4/23/2014

Historical Jesus & Christ of Faith Were Never Separate


"History" is a post-Biblical concept, a very modern one. Biblical stories offer something far more important to Christians than "history." They offer faith in the living power of Christ-consciousness, personified in the humanity of Jesus. 


If you don't like the Bible, don't read it.  

I always find it interesting when people rant against the Bible as much as "true believers" rant for it. People who rant against the Bible must be reading it. And if their unconscious was not engaged in the Bible, they would not spend so much energy fighting it.

Preaching against the Bible is especially futile when one objects to it on the grounds that the Bible couldn't be historically true. Do we object to Shakespeare's plays because they aren't journalistic accounts? How about the profound psychological symbolism of myths and tribal stories? Do we object that they aren't historical? How about Tibetan mandalas: do we reject them because they aren't accurate photographs?

Objecting to the Bible because it isn't historical is no less silly that believing it is. The Bible was never written to be history or fact, but an archetypal mandala of the human psyche. Here I speak of the value of its stories, as stories.

Like Tibetan mandalas, filled with demonic and wrathful gods as well as benign and healing ones, the Bible is a glimpse into the depths of the human psyche, with all its conflicts and self-contradictions. The Bible is full of contradictions because you and I are full of contradictions, paradoxes, pairs of opposites. And if you think your rational, linear, historical mind is what rules, just observe your dreams at night. Then observe what happens to perfectly normal people when they are prevented from dreaming: they become psychotic with 36 hours. Like the Vedas, initiatory tribal tales, and Tibetan art, the Bible never happened on this temporal plane of linear history. The Bible eternally happens in the place where dreams come from...

The "God" of the Bible is the human unconscious. It rules. If we do not make it conscious, it destroys us. If we make it conscious, it is our friend. Jung pointed this out. Atheist Thomas Hardy called the Bible the novelist's greatest model: the most sublime example of narrative art and story telling we possess. Literary critic Harold Bloom, who studies the Bible intensely even though he is not a believer, calls the Bible our first complete study of human psychology. We cannot understand Shakespeare, Milton, Blake, Faulkner, Steinbeck or Camus without reading the Bible. The great existential German novelist,
Thomas Mann, author of Death In Venice, The Magic Mountain and Buddenbroocks, finally chose Biblical narrative as his model and wrote seven novels based on the Joseph story in Genesis. I love the gritty, violent, New Orleans crime novels of James Lee Burke: but readers cannot understand them without studying the symbols and stories of the New Testament.

Literal/historical interpretation of the Bible is a recent phenomenon. Only within the last century have the uneducated and their ministers insisted on interpreting the Bible as historical fact. The early Church followed the interpretive method of the Jewish Rabbis, recognizing multiple levels of meaning in each verse of scripture. When a Biblical story is obviously not historical fact, it is a sign to look deeper into the moral, allegorical, or mystical sense. Christian mystics call this method of reading "Lectio Divina": meditation on the word of scripture as mantra. The Biblical image or symbol becomes a doorway into unconscious and super-conscious realms.

It is fashionable these days to separate the "historical Jesus" from the mythic "Christ of faith," and then imagine that we can somehow find the man, Jesus, in history. But the dichotomy of Jesus and the Christ is false. The Christ of faith and the Jesus of history are inexorably entangled. This dualism stems from a misconception that the historical Jesus preceded the Church. In fact, we only know Jesus through symbolic faith stories handed down by the early Christian community, eventually committed to writing a generation or two after Jesus died. 

People who believe that the historical foundation of the Church is the Gospel account of Jesus have it backward. The Gospel was not written BEFORE the Church, but BY the Church. Faith in the mystical Presence of Christ came before the writings; then faith gave rise to the Gospels. This form of literature is completely alien to modern concepts of history and journalism. In Gospel literature, each passage presents for our contemplation, not a historical fact, but a moral and spiritual message. The same "event" may have different versions in different Gospels, depending on the faith-context intended. One version may center on the theme of healing, another on a wisdom-proverb of Jesus, another on initiation into the spiritual life; yet all three versions are variations of one archetypal scene. Only the ignorant call them contradictions, failing to comprehend their purpose. 

"History" is a post-Biblical concept, a very modern one. Biblical stories offer something far more important to Christians than "history." They offer faith in the living power of Christ-consciousness, personified in the humanity of Jesus. 

In fact, we have no eyewitness "history" of Jesus, and no original version of the Gospels. We don't even have copies of the first Gospel, not even copies of copies, nor copies of copies of copies! We have hundreds of fragments of re-copied scribal texts, in which there are as many variants as there are words in the Gospels themselves. There is simply no "historical Jesus" available to us.

Any attempt to present "the Jesus of history" will reflect the sociopolitical bias of the scholar, posing under the illusion of "objectivity." The Marxist scholar will always present a Marxist Jesus. The apocalyptic preacher will always present an apocalyptic Jesus. The Catholic will see a sacramental Jesus. Those with a Jewish background will insist that Jesus was a progressive rabbi. A person interested in shamanic healing will see Jesus as a desert shaman. A person with lively sex energy will gladly accept the possibility that Jesus was married, and one with repressed sex energy will insist that he was single. Never underestimate the power of the ego to disguise its prejudice in the garment of scholarship.


Why are we so obsessed with "history" when the very concept of history is problematic? Who has ever written a pure objective history? The oligarchs currently in power always rewrite history textbooks to reflect their economic advantage. The quest for "objectivity" is a wash even among today's journalists. The same news item appears differently on MSNBC, Fox and RT. We can't determine what happened to a commercial jetliner that disappeared over a crowded nation one month ago, or what happened yesterday in the streets of Kiev. How can we possibly know what happened two thousand years ago? 

History does not exist, but story-telling is a perennial art, and a marvelous craft of consciousness.

We will never know Jesus by reading ancient manuscripts, even if we call them "holy," glaze their pages with gold leaf, and bind them in black leather. We will only know Jesus when we repose in the depths of our hearts, dissolve our searching mind in the space of pure consciousness, and meet his subtle living form in the Akashic record. There, in Christ-Consciousness, Jesus dwells eternally, just as we do.

No Affirmation

To make affirmations of abundance expresses lack.
To pray for strength confesses weakness.
To ask for healing is to be sick.
But simply to embrace what is
may be a deeper prayer....

I embrace 'poverty,'
I expand into emptiness,
I don't ask for 'more.'
Is the universe not born from a boundless vacuum?
Not fearing the void, I ripple with wealth.

I confess that I am powerless
in utter surrender.
I abandon striving, and discover
pre-existent fullness,
the immoveable strength that is nearer
than the next breath...

I accept my dis-ease,
I welcome brokenness,
I hug this body.
In non-resistance, unity.
In unity, healing.

This very moment I refuse
to generate conflict
by changing the suchness
into the 'should.'

I nestle into wholeness
and little things begin to happen
majestically...

All that greens with nectar,
all that buzzes with life,
emerges from
what Is...

Drop



Why does everything in American culture have to be bigger than life? Big car, big oil, big game, big screen, big mac, big tits, big deal. The real masters of the world are the tiniest microbes. The meek will inherit the earth. In the small, the local, the sustainable, will be our salvation and our deepest joy. There is as much beauty in a lady bug as a galaxy. And when we reduce our wants, our needs become sacraments. In the words of the Upanishads, "ano raniyan, mahato mahiyan: one atom of the smallest, greater than the greatest." Or the words of Jesus, "in as much as you have done it unto the least of these, my little ones, you have done it unto Me."

I live inside a drop of dew
on the tip of a green grass blade
a ray of sunlight passes through,
but I am not afraid.

The glory of a firefly's glow
dissolves me in the small.
What is above, what is below,
I care not at all.

Evaporate into the dark,
bow down to a shooting star.
Become the all-pervading spark
of the littlest thing you are.

4/22/2014

Earth Our Power


One who marvels at a sunbeam
refracted through kaleidoscopic wings
of the dragonfly
needs no weapon for defense; 
who smells a blossoming lilac needs 
no federal reserve; 
who steps barefoot over the singing brook
on mossy forest stones
needs no transportation; 
who listens to the advice of silence
bursting from buds, cocoons, mycelia
needs no pharmacy. 
Earth is our power, 
Earth is our currency, 
Earth our starship, 
our medicine.