History recap: Although there are oral traditions older than the Sumerian Epics, (Dogons, Gobleki Tepi) the earliest written records demonstrating religious beliefs start with the Sumerians, whose creation myths and epics were written on tablets.The founding of Ur in Mesopotamia (in present-day Iraq) and the advent of proto-writing around 4000 BC, were the glory days of the region. The gods and goddesses of the Sumerian epics, Enki, Enlil, Ninhursag, Innana, Erishkigal, and Anu, among them, were a badly-behaved lot with colorful myths surrounding their exploits of various geographic areas and their quarrels with each other.
By 2100 BC, the Mespotamiam religion was widespread throughout what is now the Middle-East. Babylon carried on the traditions of Mesopotamia, with its own particular changes. Sumerian Innana (ca. 4500 BC) became the Babylonian Ishtar (ca. 3500 BC) , and the Egyptian Isis ( ca. 4000BC), for example. The Mesopotamian religion of many gods and goddesses did not die out in the region until Christianity took over (@ 100 CE.)
The Patriarch of the three major religions, Abram/Abraham, was born in Ur ca. 2166 (The Life Application Study Bible.) He heard the voice of God (circumstances not reported) who commanded him to leave Ur, and who eventually promised him children, an inheritance, and land. They developed a covenant between them. Back then, though, Abraham called him El, and later, El ‘Elyon (God The Most High). Christians, Muslims and Jews consider him the world’s first monotheist, but it’s debatable.
Today, if someone heard a voice commanding them to go walkabout in the hostile desert at the age of 75, as Abraham did, he or she might be considered delusional. But let’s take a look at the commanding entity. Giving land away, pulling a last-minute bait-and-switch on the sacrifice of an only (and hard begotten!) son (Isaac), and promising inheritances — does that sound like the Omnipotent Creator?
In the Bible, before we get to the story of Abraham, we have the origin story of Genesis, when God (using a ‘we’ form) creates the world, everything in it, and then humans, in a paradise on earth. He tells them to do anything they want except eat from two trees — one that gives them life forever (like Gods) and one that supposedly gives them discernment between good and evil. Why these two things would be bad is not to be questioned. And it’s a setup. They disobey their creator thanks to a suggestive talking serpent. Then, there are too many troublesome people on Earth. A great flood wipes out everyone but Noah (descendent of Adam, implying that there are other people there who are not descended from Adam). Over and over again, there are themes of favoritism for a particular lineage of humans, their inability to obey their creator, and his acts of punishment and reward.
Moses ‘borrowed’ the whole story. Everything in the Bible up to Abraham and Isaac (and much, much, more!) can be found in Sumerian Epics! It’s been disguised and changed a bit, but the essence is the same. Repurposed by the priests of a new religion, shaping existing myths to fit their own needs for order, society and power. In fact, Genesis was written by at least two different generations priests — the more ancient ones, closer to Moses’s day, were more faithful to the Sumerian/Babylonian origin and flood stories, with their built-in egalitarianism. The newer generations of priests added the bit about the woman being descended from the man’s rib, her being the disobedient seductress, and the cause of God’s curse against mankind. It’s becoming more and more clear to scholars that women’s status has declined since bronze-age times!
The Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaton, the ‘heretic king’, was the first official person in history (1353 BCE) to promote monotheism, declaring that Aten, symbolized by the sun’s disk, was the sole god. Some thinkers speculate that he possessed a communications device (that would have been the extra-terrestrial, extra-dimensional or extra-temporal in origin, to be clear), which had sun-like qualities, and which spoke to him. At the time, Egypt, like other city-states, was polytheistic, with its cadres of priests jostling for power and prominence. Akhenaton got a great deal of flak for his attempt to wipe out polytheism. The priesthood and his successors destroyed his art, sculpture and architecture, and tried to erase him from cultural memory.
According to Jewish scholars, Moses came along less than a century later (around 1391 BCE), also preaching monotheism to the ‘Israelites’. Of course, he was descended from Abraham, but it’s complex. Whether by adoption or birth, Moses was an Egyptian prince. If he took the Ark of the Covenant from the Egyptians, as many scholars believe (the very communications device referenced above, that caused Akhenaton to attempt to change the Egyptian religion), we might conclude that the concept of monotheism comes to us from Ur(Iraq) through Egypt to Canaan(Israel).
The ancients can’t be blamed for an unsophisticated understanding of monotheism, if they were hearing voices giving them knowledge, wisdom and favors. But we should know better, especially with quantum physics and noetic sciences at the forefront of discovery. Jesus got it right. But by then, he wasn’t tuned to to some externally originating source of wisdom.
He was listening to his higher Self. This is a Gnostic understanding. The Romans of course had their way with Jesus’ teachings, so we can take our understanding from Gnostic Jesus, if not a Hindu saint like Shankara, who, as far as I know (I’m sure there are others), was the earliest holder of this nondual wisdom prior to Jesus. Unfortunately, the snazzy Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans stole the show. The Eastern world has been more circumspect with its wisdom holders.
It would be better if Monotheism didn’t not have the ‘theism’ (god) attached. There are actually two ideas behind monotheism. One of them is an evolved, inclusive, total view, which is appropriate for belief system which encompasses everything. The other view, the upside-down, or incorrect view, divides us up into Us(the chosen, the baptized, the subdued) vs. Them(the godless, the corrupt, the wrong). In that view, there is one single God, more powerful than the rest, jealous and demanding, cruel and unusual, not always logical, but who must be obeyed, like a parent.
That is the creature of our fantasies, the god we humans make in our own image. He is used to control us, by our well-meaning parents, our school and church leaders, and lately, our politicians. He becomes the internalized voice of our conscience, the never-satsified, parental tyrant. One could even consider this creator-creature to be satanic, whereas the serpent, in the Garden of Eden, was the bearer of knowledge, (Lucifer means ‘light bearer’) and ally to man. In this way, priest-defined religion has turned the truth upside down to preserve power. It is this warped representation that people are foolishly dying for. It is my sincere wish that all people who follow religion ‘by the book’ wake up. It is more important to be attuned to the love in one’s heart, to nature, and to the well-being of all the others in one’s eco-system, than it is to follow stale commands from ancient prophets. The proof is in the health of the beings around us, and in the growing prevalence of mental disturbances in those who can’t reconcile religious belief systems with actual life.
The actual understanding of the wise is that ‘God’ is nondual. God is nonduality. Mono is one. One mind. One life. One consciousness. One being. Matter comes into being, is fragmented into an infinite pattern of variations which end up making the cells of the bodies of you and me and all that is, and which eventually returns to the source. Life is breathing, being born and dying, constantly, everywhere. We can choose the size of our identity. It can be limited to a single, narrow point of view, or it can be as vast and inclusive as the stars. According to Gnostics, all of creation is simply striving to return to the point of unity of spirit – to the One – to the state of being joined with God.
Compared to this view that seeks unity, compassion for all lives, harmony, and exhaltation of wisdom, the God of the Abrahamic religions is the Demiurge, the one that gives rise to the problem of evil; one intent on making sure that chaos, disharmony are the norm, that reunification never happens. Why does war exist? Because of the concept of God, per Akhenaton and the Abrahamic religions. Religions that require intermediaries – priests, teachers, prophets – in order for us to relate to God. In this view, it is God that wants to keep us at war with each other. At least, the proponents of this so-called-god do, because they profit by it, in esteem, power, control, influence, wealth, and anything else of comfort in the world. Spiritual truth has been turned on its head. We are mislead.
Jesus Christ, an Essene, taught a great deal that was omitted in the canonical texts selected by Emporer Constantine his 300 bishops at the Council of Nicaea in 325. This was where Christian Church Doctrine began, the satanic (upside-down) interpretation of Jesus’ teachings becoming the baseline. It was at this conference that Jesus was declared to be a god, and not a man (as he himself proclaimed.) To raise his status to divine meant that we, the common people, could never be like him, which surely gave the horrible Emporer Constantine (who murdered his ex wife by boiling her to death in her bath, and who continued to worship other pagan gods but to persecute Jews) a bit of a relief. It also meant that we, the common people, would need hierarchies of intermediaries — to go between us and our once innate relationship with the divine. Good for the empire, good for the pocketbook. Of the elite, of course. (The Vatican is the richest ‘state’ in the world.)
Christ taught us to love one another and to live with wisdom and compassion. Not to worship him. Not to make pilgrimmages to ruins. Not to live by myths. Not to buy off our sins. Not to give gifts in lieu of love.
To fight over a big guy in the sky is the ultimate absurdity. If that god exists, his nature is questionable. To kill over misunderstood beliefs, and to take these externally originating proclamations over the truth in our hearts, the truth palpable to our senses – that has got to be the ultimate sin. The ultimate insanity. To be so alienated from our own natures – from the miracle that is this inexplicable life — that is most definitely sin.
Our power is love. Love is unity that transcends all limitations.
Love your neighbor, no matter what they believe. Love the refugees. Love the terrorists. Love the crazy people and the lost people and the hopeless people and the rich people and the poor ones. Love the animals, the plants, the bees, the sharks. Love with all the power in your heart. Love is the glue, the road to unity, the path to recovery. Be you Pagan, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu or other, recognize that we are all One, we are all nature, and we are made of love. Love is the truth. Everything that separates us from nature and each other can only be a lie.