I feel like we are united with our different background and we each bring another avenue of spiritual growth. We are learning together and from each other. I am really enjoying this!

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