The Thorn in the Flesh and The Work

seeker2seer

Jedi
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I don’t know if this post is better suited in the Religion or The Work forum so, I will start here in the Work thread since that is the context of my question

For the at least the last 20 years, I have had a burning question or series of questions within me concerning what Paul wrote about the “thorn in his flesh”. I have read many traditional theological interpretations and even some speculative ones about what Paul was referring to in the following verses from 2 Corinthians chapter 12: 7 – 10 (KJV)

“7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

Since encountering and doing the Work and from reading a more accurate and truthful accounting of Paul and his writings from Laura’s research in her latest book From Paul to Mark, the context of these verses has changed for me.

I will try to state my question as clearly as I can, but it may need refinement for clarity. In the context of our current understanding of the Work, could the term “thorn in the flesh” possibly refer to the false personality, an attachment, a program, or a combination of all three or something else?

A follow-on question is do most of us working on ourselves for soul growth and development eventually encounter own our “thorn in the flesh” that refuses to go away or is not allowed to be removed for a higher purpose or lessons making our Personality (I) weak so that our Soul/essence/Real I is somehow shown to be strong? I sense this is also related to what Paul refer to throughout his teachings about the struggle between the flesh and spirit.

I hope my questions will be a starting point for discussion and sharing as well as a good example of networking to come to a greater understanding and growth for myself and others. I don’t want to be a slacker as the C’s said in the recent session. ;-)
 

Magnolia

Jedi
Perhaps it could have something to do with this (petty tyrants), although there are probably many different types of torment depending on the educational requirements of the individual.

Carlos Castenada describes don Juan’s lesson in The Fire From Within:

“Don Juan had a beaming smile as he spoke to me. ‘A petty tyrant is a tormentor,’ he said. ‘Someone who either holds the power of life and death over warriors or simply annoys them to distraction.'”
Don Juan continued: “We know that nothing can temper the spirit of a warrior as much as the challenge of dealing with impossible people in positions of power. Only under those conditions can warriors acquire the sobriety and serenity to stand the pressure of the unknowable.
My benefactor used to say that the warrior who stumbles on a petty tyrant is a lucky one. He meant that you’re fortunate if you come upon one in your path, because if you don’t, you have to go out and look for one.”
 

seeker2seer

Jedi
FOTCM Member
Perhaps it could have something to do with this (petty tyrants), although there are probably many different types of torment depending on the educational requirements of the individual.

Carlos Castenada describes don Juan’s lesson in The Fire From Within:
Thanks Magnolia for a adding another possible interpretation which I didn't think of. I know for certain I stumbled upon a petty tyrant in the persona of my ex-husband and the trials and tribulations resulting from that marriage and resulting divorce. It was literally life draining and many hard lessons learned about myself and others. He was certainly a thorn in my flesh and has been mostly removed.
 

Gaby

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For me, it's clearer in 2 Cor 4 : 7-11:

"But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh".

More food for thought from this session :


Q: (L) Well, choosing makes me think of what the Apostle Paul was saying when he talked about making... I mean, basically what it amounted to was making your choices based on the unseen world or on unseen realities. In a funny sort of way, today I had like a little realization because I was trying to understand why for Paul, the death of his Christ or the crucifixion was THE most important thing. For him it was the death, not the resurrection. It finally occurred to me that the reason it was so important was because - and this is according to Paul - his Christ went to his death with absolute faith even in the face of everything being wrong and against him. The way it's depicted in the Gospel of Mark, not only did the disciples not understand, not only is he abused, tortured, and rejected by literally everybody... I mean, everybody flees from him in the Gospel of Mark, which is the first gospel. Everybody. There are no women at the cross. There are no supporters. There's nobody. He did that willingly - the way it's depicted, and it's an allegory - because his faith in the unseen necessity and the other world and what would happen after the death was so strong he could and would do it. It was a matter of this faith that what was unseen was more real and lasting that the seen reality. Am I right? Seeing the unseen is the key?

A: Yes

Q: (L) So Paul was concerned with restoring humanity to the Edenic state. He uses the symbol as one man, the First Adam, and death came to all. And then by one man life came to all. It struck me that the possibility... Well, what the C's have said is that when the Fall happened, it happened to everyone. It wasn't just like one person. It happened to everyone. So it seems to me that this primal man that is Adam is a representation of all. It's not just one man that caused everybody to go kaflooey. And they've said that it was the female energy consorted with the STS reality. Is that what we're looking at here, only the reversal of the process? In other words, a group of people that have that kind of faith that in the face of everything being literally awful as it is in our world today, that they still have faith in the other reality, they still have faith in doing good, doing right, being loving, that they do not buy into the whole Darwinian materialistic thing, and basically they don’t believe those lies and by those means they are able to, at a certain point in time that Paul called the culmination of the ages, be restored to this Edenic state... in other words a 4D STO reality. Am I interpreting that correctly?

A: Oh that was beautiful!! We are impressed!

Q: (L) Well la-dee-da! So that's basically what the anchoring of the frequency is about. And that's part of the interior state that people have to be in in order to anchor that frequency - to have that kind of faith. It’s not where you are, but who you are and what you see? Even in the face of everything being against your ideas, against what you think, against what you've figured out...

(Joe) Even things inside you being against you. The internal fight. You have faith that doing what it doesn't like that you will kind of achieve something worth having.

(Andromeda) Right.

(Joe) It's internally and externally at the same time.

(L) So it's not faith IN Jesus as Ashworth points out. It's faith OF Jesus that sets the example. And the example was put in a metaphor of the story of this crucifixion or death, but the metaphor represents basically the crucifixion of every person. They're crucified inside and outside because they are faced with this reality that rejects their consciousness, their more or less divine connection, their spiritual connection. They say that everything is just random mutations and random evolution, and that's wrong. That's the Big Lie.

A: Yes. We can retire now!

Q: [laughter] (Niall) That's something Laura would say. Hmm...

(Artemis) That was YOU speaking! [laughter]

A: We are you at another level.
 

Laura

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Actually, when you consider these two verses:

9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

... you get the strong impression that the 'thorn in the flesh' must have been something to do with infirmities, i.e. physical issues of sickness or weakness.

If you look back at the previous chapter 11, starting at verse 18. When you get to verse 30, he again mentions the term 'infirmity' in the context of 'thingsby which I am made weak and contemptible in the eyes of my opponents.

Then he tells the basket story as an example of how weak he was... that he actually had to be lowered in a basket to escape persecution.

So it seems that bodily weakness that makes Paul appear 'contemptible' in the eyes of the Jerusalem Christians is a big part of what he is talking about. So, the 'thorn in the flesh' must pertain in some way to this aspect.

One scholar (don't remember offhand who) suggested that Paul had weak eyes. This idea was based on Galatians 4:13-15:

13 On the contrary, you know that it was on account of a bodily ailment that [I remained and] preached the Gospel to you the first time.
14 And [yet] although my physical condition was [such] a trial to you, you did not regard it with contempt, or scorn and loathe and reject me; but you received me as an angel of God, [even] as Christ Jesus [Himself]!
15 What has become of that blessed enjoyment and satisfaction and self-congratulation that once was yours [in what I taught you and in your regard for me]? For I bear you witness that you would have torn out your own eyes and have given them to me [to replace mine], if that were possible.

Since he was charged with lack of eloquence by his opponents, it is also possible that he had a speech impediment of some kind.
 

seeker2seer

Jedi
FOTCM Member
(Joe) Even things inside you being against you. The internal fight. You have faith that doing what it doesn't like that you will kind of achieve something worth having.
What a great reminder Gaby, I needed to read that today. So what Joe said pretty much describes the thorn in the flesh. Does this mean the fight will continue and the thorn remain until we achieve something, like the second birth? I never thought of it this way, but it seems we have to face both external and internal petty tyrants, with the internal being the most devious and deceptive as it uses part of us against ourselves which can also lead to other entities/consciousness using that against us anytime?

I am sensing this could be another example of the "terror of our situation".
 

seeker2seer

Jedi
FOTCM Member
Thank you Laura for those other verses and interpretations. So am I reading too much into a possible internal struggle viewpoint versus an actual physical condition Paul was referring to? I know our biases can see what may not really be there or distort the original meaning. There are days when I feel like there is an internal saboteur leading me to do things I don't want which can lead to a state of negative dissociation and the idea of Paul's thorn in the flesh resonates strongly with me in those times.
 

Laura

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Thank you Laura for those other verses and interpretations. So am I reading too much into a possible internal struggle viewpoint versus an actual physical condition Paul was referring to? I know our biases can see what may not really be there or distort the original meaning. There are days when I feel like there is an internal saboteur leading me to do things I don't want which can lead to a state of negative dissociation and the idea of Paul's thorn in the flesh resonates strongly with me in those times.

Well, from a methodological perspective, we can only work with the clues that are given by Paul himself. That generally means to search his body of (authentic) work for insight. The issue about eyes seems a strong case. Paul was sick and was something of a burden, and he said he was very aware that the Galatians would have torn out their own eyes to give to him which seems to indicate that the problem was his own eyes.

Then, when you consider the 'thorn in the flesh', it pretty much seems, based on chapter 11 descriptions, to be actual physical problems including persecutions, sufferings, etc brought on from the outside, added to some inherent weakness Paul had that made him 'contemptible.' That would mean that he was made fun of or denigrated in some way kind of like he was being told 'if you are the representative of God and Jesus and all that, why are you such a physical mess?" Or "physician, heal thyself." It's like they were telling him "God wouldn't be represented by such a lowly, defective creature as yourself." And that very well might have carried some weight.

The idea that an individual of great spiritual insight and development might have a lot of difficulty adjusting to the STS planetary vibrations was understood in the context of the shaman - and nowadays, Wanderers, according to Ra originally, I believe - but Judaism as it was developing at the time, didn't appear to welcome such a notion. And, Paul's main opponents were Jews expecting a militant messiah.

I think that Paul appropriated the suffering servant passage from Isaiah to himself, first, and later, it was incorporated into Mark's metaphorical Jesus who may very well have been modeled partly on Paul.

Isa 53:1 WHO HAS believed (trusted in, relied upon, and clung to) our message [of that which was revealed to us]? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been disclosed?
2 For [the Servant of God] grew up before Him like a tender plant, and like a root out of dry ground; He has no form or comeliness [royal, kingly pomp], that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him.
3 He was despised and rejected and forsaken by men, a Man of sorrows and pains, and acquainted with grief and sickness; and like One from Whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we did not appreciate His worth or have any esteem for Him.
4 Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy].
5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has made to light upon Him the guilt and iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, [yet when] He was afflicted, He was submissive and opened not His mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who among them considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living [stricken to His death] for the transgression of my [Isaiah's] people, to whom the stroke was due?
9 And they assigned Him a grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in His death, although He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief and made Him sick. When You and He make His life an offering for sin [and He has risen from the dead, in time to come], He shall see His [spiritual] offspring, He shall prolong His days, and the will and pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
11 He shall see [the fruit] of the travail of His soul and be satisfied; by His knowledge of Himself [which He possesses and imparts to others] shall My [uncompromisingly] righteous One, My Servant, justify many and make many righteous (upright and in right standing with God), for He shall bear their iniquities and their guilt [with the consequences, says the Lord].
12 Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great [kings and rulers], and He shall divide the spoil with the mighty, because He poured out His life unto death, and [He let Himself] be regarded as a criminal and be numbered with the transgressors; yet He bore [and took away] the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors (the rebellious).
 

Laura

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Another point that possibly contributes to the idea that Paul had something wrong with his eyes is this:

Gal 6:11 See with what large letters I am writing with my own hand.

This comes at the end of the letter written to the Galatians mentioning his illness and the remark about eyes. It is known that Paul's letters were generally written by an amanuensis and this may indicate that Paul was half-blind. And since he was unable to pray such an affliction away, he became the object of denigration to the Jerusalem Christians.
 
I see it more or less as Laura says, I also think it could refer to physical limitations that, in addition to "favoring" situations of suffering, prevent to a certain extent that one could become arrogant, egocentric or dominant with respect to other individuals for having this new " understanding" accompanied by good health and with it, in addition to ceasing to make an effort to continue learning, in some cases the learning environment could be unbalanced because you could more easily submit to the rest of the individuals in different ways without your understanding of things being advanced enough yet.
In short, the sting in the flesh is to always stay below others and thus focus more on spiritual things more easily.
 

seeker2seer

Jedi
FOTCM Member
That would mean that he was made fun of or denigrated in some way kind of like he was being told 'if you are the representative of God and Jesus and all that, why are you such a physical mess?" Or "physician, heal thyself." It's like they were telling him "God wouldn't be represented by such a lowly, defective creature as yourself." And that very well might have carried some weight.

The idea that an individual of great spiritual insight and development might have a lot of difficulty adjusting to the STS planetary vibrations was understood in the context of the shaman - and nowadays, Wanderers, according to Ra originally, I believe - but Judaism as it was developing at the time, didn't appear to welcome such a notion. And, Paul's main opponents were Jews expecting a militant messiah.
Thank you for that insight about what Paul was struggling with and the difficulties he faced. I think many of us here can relate to how Paul felt, especially the bolded part above.

I know it is a general understanding here that our physical bodies/nervous systems are currently designed so as to make us addicts in our own skins when it comes to cravings for certain neurochemicals, i.e. dopamine.

I realize this is now getting into speculation, but since the context of shamans and Wanders was mentioned, this led me to the thought of these not only being born with or later develop outer physical infirmities but also having inner neurochemical/psychological infirmities as a result of early childhood trauma which seems to be so common to many of us here due to our desire to seek and apply knowledge and help others to do so. The purpose being to weaken and make us defective messengers of the Faith/Work from the viewpoint of others in this STS world (Jerusalem Christians). Is that a possible reason Paul referred to his physical condition with his eyes as being a "messenger of Satan" since it would diminish his apostleship from a materialist/religious perspective?
 

Laura

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I realize this is now getting into speculation, but since the context of shamans and Wanders was mentioned, this led me to the thought of these not only being born with or later develop outer physical infirmities but also having inner neurochemical/psychological infirmities as a result of early childhood trauma which seems to be so common to many of us here due to our desire to seek and apply knowledge and help others to do so. The purpose being to weaken and make us defective messengers of the Faith/Work from the viewpoint of others in this STS world (Jerusalem Christians). Is that a possible reason Paul referred to his physical condition with his eyes as being a "messenger of Satan" since it would diminish his apostleship from a materialist/religious perspective?

Works for me.

It's always useful, when considering what Paul was writing, to keep the combative context in mind. He was pretty much at war with the Jerusalem Christians, i.e. the "James Gang" as I call them.

I would also like to mention that the wise man suffering hardships was pretty much a trope among the Greeks - stoics, cynics, etc - but I don't think the Jews cottoned on to that idea very much for their own messiah.
 

whitecoast

The Living Force
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I would also like to mention that the wise man suffering hardships was pretty much a trope among the Greeks - stoics, cynics, etc - but I don't think the Jews cottoned on to that idea very much for their own messiah.

When reading this I had a flashback to some discussions on here many years ago about how the insistence of France to use its national language has exacerbated its academic insularity to the point that they fell behind in a number of fields, such as psychology, which is still predominantly Freudian in persuasion. I suppose trying to supplant all the culture and literature of the ancient world with one canon tome could have similar effects huh?
 

BHelmet

The Living Force
I would like to offer up the idea that the thorn in the flesh is different for the different human types but is ultimately our built in proclivity and weaknesses that are inclined toward STS. The spirit is swimming in a sea of many sharks, parasites and shoals and that includes the body itself and it’s desires, the mind and its belief in illusions and the waves of emotions that can throw us off balance. IOW there is not one specific thorn.

Hm it just dawned on me “Jesus” of the Bible story was crucified with a crown of thorns. And complex problems are thorny.

Androcles removed the thorn from the big cat who was debilitated by it. That story might indeed predate the writings of Paul and be a kind of ancient meme Paul was analogously referring to as well.
 
I realize this is now getting into speculation, but since the context of shamans and Wanders was mentioned, this led me to the thought of these not only being born with or later develop outer physical infirmities but also having inner neurochemical/psychological infirmities as a result of early childhood trauma which seems to be so common to many of us here due to our desire to seek and apply knowledge and help others to do so. The purpose being to weaken and make us defective messengers of the Faith/Work from the viewpoint of others in this STS world (Jerusalem Christians). Is that a possible reason Paul referred to his physical condition with his eyes as being a "messenger of Satan" since it would diminish his apostleship from a materialist/religious perspective?

(Bible Gateway passage: Acts 9 - English Standard Version)
The Conversion of Saul

9 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. 4 And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” 7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8 Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

Supporting what Laura has already said here and also what seeker is trying to say. Although I do not know what could it be that thing he saw at that time, this may be one of the cause/start to his "thorn in the flesh."
 
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