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An article donated by Contributing Editor Susan Humphreys

From Belief to Being

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A philosophical or spiritual or universal TRUTH is an idea that crosses man-made boundaries and limitations of culture and time. "From Belief to being" is one such TRUTH. It may be expressed in different words by different cultures and religious traditions but the essence -- the core of the idea -- is the same. It speaks to modern day folk as well as to those from our distant past.

As usual, I cast the I Ching this morning. 1 I cast #34 Great Strength from my old paperback Sam Reifler edition. It is The Power of the Great from the Wilhelm/Baynes edition. For more about this idea of the "Great" read my earlier essay entitled "Disjunction" where I quote a passage from the I Ching

"The great ones have gone and the small ones have come."

In the Moksha 2 section of the Sam Reifler edition it says:

"Enlightenment is the passage from an intellectual belief in an abstract, conceptual 'universal' truth, to existentially being that truth; passage from an idea to an all embracing, universal being."

When you see "being" with a small letter "b" it refers to the action of existing. It is not the same as "Being" with a larger letter "B" which refers to a specific living entity of some sort. Little letter "b" being is about the state of your soul, your spirit, your core, the nature of who you are as a human being. Our day-to-day words and actions show the world what beliefs we have incorporated into our very nature to the point that they are a natural part of how we behave in different situations.

Christian Folk wisdom says it is about "practicing what you preach". Other folk wisdom says it is "being all bluster and no muster." Or, are you one who "talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk"?

In the Analects of Confucius #13:

"Tzu-kung asked about the true gentleman. The Master said, He does not preach what he practices till he has practiced what he preaches." 3

Confucius refers in many places to following the Way.

The Tao from The Tao teh Ching is translated as the Way, or the path, a road that you travel. When you are following the Tao you are walking the walk. In the foreword of the translation by John C. H. Wu, Arthur W. Hummel says

"Both Confucianism and Taoism complement each other, however incompatible they seem at first sight to be. The former places a man in his proper relation to his fellow-men, the latter in proper relation to nature."

The emphasis is on proper behavior, doing what is right, being civil in your discourse (both online and face to face), respecting differences, beneficial to self and others and responsible steward of nature, even though doing so might be uncomfortable, difficult, or unpopular.

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In "The Art of Living" by Epictetus, from my Sharon Lebell translation 4 she points out that Epictetus believed:

"Moral progress is not the natural province of the high born, nor is it achieved by accident or luck,"

I would add, it is not attained by simply claiming to believe something, "but by working on yourself-daily."

Epictetus, she says, was concerned with two prime questions:

"How do I live a happy, fulfilling life?"

And

"How can I be a good person?"

The Bible is also concerned with this latter question, though it isn’t phrased the same way. In both the Old and New Testaments there are references to what came to be called "The Golden Rule -- to do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

This is practicing what you preach; it is walking the walk not just talking the talk; it is following the Tao, and about being the "true" gentleman of Confucius. And, according to Rabbi Hillel the Elder, 5 it is the whole of the law; all the rest is commentary.

It is what Jesus means when he says:

"The father and I are one."

He means he has incorporated the essence, the teachings, the actions, characteristics attributed to the father into the core of his being. What is in the father’s heart and mind is in his heart and mind. He sees what the father sees, hears what the father hears, and understands what the father understands. He has passed from:

"an intellectual belief in an abstract, conceptual 'universal' truth, to existentially being that truth; passage from an idea to an all-embracing, universal being', as in living that truth.*

Read the full passage at John 10:22-42, not just verse 30 to get the full meaning. 6 This hyperlink will show the New International Version's translation from the original Greek. You can select from many different Bible versions.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "The I Ching," Amazon.com, at: https://www.amazon.com/
  2. "Moksha" is a term found in Hinduism and Jainism, These are two religions that teach reincarnation and the cycle of rebirth after death. Moksha is the transcendental state that is attained by a person who is released from the cycle of rebirth.
  3. "John 10:30,* video, Biblical Unitarian, 2019, at: https://www.biblicalunitarian.com/
  4. Epictetus, "Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness," HarperOne (2007), at: Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
  5. Rabbi Hillel the Elder is often said to have been born in 110 BCE to have died about 10 CE). However, this would mean that he lived to the age of about 120 years, which is highly unlikely. No human male has been known to have reached his 117th birthday. Hillel was a leading liberal Jewish philosopher and religious leader. He founded the School of Hillel which became the center of Torah study at the time. At about 30 BCE, he was was appointed the Leader of Jewry, a position that he held for forty years. He is generally viewed as the founder of the rabbinical tradition, and of modern-day Judaism. Some theologians believe that Jesus paraphrased some of the sayings of Hillel at Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:37 and Luke 32:33.
  6. This hyperlink will go to the Bible Gateway web site and show the New International Version translation from the original Greek. You can select on that site from many different Bible versions.

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Original posting: 2019-JUN-08
Author: Contributing Editor, Susan Humphreys
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