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Henry Bates

Henry Bates

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The Way to a Wonderful Life Message for October 2, 2016

                   The teaching that G-d is a god of limitation and human attributes is one of the most devastating to the human psyche.  Yet, religion has continued to perpetuate this image of G-d even though all evidence gives us proof that this is a man-made image that has not benefited mankind to any great degree.  I am saddened whenever I come across well-intentioned, sincere people who have accepted this belief and all too often attempt to convince others that this is the truth of G-d.  Their god is much like a puppet-master who controls our lives rather than the G-d of ever-lasting love that has gifted us with the ability to choose and in so doing experience the consequences of our choices.  Their god will heal us of all manner of disease and the consequences of bad choices if we will just live the "righteous" life ... that is righteous according to their ideas of morality and right and wrong (dogma).     

      We can read these words of wisdom from the Apostle Paul in the ancient scriptures in 1 Corinthians 13:11 ... "When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.  Amazingly enough these are words from a man who fostered man-made religious dogma still considered relevant in many Christian theologies and churches today. Dogma that is self-defeating in so many ways.  Yet, it is a statement to be remembered as we contemplate what it means to be an "image of G-d" especially when this image may be totally devoid of religious reasoning.

                I found these words about how Judaism defines G-d to be interesting and worthy of contemplation; the author is Rabbi Amy Scheinerman as posted on Reform Judaism:
"Our tradition reflects the view that humans are created in the image of God.  Many interpretations have been proffered to explain this notion, including that humans have a capacity for morality and gratitude, unlike other animals, that they have an insight into the world that is unlike other species and closer to God's, and that they have a sense of self and relationship which is God-like.  Tradition holds that humans have free will, meaning that they choose their own actions.  This entails great responsibility.
          The Talmud teaches that within each person is a Yetzer Tov (inclination to do good) and a Yetzer Ra (inclination to do evil).  At all times, we are aware of the correct course of action as well as tempted by the wrong course of action.  These struggle within us, as we struggle to make the correct behavioral decisions.  Judaism does not promulgate dogma about God, but does limit legitimate Jewish belief to say that there is only ONE God, and that God is incorporeal.  Throughout the ages, may scholars, sages, and philosophers have shared a wide variety of ideas about God, all of which are legitimate by Jewish standards.  As for the relationship between God and the individual, it is one spoken of by metaphor:  king/subject, parent/child, shepherd/sheep, lover/beloved, and so on.  Each individual's relationship with God is unique and deeply personal."

        As we accept as truth that G-d is the Source of all Creation but not a "creator" of our life experiences, it becomes even more important to realize what it means to be "made in the image and likeness of G-d."  Do we see ourselves as the "creator" of our life experiences or merely a human that is susceptible to all manner of worldly effects; i.e. disease, loneliness, poverty, failure and depression?  We create this image of ourselves whatever it may be.  It is within our power to create strength, health, happiness, prosperity, joy and success.  But, we must win the struggle against the inclination to "think evil" ... that is to think that all those things that diminish life are possible for us.  Our reality is that we are living to either the belief that we are of the "likeness of G-d" or we are not.  This "likeness" being the intelligence to choose those things that reflect an "image of G-d" within us that is powerful in its ability to experience the wonderful life of health and happiness and joy and peace and love and success and prosperity in all things that concern us ... and this is the "image of G-d" we must see in the mirror of our mind each and every time we see our think about who and what we are.


Keep the faith!
. Henry Bates

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