The Joshua Ascension
Part II of the Joshua Book Series
The Inner Journey to the Unseen World
Religions around the world share a desire to make the world a better place. They promote better relations between friends, family members and nations. Sincere believers are troubled by the injustice, poverty and violence that exists in our modern societies.
Joshua ben Joseph taught that enlightened human beings have a natural desire to serve others. He showed that spiritually motivated men and women can transform our world from a place of darkness, war and poverty to one of peace, love and justice for all.
Introduction – Higher Power
2 The Family of God
3 The 7-Fold Path
PROFILE: GUL RUKH
4 Atomic Reality
6 Five Simple Truths
PROFILE: ABBÉ PIERRE
8 A Triple-Braided Cord
PROFILE: NANAK AND MARDANA
PROFILE: NGAWANG SANGDROL
Epilogue – The Next 1000 Years
As I read the birth stories
about [Joshua] I cannot help
but conclude that though
may be tilted
toward the rich and powerful,
God is tilted toward the underdog.
Joshua’s story begins in a far off land curled around the shores of the crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea. It was the year 3573 according to the calendar of a people both wise and foolish in the ways of God and Man. They dated their beginnings from the creation of the Earth when two misguided lovers forsook their sacred calling in favor of the crooked whisperings of a wicked angel. According to their holy books, a great leader was soon to come who would restore them to their former greatness and with great signs and wonders he would crush their enemies and claim the throne of David, their former king.
It was midway through the month of Elul, the time of harvesting and the time of repentance when this ancient tribe, according to tradition, would search their hearts in preparation for the high Holy days that lay ahead. They celebrated the harvest when the barns were full and the scythes and sickles had reaped the fields empty. A priest faithfully blew the shofar every morning at this time while the people drew close to their majestic and compassionate God, seeking his favor by repeating the lines of a psalm that read, “the Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?”
At this time they were ruled by a paranoid tyrant named Herod who strangled his own sons and murdered his wife when threatened by their maneuverings for power. The emperor Augustus remarked that it was better to be Herod’s pig than his son as Herod had embraced the faith of this tribe of Hebrews who claimed favored status with God and also refused to eat pork. Herod was a puppet king appointed by the formidable Roman emperor who assigned him the distasteful task of taxing and subduing his own people.
And tax the people he did – with great energy and enthusiasm he milked the Israelites of their silver and gold and built great monuments and palaces, expanding the great temple in the holy city of Jerusalem to enormous proportions. The Roman emperor had decreed a census to be taken of the whole Israelite nation in order to further the goal of increased taxation. This agitated the Israelites to no end because contained within the pages of their sacred scrolls were restrictions about “numbering the people.”
The census edict decreed that the oldest male of each family had to return to the city of his ancestry to register and this is how it came to pass that a young couple, Joseph and Mary, happened to be journeying to the tiny village of Bethlehem in the last days of the year. Bethlehem, literally House of Bread, was a small village about 20 km south of Jerusalem. The young couple travelled over 100 km from their hometown of Nazareth, a journey of 3 to 4 days on foot.
Mary was in the last days of pregnancy and travelled with her husband because she no doubt feared to be left at home alone at the approaching time of birth. She was highly protective of her unborn child due to a visit by a celestial messenger the year before who told her the boy would be a great spiritual leader inaugurating the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. Mary and Joseph’s people had long prophesized that a great leader would come and liberate them from the yoke of their oppressors. He would through signs and wonders like those used by Moses crush the hated Romans and usher in a new age of Israelite international dominance.
These Hebrews were destined for disappointment, however, because the tiny baby would fulfill none of their nationalistic dreams of political supremacy. He disappointed the hopes of even his closest followers who waited expectantly for him to rise up and destroy the Romans with a display of supernatural power. After all, their holy books described how Moses had rained down plagues, locust, frogs and hail upon the Egyptians who dared to defy the will of God.
The couple arrived in Bethlehem only to discover that the inns were all full, presumably from other weary travelers who also had come to register for the census. Roadside taverns were often carved into the side of the hilly rock and the innkeeper of one of these taverns vacated the stables of its livestock and offered it to Mary and Joseph who were doubtless relieved to have somewhere to rest after their long journey.
And it was fortunate because Mary, well along in her pregnancy, gave birth that very night to a healthy baby boy. They named him Joshua as per the instructions of the angel Gabriel who had informed her of the future mission of her child.
As the legend goes, three Chaldean priests from Ur came seeking the new born babe, having been informed of his birth by the appearance of a very bright star suddenly appearing in the sky which they followed to the stable in Bethlehem. hese Chaldean Magi were stargazers and interpreters of dreams; according to Philo, the esteemed Jewish-Greek philosopher, they were “virtuous and honorable men…who investigated the works of nature.”
On record by modern astronomers is the triple occurrence in that year of a conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in the constellation of Pisces, once in May, once in September and finally in December. According to legend, these stargazers witnessed this great star in the sky and believed it heralded the birth of a great spiritual leader and they came to honor the prophesized son with gifts, believing him to be a child of great promise.
According to Hebrew law, the family of a first-born son was required to pay 5 shekels to the temple priests in order to redeem the boy from the jaws of death. It was the pagan custom at the time of Moses to sacrifice the first-born son to the gods. The mother of a new-born was also required to make a sacrifice to cleanse her from her supposed uncleanness after pregnancy. The couple went to Jerusalem to the temple to make payment of the shekels and the sacrifice of two doves, that being the minimum offering for purification.
Standing in the line with the other parents of first-born children at Jerusalem, Joseph and Mary were shocked when a singer by the name of Simeon sang a song written by the aging poetess Anna who spent most of her time at the temple praying. These two venerable characters had long awaited the Messiah and the words of the song told of the redeemer who would bring salvation to the world. All the people in the procession heard this proclamation and it was not long before Herod’s spies sent word concerning this event.
Herod summoned the priests to come before him and give him a full report of this future King of the Jews, a title that had ironically been bestowed upon Herod when he was installed as ruler over Israel. He gave the priests a purse of silver coins and instructed them to find the boy so that he too could worship him. The priests, however, were not fooled by Herod’s conniving and did not return to Herod’s palace.
So Herod sent agents to Bethlehem with orders to slaughter every male child under the age of two years old. What became known as the Massacre of the Innocents was added to Herod’s list of atrocities. His henchman went from house to house and murdered some 15-20 baby boys that night. Joseph and Mary, in fear for their lives and that of their baby, fled to Egypt under cover of night and there they stayed in Alexandria for two years until the death of Herod. His kingdom was divided up between his three remaining sons, Archelaus, Antipas and Phillip. Joseph and Mary decided to return to Nazareth preferring to take their chances with Herod Antipas in Galilee rather than with Herod Archelaus in Judea whom they surmised would follow the malignant policies of his father Herod.
And they were soon proved correct when Archelaus, in his first week in office, hung a golden eagle over the door of the temple in Jerusalem which enraged the Israelites who considered it blasphemous. A protest ensued at the temple while Archelaus dined with his friends at a banquet he hosted to supposedly mourn the death of his father.
Some guards were stoned by the protestors and Archelaus retaliated by sending in the entire Herodian army, resulting in the slaughter of 3000 people on the temple pavement. To add insult to injury, Archelaus promptly canceled Passover. He was ultimately banished to Gaul by Caesar due to the barrage of complaints against him by the populace.
Back in Nazareth the tiny family settled down and Joseph began his career of carpenter with Joshua soon to follow in his footsteps. And thus the stage was set for the rise of a commoner to be the unparalleled teacher of the lost and downtrodden, the broken-hearted and those blinded by ignorance, prejudice and religious tradition.
Out of Obscurity
In many ways, [Joshua] was like a street person.
He had no home and no net worth.
Yet he has changed lives and the course of history more than any other man.
- Kevin Jenkins, President, Canadian Airlines
Three decades later Joshua ben Joshua emerged from obscurity along the shores of the Sea of Galilee and began his short-lived career as a spiritual teacher. He travelled throughout Palestine with his twelve followers teaching any and all who were open to his message of brotherly love and fatherly devotion. He taught that God is our Father and we, his children, could enter into a relationship with our loving, caring, and compassionate creator.
Though Joshua was known by many titles such as Savior, Redeemer, King of Kings and Prince of Peace – the one title that fits him most appropriately is Teacher. His disciples called him ‘Rabbi’ which means Master or Teacher. Joshua taught people everywhere he went: on the streets, in the synagogues, in people’s homes, even on the side of mountains. Once he taught sitting in a boat facing the crowds lined up on the shore.
People followed him everywhere he went, hanging on his every word. His closest followers dropped what they were doing when they first met him and followed him immediately; such was the extent of his charisma. His followers were completely devoted to him even though they did not fully understand him at times. They were willing to die for him and many of them did indeed lose their lives because of the message that they preached.
His followers were mostly working-class men. Many were fishermen, rough men without a great deal of schooling. Joshua was also a rugged man, a tradesman without formal education. In those days young boys were home-schooled by their parents until the age of about 15 when they could attend the synagogue schools if they could afford it. It is likely that Joshua was unable to attend because his father died leaving him in charge of a large family of younger brothers and sisters.
It is also interesting to note that Joshua’s profession of carpenter meant he was self-employed. He did not have to answer to a boss or company owner. The people that he reached out to primarily were the poor working-classes. He made little effort to seek out the rich and powerful members of society, though some of them sought him out to inquire about his teachings. It appears some wealthy individuals did become his followers and supported him and his apostles out of their own pockets.
Joshua and his followers gave up everything to serve others. Joshua once remarked, “Foxes have holes, birds have nests but I have nowhere to lay my head.” They lived a simple nomadic life sleeping in the outdoors in tents or lodging at the homes of sympathetic believers. Many of the disciples had wives and children who travelled with them around the countryside of Palestine.
His quaint nomadic life no doubt left a strong impression on the many young men and women who were looking for a real hero. They were looking for a real religion of courage and valor, very much like the young people of today who are looking for a life of adventure in the service of something higher than the barren pursuit of wealth.
Many young men and women today are also searching for a noble cause to devote themselves. The religion of Joshua promises and does deliver a life of adventure to those willing to forsake the life of comfort and ease that modern society offers. Modern religious institutions ask very little of their followers other than regular attendance. A routine of formalized ritual and subservience to an ecclesiastic elite has no charm to soothe the restless dreams of youth.
The religion of Joshua demands everything from you, your whole life, mind, body and soul. He seeks whole-hearted followers and asks for single-minded devotion. He also promises the rewards of service to those brave souls willing to serve God and Man in caring devotion. God promises that a life of service to others in the pursuit of perfection is the highest, most fulfilling call of man. Joshua employed a simple phrase to proclaim the starting point of his philosophy of life:
The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.
This means that salvation is available here and now, without delay or restriction. The door to Heaven is wide open, anyone can enter. He taught that salvation is available to all. God is no respecter of persons; we are all equal before God, male or female, rich or poor, no matter our race or nationality. There is no barrier to enter the mansions of God, neither is there payment required. Salvation is the free gift of God to his children.
He used a simple example to illustrate this:
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who found a precious pearl and he sold all he had to possess it.”
The entrance to eternity is priceless and a man who would desire to own it must be willing to give up everything to possess it. Whatever the cost, it is worth it.
The Family of God
Are all my children
And I am your Father.
For age upon age, you
Have been scorched by multitudinous woes
And I have saved you all.
- Buddhism, Lotus
Joshua ben Joseph referred to God almost exclusively as Father. Fatherhood is something we all understand because we all enter into life in the cradle of a family. Father implies a person and also a personality. Personhood and personality imply a certain list of characteristics that a personality exhibits.
Fatherhood also implies a benevolent personality who cares, nurtures, protects and provides for his children. An impersonal Creator or one without a personality would imply a nameless, faceless force without qualities or characteristics. There would be no identification for mortals to comprehend the nature of this being and no necessity contained within that identification for benevolence. Personality implies moral character.
Fatherhood means family. Just as all human families are based on maternal and paternal love towards the children, so does the eternal family revolve around the quality we call love.
The basic foundation of Joshua’s philosophy is that God is our Father and we are his children. We are part of an enormous extended family that lives on throughout eternity. We have many relationships here on planet Earth between husband and wife, between parents and children, between friends and co-workers. However, Joshua showed through his own very personal relationship with God that this Father-Child relationship with the Creator is the most important one.
Joshua portrayed God as a Father and we as a universal family of children who are joined together by our mutual dependence on the Creator and by the love that the Creator has for all of us. We could, therefore, if we wanted to sum things up, call the philosophy of Joshua ben Joseph the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man.
Try to understand men.
If you understand each other you will be kind to each other.
Knowing a man well never leads to hate and almost always leads to love.
Joshua attempted to do something unprecedented on Earth: he tried to establish a universal brotherhood of believers based on our mutual family bond as sons and daughters of God. Through the love of God that we share we can be united by our common status in this family. Joshua did not come down to Earth to start a church or establish a world religion. Nor did he attempt to unite the various religious groups who existed at that time. What he did attempt was the establishment of a set of concepts that can form the basis of all religions. That is, under the common banner of our shared spiritual parent and our common destiny of eternity. It is not possible for the world’s religions to be currently united for various reasons of culture, doctrine and ethnic differences.
What is possible and what we hope will eventually occur on Earth is the establishment of a common faith in God and an acknowledgement of the universal brotherhood of all mankind. Joshua predicted that the meek will inherit the Earth, a prediction that hints that the Earth will one day be ruled by those who follow a more humane path than that of our current governments of corporate state control.
Joshua did not come to provide uniformity of thought as our global religions require of their believers. The world religions require that their adherents conform to established doctrines and creeds. They mandate uniformity of thought rather than universality of faith. It is impossible for man to be united by shared doctrine. We can, however, be united by our shared spiritual goals. This does not mean we all think the same or worship God the same. We are free to practice our faith in a manner of our own choosing.
Joshua’s religion has thus far failed to materialize on Earth. The Christian church that has emerged is a shadow of the family of God that Joshua attempted to establish. The world has never whole-heartedly followed the religion of Joshua because unfortunately they do not want to. They prefer atheism, secularism, humanism, communism, fascism, socialism, materialism, capitalism, existentialism and a long list of other economic, political, social and religious ideologies that are believed will solve our global problems and bring lasting peace to the world.
That is not to say that any or all of these institutions and ideologies are without merit or have not helped in various ways to aid our global progress. Science, politics, economics and social justice have made enormous advances in the last century that our ancestors would have envied. However, if the foundation of reality is ignored then it is difficult if not impossible for us to continue to advance and succeed as a race.
A modern automobile is a marvelous invention. It has given us a great deal of freedom, mobility and independence. Every modern family needs and wants to own a car to get to work, take their kids to school and go on holidays together. Car owners spend a lot of time, effort and money to ensure that their car is running smoothly. If we forget or ignore to put the gas in it, however, we will not get very far. God is the gas of the human machine. Without the necessary spiritual fuel our machine will not go very far and all of our efforts to build a quality society will sputter to a stop.
Human efforts often fail because they are not based on the basic truth of our universe that God created us, he loves us and he desires us to enter into a relationship with him. He has a plan for us as individuals and as a race as a whole. Unless we enter into a relationship with him, we are not going to know what the plan is, where we are going or how to get there.
The doctrines of atheistic materialism and secular humanism will only lead to disaster. Greater war and destruction is yet to come.
It is the Way of Heaven to show no favoritism. It is forever on the side of the good man.
- Lao Tzu, Tao TeChing
In this life we are born into very unequal circumstances. Some are born into wealthy families and have everything this world can offer – health, education, opportunity and possessions. Others are born with nothing – their families are poor and they have little or no opportunity to better themselves or improve their lot.
Others, through no fault of their own, are handicapped by disease or accidents that make it very difficult for them to live with any degree of dignity or quality of life. Other unforeseen consequences of life such as war, famine and natural disasters make inequality an unfortunate part of our existence.
Joshua taught that all men and women are Sons of God, that is, we are all equal before God – race, nationality, religion, age and gender are unimportant to God. No matter what your circumstances or the family or nation you were born into, our benevolent Father sees us all as his children and we are all equal before him.
The doorway to a relationship with our Father is open to all. Anyone, regardless of circumstances can live, learn and grow in knowledge and maturity in the spiritual world. We can say that our Creator does not play favorites with his children – he loves us all.
Story of the Ten Pieces of Silver
Joshua once told a story about a woman who had ten pieces of silver made into a necklace and when she lost one piece she lit a lamp and diligently swept her house and searched until she found the lost piece of silver. And when she found the coin that was lost, she called together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece that was lost.’
Joshua told this story to impress upon us that the Father searches for those who are lost and in this search he goes out of his way to find those in need of salvation. God loves each person as if they were the single most important person to God. He loves us with an infinite love.
“The World will be Saved by the Western Woman”
A provocative statement attributed to the Dalai Lama at the 2009 Vancouver Peace Summit. He elaborated further in this context by saying, “Some people may call me a feminist….But we need more effort to promote basic human values — human compassion, human affection.” He said, “Those powerful leaders, also inside, I think much anxiety, much fear, much distrust – so inside, their inner peace destroyed. Since modern education fails to bring inner peace, since money, wealth also fails to bring inner peace. Technology I think also fails to bring inner peace. So now here we need some effort, more effort to bring, to promote basic human values, that is, human compassion, human affection…females have more sensitivity for others’ pain and suffering…and in that respect females have more important role…so please take more active, active role.”
The Dalai Lama may or may not have been endorsing women in politics, though in the context of what he is saying, he seemed to be referring to the spiritual role of women primarily. Whether western women can save the world is open to discussion and maybe it’s a discussion worth exploring. Man gained control over woman from the earliest of times; subjecting her to dominance and relegating her to second-class status as burden-bearer and raiser of children.
Joshua taught that men and women were equal before God, that God was an “equal opportunity employer.” Many of the world’s religions have done a great disservice to womankind by denying her equal status in political and social life as well as in religious life. There are many examples of female religious leaders working side by side with their male counterparts serving God in meekness and humility. Things however are changing and women in the world religions are making inroads towards full equality.
One such sincere believer is modern-day Indian saint Mata Amritanandamyi, otherwise known as Amma (which means ‘Mother’.) From her early youth she was very sensitive to the sufferings of others and attempted to help the poor people in her neighborhood by giving them food and clothing from her own house. Her parents punished her for this but she refused to stop.
She began spontaneously hugging people from the age of 14, not something that was socially acceptable for a woman to do in Indian society, especially a young girl touching men but she continued anyway. Her followers say she has hugged millions of people in her 60 years of continual ministry to the less fortunate.
Due to local superstitions, Amma was estranged from her family at an early age because she was darker skinned which was considered a sign of inferior status. She was forced to be the family servant and lived in the cow shed on her family’s property. Her family arranged several marriages for her but she refused to enter into any marriage. Her family consulted a seer who declared she was not destined for marriage or worldly life but for a spiritual mission.
The neighboring villagers nicknamed her “Kaveri” which means “ideal character.” They saw in her the potential for a devout spiritual leader and in 1975 at a Krishna festival they compelled her to perform miracles, to which she replied, “I am not here to create desire for miracles, but to remove it.”
Never-the-less, many people have been healed of physical and mental ailments when Amma ministered to them. People lineup for hours to receive hugs and counsel from her; she is known individually to embrace over 20,000 people for 20 hours straight.
Timothy Conway, Ph.D., author of the book Women of Power and Grace, describes Amma as “one of the most glorious lights to appear in the history of religion. Just her stamina – embracing these millions of people one by one, day after day, without a break, all over the world – is some kind of divine gift. No mere human resources could accomplish this.”
She underwent great resistance from the local authorities and intellectuals who sought to kill her by poisoning, and on one occasion sent an assassin to stab her. When this would-be assassin was confronted with her obvious love and compassion he threw down his knife at her feet and burst into tears.
Amma is quoted as saying, when asked about her hugging, “I don’t see if it is a man or a woman. I don’t see anyone different from my own self. A continuous stream of love flows from me to all of creation. This is my inborn nature. The duty of a doctor is to treat patients. In the same way, my duty is to console those who are suffering.”
She lives in the same humble house she was raised in as a child and though her organization Embracing the World has grown to include a small town of 3000 staff, followers and devotees, she maintains that the key to her ministry is a life of selfless service to others. She is usually the first to rise in the morning to begin the daily chores of carrying bricks and sand for the building projects, cleaning the public latrines, milking cows and cooking the meals.
She charges no money or fees for her programs and subsists entirely on the financial support of donors. When followers are overly lavish in their praise and adulation, she responds, “I want people to worship God and not me.”
The 7-Fold Path
Each and every master,
regardless of the era
or the place,
heard the call
and attained harmony
with heaven and earth.
There are many paths leading to the top
of Mount Fuji,
but there is only one summit - love.
Joshua revealed in his words and in his actions that he had a way of life that he attempted to teach the world. He taught a 7-Fold Path for us to follow. This can be shown as:
The way of love
The way of service
The way of personal experience
The way of spiritual growth
The way of perfection
The way of religious freedom
The way of the spirit
1. The Way of Love
Joshua taught that we are to live by the Law of Love. Governments and nations on Earth live by the Rule of Law, by the absolute authority of the state or by the will of the majority through popular vote. Joshua, however, showed us a better and higher way to live. The Law of Love means we do not base our decisions in life on profit motive or by the advantages of personal gain. We make our decisions based on whether our actions are beneficial to others and within the will of our Father in Heaven.
Joshua gave two rules or codes of conduct to follow:
Love the Lord, your God with all your heart and soul and mind
Love your neighbor as yourself
The Law of Love can support the beliefs of all religions that are based on a benevolent, all-powerful God who created us and cares for us. Joshua revealed that the Creator desires our complete dedication and devotion, something that all monotheistic religions teach.
These two commands are really one commandment because you cannot follow one without following the other. If you do not love your brother then you do not have the love of the Father in you. The second command is the natural result of the first. Loving God results in greater love for our neighbors. And greater love for our brothers and sisters results in greater love for God. These two commands are really one command because one leads to the other.
We can speculate about how the world would be if nations, politicians, businessmen, lawyers, teachers, doctors and economists made their decisions based on what they felt was the will of God or whether the outcome was beneficial to everyone or not. What would the world be like if our leaders stayed up late at night or rose early in the morning seeking God before they got together to grapple with issues and make policy decisions effecting millions of people?
The Golden Rule
If you love God you have a desire to do what is pleasing to him. God lives by the Law of Love – his main desire is to do good to us. We fulfill the Law of Love by using a simple rule of thumb when we interact with others. Joshua taught us to “do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Put in even simpler terms:
Treat others the way you want to be treated.
This rule of living puts the responsibility on our shoulders to decide how we wish to treat others. When considering others, we must put ourselves in the other’s shoes to try to understand how they might want us to treat them.
Understanding and consideration are the keys to this rule of conduct. It is not a dogmatic command that has no room for the circumstances or situation you happen to find yourself in. It is a rule that allows you to be flexible and you can adapt to each situation and react differently as needed. This code of conduct of loving God, loving our brothers and sisters and treating each other the way we want to be treated is a very simple, dynamic way of fulfilling our relationship with God the Father.
2. The Way of Service
Joshua taught and practiced a personal philosophy of service. He taught that the desire and act of serving others would naturally proceed from this relationship with God. By following the Law of Love we would produce fruit just like a well-watered tree produces fruit year after year.
This fruit of the spirit, as Joshua was prone to call it, is a two-fold concept we can call character in action. By making decisions in our relationships with others our character naturally begins to change and improve. We begin to increasingly display some or all of the following qualities:
Love, peace, joy, kindness, gentleness, goodness, patience, faith and self-control.
These qualities are shown through our service to our fellows. All these qualities are active. If someone is said to be kind, it is because they do something kind. If someone is said to be gentle it is because they behave in a gentle way towards others. Therefore, the fruit of the spirit is in reality the service we provide to others.
These qualities grow within us and stay within us. Just like fruit on a tree they are dormant within the branches and leaves of the trees waiting to burst forth at the right time under the proper conditions of water, temperature and sunlight. Our character in action is the fulfillment of our obedience to the Law of Love.
So we can say that Joshua’s philosophy of life reveals a religion of service. He said he came to serve not to be served. He not only preached a religion of service, he also lived it. Everything he did was for others. He was never selfish nor did he ever display what we would call social pettiness or resentment towards others.
He seemed to have little or no concern for himself. The night before he was killed he stayed up all night praying for his disciples. Though he knew that death was waiting for him, he did not attempt to run away or escape. He always did what he felt was God’s will. The Dalai Lama had this to say aboutservice to others: “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.“
Joshua ben Joseph came to show that the way to peace, joy and inner satisfaction is through devoted service to our fellows. He taught us to store up treasures in heaven instead of storing up treasure on Earth. In other words, piling up wealth such as cars, houses and personal possessions is not as good as doing things for others which results in reward from God in the next life. Cars, televisions, computers and cell phones will all rust and decay over time but eternal rewards are forever.
Joshua presented the secret of happiness to a mostly deaf world. However, in time, this philosophy will triumph over our current empire of materialism. The “pursuit of happiness” is hollow because it is desired for one’s own sake. Serving others results in happiness because we learn to forget about ourselves, and in so doing, we find ourselves.
Very few people know this secret so it remains mostly a secret. The only way to discover the truth of it is to live it out and see for yourself. Selfish people can never find true happiness. The famous Indian teacher Paramahansa Yogananda said, “To live for self is the source of all misery.” He also said, “Happiness lies in making others happy, in forsaking self-interest to bring joy to others.”
Service is what happens naturally – it is not a burden or a chore – it becomes who you are, the type of person whom others go to for help with their problems or ask advice about something. As you mature and develop spiritually, people will seek you out more and more. Others will find you socially fragrant. You will find God piling more responsibility on your shoulders but you will find it refreshing and exciting, a great adventure.
Profit motive is incompatible with the religion of Joshua because it is based purely on selfish motives. Though much has been accomplished on Earth due to profit motive, Joshua came to reveal a better way of living. If the whole world began to live for others in the service of God it would result in the immediate transformation of our entire world on a scale and dimension practically unimaginable in our current global climate of war and the pursuit of wealth and power.
The evening before Joshua was murdered he gathered his closest followers together for a farewell dinner party. As they reclined at the table, Joshua prepared a basin of water and a towel to wash the feet of his 12 followers. It was customary for a servant, usually a slave girl or maid to wash the feet of the men. Joshua however, knelt at the feet of his chief disciple, Peter and made ready to wash Peter’s feet.
Peter, being a proud man, would not initially let Joshua perform this demonstration of servanthood. Joshua told Peter, “Unless you do this, you will have no part of me.” Peter, sensing that this ceremony was of great significance abruptly and impulsively, as was his nature, turned about-face and exclaimed, “Not just my feet then but my hands and head as well.”
Joshua said patiently, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean.”
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
3. The Way of Personal Experience
The Lord and Cherisher of the Worlds--
Who created me, and it is He who guides me;
Who gives me food and drink,
And when I am ill, it is He who cures me;
Who will cause me to die, and then to live again;
And Who, I hope, will forgive me my faults on the Day of Judgment.
- From the Koran
Those who begin a life of service to others, in fulfillment of the Law of Love, gain valuable personal experience, not only in the activities they undertake with their fellow God-servers but also with the Father himself. In order to fulfill our ministry to others we need to approach the Father for guidance and wise counsel.
This communion with God expands our understanding of who God is and how he acts; we begin to understand more about the eternal universe; and through prayer and meditation we come closer to God and begin to hear more and more from him. It is just like any other relationship whether with friends, family or co-workers. If we want to have a good relationship with our spouse we must spend quality time with him or her; if we want a good relationship with our Creator we must spend quality time with him.
We learn through service to others many lessons that prepare us for further service and ministry to others. Personal experience with God is the ultimate proof of faith. Atheistic arguments or philosophical dogmas cannot sway one who truly knows God the Father and truly has a relationship with him. The traditional authority of religious leaders or materialistic philosophies cannot alter the true faith of one who has experienced and actually knows God intimately.
The circumstances of life can strip us of our worldly wealth, our health can be taken from us, our personal freedom can be taken away, yet nothing can ever take away the faith of those who have experienced God. We know because we know.
The religions of the world cannot be unified or united because they are racial, cultural and intellectual in origin. The true religion of the spirit is based on our personal experience with God and transcends all racial, religious and intellectual barriers. Those who follow the leading of the spirit are recognized by others as the true believers.
O lord you have searched me and known me,
You know when I sit and when I rise
You know my thoughts from afar
You search out my path and my lying down
And are acquainted with all my ways.
Joshua revealed a religion entirely based on personal experience. This may come as a surprise to believers accustomed to religion being handed to them from a religious leader, organization or sacred text. What we truly know about God comes from our personal encounters with him. Without actual experience with God religion is meaningless.
Faith is spiritual confidence. We become more and more confident in the certainty of spiritual reality as we progress in our eternal career. Often, faith comes after the experience. We hope and pray and believe that something will happen and when it does our faith is encouraged and strengthened to give us greater confidence for greater steps of faith.
What God has said he will do will happen because he is sovereign and able to accomplish all things. We teach our children to make a list of the toys they want for Christmas. Then we teach them to wait patiently with hope and expectation that the things they asked for will be under the tree Christmas morning. They learn that generally they will receive what they ask for and they even receive things they did not ask for that they are none-the-less happy to receive.
Now God is not Santa Claus, nor are good parents just the givers of gifts, yet children still learn to trust that their parents will bless them as promised. Their faith in their parents is based on children’s innate trusting nature and their experience with Christmas year after year. The faith experience is a powerful teacher of the character of God who is able to do all that he has promised.
4. The Way of Spiritual Growth
When we enter into a long-term relationship with a supernatural being, it is quite possible that supernatural events may occur. Faith and the appearance of the miraculous are intertwined. Engaging the spirit world in the pursuit of the will of God can lead to amazing circumstances and experiences. All that we experience in living out the will of God in the service to others produces growth. We become a more mature, wiser person.
Just as a child advances in public school, graduating from one grade to the next higher one, we also advance step by step up the spiritual ladder of eternity. One who desires to be a doctor goes through the basic 12 years of public school, then 4 years of undergraduate work followed by 4 years of medical school and then 3-8 years of residency in a hospital depending on their specialty. That is anywhere from 11 to 16 years of training after high school.
Someone who desires to be great in the spiritual world will be brought through similar intense and prolonged training. This requires the slow, patient, gradual growth of the believer. As you advance upwards in the spiritual kingdom, you will become more and more qualified and better prepared for the work that you will undertake on behalf of the Father.
Just as in the occupations of mortal life, we are promoted and entrusted with greater responsibilities based on our past record of service in the heavenly life. And this increased service is based on our trustworthiness. Those who are faithful in the small tasks that God gives them will be entrusted with greater tasks affecting and involving more and more people.
Everything we do affects everyone around us, whether good or bad. As we grow and become more influential in the affairs of the eternal, spiritual kingdom we affect greater numbers of people and our impact is expanded. Just as a small pebble tossed into a pond creates a small series of ripples that move out away from the splash, a large boulder thrown into the water creates very large ripples that dissipate over an ever greater area.
God is wise though, he does not toss a tiny pebble into an ocean where it will be swallowed up by the enormous waves nor does he plunge a gigantic boulder into a small pond where the pond will be destroyed by the impact. He prepares significant people for significant tasks so all may benefit.
Growth is normally imperceptible to the believer. Growth happens so slowly and gradually over time that we hardly notice. It is only in retrospect, looking back at the person we used to be, do we see change and improvement in our lives and in our character.
Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
- Hebrew proverb
Ignorance and prejudice are the main obstacles to growth. It seems to be an unfortunate characteristic of human beings that they make up their minds about people, places and events with little or no knowledge of these things. We base our assumptions on the flimsiest of evidence: a comment in a newspaper; a fragment of a conversation; the advice of a friend; the second-hand observations from a book. Experience often is the greatest teacher. It educates first-hand concerning the realities of life.
Knowledge is essential to growth; science kills superstitious beliefs; the broadening of horizons teaches tolerance of others. The lifelong search for knowledge is very healthy and rewarding. We need to learn all we can while we are here on planet Earth to help us to fulfill our spiritual assignments and to prevent stagnation. If we stifle ourselves by clinging to our sacred traditions, refusing to be informed by any other sources, we risk falling into arrogance in the belief our truth isthe only truth and we cannot learn from anyone else or any other religion.
It is best sometimes not to completely make up one’s mind – better to leave our shoelaces un-tied – and thereby leave room for new information or new experience. Dogma results when we decide we have all the truth there is to know and we begin to recycle our beliefs into creeds and religious formulas.
However, nothing can impede spiritual progress to those who are dedicated to doing the will of the Father. The rise and fall of nations, natural disaster, sickness, poverty, personal calamity; all these things come and go but the spirit is eternal, a flame which cannot be extinguished and a river which flows unceasing.
The Story of the Sower and the Seeds
Joshua used stories from nature to explain spiritual things by making analogies from the natural world. Many of his parables involved images of planting, growth and harvesting.
“A sower went forth to sow, and it came to pass as he sowed that some seed fell by the wayside to be trodden underfoot and devoured by the birds of heaven. Other seed fell upon the rocky places where there was little earth, and immediately it sprang up because there was no depth to the soil, but as soon as the sun shone, it withered because it had no root whereby to secure moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns, nd as the thorns grew up, it was choked so that it yielded no grain. Still other seed fell upon good ground and, growing, yielded, some thirtyfold, some sixtyfold, and some a hundredfold.” And when he had finished speaking this story, he said to the crowd, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
5. The Way of Perfection
The fruit of the spirit that we display in an ever-increasing degree enhances our experience with God and with our brothers and sisters. This produces growth in us slowly over time. As we grow we become more like the God who guides us. Joshua taught another very simple principle:
Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Though it would seem at first glance that this is impossible to fulfill because no one is perfect here on Earth, it is part of the plan of our salvation that we become more and more like God as we progress in our service to others. In other words, just as we experience God and grow over time, we also slowly, step by step, become more like God. We begin to exhibit more and more of the qualities that our Creator possesses.
No matter what your conception of God, whether you see him as a Higher Power, a divine force; whether you address him as God, Allah, Yahweh or Buddha; it is intrinsic in every religion that you desire to be more like the one you worship. It is normal for the student to emulate his teacher, for the son to walk in his father’s footsteps and for the apprentice to copy the craftsmanship of his master.
To be like God is a very high calling. To desire to be more like a perfect, complete, powerful, loving, caring, merciful, forgiving supernatural being is humbling yet attainable. Joshua asks us to center all of our energies, desires and strengths upon the goal of approaching God. Not only to desire godliness but godlike-ness.
With the participation of the spirit whom we commune with, we will be guided circle by circle, step by step towards perfection. Though it is not possible for us to become perfect in our brief existence here on Earth, we can be assured that all of eternity is available for us to complete this task. As we become increasingly like the God who created us, we will increasingly perform more service to others, just like a tree that grows year by year and produces more and more fruit. Even the birds will rest in its branches and many will seek shelter from the sun and rain under it.
Joshua not only commanded us to be perfect like our Father in heaven is perfect but he also promised us perfection would be the ultimate reward and goal of service to humanity. Joshua’s religion can be summed up as:
Perfection through service.
Through our ministry to others we acquire experience and grow. Maturity means we become more like God and therefore more perfect. Or, at the very least, we can say we are less imperfect than before, less incomplete and less immature. Even though it often seems as if we are not growing at all, we continue to attempt to mirror the one whom we serve.
Joshua revealed God the Father through his own actions. He showed that God was compassionate, loving, caring, forgiving and merciful. He did not return insult when insulted; he did not strike back when he was struck. He asked God to “Forgive them for they know not what they do” when he was being tortured by his enemies.
We know that God is perfect and cannot do wrong. We therefore imitate the character of God to become more like him. We live in a finite, imperfect world but no matter what happens in life; it cannot prevent us from seeking God and becoming more like him.
The Ideal Person
The impossibility and improbability of perfection surrounds us like a damp blanket. We can barely overcome ourselves and yet we must overcome the world as well. We are confronted by a world filled with crime, hatred, violence, injustice, war and unrest; a world obviously flawed, misguided, confused and torn; how can we hope to become holy and godly in these circumstances?
It is possible to become relatively perfect and complete within the limits of mortal existence. That is, to overcome the trappings and sins of the world and the flesh; to master all the demands of mortal life. Just like a master sculptor can create a finely made piece of art each and every time he works, it is possible for us to master this life.
Confucius, the venerable Chinese philosopher, painted a picture of the Ideal Person whose main quality is good moral character. A moral person is honest, truthful, earnest, prudent, self-sufficient and kind. Virtue was something to be cultivated. He did not proscribe a perfect character but a noble one that was attainable; relative perfection is within the scope of our mortal life, whereas absolute perfection is something that will have to wait the advance of eternity.
Confucius taught the concept of jen, or fulfilling our responsibilities to others; seriousness, generosity, sincerity, diligence and kindness are the five basic qualities or virtues we need to cultivate. Confucius said, “The practice of right-living is deemed the highest, the practice of any other art lower. Complete virtue takes first place; the doing of anything else whatsoever is subordinate.”
Islam teaches that perfection is found by following the will of God: “Today, I have completed your religion, perfected my blessing upon you, and I have decreed submission as the religion for you.” We must do what God asks; submit to his will, if we desire to reach the lofty heights of holiness. In all things, if we desire perfection, we must walk down the road of service to find the pathways of life. Joshua proclaimed he was the way, and the truth and the life. Those who followed the life he lived, embraced the truth of his teachings and practiced the way of life he taught would find the Father and reap the harvest of love, peace and joy in the inner satisfaction of following the indwelling spirit.
6. The Way of Religious Freedom
The ultimate fulfillment of following God, of hearing the leading of the Spirit and doing the will of God is the attainment of personal religious freedom through the conquest of self. The urge of self leads to self-assertion, pride and vanity whereas the urge to follow God leads to humility, self-forgetfulness and the ever-increasing quality of divinity in one’s personal life.
The religions of the world offer deliverance from sin, suffering and the obstacles of life. All of these pursuits are valid approaches to the deliverance from self that a life of service provides. Various religious groups teach that we are saved from the fires of eternal damnation through the avoidance of sinful behavior. However, true spiritual freedom is found in following the Spirit of God wherever he leads you. You are free to follow any or all of the leadings of the indwelling spirit.
Many religious leaders maintain that their religion alone has the authority to speak for God and its leaders claim the keys to the doors of Heaven. Unless religious leaders can transfer their sovereignty to God and relinquish authority over their followers, true spiritual freedom cannot take place on a global scale. There is only one God. Our understanding, our perceptions and our modes of worship are different and unequal, though who can say they fathom God completely? Who can claim complete and perfect understanding of the unfathomable?
Political freedom comes from liberalism and not from increased state control. Spiritual freedom comes from religious liberalism: the big-hearted acceptance and tolerance of others and the sincere love of our brothers and sisters. Joshua taught freedom from the constraints of empty rituals and man-made traditions that runs rough-shod over the divine Law of Love which in turn is learned through personal experience and revelation.
The Story of the Shepherd
Then Joshua told them this story: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.
Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
7. The Way of the Spirit
Joshua proclaimed a religion revealed to man through his efforts to follow the leadings of the Spirit that indwells him. He did not offer obedience to religious authority or ritual as a method of finding or following God. He said, “The Spirit is like the wind, you know not where it comes from or where it goes. So is every man born of the Spirit.”
The organized religions of the world are based on ecclesiastical authority overseeing an intellectual comprehension of religious truth. That is, a body of doctrines, creeds and dogmas that are uniformly agreed upon through the mandates of the priest-class. It is expected by the members to agree on the body of doctrines.
The religion of the Spirit does not expect uniformity of thought, nor is it based on the authority of man-made religious institutions. The way of the Spirit is based on the ultimate and supreme authority of the Father who lives both in far-off paradise and in your own soul. And if the Father has come to reside in you, then He will inevitably lead you home to the source and origin of all Spirit.
The Spirit urges you to follow the multi-faceted layers of a 7-fold path. This is simply a useful way to organize the paths of salvation that Joshua taught and not a dogmatic road to follow. Through the Law of Love you will naturally begin to serve others more. You will gain valuable personal experience and grow in greater understanding of God and your fellow human being. You will become more and more like the one who created you and therefore become more perfect and in your increasing religious liberty you will experience the joy and freedom of fulfilling the call of God.
The way of the Spirit that Joshua ben Joseph proclaimed opens the door for the true faith-sons of God to follow this same spirit wherever he leads. True religious freedom is to follow the spirit that indwells you starting from where you are now.
The religion of the Spirit requires courage, faith, loyalty, perseverance, trust and tenacity. The adventure of following God means heading into the unknown. Organized religion promises the familiar, the certainty of a building with a social group and a routine of ritual and formalized ceremonies. The unknown may be uncertain, uncomfortable, even filling us with trepidation. The early followers of Joshua were dispersed all over the world due to persecution. Many of them were stoned, imprisoned, tortured and ridiculed. It takes courage to be willing to bear the sorrows of service as well as the rewards and joys.
God asks for the whole-hearted dedication of the believer. Half-hearted and fearful individuals are unwilling and unable to bear the disapproval of peers, the separation of loved ones or the distaste of enemies. Joshua warned that following him may result in conflict with family members. He said those who were unwilling to leave family and friends and jobs and houses were not fit to be called his disciples. It is important to look before you leap and decide whether you are prepared to accept the cost of following God before you head down the road with him.
Many of his early followers gave up everything to follow him including their homes and professions; even their reputations and good-standing in their communities. This does not mean that you must do all these things; only that you be more devoted to God than you are to anything else. Joshua did not promise that we would have no adversity or trouble in life, only that he would be there with us through it all.
Following God is the sure road to trouble. Finding yourself in trouble for doing good, spreading the good news that God is your Father and you are a son of the living God is worth it to those of us who have decided to dedicate our lives to the pursuit of godliness in the service of our brothers and sisters.
Those who are led by the Spirit
shall be called the Sons of God.