What is Consciousness?

The simple answer is: You. In other words, consciousness is the awareness with which these words are being observed.

To help answer this question you could consider these questions:

What is the “I” behind the “I am”?
Who is the observer of the experience I am having?
Who is the awareness which is aware of being aware?
Who is it that it is becoming aware of it’s own awareness?
What are the eyes that are actually seeing behind the (biological) eyes that see?
Who is it that observes what one is experiencing, feeling, or thinking?

T.O.C

  1. A) READ & THINK
  2. The Chronological List Tracing Ideas on Consciousness, God and Self
  3. More Recent Works
  4. Additional Modern Books
  5. When Evidence & Description are Not Enough
  6. Using Negation
  7. Skepticism
  8. Definitions
  9. Near Death Experiences (NDEs)
  10. How to Practice
  11. B) MEDITATE & OBSERVE
  12. Fun Information About Negation & The American Govt

NOTE: As you can see, this page is a work in progress .. it is a construction zone .. This is a draft document .. So, proceed at your own risk 🙂

(A)
READ & THINK

This page includes resources (presented here for your research) relating to exploring the ideas of a self, awareness, consciousness, reality, truth, and god, and the philosophic and religious ideas pertaining to these. These areas of questioning are intermingled, and if you may, are one and the same.

These topics involve the fields of philosophy, logic, reasoning, theology, archeology, science, and psychology. This page will not discuss science, however it will give you an introduction into the others. The ideas and this type questioning also falls under the umbrella of metaphysics.

You could dedicate all your living hours and days reading .. While informative, that on its own is not enough and can become a distraction. Scroll down to the 2nd part of this page titled (B) Meditate & Observe to help find how to actually practice.

The Chronological List Tracing Ideas on Consciousness, God and Self


This list exists with the intention to help you trace and follow the evolution of the ideas, philosophy or dogma pertaining to the concept of god, the divine, consciousness, truth, and the self throughout the known human history. I have highlighted, in green, the notable authors or writings which pertain to these topics that I recommend reading on, or that have provided useful ideas and texts. Important names and concepts are in bolded text.

I have provided an extensive chronological list below mentioning major beliefs, notable cultures, important schools of thoughts, major figures, and their writings.

My hope is for this list to help you see the overall chronological order and to gain a perspective on the context and gradual changes in the human awareness, writings, philosophy and beliefs over time. In doing so, you many notice the earliest mentioning of what seems to resemble monotheism and exploration of who one is, and consciousness.

You also may notice similarities in genres, mythology, legends, narrative and history among groups of people and schools of thought. While this list lacks in including mythological ideas and stories, it may help you better place the stories you know within the time line and the environment of the time, this may help you notice the similarities within a certain period in time, or perhaps the influences in that period of time even if they stemmed from a much earlier culture. It may help you see how the idea of (ex. the Abrahamic) god evolved over time.

Perhaps a more subtle yet profound realization is to notice the reality of the Human Experience along the centuries and decades … To have an awareness of the Humanity behind all of the words, philosophies, religious and beliefs.

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Note: This is a work in progress. I update it periodically when I have free time. Proceed at your own risk. Enjoy.

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  • The 4th millennium BC spanned the years 4000 BC to 3001 BC. Some of the major changes in human culture during this time included the beginning of the Bronze Age and the invention of writing, which played a major role in starting recorded history. The city states of Sumer and the kingdom of Egypt were established and grew to prominence. Agriculture spread widely across Eurasia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4th_millennium_BC
  • The 3rd millennium BC spanned the years 3000 to 2001 BC. This period of time corresponds to the Early to Middle Bronze Age, characterized by the early empires in the Ancient Near East. In Ancient Egypt, the Early Dynastic Period is followed by the Old Kingdom https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3rd_millennium_BC
  • The Bronze Age (3300–1200 BC)
  • Hinduism – Indus Valley Civilization (3300–1300 BC) Located in present-day Pakistan and northwest India. The oldest archeological evidence suggest the presence of precursors to the later Hindu gods Shiva and Shakti, a male and female representation. The Indus Valley Civilization laid the groundwork for the later Hindu concepts (see below).
  • The oldest known writing in existence (dated around 3400-3200 BC). Believed to be the Sumerian cuneiform script. One of the earliest examples of Sumerian writing is found on clay tablets known as the Kish Tablet, which dates back to around 3500-3200 BCE. These tablets were excavated from the ancient city of Kish in present-day Iraq and contain lists of names, possibly representing individuals or goods. Additionally, Egyptian hieroglyphs emerged around the same time as Sumerian cuneiform.
  • Egyptian Early Dynastic Period (3100–2686 BC) and Egyptian Old Kingdom (2686–2181 BC) – The Egyptians worshipped a pantheon of gods and goddesses, each associated with specific aspects of nature, human activities, and the cosmos. These deities were often depicted in human or animal form, reflecting the Egyptian belief in anthropomorphic gods who possessed human-like characteristics and emotions. The Pharaoh was seen as a divine ruler, considered to be the intermediary between the gods and the people. The idea of the afterlife and the journey of the soul (ka) beyond death was prominent. The Egyptians believed in the immortality of the soul and the continuation of existence in the afterlife. The concept of the self (ba) was closely tied to the belief in the soul’s journey after death. The ba was understood as the individual’s unique personality and essence, which continued to exist after death. It was believed to reunite with the ka in the afterlife, allowing the deceased to enjoy eternal life in the presence of the gods. Among the prominent deities worshipped during this period were Ra (the sun god), Osiris (the god of the afterlife and rebirth), Horus (the god of kingship and the sky), and Hathor (the goddess of love, music, and fertility). Egyptian religion included complex cosmological beliefs concerning the creation of the world and the divine order of the universe. The gods were believed to govern natural phenomena such as the sun, the Nile River, and the cycle of life and death. The mythology surrounding gods like Ra (the sun god), Osiris (the god of the afterlife), and Isis (the goddess of magic and wisdom) played significant roles in shaping Egyptian religious practices and beliefs. Individuals participated in religious rituals and ceremonies to honor the gods, seek divine favor, and ensure protection in daily life and the afterlife. Offerings, prayers, and rituals performed in temples and tombs were expressions of personal piety and devotion to the gods. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_Dynastic_Period_(Egypt) , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Kingdom_of_Egypt
  • Egyptian spells (claimed starting 3000 BC) Spells included in the book of the Dead claim to be drawn from older works from the 3rd millennium BC.
  • The Egyptian pyramids (presumed dates 2700-1500 BC)
  • Indus script, dates back to around 2600-1900 BC and was used in the ancient Indus Valley civilization (located in present-day Pakistan and northwest India)
  • Sumerian/Akkadian Empire (2334–2154 BC) – In ancient Mesopotamia (Ancient Near East, AKA Middle East). The Sumerian and Akkadian cultures were polytheistic, they worshipped multiple gods and goddesses, each associated with various aspects of nature, society, and the cosmos. The gods were believed to possess human-like qualities and emotions, albeit on a grander scale, and were often depicted as anthropomorphic beings with distinct personalities, powers, and domains.
  • Egyptian First Intermediate Period (2181–2055 BC) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Intermediate_Period_of_Egypt
  • The 2nd millennium BC spanned the years 2000 BC to 1001 BC. In the Ancient Near East (AKA. Middle East), it marks the transition from the Middle to the Late Bronze Age. The Ancient Near Eastern cultures are well within the historical era: The first half of the millennium is dominated by the Middle Kingdom of Egypt and Babylonia. The alphabet develops. At the center of the millennium, a new order emerges with Mycenaean Greek dominance of the Aegean and the rise of the Hittite Empire. The end of the millennium sees the Bronze Age collapse and the transition to the Iron Age. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2nd_millennium_BC
  • Egyptian Middle Kingdom (2040–1650 BC) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_Kingdom_of_Egypt
  • Abraham (claimed dates 2000–1800 BC)
  • Sodom and Gomorrah. According to religious text, were destroyed by fire and brimstone as a punishment for their wickedness. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is typically dated, according to religious tradition, to around the 19th or 20th century BC.
  • Babylon (18th century BC – 539 BC) An ancient city-state located in Mesopotamia, roughly in present-day Iraq. It was established around the 18th century BCE and reached its peak during the reign of King Hammurabi in the 18th century BCE. The city of Babylon remained a significant cultural, political, and economic center throughout much of ancient Mesopotamian history, with various periods of rise and fall until it was conquered by the Persian Empire in 539 BCE
  • Code of Hammurabi (18th century BC) – Ancient Babylonian legal code. It was established by Hammurabi (Approximately ruled from 1792 BCE to 1750 BCE), the sixth king of the First Babylonian Dynasty, and consists of 282 laws carved onto a large stone stele. Here’s a summary of key aspects of the Code of Hammurabi: Scope: The code covers various aspects of life, including family law, property rights, commerce, labor, and criminal justice. Principles of Justice: The code reflects the principles of retribution and deterrence. Punishments were often severe and aimed at discouraging wrongdoing. Social Class: The laws differentiate between social classes, with different punishments prescribed for offenses committed by nobles, commoners, and slaves. Punishments for offenses against higher social classes were often more severe. Eye for an Eye: The principle of “lex talionis,” or “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” is prominent in the code. Punishments were often proportional to the offense committed. Protection of Property: The code includes provisions for the protection of property rights, including laws related to contracts, loans, and the sale of goods. Family Law: The code addresses matters related to marriage, divorce, inheritance, and the rights of women and children within the family. Regulation of Commerce: It includes regulations related to trade, commerce, and industry, aiming to ensure fair dealings and prevent fraud. Religious and Moral Principles: The code incorporates religious and moral principles, with references to the gods and divine justice. It also seeks to uphold societal norms and values. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_of_Hammurabi
  • Egyptian Second Intermediate Period (1700 to 1550 BC) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Intermediate_Period_of_Egypt
  • Egyptian New Kingdom (c. 1550–1077 BC) – Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten. He ruled during the 18th Dynasty in the New Kingdom period (1353-1336 BC).  This places him after Zoroaster.  Scholars agree that he introduced Monotheism (or One-God-ism) worship of the sun disc Aten.  This predated the Pharaoh Ramesses II and Moses of the Bible.   After his death, the Egyptians returned to polytheism. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Kingdom_of_Egypt
  • Hindu Rigveda (1500–1200 BC) – The oldest of the Vedas. The Rigveda contains hymns dedicated to various deities known as Devas. These deities represent different aspects of the natural world and cosmic forces, such as Agni (fire), Indra (rain and thunder), Varuna (cosmic order and justice), and Surya (the sun). Devas are often praised and invoked in the hymns for their powers and attributes, and they are considered worthy of worship and reverence. The Devas are depicted as intermediaries between humans and the ultimate divine reality, embodying different aspects of the divine presence within the cosmos.
  • Zoroaster (claimed around 1500–1000 BC) – Zoroastrianism known as Zarathustra, is often considered one of the earliest monotheistic religions. Zoroaster preached the existence of one supreme god, Ahura Mazda, who represented the embodiment of truth, goodness, and order. Zoroastrianism is one of the world’s oldest continuously practiced religions, founded by the prophet Zoroaster (or Zarathustra) in ancient Iran around the 6th or 7th century BC. Here’s a summary of Zoroastrianism, including its origins, cultural and spiritual context, and possible influences from nearby beliefs: Origins and Founder: Zoroastrianism traces its origins to the teachings of the prophet Zoroaster, who is believed to have lived and preached in ancient Iran during the 6th or 7th century BCE. According to tradition, Zoroaster received his divine revelation from the supreme deity, Ahura Mazda, during a spiritual experience. He then began preaching a monotheistic religion centered on the worship of Ahura Mazda and the cosmic struggle between truth and falsehood. Core Teachings: Zoroastrianism is characterized by its dualistic cosmology, which emphasizes the cosmic battle between Ahura Mazda, the god of truth and order, and Angra Mainyu (or Ahriman), the spirit of falsehood and chaos. Zoroastrian ethics are based on the principle of asha, or truth and righteousness, and followers are encouraged to choose good thoughts, words, and deeds in order to uphold cosmic order and combat evil. Cultural and Spiritual Context: Zoroastrianism emerged in ancient Iran, in the region known as Greater Iran, which encompassed parts of present-day Iran, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. The cultural and spiritual context of ancient Iran was characterized by a diverse array of religious beliefs, including polytheistic, animistic, and shamanistic traditions. Zoroastrianism arose amidst this cultural milieu, offering a monotheistic alternative to the prevailing polytheistic and animistic beliefs. Possible Influences: Zoroastrianism may have been influenced by various cultural and religious traditions present in ancient Iran and neighboring regions. Some scholars suggest possible connections between Zoroastrianism and Indo-Iranian religious beliefs, as well as Mesopotamian and Semitic influences. The dualistic cosmology of Zoroastrianism, with its emphasis on the struggle between good and evil, shares similarities with other dualistic religions of the ancient Near East. Dates: there is debate among scholars regarding the exact dates of Zoroaster’s life and the emergence of Zoroastrianism. Traditionally, Zoroaster has been dated to around 1500 BCE, placing him in the early second millennium BCE. However, there is also scholarly evidence suggesting that Zoroaster may have lived later, during the 6th or 7th century BC. The traditional dating of Zoroaster to around 1500 BCE is based on ancient Persian and Greek sources, as well as the interpretation of linguistic and archaeological evidence. However, some modern scholars have proposed later dates for Zoroaster’s life based on linguistic, historical, and textual analysis. The 6th or 7th century BC dating of Zoroaster is supported by several factors, including: Linguistic Analysis: Some scholars argue that the language of the Gathas, the hymns attributed to Zoroaster and considered the oldest texts of Zoroastrianism, belongs to a later stage of the Old Iranian language, which developed around the 6th or 7th century BC. Historical Context: The 6th or 7th century BCE was a time of significant cultural, political, and religious change in the region, with the emergence of new religious movements and philosophical ideas. Zoroaster’s teachings may have emerged in response to these social and intellectual currents. Textual Analysis: The Zoroastrian scriptures, particularly the Avesta, underwent redaction and compilation over several centuries, with later additions and revisions. Some scholars suggest that the final form of the Avesta reflects developments in Zoroastrian theology and practice during the 6th or 7th century BC. The religious belief of the followers of Zoroastrianism dates Zoroaster’s life around 1500 BC, while others suggest a later date, possibly around the 6th or 7th century BC.
  • Moses (claimed 13th [starting 1300] and 12th [ending 1101] centuries BC). A controversial mythological figure central to the narratives of the Hebrew Bible, or more accurately known at the time as the Pentateuch, then as the Septuagint, then as the Tanakh, and then as the Christian Old Testament and is traditionally believed to have lived around the 13th century BCE. However, there is limited archaeological and historical evidence outside of religious texts to confirm his existence or the events described in the biblical accounts. As such, the exact dates of Moses’ life remain uncertain and subject to interpretation. The timeframe of Moses aligns with the events described in the Hebrew Bible, Tanakh, AKA Old Testament, particularly in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, which recount Moses’ leadership of the Israelites during their exodus from Egypt, the receiving of the Ten Commandments, and their journey through the wilderness. However, it’s important to note that these dates are based on religious traditions and interpretations of ancient texts rather than concrete historical evidence. Find below the dates at which the Tanakh itself was written or put together.
  • Pharaoh Akhenaten (1353-1336 BC) – Monotheism worship of a single all-encompassing god, the sun disc Aten
  • Pharaoh Ramesses II (AKA Ramesses the Great), ruled from 1279 to 1213 BC. Presumed to coincide with Moses, The Ten Commandments and Exodus from Egypt (claimed to be during the 13th century BC)
  • The Iron Age (1200–600 BC)
  • The Enuma Elish (estimated written in the 12th century BC) a Babylonian creation myth, written during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar I of Babylon. It’s considered one of the oldest recorded creation myths. While the exact date of the composition of the Enuma Elish is uncertain, it is generally believed to have been written during the later part of the Old Babylonian period, which would be around the 12th to 10th centuries BCE, rather than during the time of Hammurabi, who ruled in the 18th century BCE
  • Hindu Samaveda (1200–1000 BC). Consists mainly of verses from the Rigveda but arranged for chanting during rituals. The Samaveda is one of the four Vedas, the ancient sacred texts of Hinduism. It is primarily a collection of melodies (saman) used in ancient Vedic rituals, particularly those associated with the Soma sacrifice. The Samaveda is considered the “Veda of Melodies” or the “Veda of Chants.” Unlike the Rigveda, which consists primarily of hymns (richas) addressed to various deities, the Samaveda repurposes many of these hymns into musical chants, rearranging the words and phrases to fit specific melodies. The purpose of these chants was to enhance the ritualistic aspects of the Vedic sacrifices and ceremonies, particularly those involving the Soma ritual, which was central to ancient Vedic religion. The Samaveda is divided into two main parts: The Purvarchika (First Part): This section contains melodies adapted from the Rigveda. The verses are modified to fit specific musical patterns and are sung during the rituals. The Uttararchika (Second Part): This section includes additional melodies and chants that were not present in the Rigveda. It supplements the Purvarchika and further enriches the musical repertoire used in Vedic rituals. In addition to its musical content, the Samaveda also contains some prose passages, particularly in the Brahmana and Aranyaka texts associated with it. These passages provide explanations, instructions, and philosophical reflections related to the rituals and their symbolism.
  • Hindu Yajurveda (1200–1000 BC). Contains prose mantras for rituals and sacrifices. The Yajurveda is one of the four Vedas, the ancient sacred texts of Hinduism. It is primarily a collection of ritualistic texts and formulas used by priests (hotris) during Vedic sacrifices and ceremonies. The Yajurveda is considered the “Veda of Sacrificial Formulas” or the “Veda of Ritual.” The Yajurveda is divided into two main branches or samhitas: Shukla Yajurveda (White Yajurveda): This branch contains the verses in their original form, without prose explanations or commentary. The Shukla Yajurveda is further divided into two main recensions: the Vajasaneyi Samhita (or Vajasaneya-Samhita) and the Madhyandina Samhita. Krishna Yajurveda (Black Yajurveda): This branch consists of verses interspersed with prose passages known as Brahmanas, which provide explanations, instructions, and philosophical reflections related to the rituals. The Krishna Yajurveda is also divided into two main recensions: the Taittiriya Samhita and the Katha Samhita. The Yajurveda deals extensively with various aspects of Vedic rituals, including the construction of altars, the performance of sacrifices, the chanting of hymns, the recitation of mantras, and the offering of oblations to various deities. It contains detailed instructions for conducting different types of sacrifices, such as the Agnihotra (daily fire sacrifice), the Soma sacrifice, the Ashvamedha (horse sacrifice), and others. In addition to its ritualistic content, the Yajurveda also contains philosophical and metaphysical teachings, particularly in the form of speculations about the nature of the universe, the gods, and the relationship between the individual soul (Atman) and the ultimate reality (Brahman). These philosophical themes are often interwoven with the ritualistic texts, reflecting the interconnectedness of Hindu religious and philosophical thought.
  • Hindu Atharvaveda (1200–1000 BC). Comprised of hymns and spells used for everyday life, including healing and magic. The Atharvaveda is one of the four Vedas, the ancient sacred texts of Hinduism. It is primarily a collection of hymns, incantations, spells, and rituals that are associated with various aspects of life, including healing, protection, prosperity, and daily living. The Atharvaveda is considered the “Veda of the Atharvan Priests” or the “Veda of Magical Formulas.” Unlike the other Vedas, which are primarily concerned with religious rituals, cosmology, and philosophical speculation, the Atharvaveda focuses more on practical concerns and everyday life. It contains hymns and spells aimed at addressing human needs and desires, as well as protecting individuals from illness, misfortune, and evil spirits. Some topics and themes found in the Atharvaveda: Healing and Medicine: The Atharvaveda contains numerous hymns and incantations aimed at healing various ailments and diseases. It describes the use of herbs, charms, and rituals to cure illnesses and promote health. Protection and Defense: The text includes spells and prayers designed to protect individuals, households, and communities from harm, evil spirits, and malevolent forces. These protective rituals are often performed to safeguard against physical, mental, and spiritual threats. Prosperity and Success: The Atharvaveda contains hymns and invocations intended to bring about prosperity, abundance, and success in various endeavors. These rituals are performed to attract wealth, fertility, and good fortune. Domestic Life: The text includes hymns and rituals related to domestic life, such as marriage, childbirth, and household management. It provides guidance on family relationships, fertility rites, and ceremonial practices associated with major life events. Magical Practices: The Atharvaveda contains spells, charms, and magical formulas that are used for various purposes, including love, revenge, and protection. These rituals often involve the use of symbolic objects, gestures, and incantations to influence the natural and supernatural realms However, while the Atharvaveda does not explicitly discuss Brahman and Atman in the same manner as the later Upanishads, which are more philosophical in nature, some scholars suggest that underlying themes related to the ultimate reality (Brahman) and the individual self (Atman) can be found indirectly in certain passages. For example, some hymns in the Atharvaveda may contain symbolic or metaphorical references that hint at deeper metaphysical concepts. Additionally, the Atharvaveda’s emphasis on the interconnectedness of the natural and supernatural realms, as well as its recognition of the power of divine forces, may reflect underlying philosophical ideas about the nature of reality and the relationship between the individual soul and the ultimate reality.
  • King David (claimed 1040 – 970 BC)  The “idealized king of Israel”, often viewed as a messianic figure in Jewish tradition due to the promise of an eternal dynasty. Known for slaying Goliath. David’s victory over the Philistine giant Goliath with just a sling and a stone, showcasing his courage and faith. He united the tribes of Israel into a single kingdom and established Jerusalem as its capital. David captured Jerusalem from the Jebusites, making it the political and religious center of Israel. Religiously, it is beleived that the Abrahamic God made a promise to David that his descendants would rule Israel forever, leading to the concept of the Messiah. David is traditionally credited with many of the Psalms in the Bible, which express a range of emotions and spiritual insights. Views on God: David is portrayed as having a complex and intimate relationship with God. His psalms express a wide range of emotions, from deep despair to exultant praise, demonstrating his faith in his God’s protection and guidance despite personal failings. His life is marked by significant events where God’s intervention is evident, such as his victory over Goliath and his rise to kingship despite humble beginnings.
  • King Solomon (Around 970 – Around 931 BC) The king Solomon figure is renowned for his wisdom, exemplified by the famous story of his judgment in the case of two women claiming to be the mother of the same child. He is credited for building the Jewish First Temple in Jerusalem. Solomon’s reign is characterized by economic prosperity, political stability, and diplomatic alliances. He is traditionally credited with authorship of several biblical books, including Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. Solomon is depicted as initially devoted to God, but his later life is marred by idolatry and spiritual decline due to his many foreign wives and alliances. Despite this, he is remembered as a wise king who ultimately recognized the importance of fearing God and keeping His commandments. His reign is often seen as a time of divine blessing and favor, marked by peace, prosperity, and the construction of the Temple in Jerusalem as a place of worship for the Israelites. In some faiths stories exist of Solomon’s use of magical or mystical powers to command demons for various purposes. One of the most famous accounts of Solomon’s dealings with demons comes from Islamic tradition, particularly from texts like the Quran and the Hadith, as well as from Jewish folklore and later Christian writings.
  • First Israelite Temple (claimed 957–586 BC)
  • Hindu Upanishads (800–200 BC). At some point, Hinduism introduced the concept of Brahman (the ultimate reality) and Atman (the individual self). Brahman is understood as the supreme, unchanging, and eternal reality that transcends the universe and encompasses everything. Atman refers to the individual soul or self, which is believed to be eternal and inherently connected to Brahman. The goal of Hindu spiritual practice is often described as realizing the identity between Atman and Brahman, known as moksha or liberation. The Upanishads represent the concluding part of the Vedas and are sometimes referred to as Vedanta, (Advaita Vedanta,) which translates to “the end of the Vedas” or “the finality of knowledge.” In Advaita Vedanta, the main idea about God and self revolves around the concept of non-duality (Advaita), which posits that ultimate reality is characterized by the unity of the individual self (Atman) and the supreme reality (Brahman). Advaita Vedanta teaches that there is only one ultimate reality, Brahman, and the individual self (Atman) is identical to Brahman. Advaita Vedanta emphasizes the non-dual nature of reality, asserting that the perceived multiplicity of the world is an illusion (maya). According to Advaita, there is only one ultimate reality, which is Brahman. This reality is unchanging, infinite, and transcendent, beyond all distinctions and dualities. Identity of Atman and Brahman: Advaita Vedanta teaches that the individual self (Atman) is not separate from Brahman but is essentially identical to it. The true nature of the individual self is not the limited, individuated ego but the infinite, eternal essence of Brahman. Realizing this identity is the goal of spiritual practice in Advaita Vedanta. Self-Realization (Atma-jnana): The primary aim of Advaita Vedanta is self-realization, which involves recognizing one’s true nature as the limitless Atman, identical to Brahman. This realization leads to liberation (moksha) from the cycle of birth and death (samsara) and the cessation of suffering. Role of Maya: Maya is the principle of illusion or ignorance that veils the true nature of reality, causing individuals to perceive multiplicity, differentiation, and separation. Advaita Vedanta teaches that the world of duality and diversity is a product of maya, and true knowledge (jnana) involves piercing through this illusion to realize the underlying unity of Brahman. Implications for God: In Advaita Vedanta, Brahman is often described as the ultimate reality, devoid of attributes (nirguna) and beyond all conceptualization. While Brahman is sometimes referred to as God, it transcends anthropomorphic conceptions of a personal deity. Instead, Brahman is the ground of all being, the essence of existence itself. While the precise dating of individual Upanishads and the emergence of specific philosophical ideas within Hinduism can be challenging due to the oral transmission of knowledge and the gradual development of philosophical thought, scholars generally place the earliest references to the concepts of Brahman and Atman within the Upanishads around the 8th to 6th centuries BC.
  • Homer (8th century [800 to 701] BC) – Greek – In Homer’s epics, particularly in “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey,” the depiction of the divine and the self is complex and multifaceted. Homer presents a worldview where the gods are deeply involved in the affairs of mortals, shaping their destinies and influencing their actions. At the same time, Homer explores themes of human agency, personal identity, and the relationship between mortals and the divine. Here, the gods have distinct personalities, desires, and agendas, often involving themselves in conflicts among mortals or aiding favored heroes. Homer explored the theme of human identity and agency, depicting mortals grappling with their destinies and making choices that shape their lives. Heroes such as Achilles and Odysseus face challenges, confront moral dilemmas, and assert their individual wills in the face of divine influence. Humans are portrayed as capable of independent thought, action, and self-determination. They may seek divine favor or guidance, but they also demonstrate resilience, courage, and the capacity for self-realization. Read: The Iliad https://classics.mit.edu/Homer/iliad.html The Odyssey https://classics.mit.edu/Homer/odyssey.html
  • Hesiod (late 8th to early 7th century BC) – A Greek poet. Hesiod’s writings primarily focus on mythology, cosmology, and practical advice for daily life, they also contain philosophical and theological themes. In Hesiod’s work, particularly in “Theogony,” the main idea about God (or the gods) revolves around the notion of a divine hierarchy and the roles of the gods in shaping the cosmos and human existence. Hesiod presents the gods as powerful and immortal beings who govern various aspects of the universe, from the heavens and the earth to natural phenomena and human affairs. One of the central themes in Hesiod’s depiction of the gods is the concept of fate or destiny (Moira), which plays a significant role in shaping the lives of both mortals and immortals. The gods themselves are subject to fate, and their actions are often influenced by cosmic forces beyond their control. Hesiod’s writings reflect a belief in the importance of individual effort and virtue in navigating the challenges of life. In “Works and Days,” Hesiod provides advice on ethical living, work ethic, and the pursuit of justice, suggesting that personal conduct and moral integrity are essential for leading a successful and fulfilling life.
  • The city of Rome (c. 625 BC) Rome was founded around 625 BC in the areas of ancient Italy known as Etruria and Latium. It is thought that the city-state of Rome was initially formed by Latium villagers joining together with settlers from the surrounding hills in response to an Etruscan invasion. Archaeological evidence indicates that a great deal of change and unification took place around 600 BC which likely led to the establishment of Rome as a true city.
  • Roman Period of Kings (625-510 BC) During this brief time Rome, led by no fewer than six kings, advanced both militaristically and economically with increases in physical boundaries, military might, and production and trade of goods including oil lamps. Politically, this period saw the early formation of the Roman constitution. The end of the Period of Kings came with the decline of Etruscan power, thus ushering in Rome’s Republican Period.
  • Cyrus the Great (c. 600–530 BC): The Persian king who allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple, fulfilling a messianic role in the eyes of some Jewish texts.
  • The Jewish Temple of Elephantine (6th century – 410 BC) Elephantine island
  • The Tao Te Ching (6th century BC) A fundamental text in Taoism, a Chinese philosophical and religious tradition. It is traditionally attributed to Laozi, a sage believed to have lived in ancient China during the 6th century BC, though the historical existence of Laozi is debated among scholars, and there is uncertainty about his exact identity. The Tao Te Ching consists of 81 short chapters (or verses) that offer insights and guidance on how to live in harmony with the Tao, which can be translated as “the Way” or “the Way of Nature.” The text explores concepts such as simplicity, spontaneity, humility, and the balance between opposing forces (yin and yang). It advocates for a natural and effortless way of living, emphasizing the importance of non-action (wu-wei) and yielding to the natural flow of life. The Tao Te Ching is written in a poetic and paradoxical style, employing metaphorical language and paradoxes to convey its teachings. Its profound wisdom has made it a timeless classic, influencing not only Taoist philosophy and spirituality but also various aspects of Chinese culture, including art, literature, martial arts, and traditional Chinese medicine. Over the centuries, the Tao Te Ching has been translated into numerous languages and continues to be studied and revered by people around the world seeking spiritual insight and guidance.
  • Thales of Miletus (c. 624–c. 546 BC): Considered one of the earliest Greek philosophers, Thales is known for his attempts to explain natural phenomena without resorting to mythological explanations. He proposed that water was the fundamental substance from which all things arose.
  • Anaximander of Miletus (c. 610–c. 546 BC): A student of Thales, Anaximander expanded upon his teacher’s ideas and proposed the concept of the “apeiron,” an indefinite or boundless substance from which the cosmos originated. He is known for the concept of “one principle.”
  • Anaximenes of Miletus (c. 585–c. 528 BC): Another disciple of Thales, Anaximenes posited that air was the fundamental substance underlying the universe. He believed that air could undergo condensation and rarefaction to give rise to different forms of matter.
  • Xenophanes (c. 6th and 5th centuries BC) – Pronounced “zee · now · faynz”. A pre-Socratic (This period saw the emergence of philosophical inquiry into fundamental questions about the nature of reality, the cosmos, and the divine) Greek philosopher and theologian living in the ancient Mediterranean world. He explored topics of theology and metaphysics. Xenophanes criticized the anthropomorphic depictions of gods prevalent in Greek religion, where gods were often depicted as resembling humans in their form and behavior. Instead, Xenophanes proposed a more abstract and transcendent conception of God. He argued that if other animals had the capacity for artistic creation, they would depict their gods in their own image, leading to a variety of anthropomorphic gods. Xenophanes, however, asserted that there is only one true God, who is unlike humans or any other living beings. Xenophanes’ conception of God is characterized by the idea of monotheism. Xenophanes advocated for the existence of a single, supreme deity, distinct from the pantheon of gods found in Greek mythology. This deity is the ultimate source of all existence and governs the cosmos. Unlike the anthropomorphic gods of Greek mythology, Xenophanes’ God is transcendent and immutable. God is not subject to change or human limitations but is instead eternal, unchanging, and beyond human comprehension. He argued that God is omnipotent and omnipresent, permeating all aspects of reality. There is no division or conflict within God, as God encompasses all things within a unified whole. He emphasized the unity and universality of God. Xenophanes was probably influenced by the philosophical ideas of earlier thinkers from the Milesian school, such as Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes. He also may have been influenced by Pythagorean thought, particularly the Pythagorean doctrine of the Monad, which posited a fundamental principle of unity underlying all multiplicity in the universe.
  • Pythagoras of Samos (c. 570–495 BC) – Lived in the city of Samos. He later established a school in Croton, a Greek colony in southern Italy. He was the founder of the Pythagorean school (read more here), Pythagoras was a mathematician, mystic, and philosopher. He is best known for the Pythagorean theorem in geometry and for his teachings on the importance of numbers and harmony in the cosmos. He left no written works, however, his followers, known as Pythagoreans, continued his philosophical and mathematical traditions. Of his followers, these are best known: Philolaus and Archytas of Tarentum
  • Heraclitus (540 – 480 BC) Greek. A pre-Socratic philosopher. Ephesus, Anatolia (now Selçuk, Turkey). Known for the idea of Logos. He is known for his aphoristic style and his emphasis on the unity of opposites and the ever-changing nature of reality. The apophatic approach: While not a direct proponent of the via negativa, his emphasis on the limitations of human understanding and the perpetual flux of existence shares some affinities with the apophatic approach. He utilized negation as a rhetorical device to convey his philosophical ideas. For example, he stated, “You cannot step into the same river twice,” emphasizing the transient and ever-changing nature of reality. This negation highlights the impermanence of the world and the impossibility of stable identities or entities. Heraclitus said reality is characterized by perpetual change and flux, where opposites are in constant tension and harmony. This dynamic interplay of opposites contributes to the unity and coherence of the cosmos; this is known as the doctrine of “panta rhei” or “everything flows.” Heraclitus introduced the concept of the “logos,” often translated as “word,” “reason,” or “order.” He viewed the logos as the underlying principle or rational structure that governs the cosmos. While Heraclitus did not explicitly equate the logos with a personal deity, his notion of an immanent, rational principle in the universe bears similarities to later conceptions of God as the ordering and governing force of reality. He suggests that individuals are not separate from the universe but are integral parts of the cosmic whole. Through self-awareness and attunement to the logos, individuals can align themselves with the natural order of the cosmos and achieve harmony with the divine. Here are a few examples of Heraclitus’ fragments where he mentions the logos: Fragment 1: “This logos holds always but humans always prove unable to understand it, both before hearing it and when they have first heard it. For though all things come to be in accordance with this logos, humans are like the inexperienced when they experience such words and deeds as I set out, distinguishing each in accordance with its nature and saying how it is.” Fragment 50: “Listening not to me but to the logos, it is wise to agree that all things are one.” Fragment 114: “Although the logos is common, most people live as if they had their own private understanding.”
  • The Jewish Second Temple and Second Temple Judaism (516 BC–70 AD) Second Temple Judaism emerged following the return of the Jewish exiles from Babylonian captivity and the reconstruction of the Temple in Jerusalem under Persian rule (known as the Second Temple period). It spans the Hellenistic period, during which Judea came under the influence of Hellenistic culture, as well as the later Roman period, characterized by Roman occupation and rule. Second Temple Judaism saw the emergence of various religious movements, sects, and ideologies, including Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Zealots, and others. These groups often held differing views on theology, ritual practice, interpretation of scripture, and engagement with broader society. The period also witnessed religious reforms, cultural exchanges, and debates over issues such as Torah observance, temple worship, and religious authority. This period produced religious literature, including biblical texts, apocryphal and pseudepigraphal writings, Dead Sea Scrolls, and other texts found among the Qumran manuscripts. These writings reflect diverse theological perspectives, literary genres, and religious concerns within ancient Judaism, providing valuable insights into the beliefs, practices, and social dynamics of the period. Second Temple Judaism was characterized by eschatological hopes and expectations for the future redemption and restoration of Israel. Many texts from this period, including the Hebrew prophets, apocalyptic literature, and messianic writings, envision a future age of justice, peace, and divine rule, often centered around the figure of a messiah or redeemer. A significant interaction with Hellenistic and Roman cultures was present, leading to the adoption of Greek language, literature, and philosophical ideas among certain segments of Jewish society. This cultural exchange also gave rise to tensions between traditional Jewish practices and Hellenistic influences, as well as resistance to Roman rule. Jesus appeared during this period.
  • Parmenides of Elea, or Paraminides of Elea (c. 515 – c. 450 BC) Parmenides was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. Known as father of logic. He employed a form of negative reasoning in his metaphysical poem, “On Nature.” He argued for the unity and immutability of Being, denying the existence of non-being. The apophatic approach: He did not explicitly employ the via negativa in the theological sense, his emphasis on negation and affirmation contributed to later philosophical developments. Parmenides is credited with laying the groundwork for the development of logic. His surviving works, “On Nature,” is written in the form of a philosophical poem and contains an argument about the nature of reality. He presented his ideas in a structured and logical manner, using deductive reasoning to support his claims. He is known for his principle of non-contradiction, which asserts that contradictory statements cannot both be true in the same sense at the same time. This principle is fundamental to logical reasoning and forms the basis of classical logic. Parmenides rejected the idea of relying solely on sensory perception for knowledge and instead advocated for the use of reason and intellect to understand reality. He challenged the prevailing views of his time, which relied heavily on myth and tradition, and sought to establish a rational foundation for philosophical inquiry. In “On Nature” he uses logical consistency and coherence, he constructs his argument step by step, avoiding logical fallacies and inconsistencies. His ideas had a significant influence on subsequent philosophers, including Plato and Aristotle, who both engaged with his arguments and incorporated aspects of his thought into their own philosophical systems.
  • Republican Rome (510-31 BC) Rome entered its Republican Period in 510 BC. No longer ruled by kings, the Romans established a new form of government whereby the upper classes ruled, namely the senators and the equestrians, or knights. However, a dictator could be nominated in times of crisis. In 451 BC, the Romans established the “Twelve Tables,” a standardized code of laws meant for public, private, and political matters. Rome continued to expand through the Republican Period and gained control over the entire Italian peninsula by 338 BC. It was the Punic Wars from 264-146 BC, along with some conflicts with Greece, that allowed Rome to take control of Carthage and Corinth and thus become the dominant maritime power in the Mediterranean.
  • Anaxagoras (500 – 428) – physical nature, Nous cosmic mind, “God is One
  • Archelaus (5th century BC) – student of Anaxagoras, a skeptic, teacher of Socrates (470 – 399 BC).
  • Bhagavad Gita (5th and 2nd centuries BC) The Bhagavad Gita is believed to have been composed between the 5th and 2nd centuries BC, although the exact date of its composition is uncertain. It is part of the Indian epic Mahabharata, which was traditionally attributed to the sage Vyasa. The events depicted in the Mahabharata are thought to have occurred around 1500 BCE, during the ancient period of Indian history. However, the text itself, including the Bhagavad Gita, likely underwent various revisions and additions over several centuries before reaching its final form. The Bhagavad Gita, often referred to as the Gita, is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the Indian epic Mahabharata. It is a sacred text of the Hindu religion and is considered one of the most important spiritual classics in the world. The Bhagavad Gita is written in the form of a dialogue between Prince Arjuna and the god Krishna, who serves as his charioteer. The conversation takes place on the battlefield of Kurukshetra just before the start of a great war. Arjuna is filled with doubt and moral dilemma about fighting in the war, which involves killing his own relatives and teachers. In response to Arjuna’s confusion, Krishna imparts spiritual wisdom, guidance, and practical advice on duty, righteousness, and the nature of reality. The Gita addresses profound philosophical and ethical questions such as the nature of the self (Atman), the purpose of life, the concept of dharma (duty/righteousness), and the paths to spiritual liberation (moksha). The teachings of the Bhagavad Gita are encapsulated in various yoga disciplines, including Karma Yoga (the yoga of selfless action), Bhakti Yoga (the yoga of devotion), Jnana Yoga (the yoga of knowledge), and Raja Yoga (the yoga of meditation). It emphasizes the importance of performing one’s duty selflessly and with detachment from the fruits of one’s actions. The Bhagavad Gita has been highly influential not only in Hindu philosophy and spirituality but also in various fields such as psychology, management, and leadership. Its universal message of selflessness, devotion, and self-realization continues to inspire millions of people worldwide.
  • Simon of Peraea (died 4 BCE): Led a revolt against Herod the Great, claiming to be a messianic figure. His rebellion was swiftly crushed by the Romans.
  • Philolaus (c. 470–c. 385 BC): A prominent Pythagorean philosopher. He contributed to cosmology and metaphysics. He was credited with developing the theory of the “harmony of the spheres.”
  • Archytas of Tarentum (c. 428–c. 347 BC) A pre-Socratic mathematician, statesman, and philosopher, Archytas made significant contributions to geometry, mechanics, and philosophy. He further developed Pythagorean ideas in mathematics and cosmology.
  • Taoism (4th century BC ie 400 BC 301 BC or 4th to 3rd century BC – ie between 400 – 201 BC)
  • Socrates (470 – 399 BC) – teacher of Plato. lived in Athens, Greece
  • Plato (c. 428 – 348 BC) – Demiurge (craftsman of things) changes Choas using Forms. An ancient Greek philosopher and the founder of the Academy in Athens (387 BC). His works, including dialogues such as “The Republic” and “The Symposium,” laid the foundation for Western philosophy and influenced subsequent generations of thinkers. Plato is not typically associated with the explicit use of negation or the apophatic approach to the same extent as later thinkers like Plotinus or PseudoDionysius the Areopagite. However, there are aspects of Plato’s philosophy that can be interpreted in a manner consistent with negation or the apophatic tradition, particularly in his later dialogues and his metaphysical discussions. In Plato’s theory of Forms, there is a distinction between the material world of particulars and the realm of Forms or Ideas, which are the ultimate realities that give rise to the sensible world. The Forms are perfect, immutable, and eternal, whereas the material world is characterized by imperfection and change. Plato describes the Forms positively in terms of their essential qualities, however there is also an implicit negation involved. The Forms are said to be beyond the realm of sensory perception and conceptual understanding, and they are often characterized by what they are not: they are not material, not subject to change, and not accessible to the senses. In Plato’s “Republic,” the Allegory of the Cave can be interpreted as a form of negation. The prisoners in the cave are initially confined to a world of shadows and illusions, mistaking these for reality. Through philosophical education and dialectical inquiry, they gradually ascend to the realm of the Forms, negating their previous misconceptions and attaining knowledge of the higher truths. Plato is primarily known for his use of dialectics as a method of philosophical inquiry. In dialectical dialogue, participants engage in a process of questioning, refutation, and clarification to arrive at a deeper understanding of the subject matter. Through the process of dialectical inquiry, participants may use negation to challenge false assumptions, uncover contradictions, and arrive at more refined concepts or definitions. This can be seen as a form of negative reasoning aimed at stripping away falsehoods to reveal underlying truths. Read: The Republic https://www.gutenberg.org/files/1497/1497-h/1497-h.htm The Symposium https://classics.mit.edu/Plato/symposium.htmlWatch: Plato’s Allegory of the Cave https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RWOpQXTltA
  • The Jewish Tanakh (claimed 400 BC): The Tanakh is the Hebrew Bible, consisting of three main sections: the Torah, the Nevi’im (Prophets), and the Ketuvim (Writings). It’s the same content as the Old Testament but arranged in a different order. The progression of this book is claimed to be as follows: Pentateuch by Moses -> Septuagint claimed translation -> Tanakh -> Old testament -> Torah -> Talmud. The final editing and redaction of the Torah likely occurred over a long period. The Prophets and Writings sections were compiled and edited over several centuries as well. The Prophets section includes historical books (e.g., Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings) and prophetic works (e.g., Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel), while the Writings section contains various poetic and wisdom literature (e.g., Psalms, Proverbs, Job). The process of canonization, in which certain texts were recognized as authoritative and included in the Tanakh, continued into the Hellenistic and early Roman periods. The Jewish community gradually reached a consensus on the books that should be included in the Hebrew Bible, though variations existed among different Jewish groups. By around the 2nd century CE, the Jewish canon was largely settled, with the Tanakh consisting of the books that are recognized today. This process of canonization was influenced by factors such as religious beliefs, historical circumstances, and the authority of certain texts within the Jewish community.
  • Aristotle (c. 384–322 BC). The word “metaphysics” has its origins in ancient Greek philosophy and is often attributed to Aristotle.
  • Theophrastus (c. 371–c. 287 BC) – Ancient Greek philosopher successor to Aristotle.
  • Ptolemy I Soter (367 BC to 283 BC) – A successor of Alexander the Great and became the ruler of Egypt after Alexander’s death. Started the Library of Alexandria
  • Pyrrho of Elis (c. 360–c. 270 BC) – Founder of Pyrrhonism, a skeptical school of philosophy in ancient Greece. Pyrrhonism advocated for suspension of judgment regarding the truth or falsity of propositions. Pyrrhonists argued that since human perception and reasoning are fallible, it’s impossible to attain certainty about the nature of reality.
  • Alexander the Great (356 BC–323 BC) – King of Macedon and conqueror of a vast empire. Greek empire a Macedonian king and military leader who conquered much of the known world in the 4th century BC, spreading Greek culture and ideas throughout his empire.
  • Demetrius of Phaleron (c. 350 BC–c. 280 BC)  – Athenian statesman and philosopher a student of Theophrastus.
  • Ptolemy II Philadelphus (308–246 BC)  –  The son of Ptolemy I. The Library of Alexandria built. Pentateuch put together.
  • The Jewish Pentateuch presumed (by scholars) to be put together (308–246 BC) at this time (not written at the time of/by Moses). Mythologically or religiously it is claimed to have been compiled and written by Moses, with the final editing and arrangement completed around the 5th century BC.
  • Theravada Buddhism (circa 3rd century [starting 300] BC onward) Based on the Pāli Canon, considered the oldest surviving branch of Buddhism, emerging around the 3rd century BC). Theravada, also known known as the “Teaching of the Elders” or “Southern Buddhism,” is considered one of the earliest forms of Buddhism. It is based on the Pali Canon, which contains the teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha. Theravada emphasizes the importance of individual enlightenment through the practice of meditation, ethical conduct, and insight into the nature of reality.
  • Ptolemaic Dynasty (305 BC – 30 BC) – A Hellenistic dynasty that ruled Egypt after Alexander’s death, part of the successor states to his empire.
  • Hellenistic Period (323 BC – 31 BC) This period followed the conquests of Alexander the Great and encompassed the territories he conquered. The Hellenistic period saw the blending of Greek culture with Eastern influences.
  • The Jewish Septuagint (3rd [starting 300] and 2nd centuries [ending 101] BC, or between 270-250 BC) translated the Pentateuch (see above) into Greek in Alexandria, Egypt. This translation was ordered by Ptolemy II Philadelphus. Folklore / religion holds that Ptolemy II Philadelphus (see above), a Greek ruler of Egypt, commissioned the translation of the Pentateuch into Greek. This translation is known as the Septuagint, and according to legend, it was undertaken by 72 Jewish scholars who conducted the translation into Greek in Alexandria, Egypt, during the 3rd century BCE. While the details of the legend are likely exaggerated, or fabricated, it is believed that the translation into Greek was indeed accomplished during Ptolemy II‘s reign, likely in the early to mid-3rd century BC. Some scholars claim that the actual books were written (not translated) at this time, with the claim being made of their ancient history. The Library of Alexandria, founded during Ptolemy II‘s reign, played a significant role as a center of learning and scholarship, and it is conceivable that the translation project was carried out within its premises or under its patronage. The Documentary Hypothesis which is adopted by many contemporary scholars, including some within the academic community, proposes that the Pentateuch is a composite work composed of multiple sources (J, E, D, and P) that were written and edited over several centuries. According to this hypothesis, the final editing of the Pentateuch likely occurred during the exilic or post-exilic periods (6th–5th centuries BC). Some scholars take more skeptical or revisionist views, suggesting that the Pentateuch may have been compiled even later than the exilic or post-exilic periods, possibly during the Persian or Hellenistic periods (5th–3rd centuries BCE). These scholars often emphasize the role of political, social, and cultural factors in shaping the composition and redaction of biblical texts.
  • Judas Maccabeus (c. 167–160 BC): Led the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire, establishing an independent Jewish state and serving as a temporary messianic figure.
  • Maccabean Dynasty (c. 167 BC–c. 63 BC) – A Jewish dynasty that ruled Judea and surrounding regions.
  • Mahayana Buddhism (circa 1st century BC onward) Mahayana, meaning “Great Vehicle,” emerged as a distinct branch of Buddhism around the 1st century BCE. It emphasizes the ideal of the bodhisattva, who vows to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings. It developed new scriptures and teachings, known as Mahayana sutras, which emphasized the bodhisattva path—the aspiration to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. Mahayana Buddhism introduced new philosophical concepts such as emptiness (shunyata) and the doctrine of the “three bodies” of the Buddha.
  • Essenes (Flourished in the 1st century BC to the 1st century AD), “people of the new covenant” 100yrs before Jesus. The Essenes were a Jewish sect that emerged in the Second Temple period, likely around the 2nd century BCE and continuing into the 1st century CE. They are best known from descriptions by ancient historians such as Josephus, Philo of Alexandria, and Pliny the Elder, as well as from the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish religious texts found in caves near the Dead Sea. The Essenes views on God are not clear, however, based on the available historical and textual evidence, it is infered this group followed Monotheism. Like other Jewish sects of the time, including the Pharisees and Sadducees, the Essenes were monotheistic. They would have believed in the existence of one God (Yahweh) as the creator and ruler of the universe. The Essenes were known for their strict adherence to ritual purity and ethical principles. Some scholars suggest that the Essenes held apocalyptic beliefs, anticipating a final judgment and the coming of a messianic figure who would usher in a new era of righteousness and justice. The Essenes engaged in communal living, shared property, and rigorous ascetic practices. Some scholars suggest that they may have incorporated mystical elements into their religious beliefs and practices, seeking direct communion with God through meditation, prayer, and spiritual discipline. A controversial issue, the Dead Sea Scrolls are thought to show dualistic ideas, viewing the world as a battleground between forces of light (associated with God) and forces of darkness (associated with evil).
  • The Julian calendar (instituted 46 BC) Instituted by Julius Caesar. This calendar is older than the Gregorian calendar and doesn’t account for the solar drift that the Gregorian calendar adjusts for. Consequently, the date of Easter in the Eastern Orthodox Church often differs from that in Western Christianity (Catholicism and most Protestant denominations). Easter: Orthodox Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox, similar to the Western calculation but with the difference in calendar systems.
  • The Roman EmpireImperial Rome (31 BC – AD 476) The Romans gradually expanded their influence in the Mediterranean and the Near East (AKA. Middle East), absorbing Hellenistic culture. They established control over various regions, including parts of modern-day Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean.. Rome’s Imperial Period was its last, beginning with the rise of Rome’s first emperor in 31 BC and lasting until the fall of Rome in AD 476. During this period, Rome saw several decades of peace, prosperity, and expansion. By AD 117, the Roman Empire had reached its maximum extant, spanning three continents including Asia Minor, northern Africa, and most of Europe. In AD 286 the Roman Empire was split into eastern and western empires, each ruled by its own emperor. The western empire suffered several Gothic invasions and, in AD 455, was sacked by Vandals. Rome continued to decline after that until AD 476 when the western Roman Empire came to an end. The eastern Roman Empire, more commonly known as the Byzantine Empire, survived until the 15th century AD. It fell when Turks took control of its capital city, Constantinople (modern day Istanbul in Turkey) in AD 1453.
  • Philo of Alexandria (c. 20 BC–50 AD)
  • Jesus of Nazareth (c. 4 BC–30/33 AD)
  • St. Paul (c. 5–67 AD)
  • Early Christianity (1st – 4th century AD). Christianity began as a Jewish sect following the teachings of Jesus Christ. The early Christian communities spread throughout the Roman Empire and beyond, often facing persecution.
  • Coptic Christianity (claimed first century AD) Religious teachings of this church traces its origins to the first century AD when Saint Mark the Evangelist brought Christianity to Egypt.
  • The Eastern Orthodox Church (claimed first century AD). The church traces its origins to the apostolic era (the period of the Twelve Apostles, dating from the Great Commission of the Apostles by the risen Jesus in Jerusalem around 33 AD until the death of the last Apostle, believed to be John the Apostle in Anatolia c. 100 AD), with major centers of early Christianity in cities like Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria.
  • Gnostics (Flourished in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD)
  • Pure Land Buddhism (circa 1st century CE onwards) Pure Land Buddhism originated in India around the 1st century CE and gained prominence in China and East Asia. It emphasizes devotion to Amitabha Buddha and the aspiration to be reborn in his Pure Land, a realm of enlightenment.
  • Nero – Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus (15 December AD 37 – 9 June AD 68) was Roman emperor and the final emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, reigning from AD 54 until his death in AD 68
  • Theudas (1st century CE): A Jewish leader who led a revolt against Roman rule, claiming to be a prophet. He was also defeated by the Romans. Theudas was a Jewish leader who led a revolt against Roman rule in Judea around 46-47 CE. While historical accounts do not explicitly mention Theudas claiming to be a messiah, some scholars suggest that he may have been viewed by his followers as a messianic figure or a potential deliverer sent by God to free the Jewish people from oppression. Theudas is mentioned briefly in the New Testament in Acts 5:36-37, where Gamaliel, a Pharisee and Jewish leader, refers to him as an example of a failed messianic movement. Gamaliel advises caution in dealing with followers of such movements, suggesting that if Theudas’ revolt was of human origin, it would fail, but if it was of divine origin, it would be impossible to stop.
  • John of Giscala (1st century CE): A Jewish leader during the First Jewish-Roman War (66–73 CE) who proclaimed himself as a messianic figure. He played a role in the defense of Jerusalem against the Romans.
  • Rabbinic Judaism (70 CE) – The form of Judaism that developed after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE.. Rabbinic Judaism produced the Talmud.
  • Simon bar Kokhba (c. 132–135 CE): Led the Bar Kokhba revolt against Roman rule in Judea, proclaimed as the Messiah by Rabbi Akiva, but the rebellion was crushed by the Romans.
  • The Jewish Talmud (compiled around 200 CE – 5th century CE) started by Rabbi Judah the Prince (Judah HaNasi) written central text in Rabbinic Judaism. The Talmud is a central text in Rabbinic Judaism and consists of two main components: the Mishnah and the Gemara. The Mishnah, compiled around 200 CE by Rabbi Judah the Prince, is a codification of Jewish oral tradition and law. The Gemara is a commentary on the Mishnah and was compiled later in two versions: the Babylonian Talmud and the Jerusalem Talmud. These texts, along with additional commentaries and interpretations, form the basis of Rabbinic Judaism’s legal and ethical teachings. The progression of this book is claimed to be as follows: Pentateuch (claimed) by Moses -> Septuagint (claimed) translation -> Tanakh -> Old testament -> Torah -> Talmud.
  • Sextus Empiricus (2nd century CE – 3rd century CE)
  • Plotinus (c. 204/5 – 270 CE): Plotinus was a Neoplatonic philosopher who lived in the 3rd century CE. He emphasized the ineffable nature of the One, the ultimate reality in Neoplatonism, employing the via negativa (Negative Theology) to describe the transcendent nature of the divine. He is known for his work in Neoplatonism, utilized negation as a methodological tool throughout his writings, particularly in his major work, the “Enneads.” He used negation as part of his philosophical method which aimed to ascend beyond the realm of sensory perception and discursive reasoning to apprehend the transcendent reality of the One or the Good. He used negation to describe the nature of the One, which is the ultimate principle in Neoplatonism. Plotinus asserts that the One transcends all concepts, categories, and attributes, including being, essence, and existence therefore, the One cannot be adequately described or comprehended through positive affirmations or predication. He asserted that the One is “beyond being” (Greek: “hyperousios”) and “beyond all being” (Greek: “hyperochon”), emphasizing its transcendence beyond the realm of existence and non-existence. By negating all attributes and characteristics that apply to finite beings, Plotinus aims to lead the intellect beyond the realm of multiplicity and diversity to a direct intuition of the One. Read: The Six Enneads https://classics.mit.edu/Plotinus/enneads.html
  • Mani (c. 216–274 CE): Mani was the founder of Manichaeism, a syncretic religious movement that emerged in the Sasanian Empire (modern-day Iran) in the 3rd century CE. Mani claimed to be the Paraclete promised by Jesus (Messianic figure) and the final prophet in a line that included Zoroaster, Buddha, and Jesus. He preached a message of dualism, emphasizing the struggle between the forces of light and darkness. As the founder of Manichaeism, claimed to be a messianic figure and the “Apostle of Light” who brought a message of salvation and spiritual enlightenment to humanity. His followers regarded him as a savior and revered him as a divine figure who brought salvation and liberation from suffering
  • Sassanian Empire (224 AD – 651 AD) (3rd to 7th centuries): This Persian empire emerged in the aftermath of the Parthian Empire and served as a powerful counterpart to the Byzantine Empire. It controlled territories in modern-day Iran and Iraq.
  • Edict of Milan (313 AD) This decree, issued by Emperor Constantine, legalized Christianity within the Roman Empire, ending the persecution of Christians. This marked a significant turning point for the Christian community, as it gained legal recognition and began to grow more openly.
  • Roman Catholic Church (4th century AD) as a distinct entity, began to emerge in the 4th century AD with the rise of Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire under Emperor Constantine. The papacy’s authority became more centralized over time, with the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) increasingly recognized as the supreme authority in matters of faith and governance.
  • Ethiopian Christianity (claimed start in the 4th century AD) Religious teachings of the church state it started when Frumentius, a Christian from Tyre, was appointed as the first bishop of Axum by Saint Athanasius. Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, as it is known today, has its roots in this early Christian community and developed its distinct liturgical and theological traditions over centuries.
  • The Christian Council of Nicaea (325 CE) called by Emperor Constantine in Nicaea (modern-day Iznik, Turkey). Its primary purpose was to address the Arian controversy, particularly the teachings of Arius, who claimed that Jesus, as the Son of God, was a created being and not co-eternal with the Father. The council aimed to establish a unified understanding of the relationship between Jesus and God the Father. Easter: In 325 AD, the First Council of Nicaea established that Easter should be celebrated on the same day throughout Christianity. However, over time, differences in the calculation methods arose between the Eastern and Western Churches due to the adoption of different calendars and adjustments. The Council of Nicaea was called by Emperor Constantine in Nicaea (modern-day Iznik, Turkey). Its primary purpose was to address the Arian controversy, particularly the teachings of Arius, who claimed that Jesus, as the Son of God, was a created being and not co-eternal with the Father. The council aimed to establish a unified understanding of the relationship between Jesus and God the Father. About 300 bishops attended. The majority, led by Athanasius, supported the Nicene Creed, affirming the equality of the Father and the Son. The Nicene Creed became a foundational statement of Christian faith. However, not all bishops were in agreement; some supported Arius’s teachings. The council saw a relatively small number, around 20, who dissented or refused to sign the creed. Dissent: The Council of Nicaea primarily dealt with the Arian controversy, concerning the nature of Christ in relation to God the Father. Arius, a priest from Alexandria, held that Jesus, being the Son, was a created being and not co-eternal with God the Father. His teachings were opposed by Athanasius and others who believed in the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father. Dissent arose from Arius and his supporters who were against the formulation of the Nicene Creed, which declared Christ as “of one substance with the Father.” Abstentions/No Votes: Some bishops didn’t explicitly vote for or against the Creed due to various reasons, personal beliefs, political pressure, or ambiguity in the formulations. The number of those who abstained or voted against the Creed isn’t precisely recorded. Controversies: The Nicene Creed was not universally accepted immediately after the Council. Arianism persisted and led to political and theological turmoil for decades afterward. Emperor Constantine, who convened the Council, played a significant role in its decisions, which influenced the outcome and might have affected the independence of the discussions.
  • Byzantine Empire (330 AD – 1453 AD) (4th to 15th centuries): After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the Eastern Roman Empire, known as the Byzantine Empire, emerged with Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) as its capital. It preserved much of the Greek heritage and became a center of trade, art, and learning. Byzantine Empire (330-1453) lasting for over 1100 years, the Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, was the continuation of the Roman Empire centered in Constantinople during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. The eastern half of the Empire survived the conditions that caused the fall of the West in the 5th century AD, and continued to exist until the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire in 1453.
  • The Christian Council of Carthage (397 CE) not as prominent as the Council of Nicaea but was crucial in finalizing the New Testament canon. This council discussed and confirmed the books that would be included in the biblical canon, determining which texts were considered authoritative and divinely inspired. While it was not as prominent as the Council of Nicaea, it was crucial in finalizing the New Testament canon. This council discussed and confirmed the books that would be included in the biblical canon, determining which texts were considered authoritative and divinely inspired. There were about 44 bishops present at the Council of Carthage. The majority came to an agreement on the canon of the New Testament, accepting the 27 books that are now part of the New Testament.  Dissent: The Council of Carthage addressed various issues, including the biblical canon and Donatism (a movement that challenged the validity of sacraments performed by clergy who had formerly renounced their faith under persecution). Dissent primarily stemmed from the Donatists who disagreed with the decisions against their movement. Abstentions and No Votes: Specific records of abstentions or no votes are not widely available. However, there were likely differing opinions among the attendees on various issues discussed. Controversies: The Council of Carthage’s decisions on the biblical canon were one of its most significant contributions, establishing a list of canonical books for Christians. However, this decision wasn’t immediately universally accepted, and different regions held varying canons for some time. The Donatist controversy persisted after the Council, leading to ongoing divisions within the Church in North Africa. The theological and political implications of the Donatist debate continued for years. These councils, while influential in shaping Christian doctrine, did not necessarily resolve all disputes or gain immediate universal acceptance for their decisions. Their impact was significant, but the controversies and dissent surrounding their conclusions continued to reverberate through the early Christian centuries
  • Moses of Crete (5th century CE): A Jewish leader who led a rebellion against the Byzantine Empire, claiming to be the Messiah. His movement was crushed by the Byzantines
  • The Christian Council of Chalcedon (convened in 451 AD) The primary theological controversy addressed at Chalcedon revolved around the nature of Christ’s incarnation. Specifically, it dealt with the relationship between Christ’s divine and human natures. One prominent view, associated with Alexandria and championed by Cyril of Alexandria, emphasized the unity of Christ’s divine and human natures to the point that they appeared to blend together, forming what’s known as miaphysitism or monophysitism. Another perspective, associated with Antioch and represented by figures like Theodore of Mopsuestia and Nestorius, emphasized a clear distinction between Christ’s divine and human natures, advocating for the term “two natures” (dyophysitism). The council sought to find a theological formula that could bridge these differences and establish orthodox doctrine concerning Christ’s nature. Outcome: The Council of Chalcedon affirmed the doctrine of the two natures of Christ, declaring that Jesus Christ is “perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body.” This formulation sought to maintain the integrity of both Christ’s divine and human natures without confusion, change, division, or separation. The council’s decision was crucial in shaping the Christological doctrines of major branches of Christianity, including the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. However, the Chalcedonian definition was rejected by some churches in the East, leading to the separation of those churches, which came to be known as Oriental Orthodox Churches, including the Coptic Orthodox Church, Armenian Apostolic Church, and others. Legacy: The Council of Chalcedon is regarded as one of the four ecumenical councils recognized by both the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. It played a significant role in defining orthodox Christology and establishing doctrinal boundaries within Christianity. Despite its attempts to resolve the theological disputes of its time, the council also contributed to further divisions within Christianity, particularly between Chalcedonian and non-Chalcedonian churches.
  • The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. Officially separated from the wider Christian community after the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD due to theological differences regarding the nature of Christ.
  • The fall of the Western Roman Empire (476 CE) also called the fall of the Roman Empire or the fall of Rome, was the loss of central political control in the Western Roman Empire, a process in which the Empire failed to enforce its rule, and its vast territory was divided between several successor polities. The Roman Empire lost the strengths that had allowed it to exercise effective control over its Western provinces; modern historians posit factors including the effectiveness and numbers of the army, the health and numbers of the Roman population, the strength of the economy, the competence of the emperors, the internal struggles for power, the religious changes of the period, and the efficiency of the civil administration. Increasing pressure from invading barbarians outside Roman culture also contributed greatly to the collapse. Climatic changes and both endemic and epidemic disease drove many of these immediate factors. By 476, the position of Western Roman Emperor wielded negligible military, political, or financial power, and had no effective control over the scattered Western domains that could still be described as Roman. Barbarian kingdoms had established their own power in much of the area of the Western Empire. In 476, the Germanic barbarian king Odoacer deposed the last emperor of the Western Roman Empire in Italy, Romulus Augustulus, and the Senate sent the imperial insignia to the Eastern Roman Emperor Zeno. While its legitimacy lasted for centuries longer and its cultural influence remains today, the Western Empire never had the strength to rise again. The Eastern Roman, or Byzantine Empire, survived and remained for centuries an effective power of the Eastern Mediterranean, although it lessened in strength.
  • Europe’s Medieval Period (5th – 15th century) – The Middle Ages – the rise of various kingdoms and empires after the fall of the Roman Empire. The medieval era, often called The Middle Ages or the Dark Ages, began around 476 A.D. following a great loss of power throughout Europe by the Roman Emperor. The Middle Ages span roughly 1,000 years, ending between 1400 and 1450.
  • Muhammad ibn Abdullah (claimed 570 CE – 632 CE) The prophet Muhammad whom the religion of Islam is attributed to. He was not viewed as a messiah in the traditional sense of being a savior or redeemer figure, he is regarded as the “Seal of the Prophets” and the embodiment of the perfect human example (the “uswa hasana”) for Muslims to follow. Muslims believe that through his teachings and example, Muhammad provided guidance on many aspects of life, including spiritual, moral, social, and legal matters. Muslims regard Muhammad as the final prophet in a long line of messengers sent by God to guide humanity. He is revered as the last and greatest of the prophets, who delivered the final revelation from God, the Qur’an, to humankind.
  • Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (late 5th to early 6th century CE) Pseudo-Dionysius, an anonymous Christian theologian and mystic, utilized via negativa (Negative Theology) extensively in his works, such as “The Divine Names” and “The Mystical Theology.” He emphasized the transcendence and incomprehensibility of God, advocating for a mystical ascent through negating all finite and created attributes in order to encounter the divine. Read The Mystical Theology https://esoteric.msu.edu/VolumeII/MysticalTheology.htmlThe Divine Names https://ccel.org/ccel/rolt/dionysius/dionysius.ii.html
  • Zen Buddhism (6th century CE onward) Zen Buddhism traces its origins to China in the 6th century CE, where it emerged as a distinct school of Mahayana Buddhism known as Chan. It emphasizes meditation (zazen) and direct insight into the nature of reality.
  • Islamic Caliphates (632 AD – 1258 AD) (7th to 13th centuries): The rise of Islam led to the establishment of various caliphates, including the Umayyad Caliphate, the Abbasid Caliphate, and others. They spread across the Middle East, North Africa, and parts of Europe, blending diverse cultural influences.
  • Abu Isa (died 762 CE). Abu Isa al-Warraq, also known as Abu Isa al-Tirmidhi, a Persian Muslim scholar who lived in the 8th century CE. A leader of the Kharijite sect of Islam who claimed to be the Mahdi, a messianic figure in Islamic eschatology. His rebellion against the Abbasid Caliphate was unsuccessful.
  • Mokanna (8th–9th century CE): A Persian leader who claimed to be a manifestation of God and the Mahdi. He led a revolt against the Abbasid Caliphate and wore a veil to conceal his face, earning him the nickname “Mokanna” in Arabic: المقنع meaning “the veiled one.”  His followers revered him as a divine leader and saw him as a symbol of hope and liberation. Some historical accounts suggest that Mokanna adopted various tactics to bolster his authority, including wearing a veil to create an air of mystique and divine favor. Although Mokanna’s movement ultimately faced suppression by the Abbasid forces, his legacy as a charismatic leader and religious reformer has left an imprint on Persian history and culture. There is no direct evidence to suggest that he claimed to be a messiah.
  • Abbasid caliphate (750-1258) second of the two great dynasties of the Muslim empire of the caliphate. It overthrew the Umayyad caliphate in 750 ce and reigned as the Abbasid caliphate until it was destroyed by the Mongol invasion in 1258.
  • Adi Shankaracharya (788-820 CE). Adi Shankaracharya, also known simply as Shankara or Shankaracharya, was one of the most influential philosophers and theologians in Hinduism. He is credited with revitalizing and systematizing Advaita Vedanta, a major school of Hindu philosophy. Adi Shankaracharya was born in the 8th century CE in Kalady, present-day Kerala, India. He is generally believed to have lived around 788-820 CE. Legend has it that Shankara showed remarkable intelligence and spiritual inclination from a young age. He was deeply drawn to the study of the Vedas and the pursuit of spiritual knowledge. Teachings: Shankara is best known for his teachings on Advaita Vedanta, which emphasizes the non-dual nature of reality. According to Advaita Vedanta, the ultimate reality (Brahman) is beyond all distinctions and is the only true existence. Shankara’s philosophical works, including commentaries on the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Brahma Sutras, are foundational texts of Advaita Vedanta. Doctrine of Maya: One of Shankara’s central teachings is the concept of Maya, which refers to the illusory nature of the world. According to Advaita Vedanta, the world we perceive is not ultimately real but is an appearance superimposed on the underlying unity of Brahman. Through knowledge (jnana), one can transcend this illusion and realize their essential identity with Brahman. Role in Hinduism: Adi Shankaracharya played a significant role in the revival of Hinduism during a period of intellectual and spiritual ferment in ancient India. He traveled extensively, engaging in debates and establishing monastic centers (mathas) across India. These mathas became centers of learning and played a crucial role in preserving and propagating Shankara’s teachings. Works: Shankara authored numerous philosophical works, including commentaries (bhashyas), hymns (stotras), and devotional compositions. Some of his most renowned works include the commentaries on the Brahma Sutras (Brahma Sutra Bhashya), the Bhagavad Gita (Bhagavad Gita Bhashya), and the principal Upanishads (Upanishad Bhashyas). Legacy: Adi Shankaracharya’s influence extends far beyond his lifetime. His teachings continue to inspire millions of followers, and Advaita Vedanta remains one of the most influential philosophical traditions in Hinduism. Shankara’s life and teachings are celebrated annually during the festival of Shankara Jayanti, which marks his birth anniversary.
  • The Christian Great Schism (1054) The division between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church occurred primarily due to theological, cultural, and political differences. The primary theological dispute centered around the authority of the Pope and the filioque clause (the phrasing concerning the procession of the Holy Spirit) in the Nicene Creed.
  • Eastern Orthodox Church & Roman Catholic Church Split (1054 AD), known as the Great Schism.
  • David Alroy (12th century CE): A Jewish leader in Persia who claimed to be the Messiah and led a revolt against the oppressive rule of the Abbasid Caliphate. His movement was ultimately crushed by the authorities.
  • Kutb al-Din Haydar (1220 – 1356 CE): Kutb al-Din Haydar, or Qutb ad-Dīn Haydar, was a Persian Sufi mystic, of possible Turkic origin, who founded the Hurufi movement, a messianic movement within Islam. He claimed to be the Mahdi and the embodiment of the letter “H” (ha), which symbolized divine revelation and the hidden Imam. The Hurufis believed in the spiritual transformation of humanity and the eventual establishment of a utopian society. Haydar apparently followed an ascetic discipline until he ate some marijuana that he found growing. He then took to eating it constantly. It was deemed compatible with a spiritual life, and a positive aid. Use of cannabis migrated into Iraq, Syria and Egypt where it was known as ‘Haydar’s Lady’ or ‘the Wine of Haydar’.
  • Nichiren (1222–1282 CE): Nichiren was a Japanese Buddhist monk who founded Nichiren Buddhism, a branch of Mahayana Buddhism. He believed himself to be the incarnation of Bodhisattva Jogyo and proclaimed the Lotus Sutra as the supreme teaching of Buddhism. Nichiren taught that chanting the mantra “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” would bring about enlightenment and the establishment of a Pure Land on earth. Some consider him a messianic figure.
  • Meister Eckhart (around 1260 – 1328) also known as Johannes Eckhart or Eckhart von Hochheim, was a German theologian, philosopher, and mystic in Hochheim, near Gotha, in the Holy Roman Empire. He lived during the late 13th and early 14th centuries. Eckhart was a member of the Dominican Order and served as a prominent preacher and spiritual leader in Germany. He studied at the University of Paris and later held various positions within the Dominican Order, including Provincial of Saxony. Some of Meister Eckhart’s famous works include: “Sermons” – Eckhart’s sermons, delivered in vernacular German, were central to his teachings. They explore themes of mysticism, spirituality, and the relationship between the individual soul and God. “The Book of Divine Consolation” – This work consists of letters of spiritual guidance written by Eckhart to individuals seeking counsel. “The Talks of Instruction” – A collection of Eckhart’s teachings and conversations, often focusing on the nature of God, the soul, and the mystical experience. “On Detachment” – Eckhart wrote extensively about the importance of detachment from worldly desires and attachments as a means to spiritual enlightenment. Meister Eckhart’s main ideas and contributions to philosophy and theology include: Mysticism and Union with God: Eckhart’s central idea is the possibility of direct, unmediated union with God. He believed that through inner contemplation and detachment from worldly distractions, individuals could experience union with the divine. Apophatic Theology: Eckhart emphasized the ineffability and transcendence of God, advocating for a form of negative theology that asserts what God is not, rather than what God is. Detachment and Renunciation: Eckhart taught the importance of detachment from material possessions, desires, and even from one’s own ego as a path to spiritual freedom and union with God. The Birth of God in the Soul: Eckhart famously spoke of the “birth of God” in the soul, suggesting that through spiritual transformation, individuals could become vessels for the divine presence. Eternal Birth of the Son: Eckhart’s theology includes the concept of the “eternal birth of the Son” in the soul, which signifies a continual process of spiritual rebirth and transformation. Freedom of the Will: Eckhart explored the idea of the freedom of the will, suggesting that individuals have the power to choose their spiritual path and participate in their own salvation. Eckhart’s teachings were influential in the development of Christian mysticism and had a lasting impact on Western spirituality. However, some of his ideas were controversial within the Catholic Church, and some of his teachings were later condemned as heretical.
  • Ottoman Empire (1299 AD – 1922 AD) (late 13th century to the early 20th century): Originating in Anatolia, the Ottoman Empire expanded to encompass parts of Southeast Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa. It succeeded the Byzantine Empire and became a significant power in the region, lasting for several centuries.
  • The fall of the Byzantine Empire (1453 AD), also referred to as the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire and the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire.
  • Europe’s Renaissance (14th – 17th century) –  This period followed the Middle Ages
  • Europe’s Age of Exploration (15th – 17th century) exploration and expansion across the globe, led by nations like Spain, Portugal, England, France, and the Netherlands
  • Martin Luther (1483–1546) was a German monk, theologian, and pivotal figure in the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther was born on November 10, 1483, in Eisleben, Germany, to a middle-class family. His father, Hans Luther, was a copper miner. Luther initially studied law but later decided to become a monk after surviving a near-death experience during a severe thunderstorm. He entered the Augustinian Order in 1505 and pursued a rigorous life of devotion and study. Luther’s religious convictions deepened during his time as a monk, but he also struggled with feelings of inadequacy and guilt before God. In 1510, Luther visited Rome on a pilgrimage and became disillusioned with the corruption and extravagance he witnessed in the Catholic Church. Luther’s pivotal moment came in 1517 when he famously posted his Ninety-Five Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. This document criticized the sale of indulgences by the Catholic Church and called for theological debate. The Ninety-Five Theses quickly spread throughout Europe, thanks to the printing press, sparking widespread discussion and controversy. Luther’s teachings emphasized salvation by grace through faith alone (sola fide) and the authority of Scripture alone (sola scriptura). He believed that individuals could find assurance of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ rather than relying on their own good works or the authority of the Church. Luther translated the Bible into German, making it accessible to the common people and helping to standardize the German language. Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses, protesting against various practices of the Catholic Church is often considered the starting point of the ‘Reformation‘. The Reformation led to the formation of various Protestant denominations, each with its own theological distinctives, including Lutheranism, Calvinism, Anglicanism, and others.
  • David Reubeni (1490–c. 1541 CE): A Jewish traveler and adventurer who claimed to be a prince from the lost tribes of Israel and the messianic redeemer. He gained some followers but was eventually imprisoned by the Inquisition.
  • John Calvin (1509-1564) A French theologian, pastor, and influential figure in the Protestant Reformation. While studying law, Calvin became interested in the Protestant Reformation and began to align himself with Protestant ideas. Around 1533, Calvin experienced a profound religious conversion, abandoning his legal career to devote himself to the study of theology and the promotion of Protestantism. Due to his Protestant beliefs, Calvin was forced to flee Paris in 1533 and lived in various cities in France and Switzerland, eventually settling in Geneva. Calvin’s theology emphasized the sovereignty of God, the total depravity of humanity, predestination, and the authority of Scripture. He believed in the absolute sovereignty of God in salvation, teaching that God elects some individuals for salvation while others are destined for damnation. Calvin’s teachings were influential in shaping Reformed theology, and his writings continue to be studied and revered by Reformed and Presbyterian churches worldwide. Calvin’s influence extended far beyond Geneva. His ideas spread throughout Europe and played a significant role in the development of Reformed churches in countries like Scotland, the Netherlands, Hungary, and England. Calvinism also had a profound impact on political thought, with its emphasis on the separation of church and state and the accountability of rulers to God. Today, Calvinism remains a significant theological tradition within Protestantism, with millions of adherents worldwide.
  • Michel de Montaigne (1533 – 1592)
  • The Christian Council of Trent (1546) 
  • Giordano Bruno (1548–1600) Bruno, an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, and cosmologist, is often considered a forerunner of modern pantheism. He espoused a philosophy that identified God with the infinite universe, arguing for an immanent and all-encompassing divine presence.
  • The Christian Protestant Reformation (16th century AD) The Protestant Reformation led to further divisions within Western Christianity. Reformers such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others challenged various practices and doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, leading to the emergence of Protestant denominations with differing theological emphases.
    • After Martin Luther’s actions sparked the Protestant Reformation in the early 16th century, several distinct Protestant denominations and traditions emerged. Here’s a brief overview of some of the major branches that developed: Lutheranism: Lutheranism, founded by Martin Luther, was one of the earliest Protestant movements. Lutheranism emphasized salvation by grace through faith alone, the authority of Scripture, and the priesthood of all believers. Lutheranism became the dominant form of Protestantism in parts of Germany, Scandinavia, and the Baltic states. It also spread to other regions through migration and missionary efforts. Today, Lutheranism remains a significant Christian tradition, with millions of adherents worldwide, particularly in Europe and North America. Reformed/Calvinist Tradition: The Reformed tradition, influenced by the teachings of John Calvin, emerged primarily in Switzerland, France, Scotland, the Netherlands, and parts of Germany. Reformed theology emphasizes the sovereignty of God, predestination, the authority of Scripture, and the centrality of grace in salvation. Reformed churches include Presbyterian, Reformed, and Congregationalist denominations, each with its own distinctive practices and theological emphases. Presbyterianism, characterized by its system of church governance by elders (presbyters), became particularly influential in Scotland and later in England, North America, and other parts of the world. Anglicanism: Anglicanism originated in England during the 16th century as a result of the English Reformation led by King Henry VIII. Anglicanism retained many elements of Catholic liturgy and tradition while rejecting papal authority and embracing Protestant theology. The Church of England, or Anglican Communion, became the established church in England and spread to other parts of the British Empire through colonization. Anglicanism encompasses a broad spectrum of theological beliefs, ranging from high church Anglo-Catholicism to low church Evangelicalism. Anabaptism: Anabaptism was a radical wing of the Reformation that emerged in the 16th century, advocating for adult baptism, voluntary church membership, and the separation of church and state. Anabaptists rejected infant baptism, emphasized discipleship, and often practiced communal living and pacifism. Anabaptist groups include the Mennonites, Amish, Hutterites, and various Brethren churches. These communities often faced persecution for their beliefs but survived and thrived, particularly in North America. Methodism: Methodism originated as a movement within Anglicanism in 18th-century England, led by John Wesley and his brother Charles Wesley. Methodism emphasized personal piety, social justice, and evangelism. It spread rapidly in Britain and later in the United States and other parts of the world. Methodism eventually became a distinct denomination, with various branches such as the United Methodist Church, African Methodist Episcopal Church, Free Methodist Church, Wesleyan Church, Nazarene Church, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (AME Zion), Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (CME Church).
  • The Gregorian calendar (1582). It was established by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. Easter: The date of Easter in Western Christianity (Catholicism and most Protestant denominations) is determined by the Gregorian calendar. According to the Gregorian calendar, Easter falls on the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs on or after the vernal equinox (March 21st). This means Easter can fall anywhere between March 22nd and April 25th. The Gregorian calendar was established by Pope Gregory XIII through a papal bull titled “Inter gravissimas,” issued on February 24, 1582. The primary reason for its establishment was to reform the previous Julian calendar, which had accumulated discrepancies over time. The Julian calendar, introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 BC, was based on a year length of 365.25 days, with a leap year added every four years. However, this calculation slightly overestimated the length of the solar year. By the 16th century, the accumulated error in the Julian calendar had led to discrepancies between the calendar and the actual solar year. This discrepancy affected the calculation of important events such as the date of Easter, which was determined based on the vernal equinox. Pope Gregory XIII commissioned a group of astronomers and mathematicians, including Christopher Clavius, to address the issue. They proposed adjustments to the calendar, including the omission of certain leap years and the introduction of a more precise method for determining leap years. These adjustments aimed to bring the calendar closer in alignment with the solar year. The Gregorian calendar, as established in 1582, made October 4, 1582, follow directly after October 15, 1582, omitting ten days to correct the accumulated error. Additionally, it introduced a more accurate leap year rule, stating that a year divisible by 4 is a leap year, except for years divisible by 100 but not by 400. These changes helped to correct the discrepancies and make the calendar more accurate in the long term. Despite being established by a papal bull, the Gregorian calendar was gradually adopted by different countries and regions over several centuries. It became the dominant civil calendar worldwide, replacing the Julian calendar and establishing January 1st as the beginning of the new year in most cultures.
  • René Descartes (1596-1650) Descartes’ most famous work addressing consciousness is “Meditations on First Philosophy” (1641).
    Key Arguments: Descartes is known for his dualistic view of the mind and body. He famously asserted, “Cogito, ergo sum” (“I think, therefore I am”), suggesting that even if he doubts everything, including the existence of the external world, he cannot doubt the existence of his own mind. He argued that consciousness is a fundamental feature of the mind, which is distinct from the physical body. This view became known as Cartesian dualism. Read Meditations on Philosophy by René Descartes:  (Here) Meditations on First Philosophy. Other versions and sources of the same can be found here: PDF of the book I read in the yr 2000, by Cress here and here – PDF of a book translated by J. Veitch here – PDF by Jonathan Bennett 2017 https://www.earlymoderntexts.com/assets/pdfs/descartes1641.pdf – PDF of a book by Oxford Classics https://personal.lse.ac.uk/ROBERT49/teaching/ph103/pdf/Descartes_1641Meditations.pdf – From Jeffrey Kaplan https://www.jeffreykaplan.org/descartes
  • Sabbatai Zevi (1626–1676 CE): A Jewish mystic who proclaimed himself as the Messiah and gained a significant following before converting to Islam. He was a self-proclaimed messiah who emerged in the mid-17th century. He was born in Smyrna (modern-day Izmir, Turkey) in 1626. Sabbatai Zevi gained a following due to his charismatic personality and claims of being the long-awaited Messiah. Sabbatai Zevi’s teachings were a blend of mystical interpretations of Jewish texts and messianic aspirations. He claimed to be the redeemer of the Jewish people and promised to bring about their salvation. His teachings often involved mystical rituals, ecstatic experiences, and claims of divine revelation. However, Sabbatai Zevi’s messianic movement took a controversial turn when he began to engage in behaviors that were considered morally and religiously objectionable by traditional Jewish standards. Some of these negative actions included: Violation of Jewish Law: Sabbatai Zevi and his followers engaged in practices that deviated from traditional Jewish law and customs, causing outrage among many Jewish communities. Embracing Islam: In one of the most shocking acts, Sabbatai Zevi publicly converted to Islam in 1666 under pressure from the Ottoman authorities who had imprisoned him. This act shattered the hopes of his followers and caused widespread disillusionment. Though, many assume he continued with his spiritual practices despite superficially ‘converting’ to Islam to save his life. His conversion to Islam occurred under threat of execution by the Ottoman authorities. Promiscuity and Hedonism: There are accounts of Sabbatai Zevi engaging in behavior that contradicted moral norms, including acts of promiscuity and indulgence. Promiscuity and Orgiastic Rituals: There were rumors that Sabbatai Zevi and his followers engaged in promiscuous behavior and participated in orgiastic rituals during their gatherings. These rumors likely stemmed from accounts of libertine practices associated with Sabbatean antinomianism. Messiah Complex: Sabbatai Zevi’s messianic claims led to accusations of megalomania and delusions of grandeur. Critics portrayed him as a narcissistic charlatan who exploited the hopes and beliefs of his followers for personal gain. Alleged Miracles: Some accounts attributed miraculous powers to Sabbatai Zevi, claiming that he could perform supernatural feats such as healing the sick, raising the dead, and controlling the elements. These miraculous claims added to his mystique but also invited skepticism and scrutiny. Apocalyptic Predictions: Sabbatai Zevi’s followers believed that he would usher in a new era of redemption and salvation, leading to wild speculation and apocalyptic fervor. Rumors circulated about impending cataclysms, celestial signs, and the imminent arrival of the Messianic Age. 
  • Mordecai Mokiaḥ (17th century CE): A Jewish messianic figure in Poland who claimed to be a reincarnation of the biblical Mordecai and sought to lead the Jewish people to redemption. His movement gained some followers but faced opposition from mainstream Jewish leaders
  • John Locke (1632-1704) Locke’s “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding” (1689) addresses consciousness. Key Arguments: Locke’s philosophy is often associated with empiricism. He proposed the concept of the “tabula rasa” or the “blank slate” theory of the mind, suggesting that the mind at birth is a blank slate upon which experience writes. Locke argued that consciousness arises from sensory experiences and the reflection upon those experiences. He emphasized the importance of sensory perception and reflection in shaping consciousness.
  • George Berkeley (1685 – 1753)
  • Europe’s Enlightenment (17th – 18th century): This intellectual movement emphasized reason, science, and individualism
  • The American Puritans began arriving in America in the early 17th century. The most well-known and significant group of Puritans to settle in America were the Pilgrims, who arrived aboard the Mayflower in 1620. They established the Plymouth Colony in present-day Massachusetts. The Pilgrims were seeking religious freedom and had separated from the Church of England due to their dissatisfaction with its perceived corruption and failure to reform according to their beliefs. Another notable group of Puritans, known as the Massachusetts Bay colonists, arrived in 1630 aboard the ships Arbella, Winthrop, and others. Led by Governor John Winthrop, they settled in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and founded towns such as Boston, Salem, and Cambridge. The Massachusetts Bay Colony became a major center of Puritanism in America. The American Puritans held beliefs that contributed to the development of later Rapture theology. While the term “Rapture” itself may not have been used during this period, Puritan theology laid the groundwork for certain aspects of the doctrine. Eschatological Focus: The Puritans had a strong interest in eschatology (the study of end times prophecy). They believed in the imminent return of Christ and the establishment of his kingdom on earth. This focus on eschatology created fertile ground for later developments in Rapture theology. Millenarianism: Many Puritans held to a form of millenarianism, which taught that Christ would return to establish a thousand-year reign of peace on earth (the millennium) before the final judgment. While not all Puritans subscribed to this belief, it was influential in shaping their eschatological views. Pre-Millennialism: Within the broader framework of millenarianism, some Puritans embraced a belief in pre-millennialism, which taught that Christ would return before the millennium to rapture believers, ushering in a period of tribulation followed by his earthly reign. This belief laid the foundation for later developments in Rapture theology. Puritan theologians often engaged in detailed studies of biblical prophecy, seeking to understand its relevance to their own time. While their interpretations differed from later dispensationalist views, they contributed to the broader tradition of interpreting biblical prophecy in light of current events and eschatological expectations. While the specific terminology and systematic formulation of Rapture theology came later, the seeds of this doctrine can be found in the eschatological beliefs of the American Puritans. Later developments in dispensationalism, particularly in the 19th and 20th centuries, would build upon these foundations to articulate the doctrine of the Rapture as it is understood in many evangelical and fundamentalist circles today. Before the 17th century there was no Rapture theology. The Eastern Orthodox Christian church position is that Rapture theology is not Christian theology but rather a modern innovation.
  • Europe’s Industrial Revolution (mid-1700s [18th century] – 1850s [mid 19th century])
  • David Hume (1711 – 1776) David Hume (1711 – 1776) is an 18th-century Scottish philosopher from Edinburgh, United Kingdom, is best known for his empiricist philosophy and his skepticism about various claims. Hume’s views on consciousness are often intertwined with his broader philosophy of the mind and empiricism. He famously argued that our perceptions are all we can know, and he divided these perceptions into two types: impressions and ideas. Impressions are our direct, vivid experiences of the world, while ideas are faint copies of impressions. Hume suggested that consciousness is a continuous stream of perceptions, constantly changing and lacking any enduring self or substance. He famously stated, “When I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe anything but the perception.”
    Hume’s views on God are primarily skeptical. In his famous work “Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion,” he presents various characters who engage in a critical discussion about the existence and nature of God. Hume himself does not explicitly endorse any particular position in the dialogue, but his skeptical arguments are evident throughout. He challenges the traditional arguments for the existence of God, such as the argument from design (teleological argument), which posits that the complexity and orderliness of the universe imply a divine designer. Hume argues that such arguments rely on flawed analogies and do not provide sufficient evidence to support belief in a deity.
  • Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason” (1781) and “Critique of Practical Reason” (1788) are central to his discussions on consciousness. Kant’s philosophy is characterized by transcendental idealism. He argued that consciousness is not merely a passive recipient of sensory impressions but actively organizes and structures our experiences through a priori categories of the mind. Kant distinguished between phenomena (the way things appear to us) and noumena (things as they are in themselves). He asserted that consciousness is a result of the interaction between sensory input and the mind’s innate structures, such as space, time, and categories of understanding.
  • Jacob Frank (1726–1791 CE): Led the Frankist movement, which combined elements of Judaism and Christianity, claiming to be the reincarnation of Sabbatai Zevi and advocating radical ideas. As the founder of the Frankist movement, he claimed to be the reincarnation of the biblical patriarch Jacob and the messianic figure known as the “true messiah” (Tzadik ha-Emet). He also proclaimed himself to be a new manifestation of the Divine and the final redeemer of humanity. Frank’s followers regarded him as a messianic figure and believed in his teachings about spiritual purification, redemption through sin, and the eventual establishment of a new world order.
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) Goethe, a German writer, poet, and philosopher, expressed pantheistic ideas in his literary works, particularly in his poem “Prometheus” and his drama “Faust.” He depicted nature as infused with divinity and emphasized the spiritual significance of human engagement with the natural world.
  • Judah ben Shalom (c. 1750–c. 1792 CE): A Jewish preacher and mystic in Yemen who proclaimed himself as the Messiah and gathered a following among the local Jewish community. His followers viewed him as a messianic figure. His movement was eventually suppressed by the authorities.
  • The Continental Congress (1774 – 1789). It was created in 1774 in response to increasing tensions between the American colonies and Great Britain, particularly regarding issues such as taxation without representation and other grievances outlined in the Declaration of Rights and Grievances. The First Continental Congress convened on September 5, 1774, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Continental Congress continued to function throughout the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783), serving as the de facto government of the American colonies as they fought for independence from Great Britain. The Congress played a crucial role in coordinating military efforts, drafting the Declaration of Independence, and establishing diplomatic relations with foreign powers. The president of the Continental Congress was a position akin to a presiding officer or chairman, rather than the executive leader we associate with the modern presidency. The first president of the Continental Congress was Peyton Randolph. Here’s the list of presidents of the Continental Congress: Peyton Randolph (September 5, 1774 – October 22, 1774), Henry Middleton (October 22, 1774 – October 26, 1774), Peyton Randolph (May 10, 1775 – May 24, 1775), John Hancock (May 24, 1775 – October 29, 1777), Henry Laurens (November 1, 1777 – December 9, 1778), John Jay (December 10, 1778 – September 28, 1779), Samuel Huntington (September 28, 1779 – July 9, 1781), Thomas McKean (July 10, 1781 – November 4, 1781), John Hanson (November 5, 1781 – November 3, 1782), Elias Boudinot (November 4, 1782 – November 2, 1783), Thomas Mifflin (November 3, 1783 – June 3, 1784), Richard Henry Lee (November 30, 1784 – November 6, 1785), John Hancock (November 23, 1785 – June 5, 1786), Nathaniel Gorham (June 6, 1786 – February 2, 1787), Arthur St. Clair (February 2, 1787 – October 29, 1787), Cyrus Griffin (January 22, 1788 – November 2, 1788).. The Continental Congress ended with the adoption of the Articles of Confederation in 1781. The Articles created a new framework for a national government, replacing the Continental Congress with a unicameral body known as the Congress of the Confederation. The last meeting of the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation took place on March 2, 1789, just before the new federal government under the U.S. Constitution was inaugurated
  • The Declaration of Independence (1776). America declared its independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776, with the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. The Revolutionary War, also known as the American War of Independence, was the armed conflict between Great Britain and its thirteen colonies in North America, which sought independence. The war lasted from April 19, 1775, to September 3, 1783, when the Treaty of Paris was signed, officially recognizing the independence of the United States.
  • The Articles of Confederation, formally known as the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, was the first constitution of the United States. They were adopted by the Second Continental Congress on November 15, 1777, and went into effect on March 1, 1781, after being ratified by all 13 states.
  • Official recognition of the independence of the United States (1783), when the Treaty of Paris was signed.
  • The Constitution of the United States (1787) was written during the Constitutional Convention, which convened in Philadelphia from May 25 to September 17, 1787.
  • Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 – 1860)
  • The ratification of the Constitution & the beginning of the federal government (1789) After the drafting process, the Constitution was ratified by the states and went into effect on March 4, 1789. This date also marks the beginning of the federal government under the Constitution, with the inauguration of George Washington as the first President of the United States.
  • George Washington as the first president. He was inaugurated as the first President of the United States on April 30, 1789. This event took place on the balcony of Federal Hall in New York City, which was then the capital of the United States. He is often referred to as the “Father of His Country” and is widely regarded as one of the most influential figures in American history.
  • Modern Era (19th century [1801-1900] – to present)
  • John Nelson Darby (1800 – 1882). An Anglo-Irish evangelist, a prominent figure in the development of dispensational theology and the early Plymouth Brethren movement. He was born in London, England, and was educated at Westminster School and Trinity College, Dublin, where he excelled academically. Darby originally trained as a lawyer but later became an ordained Anglican clergyman. However, he eventually became disillusioned with the established church and its hierarchical structure. This dissatisfaction led him to resign from his position in the Church of Ireland in 1827 and subsequently devote himself to ministry outside of denominational boundaries. Darby is best known for his teachings on dispensationalism, a theological framework that divides history into distinct periods or “dispensations,” each with its unique set of responsibilities and divine revelations. He believed that God dealt with humanity differently in each dispensation and that the present era was characterized by the imminent return of Jesus Christ. He wrote the following: “The Hopes of the Church of God” (1840) – In this work, Darby outlined his beliefs regarding the end times and the role of the church in God’s plan of redemption. “Synopsis of the Books of the Bible” – This multi-volume set provides an overview and commentary on each book of the Bible from a dispensational perspective. Darby’s expositions influenced many within the Plymouth Brethren movement and beyond. “Notes on the Book of Genesis” – Darby’s commentary on Genesis reflects his dispensational views and his understanding of biblical prophecy. “The Collected Writings of J.N. Darby” – This extensive collection includes Darby’s sermons, letters, and theological treatises, providing insights into his thought and teachings. Darby’s influence extended beyond his writings. He played a key role in the formation of the Plymouth Brethren movement, which emphasized the autonomy of local congregations, the priesthood of all believers, and the practice of open worship. The Brethren movement spread internationally and had a significant impact on evangelical Christianity in the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • Phineas Quimby (1802-1866) – Often considered the father of New Thought, Quimby was a healer and philosopher whose ideas laid the foundation for the movement.
  • Arnold Potter (1804–1872 CE): An American religious leader who founded the Potterites, a group that believed in the imminent return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of a millennial kingdom. Potter proclaimed himself as the “Ancient of Days” and advocated for communal living and the rejection of materialism.
  • Joseph Smith (1805–1844 CE): The founder of Mormonism and the Latter Day Saint movement, who claimed to have received revelations from God and to have translated the Book of Mormon from golden plates. Smith was viewed by his followers as a prophet and a restorer of true Christianity, and his teachings emphasized the imminent return of Jesus Christ.
  • Hong Xiuquan (1814–1864 CE): A Chinese religious leader who founded the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, a quasi-Christian movement that blended elements of Christianity, Confucianism, and traditional Chinese beliefs. Hong believed himself to be the younger brother of Jesus Christ and the leader of a divine mission to establish a heavenly kingdom on earth.
  • Baha’u’llah (1817–1892 CE) Baha’u’llah, born Mirza Husayn-Ali, was the founder of the Bahá’í Faith and is considered a messianic figure within that religion. He was born in Persia (modern-day Iran) in 1817 and lived until 1892. Baha’u’llah claimed to be the latest in a line of messengers of God, including Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, and others. He asserted that his mission was to usher in a new era of global unity, peace, and spiritual renewal. Baha’u’llah’s teachings emphasized the oneness of humanity, the unity of religions, and the need for collective efforts to establish a just and peaceful world civilization. He called for the elimination of prejudices of all kinds, the establishment of universal education, and the recognition of the fundamental equality of all people. Baha’u’llah’s followers believe that he fulfilled various prophecies from religious scriptures, including those from Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and other faiths. They regard him as the Promised One of all religions and the fulfillment of the messianic expectations of previous ages. During his lifetime, Baha’u’llah faced persecution, imprisonment, and exile for his teachings. Despite these challenges, he continued to spread his message of peace, unity, and spiritual transformation until his passing in 1892. Today, the Bahá’í Faith has millions of followers worldwide and continues to promote the principles and teachings of Baha’u’llah.
  • Báb (1819–1850 CE): A Persian religious leader and founder of the Bábí movement, which later developed into the Bahá’í Faith. The Báb claimed to be a messenger of God and the herald of a greater figure known as “He whom God shall make manifest.”
  • Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) – Founder of Christian Science, Eddy’s teachings significantly influenced New Thought philosophy.
  • Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920): Often regarded as the “father of experimental psychology,” and one of the “fathers” of “western psychology“, Wundt established the first psychological laboratory at the University of Leipzig in 1879. He focused on the scientific study of consciousness and introduced methods such as introspection to investigate mental processes. Wundt’s work laid the groundwork for psychology as an experimental and empirical science.
  • Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835–1908 CE): The founder of the Ahmadiyya movement in Islam, who claimed to be the Mahdi and Messiah prophesied in Islamic and Christian scriptures. His teachings diverged from mainstream Sunni and Shia Islam and led to controversy within the Muslim community.
  • William James (1842-1910): A prominent American philosopher and psychologist, James is considered one of the founders of American psychology. Considered one of the “fathers” of “western psychology“, his seminal work, “The Principles of Psychology” (1890), is one of the most influential texts in the field. James emphasized the importance of studying the functions of consciousness and introduced concepts such as stream of consciousness and pragmatism.
  • Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900) Born in 1844, in Röcken, Prussia (now Germany), and died 1900, in Weimar, Germany. He was critical of socialism and its associated ideologies. Nietzsche’s philosophy is complex and nuanced, and it would be inaccurate to categorize him simply as a proponent of any particular political ideology. Nietzsche was highly skeptical of mass movements and the idea of equality. He critiqued the notion of a universal morality and argued for the importance of individual excellence and self-overcoming. Nietzsche believed that the pursuit of greatness and the development of one’s unique potential were essential aspects of human existence. While Nietzsche did express concern for the well-being of society, he did not believe that equality should be enforced or that the state should have a significant role in shaping human behavior. Instead, he advocated for a more individualistic approach to ethics and politics, emphasizing personal responsibility and the cultivation of one’s own values. Nietzsche was highly skeptical of mass movements and the idea of equality. He critiqued the notion of a universal morality and argued for the importance of individual excellence and self-overcoming. Nietzsche believed that the pursuit of greatness and the development of one’s unique potential were essential aspects of human existence. While Nietzsche did express concern for the well-being of society, he did not believe that equality should be enforced or that the state should have a significant role in shaping human behavior. Instead, he advocated for a more individualistic approach to ethics and politics, emphasizing personal responsibility and the cultivation of one’s own values.
  • Myrtle Fillmore (1845-1931) – Co-founder of Unity Church along with her husband Charles Fillmore, Myrtle Fillmore was a prominent figure in New Thought healing practices.
  • John Alexander Dowie (1847–1907 CE): A Scottish-American evangelist who founded the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church in Zion, Illinois, and proclaimed himself as a prophet and divine healer. Dowie believed that he was preparing the way for the Second Coming of Christ and the establishment of a utopian society.
  • Thomas Troward (1847-1916) – A British author and judge, Troward’s works on metaphysics and the power of thought have had a significant influence on New Thought philosophy.
  • Emma Curtis Hopkins (1849-1925) – Known as the “Teacher of Teachers,” Hopkins was a prominent New Thought leader and teacher who trained many influential figures in the New Thought movement.
  • Charles Fillmore (1854-1948) – Co-founder of Unity Church, Fillmore authored numerous books on metaphysical spirituality and co-edited Unity Magazine. A part of the New Thought movement.
  • Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936): A Russian physiologist, Pavlov is renowned for his experiments on classical conditioning, which demonstrated how behavior could be systematically influenced by conditioned stimuli. His research laid the foundation for the behaviorist approach and had a significant impact on the study of learning and conditioning. He is considered to be one of the “fathers” of “western psychology
  • Sigmund Freud (1856-1939): Although primarily known as the founder of psychoanalysis, Freud’s contributions significantly shaped the field of psychology. As one of the “fathers” of “western psychology“, he developed theories about the unconscious mind, psychosexual development, defense mechanisms, and the structure of personality. Freud’s work revolutionized the understanding of human behavior and laid the foundation for psychodynamic psychology.
  • Wallace Wattles (1860-1911) – Best known for his book “The Science of Getting Rich,” Wattles’ writings emphasize the power of the mind and positive thinking. New Thought.
  • Shabbatai Tzvi (1864–1908): A descendant of Sabbatai Zevi, who revived interest in his ancestor’s messianic claims, though his movement did not achieve widespread success.
  • Yahya Muhammad Hamid ed-Din (1869–1967 CE): A Sudanese religious leader who founded the Mahdiyya movement, which sought to establish an Islamic state based on strict adherence to Sharia law. He claimed to be the Mahdi, a messianic figure in Islam.
  • Florence Scovel Shinn (1871-1940) – A popular New Thought author, Shinn’s books, including “The Game of Life and How to Play It,” emphasize the role of affirmations and positive thinking in manifesting desires.
  • Carl Jung (1875-1961) A significant figure in the history of psychology, not typically grouped with the “fathers” of Western psychology in the same way as Wilhelm Wundt, William James, Sigmund Freud, John B. Watson, and Ivan Pavlov. However, Jung’s contributions to psychology are highly regarded, particularly in the development of psychoanalytic theory and depth psychology. Jung was initially a close associate of Sigmund Freud and played a key role in the early development of psychoanalysis. However, he later diverged from Freud’s theories and developed his own distinct approach, which he termed analytical psychology. Jung introduced concepts such as the collective unconscious, archetypes, individuation, and psychological types (introversion and extraversion). While Jung’s work has had a profound influence on psychology, particularly in areas such as personality theory, dream analysis, and the study of mythology and symbolism, his approach differs significantly from those of the traditional “fathers” of psychology. Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, explored pantheistic themes in his psychological theories and writings. He conceptualized the collective unconscious as a reservoir of archetypal symbols and images shared by humanity, reflecting a transcendent and universal dimension of existence
  • Father Divine (c. 1876–1965 CE): An African American spiritual leader who founded the International Peace Mission movement, which preached racial integration, economic equality, and the divinity of Father Divine himself. He was believed by his followers to be God incarnate and the messiah. He proclaimed himself to be God incarnate and the messiah, and his movement attracted a significant following, particularly among African Americans. Father Divine preached a message of racial equality, communal living, and the establishment of a divine kingdom on earth.
  • John B. Watson (1878-1958): A pioneering figure in behaviorism, Watson advocated for the study of observable behavior rather than subjective mental processes. He famously declared, “Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in, and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select.” This statement encapsulates his belief in the importance of environmental influences on behavior. He is considered to be one of the “fathers” of “western psychology
  • Matayoshi Jesus (1881–1944 CE): A Japanese religious leader who founded the Church of World Messianity, which blended elements of Christianity, Buddhism, and Shintoism. Matayoshi claimed to be the Messiah and taught that humanity was entering a new age of spiritual enlightenment.
  • Mitsuo Matayoshi (1882–1944 CE): Mitsuo Matayoshi was a Japanese religious leader who founded the Church of World Messianity in 1935. He claimed to be the Messiah and taught a syncretic blend of Christianity, Buddhism, and Shintoism. Matayoshi emphasized the importance of spiritual enlightenment and the attainment of inner peace. As the founder of the Church of World Messianity, he did claim to be the Messiah and believed that he was the spiritual leader destined to bring salvation to humanity. Matayoshi taught a syncretic blend of Christianity, Buddhism, and Shintoism, emphasizing the attainment of spiritual enlightenment and inner peace. While he may not have explicitly claimed to be a reincarnation of Jesus Christ, his followers regarded him as a messianic figure with the capacity to lead them to spiritual fulfillment.
  • Napoleon Hill (1883-1970) – Hill’s popular book “Think and Grow Rich” shares many principles with New Thought philosophy, particularly regarding the power of the mind.
  • Ernest Holmes (1887-1960) – Founder of the Science of Mind movement, Holmes’ teachings blend New Thought principles with elements of psychology and philosophy.
  • Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889 – 1951)
  • Meher Baba (1894–1969 CE): Meher Baba was an Indian spiritual master who claimed to be an Avatar, a divine incarnation, and the spiritual successor of Jesus, Muhammad, and other religious figures. He advocated for silence as a spiritual practice and emphasized the importance of love, compassion, and self-realization in achieving spiritual enlightenment.  While he did not explicitly claim to be a messiah, his followers often regard him as embodying that role or spiritual significance.
  • Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902–1994 CE): The seventh leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement, some of his followers believed him to be the Messiah, although this was not an official position of the movement.
  • Ruhollah Khomeini (1902–1989 CE): The Iranian Shia cleric who led the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and established the Islamic Republic of Iran. Khomeini was seen by many of his followers as a messianic figure who would bring about justice and the rule of Islamic law.
  • The Scofield Reference Bible. (1909) It was first published in 1909 by Cyrus I. Scofield, an American theologian and minister. A widely influential study Bible that incorporates dispensationalist theology, heavily influenced by the teachings of John Nelson Darby, into its footnotes and commentary. Cyrus Scofield was deeply influenced by Darby’s teachings on dispensationalism, particularly the idea of dividing biblical history into distinct periods or “dispensations” and the belief in the pre-tribulation rapture of the church. The goal of this bible was to provide a study tool that would direct the reader into interpreting the Bible from a dispensationalist perspective. This ‘Bible’ included footnotes and commentary that explained or interpreted key theological concepts in the dispensationalist framework, and provided interpretations of biblical passages in light of this dispensationalist system. These annotations helped popularize dispensationalism and contributed to its widespread acceptance within evangelical and fundamentalist Christian circles particularly in the United States. Its widespread distribution and accessibility made dispensationalist ideas more accessible to a broader audience, influencing the beliefs of countless Christians. The Scofield Reference Bible became a standard reference work in many evangelical churches and seminaries, shaping the theological perspectives of pastors, scholars, and laypeople. Its influence contributed to the growth of evangelicalism as a theological and cultural force in the 20th century. Scofield’s interpretation of biblical prophecy, including his emphasis on the pre-tribulation rapture and premillennialism, became deeply ingrained in many strands of evangelical eschatology. These views continue to shape the beliefs of millions of Christians regarding the end times. The Scofield Reference Bible helped establish dispensationalism as a prominent feature of American religious culture, influencing not only theology but also popular literature, music, and media. This played a significant role in Christians in America adopting Zionist ideologies and a desire to enable the manifestation, or fulfilment, of prophecies of rapture and apocalyptic end of the world scenarios including the emergence of the anti-christ, and eventually Jesus returning.
  • WW1 – Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand (1914): On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary was assassinated in Sarajevo by Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb nationalist. This event triggered a chain reaction of alliances and ultimatums, ultimately leading to the outbreak of World War I.
  • WW1 – Battle of the Somme (1916): Fought between July 1 and November 18, 1916, on the Western Front, the Battle of the Somme was one of the largest battles of World War I. It resulted in massive casualties for both the Allies and the Central Powers, with over a million men wounded or killed.
  • Alan Watts (1915–1973) A British philosopher, writer, and interpreter of Eastern philosophy, popularized pantheistic ideas in his works on comparative religion and spirituality. He emphasized the interconnectedness of all things and the unity of the self with the cosmos, drawing on both Eastern and Western mystical traditions.
  • WW1 – Second Battle of Ypres (1915): This battle, fought from April 22 to May 25, 1915, marked the first large-scale use of poison gas on the Western Front by the German army. It was a significant moment in the war and led to the development of gas warfare tactics.
  • WW1 – Russian Revolution (1917): The Russian Revolution of 1917 resulted in the overthrow of the Tsarist autocracy and the establishment of the Russian Provisional Government, followed by the Bolshevik seizure of power in October (November in the Gregorian calendar). This event had profound implications for the war, as Russia withdrew from the conflict following the Bolshevik rise to power.
  • Ahn Sahng-hong (1918–1985 CE): Ahn Sahng-hong was a Korean religious leader who founded the World Mission Society Church of God in South Korea in 1964. He claimed to be the Second Coming of Christ and emphasized the observance of the Sabbath and the Passover. His followers believe that he fulfilled biblical prophecies and brought about spiritual renewal.
  • WW1 – Treaty of Versailles (1919): Signed on June 28, 1919, the Treaty of Versailles officially ended World War I. It imposed heavy reparations and territorial losses on Germany and established the League of Nations, an international organization aimed at maintaining peace and resolving disputes between nations.
  • Sun Myung Moon (1920–2012 CE): The founder of the Unification Church, also known as the Moonies, who proclaimed himself as the messiah and the Second Coming of Christ. Moon’s teachings emphasized the importance of family values and the establishment of a unified world under his leadership.  Sun Myung Moon was the founder of the Unification Church, also known as the Moonies. He claimed to be the Messiah and the Second Coming of Christ, with a mission to fulfill Jesus’ unaccomplished goals on earth. Moon taught a theology that emphasized the importance of family values, global unity, and the establishment of a “Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.” The Unification Church gained a significant following worldwide, although Moon’s messianic claims were controversial.
  • The fall of the Ottoman Empire (1922). The fall of the Ottoman Empire occurred during and after World War I. The Ottoman Empire entered World War I on the side of the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, etc.) in November 1914. After several years of fighting and internal unrest, the empire collapsed in the aftermath of the war. The armistice signed on October 30, 1918, effectively marked the end of Ottoman participation in World War I. The final blow to the empire came with the Treaty of Sèvres in 1920, which imposed significant territorial losses and effectively dissolved much of the Ottoman state.
  • Sathya Sai Baba (1926–2011 CE): Sathya Sai Baba was an Indian spiritual leader and guru who claimed to be a reincarnation of the Sai Baba of Shirdi, a revered saint in India. He was believed by his followers to be an avatar of God and a messiah for the modern age. Sathya Sai Baba emphasized the unity of religions, humanitarian service, and spiritual transformation. His devotees credited him with performing miracles and healing the sick, although his claims and practices were controversial and debated.
  • David R. Hawkins (1927 – 2012) David R. Hawkins was a psychiatrist, consciousness researcher, and author known for his work on human consciousness and spirituality. While he may not be as widely recognized in mainstream philosophy circles, his contributions to the understanding of consciousness and human potential are significant within the context of spiritual and personal development literature. Hawkins’ multidisciplinary approach to understanding consciousness drew from a diverse range of sources, blending insights from psychology, spirituality, philosophy, and personal experience. His work reflects an integration of Western and Eastern perspectives, as well as a synthesis of academic knowledge and spiritual wisdom. Some of his notable works include: Power vs. Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior (1995) In this book, Hawkins presents his theory of levels of consciousness, proposing a scale of consciousness ranging from low levels characterized by shame, guilt, and apathy to higher levels associated with love, joy, and enlightenment. He explores how different levels of consciousness influence human behavior and personal growth. The Eye of the I: From Which Nothing Is Hidden (2001) Hawkins delves deeper into his theory of consciousness in this book, discussing concepts such as spiritual evolution, the nature of the ego, and the role of awareness in personal transformation. He offers insights into the process of self-realization and spiritual enlightenment. Transcending the Levels of Consciousness: The Stairway to Enlightenment (2006) In this work, Hawkins expands on his theory of levels of consciousness and provides practical guidance for individuals seeking to transcend ego-based limitations and reach higher states of awareness. He discusses various spiritual practices and their potential impact on consciousness. While Hawkins’ work may not be as rigorously philosophical in the traditional sense, his ideas have influenced many individuals interested in personal and spiritual growth, and his exploration of consciousness offers a unique perspective within the broader conversation on the topic. Therefore, depending on the focus and scope of a discussion on consciousness, Hawkins could certainly be considered among the writers to be included Hawkins acknowledged several influential authors, books, and philosophies that contributed to the development of his ideas. Some of the key influences on his work include: Carl Jung: Hawkins was influenced by the depth psychology of Carl Jung, particularly Jung’s concepts of the collective unconscious, archetypes, and the process of individuation. Jung’s exploration of the psyche and the spiritual dimensions of human experience resonated with Hawkins’ own interests in consciousness and personal growth. Eastern Philosophies and Spiritual Traditions: Hawkins drew inspiration from various Eastern philosophies and spiritual traditions, including Advaita Vedanta, Buddhism, and Taoism. He studied texts such as the Bhagavad Gita, the Tao Te Ching, and the works of Zen masters, finding insights into the nature of consciousness, enlightenment, and spiritual liberation. Mystical and Spiritual Literature: Hawkins explored mystical and spiritual literature from different cultures and time periods, including the writings of mystics such as Meister Eckhart, Rumi, and Ramana Maharshi. These texts provided him with perspectives on the nature of reality, the self, and the spiritual journey. Psychiatric and Psychological Literature: As a psychiatrist, Hawkins was familiar with the theories and research in psychiatry and psychology. He incorporated insights from fields such as psychoanalysis, developmental psychology, and transpersonal psychology into his understanding of human consciousness and behavior. Personal Experiences and Spiritual Practices: Hawkins’ own spiritual experiences and practices also informed his views on consciousness. He engaged in practices such as meditation, prayer, and self-inquiry, which he believed facilitated his own spiritual growth and deepened his understanding of consciousness. Some books by David R. Hawkins M.D. Ph.D Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender – January 15, 2014
    https://www.amazon.com/Letting-David-Hawkins-M-D-Ph-D/dp/1401945015/ Power vs. Force – January 30, 2014 https://www.amazon.com/Power-Force-David-Hawkins-M-D/dp/1401945074/ Transcending the Levels of Consciousness: The Stairway to Enlightenment – March 17, 2015 https://www.amazon.com/Transcending-Levels-Consciousness-Stairway-Enlightenment/dp/1401945058/ The Eye of the I: From Which Nothing Is Hidden – March 15, 2016 https://www.amazon.com/Eye-Which-Nothing-Hidden/dp/140194504X/ I: Reality and Subjectivity – March 3, 2014 https://www.amazon.com/Subjectivity-David-Hawkins-M-D-Ph-D/dp/1401945007/ Discovery of the Presence of God: Devotional Nonduality – February 16, 2021 https://www.amazon.com/Discovery-Presence-God-Devotional-Nonduality/dp/1401944981/ In the World, But Not of It: Transforming Everyday Experience into a Spiritual Path – March 28, 2023 https://www.amazon.com/World-But-Not-Transforming-Experience/dp/1401964982/
  • Jim Jones (1931–1978 CE): Jim Jones was the founder and leader of the Peoples Temple, a religious movement that initially gained prominence in the United States before relocating to Guyana. Jones proclaimed himself to be a messiah and a socialist revolutionary, advocating for racial integration, social justice, and communal living. However, the Peoples Temple became infamous for the tragic events of November 1978, when over 900 members died in a mass murder-suicide in Jonestown, Guyana.
  • Marshall Applewhite (1931–1997 CE): The co-founder of the Heaven’s Gate cult, which believed that an extraterrestrial spacecraft would transport their souls to a higher plane of existence. Applewhite claimed to be the “Chief Administrator” and interpreted biblical prophecies in support of his teachings.  He was an American cult leader who co-founded the Heaven’s Gate religious group in the 1970s. He claimed to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ and convinced his followers that they could achieve salvation by transcending their physical bodies and ascending to a higher level of existence. Marshall Applewhite, along with his co-leader Bonnie Nettles, claimed to be the messiah or representatives of higher beings. While Applewhite did not explicitly claim to be Jesus Christ himself, he and Nettles taught their followers that they were sent by extraterrestrial beings and that they were preparing them for a journey to a higher level of existence. They believed that by following their teachings and undergoing a process of spiritual purification, their followers could attain salvation and ascend to a higher plane of existence.  The group infamously committed mass suicide in 1997.
  • Yisrayl Hawkins (b. 1934 CE): Yisrayl Hawkins is the founder of the House of Yahweh, a religious group based in Texas, USA. He claims to be the “Last Days’ Witness” and the prophesied “Two Witnesses” mentioned in the Book of Revelation. Hawkins teaches a strict adherence to biblical law and prophesies the imminent end of the world. As the founder of the House of Yahweh, he claimed to be the “Last Days’ Witness” and the prophesied “Two Witnesses” mentioned in the Book of Revelation. He did not explicitly claim to be a messiah, his followers believe that he holds a significant prophetic role in the end times and see him as a divine figure with special insights into biblical prophecy and interpretation.
  • WW2 – Invasion of Poland (1939): On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland, marking the beginning of World War II. This event prompted Britain and France to declare war on Germany.
  • WW2 – Battle of the Atlantic (1939-1945): This was the longest continuous military campaign of World War II, primarily between German U-boats and Allied convoys. It was crucial for maintaining the flow of supplies to Britain and the Soviet Union.
  • WW2 – Battle of Britain (1940): This aerial battle between the Royal Air Force (RAF) of Britain and the German Luftwaffe was a crucial turning point in the war, as Britain successfully defended itself against German air raids.
  • WW2 – Pearl Harbor Attack (1941): On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked the United States Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This event led to the United States’ entry into World War II.
  • WW2 – Battle of Stalingrad (1942-1943): This was one of the largest and deadliest battles in history. It was fought between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, resulting in a significant turning point in favor of the Allies.
  • WW2 – Battle of Midway (1942): Fought between the United States and Japan, this naval battle in the Pacific Theater resulted in a decisive victory for the Allies, crippling the Japanese fleet and shifting the balance of power in the Pacific.
  • WW2 – D-Day (1944) On June 6, 1944, Allied forces launched a massive invasion of Normandy, France, known as Operation Overlord. This marked the beginning of the liberation of German-occupied Western Europe.
  • Jon Kabat-Zinn (1944 – present) Jon Kabat-Zinn, a mindfulness teacher and the founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, has explored the intersections of mindfulness, consciousness, and spirituality in his writings and teachings. While Kabat-Zinn’s work primarily focuses on mindfulness and its applications in healthcare and stress reduction, he has touched upon broader philosophical and spiritual questions, including those related to consciousness and the concept of God. Regarding consciousness, Kabat-Zinn emphasizes present moment awareness and the cultivation of mindfulness as a means to deepen our understanding of consciousness. He often speaks about the importance of paying attention to our thoughts, emotions, and sensations as they arise in each moment, thereby becoming more aware of the nature of consciousness itself. Kabat-Zinn suggests that through mindfulness practice, individuals can develop a clearer perception of their own consciousness and its interconnectedness with the world around them. Some books: Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn (2005-01-05) https://www.amazon.com/Wherever-You-There-Kabat-Zinn-2005-01-05/dp/B01JXV830U/r Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment and Your Life – July 1, 2016 by Jon Kabat-Zinn Ph.D. https://www.amazon.com/Mindfulness-Beginners-Reclaiming-Present-Moment/dp/1622036670/ Meditation Is Not What You Think: Mindfulness and Why It Is So Important – May 1, 2018 by Jon Kabat-Zinn PhD https://www.amazon.com/Meditation-Not-What-You-Think/dp/0316411744/ Falling Awake: How to Practice Mindfulness in Everyday Life – August 7, 2018 by Jon Kabat-Zinn PhD https://www.amazon.com/Falling-Awake-Practice-Mindfulness-Everyday/dp/0316411752/ Full Catastrophe Living (Revised Edition): Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness – September 24, 2013 by Jon Kabat-Zinn https://www.amazon.com/Full-Catastrophe-Living-Revised-Illness/dp/0345536932/
  • WW2 – Fall of Berlin (1945): In April and May 1945, Soviet forces captured Berlin, the capital of Nazi Germany, leading to the unconditional surrender of German forces and the end of the war in Europe.
  • WW2 – Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (1945): On August 6 and 9, 1945, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively. These bombings led to Japan’s surrender and the end of World War II in the Pacific.
  • WW2 – Yalta Conference (1945): Held in February 1945, this conference brought together the leaders of the Allied powers (United States, Soviet Union, and Britain) to discuss post-war reorganization, including the division of Germany and the establishment of the United Nations.
  • Claude Vorilhon (1946 CE): Claude Vorilhon, also known as Raël, is a French former race car driver who founded the Raëlian Movement in 1974. He claims to have encountered extraterrestrial beings who revealed to him the true origins of humanity and appointed him as their messenger. Vorilhon teaches a message of peace, free love, and the pursuit of scientific knowledge
  • Eckhart Tolle (1948 – present) Eckhart Tolle is a spiritual teacher and author known for his influential works, including “The Power of Now” and “A New Earth.” His teachings revolve around the concept of presence and consciousness. In “The Power of Now,” Tolle emphasizes the importance of living in the present moment, free from the burden of past regrets and future anxieties. He argues that true happiness and fulfillment can only be found by fully embracing the present and letting go of ego-driven desires. Tolle teaches readers how to achieve this state of presence through mindfulness practices and self-awareness. In “A New Earth,” Tolle explores the idea of transcending ego consciousness and awakening to a higher level of awareness. He discusses the role of ego in causing suffering and conflict both individually and collectively, and proposes a shift towards a more enlightened way of being. Tolle emphasizes the importance of recognizing our interconnectedness with all of life and living in alignment with the natural flow of existence. Tolle’s definition of consciousness revolves around the idea of presence, which he sees as the underlying essence of all life. He describes consciousness as the awareness that exists beyond the mind’s incessant chatter and identifies it as the source of true peace and fulfillment. Tolle’s writings are influenced by a variety of spiritual traditions, including Buddhism, Taoism, and Christian mysticism. He draws from these traditions to present a universal message of awakening and transformation. Additionally, Tolle’s own personal experiences of spiritual awakening and inner transformation greatly inform his teachings and writings. Some books: A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose – January 30, 2008 by Eckhart Tolle https://www.amazon.com/New-Earth-Awakening-Purpose-Selection/dp/0452289963/ – The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment – August 19, 2004 by Eckhart Tolle https://www.amazon.com/Power-Now-Guide-Spiritual-Enlightenment/dp/1577314808/
  • Shoko Asahara (1955–2018 CE): Shoko Asahara, born Chizuo Matsumoto, was the founder of the Aum Shinrikyo religious movement in Japan. Asahara claimed to be the Lamb of God and the final savior of humanity. He prophesied an impending apocalypse and preached a syncretic blend of Buddhist, Hindu, and Christian teachings. Aum Shinrikyo gained notoriety for its involvement in the deadly Tokyo subway sarin gas attack in 1995.
  • Prem Rawat (b. 1957 CE): Prem Rawat, also known as Maharaji, is an Indian spiritual leader who began teaching his message of inner peace and self-discovery at a young age. He emphasizes the practice of meditation and the experience of inner fulfillment as key to living a meaningful life. Rawat travels worldwide to share his teachings with audiences of various backgrounds.
  • David Koresh (1959–1993 CE): David Koresh, born Vernon Wayne Howell, was the leader of the Branch Davidians, a religious sect that splintered from the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Koresh proclaimed himself to be the final prophet and the Lamb of God mentioned in the Book of Revelation. He led the Branch Davidians in a compound near Waco, Texas, where a standoff with federal authorities ensued in 1993, ultimately resulting in a deadly siege and fire.  As the leader of the Branch Davidians, he claimed to be a messianic figure and the final prophet mentioned in the Book of Revelation. Koresh asserted that he had a special mission to fulfill biblical prophecies and that he was the Lamb of God mentioned in the Bible. He also claimed to be the embodiment of the “Seven Seals” and believed that he would lead his followers to salvation. While not explicitly stating that he was a reincarnation of Jesus, Koresh’s teachings and messianic claims drew heavily from Christian eschatology and millenarian beliefs.
  • Vissarion (b. 1961 CE): Vissarion, born Sergey Anatolyevitch Torop, is a Russian mystic who founded the Church of the Last Testament in Siberia in the early 1990s. He claims to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ and preaches a message of ecological sustainability, communal living, and spiritual transformation. Vissarion’s followers regard him as the savior of humanity in the modern age. He claimed to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ and is regarded as a messianic figure by his followers. He founded the Church of the Last Testament in Siberia in the early 1990s and preaches a message of spiritual renewal, ecological sustainability, and communal living.
  • David Shayler (b. 1965 CE): David Shayler is a British former MI5 officer who gained attention in the late 1990s and early 2000s for his claims of being the messiah and the reincarnation of various historical figures, including Jesus Christ. Shayler’s pronouncements and public statements about his messianic identity attracted media coverage and controversy during that time.

Graphics found online which may be helpful. Please: Keep in mind, the people mentioned here are presumed or claimed to have existed at the years shown. We have no proof of they ever existed and they are better looked at as myths and legends likely created at a later time about the good old days or the heroes of the past.

The timeline images above are from https://www.preceden.com/timelines/235395-major-civilizations-and-religions-timeline

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More Recent Works

David Chalmers (1966 – present) The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory (1996) – Chalmers is well-known for his formulation of the “hard problem” of consciousness, which highlights the difficulty in explaining how physical processes in the brain give rise to subjective experiences. He argues that even a complete understanding of the brain’s mechanics may not fully explain consciousness. Chalmers is known for his formulation of the “hard problem of consciousness.” He argues that while the easy problems of consciousness, such as explaining cognitive functions, may be addressed through scientific inquiry, the hard problem—explaining why and how subjective experience arises from physical processes—remains unsolved. Chalmers suggests that consciousness may not be reducible to physical processes and proposes a dualistic approach called “naturalistic dualism,” which explores the possibility of a fundamental role for consciousness in the universe.

Thomas Metzinger (1958 – present) Being No One: The Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity (2003) – Metzinger’s work delves into the nature of selfhood and subjective experience. He proposes a “self-model theory” that suggests consciousness arises from the brain’s construction of a model of itself as a subject. Metzinger explores the implications of this theory for understanding various aspects of consciousness.

Susan Blackmore (1951 – present) Consciousness: An Introduction (2003) – Blackmore provides an overview of various theories of consciousness, including materialist, dualist, and panpsychist perspectives. She explores the implications of these theories for understanding the nature of consciousness and its relationship to the brain.

Jed McKenna (20th century – present) Jed McKenna is a pseudonymous author known for his spiritual and philosophical writings, notably the “Enlightenment Trilogy,” which includes “Spiritual Enlightenment: The Damnedest Thing,” “Spiritually Incorrect Enlightenment,” and “Spiritual Warfare.” In these books, McKenna presents a radical perspective on spiritual awakening and consciousness. McKenna’s work revolves around the exploration of the nature of reality and the self. He challenges traditional spiritual beliefs and practices, advocating for a direct, non-dualistic understanding of enlightenment. He rejects the idea of enlightenment as a blissful state or spiritual achievement, instead emphasizing the dissolution of the ego and the realization of the illusory nature of the self and reality. According to McKenna, true enlightenment involves a profound shift in perception that transcends ordinary understanding. He describes consciousness as the ultimate reality, beyond all concepts and experiences. McKenna’s writings often employ a blunt and confrontational style, aiming to provoke readers into questioning their fundamental assumptions about existence and spirituality. Influences on McKenna’s work include various spiritual traditions, such as Zen Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta, as well as contemporary thinkers like Jiddu Krishnamurti and Ramana Maharshi. He also draws inspiration from philosophical and psychological insights, challenging readers to confront the limitations of their beliefs and conditioning. Some books: Spiritual Enlightenment, the Damnedest Thing: Book One of The Enlightenment Trilogy – October 2, 2011 by Jed McKenna (Author) https://www.amazon.com/Spiritual-Enlightenment-Damnedest-Thing-Trilogy/dp/0980184843/ – Jed McKenna’s Theory of Everything: The Enlightened Perspective (Dreamstate Trilogy) – May 10, 2013 by Jed McKenna (Author) https://www.amazon.com/Jed-McKennas-Theory-Everything-Enlightened/dp/0989175901/

Additional Modern Books

David Parrish Books: DYING TO LIVE: THE END OF FEAR: A Direct Approach To Freedom From Psychological And Emotional Suffering – July 5, 2019 by David Parrish
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1076238661/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o08_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Enlightenment Made Easy: Discovering The Obvious – September 4, 2015 by Dr. David Parrish
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1516893875/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Michael Brown Book: The Presence Process: A Journey Into Present Moment Awareness – June 22, 2010
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1897238460/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Dr. Lawrence Wilson – Books: The Real Self – January 30, 2003
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0962865753/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o06_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

When Evidence & Description are Not Enough

The concept that evidence alone is not sufficient to establish truth or certainty is often referred to as epistemic skepticism or epistemological skepticism.

Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that deals with knowledge: how we acquire it, what it means to “know” something, and how we can be certain about what we claim to know. It explores questions like: What can we know? How do we know what we know? And what makes our beliefs justified or true? and epistemic skepticism raises doubts about our ability to know or be certain about things, often due to concerns about the reliability of evidence or the possibility of deception or illusion.

Here’s a list of notable thinkers who considered this approach to epistemology. These include: Rene Descartes, Plato (ex. allegory of the cave), Michel de Montaigne, Immanuel Kant, Arthur Schopenhauer, David Hume, Friedrich Nietzsche, Pyrrho of Elis, Sextus Empiricus, George Berkeley and Ludwig Wittgenstein

Descartes, a 17th-century philosopher, famously introduced the idea of the “evil demon” in his Meditations on First Philosophy. He suggested that there could be a malicious and powerful entity deceiving us, making us doubt the reliability of our senses and the evidence they provide.

Plato, in his allegory of the cave, found in Book VII of “The Republic,” Plato explores the idea of a reality distorted by shadows and illusions. This allegory serves as a metaphor for the limitations of our perceptions and the possibility of a deeper, more real truth beyond what we perceive with our senses.

Sextus Empiricus is a Greek philosopher who lived in the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE, Sextus Empiricus is another important figure in the skeptical tradition. He articulated the principles of Pyrrhonian skepticism, emphasizing suspension of judgment and the search for mental tranquility through the examination of opposing arguments. Sextus Empiricus is particularly known for his development of Pyrrhonian skepticism.

Pyrrhonian skepticism, named after Pyrrho of Elis but developed further by Sextus Empiricus, emphasizes suspension of judgment (epoché) regarding all beliefs, arguing that it is impossible to determine truth with certainty. Sextus Empiricus outlined a series of modes (tropes) of skepticism, which are skeptical arguments that aim to demonstrate the equal weight of opposing arguments, thereby leading to suspension of judgment. Sextus Empiricus’s work “Outlines of Pyrrhonism” provides a comprehensive overview of Pyrrhonian skepticism, presenting arguments against the possibility of attaining certain knowledge in various areas, including ethics, physics, and logic. He advocated for a state of mental tranquility (ataraxia) achieved through the suspension of judgment, rather than dogmatic adherence to any particular belief system. Sextus Empiricus’s contributions to skepticism have had a significant influence on later philosophers, contributing to ongoing debates about the nature of knowledge and the limits of human understanding.

Pyrrho of Elis was an ancient Greek philosopher, Pyrrho is often credited as one of the earliest proponents of skepticism. He argued that because there are reasons for and against every claim, it is impossible to determine the truth with certainty. Pyrrho advocated for a state of mental tranquility (ataraxia) achieved through suspension of judgment.

Michel de Montaigne was a 16th-century French philosopher, Montaigne is known for his essays, in which he explores various topics, including skepticism. He famously wrote, “Que sais-je?” (“What do I know?”), expressing doubt about the possibility of attaining certain knowledge. Montaigne’s skepticism led him to question dogmatic beliefs and advocate for intellectual humility.

Kant, an 18th-century philosopher, discussed the limitations of human knowledge in his work Critique of Pure Reason. He argued that our understanding is constrained by the structure of our minds, and there may be aspects of reality that are beyond our ability to comprehend or perceive directly.

Hume, an 18th-century Scottish philosopher, is another important figure who explored the limitations of evidence and proof in his philosophical works. While Hume is perhaps best known for his empiricist views and skepticism regarding causation, he also touched upon the theme of the unreliability of sensory evidence. In his work “An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding,” Hume discusses the problem of induction, which challenges the idea that evidence alone can lead to certain knowledge. He argues that our beliefs about the world are based on past experiences and observations, but there is no logical justification for assuming that the future will resemble the past. Therefore, while evidence may support our beliefs to some extent, it cannot provide absolute proof.

Hume’s philosophy emphasizes the role of custom and habit in shaping our beliefs, suggesting that our reliance on evidence is ultimately grounded in psychological tendencies rather than rational certainty. This perspective highlights the inherent limitations of human understanding and the fallibility of relying solely on evidence as a basis for knowledge or proof. His empiricist philosophy led him to challenge traditional notions of causality and induction, highlighting the problem of justifying beliefs based on empirical evidence.

Nietzsche is famous for his 19th century critiques of morality and the concept of truth itself, his ideas also touch upon the theme of the uncertainty of evidence. Nietzsche’s concept of “perspectivism” suggests that all knowledge is inherently subjective and influenced by the perspective from which it is perceived. In his work “Beyond Good and Evil” and other writings, Nietzsche challenges the idea of objective truth and argues that different interpretations of evidence can lead to conflicting conclusions. Moreover, Nietzsche’s notion of the “will to power” suggests that human beings are driven by their desires and instincts, which can distort their perceptions of reality. This perspective implies that evidence alone may not be sufficient to uncover the underlying truth of a situation, as our interpretations are shaped by our subjective motivations and biases.

Nietzsche’s philosophy encourages skepticism towards claims of absolute certainty and emphasizes the importance of critical inquiry and self-awareness in assessing evidence and forming beliefs. In this way, he contributes to the broader philosophical discussion about the reliability of evidence and the nature of proof. He was critical of socialism and its associated ideologies. Nietzsche’s philosophy is complex and nuanced, and it would be inaccurate to categorize him simply as a proponent of any particular political ideology. Nietzsche’s ideas have been interpreted and appropriated by various political movements throughout history, including some socialist and communist thinkers. However, it would be inaccurate to equate Nietzsche’s philosophy with communism or any other specific political ideology. He remains a figure whose ideas continue to be debated and interpreted in diverse ways across different intellectual and political contexts.

Schopenhauer, a 19th-century German philosopher, is best known for his work “The World as Will and Representation.” Schopenhauer argued that reality is fundamentally shaped by the human mind and its perceptions, which are influenced by the will – an irrational, unconscious force that drives human behavior. He suggested that our understanding of the world is filtered through our subjective experiences and desires, leading to a distorted view of reality. In “The World as Will and Representation,” Schopenhauer explores the idea that the world we perceive is not the ultimate reality but rather a representation constructed by our minds. This representation, he argues, is influenced by our individual perspectives and cannot provide us with absolute knowledge or proof of the true nature of reality.

Schopenhauer’s philosophy emphasizes the limitations of human perception and the subjective nature of evidence. He suggests that our understanding of the world is inherently flawed and that we must be cautious in relying solely on evidence to form beliefs or make judgments about reality. Instead, Schopenhauer advocates for introspection and self-awareness as a means of transcending the illusions created by the mind and accessing deeper truths about existence.

Ludwig Wittgenstein: In the 20th century, Wittgenstein, an Austrian-British philosopher, explored the limits of language and the nature of knowledge in his later work. He argued that many philosophical problems arise from misunderstandings of language and that some questions are fundamentally unsolvable.

George Berkeley: Berkeley, an early modern philosopher, proposed the theory of subjective idealism, which suggests that the material world exists only as it is perceived by minds. In his work, Berkeley raised questions about the nature of reality and the reliability of sensory evidence.

Epistemological skepticism questions the reliability of sensory perception and empirical evidence as a basis for certain knowledge. While evidence may support our beliefs to some extent, it cannot provide absolute proof. Negative theology, a theological approach that emphasizes the ineffability and unknowability of God or ultimate reality. Negative theologians argue that human language and concepts are inadequate to fully grasp the nature of the divine, or truth, and therefore, any attempt to define or describe God ultimately falls short. Instead, negative theology seeks to approach the divine through negation, by stating what God is not rather than what God is.

Empirical skepticism and negative theology are similar in their shared skepticism toward human understanding and language when it comes to ultimate reality. Both approaches emphasize the limitations of human knowledge and the inadequacy of human concepts to fully capture the nature of reality. They both suggest that there are aspects of reality or the divine that transcend human comprehension and cannot be grasped through empirical evidence or positive affirmations.

Using Negation

Philosophers often use negation as a tool to approach the concept of God through a method known as the via negativa, or negative theology. This approach involves describing the divine by negating or denying attributes and qualities that are not applicable to it. The same approach is also used to explore the idea of self and for self-inquiry or self-awareness:

Limitations of Human Language and Understanding: Recognizing the inherent limitations of human language and human understanding lead some thinkers into the use of via negativa. When describing or attempting to comprehend an ultimate reality, an ultimate truth, or the divine, human concepts and language are lacking and finite, and may not be adequate.

The Apophatic Approach: This approach, also known as negative theology or via negativa, is a method of understanding the divine, ultimate reality, or truth by describing what it is not, rather than what it is. Since language and human concepts are seen as inadequate to fully capture the essence of the divine or truth, so instead of making positive assertions about it, one speaks in terms of what it is not. By negating the multiplicity and diversity of the phenomenal world, one can glimpse the underlying unity or oneness that remains. For example, instead of saying “God is powerful,” one might say “God is not weak.” Here are other examples: God is not finite, not material, not bound by time or space, and not subject to change.

You could use negation to explore a concept such as love. Instead of defining love in terms of its manifestations or characteristics, they might seek to understand it in its purest, most transcendent form. One might start by negating what love is not: it is not merely the feeling of attachment or desire, it is not limited to specific relationships or circumstances, it is not bound by ego or self-interest. By negating these human constructs and limitations, they aim to move beyond conventional understanding and access a deeper, more universal understanding of love.

In self-inquiry, you could ask yourself what is ultimately true and cannot be possibly a delusion or an inaccurate opinion or construct, explore what aspects you can negate about a human, such as am I the body, am I the cloths I wear, am I my title I have at work, am I the ethnicity or race I have, am I an American, am I the gender, the name I have or that others use, am I the roles I play, and so on. After all that may be negated has been negated, what is it that remains? Who is the awareness which remains?

In Negative Theology, via negativa emphasizes the transcendence of God, highlighting the ineffable and incomprehensible nature of the divine. By negating finite and limited attributes, philosophers aim to point towards the ultimate reality that transcends human comprehension. Using this approach leads to the idea of unity and simplicity of the divine, suggesting that God is beyond multiplicity and complexity. Through negation, layers of conceptualization and abstraction are stripped away to arrive at a more fundamental understanding of the divine unity.

Negation in Epistemological Inquiry: In epistemology, negation can be used as a method of skepticism or critical inquiry to challenge assumptions and beliefs in the pursuit of truth. Philosophers may employ negation to question the reliability of sensory perception, logical reasoning, and conceptual understanding, seeking to uncover deeper truths beyond superficial appearances.

Negation in Dialectical Reasoning: Negation plays a central role in dialectical reasoning, a method of argumentation that involves the systematic exploration of opposing viewpoints or contradictions to arrive at a higher synthesis or resolution. Philosophers use negation to expose logical inconsistencies, paradoxes, or limitations in existing theories, leading to a deeper understanding of truth.

Negation in Existential Inquiry: Existentialist philosophers often use negation as a means of confronting the existential condition of human existence. Through negating external influences, societal norms, and cultural conditioning, individuals engage in a process of self-examination to discover authentic truths about themselves and their place in the world.

Negation in meditative practices: Some philosophical traditions, such as certain branches of Eastern philosophy and mysticism, incorporate meditative practices that involve negating discursive thoughts and mental constructs to access deeper layers of awareness and insight. Through practices like mindfulness and self-inquiry, individuals seek to transcend the egoic self and connect with a more profound sense of truth or self-realization.

The apophatic approach has been utilized by various philosophical and religious traditions throughout history. Some of the notable figures and traditions associated with the apophatic approach include:

  1. Early Christian Mystics: The apophatic approach has a rich tradition within early Christian mysticism. Figures such as Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, a Christian mystic and theologian from the late 5th to early 6th century, wrote extensively on apophatic theology. His works, including “The Mystical Theology” and “The Divine Names,” emphasize the limitations of human language and understanding when attempting to describe God.
  2. Eastern Orthodox Christianity: The Eastern Orthodox tradition has a strong emphasis on apophatic theology, often referred to as the “way of negation” or “negative theology.” This approach is prominent in the works of theologians such as Gregory of Nyssa, Maximus the Confessor, and Gregory Palamas.
  3. Mystical Traditions: Apophatic approaches can also be found in various mystical traditions outside of Christianity. In Islamic mysticism (Sufism), for example, thinkers like Ibn Arabi and al-Ghazali employed similar methods of negation to approach the divine.
  4. Jewish Mysticism: In Jewish mysticism, particularly in the Kabbalistic tradition, there are elements of apophatic theology. The concept of Ein Sof, meaning “without end” or “the Infinite,” reflects the ineffable nature of the divine that transcends human understanding.
  5. Greek Philosophy: Elements of the apophatic approach can also be traced back to ancient Greek philosophy, particularly in the writings of Plato and his notion of the “unspeakable” or “ineffable” Forms.

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Skepticism

“Skepticism” refers to a philosophical position characterized by doubt or questioning of knowledge, beliefs, or claims to truth. Skepticism can manifest in various forms, but it generally involves a critical examination of evidence and arguments before accepting any conclusions.

In ancient philosophy, skepticism was prominently represented by schools such as Pyrrhonism and Academic skepticism. Pyrrhonism, named after the Greek philosopher Pyrrho of Elis (c. 360–c. 270 BCE), advocated for suspension of judgment regarding the truth or falsity of propositions. Pyrrhonists argued that since human perception and reasoning are fallible, it’s impossible to attain certainty about the nature of reality.

Academic skepticism, associated with the Platonic Academy and philosophers like Arcesilaus and Carneades, similarly emphasized the limitations of human knowledge and advocated for the suspension of assent to any particular belief.

Modern skepticism emerged during the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods, with thinkers like René Descartes, who famously doubted everything except his own existence (“Cogito, ergo sum” – “I think, therefore I am“).

Later philosophers such as David Hume and Immanuel Kant further explored skepticism’s implications for epistemology (the theory of knowledge).

Skepticism can lead to discussions about the nature of truth and the existence of a god in several ways including:

  1. Epistemological Doubt: Skepticism challenges traditional sources of knowledge and belief, such as religious doctrine or intuition. By subjecting these beliefs to critical scrutiny, skeptics question whether they can be justified as true knowledge.
  2. Theological Skepticism: Some skeptics specifically target religious claims, questioning the existence of gods or the truth of religious texts. This can lead to discussions about the evidence for and against the existence of a deity and the rationality of religious faith.
  3. Philosophical Inquiry: Skepticism encourages philosophical inquiry into the nature of reality, truth, and belief systems. Through this inquiry, thinkers may explore concepts such as metaphysics, ethics, and the philosophy of religion, which can include discussions about the existence or nature of a divine being.
  4. Pragmatic Skepticism: Skepticism can also lead to a pragmatic approach to truth, where beliefs are evaluated based on their practical consequences rather than their absolute truth. This approach may lead to discussions about the usefulness or harm of religious beliefs and practices.

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Definitions

Was the Talmud a Canonization?

While the terms “canonization” or “canon” (the process determining which writings or individuals are considered as sacred and divinely inspired gaining the status of being authoritative, or normative for the faith community.) are not typically applied to the Talmud or Torah in the same way as they are to the Christian Bible, the process of compiling these texts involved the selection and preservation of authoritative teachings and interpretations within their respective religious traditions.

The Talmud is a compilation of rabbinic teachings, discussions, and interpretations of Jewish law and tradition. It consists of two main components: the Mishnah, which is a written compilation of oral teachings attributed to Jewish sages, and the Gemara, which is a commentary and analysis of the Mishnah along with additional rabbinic discussions and interpretations. The Talmud was compiled over several centuries by multiple generations of rabbis and scholars.

In contrast, the process of canonization of the Christian Bible involved selecting and officially recognizing certain writings as authoritative scripture for the Christian faith. This process occurred over several centuries and involved debates, deliberations, and decisions made by early Christian leaders and councils.

While both the compilation of the Talmud and the canonization of the Christian Bible involved the gathering and organization of religious texts, the motivations, methods, and outcomes differed:

  • Authority: In Judaism, the authority of the Talmud stems from its status as a repository of rabbinic teachings and legal interpretations that guide Jewish practice and belief. The Talmud was not formally “canonized” in the same sense as the Christian Bible; rather, its authority is derived from its acceptance by the rabbinic community over time.
  • Scope: The Talmud encompasses a wide range of topics beyond matters of faith, including civil law, ethics, theology, and folklore. In contrast, the Christian Bible primarily focuses on theological and spiritual teachings, though it also includes historical narratives, poetry, and prophecy.
  • Process: The compilation of the Talmud involved an ongoing process of discussion, debate, and interpretation among rabbinic scholars over many generations. The Christian canonization process involved more formal deliberations and decisions made by ecclesiastical authorities, often in response to theological controversies and the need for doctrinal unity.

It is important to note that the Tanakh was canonized.  Here’s more:

The Jewish Tanakh (claimed 400 BC): The Tanakh is the Hebrew Bible, consisting of three main sections: the Torah, the Nevi’im (Prophets), and the Ketuvim (Writings). It’s the same content as the Old Testament but arranged in a different order. The progression of this book is claimed to be as follows: Pentateuch by Moses -> Septuagint claimed translation -> Tanakh (then the Old testament) -> Torah -> Talmud. The final editing and redaction of the Torah likely occurred over a long period. The Prophets and Writings sections were compiled and edited over several centuries as well. The Prophets section includes historical books (e.g., Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings) and prophetic works (e.g., Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel), while the Writings section contains various poetic and wisdom literature (e.g., Psalms, Proverbs, Job). The process of canonization, in which certain texts were recognized as authoritative and included in the Tanakh, continued into the Hellenistic and early Roman periods. The Jewish community gradually reached a consensus on the books that should be included in the Hebrew Bible, though variations existed among different Jewish groups. By around the 2nd century CE, the Jewish canon was largely settled, with the Tanakh consisting of the books that are recognized today. This process of canonization was influenced by factors such as religious beliefs, historical circumstances, and the authority of certain texts within the Jewish community.

The historic progression of this book is claimed to be as follows:
Pentateuch (claimed) by Moses -> Septuagint (claimed) translation -> Tanakh (then the Christian old testament)   -> Torah -> Talmud.

The books of the Tanakh are arranged differently from those of the Old Testament. For example, the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles are divided into two parts each in the Tanakh but are single books in the Old Testament

The Tanakh encompasses the Jewish scriptures, including the Torah.  The Talmud is a later compilation of rabbinic teachings and discussions that serve as a comprehensive guide to Jewish law, ethics, and tradition.  The Torah, as a subset of the Tanakh, contains the foundational teachings and laws of Judaism, while the Talmud provides detailed interpretations and discussions of those teachings, along with additional legal and ethical considerations.

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Epistemology – The study of knowledge

Metaphysics – The study of reality. Meta (μετά): In ancient Greek, “meta” means “beyond” or “after.” It is often used to denote something that is transcendent, abstract, or beyond the physical world. Physika (φυσικά): “Physika” is derived from the Greek word “physis,” meaning “nature” or “the natural world.” It is associated with the study of the natural sciences and the physical world.

Dialectics – The term “dialectic” comes from the Greek word “dialektikē,” which means “conversation” or “discussion.”

Dialectic in Philosophy: In philosophy, dialectic is often associated with the Socratic method, which involves a process of questioning and dialogue aimed at eliciting deeper insights and understanding. Socrates engaged in dialectical exchanges with his interlocutors to challenge their beliefs, expose contradictions, and stimulate critical thinking. Plato further developed the concept of dialectic in his dialogues, where characters engage in dialectical inquiry to explore philosophical questions and arrive at reasoned conclusions. Plato’s dialectic typically involves a process of question-and-answer, refutation, and synthesis, leading to the development of philosophical concepts and theories.

Dialectical Inquiry: Dialectical inquiry refers to the systematic application of dialectical methods to investigate and analyze a particular subject or problem. It involves engaging in a dialogue or debate with oneself or others to examine different perspectives, evaluate arguments, and arrive at a more comprehensive understanding of the issue at hand. Dialectical inquiry often involves the following steps: Thesis: Presenting an initial proposition or argument. Antithesis: Introducing a counterargument or alternative viewpoint that challenges the thesis. Synthesis: Seeking to reconcile the thesis and antithesis by identifying common ground, resolving contradictions, or arriving at a new perspective that integrates both viewpoints.

Dialectic in psychology – Dialectics in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): In DBT, dialectics refer to the synthesis of seemingly opposing concepts or perspectives to promote balance, acceptance, and change. It involves holding two seemingly contradictory truths or perspectives at the same time without necessarily resolving the tension between them. The central dialectic in DBT is the balance between acceptance and change. Clients are encouraged to accept themselves and their current experiences while also working toward positive change and growth. Other dialectics in DBT include the balance between validation and change, between the primary goal of acceptance and the secondary goal of change, and between the idea that individuals are doing their best and the idea that they need to do better. Application in Therapy: In DBT, therapists use dialectics to help clients resolve cognitive and emotional conflicts, develop flexibility in thinking, and achieve greater emotional regulation. By recognizing and accepting the tension between opposing viewpoints or feelings, clients can move toward synthesis and resolution. Therapists employ dialectical strategies such as validation, dialectical strategies, problem-solving, and dialectical thinking to help clients navigate challenging situations, manage emotional distress, and develop more adaptive coping skills. Integration of Mindfulness: Mindfulness is a core component of DBT and is integrated with dialectics to help individuals become more aware of their thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations without judgment. Mindfulness practices encourage clients to observe and accept their experiences in the present moment, even when they are difficult or uncomfortable. By cultivating mindfulness skills, clients can develop a more balanced and flexible approach to managing their emotions and relationships, thus enhancing their overall well-being.

Rationalism: Rationalism is a philosophical stance or approach emphasizing the role of reason and logical deduction as the primary sources of knowledge and justification. It holds that truths can be discovered through a process of rational inquiry, independent of sensory experience or empirical evidence. Rationalists often assert that certain truths are innate or inherently knowable through the exercise of reason alone, contrasting with empiricism, which emphasizes the importance of sensory experience and observation in gaining knowledge. Rationalist thinkers include philosophers such as René Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.

Empiricism: Empiricism is a philosophical position that emphasizes the role of sensory experience and observation as the primary sources of knowledge and justification. Empiricists hold that knowledge about the world is derived from direct sensory experience, experimentation, and observation of the natural world. They typically argue that human beings are born as blank slates (tabula rasa) and that all knowledge comes from experience, either through the senses or through introspection. Unlike rationalism, which prioritizes reason and logical deduction, empiricism asserts that all concepts and ideas ultimately derive from sensory experiences. Prominent empiricist philosophers include John Locke, George Berkeley, and David Hume.

Skepticism: See above

Subject vs. Object:

  • subject is a being that exercises agency, undergoes conscious experiences, and is situated in relation to other things that exist outside itself; thus, a subject is any individual, person, or observer
  • An object is any of the things observed or experienced by a subject, which may even include other beings (thus, from their own points of view: other subjects)
  • The formal separation between subject and object in the Western world corresponds to the dualistic framework, in the early modern philosophy of René Descartes, between thought and extension (in common language, mind and matter). Descartes believed that thought (subjectivity) was the essence of the mind, and that extension (the occupation of space) was the essence of matter

Subjective vs. Objective:

  • Subjective: Something is subjective when it is influenced by personal opinions, feelings, or interpretations. It pertains to individual experiences or viewpoints that may vary from person to person. Subjectivity is inherently biased and is often influenced by factors such as emotions, beliefs, and personal experiences. The observer’s perspective is crucial in subjective analysis. In subjective viewpoints, the observer’s personal opinions, emotions, and interpretations heavily influence their understanding of a situation or phenomenon. Subjective observations are inherently biased, as they are colored by the observer’s unique perceptions and experiences.
  • Objective: Objective refers to something that is independent of individual opinions, biases, or interpretations. It is based on factual evidence, observable phenomena, or universal principles. Objective viewpoints strive to be impartial and unbiased, focusing on verifiable facts and logical reasoning rather than personal feelings or opinions. In objective analysis, the observer aims to minimize personal biases and interpretations. Instead, the focus is on empirical evidence, facts, and logical reasoning that can be independently verified. The observer’s role in objective analysis is to gather data systematically, apply analytical frameworks, and draw conclusions based on the evidence, rather than personal beliefs or feelings.

Here are a few philosophical perspectives that emphasize subjectivity:

  1. Existentialism: Existentialist philosophers like Jean-Paul Sartre and Friedrich Nietzsche emphasize the subjective nature of human existence. They argue that individuals must create their own meaning and values in a world devoid of inherent meaning or purpose.
  2. Postmodernism: Postmodernist philosophers reject the idea of objective truth and view knowledge as contingent upon language, power structures, and social contexts. Thinkers like Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida argue that truth claims are shaped by societal norms and individual perspectives.
  3. Relativism: Relativist perspectives suggest that truth and morality are relative to individual beliefs, cultural norms, or historical contexts. Cultural relativism, for example, holds that moral principles are culturally determined and vary from one society to another.
  4. Pragmatism: Pragmatist philosophers such as William James and John Dewey emphasize the practical consequences and utility of beliefs rather than their correspondence to objective reality. From a pragmatist perspective, truth is what works or is useful within a particular context, making it inherently subjective.
  5. Constructivism: Constructivist theories, particularly in social sciences and education, argue that knowledge is constructed by individuals based on their experiences, interactions, and interpretations of reality. Constructivism suggests that knowledge is subjective because it is shaped by personal perspectives and mental constructs.

Descartes lived in a period when the notion of objective truth was deeply ingrained in philosophical thinking. While later philosophical movements, such as existentialism, pragmatism, and postmodernism, challenged the idea of objective truth and emphasized subjectivity or relativism to varying degrees. Descartes’ own philosophy was more focused on establishing objective knowledge through reason and doubt. His primary aim was to establish a foundation for certain knowledge through reason and doubt, though he acknowledged the limitations of human understanding and the potential for subjectivity.

Descartes recognized that sensory perceptions can be deceptive and that individuals may hold subjective beliefs, he did not conclude that most things are relative, though. Instead, he aimed to identify objective truths that could withstand doubt and skepticism. His statement “Cogito, ergo sum” (“I think, therefore I am”) expresses his realization that the act of thinking is undeniable and serves as the foundation for knowledge. From this starting point, Descartes attempted to build up a system of knowledge based on deductive reasoning and clear and distinct ideas.

In Descartes’ philosophical framework, certain truths, such as the existence of the thinking self are non-deniable. Descartes acknowledged the limitations of human understanding and the potential for subjectivity in certain areas, his philosophical project was primarily concerned with establishing objective knowledge through reason.

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Objective negation is a rhetorical strategy used to argue against a position or idea by presenting evidence or arguments that directly oppose it. Unlike subjective negation, which involves expressing personal disagreement or disapproval, objective negation focuses on providing logical reasons or evidence to undermine the validity of a claim or argument.

This technique is commonly employed in debates, persuasive writing, and critical analysis to challenge assertions and offer alternative perspectives. By systematically dismantling the arguments of the opposing side, proponents of objective negation seek to persuade audiences of the flaws in the opposing viewpoint and the superiority of their own position.

Apophasis (/əˈpɒfəsɪs/; from Ancient Greek ἀπόφασις (apóphasis), from ἀπόφημι (apóphemi) ‘to say no’) is a rhetorical device wherein the speaker or writer brings up a subject by either denying it, or denying that it should be brought up. The device is also called paralipsis (παράλειψις) – also spelled paraleipsis or paralepsis – or occupatio or occultatio, and known also as praeteritiopreterition, or parasiopesis (παρασιώπησις). As a rhetorical device, apophasis can serve several purposes. For example, It can be employed to raise an ad hominem or otherwise controversial attack while disclaiming responsibility for it, as in, “I refuse to discuss the rumor that my opponent is a drunk.” This can make it a favored tactic in politics. Apophasis can be used passive-aggressively, as in, “I forgive you for your jealousy, so I won’t even mention what a betrayal it was.” In Cicero’s “Pro Caelio” speech, he says to a prosecutor, “Obliviscor iam iniurias tuas, Clodia, depono memoriam doloris mei” (“I now forget your wrongs, Clodia, I set aside the memory of my pain [that you caused].”) Apophasis can be used to discuss a taboo subject, as in, “We are all fully loyal to the emperor, so we wouldn’t dare to claim that his new clothes are a transparent hoax.” In philosophy it is called Apophatic theology. (source: wikipedia)

Apophatic theology also known as negative theology, is a form of theological thinking and religious practice which attempts to approach God, the Divine, by negation, to speak only in terms of what may not be said about the perfect goodness that is God. It forms a pair together with cataphatic theology, which approaches God or the Divine by affirmations or positive statements about what God is. (source: wikipedia)

Ad hominem: Ad hominem is a Latin term that translates to “to the person” in English. In logic and rhetoric, an ad hominem argument is a fallacious reasoning tactic where someone attacks the character, personal traits, or circumstances of an individual making an argument rather than addressing the substance of the argument itself. Instead of engaging with the merits of the argument, an ad hominem attack seeks to discredit the person making the argument in an attempt to undermine their position. There are various forms of ad hominem fallacies: 1- Abusive ad hominem: This occurs when someone attacks the character or traits of the person making the argument rather than addressing the argument itself. For example, dismissing someone’s viewpoint because they are perceived as unintelligent or immoral. 2- Circumstantial ad hominem: In this case, instead of attacking the individual directly, the attacker focuses on the circumstances or affiliations of the person making the argument. For instance, rejecting a claim because the person making it stands to benefit personally, regardless of the validity of their argument. 3- Tu quoque (you too) ad hominem: This occurs when someone dismisses an argument by pointing out hypocrisy or inconsistency in the person making the argument. For example, if someone argues against smoking but is then observed smoking themselves, their argument may be dismissed solely based on their behavior. 4- Guilt by association: This form of ad hominem involves discrediting an argument based on the perceived negative associations of the person making it, rather than the merits of the argument itself. For instance, rejecting a proposal solely because it is endorsed by a disliked political figure.
Examples:
“How can we trust John’s opinion on politics? He’s just a wealthy businessman who only cares about his own profits.”
“Don’t believe anything Sarah says about education reform. She’s just a naive college student who doesn’t understand the real world.”
“The politician’s proposal for healthcare reform is ridiculous! He’s been involved in several scandals; we can’t trust anything he says.”
“Why should we take advice from Tom about relationships? He’s been divorced three times; obviously, he doesn’t know how to maintain a healthy marriage.”
“Why should we consider Jane’s viewpoint on gun control? She’s a member of that radical activist group; her opinion is biased and unreliable.”
“I don’t need to listen to Peter’s argument against vaccinations. He’s not even a doctor; he has no authority to speak on medical matters.”

Occam’s razor: In philosophy, Occam’s razor (also spelled Ockham’s razor or Ocham’s razor; Latin: novacula Occami) is the problem-solving principle that recommends searching for explanations constructed with the smallest possible set of elements. It is also known as the principle of parsimony or the law of parsimony (Latin: lex parsimoniae). Attributed to William of Ockham, a 14th-century English philosopher and theologian, it is frequently cited as Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem, which translates as “Entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity”, although Occam never used these exact words. Popularly, the principle is sometimes paraphrased as “The simplest explanation is usually the best one.” This philosophical razor advocates that when presented with competing hypotheses about the same prediction and both theories have equal explanatory power one should prefer the hypothesis that requires the fewest assumptions and that this is not meant to be a way of choosing between hypotheses that make different predictions. Similarly, in science, Occam’s razor is used as an abductive heuristic in the development of theoretical models rather than as a rigorous arbiter between candidate models (from wikipedia).

Logical fallacy. An argument that can be disproven through reasoning. This is different from a subjective argument or one that can be disproven with facts; for a position to be a logical fallacy, it must be logically flawed or deceptive in some way Find a comprehensive list here http://www.ethanewise.com/master-list-of-logical-fallacies/

Canonization: refers to the process by which religious or cultural authorities establish a set of texts, beliefs, or practices as authoritative and binding within a particular religious tradition or community. In the context of religious texts, canonization involves the recognition and acceptance of certain writings as sacred and divinely inspired, thereby granting them a special status as the authoritative scriptures of a given faith.

Polytheism: This belief system involves the worship of multiple deities, each with distinct powers, roles, and domains. Examples include ancient Greek, Roman, Norse, and Hindu mythologies. In polytheistic systems, gods often represent various aspects of life, nature, or human emotions. Worshipers might choose to venerate specific deities based on personal needs or circumstances.

Henotheism: Henotheism acknowledges multiple gods but chooses to focus on or worship a single deity as supreme or primary. While recognizing the existence of other gods, henotheism prioritizes devotion to one particular god above others. Ancient Egyptian religion sometimes exhibited henotheistic tendencies, particularly when different cities or regions emphasized the worship of their local deity as supreme.

Monolatrism or monolatry: Similar to henotheism, monolatrism involves the recognition of multiple gods but the worship or devotion to only one as supreme. “the worship of one god without denial of the existence of other gods.”

Kathenotheism: This concept involves the worship of one god at a time, shifting focus or allegiance from one deity to another without denying the existence of others. 

Pantheons: Find more info here https://docs.google.com/document/d/1HQDP9IVgX1onc3yTOHm69G2j_4-P-tiKYoe_rJljiBc/ in this Google Doc on Pantheons. Notice the mention of El in the Canaanite civilization.

El: The head of the Canaanite people. From El, we see derived words such: Elohim, Elah, Allah

Elohim – This name, despite being in plural form, means “God” in Hebrew, is one of the earliest names used in the Bible and is found in the creation story in Genesis. It was used around 2000-1500 BCE.

Yahweh (YHWH) – This is one of the most significant names of God in the Hebrew Bible. It’s the name revealed to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus and became central to Israelite religion. Its usage became prominent around 1500-1200 BCE
Biblically, the name Yahweh was revealed to Moses in the book of Exodus, particularly in Exodus 3:14-15, where God speaks to Moses from the burning bush.  More on this below. The shortened forms “Yeho-“, “Yahu-” and “Yo-” appear in personal names and in phrases such as “Hallelujah!”.  More on this later in this paper.

El Shaddai – This name means “God Almighty” or “God of the Mountain” and is found in Genesis. It likely predates the revelation of the name Yahweh and was used around 2000-1500 BCE.

Adonai – Meaning “Lord” or “Master,” this name was used as a substitute for the sacred name Yahweh, reflecting reverence and respect. Its use became more common around the time of the Babylonian exile, around 586-538 BCE.

Learn more about the The origins of El and Yahweh in this Google Doc https://docs.google.com/document/d/1c74szh2h_07qKBAfhTAhcvRqKmPPwO12Ta7y2ReFU4o/

Monotheism: Insists on the existence of a single, all-powerful deity,  emphasizing the oneness and omnipotence of God.    One can clearly find these concepts, as explained earlier, in the Zoroaserian Ahura Mazda, the Hindu Upanishads’ Brahman, the Egyptian Akhenaten’s sun disc Aten and in the works of Greek philosophers, later on appearing in the Pentateuch.  In monotheism it is likely that a demand or expectation is made to negate the existence of other deities rather than accept them as lesser deities or deities of other people. 

Deism: Belief in the existence of a God on the evidence of reason and nature only, with rejection of supernatural revelation (distinguished from theism)  Belief in a God who created the world but has since remained indifferent to it. Belief in the existence of a supreme being, specifically of a creator who does not intervene in the universe. The term is used chiefly of an intellectual movement of the 17th and 18th centuries that accepted the existence of a creator on the basis of reason but rejected belief in a supernatural deity who interacts with humankind Deism holds that a god must exist, based on the evidence of reason and nature only, not on supernatural evidence. Some deists believe that a god created the world but is indifferent to it. Theism holds that there is one God who is still actively engaged with the universe in some way.

Pantheism: Pantheism posits that the universe and nature are synonymous with divinity or that everything is part of an all-encompassing, immanent God.  Pantheism attacks both the metaphysically-minded and the scientifically minded.  You could explore these concepts to help you see how people view pantheism : 
Unity and Interconnectedness: Observations in science show the interconnectedness of all things in the universe. From the smallest particles to the largest celestial bodies, there’s a fundamental unity in the cosmos. Pantheism embraces this unity as evidence of a singular, all-encompassing reality. Immanence of the Divine: Pantheism suggests that the divine is inherent in all aspects of existence. This view arises from the recognition that the universe, its laws, and the forces governing it exhibit a remarkable order and coherence, hinting at a unifying principle or consciousness. Many pantheists view nature as sacred, considering it a manifestation of divinity. The awe-inspiring beauty and complexity of the natural world often lead individuals to perceive a higher, divine presence within it. Subjective Experience: Some proponents of pantheism argue that personal experiences of transcendence, unity, and interconnectedness, such as during meditation or profound moments in nature, offer glimpses into the divine unity of all things. Philosophical Reasoning: Philosophical arguments, like Spinoza’s concept of “God or Nature,” propose that the universe’s substance and existence are indivisible, suggesting that the universe itself is divine or embodies divinity. Books: Baruch Spinoza, “Ethics”.  Paul Harrison, “Elements of Pantheism: A Spirituality of Nature and the Universe”.

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These images show a comparison among other definitions.   Don’t let the details big you down.. You do not need to pick one of these.  Humans have a tendency to get into details which can result in complicating things, though the details can be informative. 

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Near Death Experiences (NDEs)

The field of Near Death Experiences (NDEs) offers us a unique view into human Consciousness

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Important note: NDEs share many qualities, and differences. They are a real phenomena, and research does suggest that consciousness does leave the body and has an experience somewhere else, sometimes involving the acquiring of information, and this happens while the brain has no electrical activity. On many occasions people return to a healed body where a chronic disease or a cancer is no longer present. Look into at least 100 of these, look at the similarities and differences, and consider each person’s programming as each experience is unique to each person and is influenced by or caters to their programming.

Another point of nuance to consider, NDEs are specific experiences reported by people who died and came back. We have to be careful before we assume that the same type of experience during an NDE is what occurs to people who die but do not come back. We cannot deduce that a “final” death (leaving the body) presents consciousness with the same experience that an NDE (leaving the body then coming back) presents… But, perhaps it does. I do not know.

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You do not need any isms.

Remove what the ego has created to find what remains.

Simplicity is the seal of truth.

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How to Practice

Ways in which you could use the apophatic approach. Using the apophatic approach involves a shift in perspective and a willingness to explore the limitations of language and conceptual thought when it comes to understanding ultimate reality. Here are some steps to help you engage with the apophatic approach:

  1. Understanding the Limitations of Language and Concepts: Recognize that human language and concepts are inherently limited when it comes to describing the divine or ultimate reality. Words and ideas are constructs of human thought and are bound by the constraints of human experience, human senses, language, and limited by biology, exposure and capacity.
  2. Read Negative Theology: Familiarize yourself with the principles of negative theology or apophatic theology. This includes studying the works of theologians and philosophers who have explored this approach, such as Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, Meister Eckhart, Plotinus and others mentioned in this page.
  3. Practice: Engage in practices that involve negation or the removal of conceptual content. This could include meditation, contemplative prayer, or other forms of introspective practices where you let go of preconceived notions and allow yourself to dwell in a state of unknowingness.
  4. Reflect on What the Divine, or ultimate truth (which cannot be negated) Is Not: Instead of focusing on positive assertions about who you are, what truth, or the divine is, contemplate what it is not. Reflect on attributes commonly associated with the divine (e.g., omnipotence, omniscience) and consider their limitations. For example, instead of saying “God is all-powerful,” you might explore the idea that God transcends the concept of power altogether.
  5. Engage with Paradox: Allow for paradoxical thinking and hold seemingly contradictory ideas in tension. Recognize that the nature of the divine may surpass human comprehension and may involve paradoxes that challenge rational understanding.
  6. Allow for Mystery or Not Knowing: Cultivate an attitude of openness and receptivity to mystery. Accept that there are aspects of reality that may forever elude human understanding, and be willing to embrace the unknown with humility and reverence.
  7. Seek Guidance and Community: Engage in dialogue with others who are also exploring the apophatic approach or seek guidance from those able to help.

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(B)
MEDITATE & OBSERVE

Your options,

The list above can help demonstrate how humans have written trillions of words, and spent lifetimes of thinking and seeking. This is a part of the Human Experience.

You could read thousands of books.

You also can practice going through the process of negation (explained above) and observe what remains. You can use negation personally and observe what remains. You could use ultimate skepticism to find Truth, the thing that cannot be negated or be ruled out using skepticism. You could lose yourself to find yourself. In this manner, you get to practice and experience for yourself.

You could allow someone to tell you what to believe in.

You can practice mindfulness and recognize yourself as the observer.

After that, you continue living, any way you like.

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Practice
Be present
Remain present
Life itself is a practice

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Fun Information About Negation & The American Govt

Negation is not explicitly used as a legal or philosophical principle in the text of the American Constitution itself, however the structure and provisions of the Constitution implicitly limit government authority and protect individual rights by enumerating powers and establishing a system of checks and balances.

The concept of negation can be indirectly inferred in certain provisions of the Constitution, particularly in the Bill of Rights and in the structure of government established by the Constitution itself.

  1. Bill of Rights:
    • The first ten amendments to the United States Constitution, collectively known as the Bill of Rights, outline specific rights and freedoms of individuals that are protected from government infringement. While these amendments primarily focus on affirming rights rather than explicitly negating government powers, some provisions can be seen as implicitly limiting government authority. For example, the First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” which can be interpreted as a negation of Congress’s power to establish or restrict religious practices.
  2. Enumerated Powers:
    • The Constitution outlines the powers granted to the federal government, primarily in Article I, Section 8, which enumerates the specific powers of Congress. By delineating these powers, the Constitution implicitly restricts the authority of the federal government to those expressly granted by the Constitution, thereby implicitly negating powers that are not enumerated.
  3. Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances:
    • The structure of government established by the Constitution incorporates a system of checks and balances among the three branches—legislative, executive, and judicial. Each branch has certain powers and responsibilities that serve to check and limit the powers of the other branches. While not explicit forms of negation, these mechanisms serve to prevent any one branch from exercising unchecked authority.