Foolish is the engineer who doesn't have some way to manually reset any active device that he has designed. Assuming that their device will function flawlessly from the start is THE mark of engineering hubris. Demanding perfection from devices, and human beings, is THE mark of managing/governing hubris. There is certainly a special place reserved in the Hall of Fools for those who assume that all contingencies and emergencies have been anticipated, compenstated for, and perfectly addressed, up front, in their design document. I am aware of the scriptural injunction against labelling people "fools", but if the shoe fits, far be it from me to lie about the propriety of them wearing it...
There are times when direct intervention is required.
Since this is true of engineered systems, it is even more true when it comes to the system of the mind proposed earlier. Sometimes, a form of "manual intervention" will be required to get the thought life/spiritual life under control. You should not be surprised, as you read this essay, to discover that many of the processes that are used to bring a system into control are related, at some level, to those processes that were used to knock it out of control in the first place.
Thus, one goal of this essay will explore externally imposed practices that can be used to aid the processes already outlined in this stage and in the stages yet to be written.
Spiritual Technologies of the Ancients
The disappearance after about 150 AD of the visible and outward manifestation of the Holy Spirit's power lead to Christians and Christianity emphasizing the personal and corporate adoption of methods and practices that would contribute to developing, enhancing, and maintaining their spirituality and connection with God. These are the spiritual disciplines, and have proven useful for over 18 centuries.
It may be justly asked why I am examining these practices when the concept of symbiosis, as applied in the first two essays in this section, has been far more effective in my life. My reason is to avoid the fetish of modernism, where it is held that more recent findings and practices are necessarily superior to, and thus merit totally replacing, older practices and knowledge. The fetish of modernism substitutes human judgment of good and bad, right and wrong, with a glace at the calendar. This is as equally shallow as the practice of looking on the outward appearance to judge character. One argument that Muslims make in favor of Islam is that it is younger than Christianity and Judaism, and so must be necessarily more correct in the same way that Christianity, being younger than Judaism, was more correct. Not so: Islam attempts to resurrect victory in war as a criterion for doctrinal correctness, when a proper reading of Scriptures reveals that God used miracles to validate Moses' message before the Hebrews fought the Amalekites, and validated the message of Jesus and the Apostles without recourse to war at all. The latest is not always the greatest.
Drug companies know better than to distain ancient knowledge: many of the drugs we use today, such as asprin and quinine (for malaria), were initially discovered by anthropologists investigating the herbal remedies of tribal medicine men. Did the fact that they were used by technologically backward people groups in a less than optimal form make them useless? Not at all: the drug companies rightly surmised that drugs found effective in such a challenging environment had to have great potential effectiveness if administed in a purer form under more conducive circumstances. Naturally, their medical anthropologists had to get past the "inactive ingredients" and "mumbo-jumbo" theatrics that were thrown in by the medicine men to create a placebo effect or to enhance their status to get at the true active ingredients. Rather than picking at nits, they applied their skill to "prove all things", tossed the nonessential, concentrated on the essential, and held fast to that which was good.
One of my goals in this essay is to follow the same example: prayer, fasting, systematic acts of charity, bible study, and visiting the Temple continued to be practiced by the Church, the Apostles, and Paul: if it benefitted the first actively symbiotic Christians, it will definitely benefit us. At the same time, we must not be judgmental about how fellow believers practice the spiritual disciplines: for starters, the first serious doctrinal controversy in the Church was about the carry-over and mandatory imposition of "spiritual disciplines" of a strictly Jewish character upon Gentile believers, such as abstaining from unclean meat, meat offered to idols, blood, and circumcision. In that case, the Church leadership wisely opted to impose only the relevant requirements of the Noachide commandments on the Gentile believers. When women insisted on pouring perfume on Jesus' feet in an exercise of the spiritual discipline of worship, it was opposed by those who insisted that it was a waste, and that they should have exercised the spiritual discipline of charity instead. In every case, Jesus rebuked the disciples, implying that worship of him was more important on the scale of things than charity. The apostle John is very uncomplimentary in this regard: he points out that it was Judas who instigated the pious objection. Judas did it for money then, and I have more than a passing suspicion that those who do it today do it for vain-glory or the approval of men.
This essay may be somewhat brief in places because those topics will be more fully developed and explored in later essays, so that the discussion will be given within the context most appropriate for comprehension. Another goal of this essay is to convey the need of you to continue in those spiritual disciplines that have benefitted you in the past by fitting them into the same intellectual framework that supports symbiosis, challenge you to try out ones you may have abandoned to see what Symbiosis brings to the table, or situate them within a hierarchy so you don't mistake a "nice to do" for a "you must do this".
Works of the Flesh Versus Works of the Spirit
Let me start by stating categorically that no spiritual discipline that relies solely on the work of the believer is inherently of spiritual benefit.
Just as works of the law do not cause Justification (making man legally right before God), spiritual disciplines do not cause Sanctification (making man behave right before God). To use an analogy, Justification is a "structure" that God built by the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, but which benefits man only when the latter agrees with God and figuratively "enters" that "structure" by belief in Jesus Christ. In a similar way, Sanctification is a "structure" that God builds by the indwelling Holy Spirit, but which benefits man only when the latter agrees with God and figuratively "enters" that "structure" by belief in, and cooperation with, the indwelling Holy Spirit. Justification is that aspect of Salvation where man is saved from the consequences of sin with regard to God's justice to live eternally in the world to come. Sanctification is that aspect of Salvation where man is saved from the consequences of sin with regard to the natural order of things to live rightly in this present world. Symbiosis as a doctrine does not Sanctify or causes Sanctification: it merely helps a person understand the fact of the existence of the Holy Spirit within them and explicitly addresses the process of cooperation. (The best analogy is a man shattering a glass using a rifle. The actual shattering was done by the bullet striking the glass, but the bullet cannot strike the glass without being fired, and it could not be fired until the man pulled the trigger. Pulling the trigger was a necessary precondition to eventually breaking the glass, but not sufficient if the gun was not loaded. Cooperation pulls the trigger, but the actual shattering of sin and its effects by the transformation of the life is effected by the Holy Spirit.)
Thus, the core concepts behind the idea of Symbiosis immediately lead us to the realization that the spiritual disciplines work only because they, to some degree and in some way, are a form of cooperation with the Holy Spirit within the believer. This explains why the spiritual disciplines do not work on non-believers, since they do not have the Holy Spirit within them.
This result has two consequences with regard to the present effort represented by this website. The first consequence is that the conscious knowledge of effective cooperation with the Holy Spirit that Symbiosis represents can be used to improve the effectiveness of the spiritual disciplines. For instance, the discipline of prayer is probably as encrusted with as much placebo "mumbo jumbo" as the medicine man's administration of impure quinine to the one suffering malaria. With the help and insight of Symbiosis, prayer could become a process as effective as the modern-day application of quinine in a purified pill form, with the advantage of the sufferer getting better results with a lot less bother.
The second consequence is the potential for discovering enhancements within the existing spiritual disciplines that would improve their effectiveness for the believer: the discovery of quinine immediately led to the search for the mechanism by which it it worked to alleviate malaria, leading to the development of a vaccine against it, as well as suggesting a control mechanism that would guide the search for effective medicines for other diseases. Similarly, because Symbiosis states that the success of a spiritual discipline in one area is necessarily the result of a specific method of cooperation with the Holy Spirit, we are led to search out and elucidate the method with the hope that it might prove effective in combatting other forms of our spiritual "disease".
The above two consequences impact the research aspects of Symbiosis, but I offer them to encourage you to start, or continue, the practice of the spiritual disciplines, with the obvious suggestion that they be done symbiotically when it comes to choosing which ones to do, when to do them, and how to do them. One benefit we will discuss in this essay is that some of the disciplines can be used as a "manual override" to a cyclic thought process that is out of control. When the Inner Man starts selecting the wrong thoughts, the consequent thoughts generated by the human heart in response will tend to confirm and reenforce the injudicious selection, creating a "vicious cycle". Certain of the spiritual disciplines will help break the "vicious cycle" and establish a "virtuous cycle". Their ability to do so may seem weak right now, but will strengthen when exercised consciously within the symbiotic framework.
Some of the spiritual disciplines are New Covenant requirements imposed by scripture whose performance will be enhanced if approached symbiotically. And there are some spiritual disciplines whose practice in one's life can be characterized as being "less than enthusiastically pursued", but which can be less onerously performed if done symbiotically. I will point these out and give a brief outline of the suggested approaches, with the understanding that a fuller exposition and discourse on the methods will be given in a later essay written within the context of the stage best suited for learning and applying them.
Before we start, I want to express my personal doubt that Symbiosis would be of use in discovering any truly "new" ones. I think the "spiritual discipline tree" is barren after almost 1800 years of picking over the branches. While I will be delighted if some independent researcher performing follow-on work in this field proves me wrong, I believe we will not find "new" spiritual disciplines as much as rediscover "old" ones that proved effective in the past but which either fell out of "fashion", were deemed not as efficient as the others that were retained, or were abandoned for one trivial reason or another. Just as new mining equipment can enable abandoned gold mines to be productive again, so Symbiosis may help us to be productive using variants of those abandoned spiritual disciplines. Who knows what lost treasures are now accessible in the works of the Scholastics, the Ascetics, the Monastics, just to name a few? An exercise, as the textbooks say, that is left to the reader or prospective researcher.
So much has been written and said about the spiritual discipline of prayer that one has to wonder what else could be said about it. In fact, it is my belief that so much has been said about prayer that not all of it could possibly be true. When I obtained the domain name of this website, one of my original objectives for this website was to perform an analysis of Prayer (among other things) that followed the methodology unique to this website to separate the wheat from the chaff. Since that analysis of prayer would take up an entire section by itself, I will confine myself to where Symbiosis intersects prayer.
The only passage relating the Holy Spirit to prayer is found in Romans 8:26-27:
26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit , because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
I have taken the liberty of color coding the pronouns to link them to their referents since the usage of verse 27 is somewhat confusing. The words in red refer to God, and the link for the words "searcheth the hearts" is to Jeremiah 17:10, which was the Old Testament verse that Paul must have had in mind when he chose them. The word LORD, in all capital letters, is an indication of the presence of the Tetragrammaton in the Hebrew text: YHWH, which has so many modern pronunciations because the original one from the tounge of God given to Moses was lost due to a mistaken reverence on the part of the Hebrews and Jews. The hearts referred to are the hearts of men. In that search, YHWH is said to know the mind of the Spirit. It is almost as if, in searching those hearts, YHWH finds The Spirit within those hearts. Recall this discussion of the Holy Spirit being given as an earnest, and the assertion that the transfer is permanent. The second "he" in verse 27 doubless refers to "The Spirit", since the Spirit is said to make intercession in verse 26, and it is ridiculous to believe that an intercessor and the one to whom intercession is made are one and the same entity. The Greek word used in the second usage of "intercession" carries the implication of the intercessor "going to" the one to whom intercession (on our behalf) is being made. If this passage does not imply the separateness in the Trinity between YHWH and The Spirit that a permanent transfer of The Holy Spirit to us means, then I don't know how to parse English.
Recall that Jesus called The Holy Spirit the Comforter and the Advocate: intercession on our behalf is what our Advocate does. An "Advocate" that doesn't go on our behalf to someone else and doesn't intercede to them for us on our behalf is not an Advocate at all in the enormously rich meaning of the Greek word that Jesus used. Put another way, an Advocate was sought precisely because those needing the advocate did not know the best way to frame the petition expressing their needs and desires: they needed someone who knew what made the "intercessee" "tick". The advocate was sought because he knew "the right buttons to push". Another interesting point about the second usage of "intercede" is that it is also used in Hebrews 7:25 to refer to the intercession that Jesus Christ, our High Priest, does to save us. This emphasizes the connection that exists between the Holy Spirit in us and Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ interecedes for us with regard to salvation and the forgiveness of our sins, while the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with regard to all else that touches us.
The goal of all this is to help us grasp the realization of how much is being done on the part of God to ensure that our prayers are answered. Answered prayer is supposed to be the norm, not the exception.
These facts explain a mystery regarding prayer that is given in 1 John 5:14-15:
14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
Every book and our experience with prayer consistenly tell us that we do not get everything we ask for in prayer (a circumstance for which the truly wise man thanks God). Every expositor on prayer concentrates on the fact that the prayer must be in accordance to God's will, and much discourse is expended on the necessity of subjecting ourselves to God's will. However, verse 15 implies that if God hears us, "whatsoever we ask" is granted. If the Holy Spirit is within us, and he is one with the Father, then if the Holy Spirit hears us, doesn't God the Father hear us as well at the same time? The answer is that the Holy Spirit is, in a legal sense, no longer "part" of God the Father but "belongs to us". He is our earnest, and an earnest is "ours", not anyone else's.
This implies a change in the nature of the communications channel between us believers and God the Father. Recall that scriptures say that both Jesus Christ and angels have directed that prayers be directed to God the Father. Nonbelievers who do not have the Spirit are still heard by God, but only in the same way that the omniscence and omnipresence of God enables him to know when a sparrow falls to the gound. With the coming of the Holy Spirit as the Symbiote residing within the heart of the believing Host, the only channel between God and man is through the Holy Spirit. Thus, grieving the Holy Spirit is equivalent to removing that channel and permanently isolating the offender from God. There is a spiritual "dropping off of the radar". In a sense, the offender is known, but unheard, by omniscence. He is noted, but unacknowledged, by omnipresence.
This set-up is a sort of mixed blessing with regard to Prayer: If what you want is in accordance to the Will of God, there is a guarantee that the Spirit will translate it and pass it on, and in that passing it on, there is a guarantee of an answer. The Spirit has a 100% success rate for prayers passed on to the Father. What is less than 100% successful is the pass rate of prayers we make that the Spirit does not deem worthy to pass on. In a sense, it makes no difference if we say "if it be thy will": a prayer that is not in God's Will will not be passed on by the Holy Spirit, so He won't even hear the "if it be thy will". And because the promise is that any prayer that is passed on is in God's will, then adding "if it be thy will" is redundant. It should be pointed out that it is the duty of the Advocate to advise the petitioner of the liklihood that the petition would be granted or refused, and to refuse to intercede if intercession would do no good, or make the petitioner's situation worse. The Advocate is always working in favor of the petitioner, but if good cannot be done, then his actions must "do no harm".
This should be of some comfort: if there is a problem with our prayers being answered, it is because there is a difficulty that can only be resolved by discussing the matter between us and the Holy Spirit. God, in a sense, never has to say "no": He always says "yes" to every petition that gets to Him, but not every petition we make ever gets to Him. The whole point of Symbiosis is to establish a full communications path between us and the Holy Spirit within us. A benefit of the Symbiotic protocols should be an increase in the number and size of the answers to our prayers because those protocols enable us to get feedback from the Holy Spirit on what we can and cannot pray for, and what needs to be changed in our lives . Thus, problems with unanswered prayer are completely a Host/Symbiote issue, not a Host/Father God issue or a Holy Spirit/Father issue. The solutions are within our "span of control", so to speak.
In view of this, my opinion is that all discussions in books and sermons that answers the question "why did my prayer fail?" by emphasizing that we must conform to God's will before we pray essentially miss the point: A Being of Free Will interacting with beings with free will has three kinds of will. The first kind of will is defined by the things and actions that will always be granted. These are similar to the spiritual egg that the spiritual Father always gives when we, his spiritual children, ask of him. Salvation is one of these first will things, as is wisdom. The second kind of will is defined by the things and actions that will always be denied. Our petition for forgiveness of our sins while we refuse to forgive others their offenses against us is an example of a second will action. Another would be a petition to sleep with our neighbor's wife or to murder him when he is innocent of any evil committed against us. The third kind of will is conditional, where God may or may not grant a thing or action based on circumstances. Riches may be granted to one and not the other because the former can handle it without sin while the character of the latter would make riches a stumbling block. Blessings may be denied now but granted later when the potential recipient has grown in righteousness, faith, knowledge, maturity, and/or understanding. A blessing may be denied because of inadequate faith now, but will be granted later when faith has grown in response to blessings granted for which that lesser faith was adequate. No help may be forthcoming to one living a destructive or wasteful lifestyle now, but would be gladly granted once a lasting change in character or worldview enables the recipient to handle it.
I invite my mathematically inclined readers to mentally construct a Venn diagram where the entire space of possible actions and requests is divided into three regions. In the white region are things or actions of the first kind of will. In the black region are things or actions of the second kind of will. There is a grey area where there are things or actions of the third kind of will. That third region is smaller for some believers than for others, and it grows or shrinks based on the maturity level of the believer. This third region/will is described in James 4:1-10 thusly:
1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. 4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. 5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy 6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. 9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
James is talking of third region/third will things and objects in the bolded portion, where one doesn't get those things desired because they don't ask for them. However, even if they were asked for, they were not given because the recipients were too worldly to handle them rightly. Verses 4 through 10 are James' prescription for correcting the problem of lust that prevented them from receiving, and only verse seven talks about submitting to God's will. Like any set of prescriptions, one takes the medicine(s) most applicable to one's particular manifestation of the leprosy of sin. Stage 1 Symbiotic capabilities enable and facilitate application, while Stage 2 symbiotic capabilities enable diagnosis. (And after having mastered our lusts, we usually drop, with some embarrassment, asking for those things that were motivated by that lust. I recall the way a salesman friend regularly and efficiently broke dogs from chasing cars: he stopped his car. The dog, having effectively "caught" the car he was chasing, realized (in the way that dogs realize things like this) that he had no idea of what to do with the now-caught car. He never failed in breaking a dog of the habit, and the owner never failed to wonder aloud why the dog had "mysteriously" ceased from chasing cars.)
My point is that all the books and prayers are essentially correct when it comes to first and second region/will things and actions, but many have missed the implications of third region/will things and actions. They will comment that God's answers to our prayers are "Yes, no, or wait", without realizing or addressing the fact that "wait" is a "yes" that looks like a "no". We know that persistence in prayer is a condition for answering some requests, so the reaction of falsely believing that a "wait" is a "no" is to cease praying. That effectively turns the "wait" into a "no" that would have been a "yes" if persistence in prayer was what God required to turn the "wait" into a "yes".
While Symbiosis explains certain aspects of prayer, there is a practical side to it. For instance, if we were talking about traditional prayer, then Paul's injunction to the Thessalonians to pray without ceasing is terribly impractical except for monks and nuns. However, if prayer to God always involves talking to the Holy Spirit, then the continual interaction between Symbiote and Host that is the mark of Stage 1 "walking according to the Spirit" should also be classified as prayer. Thus, "praying without ceasing" is actually the natural state of an advanced and mature symbiotic Christian. It is unreasonable and ridiculous to demand that we pray (after the traditional manner) even while we sleep. However, if the heart continues to generate thoughts during the night that we call dreams, then the Holy Spirit must necessarily continue His work while the Inner Man is asleep, suppressing and altering the thought processes. I don't know about you, but I've had dreams during the night that "set me up" to fail the next day.
When it comes to prayer, it is obvious that the Spirit knows what we are thinking. However, the nature of the human heart (as the ancients knew it) does not permit us to directly perceive the Holy Spirit: we only perceive thoughts that are generated by a heart that is influenced by the Holy Spirit. The extent of that influence is regulated by permission granted by the Host via the thoughts that the Inner Man of the Host selects. This work suggests that all processes that involve cooperation between a rational Symbiote and Host must follow protocols to maintain a rational and stable feedback cycle of thoughts. Prayer is the Host-to-Symbiote communication that is half of any cooperative protocol. When a host prays a prayer that the Symbiote must massively modify or even refuse to pass on, a stable and rational feedback cycle requires that the Symbiote communicate the status of the prayer back to the host and help the Host in adjusting the prayer or their expectations, just as an Advocate would work with the petitioner to frame an petition prior to presentation that capitalizes on the abilities of the Advocate, and his knowledge of the one being petitioned, to maximize the chances of acceptance. This requires Symbiote-to-Host communications, which is the subject of Stage 2, since such communications require separate protocols. There is a spiritual discipline that partly implements this which we will address on the next page of this essay.
There is a form of prayer that is a Gift of the Spirit: speaking in tounges when there is no one to interpret. The main references are in 1 Corinthians 12-14. It should be noted that the passage in chapter 14 contrasts speaking in tounges as a means of edifying the speaker with prophecy that edifies the church. The Greek word from which "edify" comes is often translated elsewhere as "build"! We are encouraged to edify one another , and we are told that charity (agape love) edifies. However, the actual process of effecting edification that is within our span of control is given in the 1 Corinthians 14 passage: speaking in tounges and prophecy. One has to wonder about the schizophrenia of some church denominations that, on the one hand, vigorously preach and teach the necessity of people to be built up and walk in maturity, and yet condemn, on the other hand, the only means stated in scriptures that cause personal edification. There are a lot of warnings given about the destructive power of the tounge. All of those warnings are manifestly true, yet there is active hostility in some churches that is directed against anyone maniesting the gift of the Spirit that actually controls the tounge. This is insane. This is like working with a customer who is worrying about deer invading his vegetable garden, but complaining that the fence you propose to keep them out would spoil the view! Shouldn't this situation raise some red flags and cause us to deeply question and inquire about it? Shouldn't it arouse our suspicions? I will certainly address this situation in a Stage 4 essay. In the meantime, if you are fortunate enough to speak in tounges, doing so is scripturally supported as a means of prayer that is promised to be particularly powerful in very specific areas.
There is some question as to the benefit of speaking one's prayers (apart from speaking in tounges, which is necessarily verbalized) as compared to just thinking them. Given the location of the Holy Spirit and what Jesus said about the heart with relation to speaking, there is no difference since it is the Holy Spirit that performs the actual relay of the (modified) peititon. However, there is an aspect to speaking, apart from speaking the prayer, that has a meta-symbiotic impact on the cooperative process: voicing a thought selects it. Firstly, voicing a thought requires concentrating on the thought, which effectively selects it. Secondly, the act of voicing necessarily entails hearing what one is saying: vocalists in a band almost always require a special speaker that feeds their voice and that of the accompaniment back directly to them to help them synchronize their voice to the music and other singers. The aspect of hearing, apart from hearing oneself or others, also has a meta-symbiotic impact of a different sort on the cooperative process. We will address that aspect on the page after next.
While on the subject of speaking our prayers, I would like to warn against using over-flowery, ornate, or elaborate speech: It will get filtered and translated anyhow, and the Holy Spirit does a much better and effective job than we could ever hope to do on our own. I am currently being disciplined about this, getting messages from the Holy Spirit that run along the lines of "Oh STOP! You are SO full of it!" or "I'll let that pass untranslated: we can use a good laugh up here." Note that I am referring to elaborate phrasing that does nothing to convey the content of your prayer: when I have a problem that is best stated in technical language, I have found that going ahead and using it almost always gets a relevant response.
8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
The aspect of bible study will be addressed on the next page of this essay. The physical aspect of meditation is partly founded on Psalms 46:10:
10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
In essence, meditation is a quiet contemplation of the scriptures (or scripturally based devotional works) either after reading them or praying about them. The goal is intended to help people think of the implications of the scriptures or their prayer and internalize them preparatory to living them out. Contrast this with the Eastern form of meditation, where the goal is to not think of anything at all. While our thoughts are certainly like dirty bath water, the possiblity of preveniently generated thoughts from the Holy Spirit being eliminated by the Eastern style of meditation is like tossing both tub and baby out with the bath water.
The symbiotic aspects of meditating should be obvious: The Inner Man is in a state where thoughts generated by the Holy Spirit are most likely to be considered and selected. Meditation is intended to facilitate Symbiote-to-Host communication. Enhancing the production, identification, and understanding of thoughts generated by the Holy Spirit is the goal of Stage 2. Indeed, if it is granted that "meditation" embraces the possiblity of God giving you ideas as a result of you being in a meditative attitude, then "meditation" and "Stage 2 results" are one and the same.
We will not replicate here that which will require whole essays to outline the protocols required and involved. However, to give a foretaste of the potential that Symbiosis poses to improve the practice of this Spiritual Discipline (and to encourage some who are not doing so to start), I recommend, after finishing reading a biblical passage or other devotional work and prior to meditating, that you deliberately state to the Holy Spirit Symbiote within you your intention of being receptive to thinking about and investigating, any wild, crazy, or off-the-wall thought that does not contradict scripture. Meditate next, then follow up by doing what you promised to close the protocol loop and grant permission for the next round. Be serious by having pen and journal/paper/notebook handy. You don't have to accept everything blindly, but don't panic and reject everything blindly either. You want to be like the noble Bereans, who unleashed the systematic analysis that the Greeks made famous upon the Jewish Scriptures to prove the thoughts presented to you. At the beginning, the natural heart will say more than the Spirit, but persistence in doing your part grants permission for the Spirit to suppress the noise and strengthen the signal.
I have seen people who were frozen when it came to acting or believing suddenly becoming overnight valiant faith heroes with almost limitless courage and boldness. What made the difference? They already had the confidence that, if they knew God's will, they would do it without hesitation and with great courage and confidence because they believed that "God wants it, it's a sure winner!" Their hesitation was that they didn't know what was God's will. They were told of the dangers of presumption, which is acting as if the will of God was known when it was not known, or the opposite was God's will! Obviously, presumption is a great failing, but the answer to presumption is finding out what God's will truly is, not standing frozen and paralyzed in continued uncertainty. God's enemies are very cognizant of this, and do whatever is necessary to sow doubt as to what God's will is, or they sow doubt in the Christian's mind about the certainty of his knowledge. They are often aided by well-meaning, but falsely pious, christians who believe that ignorance is the equivalent of humility, safety, or caution. They are also aided by those Christian pharisees who fear one empowered by God challenging their fiefdoms as Jesus challenged the Jewish pharisees. In the end, they pose to the Christian the same question Satan posed to Eve: "Did God REALLY say that? Are you SURE? Really REALLY SURE? I mean, you got it while MEDITATING! Everyone does that! Are you SURE?" These bound christians were freed by the truth of what God's will really was: that knowledge turned them from wimps into virtual Angels of the Lord. If Symbiosis is true, then the Holy Spirit, who IS God, is leading us to the truth of what God's will is by the thoughts He is throwing into the Bitsream. Establishing the protocols so that we can be certain of the content of that communication, and thus God's Will, is the goal of Stage 2.
Meditation is almost exclusively performed in a solitary and quiet location where one can "hear one's own thoughts". Isaac meditating at dusk, Jesus going into the wilderness before his ministry started, and Paul going to the deserts of Arabia to absorb and process the revelations given to him are examples. However, do not be fooled by its "slow pace": experienced musicians go slowly at first through difficult sections with the goal of learning how to do it at the rate the score requires. Continual and regular meditation, combined with the other disciplines, is practice for the time when quick response and reaction is required. Jesus spoke of a period of future crisis where meditation would be too slow and pre-meditation useless. The Symbiotic Conversation goes into high gear, and the Homo/Deus combination performs marvels that flummox and astound its predators.
Reading and Hearing the Word
There are very few engineering constructions that rely solely on one physical property or law. The truly great and inspired constructions are symphonies where each law and property plays its tune in relationship to others that either mutually support or constructively oppose. Synergy is the name given to the effect of different entities interacting that causes the behavior of the collection to be greater than the bare sum of the individual effects.
The same is true for spiritual things. Nothing that God does or recommends for our edification is to be practiced in isolation. Combining them produces effects that are greater than the sum of the individual disciplines. I have pointed out how combining prayer with meditation partially facilitates the Symbiotic Conversation between Host and Symbiote. Here, we throw in a third factor: the Scriptures. We read in the Scriptures the promises it makes that we can pray and claim to obtain what we need. After reading the scriptures or hearing it preached we meditate on them to gain new insights. Symbiosis itself was discovered by reading about it in the scriptures and devotional works, praying about the relevant passages, and receiving the insights while meditating on what was read. When our prayers are not answered because God requires us to become more mature Christians, believe a scripture or new doctrine, or drop or modify how we practice or belive an existing one, meditation, a sermon, or a Bible passage can be used by the Holy Spirit within us to highlight the specific area needing attention.
We will discuss the specifics of how the Spirit uses the reading and hearing of Scripture to communicate with the Host in Stage 2. However, there is an aspect of reading or hearing the Scriptures (and any devotional works based on them) that has a meta-symbiotic effect. To appreciate this, consider the fact that although the Holy Spirit and the cooperating Inner Man work together to select thoughts, the generation process itself is performed within the limits and parameters that the heart sets, and is limited by the capabilities of the heart itself. I discussed here the effect that gossip has to hijack the thought selection process. Recall it is done by the gossip talking to the recipient in ways and means that initiate the defense mechanisms built into the heart/mind. Essentially, gossip leverages the inner structure of the way the heart is designed for survival to exploit it for evil in the same way that a virus exploits the genetic machinery of the cell it infects.
Well, two can play that game! For starters, preaching the Word works by fixing the lessons of the scriptures into the mind in the same way that gossip fixes its payload into the mind. A good sermon lives with us and benefits us long after the service has closed. If, during the week the thought of a previous sermon or bible lesson comes to mind, it would be prudent to select it: it would not have been brought to mind unless the Holy Spirit, forseeing some situation coming or seeing a present one unfolding, kicked that memory into the bitstream to start a Symbiotic Conversation calculated to "head things off at the pass". The same goes for a bible scripture or a good devotional work: once the process of symbiosis is understood, then such memories coming to mind are not coincidence! The Holy Spirit is relying on your knowledge that He affects the bitstream by those thoughts so you are aware that He is communicating with you.
The Holy Scriptures, and good derivative devotional works well grounded on them, have an extra advantage as already being the words of the Holy Spirit. Memorizing them helps the Inner Man recognize that the thoughts thrown into the bitstream by the Holy Spirit are indeed from Him because they utilize words He has already uttered to others.
I had promised at the beginning of this essay that some of the Spiritual Disciplines serve as a sort of manual override of the thought process. Hearing and reading the word of God is one of these manual overrides. To effectively use this manual override, you first must understand how it works: the heart automatically gives precedence to sense-based thoughts (the qualia) over the heart generated inner thoughts that represent temptation. The reason for this order of precedence leverages the same mechanism hijacked by gossip: survival for a creature that relies on intelligence, reflection, and thought is a dicey proposition if the hungry lion that is approaching is not noticed if one's inner thoughts and reasoning are overriding the senses telling us it is there. Our modern society does not make us safer. Rather, our society is more modern because it is safer, since long and involved trains of thought necessary to arrive at scientific knowledge and construct complex devices are not interrupted by lions or Vikings. Coleridge, the English Poet whose commentary on the human mind was crucial to my realization that the heart was a thought generator, never finished one of his most magnificent poems because he was interrupted by a visitor. At my workplace, a key tool to ensuring that an engineering product is compete and of high quality is a sign that (essentially) says DO NOT DISTURB.
Thus, if you are caught in a mental selection loop of unrighteous thoughts, the best way to break it, and simultaneously signal a desire to the Holy Spirit to intervene, is to either read the bible, recite it out loud, or listen to a voice/video recording of it. An extremely good devotional work or sermon has a good chance of working as well. The key is to use one's senses of vision or hearing to override the internal thought loop by forcing the heart to deal with the sensory input.
Each of the sensory paths have a bonus that is unique to them. Hearing is essentially unblockable, and there is a lot of subconscious processing involved: the ability of music to bypass mental pre-conceptions and blocks is a power capable of great good and great evil, which we will address in Stage 2. In the meantime, putting on vocal Christian music with understandable vocals, or a vocal reading of the Bible should do wonders. To me, Alexander Scourby remains the undisputed master of the Spoken Scripture, but Darth Vader does a respectable bang-up job as runner-up.
The fact that over 70% of the information we get is visual sometimes blinds us to the enormous amount of pre-processing that vision goes through before we get the "images" our Inner Man "sees". Recall that some of the non-sensory thoughts we think is a running mental commentary on what we are seeing that we "hear" with a mental voice. The heart tends to process and generate that inner mental commentary without reflection: not surprising since "reflection" (considering the thoughts we are thinking) is the exclusive job of the Inner Man. An indicator of how much mental capacity is allocated between different mental functions is manifested in the Stroop effect. I invite you to follow the link and take the test before continuing this essay.
How does the Stroop effect work? The qualia of color is processed first, but the sensory data is then passed next through the part of the heart that has been trained to recognize letters and whole words, which then translates them into the inner voice, co-opting the inner mental commentary. It is the Inner Man who is setting the requirement that the colors of the words, not the words themselves, be spoken, and who tries, vailantly but uselessly, to get the heart back on track. Reading the Bible or a good devotional work leverages the Stroop effect to force the heart to start generating a scripturally sound inner mental commentary, usurping the bad one you are trying to replace.
Knowing how to apply a specific wrestling move against an opponent is to learn the move at the level of the beginner. The expert wrestler recognizes when their opponent is about to use it against them. The Master knows how to turn it around or escape it when their opponent tries to use it. This is also true of mastery over the thought life: Zero tolerance is not just recognizing when the enemy tries to usurp the thought cycle, but follows through with applying an appropriate counter-measure. Zero tolerance means being aware of the thought environment you are in, treating sources of potential usurpation as cautiously as dangerous gas leaks, and acting appropriately. Some environments can probably be withstood for short periods of time if you and your Symbiote are aware of the dangers and the two of you have a specific mission that can be completed in the time available. And some environments will be so toxic that prudence dictates you never go in if you can help it, and exit as quickly as possible if you find yourself in it.
Here are some examples. A reluctance to read your bible or do your daily devotional (absent some pressing emergency) is a sure clue of the enemy of your soul seeting things up for a take-over of the thought cycle: reading your bible, despite your feelings, blocks the initial move, initiates a virtuous thought cycle, and signals the Holy Spirit of your desire to start cooperating to short-circuit the take-over. If you feel too blue or depressed or condemned or sinful to go to church (as opposed to being physically sick), then going to Bible school to read the bible, or to church to hear the spoken word, is exactly what The Doctor orders!
As pointed out on the previous page, the introduction of a new spiritual discipline to an existing mix adds new possibilities. Describing the possiblities will take proportionately more numerous passages and paragraphs, so merely add the interactions you as a believing Host/Symbiote can have with other Host/Symbiotes mutually performing the spiritual disciplines to get an idea of the added potential. Synergy steps in, and the group becomes greater than the sum of its individuals. I will briefly cover some high points, deferring a more detailed analysis and discussion to Stage 3.
Fellowship is when christian brothers and/or sisters come together to communicate, regardless of context. Happy is the church whose pastor recognizes that fellowship doesn't exclusively happen in Sunday School or Church, so promotes activities that are not necessarily related to spiritual matters, but are intended to build relationships between the members. The intent is to build phileo-based relationships on top of the firm foundation of the agape-based relationships that already exist. A further extension of this is the high-intensity fellowship that is called marriage: the best ones start off based on agape, proceed to phileo, then add eros to the mix on their wedding night. Contrast with secular marriages, where the more long-lived ones build eros on phileo, while the shortest lived ones are built solely on eros.
Exhortation is when one Christian communicates spiritual things and ideas to another, to encourage the hearer. This is usually done one-on-one. It is fellowship narrowed down to two, with the goal of one helping the other. (Preaching is a one-to-may proposition, and has limits that we will discuss.)
Witnessing is when one Christian communicates spiritual things and ideas to a non-Christian, to encourage the hearer to be saved. While people can be saved in evangelistic meetings, there is general agreement that the best conversions are done by Christians engaging one-on-one with the unbeliever.
To get across a key benefit of fellowship done symbiotically, consider the Stage 2 ability of the Symbiote within you to communicate a specific idea to you, His Host. The effectiveness of Him communicating that idea to you is limited by the pre-conceptions you hold about the subject of that idea. Those pre-conceptions act as filters in the Bitstream. If your pre-conceptions are in accord with the truth, or the idea does not conflict with them, the ideas slip past these filters in the Bitstream and you will receive the idea easily. (Believing it is from the Holy Spirit is a different matter altogether.) If the idea contradicts the pre-conceptions, then the idea is partly or completely filtered out of the Bitstream: you either "don't get it" or have difficulty "grasping it". Because a pre-conception is a learned idea, the only way to eliminate it is for you to "unlearn what you have learned."
There are many methods that God uses to get you to unlearn what you have learned, some much more unpleasant to experience than others. Some are so subtle they are easily overlooked, especially by the unwary and unwarned. The Symbiotic methodolgies to be outlined in Stage 2 are quicker, more efficient, and definitely less painful. However, one method has a unique Stage 3 aspect that I will outline here. It relies on the fact that, even though there are many Christians, and thus multiple hosts for the Holy Spirit symbiote, there is only one Symbiote. That is, the Holy Spirit that resides in you is the same Holy Spirit that resides in your brothers and sisters as well.
This aspect of the Homo/Deus symbiote is unique in nature and Science fiction: discussions of group minds distinguish between hive and non-hive variants, where the members lose or retain their individuality respectively. (A non-hive variant that has interesting implications for Christians is "A Miracle of Science".) What is common to both variants is the loss of mental privacy, and perhaps a good deal of autonomy: the works describing non-hive variants do not address the tendency of people joining mobs doing things they normally would not do as individuals. The pressure to conform could not possibly lessen in a group mind where there is no mental privacy. This is in contrast to Christian Symbiosis, where the design explicitly ensures both mental privacy, autonomy, and free will.
Another difference between Symbiosis and the group mind is the resources being made available to the individuals: regardless of how many people are in the group mind, the resources of the group are limited to the sum of all the ideas in the individuals. Certainly there are synergistic benefits where the ideas in one person's mind would be the missing pieces needed to complete an idea in another person's mind, but that is already happening, at a slower rate, because of writing, publishing, and the Internet. How can one contrast the knowledge of all human beings against the knowledge that God has by virtue of being everywhere at once and knowing all things? Human beings try to predict the future, but God knows the future. If you're Armenian, God knows all possible futures!
And that just has to do with knowledge. Some group minds are imagined (just imagined) to have collective IQs that are the sum of the individual parts. Still, it is finite when compared to God's wisdom. Goodness, God could take a rest from being God, act silly, and still be wiser than men!
On top of being more knowledgeable and wiser than any imagined group mind, Christian Symbiosis potentially makes available the power of God to the individual. Many group minds are imagined to be the product of technology, so the power of the advanced technology is (usually) made available to the individuals in the group mind, but what is that compared to the Creator God who fabricated the matter in the entire universe from stuff that does not appear? Consider the feeding of the 5000: past the first two meals, the matter in the remaining 4998 meals just for the men had to come from nothing! If each man had six ounces of fish and three of bread, the energy required to fabricate the matter for only one meal would have been over 23 million gigajoules. If you're a sci-fi movie buff, that's 1.9 million times more powerful than the imaginary "arc reactor" that powers the movie version of Iron Man's mark III suit. And that's the energy equivalent of just one meal.
But I must beg the forgiveness of my readers for this exercise in vanity, since I am comparing the emptiness of worldly imaginations against the promises of Divine Providence. One may as well compare the fantasies of riches spun by hobos cooking their meal of shoe sole under a trestle against the future benefits of a marriage proposal from the child of a billionaire monarch who rules a nuclear superpower. I speak to those who, having enjoyed the benefits of a symbiotically controlled thought life, have merely tasted of the powers of the age to come. My friends, naught but the lack of faith and patience separates us from that part of our inheritance that we can possess today.
If you have been in a good group discussion of Christians, you may have noticed the great variety of life histories and viewpoints represented by them. That variety is an indication of the variety of pre-conceptions preventing these Christians from getting the ideas that the Holy Spirit is trying to communicate to them. However, the situation is actually much better than it appears, for it is not necessary for the Holy Spirit to get the same idea to everyone at the same time. Rather, he only needs to get the idea through to at least one of the Christians present, who voices the idea. A Symbiotic Christian operating in stage 2 has the training to pick up the idea quickly if it doesn't conflict with his pre-conceptions. The moment it is verbalized, it has a better chance of sailing past the pre-conceptions in the intended recipient that was blocking the idea internally because it takes advantage of the priority of sensory thoughts noted in the previous page. At the same time, the Holy Spirit within the intended recipient can "rattle the bars with his tin cup". If the recipient is also operating in Stage 2, he will immediately realize the idea, no matter how crazy it sounds (conflicting with his pre-conceptions) is worth looking at more closely because he got a signal from the Symbiote within that just says "this idea is worth considering!" The thought "this idea is worth considering" is not the same as the idea itself, so the pre-conceptions don't filter it out.
Unfortunately, there is only one pre-conception that would foul all this up: the Christian who gets the idea doesn't say it because they have the pre-conception that "That's an idea that nobody is interested in!" If nobody is interested in it, he won't voice it out of concern for everyone else's time. If he doesn't voice it, the intended recipient doesn't get it.
And this is why the variant of fellowship called the Samson Society is so effective. It is an exclusively Christian program where Christian men come together in meetings patterned after those used by 12 step-based recovery programs such as AlAnon and NarcAnon. An accepting environment is created which allows anyone and everyone the time, freedom, and security to voice their concerns and their weaknesses. If the idea the Holy Spirit wants to get across is related to the voiced concern and weakness, then those who heard it have just been effectively told "If there is an idea that might address this brother's problem with our addiction, then tell it!" This is especially re-inforced by the 12 steps and the format of the recovery meeting. Stage 2 capabilities in some of the members would increase the effectiveness of this format.
Samson Society members can ask for the temporary guidance and mentoring of a "Silas" to help them in a particular area of concern or accountability, which is essentially a variant of exhortation. Although the chances of getting the same set of pre-conceptions are higher if there are only two Christians that the Holy Spirit can work with, He can increase the chance of success if the one needing aid is guided symbiotically by the Holy Spirit when choosing his Silas for a specific problem.
I classify fellowship and exhortation separately from preaching of the word, mainly because of the format and inherent problems in the communication path. Preaching is strictly one-way, while fellowship and exhortation allow for two-way communication to clear up miscommunications. Also, one must sympathize with the difficulty that the Holy Spirit and the preacher both have while coming up with a sermon: it cannot possibly reach everyone, so the preacher counts on the Holy Spirit to guide him on what to talk about. I have been invited to preach several times, thought I had a good subject to preach about on each one, and worked on the sermon, only to totally re-write it on Saturday. When I gave it that Sunday, there were people in the congregation who needed exactly the information added during the re-write. I recall remarking to the Holy Spirit that one Saturday re-write "was a youth sermon!" Bare minutes before I started preaching that Sunday, a group of young men from Paul Anderson Youth Home filed in and took up the first three pews to my right. At the end of the sermon, three young men made a decision to follow Jesus Christ. When it comes to these essays, the temptation to fuss is strong, but I always like the results when I succeed in suppressing the fussing and do some obeying instead.
The downside of hearing the word preached is that it may contain a message intended for someone else and not for you. I am still trying to develop the habit of asking, if I feel the sermon is unjustly or unfairly targeted to me, whether the Holy Spirit intended it for me or for someone else. As of the writing of this essay, I think I need to develop a Stage 2 protocol for this situation since the danger is that I may unjustly or unfairly dismiss a sermon that is intended for me. The general principle is "prove all things, hold fast to that which is good," which implies that some parts of "all things" aren't good for me.
In general, the smaller the group and the looser the format, the better the Holy Spirit can target specific people and circumstances, with exhortation having the most specific targeting of message to individual. I believe that the sermon was a Greek innovation brought into the Church to handle the education of the large number of people who joined Christianity when it became the state religion. The format of the early house churches, if the Corinthian church format is typical, was structured after the way Jewish synagogue services were done. The speakers were people sharing what the Holy Spirit had brought to their attention since the last meeting. An overseer was chosen to prevent confusion and preserve some sort of order. Some who had the scriptures shared those passages they read when the Spirit touched their hearts, signalling that that passage was important. Some who were inspired by a song, or who wrote a song under the influence of the Spirit's inspiration would sing them. Those with the spiritual gifts of prophecy spoke them. Those who spoke in tounges, and an interpreter was present, would speak. If anyone had a problem, they would voice it: those with the Word of Knowledge would supply some unknown facts, and those with the Word of Wisdom would use the pieces to stitch together a strategy under the guidance of the Spirit. At the same time, the Spirit moved in the hearers to understand which parts applied to them. The confusion in the Corinthian church was due to people who, being told by the Spirit what to say for the edification of a member, started speaking at the same time, one to one, another to another, with the consequence being that nobody got the message intended for them! The problems are simlar to those encountered in multi-party phone calls, and some of the protocols outlined by Paul addresses the same problems in both communication spaces. Another problem were people speaking in tounges with no one to interpret them: Paul told these pithily that the whole point of the service was to edify one another, so either pray to interpret the tounges, pray for an interpreter to come and interpret, or just pray silently so that someone else could "have the floor".
I mentioned that exhortation has the highest specificity of targeting. It is my belief that a Symbiotic Christian Counselor operating in Stage 2 has increased effectiveness with christians due to the Stage 3 effect of having the Holy Spirit aiding him in helping a brother or sister in Christ. I had the privilege of counseling a young Christian who was sensitive to the Spirit's moving: we were able to locate his specific problem very quickly and I hope he follows up his insight with a Christian counselor because I did not have practical clinical experience in dealing with the specific problem uncovered. I will develop the bare outline of Symbiotic Counseling in Stages 2 and 3, leaving to symbiotically active professionals in that field to develop the specifics and protocols.
I included witnessing as part of this spiritual discipline because of my belief that witnessing to someone on whom the Holy Spirit is not simultaneously working is a waste of time and a source of pointless aggravation. Prevenient Grace is the Wesleyan doctrine that the Holy Spirit temporarily inhabits the unbeliever and serves a proto-Stage 2 service by attempting to introduce new thoughts into their Bitstream, temporarily freeing their minds to fairly consider the message you are presenting to them. In modern societies, the delicacy with which one must witness approaches the skills that I think are required to be successful at Fly Fishing. My experience is that you need to be very skilled in Stage 2 and be highly responsive to even the most strange impulses to be truly effective. As one who formerly was very hesitant, if not downright terrified, of witnessing to anyone who wasn't a prisoner, there is a rush of confidence that comes with realizing that Stage 2 gives you an inside view of the unbeliever, almost perfect timing, and uncanny delivery. You come in at wierd angles, take the wildest "shots", and see, in their eyes, that you hit home. I have ceased to worry about witnessing, because I am confident that if a witnessing opportunity was present, I'd be alerted immediately and given the words and opening to get the ball rolling. Past success has already bred confidence of success, so I consider this positive evidence of a benefit made by Stage 2 Symbiotic capabilities in enhancing my exercise of this important discipline.
The benefit of a worshipping Christian who is walking symbiotically is intensely personal. You may worship corporately as a body, but the intent is for other fellow Christians striving to worship God to help you worship Him as well, just as you, singly or in a subgroup, strive in your worship to help others worship as well.
It is true that life isn't all about you, and that you should be mindful of others and their needs. However, worship is God's way of saying that it is not true that it is never about you either. It is the height of foolishness to say to God, when He "meets" you in worship, for Him to skip over you and go on to someone else. Is He not Omnipresent? Is it possible for there to be more of Him in someone else because you wanted less of Him in you? You are either being foolishly humble (and fooling no one), or terribly deceived about how much He personally cares for you.
Of course, it is a figure of speech to say that "God meets you in worship": If you have gotten anything from all the essays before, and including, this one, the most important one should be that the Holy Spirit is literally, not figuratively or "spiritually", within you. The key take-away from these essays should be that He is totally and completely sold out to you to the point of being your biggest cheerleader, helper, and lover. If you have started getting benefits after learning about how to cooperate with Him to the point of communication, then you have a lot to say to Him about how wonderful He's been. Be sure to keep a mental record of what He's been doing through you and in you symbiotically, thank Him for his help while reciting that record, and praise him for each one, either silently or aloud. Be assured that the unity of the Trinity allows you to worship God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit within you. Being resident in the Heart, the Spirit knows what you think of God, Jesus, and Him, and passes on the information to the Others.
However, true worship, like true love, leaps to new heights when the one being loved responds personally. This is effected by Stage 2 capabilities, where the ideas and thoughts the Holy Spirit throws into the Bitstream are the ideas and thoughts the Holy Spirit, and through him Jesus Christ, has about you, and you alone. I mean, if they were about someone else, then what you do is pass the message on to the recipient. It may be exhortation or witnessing, but those are not worship. Probably the only time when others impact your worship, or when you impact their worship, is if either of you have offended the other. Jesus' counsel is that if you are made to recall that someone has something against you while you are worshipping, you need to take care of it immediately: Jesus talked about leaving your gift on the altar to settle things before completing the offering. The scripture is plain that you have to take the initiative, not the other. The implication is that if the other has offended you, the advice is for them as well. Don't think you need to do anything to get the ball rolling: do you really think the scripture only applies to you, only you, and no one else? Do you really believe you will be judged if you don't obey the scripture, but everyone else will be let off if they don't obey the scripture? If you let that feeling of being offended interfere with your worship, then some Variance Management needs to be done.
I want to take the opportunity to totally debunk the most piously trite saying said about the Scriptures when it comes to Worship: one has to wonder if those who say that "the Scriptures are Jesus' love letter to you!" have actually written any love letters. One has to question their good sense if, in wooing Sally, they send her a xerox of a love letter they sent to Alice. One should worry about Sally's self-image (or sanity) if she took it seriously even when the sender didn't even take the time to scratch out Alice's name and scribble 'Sally' above it. One should be assured that whatever Sally does to the sender when she receives such a letter, the sender will have richly and rightly deserved it.
The scriptures certainly contain messages of love explicitly directed to all who believe. But being asked to believe that God personally and intensely loves you based only on what He says to everyone or to someone else personally is to live on very thin gruel indeed. Such messages are meant to lead you from unbelief to faith, from faith to Symbiosis, from Symbiosis to Communication, and from Communication to Communion.
This essay was delayed for several days, not because I have no experience with worshipping symbiotically, but that the experience is so contrary to what some believe it should be that I was hesitant to write about it. However, I got a sense of approval from Within when I recalled that I had made a promise that everything I would write about is either something that I have verified by personal experience, or have very strong reasons to believe is true and attainable, with the added proviso that I clearly distinguish experience from conjecture. This is my experience. This is what has happened to me.
Fasting has an impressive record of achievement in the Book of Acts. The first time it is encountered is in connection with Cornelius:
30 And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, 31 And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. 32 Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. 33 Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.
34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
Cornelius and his companions believed, and were well rewarded:
44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, 47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
Peter later emphasized to those that criticized him that the falling of the Holy Spirit on these Gentiles was an exact copy of how the Spirit fell on them at the beginning. This news astounded his critics, forcing them to realize that the Gentiles could be saved as well. While his praying and alms giving were commended by the angel, it was his fasting that seemed to trigger this breakthrough to a new life for himself, and forced a wider view of the Gospel on the Jewish Christian community.
Fasting was practiced as a spiritual discipline by the prophets and teachers of the Church at Antioch:
1 In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
Although they already had the Spirit active to the point of being teachers and prophets, they nevertheless added fasting to their prayer and worship, enabling them to hear a specific command of the Holy Spirit to begin a ministry that would transform the Greco-Roman world and take Christianity to Europe.
While it is true that fasting clears the mind, and does bring revelation and insights from God, I have had enough experience working in Stage 2 to say that I do not perceive a great advantage to fasting when it comes to results. Indeed, I had to be fasting for at least a day before I started getting anywhere that was comparable to what I now get after an hour of concentration alone, or two in fellowship. On the other hand, I should mention that I am comparing pre-symbiotic fasting to symbiotic meditation.
Yet, the teaching staff at Antioch (a gathering of theological giants unequalled before or since) thought it necessary to fast while worshipping the Lord. We don't have enough context to figure out what prompted them. Perhaps it was them following their Jewish traditions or celebrating a Jewish fast day. Perhaps they felt a heaviness of sorts and fasted to get a clear signal from God. But fast they did, so it behooves me to heed wiser men than I, and consider fasting if moved by the Holy Spirit.
My impression is that the side-effect of a clearer mind is not the causative agent of illumination from the Holy Spirit: other religions also practice fasting. They also report similar clarity of thought. Yet, there is no revelation that brings them closer to the True God or True Religion. What makes the difference?
I believe the difference is that fasting signals determination.
Although it sounds mechanistic, the reason why I formulate and follow protocols for communicating with the Holy Spirit is that it gives me reasonable assurance of truly identifying thoughts originating from the Holy Spirit. There is no problem with the Holy Spirit knowing what my thoughts are. The REAL problem is distinguishing the thoughts generated by the Holy Spirit from natural thoughts generated by a heart prone to self-delusion. The latter I take with a grain of salt, and the former I obey with diligence and determination.
It may seem sacreligious to propose a protocol to God and expect Him to follow it, as if we are putting a leash on him and leading him around! However, this overlooks the purpose that protocols serve as part of our techno-scientific approach to the Scriptures: it keeps us honest and forces us to acknowledge results that contradict our pre-conceptions or pet theories. The purpose of the protocol is not to leash God to our purposes, but to bind us to acknowledge and follow the results of the protocol, regardless of how contradictory they may seem to our religious dogmas, theories, and teachings. We talk of obedience of action when confronted with the requirements of the Gospel or the Moral Law, but there is also the obedience of belief when confronted with the truth. Scientific protocols exist to uncover reality in a way that forces re-evaluation of beliefs and theories when the facts and results contradict them. A protocol that forces an honest man to shove his nose into the truth, whether he likes it or not at first, with the intent of making himself like it, is something with which the Spirit charged with leading us unto all truth can work with.
Provided we were serious.
Simpy put, the Spirit knows when we are kidding ourselves or fooling ourselves, and He has no interest in supporting self-delusions and the lies we tell ourselves and others. A faith that is mis-placed and mis-directed is not rewarded, but faith in specific people and objectives is:
6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
The first bolded phrase is reflected in the belief in the truth of Symbiosis and the implications of the biblically reconstructed location of a Holy Spirit actually, physically, and truly endo-symbiotic within the seeker (researcher). The second bolded phrase is reflected in the belief that Symbiote-to-Host communication is possible, and that protocols honestly and strictly adhered to by the Host reflects a diligence to obey anything received that matches the protocols. It is up to the Host to propose reasonable, but effective, protocols and diligently honor and obey the results. It is up to the Holy Spirit to ensure that the thoughts sent up the Bitstream can be reasonably identified with few or no false positives.
This is not to say that the protocols proposed by the Host are perfect: both Symbiote and Host know that the Host isn't perfect! What is necessary is an honest and honorable attempt to come up with better protocols when a real design flaw is discovered. It was not a lack of faith that caused Gideon to reverse the conditions of his fleece test, but an honest doubt as to whether the conditions would have allowed for a natural explanation of the first result. His subsequent action in going forward in obedience upon receiving the opposite result proved that his modification of the protocoal was due to honest doubt, not in God's ability, but in the design of his test to ensure that it was God, not nature, being tested. Believing a false positive to be true with regard to God's will is what is called presumption, not the process by which one attempts to establish its status as true or false!
It should be instructive to consider the difference between Gideon's protocols and those of Naturalism/Scientific Materialism. Consider the reaction of Gideon to that of scientists when confronted with a similar result coming from the Fleece Experiment. Gideon was not as uncritical as modern scientists try to paint the Ancients: regardless of whether dew is preferentially attracted to the fleece or not, Gideon knew enough of the laws of nature to know that they do not normally reverse themselves when one prays. It was his knowledge that the laws of nature are normally consistent that allowed him to tighten his protocols. It was his knowledge that a reversal was not natural that allowed him to be confident that he had eliminated a natural explanation when that reversal actually took place, leaving a spiritual explanation as the only viable alternative to believe. In contrast, a naturalistic scientist holds that a spiritual explanation is to be excluded from the start on principle. Thus, when faced with a contrary result, he continues to believe the protocol is at fault and strives for a natural explanation that would reconcile contradictory results that his naturalism would normally state is impossible. To such a scientist, falsification of naturalism is not acceptable, despite the impossible actually happening. This is not just acting in bad faith: it is holding naturalism as a faith, not as an operating rule of thumb.
Gideon's experiment was not a case of the protocol forcing God to work: it was Gideon's honesty and honorable determination to interpret a certain result as undeniably Divine to convince him to believe to the point of action that God honored by working the miracle. Protocols do not force God to obey the researcher. Protocols force the honest researcher to obey God.
What does fasting have to do with all the above? Fasting proves nothing about protocols: fasting proves the determination of the faster to obey the results of the protocols. What comes first is an intense desire to know God, His Will, and the Truth. What comes next is a sort of vow to follow what is revealed of God, His Will, or the Truth. That's where prayer comes in, for you need to ask God for a revelation of Himself, His Will, or the Truth. Then comes the development of a protocol that allows you to distinguish between falsehood and truth that allows you to follow the latter with confidence. Fasting communicates determination and serious intent to obey, and comes next. The next step is God responding to your request. The next step after that is you determining that the response is from God or a false positive due to bad protocol design. The final step is obedience if you determine that the response is from God.
It should be pointed out that early instances of fasting in the Old Testament were performed in times of extreme emergency or when commanded by God during the Day of Atonement to express remorse and confession after serious introspection and uncovering of one's sins and spiritual failings. Regular fasting seems to have been a Pharisaical add-on to New Testamental Judaism similar to the ritual washings of hands, cups, and plates that Jesus viewed skeptically.
Acts of Charity
Acts of Service
I lump these together in this page because I do not, at this time, see anything particular about them that illuminates any aspect of Symbiosis. At the same time, they are such necessary disciplines to perform that they must be done symbiotically if they are to be done properly and well.
To start with, if you are reluctant to start practicing any of these disciplines, then some Variance Management might be of help. This would be especially true for the disciplines of forgiveness, repentance, and helping one be content when striving to live simply.
Some, like tithing or striving to live simply, are usually engaged in as an act of desperation, when a situation is so bad that the practitioner has decided that there is no other alternative. Divine Wisdom, guidance, and insight is usually required in situations like this to see how to proceed forward. Stage 2 will introduce those methods that would allow the Holy Spirit to inject suggestions and ideas on what to do. When it comes to living simply, the suggestions would be with how to make the personal changes necessary to be content with a smaller part of one's personal "pie" so that more of the pie can be allocated to tithing and acts of charitable giving. The most radical aspect of Stage 2 is the generation of innovative thoughts and ideas that the recipient could use in the marketplace to improve one's financial situation, which acts to "make the pie bigger".
While it may sound heretical to some (especially those on the receiving end and those who manage the enterprise), one can perform tithing, living simply, acts of charity, and acts of service so recklessly, indiscriminately, and heedlessly, that both giver and recipient are harmed. Divine wisdom, common sense, and some help from Stage 2 techniques to determine the right course of action is required to perform these disciplines wisely and constructively.
I will conclude this section, and this essay, by discussing this rather obvious fact: the way modern Christendom performs acts of Charity and Service does not follow the example of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is true that we should emulate the example of Jesus Christ to perform acts of charity and service. What should be glaringly obvious is that Christians don't do it the way Jesus Christ did it. Jesus fed the 5000 without the expenditure of millions of denarii to buy food and airlift it. Jesus healed people without the benefit of hospitals, doctors, nurses, and modern technology, including diseases that those marvels of modernism still have not cured. Jesus paid his and Peter's temple tax by having Peter catch a fish and pulling the money from its mouth. When Jesus said "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father," was he telling the truth, or was he merely blowing smoke up our collective colons? Did he say that with earnest intent, knowing the crushing needs of the people to whom he was sending them and us? Or was he a con artist uttering a clever toss-off calculated to make the marks believe he was a generous and good fellow while falling into a swindle that would span centuries? Or was he enthusiastically and sincerely wrong for writing a check that his Heavenly Father would not cover? Or are the powers and resources of Providence so limited that when Ignatus and Polycarp tried to cash that check in, it came back marked "Insufficient Funds"?
I had intended to write here a confession that I was having trepidation about Stage 4, the return of these gifts and power of the Holy Spirit to the church. I felt that I was "writing a check that God won't cash". I had doubts that I could do as good a job in the essays because I would not be given the powers so that I could write from the position of one writing from personal experience. If I am likened to a guide on a path, I could tell you where all the holes are, but would never help you get to the destination because I would keep falling into the holes.
Yet, a funny thing happened while I was writing my excuses: the Holy Spirit would do a stage 2 on me and throw up pointers that, when I followed them, did not lead to an acceptable excuse, but to a path to be followed with incredible possibilities. I talked myself into realizing I wasn't trusting the Holy Spirit to use the Stage 2 techniques to help me through Stage 4. While writing one version of an excuse that you will not read, I was led to put fasting into a separate section, looked up the verses, and realized that, if I ever got stuck in Stage 4, that fasting was a likely way out of the impasse. The Holy Spirit brought to mind a recent revelation about God being humble that led me to relook at all the standard excuses in the light of the way humble people behave versus proud people, leading me to believe that Jesus was gravely serious when he made the promise that they (and we through them) would do greater works than he. After all, when a humble person looks you in the eye and says "you can do it better than I can", they will usually say "yes" if you ask them to show you how. They can, of course, be mistaken, but never intentionally devious. I leave it to the reader to determine the implications of Jesus being mistaken.
Understand that my intent is not to avoid performing the spiritual disciplines of acts of charity and service by declaring "If we can't do it miraculously, then we shouldn't be doing it at all!" To the Church's credit, they invented all the above mentioned institutions and imposed pressure on its own members to step up to the plate when the spiritual gifts originally powering the charity and service that Jesus and the apostles did evaporated. My point is that these substitutes are really poor performers when compared to how effective the Powers of the Spirit were. That should give us encouragement: if charity and service is really that important, then shouldn't God be pleased with any effort to make them be performed in a better and more efficient way? Should not the desire to do these acts in a better way than Jesus did because we believe his promise that we would an added incentive for God to grant us success when we get to Phase 4?
<Insert Missed Discipline Here>
I do not claim that my list of Spiritual Disciplines here is complete, and welcome suggestions via my logotech e-mail for any that you believe I have overlooked or want me to look at. I will respond with a link to the update of this essay.
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