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The Enoch Factor: Sacred Art of Knowing God
The Enoch Factor

Introduction: 

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.”

                                                            --Maya Angelou (1928 -     )

  

“The most important matter in life is your relationship to the Infinite.”

-- Author Unknown

  You were born to walk with God; so why would you walk alone?This book is about knowing God. It is not a defense for the existence of God, however. If that’s the type of book you’re looking for, then you’ll need to go somewhere else. There are plenty of them around.  Frankly, I find such books amusing. What’s the point of arguing for God’s existence when it is as impossible to prove he does as it is to prove he doesn’t? It’s like debating about whether there’s intelligent life on other planets. Either there is or there isn’t. But, until there’s an indisputable encounter it’s one person’s word against another and, too often, that just turns into needless debate.One thing is for certain, an encounter with a UFO will have to be more believable than some of the preposterous stories reported so far. I recently saw a video somewhere—maybe it was YouTube, I don’t remember—a video someone had taken of a UFO as it streaked like lightning across the Mojave sky. Have you ever noticed that none of these pictures are ever clear enough to be incontestable? An imaginary tale of temporary alien abduction that accompanied this video was equally indistinguishable and unbelievable.As for the existence of God, my own suspicion is that the real reason why people write books that try to prove God exists is because they are secretly afraid she doesn’t. I have written this book presuming God is but, more important, that God can be known, not in the sense of knowledge or information but in the sense of intimacy and inspiration. You can know about God, but not know God. That would describe most people today.

“God does not die the day we cease to believe…but we die when our lives cease to be illumined by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond all reason.”

-- Dag Hammarskjöld(1905 – 1961)             I used to think that I, and other Christians like me, had a monopoly on God. We held, as it were, a kind of title deed to ultimate Reality. What we knew about God was not only right, but what others knew was wrong or, at best, inferior to our knowledge of him.While I no longer feel this way, I realize there are many Christians who still do, just as there are people in other religions who believe their knowledge of God is superior to that of Christians. I have therefore come to the conclusion there may be a lot of knowledge about God in all religions. But, there may be only a few people in any religion who ever actually know God.As far as my life is concerned, I cannot remember a time when I have not had an interest in knowing God. Unfortunately, however, apart from the knowledge about the Divine I had accumulated over the years, I cannot say with any certainty that I knew God—that is, not in any personal way. To be sure, there were passing occasions when I felt his nearness. But, the feelings never lasted. Most of the time, I did not feel close to God at all. In fact, I felt distant, as if he was disinterested in me and maybe the rest of the world, too. The few times I did feel connected to him were usually short-lived. Of course, whenever I did, the feeling was good. But, the feelings were always temporary and soon replaced with the feeling God may be displeased with how things were going with me and perhaps the rest of the world, too. Consequently, most of the time, my spiritual life was one big frustration, even a disappointment.  I have the feeling it must be the same for many people.

“Even belief in God is only a poor substitute for the living reality of God manifesting every moment of your life.”

-- Eckhart Tolle (1948 -     )Then, one day, something happened to me and everything changed. I instantly became aware of a transcendent and ineffable presence. Was it God I suddenly became aware of? How would I know? In fact, since that experience, there are few things that I can say I’m sure about. And, the strange thing is, I’m OK with that. This is not something I would have been comfortable admitting a few years ago, however. In fact, ambiguity, paradox, contradiction—such things used to annoy me.Not anymore. Ever since this transformative encounter—whatever it was that happened to me—I enjoy the paradoxical. It was Eric Fromm who said, “Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.” I’ve let go of many certainties in the last few years. Now, I enjoy instead the freedom of not feeling as if I have to explain everything. Life’s mysteries are meaningful when not menaced by the mind.If it was not God I experienced but, instead, a dream or something equally as strange, then I hope I never wake up because, ever since that day, I have been aware of a Sacred Presence almost continually. Virtually everything about the way I think, what I believe, as well as the way I live my life has shifted—and, for the better. The changes happen almost daily, too—or, so it seems.I’ll note many of these changes throughout the book. But, the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs I used to have about my life, this world, even death itself have morphed into something infinitely more meaningful to me than at any other time in my life. As a result, I’ve moved beyond the narrow, often negative, rigid, and rule-oriented life that was a distinction of my early adult life and the Christian tradition in which I was raised.

“Life unfolds as a series of synchronous events that, though appearing coincidental, are actually conspiring together to bring you into union with God.”

--AuthorMake no mistake, however. I have not written this book to bash my religious heritage. As it is among all religions, the Christian religion is desperately ill. But, with all of its faults, it has helped shape who I am and provided me, as it has millions of others, a path to follow in the human quest to know God. I’ll have much more to say about all of this, as well as other religions of the world, in the first portion of the book.I have written the book in three sections. The first chronicles my history, the things I grew up believing, and the strange day when everything changed in my life and brought me into intimacy with God. In this section of the book, I will describe the human condition, one that interferes with intimacy between God and humans and makes life problematic for almost everyone.I’ll also detail the story of the day when my father suffered a brain attack, a stroke that ended his life ten days later. It was truly the most traumatic life event I have ever experienced. Yet, what is amazing to me is how this life event conspired with other life events to create a portal through which the encounter with God materialized. I found the truth in what the American author, Louis L‘Amour said: “There will come a time when you believe everything is finished; that will be the beginning.”In the second part, I’ll introduce you to Enoch, pronounced É-nik. He is the human archetype of the sacred art of knowing God. History records the myths and legends of those persons who lived at a level of God-consciousness never realized by the majority of their contemporaries. A few of those persons whose names may be more familiar to you are Buddha, Abraham, Lao Tzu, Moses, Confucius, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, Saint Paul, Muhammad, St. Francis of Assisi, and, more recently, Mohandas Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and the Dalai Lama. There are many, many others, of course. Jesus lived at this level, too. In fact, most Christians believe Jesus embodied the Divine presence in his earthly life more completely than any other person who has ever lived.Throughout history, the people who seemed to have arrived at an advanced level of spiritual awareness were known by specific names. To Jews they were called tzadikim, avatars to those who practiced Hinduism, and, of course, as saints to Christians.Labels are unimportant, however. What is more important is that they were rare souls indeed. Enoch was one of these rare souls, too, although not as widely known. Of him, it was said, “Enoch walked with God.”[1] Only one other person in the sacred record of Jewish history was said to have reached this level of Divine consciousness. That was Noah.[2]  The words, “walk with God” are an anthropomorphic way of describing closeness, awareness, knowing-ness, and intimacy.  In this book, I will use the words “walking with God” and “knowing God” interchangeably.From the first day I met Enoch, and that was some thirty years ago now, I have felt drawn to him, fascinated by the mysterious life he lived. A few times, I’ve actually sensed his spirit with me. That will explain my acknowledgement at the front of this book. Although it may seem strange to some readers, a psychic would understand what I’m saying.  Do not get me wrong, however. It’s not like I’ve had conversations with Enoch or witnessed an apparition of him. Instead, I have just been aware of his presence, much like being aware of another’s presence in the same room with you. You might not be in conversation with the person, but you know he or she is there. Perhaps it’s a vibrational sensation you feel—their energy field, I suppose.Maybe you’ve had an experience like this yourself—the kind of experience the psychologist Abraham Maslow called a “peak experience.” Whenever I do, the sensations may not last very long but, in the instant they occur, it’s as if time momentarily freezes. If you know what I’m talking about, or have had such an experience yourself, my guess is you’ve said little about it to anyone else. Well, I understand and, no, you haven’t lost your mind. The experience is real. I know for things like this have happened to me on more than one occasion.

“It is quite possible to reach God. In fact, it is very easy.”

--From A Course in MiraclesIn the months that followed my father’s death, for example, I had a couple of encounters like this. While a psychologist might be inclined to suggest that what I experienced was a natural consequence of a grieving heart, I don’t buy it. It is true I grieved my father’s passing. But, I cannot dismiss what happened to me as a mere trick of a mourning mind. I will always believe my father’s spirit was present with me.On one of those occasions, I was driving down a busy street in the middle of a torrential downpour.  It had been but a few months since we said our last good-byes to Dad and buried his body at Cave Hill Cemetery.  As I drove, I strained to see the road, in spite of the fact that the windshield wipers were working overtime. All of a sudden, I had this sensation that my Dad was occupying the passenger seat beside me. The aura of his presence was so pervasive, I was overcome with emotion. I had no choice but to steer the car to the shoulder of the road.  When it came to a stop, I turned and looked, certain that I would see Dad sitting right beside me. But, of course, he was not. Almost as quickly as the sensation surfaced, it subsided.Enoch has never spoken to me, although I would not be alarmed if he did. Mystical, inexplicable things like this no longer frighten me. Nor do they seem odd or all that out-of-the-ordinary. The unseen, spiritual world may be more real than the material world we see. Over the years, I’ve come to regard Enoch like some people do guardian angels. I know he’s there, not necessarily to provide guardianship, although he may be doing that, too, but a companion who has guided me in writing of this book. Since it was his purpose in life to walk with God, and leave a legacy for others to follow, I suspect he has been with me to provide inspiration and to make sure I map out a path that will an honest guide for others.

“As soon as a man is fully disposed to be alone with God, he is alone with God no matter where he may be; in the country, the monastery, the woods, or the city…At that moment he sees that though he seems to be in the middle of his journey, he has already arrived at the end.”

-- Thomas Merton      (1915 – 1968)It is in this middle section of the book you’ll also discover the unusual manner in which Enoch died. As with any folk hero, myths about his life have grown up around him. Perhaps none is more mythic, however, than the one people have believed for centuries—that is, that Enoch lived, but never actually died. Virtually everyone who has ever heard of Enoch, although I suspect most people have not, believes that Enoch somehow escaped death.This isn’t true, of course, but a misreading of scripture. Just as everyone dies, you can be certain Enoch died, too. What is true is that Enoch experienced death in a qualitatively different fashion than did his contemporaries and, I might add, virtually everyone since him. What we have in Enoch’s life and death is a prototype for living and dying today. It is the remarkable way he lived and the equally remarkable way in which he died that explains why his legacy has been preserved for thousands of years. It also explains why I’ve chosen to call the book, The Enoch Factor. It is that factor which, if followed, will change both how you live your life and how you feel about death. You will no long know about God. There’s an abundance of these folks. But, I suspect you’ll be one of the rare souls who actually live and die knowing the Presence. One of the most remarkable but disturbing things Jesus ever said is that most people would live and die and never experience life—real life.[3]In Part Three, you’ll find the tools that will guide you on this journey.To know God is to walk with God. It is to live your life in the awareness of an ineffable and eternal presence that is within you and all around you; beneath you, but also beyond you. It is personal, and yet, mysterious; real, but also surreal. You can know this presence but not know it either. You can experience God, but you will never explain God. When you live your life in union with God, you are at peace—with yourself and with the world. You know joy, too, as well as security and a kind of fearlessness.  There’s an inner sense that everything is just as it’s supposed to be. So, anxiety, stress, discontent, even boredom all but disappears from your life.

“God is not difficult to find; God is impossible to avoid.”

-- Deepak Chopra(1946 -      )To know this kind of extraordinary life of intimacy with God will not happen by accident. It takes practice to live a God-realized life. I have written this book to help you. If you are ready to take your next step into intimacy with your Creator, this book will show you how. If you’re not ready, you will quickly lose interest. Only those who are ready will make the effort to put into practice what is necessary to know God and to walk with him. The seventeenth century Carmelite Monk, Brother Lawrence, called it “practicing the presence of God.”There’s a chasm of difference between intimacy and interaction. With the widespread phenomenon associated with text-messaging, e-mail, and cell phones, a visitor from another planet might get the idea that, since humans are always connecting and interacting with each other, they must be friendly toward one another, even intimate and caring. It would not take him long however, to detect his first impression was an illusion.Although virtually everyone is endlessly talking and texting, the irony is, we may be the most disconnected, as well as the most discontented and dysfunctional generation on record. There is division in almost every family—yours, mine, the families we know, as well as conflict in relationships both at school and at work. Furthermore, there is division between races, even religions, cultures, and nations. People are more divided than perhaps any other time in the history of the human race.Conversation is no more communication than sex is intimacy. Communication and intimacy take presence and practice. They are learned skills. And, what is true of the horizontal relationships of life—humans toward other humans, is also true of the vertical relationship—the Divine/human connection.  Those who know a God-realized life are those who practice the skills necessary for genuine communication and intimacy.I love the way Rumi, the Persian Poet of Love, put it. He said, “You will know God the way you make love.”  Just as love-making is for many people a connection that has little more than a surface depth to it, so the world is full of people, many of whom are very religious, but whose intimacy with God is little more than skin deep.I realize much of this may make little sense to you now. But, as you read, it will—that is, if you have eyes that see and ears that hear. Jesus said that only those who are ready will see and know. This is how he put it:"You've been given insight into God's kingdom. Not everybody has this gift...Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears...they can stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they're blue in the face and not get it.”                                    -- Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 13:15) 

[1] Genesis 5:22

[2] Genesis 6:9

[3] Matthew 7:14

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Enoch Twice in One Week

How it is that I've come across two blogs in one week with the name Enoch in the title is a very curious thing to me. The scripture "Enoch walked with God and then he was not, for God took him," (Gen 5:24)is one that I have long meditated upon internally and suddenly I'm seeing external representations/expressions of it.

There is much to ponder here in your wonderful blog and I am saving it to spend more time with the reflections and insights shared.  Thank you,

Aberjhani
author of The American Poet Who Went Home Again
and Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance (Facts on File)

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Hello my new acquaintance and author

Dr.Steve McSwain Foundation for Excellence in Giving, Inc. 3105 Meadow Lark Ave. Louisville, KY 40213 260-MCSWAIN 502-777-9426 www.stevemcswain.com

Your work looks interesting.  I've posted a little more of the book. It is to be released in a few months.  How are you doing?

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I'm doing well and hope you are too

You reference a lot of teachers whose names resonate in a big way with me. One rarely hears mention of Dag Hammarskjold these days but it was an important one to me in my young adulthood. Of your own observations, I particularly liked this statement: "Life’s mysteries are meaningful when not menaced by the mind." A potent poetic truth and yet one that explains why so many of life's mysteries remain exactly that: mysteries.

Looking forward to the publication of your book. Perhaps I'll even find myself charged enough after reading it to write a review.

Aberjhani
Founder of Creative Thinkers International
author of The American Poet Who Went Home Again
and Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance (Facts on File)