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“Conversations with God”,  “A Course in Miracles” and “Afterlife Teaching from Stephen the Martyr”

Posted on 11 February 2017, 12:13

I have suggested that there is a lot in common between Conversations with GodA Course in Miracles and Afterlife Teaching of Stephen the Martyr.  All claim to be teaching from the world of Spirit. The teacher in “Conversations” is supposed to be God, in ACIM it is said to be Jesus, in “AT” the teacher says he is Stephen the Martyr. Such teachings are received when someone is sufficiently persistent in asking questions of the Unseen.

spirit

Such receiving through intuitives and mediums is sometimes clear and deep, sometimes distorted and shallow. (A bit like receiving through wireless.) That is the reason why we must check the answers we receive in prayer, and the answers we receive from teachers in Spirit. We should be wary if a teaching contradicts the consensus of most other spiritual teachers, or contradicts what spiritually minded scientists suggest.  No teaching is of any avail for us, whether it be false or true, if we cannot fit it in with the rest of what we know or feel.  In saying this, I do affirm the importance of these teachings: I just caution that one should not be uncritical.

I am not surprised that ATIM and Conversations had their origin in the USA. One could argue that there is a cultural bias here.  Stephen’s cultural bias is derived from the Middle East of 2000 years ago, even though he is fully aware of present day thinking. The cultural biases should tell us that we may not be dealing with absolute truth (if such exists.) When Stephen completed his teachings, he warned us that they were derived from his experience, and of his likes and dislikes. He also warned us to be careful in passing judgement on teaching offered to us by others. He exhorted us to receive for ourselves, and also to check what we receive as to whether or not we can fit it in with the rest of what we know or feel. His advice in regards of these three Teachings would be to take to ourselves what we feel is useful to us, and regretfully leave to one side what we cannot use.

peak

In future blogs I hope to continue discussing what the three teachings have to say about a number of topics. Right now, I mention the need for caution, in general, but also with regard to the question of the illusoriness of physical reality.

A scientific basis for seeing physical reality as an “illusion” is to be found in the work of quantum physicists such as David Bohm and his allies, whose work I have mentioned on several previous occasions.

Our three Teachers are also agreed about this illusoriness. But in the case of ACIM there is one aspect that I find difficult to understand. In its introduction we read, “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.”  ACIM agrees with the other Teachings in seeing the physical world as an illusion projected from a “higher” level of reality, and furthermore sees an illusion as being “unreal” and therefore “not existing”. If someone harms you, it is argued, you must forgive them, and the reason you must forgive them is that this has happened in this world of illusion which is unreal and therefore does not exist. Of course the corollary of that is that if a person does something good for you, that is also illusory and does not exist. God did not create this illusory world, it is said, we did. Many exercises are provided by ACIM to help us see through this illusion to the only reality, the Absolute God. Aspects of the afterlife are also seen as illusory, so we must practice relating to the only reality, the Absolute God of love.

What drives the ACIM picture? As I see it, ACIM is wrestling with the problem of how a loving God can be omnipotent and allow so much apparent evil to exist in physical creation. It is a problem that all religions and spiritualities find it hard to come to terms with. But to say that the world is illusory and therefore does not exist, it is perhaps a step too far.

There seems to be confusion about what we mean when we say that the physical world is an illusion. Synchronicity, together with some discoveries in the field of quantum mechanics, and teachings delivered through some of the best mediums, suggest that the “universe is a great thought”: that the physical world and the mental events that occur within it are the product of thought originating in a more basic dimension of thought. The physical world is indeed an illusion in the sense that it is the product of thought. But the thought is real, and does exist, and what we think and do in this physical world does have consequences either positive or negative. ACIM denies that God (as they understand the word) has anything to do with the physical world, whereas there would be a wide acceptance of the opposite proposition that God is in all, through all, and above all.

Perhaps “illusion” is not the best word: we should perhaps rather speak of “products of thought.” And as said, thought is real and has consequences.

So far as you and I are concerned (together with the rest of humanity), almost everything that we can see and touch owes its existence to the activities of countless incarnate minds. Beyond that, synchronicity and other phenomena suggest that there is also an ordering of mental and so-called physical events from a deeper level of mind.

ACIM sees the human ego as an enemy and strives to abolish it in order to achieve union with the Absolute.

Stephen on the contrary said, “The ego is the product of your mind and its concepts. That mind, and that body, and those concepts, must also be of the Whole. Is this not so?

For nothing can exist that is not part of the Whole. You have spoken of the dissipation of this ego and yet have not considered that this is also an instrument of the Whole. For we have spoken about the recording of experiences that are necessary for the Whole. For why would what is perfect need to have created all that we consider material, which includes the mind and the product of that mind which is the ego, if these experiences were not only desirable but necessary? One might as well say that a body with a limb that is useless, that cannot operate, that that limb should be cut out and destroyed.”(p.276)

One might well argue that our spiritual growth does not consist in trying to abolish the ego as a centre of consciousness, but rather in the abolition of egotism and selfishness. We develop spiritually by selfless serving of others and through ever increasing ability to see others as “children of God”.

This is also the understanding of spiritual development that we get from afterlife communicators: selflessness and reaching out to others is seen as the means of growth in that realm also.

George Johnston (below) addresses this aspect of ACIM in his article: “Is The Disappearance of the Universe a valid interpretation of A Course in Miracles ?”

george

He writes: “Christian, Muslim and other traditions, encourage us to focus on the good in life. By so doing, we become more aware of the beauty in nature and the goodness in human hearts. We learn to embrace all that is, with love, seeing God in all. Thus, God becomes a living presence in our lives. Even though the world as we see it with the body’s eyes is not real in the way that God is real, and is an illusion, nevertheless, it is part of God as the One, and God as the One is present in it.

“The path of seeing God in the world appears to contradict the Course’s teaching that the world is unreal. Yet, even a dream or a movie - though an illusion and, in a sense, unreal - can reflect beauty, love, and Truth, and many have found God by seeing the good in the world. Even in the Course, Jesus teaches that we must experience the world with the light of Christ shining on it in our minds - what he calls the forgiven, or real, world - in order to become fully enlightened. But for many, it is very helpful to begin by denying the reality of the world, in order to remove feelings, such as guilt, unworthiness, and fear, that keep us from freely expressing and accepting love. By denying the reality of sin and evil, and of the world, as most of us experience it, and by affirming the reality of God, Spirit, and Heaven, and their presence just behind the ever-changing phenomena experienced by the body, the Course helps us to shed unconscious guilt and a host of other deeply rooted illusions that block awareness of God and leads us toward realization of God in the here and now.”

Thus, Johnston seems to suggest an interpretation of ACIM as an oversimplification designed to persuade us to surrender to an eternally loving God, and to return like the Prodigal Son to the welcoming arms of his father.

We do indeed need to remember that we are citizens of heaven in children of God. But basking in that knowledge is not enough: and spiritual growth depends on our facing the many and varied challenges that our physical lives present to us. Scientific research is not to be set aside but rather seen as steps towards better appreciating the Father’s mind; art, literature, music and more are steps towards experiencing dimensions of the Father’s love; psychic research gives instances of departed spirits playing their part in these enterprises.

holy

It must be the case that if our concepts of God become too restricted, then we may stumble in our relationships to others.

I look back to our years of conversations with St Stephen with profound gratitude both for that relationship and for the teaching that we received. But I also look back with some sadness and guilt at our frequent failure to act on and be changed by his teachings.

I personally understand God to be in all, through all, and above all. I should therefore look in all directions to receive the teaching and guidance from my God. A valuable direction to look in, are the teachings of Conversations with God, A Course in Miracles, and Afterlife Teachings from Stephen the Martyr: and , dare I suggest?, the holy scriptures of the great religions, together with the writings of their mystics. Let us not limit God.  Such material received from Spirit needs to be read a little at a time, felt, savoured, digested and incorporated -  with discrimination.

Further reading
“Is The Disappearance of the Universe a valid interpretation of A Course in Miracles?”
The disappearance of the universe.

Michael Cocks edits the journal, The Ground of Faith.
Afterlife Teaching From Stephen the Martyr by Michael Cocks is published by White Crow Books and available from Amazon and other bookstores.

Paperback               Kindle

 


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Stephen the martyr talks about the whole purpose of our life on Earth.

Posted on 06 February 2017, 13:37

I was one of a group of people in the 1970s ostensibly conversing with the spirit of Stephen the first Christian martyr, and in my book I present linguistic, historical and other reasons why we may not be mistaken in accepting his reality. Stephen is of special interest since he may provide a window into the teaching of early Christianity before it fell into the hands of successive generations of theologians.  Stephen first spoke through a sleeping Thomas Ashman, never previously a medium. His wife, Olive, heard the words, Sic Ecclesia Spiritus Sanctus, “Thus in the Church is the Holy Spirit.”

When Stephen came to the end of his teaching, he cautioned that he was speaking from his own experience and from his likes and dislikes. He was modest, but for us it all felt straight from God. Stephen did speak from his own point of view, but it did not differ in general import from the simple love centred teaching of St Francis, and also modern Franciscans. It is very close to the teaching of the great mystics of all religions, and to that of the Perennial Philosophy.  What Stephen says may be truth, but from a point of view, as it the case with most truth.  Readers can discover whether they find him persuasive.

Here is what Stephen had to say about the whole purpose of life.

[Section 5] I think I can perhaps help mostly by talking a little tonight and you will find that many of your questions will be answered. Shall we first recapitulate? Remember, that in the beginning there was the coming away from the Source for the correction of many disorders. Acquiring a physical body is only one stage in the corrections. To be in the physical is not always the most enviable stage,  as just lately you may have learnt, but this I tell you: in this span of creation, the time or times in the state are of short duration, and, though important, are at the most very temporary. It is not surprising then that whilst you should be in this state the importance of comfort or happiness seen from the physical point of view is generally foremost in the mind of each soul. And yet the message that you have all been given, and which you must learn to hear with greater clarity, is the message of our Lord Jesus Christ [namely that] your physical well-being, your possessions, or lack of them, so important to you, are immaterial to your development. As the Lord said, you should neither be judged whether you be rich or poor, for neither state will qualify you for acceptance back to the Source.

“Blessed are the poor”, you have read, words said by the Lord. Do not misunderstand these words, as often is done. The state of poverty in itself does not make them blessed. It is their own mentality and thoughts they have in the state of poverty. You will find that the poor give as often as the rich do but because they have so little to give in material things they always give a larger percentage, more often than not all of what they have.


“Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” For the same reason are they blessed, for they look down on no man and call him less, for they are meek. The gift of meekness is a gift indeed; therefore pray for the mighty, for they are not thus blessed. Each one elevated to the heights of government of kingdoms has always to accept and give the example of greatness. They may not be meek: therefore, to be rich in grace is doubly great. If we were to carry on and talk more and give more of these examples we could only come to one conclusion: that life in a physical body is from necessity difficult and undesirable. For it would be very hard to accept that when you have the least comfort, when you have the least position, you are greatly blessed and that when you have the most comfort and the higher position then prayers are needed more. It seems a contradiction in itself unless you understand that it is for this reason each and every one of you is in the position that you are for the reason that you may develop and that disorder may be corrected. Each is in the situation where he must learn, develop and correct disorder.

Section 6. God seen as the Surgeon operating on us while we live our “unconscious” lives on earth.

Stephen: Then you say, “Would it not be easier if the Lord our God were to make it very clear to us what the purpose is and what the working of that purpose is, and why and how, and when and whom?” You have asked questions like this, Olive. But think how a surgeon would act if, when he had to operate, he had to keep the patient conscious, adjust mirrors so the patient could see the operation that would be beyond his understanding in any case. Should he perhaps have each patient undertake advanced studies before an operation? Or would it perhaps not be better only to operate on a surgeon?

In actual practice the patient is treated and bathed and is given what medication he may need. He is clothed in a gown most suitable for access, and he is put in a place most suitable for the operation. He is kept in a state so that no pain more than he can bear will be administered to him. When the operation is completed and the wound is healed and the disorder is corrected then the patient may arise and even discuss the disorder and sickness with the surgeon and learn from him. This must be the order of things, therefore, that the patient must trust his surgeon and carry out his instructions regarding what the patient must know or do or, rather, not do. Likewise the patient must love his Lord God with all his heart and all his soul; he must trust his God as he trusts his surgeon, for when he comes to the operating table he is by his own choice made unconscious of the things that are about to happen. Even if he were a surgeon himself he would still be unconscious at the time of the operation. Even though in consciousness he would know what has to be done and how it should be done by his own choice he would choose the unconsciousness, for he would know that without this the operation would not be possible. So, therefore, you must trust your surgeon, have faith in his skill, place yourself in his hands and love him.

Furthermore we must all love one another for we are part of the one body; there is no separateness. To hate someone, dislike someone, is to hate or dislike yourself and to hate and dislike your God. There is no one, no soul beneath your love; for there is not one soul that should not give you love and not one soul that you should not receive love from. Therefore, the second of your duties is to love yourselves, for you are a part of God and He of you. Love each other; give to each other, for in giving you are receiving. The physical is only temporary; providing you do these two things then no state of mind or physical welfare is material to your progress. Your true reward for loving each other is to receive the love of each other, and the love of God. Understand and give only this, and you will find that each time that you do this the wound of your operation will heal a little more; each time that you do this, consciousness which you lack now will begin to return. This is the way that the answers will come to you, to heal the wound and return to the consciousness. Therefore love much.

When you are gone from this place, when you are done with these bodies, physical, mental, ethereal and all others, then you will be back with the Source, and it will be of no mind.

(Same session) You will forgive me for my serious talking this night for it is not often that I have the opportunity to discuss these things with you alone. Remember that mothers never tend to be less wise than their children are for, because of their development not in age but in experience, their wisdom grows and you will generally notice a calmness and an acceptance of life. Look upon the aged and those older than you and you will find that you are looking upon yourself when a number of your own mis-arrangements have been corrected. Think of the acceptance, notice the calmness; this is a message. Do not expect the aged to be clever, for cleverness most times is a barrier to the healing. Cleverness often, as I have said, stops loving. Intelligence is a disability; this is why I am often amused when Tom accuses me of cleverness for I discarded cleverness many ages ago. I must depart now. Thomas is tired. God bless you all; pray for me and also for those in greater need of your prayers than yourselves or myself.

****
The above is a transcript of two conversations with Stephen.

The writer suggests that all readers should at least once investigate

The Stephen Home Page where they can hear Stephen speaking through Thomas Ashman.

They can learn about the dialect of Greek that Stephen once used, how it links him to a Celtic dominated country, to Joseph and Mary, in a Nazarene sect of Essemes.

They can read reviews from two Anglican bishops, and a number of scholars.

Some of this gives a preview of what can be learned in detail in the book.

Michael Cocks edits the journal, The Ground of Faith.
Afterlife Teaching From Stephen the Martyr by Michael Cocks is published by White Crow Books and available from Amazon and other bookstores.

Paperback               Kindle

 


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“A Case to Consider” by Paul Beard – What is it possible to discover about the experiences we shall meet with after we die - if indeed existence does continue - and about how we can best prepare for them? Read here
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