I trust most of us here have studied the Bible more thoroughly than those who profess belief; if you’re like me, that’s how you got to your state of disbelief in the first place. We all know the Bible is full of ridiculous bullshit at best and horrendous bigotry sexism and genocide fueling narratives at the worst. My question is: what is the most beautiful, complex truth you’ve ever found in the Bible?
It could just be that the mainstream interpretation of some legends entirely missed the point and there’s a deeper metaphorical meaning that does have merit, or it could just be our wishful thinking finding meaning in something that was initially designed to control people. Whether it’s inherently valuable or you made it so with your own interpretation, what are some lessons you think might be worth preserving?
To me, the story/message of Jesus’ life was very Buddhist. I think his point, if he had one, was to serve as an example of the death of ones ego. He explicitly told others not to pedestalize him as a god but that the only way to peace/heaven was as he had done, to suffer the death of your own ego and wake up to ones inner divinity. That the connection and compassion we have with/for each other is the only god we need serve, and the message flew way over most sheeples heads.
I also had a rather psychedelic experience through yoga where I realized that the myth of the garden of eden may have a very significant meaning. I always asked why a loving god would put us in a garden, set up a temptation and then punish us for something he knew we’d do. I came to the conclusion that he didn’t. If the story has a moral, it’s about how we do it to ourselves. Our suffering in life is a cycle of shame and entitlement. By our nature we will always want the one thing we can’t have, even in paradise. We foster a sense of entitlement for that thing that we feel denied, and eventually we snap and just take it. Then we’re shamed for wanting the thing, further repressed (by adults in our childhood usually) and the cycle of shame and entitlement continues amplifying itself in a feedback loop. The first “sin” wasn’t disobedience to an arbitrary rule: it was also a rather Buddhist ideal of missing the mark by focusing on what you can’t have. When I realized the cycle of shame and entitlement that had been laid on me by parents pastors and so many religious teachers, I felt an incredible literal weight lift off my shoulders. I felt a tension in major muscle groups release for the first time in decades. I felt the peace that passeth understanding for the first time as an atheist, and finally truly knew what it felt like to be “saved.”
Sadly I don’t think most Christians ever feel that. I hope most of you have. What other potentially valuable lessons do you feel were lost to the sheep who took things too literally?
The most beautiful, complex truth I've found in the Bible is Matthew 5-7, the "Sermon on the Mount." My hypothesis is that it was written by some unknown author, attributed to the fictitious Jesus, and Christianized by adding religious things like god and prayer. The structural chiasmus reveals meanings that are hidden to the superficial reader. The "Sermon" is really a Treatise on Ethics, and the first lesson it teaches is that religion should not be followed on blind faith. I'm writing about it, and I hope to publish a full report by the end of this year.
Yes, I studied the shit out of it. I feared going to hell if I got it wrong so I researched the times prior to Christianity and even prayed for help in understanding. As a result of my studies I have concluded that the message of Christ was intentionally distorted by the religious leaders of the times. Paul/Saul worked for the Roman government so if he was enlightened on his way to Damascus the church leaders would have killed him before the New Testament ever became into existence. Christ is a title not a name. A lot of false claims have been made about him. A lot of fighting over which books should be included, which ones should be left out.
The bible is not the word of God. It was written to deceive people so they would not listen to the true message which is very much more Gnostic than Christian. I believe "Christ" traveled and studied philosophy with some of the greatest men of the times. He was killed because he was trying to tell us NOT to follow religion. The truth of who we are and what we are capable of resides within each of us and religion has always had total control of knowledge.
There is enough truth in the bible to convince some it is all real and enough falsehoods to convince others it is completely wrong but there is an awful lot of historical facts in it once God and religion are removed from the equation.
The flood did happen but it was Noah's belief that he was the only one saved that was wrong. Noah was only one of hundreds that believed their "God" saved them so that is how they wrote it.
There are amazing things in the bible and a good starting point for understanding human history. The preachers do not tell it like it is either. For example: they teach we are all descendants of Adam and Eve but in the very first chapter Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. He does not create "Adam" until chapter 2.
In Ezekiel there is a clear description of a spacecraft [biblegateway.com]
Hieroglyphs from ancient Egypt clearly show we have lost knowledge not gained it so yes, reading the bible has not only led me further back in history but it also helps me when I question the teachings. The best defense against the bible being "The divine word of God" is in the bible itself.
Deuteronomy 4:2 King James Version (KJV)
2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you. If one were to take the bible literally then changing it into English destroyed the "Word". If anything, studying the bible made it very clear that the elite have controlled the information we receive since the beginning of time.
The words of Jesus are compelling. Jesus was attempting to teach us how to live. He often spoke about compassion toward all (not those in your tribe or those that have the same skin color). The Sermon on the Mount is a good example. I do not believe in all the crap about the virgin birth, miracles, raising the dead, afterlife, rapture, etc., it is all magic and myth to me. The teachings are very Buddhist-like.
I struggled with viewing the Bible as the Word of God. So, I read it all through.. It was obvious that much of the Old Testament was the word of men.anything not understood was atributed to God. The primary proof xomes from Jesus.. The two most Fundamental teaachings. Love God, Love all people. With that in mind much of what attributedd to God, must have been wrong. I converted to Christianity when I was 20. I had been an atheist until I heard, Peace and Love . And the song What's Love got to do with it". What is Love? an emotion? That set me in a search for theTruth about Love? the best I have found is in the Serrmon on the Mount and I Corinthians 13. Even if not the word of God, they are beautiful words to live by.
At this point, I have absolutely no interest in the bible. What people miss,IMO, is that the bible was written by people, mostly men who were incredibly ignorant and biased. A third grader knows more about the how the world operates than Moses. Speaking of Moses. Here we have people prostrating themselves at his feet when he was a mass murderer and mass rapist and was probably on mushrooms or suffering a severe low blood sugar attack when he wrote his implausible stories of the burning bush and others.
Treat others the way which you want to be treated. To many times i see Christians quoting this passage but never live to that standard same thing with love thy neighbor which he defines as anyone in need regardless of nationality race gender, etc.
I think you’re looking at it the right way. The only thing I might add is that maybe it’s not loss of ego itself but loss of identity with ego. We prolly need ego to continue basic functionality. Looks to me like the story of the crucifixion is the metaphor for that process of losing ego identity. The terror of the ordeal, the survival/resurrection on the other side, the ascension into heaven/expanded identity, etc.
There is a myth? rumor? urban legend? that the missing years in Jesus's life were missing because he went to the east and studying buddhism. I "think" I remember hearing that this could be seen in a transition of his ideology as a before and after in reading the bible, though I'm not sure.
In broad strokes I like that the 10 Commandments were implemented to undo the confusion caused by the hundreds of religious rules created by the priests but even this was too much for the knuckle dragging, bronze age primitives to understand so iron age Jesus is sent back with just 2 rules - love your brothers and sisters and also love god which we are all expressions of, so really just one rule - LOVE. Still fucking that one up in a big way.
The other general premise I like is that Lucifer is portrayed as the great evil and cause of suffering because he insisted that humankind have freewill, all the suffering of humanity is linked to this concept and god heaps pain and suffering on his creation because it has the audacity to want to be free. Makes a person wonder just where the evil truly lies, fortunately most believers let that one fly right over their little heads, bowed to the ground in fear and supplication.
I look for common threads in a variety of scriptures (Buddhist, Hindu, etc.) and I think you may be onto something with this "ego death" thing.
I can't recall anything off hand, but I have encountered many Bible quotes unself-consciously referenced in interpretations of Eastern religions. Seen in this light, some of the parallels are simply astounding.
Also I think Alan Watts had something to say about Jesus' "I am God" realization that omits the "...and so are you; everyone is God " part--due to having been filtered through the spiritual paradigm of Jewish culture--that results in an utter fail.
I think my favourite is the story of the good Samaritan: someone of a faith the wasn't accepted by most people, who did a good deed when others walked by and Jesus said he was a brother. Seems to be a story that's universal and still relevant today, forget the differences and help others when we can.
Yes, I did my time. My immediate family wasn't terribly religious and any early religious time I got was through going with my great grandmother. I spent the few years around my preteens as a missionette through the First Church of God. I spent a lot of years trying to forget but it seems past numbers (always sucked at remembering numbers) and the order of things (not the best with names and/or titles either) I can't seem to shake a lot of it. I decided since the majority seem to have some connection to it and try to live by it especially here down south, I might as well at least keep some regular understanding going, even if I just can't bring myself to believe any of it. At least I know what the heck people are talking about if they bring something from the books up.
I don't think I really have anything really useful that I got out of it though I do find the relationship between Jesus and Mary M. to be beautiful if one is to dig into it a bit farther.
I think it might not
be buddhistic, though I think Jesus is the best part of the bible. Jesus performs a sort of archetype that I think is powerful and beatiful and resonates with me. You accept suffering voluntarily and you bear your cross and you help
Both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures are built on the backs of earlier religions and their myths. When the Preacher saith that "there is nothing new under the sun," he was right.
But yeah, both books have pearls of wisdom: we should take care of widows and orphans; we should be slow to anger; we should learn to hold our tongues when appropriate; people who live by the sword do die by the sword; and to everything, there is a season.
All of the lessons, though, are contradicted by other "pearls" of idiocy and meanness:
"Happy is the one who takes your babies and smashes them against the rocks!"
“If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man, and another man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated his neighbor's wife." If he rapes her in the country, they have to get married. (The rationale for the latter is that her reputation is ruined and she will never find another husband.)
"Slaves, you must obey your earthly masters. Show them great respect and be as loyal to them as you are to Christ."
"Wives, obey your husbands as you obey the Lord."
"Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you."
I won't go on.
I've read the whole damned thing from cover to cover and the New Testament twice about thirty five years ago. I also studied a bit of Koine Greek to better understand it.
A hard slog but at least I'm in a position to truly criticise it.
I think that Ecclesiastes is my favourite book.
I don't see any reason to believe that any of the main characters existed. Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus are as real to me as Batman and the Joker.