The Allegory of the Cave- Boyace Van Harlan Jr., PhD

ImageHave you ever heard of “Plato’s Allegory of the Cave”? The Analogy of the Cave, Plato’s Cave or Parable of the Cave is an allegory presented by the Greek philosopher Plato in his work The Republic to illustrate “our nature in its education and want of education” (514a). It is written as a dialogue between Plato’s brother Glaucon and Plato’s mentor Socrates, narrated by the latter at the beginning of Book VII (514a–520a). Perhaps I have over- simplified it, never the less, it is quite interesting.

Plato has Socrates describe a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of a fire behind them, and begin to ascribe forms to these shadows. According to Plato’s Socrates, the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to viewing reality. He then explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall do not make up reality at all, as he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the mere shadows seen by the prisoners. I really believe that the Apostle Paul was way ahead of Plato when he said to the church at Corinth in a letter “that we see through a glass darkly” or “we look not at things which are seen for they are temporal” (subject to change). We (Christians) look to the things that are eternal! Much of what we ‘see’ is illusion. The ‘spirit’ is more real than the ‘natural’.

1 Corinthians 13:12

King James Version (KJV)

12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

2 Corinthians 4:18

King James Version (KJV)

18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Suffering- Boyace Van Harlan Jr., PhD

ImageI have started reading a wonderful book by Don Rosenthal. It is a remarkable journey of self-discovery, a personal journey from dissatisfaction to joyful wholeness. Rosenthal couldn’t escape the emptiness inside…until the day he had a spiritual awakening. The Uncharted Journey transmits this “inner explosion” to others and gently guides readers to find their own path to an examined life.

Listen to a wonderful sentence I read early this morning: “While pain in its purity is an inevitable component of this dualistic life, suffering is the mind’s unnecessary addition, arising only from resistance.” This sentence in Don Rosenthal’s book: The Uncharted Journey: Exploring the Inner Landscape was a large part of my early morning meditation at 5 AM today. I thought about Jesus Christ.  How the garden of Gethsemane represented true suffering. It was not that Christ was in such pain because He did not want to die but rather that his emphasis was rather or not He was in the will of the Father. When He had yielded in saying the phrase ‘not my will but thine be done”, He became our example showing us how that in our humanity we could bear up under even the hardest trial if we could win at the first battleground, our minds. In His divinity He was safe for after all He is the ‘Ancient of Days”, “the Everlasting Now”! World without End! The truth of the matter is that I am made in the image of God and I now understand that my ‘true nature” lies beyond form!

Two New Ways to Meditate- Boyace Van Harlan Jr., PhD

ImageIn March of this year I wrote a post listing what I thought to be the ten best ways to meditate.  Today I discovered two more! In a previous post I also stated that meditation is a wonderful way to tap into the wisdom of God. Joshua, King David and many others used this technique in the Bible as they meditated on God’s Word. Meditation is like a thorough cleansing of the mind of all trash, clamor and disturbance. It allows our minds to be cleaned and refreshed.

Ephesians 5:26

King James Version (KJV)

26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

This is why meditating the word of God is so awesome; we are being cleansed by the Word of God and the very process of meditation!

Ephesians 5:25-27In I John 1:7, the apostle writes that we are cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. But the cleansing found here in Ephesians 5:26 is of a different kind. Hebrews 9:22 says, “Almost all things are purged by blood.” Almost all but not everything is. There are some things that must be purged in another way.Ephesians 5:26 tells us that we are cleansed “with the washing of water by the word.” There are things that will be cleansed—things in our minds, things that deal with conduct, things that have to do with character and attitude—that are cleansed by water. The word “water” here is symbolic, referring to the Word of God, as well as to the Holy Spirit.

With meditation comes a slight shift in our perspective, a detachment if you will, that allows us to get a different point of view! We awaken from our hypnotic lull from a constricted sense of self to a more expanded one!  Repetition brings about unconsciousness. We must wake up!  When we practice detachment but are sure of our choices and intention we discover a new world! Here are the two new ways that I discovered today and I hope that you will try them yourself. YOUR EATING MEDITATION 1. Before you pick up your food, take a couple of deep breaths to allow your body and mind to settle. 2. Look at your food. Think about where it comes from. Try to imagine the different ingredients in their original form and even the types of people who looked after the crops or animals. 3. Without going on a guilt trip, appreciate the fact that you actually have food on your plate. This will bring the feeling of thankfulness that is at the heart of a meaningful mindfulness practice. 4. If you’re going to eat the food with your hands, notice its temperature, colors, and texture as you pick it up. When you move it to your mouth, shift your focus to the aroma and taste. 5. Notice how your mind responds. Do you like what you’re eating? Do you wish it were sweeter, saltier, a little less spicy? Are you comparing it to previous meals? 6. Take a few deep breaths before you finish and leave the table. Remind yourself of how the plate looked when it was full and how it looks now. When you focus on your food, you’re less likely to overeat and consume things that don’t truly nourish you. YOUR SLEEPING MEDITATION    1. Call to mind the first moment of your day. Now, as if your brain has been set to a gentle “fast-forward,” simply watch as you replay the events of your day in order. Take about three minutes to do this. 2. You’ll be tempted to get caught up on one thing in particular. This is normal, but it’s not helpful to get involved in deep thinking at this time of night. 3. Now bring your focus to your body. Mentally scan from head to toe, observing any tension as well as the parts that feel relaxed. Try not to attach thoughts to the sensations—just feel them. 4. Next, place your attention on your left foot and imagine that you’re just switching it off for the night. You can even repeat the word “off” in your mind. Work your way slowly up to your ankle, calf, and thigh, and when you get to your pelvis, pause before starting on your right. 5. Then, continue to “switch off” the rest of your body: Your torso, down through your arms, hands and fingers, and up through the throat, neck, face and head. 6. Chances are you have fallen asleep by this point, but if you haven’t, take a moment to enjoy the sensation of being free of tension. You’re now primed for deep sleep. I believe in meditation one size does not fit all.

Holly C. Corbitt suggests in a recent article that I read that meditation techniques can be paired with personality types. She states: If you’re artsy…light a candle. “Concentrating on a flame can be a good way for visual types to stay in the moment,” says McLean. Sit three feet from a flame at eye level, and watch it closely for five to 10 minutes. Continue to bring your attention back to the flame every time you notice your focus starting to drift away. If you’re a foodie…savor each bite. Focus on a small morsel, such as a raisin, strawberry, or nut, and notice its shape, size, color, texture, and smell. Place it on your tongue, enjoying the flavor and keeping it in your mouth for as long as you can, at least 20 seconds. Chew slowly. “By turning your focus inward and concentrating on sensations such as taste and smell, eating can feel like a new, exciting experience,” says McLean. If you’re athletic…take a hike. Try walking for 10 minutes without the iPod. As you stroll (no rushing!), stare at the ground about three feet in front of you. Notice the sound of your breath, focus on the physical sensation of the air on your skin, observe the texture of the ground in front of you. “Over time, walking meditations can train your brain to better focus on the here and now,” McLean says. If you’re a word lover…find a mantra. Sometimes your mind just needs a place to rest. Repeating calming words can give your mind that opportunity to chill. Find a quiet place and sit with your back straight but not rigid. Set a timer for 10 to 15 minutes, and repeat words that will help settle—rather than stimulate—your mind. Try saying “Let” on an inhale and “go” on an exhale, either out loud or silently to yourself. “It can help interrupt the monologue in your head and naturally settle down your thinking process,” says McLean.

Faith is the Currency in the Kingdom of God- Boyace Van Harlan Jr., PhD

ImageFaith is the Currency in the Kingdom of God- Boyace Van Harlan Jr., PhD

 

 

 

Faith is our currency for whatever we need in the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is God is heaven manifested on earth. We can know what is in the ‘spirit’ world by reading our Bibles. Every good thing that you can possibly imagine is laid up for you in the spirit but only by faith can you access it. I thank God that I am gainfully employed but I go to my job to get seed. God provides all of my need.

Hebrews 4:11

King James Version (KJV)

11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

Our labor is not on our jobs our labor is to learn of God; to become intimate with

Him. To be so acquainted with His ways that we have been transferred from glory to glory and finally into the image of His dear Son. We labor to enter that place of ‘rest’ where we are totally dependant on Him. That place of rest is not a place of leisure it is rather a place of earnest expectation that God will do what He said he would do. It is a place of spiritual warfare.

Ephesians 6:10-12

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

This is why sometimes this life seems so hard. We have an enemy. Not only do we have to fight against our ego we have a real devil and his army to fight. The good news is that the victory has already been won!

Secret Parallel Career- Boyace Van Harlan Jr., PhD

ImageI took a 10 minute break today at work and read a very interesting article about Irving Harper. He has always been one of my favorite industrial designers. While reading I discovered that Mr. Harper had a secret parallel career that he developed over time as a relief from his bread winning career.

Irving Harper, an industrial design genius had crafted a secret parallel career. He alongside another icon of modernist manufacture, George Nelson developed the Marshmallow Sofa- with its 18 circular cushions, still sold and coveted 57 years after its debut. Less well known than Harper’s furniture, and the colored spheres of the Ball Clock he co-conceived, are the byproducts of long nights at his drawing board. To help relax and clear his mind during breaks, he would make intricate paper sculptures. Over the years he ended with 300 animals, abstract shapes, and statues, some of which are over 3’ tall. A new book showcases the best of his paper craft. Image

The book: Irving Harper: Works in Paper

An intimate monograph of the professional and personal creations of a mid-century design legend. Irving Harper is the most famous designer you have never heard of. Working as an associate at the office of George Nelson in the 1950s and ’60s, Harper was responsible for such icons of mid-century design as the Marshmallow sofa, the Ball clock, and numerous Herman Miller textile designs. Harper’s unrecognized contribution to this seminal era of design, and his incredible paper sculptures (made in his spare time to “relieve stress”), are presented for the first time in this book.

All Spiritual Blessings in the Heavenly Places By Boyace Van Harlan Jr., PhD

ImageAll Spiritual Blessings in the Heavenly Places

By Boyace Van Harlan Jr., PhD

 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,” (Ephesians 1:3, NASB).

Let’s take a look at this text in the Greek:

euloghtov o yeov kai pathr tou kuriou hmwn ihsou cristou o euloghsav hmav en pash eulogia pneumatikh en toiv epouranioiv en cristw.

If you circle the three words in the Greek that each begins with the same 5 letters you will find three words that are vital for our understanding of this wonderful text in English the words are: Blessed, blessed, and blessing! First the giver in blessed: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Second the recipient is blessed: who has blessed us! Thirdly the object: with all spiritual blessings! When we see the word ‘all’ it lets us know that God did not bless us with “some” spiritual blessings but all! I don’t know what all means where you are but in Southwest Louisiana all means all! No matter how extravagant or extreme it is all there in ‘heavenly places’. Beloved God has an inexhaustible supply for us! Beloved in the beginning God was doing good things and He still is doing good things! Will you reach out for God’s best in your life?

The Greek word ‘spiritual’ has a wide range of uses from describing the invisible part of man (soul), things relating to the wind, that part of us affected by the Spirit of God or those things that are not of this earth. It probably does not exclusively mean one of these things here, but it is a mixture. This is made clear by the reference from which these blessings can be found, as well as in the general context. We will limit our discussion to the phrase where these blessings can be found ‘in the heavenlies’ or as some versions put it ‘in the heavenly places.’ This word is used five times in Ephesians (1:3, 20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12).

Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
Eph 1:20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,
Eph 2:6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus,
Eph 3:10 in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.
Eph 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

We might want to conclude that ‘in the heavenlies’ is what we know as heaven, but it cannot be. Or if it is, then heaven will need to be first washed clean too. Notice Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Even in the heavenly places, there are evil spiritual forces. We must conclude that this phrase is the same as the spiritual world.

The spiritual world is more ‘real’ than the earthly world. We might think of it as in another dimension. We should not think of the spiritual world as completely separated or removed from our earthly world. At times, such as in Ezekiel 1, man gains the opportunity to gaze into the spiritual world. But usually, he cannot. In fact, so few people know of this world that many scoff and laugh at any such world. Last weekend I watched a movie with my wife on television”Fallen that was based on the book written by Lauren Tate. The movie was a suspense horror thriller starring Denzel Washington that depicted the workings of demons but also considered God as alive and He with angels as a part of this spiritual world.. Man is willing to believe in higher beings in other parts of the universe but not one High Being who made them. He is willing to explore all sorts of unknown things like dark matter, but he is dogmatic there is no spiritual world. Humanists live in blindness because they are not even open to the existence of the spiritual world. They believe many things but not that. It would demand a life change which they are unwilling to put up with. And so would we, if it wasn’t for God’s good grace.

Paul has said “that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15:50). The spiritual world is different. Just because we cannot see this world, it does not mean that it does not exist. God has made it invisible to us, or we have through our sin made ourselves blind to it. Seeing this world is not as important as realizing or knowing that it is there and allowing what is there to sharpen your own perspective of life. This is what we call belief. A confidence in what we cannot see. It relates not only to God, Christ’s work but many other facets of this world such as demons and heaven itself. This is what Paul the Apostle is doing in this book and especially in the first part of Ephesians.

 

Matzo Brei- Boyace Van Harlan Jr., PhD

Matzo Breiflat,135x135,075,t (2)Matzo Brei- Boyace Van Harlan Jr., PhD

 

 

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I usually keep it quite simple with 2 pieces of toast, an occasional egg and cheese omelet, or just toast, peanut butter and black coffee. Today however I discovered a new favorite. As I ate this unique breakfast this morning somehow it triggered a memory of my grandfather Inez Harlan. I always loved how he pronounced the word ‘favorite’. He always would say favorite with a long ‘I’ at the end for emphasis. Well today I have a new favorite. I was having a business meeting with a friend to discuss my desire to take Hebrew lessons at my town’s local synagogue. I will eat anything once; but I did not know what to make of the mess that sat before. Always the proper guest after giving thanks I dove right in. My eyes rolled back, my toes curled up in my shoes and my taste buds burst wide open. Wow! It tasted great! “What was that?”, I asked in about the same way someone would ask, “did you get the license plate of that truck that just hit me?” “It was matzo brei”, she answered. She pronounced brei – bree, but explained that it was pronounced several ways depending on which side of the Mason Dixon line you were on. Whenever I look at matzo bread it reminds me of my beloved Jesus Christ. The slightly burnt, striped, wafer with piercing holes is a beautiful representation of what happened on Calvary and the amazing redemptive work accomplished by my Savior.

For Jews around the world, the mornings after Monday’s Passover Seder mean matzo brei, a fried mix of eggs and the unleavened bread eaten during the holiday.

But the agreement ends there: Like brisket, no two Jewish families make this breakfast dish the same way.

Matzo Brei is made fast, loose and stir-fried, basically scrambled eggs with a few torn shreds of the unleavened bread. Others do it frittata-style, making a pretty, golden-brown pancake you can serve up in a neat little wedge.

My host explained, “You learn your technique from your parents, and rarely do you stray.”  Below please enjoy my friend’s personal recipe; I most certainly will. It is my new favorite!

Ingredients
4 pieces matzo
1/2 cup water
4 eggs
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons kosher for Passover vegetable oil
Directions
In a mixing bowl, break the matzo into 1-inch pieces. Bring the water to a boil and pour over the matzos. Quickly toss the matzo, then drain off any excess. In a bowl, beat the eggs with a fork. Mix the eggs, salt and pepper into the matzo. Over high heat, heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan. Add the matzo and fry until crisp. Flip over to fry the other side, breaking into pieces as it cooks. Serve with Maple syrup, or preserves.