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The Essential Teachings of Herbert W. Armstrong
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The following information will be taken one of three ways. It will seem to be utter nonsense, heresy or as profound wisdom. Allow your preconcieved ideas about God to be challenged. This information is also by definition incomplete and is at best a rough approximation of inexpressible truths. The radical nature of these concepts does not allow for a position between nonsense or truth. The challenge to one's established views are so dramatic that one can only process it as total nonsense or highest wisdom.
To help the reader whose primary language is English, few non-English words are used. Also, this information has its parallels in many cultures as part of the mystic mysteries understood by the masters and gurus over the centuries. Where ancient words and concepts are needed for clarity, references to their origin wil be quoted.
The intention is to provide pure English words and phrases so as to create a summary of many mystical texts. Two English words which will be useful in expressing certain concepts are ineffable and effulgent. The definitions of these two words are:
Ineffable: incapable of being expressed in words : (INDESCRIBABLE, UNSPEAKABLE, INCOMPREHENSIBLE)
Effulgent: To shine forth, radiant splendor : (BRILLIANCE, BRIGHTNESS)
PARADOXES IMBEDDED IN CROSS CULTURAL CONCEPTS
Because of the concepts imbedded within Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Kabbalah and Christianity which appear to be at odds with each other, this text will provide a framework that will allow the reader to see that the concepts are not contradictory but truth viewed from different perspectives and cultural preferences.
The most important concept to address in Understanding God, is why some view God as impersonal and others as a personal diety. The truth will show that both are true.
THE UNCREATED GOD AND THE CREATED GOD
To best understand God, one must grasp one simple yet difficult concept; Aspects of God are impossible to understand or to comprehend. Logic, thought and mental processes are completely inadequate and cannot describe or encompass the ineffable part of God. This truth must be surrendered to and accepted. Ironically, although some truths are impossible to understand or to be expressed with words, these ineffable truths can be experienced. The closest one can come to express the purely trancendant experience is with the phrase, "It just is."
The words and philosophies that are expressed in this text are best captured in the writings of Lao Tzu:
"Tao, the subtle reality of the Universe cannot be described. That which can be described in words is merely a conception of the mind. Althought names and descriptions have been applied to it, the subtle reality is beyond description." (The Complete Works of LAO TZU; translated by Hua-Ching Ni, Seven Star Communications.)
The first clue to what is being discussed can be discerned in the writings of John:
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; 2 this one was in the beginning with God; 3 all things through him did happen, and without him happened not even one thing that hath happened. YOUNG'S LITERAL TRANSLATION
This statement by John is profoundly mystical for it introduces two concepts. Most Christians recognize the part where Christ is introduced as being divine and as the Creator God. What few recognize is that the very concept of a beginning is a hint of a deep spiritual truth. What is commonly recognized as reality had a beginning. The part of God that created had a beginning. This beginning was the Word. The subtle truth that this verse also reveals is that there is a beginningless uncreated God. What we recognize as Christ is the personal God that before the beginning was a meaningless concept. In other words, before there was a creation, there was no Personal God, only the Transcendent Uncreate Absolute was. This is a profound truth that Buddha spoke of:
"There is, O monks, an unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, unformed. Were there not, O monks, this unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, unformed, there would be no escape from the world of the born, originated, created, formed.
"Since, O monks, there is an unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, and unformed, therefore there is an escape from the born, originated, created, and the formed."
The Gospel of Buddha - Sermon at the bamboo grove at Rajagaha
For Eternity, God was before Creation. This means for Eternity, allness contained only God. The best way to put it in words is to say God was Eternal Infinite (Endless, Unbounded, Unlimited) Awareness in perfect Balance. For Eternity, God had no personality because a personality is used to interact with other persons. God only manifested a personality after God had a creation to interact with. The part of God that is Eternal Infinite Awareness in perfect Balance still exists, always has and always will.
The main sources of knowledge that helps us to understand this apparent paradox is called The Kabbalah, Also the ancient Yoga Sutras contain the same information with different semantics.
I will give you a brief introduction using primarily Kabbalist semantics.
The oral tradition of Kabbalah states that the reason for existence is that God wished to behold God.
(This is also similiar to the Hindu theology of the Dance of Shiva)
God can be visualized symbolically as follows. AIN SOF OHR, (also spelled EIN SOF OHR). The Endless Light which surrounds the void, emanated spheres or realms of light (effulgent and infinite bright). This, the Kav or expansion of Divine Will, manifested in ten distinct stages of Emanation. The world was called into being by ten Divine Utterances.
Scientist hav now defined our Universe as 10 dimensional with 4 space-time dimensions and 6 other dimensions curled away infinitely small. This is known as the 10 dimension solution in the super-string theory. Some versions have the universe described in 10 spatial dimensions and one dimension of time.
These ten stages are known in the Kabbalah as the Sefirot. Sefirot express Divine Attributes, which from the primal moment of Emanation are lawfully held in a set of relationships until God wills them to vanish back into the Void of nothingness again.
This concept is identical to the Hindu concept of the out cycle of the expansion of God's glory, and the in cycle of the withdrawing of God's Glory. Each expansion and contraction lasts Eons and Eons and Eons. This is known as a day and a night of Brahma.
BRAHMA (Day of) Also known as a 'Kalpa'.
"...one day of Brahma consists of a thousand cycles of four yugas, or ages: Satya, Treta, Dvapara and Kali. The cycle of Satya is characterized by virtue, wisdom and religion, there being practically no ignorance and vice, and the yuga lasts 1,728,000 years. In the Treta-yuga vice is introduced, and this yuga lasts 1,296,000 years. In the Dvapara-yuga there is an even greater decline in virtue and religion, vice increasing, and this yuga lasts 864,000 years. And finally in Kali-yuga (the yuga we have now been experiencing over the past 5,000 years) there is an abundance of strife, ignorance, irreligion and vice, true virtue being practically nonexistent, and this yuga lasts 432,000 years. In Kali-yuga vice increases to such a point that at the termination of the yuga the Supreme Lord Himself appears as the Kalki Avatara, vanquishes the demons, saves His devotees, and commences another Satya-yuga. Then the process is set rolling again. These four yugas, rotating a thousand times, comprise one day of Brahma, and the same number comprise one night. Brahma lives one hundred of such years and then dies (some versions call it the sleep of Brahma). These hundred years by earth calculations total to 311 trillion and 40 billion earth years. By these calculations the life of Brahma seems fantastic and interminable, but from the viewpoint of eternity it is as brief as a lightning flash."
[Back to the Kabbalist sematics]
Also, EIN SOF is the part of God the Budhhist call Nirvana. Buddhist don't recognize the personal God because their meditative practice help them achieve union with Nirvana just as Buddha did (also called in Buddhist theology, the Void or Bliss).
AIN SOF is a Kabbalistic term meaning "Without End." In Kabbalah, Hashem (God) the Transcendent, is called AIN. AIN means in Hebrew "No Thing", for Hashem is beyond existence. AIN is neither below nor above; nor is it in movement or stillness. There is nowhere AIN is. Hashem is Absolute Nothing. AIN SOF is the title of God who is everywhere. AIN SOF is the One to the Zero of AIN. This is the totality of what is and is not. AIN SOF is God the Immanent, the Absolute ALL. AIN SOF has no Attributes, because attributes can only be manifest within finite (limited, bounded) existence realms and AIN SOF is (Infinite, Unbounded, Limitless) and Transcendant...
From this endless unfathomable EIN SOF GODSOURCE emanantes 10 realms of existence, each less glorious than the former until we get to the last realm which is our realm. At this level God manifests personality and is knowable with attributes. Another way to say it is, The Serifot are ten creative energy realms that intervene between the infinite, unknowable God ("Ein Sof") and our created finite world.
The terms used in mystical literature to describe the Uncreated God are: Tao, Nirvana, Brahman, AIN SOF, Void, Nothingness, Pristine Awareness and Absolute Trancendence.
To use pure English concepts in conjunction with mystical terms, the reader is asked to accept that the Uncreated God is beyond comprehension. The below chart may help.
The Uncreated God is the ineffable eternal trancendance purely beyond existence, knowledge, and without attribute or definition. One can not describe the UNCREATE but can describe what it is not. It is not movement or stillness, it is neither near or far and is neither here nor there. Hindu literature calls the UNCREATED DIVINE as Brahman. The definition of Brahman is "the trancendent absolute being that pervades and supports all reality." Another definition of Brahman is that which is Absolute, fills all space, is complete in itself, to which there is no second, and which is continuously present in everything, from the Creator down to the lowest of matter. It, being everywhere, is also in each and every individual. This is the meaning of Prajnanam Brahma occurring in the Aitareya Upanishad.
The Bhagavad-Gita attempts to bridge the Gulf between Brahman and creation via the wisdom of KRISHNA which is the personification of the Uncreated Absolute. Krishna is the same being as Melchizedek in the Old Testament and Christ in the New Testament.
See also Is Krishna also Christ?
Krishna teaches Arjuna the following:
"The whole universe is pervaded by my unmanifest form; all creatures exist in me, but I do not exist in them. Behold the power of my discipline; these creatures are really not in me; my self quickens creatures, sustaining them without being in them. Just as the wide-moving wind is constantly present in space, so all creatures exist in me; understand it to be so! As an eon ends, all creatures fold into my nature, Arjuna; and I create them again as a new eon begins. Gathering in my own nature, again and again I freely create this whole throng of creatures, helpless in the force of my nature. These actions do not bind me, since I remain detached in all actions, Arjuna, as if I stood apart from them." (The Bhagavad-Gita, The Sublime Mystery pp 83,84. translated by Barbara Stoler Miller; Bantam Books)
This is similiar to a statement of Christ as recorded in the Gospel of Thomas #77: Jesus said, "I am the light that is over all things. I am all: from me all came forth, and to me all attained. Split a piece of wood; I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there."
To understand the Created God one must accept that all that is not of the uncreate is illusion. This is the great mystery called Maya. Even Science is beginning to understand this enigmatic truth. A purely secular approach to this is done in the book called "The Matter Myth" by Paul Davies and John Gribbin. This books delves into the scientific reasoning behind why matter is an illusion and how it is non-permanent and and virtual. Maya is a sanscrit word that means: Illusion, mirage, trick; the appearance of the absolute: God's creative power and the veil of diversity hiding the absolute real. A Christian view of this mystical concept comes from the writings of Paul:
1 Corinthians 13:12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. NIV
Another way of understanding the Created (Creator) God is to consider what we call spirit and matter as part of a dream God is having. Also this helps us to understand our role in the dream. We are God playing in the veil of illusion so we can experience the joy of discovering the truth about ourselves. This truth of ourselves is known as Atman.
Atman: The indestructible real Self behind the illusionary superficial personality. All is Brahman and all else is the illusion of separatness from Brahman. There is only one ultimate reality which is the impersonal, ineffable, attributeless Brahman. The illusion is the plurality of separate entities: A personal God (Ishvara), a universe, and countless embodied souls. This is why Buddha is said to have pierced beyond the veil of illusion and became supreme truth.
The Gospel of Buddha
"Only through ignorance and delusion do men indulge in the dream that their souls are separate and self-existent entities." 
"Thy heart is cleaving still to self;
thou art anxious about heaven
but thou seekest the pleasures of self in heaven,
and thus thou canst not see the bliss of truth
and the immortality of truth." 
"Verily I say unto thee:
The Blessed One has not come to teach death, but to teach life, and thou discernest not the nature of living and dying." 
"This body will be dissolved
and no amount of sacrifice will save it.
Therefore, seek thou the life that is of the mind.
Where self is, truth cannot be;
yet when truth comes, self will disappear.
Therefore, let thy mind rest in the truth;
propagate the truth, put thy whole will in it, and let it spread. In the truth thou shalt live for ever." 
"Self is death and truth is life.
The cleaving to self is a perpetual dying,
while moving in the truth
is partaking of Nirvana
which is life everlasting." 
CHRIST, LUCIFER and THE DANCE OF SHIVA
If all of this is true, who or what is Christ and why does the Bible speak of an all powerful Creator God? Who and what is Satan? Christ is the Supreme Creator, all exist because of him and through him. Christ is the source of the grand illusion and is Creator God of the illusion. The purpose for creation is best explained as the Dance of Shiva.
God and his creation are One. Yet God hides himself from creation to give God the joy of discovering God. God is both Creator and the Created. This is also known as the Wisdom of Balance. The Uncreated God and The Created God are One, yet the creation is attached to the grand illusion of separateness. Whenever God's creation discovers God, God discovers God all over again. God delights in the dance of hiding and discovering God's glory. The Cosmic Dance of Shiva.
Your life is your part in this awesome Cosmic Dance. Your birth begins with your God Consciousness hid from you. If you have not discovered your unlimited potential in this life you will die, and your soul will go to the unseen state awaiting its chance for another birth. This is the gem of knowledge known as Reincarnation.
Judaism and Christianity are the religions that are a result of the need to repair a great damage to the Dance of Shiva. Lucifer was a great archangel placed in charge of the Planet Earth as the Dance of Shiva unfolded here.
Lucifer was commanded to help the souls achieve their full potential here on Earth. Lucifer finally perceived the full meaning of what a souls ultimate pontential to be. God's plan is to create millions and billions of God Beings through soul evolution! Lucifer felt betrayed by God. Lucifer thought he would always be the Third Highest in the Infinite Created Realities. Instead he discovers God is creating God by the Billions and it was Lucifer's Pride to be of the Highest. Lucifer felt he had to maintain his most high status at all cost. The cost was a War of Angels of such violence that it ultimately ended the Jewel of Earth's ability to sustain life. Lucifer made war against the throne of God. God commanded Michael to resist Lucifer. Michael and his Angels fought with Lucifer and his Angels. Lucifer tried to overthrow Heaven but was defeated and was forced to return back to earth. Lucifer fell like a bolt of lightening. The Angels that rebelled with Lucifer were hurled back to earth. God had commanded Lucifer to watch over this earth and Lucifer had not yet been relieved of his duty.
Revelation 12:7 And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down--that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. NIV
Lucifer became enraged at his banishment to the very Earth he had once desired and now had come to hate. To add insult to injury, Lucifer was still under the command of God to help mankind achieve their destiny. This further enraged Lucifer. It was loathsome to him to be commanded to help beings achieve a station higher than he. The Mother Earth contained the very seed of billions of Gods. God seeds that someday would all exist higher and more glorius than he. Gods more powerful than he. Lucifer devised a plan to destroy the Earth's life giving properties. This is how the Earth ultimatly became chaotic and empty of life.
See God Repairs the Earth.
Lucifer destroyed this world's ability to support life because he wanted to stop the soul evolution. Lucifer knew that Reincarnations was how God was making it possible for the souls of mankind to have enough opportunities to finally discover their God Consciousness. The Rebellion of Lucifer is also the missing information that ties Evolution and the Genesis account of Creation together, as well as the paradox of Reincarnation and the Resurrection. Afterwards, Lucifer's name was changed to Satan which means the enemy that destroys.
This is why Genesis begins with an account of God repairing the Earth.
Satan is known as the great deceiver. His goal is to keep all of God's Creation trapped within Maya (Illusion). Christ came to this Earth to make it possible to save mankind from being forever deceived. If Lucifer hadn't rebelled, the sacrifice of Christ would not have become necessary nor would the amended Plan of God been necessary.
See Saving Mankind; God's Plan
Christ was among us for several reasons. He came to show us how to connect to God in one lifetime. He came to pay our karma debt for us. To wash away our sins. To deliver the Wisdom of Faith, and his most important purpose was to qualify to replace Satan as spiritual guide and ruler of this world. Lucifer's name was changed to Satan after the War of Rebellion. He lost the war but since a replacement had not been found, Satan still holds his office as Spiritual Ruler of Earth. Just before Jesus began his ministry, Satan took Jesus up to the highest peak to show him the Kingdoms of the World and their splendor. Satan offered to give it all to Jesus if he would just fall down and worship Satan. Had Christ yielded, mankind would never be able achieve God Consciousness. But since Jesus refused, Jesus became qualified to replace Lucifer as King of this World.
Once Satan is banished forever, then the original Dance of Shiva can proceed.
[End Part 2]
Book of Chester: Introduction
Part One: History of Eternity
Part Three: God Talking
Part Four: Sutras of the Seven Wisdoms
Part Five: Sutras of Devotion
Part Six: Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Bonus: The Practice
Appendix: Science of Immortality