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The “Jesus of Faith” Vs the “Jesus of History” part 5:3 – Resurrection

 

Good morning and Happy Easter!

I feel the burgeoning wave of joy and happiness that is resurrected from the womb of human hearts every year at Easter in the wake of the fasting season of Lent and just on the heels of passion Holy Week and sorrowful Good Friday — at least in the Christian sector of the world’s seven-plus billion population. With spring bursting out all over, this is a most appropriate time of the year to celebrate Easter.

(click on the picture to enlarge it)

A study in 2012 estimated Christianity was the largest faith at 2.2 billion adherents or 31.5 percent of the world’s population. The Roman Catholic Church makes up 50 percent of that total, with Protestants — including Anglicans and non-denominational churches — at 37 percent and Orthodox at 12 percent.”  So, nearly a third of the people on earth celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. Little wonder the day is so bright, even as bright as the Sun rising in the East. 

Hmm. I must look up the origin of the word “Easter.” And I did. Here is one item that stands out among all of the hoopla over the pagan roots of this annual Christian celebration:

Because the English Anglo/Saxon language originally derived from the Germanic, there are many similarities between German and English. Many English writers have referred to the German language as the “Mother Tongue!” The English word Easter is of German/Saxon origin and not Babylonian as Alexander Hislop falsely claimed. The German equivalent is OsterOster (Ostern being the modern day equivalent) is related to Ostwhich means the rising of the sun, or simply in English, eastOster comes from the old Teutonic form of auferstehen / auferstehung, which means resurrection, which in the older Teutonic form comes from two words, Ester meaning first, and stehen meaning to stand. These two words combine to form erstehen which is an old German form of auferstehen, the modern day German word for resurrection.

It was the Emperor Constantine at the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325 who “ordained that Easter shouldn’t be connected with the festival of another faith. It should stand on its own in connection with the natural world. Hence he ordained that Easter should be celebrated on the Sunday after the first  new moon of Spring.” (David Potter of Oxford University Press.)  So, Easter Sunday’s final resting place is somewhere between March 21 and April 25. The date of Easter Day is usually the first Sunday after the first Full Moon occurring on or after the March equinox.

An issue was also settled at this council concerning the celebration of the Passover by the Jewish Christians, as Jesus’ crucifixion was said to be associated with the Passover. Obviously, Christianity emerged out of Judaism. Thus the consolidation of the two celebrations by Constantine.

Now the Easter egg can be traced back to practices in pre-dynastic Egypt as well as amid the early Christians of Mesopotamia.  From there it spread into Russia and Siberia through the Orthodox Churches. In Christianity, for the celebration of Easter, the Easter egg symbolizes the empty tomb of Jesus. An ancient tradition was the staining of the Easter egg with the color red in memory of the blood of Christ shed during his crucifixion. The egg is also a symbol of fertility.

Significance of the Resurrection

I will now return to my consideration of the Foreword of Stevan Davies’ book The Gospel of Thomas – Annotated & Explained, written by the his Series Editor Andrew Harvey. I will continue from where I left off in my post of April 7th on the theme of “Kingdom-consciousness.”

If all the Gospel of Thomas did was relentlessly and sublimely cham­pion the path to our transfiguration and point out its necessity, it would be one of the most important of all religious writings — but it does even more. In saying 22, the Gospel of Thomas gives us a brilliantly concise and pre­cise “map” of the various stages of transformation that have to be unfolded in the seeker for the “secret” to be real in her being and active though all her powers. Like saying 13, saying 22 has no precedent in the synoptic gospels and is, I believe, the single most important document of the spiritual life that Jesus has left us.

Jesus saw infants being suckled. He said to his disciples: These infants taking milk are like those who enter the Kingdom. His disciples asked him: If we are infants will we enter the Kingdom? Jesus responded: When you make the two into one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside, and the upper like the lower and the lower like the upper, and thus make the male and the female the same, so that the male isn’t male and the female isn’t female. When you make an eye to replace an eye, and a hand to replace a hand, and a foot to replace a foot, and an image to replace an image, then you will enter the Kingdom.

When Jesus says in saying 19 “If you become my disciples and listen to me, these stones will serve you,” in saying 24 “There is light within a man of light, and he lights up all of the world,” and in saying 106 “When you make the two into one, you will be called sons of men. When you say ‘Move, mountain!’ it will move,” he was not speaking in incandescent poetry; he was describing the actual powers that God gives those who risk becoming divinized, powers that can alter natural law and “burn down the house” of the oppressive power structures of the world.

Fourth and finally, we see in saying 22 the final cryptic sentences of the saying: “When you make an eye to replace an eye, and a hand to replace a hand, and a foot to replace a foot, and an image to replace an image, then you will enter the Kingdom.” What these lines describe is nothing less than the physical transformation that mystical union makes possible, the bringing up of ordinary matter into the living truth of the Light.

The ultimate sign of the Christ is the victory of the Resurrection, which is the marriage of matter and spirit to create a wholly new and eternal substance. Those mystics who follow Christ into union come to know and taste the glory of the Resurrected Body in their own bodies. The pow­ers available to the human being willing to undertake the full rigor of the Jesus-transformation are limitless. What could not be done to trans­form this world by a group of seekers who allowed their whole beings­–psychological, spiritual, and physical–to become increasingly transfigured by the living light?

The greatest of all modern philosophers–Sri Aurobindo — saw that only an “integral” transformation could provide the force and inspiration to change that must occur if humanity is to survive and evolve. Jesus in saying 22 has anticipated Sri Aurobindo’s vision and provided the map to its realization.

There may be very little time left to take the adventure into total being that the Gospel of Thomas advocates with such astringent brilliance and pre­cision. In such a terrible age as ours, it is easy to believe that the dark powers, the powers of that corpse of the world that the Jesus of Thomas so fiercely denounces, have won already, and there is nothing even the most passionate of us can do to turn around a humanity addicted to violence and destruction.

Despair, however, is the last illusion. The Gospel of Thomas and the Jesus who gave it to us continue to challenge us to dare to become one with the Divine and start living the revolutionary life that streams from union and that can transform all things. This worst of times needs the clearest and most unflinchingly exigent of visions to counteract and trans­form it; in Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Thomas and in his living out of their reality through and beyond death itself into the eternal empowering glory of the Resurrection, we have the permanent sign of the Way, the Truth, and the all-transforming Life that, even now, can build here on earth the reality of God’s Kingdom.

As this series  The “Jesus of Faith” Vs the “Jesus of History” winds down, I will return to my desk to write, edit and publish my final post of the series. Until then, I wish you each one a Happy Easter and offer my thanks to you for sharing these considerations with me over the past several weeks.  Until my next post, then,

Be love. Be loved.

Anthony

Photo credit: Craig Burrows “The Invisible Light that Flowers Emit”   Click on the link to see more of Craig’s flowers.

The “Jesus of Faith” Vs the “Jesus of History” – part 5:2 The Crucifixion Plot

I remember when I was fourteen and studying for the Catholic priesthood kneeling in front of a large carved image of Jesus hanging on a cross above the altar in the chapel and struggling to get in touch with feelings of guilt and sorrow for my sins, sins for which this man is said to have died an ignominious death. I was actually able to bring myself to sorrowful tears of repentance. Such memories serve me today as motivation to write about the deception that has been created and maintained for two-thousand years by the Catholic Church and by Christianity in general.  I truly believe that, if Jesus were to come back today, he would have all the crucifixes taken down and destroyed. It is his life of love and compassion, his “good news” about the Kingdom of Heaven being right at hand, that I believe he wished to be remembered by and not his crucifixion.

That said, I would like to share religious historian Michael Baigent’s perspectives on the crucifixion of Jesus from his controversial book The Jesus Papers – Exposing the Greatest Cover-Up in History. The chapter heading from which the excerpts are taken, “SURVIVING THE CRUCIFIXION,” speaks for itself.

Jesus’ crucifixion was politically motivated, and Jesus was well aware of the political reality of the time. The main contention between the Jews and the Romans was their refusal to pay taxes. This played a pivotal role in both Jesus’ betrayal by the Zealots, as well as in a survival plot orchestrated by Pontius Pilate himself. I’ll let Michael Baigent detail his scenario.

If the Sadducee priesthood wanted to be rid of Jesus because they saw him as a messiah and a threat to their power, and if the Zealots too, for different reasons, wanted to be rid of Jesus, then word of this would have reached Pilate. And this intelligence would have put him in a very difficult position. Pilate was Rome’s official representative in Judaea, and Rome’s main argument with the Jews was that they declined to pay their tax to Caesar. Yet here was a leading Jew — the legitimate king no less — telling his people to pay the tax. How could Pilate try, let alone condemn, such a man who, on the face of it, was supporting Roman policy? Pilate would himself be charged with dereliction of duty should he proceed with the condemnation of such a supporter.

The New Testament represents “the Jews” as baying for Jesus’s blood. And this apparent guilt of the Jews stuck for millennia — it was only acknowledged as fraudulent by the Vatican and excised from the teachings as late as 1960. But as should now be clear, it was not “the Jews” in general who were calling for Jesus’s arrest and execution, but the militant Zealots, those who hated the Romans and would sacri­fice even one of their own for their political aims. In the scenario presented here, Pilate would have found himself in a serious dilemma: to keep the peace he had to try, condemn, and execute a Jew who was supporting Rome but whose existence was causing public disorder, the flames of which were being fanned by the disgruntled Zealots. Pilate needed to try to square the circle on this; he desperately needed a deal.

And the deal, I suggest, was this: that he try Jesus and condemn him as a political agitator, thus appeasing the Zealots, who threatened widespread disorder. This was the last thing Pilate needed on his watch, especially since he was aware that he was falling out of favor with the Roman authorities. But while he condemned Jesus and had to go through with the required sentence of crucifixion, he could not dare have it reported to Rome that Jesus had actually died. So Pilate took steps to ensure that Jesus would survive. He spoke with a member of the Sanhedrin and friend of Jesus, the wealthy Joseph of Arimathea.

Technically, how could a crucifixion have been faked? Just how could Jesus have survived? Was it possible at all to survive a crucifix­ion of any length of time?

Crucifixion was not so much an execution as a torturing to death. The procedure was very simple: the victim was tied, hanging to the crossbar, while his feet were supported on a block at the base of the cross. His feet were also usually tied at the block, although at least one example recovered by archaeologists reveals that a nail might be driven through each ankle. The weight of the hanging body made breathing very difficult and could be managed only by constantly pushing upwards with the legs and feet to relieve the tension in the chest. Eventually, of course, weariness and weakness overcame the ability to keep pushing. When this happened, the body slumped, breathing became impossible, and the crucified person died — by as­phyxiation. This was reckoned to take about three days.

As an act of mercy — only the brutal Romans could come up with such a definition — the legs of the victim were often broken and so deprived of any strength whatsoever to maintain the weight of the body.  The body would drop, and death by asphyxiation rapidly followed. We can see this in the New Testament. John reports that the legs of the two Zealots crucified beside Jesus were broken, but when they came to break Jesus’s legs, “he was dead already” (John 19:31-33).

On a side note, a statement in the Koran, “They did not crucify him,” could be translated as “They did not cause his death on the cross.” More relevant is the teachings of a heretical Egyptian Gnostic that Jesus had been substituted by Simon of Cyrene on his way to Golgatha and died in Jesus’ stead.

But if Jesus survived without being substituted, how could it have happened? Hugh Schonfield, in his The Passover Plot, suggests that Jesus was drugged — sedated on the cross such that he appeared dead but could be revived later, after he had been taken down. This is by no means such a wild idea, and it has received a sympathetic hearing. For example, in a television program on the crucifixion broadcast by the BBC in 2004 called Did Jesus Die? Elaine Pagels referred to Schonfield’s book, which, she noted, suggested that Jesus “had been sedated on the cross; that he was removed quite early and therefore could well have survived.” And, she concluded, “that’s certainly a possibility?”

The hypothesis forwarded was that Jesus was drugged with a sponge soaked in a sedative mixture of opium and other compounds such as belladonna and hashish when he cried out “I thirst.” Vinegar would have revived him whereas the drink from the sponge apparently caused him to die. Such a drug concoction, which was available and used in the Middle East for medical procedures, would have rendered Jesus unconscious and therefore spared much of the trauma and mental anguish crucifixion surely inflicted upon him. Then there was the incident of the spear thrust into Jesus’ side, not his heart or vital organ, where it is reported that blood and water poured out, indicating that Jesus was still alive.

All that remained then was for Jesus to be taken down from the cross, apparently lifeless but in reality unconscious, and taken to a private tomb where medicines could be used to revive him. He would then be whisked away from the scene. And this is precisely what is described in the Gospels: Luke (23:53) and Mark (15:46) report that Jesus was placed in a new tomb nearby. Matthew (27:6) adds that the tomb was owned by the wealthy and influential Joseph of Arimathea. John (19:41-42), who generally gives us so many extra details, adds that there was a garden around this tomb, implying that the grounds were privately owned, perhaps also by Joseph of Arimathea.

John also stresses that Jesus was taken down quickly and put into this new tomb. Then, in a very curious addition, he reports that Joseph of Arimathea and a colleague, Nicodemus, visited the tomb during the night and brought with them a very large amount of spices: myrrh and aloes (John 19:39). These, it is true, could be used simply as a perfume, but there could be another equally plausible explana­tion. Both substances have a medicinal use – most notably, myrrh has been used as an aid to stop bleeding. Neither drug is known to have a role in embalming dead bodies. Mark (16:1) and Luke (23:56) touch obliquely on this theme as well, adding to their story of the tomb that the women — Mary Magdalene and Mary, the “mother of James,”­ brought spices and ointments with them when they came to the tomb after the Sabbath had ended.

. . . . But there is yet another oddity that we need to note: in the Gospel of Mark, Joseph of Arimathea is described as visiting Pilate and requesting the body of Jesus. Pilate asks if Jesus is dead and is surprised when told that he is indeed, for his demise seems very rapid to Pilate. But since Jesus is dead, Pilate allows Joseph to take the body down. If we look at the original Greek text, we see an im­portant point being made: when Joseph asks Pilate for Jesus’s body, the word used for “body” is soma. In Greek this denotes a living body.  When Pilate agrees that Joseph can take the body down from the cross, the word he uses for “body” is ptoma (Mark 15:43-45). This means a fallen body, a corpse or carcass. In other words, the Greek text of Mark’s Gospel is making it clear that while Joseph is asking for the living body of Jesus, Pilate grants him what he believes to be the corpse. Jesus’s survival is revealed right there in the actual Gospel account.

If the writer of this Gospel had wished to hide that fact, it would have been very easy for him simply to use one word for both state­ments — to have both Joseph and Pilate speaking of the ptoma, the corpse. But the writer chose not to be consistent. Could this be be­cause it was too well known a fact for him to get away with any manipulation of it? This had to wait for the translation of the New Testament from Greek into Latin: in the Latin Bible – the Vulgate – the word corpus is used by both Pilate and Joseph of Arimathea, and this simply means “body” as well as “corpse.” The hiding of the secret of the crucifixion was completed.

Again, it takes only a slight shift of perspective, a standing aside from the theological dogma, to see the crucifixion in a new way. That is, to see how Jesus could very well have survived.

Jesus alive in A.D. 45?

Then there’s this: Jesus is reported to have been alive in A.D. 45, twelve years after his crucifixion. When this tidbit of historical information came into Michael Baigent’s hands in the form of a letter from an undivulged source, he immediately set out to find “incontrovertible evidence that Jesus survived and was living long afterwards.” But his efforts were to no avail.

Then there’s the Stations of the Cross plaque still on the wall of the church at Rennes le Chateau.

“. . . an image that reveals something very heretical indeed. . . .  One image, for example, shows a woman with a child standing beside Jesus; the child is wearing a Scottish tartan robe. . . . But the most curious of all is Station 14. This is traditionally the last of the series illustrating Jesus being placed in the tomb prior to the resurrection. At Rennes le Chateau the image shows the tomb and, immediately in front of it, three figures carrying the body of Christ. But the painted background reveals the time as night. In the sky beyond the figures, the full moon has risen.”

This indicates that the Passover had begun — and no Jew would have handled a dead body after the Passover had begun as it would make him ritually unclean. The scene also suggests that the body of Jesus was not being placed in a tomb but was being carried out secretly under the cover of night.

The significance of this story lies in the fact that the priest of Rennes le Chateau, Abbe Sauniere, discovered the story of Jesus’ survival in documents he found while renovating the church in the early 1890’s. His bishop, upon seeing the documents, sent him to Paris to meet with experts at the Seminary of Saint Sulpice, where he spent three weeks. He returned with access to considerable wealth, sufficient to completely renovate the church and build a road to the village up the hill. The implication is that his silence was bought.

It is important to note that the Stations of The Cross at Rennes le Chateau were painted under the direct supervision of Abbe Sauniere. He appears to be telling us that he knows — or a least believes — that Jesus survived the crucifixion.

As a final note to close this post, I will tell you about a most interesting event Michael Baigent discloses in this chapter. In researching the origin of the letter he had received mentioned above, he came upon Canon Alfred Leslie (1860–1948) who was Chancellor of Hereford Cathedral in Oxford, England. He was an expert in medieval French and was often consulted on difficult translation work.  He was invited to Paris to the Seminary of Saint Sulpice to assist in the translation of a “strange document (or documents).” The scholars working on the translation asked for help because of the outrageous nature of the text which they thought that perhaps they were misunderstanding. His friend, a Rev. Bartlett, who had invited him to go to Paris, reports on the outcome:

“They didn’t know that it was close to the bone . . . . Lilley said that they wouldn’t have a long and happy life if certain people knew about it. It was a very delicate matter. Lilley laughed over what was going to happen when the French priest told anyone about it. He didn’t know what happened to them [the documents], but he thought that they had changed hands for a large sum of money and had ended up in Rome.” In fact, Lilley thought that the Church would ultimately destroy these documents.

Lilley was quite certain that these documents were authentic. They were extraordinary and upset many of our ideas about the Church. Contact with the material, he said, led to an unorthodoxy. . . .  “By the end of his life,” Bartlett explained, ” Lilley had come to the conclusion that there was nothing in the Gospels that one could be certain about. He had lost all conviction of truth.”

A group of “Modernists” that included Lilley wanted to “revise the dogmatic assertions of the church teachings in the light of the discoveries made by science, archaeology, and critical scholarship.” Baigent concludes with this observation.

Many theologians were realizing that their confidence in the historical validity of New Testament stories was misplaced. For example, William Inge, Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, was once asked to write on the life of Jesus. He declined, saying that there was not nearly enough solid evidence to write anything at all about him.”

I will leave it there for now. Until my next post Easter Sunday morning, then,

Be love. Be loved.

Anthony

 

 

 

 

 

The “Jesus of Faith’ vs the “Jesus of History” part 5:1 The Passion of Jesus

“Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son may also glorify thee:  ….I have glorified thee on earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do….”

These words are recorded by John (17:2-4) in the New Testament as being Jesus’ final words with his disciples before entering the Garden of Gethsemane. The last eleven words are the most significant: “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” These words were uttered by Jesus before he was crucified, which tells us that crucifixion was not necessary to his mission on earth, nor was it part of a divine “plan of salvation,” as Christian dogma teaches. That’s all spin on the part of Catholic theologians and Christianity in general–that Jesus died on the cross to redeem us from the clutches of Satan and to atone for our sins. All spin to create religious power and control over people based on guilt, shame and fear. Jesus’ message was one of forgiveness, compassion and love.

The following excerpt is from Claire Heartsong’s 2002 book, Anna, Grandmother of Jesus–A Message of Wisdom and Love.”  For me these words, though replete with modern spiritualistic concepts and thought, convey the true passion of Jesus as he may have expressed in words of assurance and comfort to his family and disciples. His passion was to reveal the glory of the Father’s love for humanity and for this world, which he accomplished with his life. They also convey the cosmic event of ascension for Mother Earth to a new level of vibration that was underway at the time. The book itself is a remarkable work which I highly recommend to my readers. Jesus’ name is “Yeshua” in the story, as told by Anna herself.

After John ben Zebedee’s group arrived at our designated rendezvous point, we ascended the well-worn path that crossed the Kidron Valley and took us up the Mount of Olives’ southern slopes. We found cloistered shelter within the Garden of Gethsemane’s oldest grove of gnarled olive trees. A cold, desert-borne breeze gently stirred the pungent odor of crushed, dry leaves underfoot. We silently took our places surrounding Yeshua and Mary Magdalene. Mary Anna and Ahmed sat beside me. We softly sang a litany of psalms, intoned Sanskrit mantras and the seventy-two Hebrew names of Father-Mother God, until we rested in a deep abiding calm.

Then Yeshua spoke. “The hour comes for which we have long prepared. You are the chosen ones that my Father-Mother God has given me to hold the Way of the Teacher of Righteousness secure. While the world sleeps you have chosen to be awake, and so it is that we have come together to prepare all things.

“Even with all your knowing and wisdom, more shall be accomplished these next fifty days than you can presently understand. For, I say to you, my Heavenly Father-Mother has established a New Covenant in me and my beloved Mary, that you now know not of, but soon you shall be our witnesses. I testify that what we do shall be imprinted in you, even as the signs of crucifixion imprint my hands, wrists and feet as a testimonial that the old patterns of atoning for guilt through blood sacrifice are to be done away. So shall it be that every cell of your physical body will likewise be imprinted with the universal codes of light and truth that shall surely set you free.”

In the midst of serenading cricket song, Yeshua paused. Our attention turned to embrace the nocturnal sounds of nature around us. Then he crushed an olive leaf between his fingers, and allowed the gentle breeze to send the fragments aloft. Next, my grandson picked up a nearby clod of earth, which crumbled in his hands and slowly sifted through his fingers. Smiling and acknowledging each disciple, he softly whispered, causing us to draw close to him, “Yea, even the least of these, which are of the Mother’s earthly body, will be likewise imprinted with ascending light. No creature hidden in the deepest place will escape the irresistible pull of our cosmic Mother’s love, when She brings all opposites together as divinely harmonious complements in Union. She shall surely bring down the Heavenly Father’s cosmic light in order to give this earthly body a new form. We have come together at this time to assist our cosmic Mother and Father to prepare humanity and Earth for ascension’s bright day, in a season yet to come.

”All of you, whether physically or in your light body, were with me as I lay in the sepulchre of the Great Pyramid of Egypt. I have taken you aside and have given you additional instruction these past six years. Therefore, know that what was placed into your conscious and subconscious knowing is now being opened to you. Now you may release the Old Covenant of our matriarchal and patriarchal ancestors who believed that original sin required blood sacrifice to appease an angry, jealous god and to keep the Earth Mother fertile.

“Likewise, it is you who will usher in the New Testament or New Covenant of the ascending and eternally living Christ who proclaims all life as innocent and in eternal union with its Creator. It is that same Christ living within you, who whispers this irrevocable truth to you day by day. Seek and you shall find. Knock and it shall be opened to you. It is you, my beloved companions, as you are and shall be, in a day that you now know not, who shall join with humanity to unite the highest heavenly realms of our Father with this, our beloved Earth Mother, to birth the Universal Christ into your consciousness.

“If you would enter the kingdom of Heaven on Earth, allow the differences that provide contrast to inspire you. Make the two, one, by joining the inner with the outer and the outer with the inner. Allow your feelings of love to flow, giving and receiving as one. So likewise, make the upper like the lower and the lower like the upper, merging the Heavenly Father and Earthly Mother, male and female, light and darkness into a single One. In this way you shall enter the bridal chamber where the Bridegroom claims you as himself. Then you shall surely enter the kingdom.”

Now Yeshua stood in the center of our intimate circle, lifting Mary Magdalene to stand beside him. With his arm securely around her, he said, “Mary and I shall now go off a short distance to pray and prepare all things. Remain here, watch, and pray also with all your might, mind, and soul. The time is short that we have together. Soon I shall be taken from you. Let not fear overcome you, but do the part that you have long prepared to do. Though what we shall now pass through is indeed the partaking of the bitter appearance of death, humbly replace that illusion with the true sweetness of your Father-Mother’s Will, which is eternal life.

“Remember this.” said Yeshua, his lips trembling. “As the sun is darkened and the Earth Mother quakes, keep your eye single and look into the heaven worlds. There you shall find me and know I have not left you. On the third day, this body shall rise, and you shall see me as I AM. So be it. Amen and Amen.” With these last words of comforting counsel, Yeshua stooped low and tenderly pulled his mother to him, kissing her forehead. Yeshua motioned to Peter, John and James ben Zebedee and his brother, James, and a small number of other close disciples, both male and female, to follow him. They could be seen about fifteen feet away sitting huddled in the shadows of ancient olive trees. Yeshua and Mary Magdalene went off a short distance further, sitting face to face, their cloaked forms barely discernable. We followed the example of the others and knelt on the ground, our bodies quaking with an ever-increasing intensity of energy. For some, the energy became so great that we fell prone upon the ground.

Below our bodies we could feel a low, humming vibration within the Earth that seemed to be rising to the surface from her core. As our consciousness expanded into a greater sense of oneness with the more subtle realms of intelligence that are often unacknowledged but nevertheless are always co-creating with humanity, we became aware of web-like patterns of light enveloping us, uniting with our hearts in profound unity and love. I witnessed legions of angels and ascended beings of this and other worlds providing us with their loving support should we choose to receive it. I was also aware of the ethereal city of light that we called the “New Jerusalem.”

That city of light is none other than the state of “Kingdom-consciousness” I wrote about in my last post. “It is my Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom” were words Jesus is recorded to have spoken to his disciples. That was his passion and purpose for incarnating. It had nothing to do with crucifixion and death. Even so, he took that on, faced it and overcame it by not dying . . . and that will be the subject of my Good Friday post. Until then,

Be love. Be loved.

Anthony

 

The “Jesus of Faith’ vs the “Jesus of History” part 4:2 “Kingdom-Consciousness”

“When you understand yourselves you will be understood …. If you do not know yourselves, then you exist in poverty and you are that poverty.”

This blog series is dedicated to all my Christian brothers and sisters.

Continuing from where we left off in the previous post, I will share further excerpts from Andrew Harvey’s Foreword in The Gospel Of Thomas — Annotated & Explained by Stevan Davies. The author is commenting on this saying by Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas:

“Jesus said: ‘The seeker should not stop until he finds. When he does find, he will be disturbed. After having been disturbed, he will be astonished. Then he will reign over everything.’ “

From his own harrowing experience, Jesus knows that finding cannot be without suffering; to find out the truth and power of your inner divinity is to be “disturbed”: disturbed by the gap between your human shadow and its dark games, the abyss of light within; disturbed by the price that any authentic transformation cannot help but demand; disturbed by the grandeur you are beginning to glimpse of your real royal nature with all its burden of responsibility and solitude.

Jesus knows too, how­ever, that if you risk this disturbance and surrender to the unfolding of your divine nature, extraordinary visions will be awoken in you–visions that will astound you and drag you into what the Sufi mystics call the “kingdom of bewilderment” that “placeless place” where everything you have imagined to be true about yourself or about humanity is rubbed by the splendor of what you discover. And from this increasingly astonishing self-discovery, tremendous powers to influence and transform reality will be born in you. Just as unprecedented energy is unleashed by the splitting of an atom, so through the “splitting” of human identity to reveal the divine identity within it, a huge new transforming power is born, a ruling power, the power that great saints and sages have displayed through gifts of healing, miracles, and undaunted stamina of sacred passion and sacrifice.

The seeker that becomes a finder and ruler makes a leap in evolutionary development from human being, unconscious of the Divine hidden within him or her, to an empowered divine human being, capable in and under the Divine of flooding reality with the glory of the Kingdom. To reveal this secret, live it out, and release it in all its radical power, to make “finders” and rulers of us all, is why the Jesus of the Gospel of Thomas lived and preached and died.

It’s a giant leap from the saying “I’m only human” to “I am divine.” One is left with no excuse for one’s goof-ups and shortcomings. Assuming one’s divine identity does not mean that one will no longer make “mistakes” or experience shortcomings. These are seen as lessons in the school of Life rather than mistakes. One learns and grows from them.

This empowering vision of saying 2 leads naturally, as in the text itself, to the challenge of saying 3:

“Jesus said: If your leaders say to you” Look! The Kingdom is in the sky!” Then the birds will be there before you are. If they say that the Kingdom is in the sea, then the fish will be there before you are. Rather the Kingdom is within you and it is outside of you. When you understand yourselves you will be understood …. If you do not know yourselves, then you exist in poverty and you are that poverty.”

The savage, gorgeous radicalism of this saying should not be under­estimated; Jesus is, consciously and with the most subversive imaginable scorn, mocking all versions of the spiritual journey that place the ultimate experience beyond this world, in some transcendent “otherwhere.” All the patriarchal religions and mystical transmission systems–including those conceived in Jesus’ honor–subtly devalue the immanent in favor of the transcendent. . . .

The Jesus of Thomas is a “mystical revolutionary” who goes against all convention, religious dogmas decreed in his name, and the sociopolitical structures that maintain the status quo.

From what I have said, it should now be clear why in saying 10 Jesus announces, “I have thrown fire on the world. Look! I watch it until it blazes.” The “fire” that Jesus has thrown–and is constantly throwing on the world–is the fire of a revolutionary transcendent and immanent knowledge and love that menaces all the world’s political, social, economic, and religious hierarchies and elite, and all their self-serving justifications for keeping a vicious and unjust set of structures in place. The Jesus of Thomas is not the tender, often ethereal victim, or the suffering servant; he is the most fiery-eyed of revolutionaries, a being who knows he has discovered the nuclear secret of a new, potentially all-transforming power of love-in-action, and he is committed to seeing that its unleashing upon the world and transfiguration of the fire of its truth and laws take place.

In saying 71, he announces cryptically, “I will destroy this house”; scholars have taken him to mean that either he will bring down the Tem­ple with all its elite and hierarchy and business policies throughout a revelation of a direct egalitarian vision of human divinity, or that he is pledged to destroying the House of Herod that is currently “defiling” the house of David. These are entirely too limiting and local interpretations of the enterprise of Jesus. The Jesus of Thomas is not a peacemaker; he is an incendiary of love, a pyromaniac of divine passion, announcing the laws of a transformed world and of the enormous struggles, sacrifices, and sufferings, both internal and external, necessary to engender it.

As he pro­claims in saying 16, “People think, perhaps, that I have come to throw peace upon the world. They don’t know that I have come to throw disagreement upon the world, and fire, and sword, and struggle.”

Jesus has far too mordant an understanding of ruthlessness and cor­ruption not to realize that only divine violence can end human violence­– only a sacred violence of utter abandon to God and utter commitment to transformation can dissolve the human violence that keeps the world sunk in degradation. Not only does Jesus know this, but he faces its necessity and lives it out in the extremity of his own life; he is fully aware that his knowledge of the laws of the birth of the Kingdom threatened all previous human accommodations to the way of the world; after his very first public sermon, the Gospel of Matthew tells us, occasional attempts on his life were made.

Unlike many of the gurus and so-called teachers of our time, whose vague transcendental waffling further drugs an already comatose culture and leaves every aspect of the status quo intact, Jesus’ vision of the new way was rooted not only in visionary ecstasy but in an utterly illusionless and ruthless analysis of power in all of its aspects. This is what made him–and makes him–dangerous, perpetually scandalous, and what makes the Gospel of Thomas a fiery challenge, not only to less incendiary versions of his own message, but to all philosophers who do not propose a complex mystical revolution on every level.

Jesus risked such an almost alienating fervor and uncompromising urgency of address not merely because he understood that the Kingdom could not be birthed by any less absolute passion, but because he knew too, from the majesty and astonishment of his own experience, that empowerment on a scale as yet undreamed of awaited any being radical enough to accept and risk the terms of transformation he was proposing. Anyone who reads the Gospel of Thomas with an open mind and awakened heart will realize that what Jesus was trying to create was not an eth­ical or sociopolitical revolution alone; he was attempting to birth a fully divine human race, a race of beings as radically alive and aware as he was himself.

In saying 108, he makes this clear: “Jesus said: He who drinks from my mouth will become like I am, and I will become he. And the hid­den things will be revealed to him.”

Divinized  Human Beings

It is in saying 13, however, that the fullest vision of how Jesus wished to empower others is given:

“Jesus asked his disciples: Make a comparison; what am I like? Simon Peter replied: You are like a righteous messenger. Matthew replied: You are like an intelligent lover of wisdom. Thomas replied: Teacher, I cannot possibly say what you are like. Jesus said to Thomas: I am not your teacher; you have drunk from and become intoxicated from the bubbling water that I poured out. Jesus took Thomas and they with­drew. Jesus said three things to him. When Thomas returned to the other disciples, they asked him: What did Jesus tell you? Thomas replied: If I tell you even one of the sayings that he told me, you would pick up stones and throw them at me, and fire would come out of those stones and burn you up.”

This is one of the most permanently astonishing of all of the sayings of Thomas, and nothing like it is found in any of the synoptic gospels. What makes saying 13 so clear is that what Jesus most wanted was to set others on fire with the same fire that he himself had ignited with Thomas, so that they, like him, could be divinized. Thomas is the one disciple in the saying who does not have a tidy and dead category through which to express his understanding of Jesus. Thomas has become a “finder” and so is bewildered and astonished: “Teacher, I cannot possi­bly say what you are like.” One last block remains to Thomas’s true understanding of Jesus and who and what he is. Thomas’s own reverence of Jesus as “teacher,” a reverence, however beautiful and justified, that acts as a subtle distancing force from the full outrageousness of the truth. That full outrageousness Jesus proceeds with his usual nakedness to uncover: “I am not your teacher, you have drunk from and become intox­icated from the bubbling water that I have poured out.” Jesus recognizes that Thomas has allowed himself not merely to try to follow him, but has risked everything by getting drunk from the “bubbling water” of divine knowledge and divine passion that Jesus has poured out for him, and in so doing, he has become like Jesus himself, one with him and one with his fiery source.

The next saying is my favorite as it speaks to the state of transmutation of consciousness to the state of Oneness. It also speaks of the Healing Field which holds the patterns of perfect design for the body temple.

“Jesus saw infants being suckled. He said to his disciples: These infants taking milk are like those who enter the Kingdom. His disciples asked him: If we are infants will we enter the Kingdom? Jesus responded: When you make the two into one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside, and the upper like the lower and the lower like the upper, and thus make the male and the female the same, so that the male isn’t male and the female isn’t female. When you make an eye to replace an eye, and a hand to replace a hand, and a foot to replace a foot, and an image to replace an image, then you will enter the Kingdom.”

Imaging is an essential aspect of creativity, as well as healing. One is functioning in the kingdom of heaven when working with one’s consciousness in holding an image of perfection of form. “As above, so below. As below, so above.” The alchemy of holistic healing is what Jesus worked with in his “miracles.”

There are four interlinked truths about saying 22 that I would like to unravel here, for they each illustrate another aspect of Jesus’ vision of “Kingdom-consciousness” and, taken together, provide the fullest guide­line we have to its implementation and power.

First, we see” Kingdom-consciousness” in the child, born from a mar­riage of opposites–of transcendence and immanence, heart and mind, soul and body, masculine and feminine. The freedom and mastery of this Divine Child consciousness transcends all known categories, prepares a wholly new birth in every dimension, and brings the seeker into unity with the One in all its aspects and potential.

Second, we see the agency of this transformation in the motherhood of God, the Divine Feminine. This is quite clear from the image of infants sucking at the breast, through which Jesus is trying to make us aware of how important is the embodied Godhead, the Mother aspect of God, and how important it is to the kind of transformation he wants. Only those who have awoken to the kingdom within and without as the embodied God­head will be able to view life and Creation and all the workings of the uni­verse with the kind of abandon and trust that will allow them to be fed directly by God, with all the powers of vision and action they need. Without a restoration to the Christian mysticism of Jesus’ own full celebration of the Divine Feminine, the “Kingdom-consciousness” cannot and will not be born.

The third truth that saying 22 reveals is the order of the transfor­mations that have to be undergone by every seeker if the” Kingdom­-consciousness” is to be realized. The first recognition–when you make the two into one–describes the first major inner revelation of the divine consciousness, that of the impotence of all dualistic concepts to begin to describe Reality. This is followed by the opening of the heart center
(known as the heart-chakra in Hinduism, Sufism, and Buddhism), which dissolves all distinction of inner and outer in a living vision of all things burning in divine light. This in turn leads to the collapse of all previously useful categories of high and low, sacred and profane, through the reve­llation of presence in all things, events, actions, and possibilities–what in Hinduism and Buddhism is known as the Tantric revelation of Nirvana as Samaras, of the world of appearance as being essentially one with Absolute Reality and saturated at all moments with divinity.

The combination of an experience of all three linked revelations leads to the alchemical fusion within the seeker of masculine and feminine, and so to the mutual trans­formation of the” masculine” powers of will, order, logic, and strength, by the “feminine” powers of compassion, sensitivity, and reverence for all life. That engenders a new kind of being, the Divine Child or Sacred Androgyne who, like the Divine itself, is beyond category and able to use transformed feminine and masculine powers in whatever combination is called for in the actual situation. Such a being” reigns” over reality in the name of and with some of the actual miraculous powers of the Divine itself.

Such passionate words resonate at deep levels in the heart, where spiritual things are spiritually discerned and understood. I will share the fourth interlinked truth in my Easter Sunday post. As we move into the Easter Season, my focus will be on the passion, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus as Michael Baigent presents these events in his book. Until my next post, then,

Be love. Be loved.

Anthony

I invite you to read my HealthLight Newsletter at liftingtones.com

 

 

 

The “Jesus of History” vs the “Jesus of Faith” part 3:3 – The Book of Enoch

Enoch was a name given to an ancient Jewish text that was written, according to religious historian Michael Baigent, by several authors. It stands as a testament to prior mystical traditions influencing Judaism, although many Jewish rabbis would not accept it. Early Christians in Ethiopia, on the other hand, accepted it as part of the Old Testament, especially the parts that tell of the coming of Jesus and a reference to it in the New Testament in a Letter of Jude (14). Ultimately, the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325 sidelined the Book of Enoch and it was eventually banned by late-fourth and early-fifth-century theologians such as Jerome and Augustine.

According to Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, Enoch was the seventh generation of Adam and Eve and the father of Methuselah, who lived 969 years and was the grandfather of Noah. In those days it was common to live several hundred years. Enoch didn’t hang around quit as long. As the story goes, “And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” (Genesis 5:23-24). The story of Enoch, of course, is a travelogue of his visit to heaven–which greatly influenced the writers of the New Testament and contributed to much of the dogma of Christianity and especially Catholicism.

Michael Baigent gives a brief summary of Enoch’s visit to heaven in his book The Jesus Papers–Exposing the Greatest Cover-Up in History:

[The Book of Enoch] uses many of the motifs that are now familiar to us: Enoch has a visionary dream (13:8); he asks for an explanation of the Tree of Life (25:1-3); he mentions three eastern portals through which stars pass on the eastern horizon (36:3), in accordance with the Babylonian and Assyrian astrolabes, which date from around 1100 B.C.; and he also speaks of the actions of men as being weighed in the balance, like the Egyptian concept of afterlife judgment (41:1).

We are once again on familiar ground: we have esoteric matters taught to a seeker by means of dream visions of the Far-World—and in a Jewish context. As we have seen, these dream visions occur as part of an initiation, and the dreamer goes to a quiet, dark place, such as a cave or a temple crypt, and uses the techniques he or she has been taught to enter the stillness from which the Far-World is accessible. So we would expect, somewhere in the Book of Enoch, to find a reference to the experiential, the initiatory. We are not disappointed. (underscores mine)

“And it came to pass,” the text explains,”‘that my spirit was translated and it ascended into the heavens: and I saw the holy sons of God” (Enoch 71: 1). This report has all the appearance of being an account of something that truly occurred to the writer—a mystical experience that could be induced by someone seeking initiation into the esoteric tradition of Judaism.

Enoch was taken up “from amongst those who dwell on the earth … he was raised aloft on the chariots of the spirit” (Enoch 70:2).  This image seems to be a Judaic equivalent of the Egyptian winged Ba. But there is no doubt that this event concerned an initiation, since the text explains what happened to Enoch after he had been raised to heaven but before his spirit became transfigured:

“And the angel Michael seized me by my right hand, and lifted me up and led me forth into all the secrets, and he showed me all the secrets of righteousness. And he showed me all the secrets of the ends of the heaven.” (Enoch 71:3 – 4)

The anonymous ancient writer continues, describing what then occurred: “And I fell on my face,” he recounts, “and my whole body became relaxed, and my spirit was transfigured” (71:11).

This is precisely the type of experience that we would expect to find among the Therapeutae, for example. And crucially, just in case we have failed to spot it, the text makes a point of explaining that this ascent into the heavens occurred while Enoch was still living – as the text puts it, “during his lifetime.” This is virtually identical to the explanation in the Egyptian Pyramid Texts that the king has “not departed dead” but has “departed alive.” It is hard not to see the two statements as describing an essentially similar experience, an experience deriving from an initiation into the mysteries of the Far-World.

These visionary texts cannot be any other than records of initiations—records gathered together under the name of Enoch in much the same way as in Egypt those attributed to Hermes Trismegistus were collected together in the Books of Hermes.

I don’t agree with the author’s conclusion that Enoch’s visit to heaven was an “initiation into the mysteries of the Far-World.” We’re talking about several thousands of years before the Egyptian Mystery Schools even existed. I rather attribute Enoch’s visit to the realms of light to the fact that heaven was still accessible by virtue of the yet uncluttered veil between heaven and earth in human consciousness and to certain vibrational factors that were still in place at the time that made visits Home possible. It rather seems more likely that this ancient story played an inspirational and intriguing role in the Egyptian’s efforts to visit the Far-World themselves, just as Enoch reportedly had done. Again, looking back to ancient times and events and attempting to understand and interpret them using a much evolved (or devolved) state of consciousness and set of values, is presumptuous at best and misdirecting at worst.

Given the visionary nature of this text, it is, at first sight, curious to discover that seven pieces of the Book of Enoch form part of the Dead Sea Scrolls. All were found in 1952 in the Qumran cave in the marl cliff face near the ruins of the community, now called Cave 4. So, on the face of it, it seems as though the Zealot group that produced the Dead Sea Scrolls and was so important a part of Jesus’s political milieu and the messianic Jewish group that gave rise to Christianity were both well aware of the Book of Enoch. But an analysis of it reveals an interesting fact.

The Book of Enoch, as we have said, is a compilation of texts from different authors. In fact, scholars have separated the text into five sections, each distinctive and different from the others. The section that contains the report of the mystical ascent and transfiguration is the second section, which is also known as “the Parables.” This mystical, initiatory section is completely absent from the texts found at Qumran.

The Dead Sea Scroll texts contain fragments, written in Aramaic, from sections one, four, and five only of the Book of Enoch. Not only is the mystical section missing, but so too is the following section on astronomical and calendar matters — in particular, the section providing the basis of the solar calendar, which, we will remember, was evidently used in the Jewish Temple of Onias in the Egyptian delta.

We can see here the same clash of traditions that we find expressed in the story of Jesus when he rejects the Zealot position on the payment of taxes to the emperor. Jesus took a mystical approach; the Zealots took a worldly approach. The Zealot Book of Enoch clearly rejects this mystical approach. This stands in further evidence that — as we have said before — Jesus could not have learned his skills among the Zealots of Galilee.

Mystical texts like the Book of Enoch, texts that would have been very dear to the Therapeutae, would also have been very dear to those who taught Jesus. With the Book of Enoch, we finally have a text that appears to issue directly from the Jewish milieu within which Jesus was nurtured and from a group concerned with initiation into secret teachings, with an ascent to heaven, and with an experience of the Divine Light. Of this there can be no doubt, for according to the Book of Enoch (96:3), “A bright light shall enlighten you.”

All of this, of course, is supposition and speculation on the part of Michael Baigent, admittedly so.  Joseph B. Lumpkin, author of The Books of Enoch published in 2009, shares some interesting insight into this ancient story and the book itself:

Of all the books quoted, paraphrased, or referred to in the Bible, the Book of Enoch has influenced the writers of the Bible as few others have. Even more extensively than in the Old Testament, the writers of the New Testament were frequently influenced by other writings, including the Book of Enoch. However, things are never easy when such a span of time is involved. Over the elapsed two-thousand years, three major works attributed to Enoch have been discovered. . . .

. . . However, recent discoveries of copies of the book among the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran prove the book was in existence long before the time of Jesus Christ. These scrolls force a closer look and reconsideration. It becomes obvious that the New Testament did not influence the Book of Enoch; on the contrary, the Book of Enoch influenced the New Testament. The date of the original writing upon which the second century B.C. Qumran copies were based is shrouded in obscurity. Likewise lost are the sources of the oral traditions that came to be the Book of Enoch.

It has been largely the opinion of historians that the book does not really contain the authentic words of the ancient Enoch, since he would have lived several thousand years earlier than the first known appearance of the book attributed to him. However, the first century Christians accepted the Book of Enoch as inspired, if not authentic. They relied on it to understand the origin and purpose of many things, from angels to wind, sun, and stars. In fact, many of the key concepts used by Jesus Christ himself seem directly connected to terms and ideas in the Book of Enoch.

It is hard to avoid the evidence that Jesus not only studied the book, but also respected it highly enough to allude to its doctrine and content. Enoch is replete with mentions of the coming kingdom and other holy themes. It was not only Jesus who quoted phrases or ideas from Enoch, there are over one hundred comments in the New Testament which find precedence in the Book of Enoch.

Other evidence of the early Christians’ acceptance of the Book of Enoch was for many years buried under the King James Bible’s mistranslation of Luke 9:35, describing the transfiguration of Christ: “And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son. Hear him.'” Apparently the translator here wished to make this verse agree with a similar verse in Matthew and Mark. But Luke’s verse in the original Greek reads: “This is my Son, the Elect One (from the Greek ho eklelegmenos, lit., “the elect one”). Hear him.” The “Elect One” is a most significant term (found fourteen times) in the Book of Enoch. If the book was indeed known to the apostles of Christ, with its abundant descriptions of the Elect One who should “sit upon the throne of glory” and the Elect One who should “dwell in the midst of them;” then the great scriptural authenticity is justly accorded to the Book of Enoch when the “voice out of the cloud” tells the apostles, “This is my Son, the Elect One,”… the one promised in the Book of Enoch. . . .

. . . . The Books of Enoch, and especially 1 Enoch, seems to be a missing link between Jewish and Christian theology and is considered by many to be more Christian in its theology than Jewish. It was considered scripture by many early Christians. The literature of the church fathers is filled with references to this book. The early second century apocryphal book of the Epistle of Barnabus makes many references and quotes from the Book of Enoch. Second and third century church fathers like Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Origin and Clement of Alexandria all seemed to have accepted Enoch as authentic. Tertullian (160-230 A.D.) even called the Book of Enoch, “Holy Scripture”. The Ethiopian Coptic Church holds the Book of Enoch as part of its official spiritual canon. It was widely known and read the first three centuries after Christ. This and many other books became discredited after the Council of Laodicea. And being under ban of the authorities, it gradually disappeared from circulation.

In 1773, rumors of a surviving copy of the book drew Scottish explorer James Bruce to distant Ethiopia. He found the Book of Enoch had been preserved by the Ethiopian church, which put it right alongside the other books of the Bible.

What emphasizes itself to me in all of this is the longing in the human heart to return Home to an Edenic heaven we somehow lost sight and experience of, and the human mind’s futile endeavors to devise ways of exploring higher levels of consciousness, as exemplified, for example, in the mind-altering drug culture. We rather believe that heaven is “up there” somewhere in the heavens, whereas Jesus clearly stated that the kingdom of heaven is within us and all around us–and that will be the topic of my next post in this series. Until then,

Be love. Be loved.

Antony

I invite you to read my HealthLight Newsletter online at LiftingTones.com.

The “Jesus of History” Vs the “Jesus of Faith” part 3:2 – Experiencing the Source

“Jars of spring water are not enough anymore. Take us down to the river.”—Rumi

Christianity, as it was conceived and brought forth as a religion–initially by the Jewish Zealots at the time of Jesus and three decades later by Constantine and the Council of Nicaea–interrupted a cycle of restoration that Jesus initiated with his life of unconditional love and compassion. In that sense, it was and is a failure. The kingdom of heaven remains only a belief, a concept in human consciousness, a place to go to after we die, but nevertheless a largely unrevealed reality behind the manifest world of human existence. I say “largely” because the Natural World continues to manifest the glorious revelation of the kingdom of heaven on Earth, especially in the spring. In a word, what we long for and seek is to go beyond belief and into a personal experience of God. This the Christian religion has failed to deliver. We’ve had to find it on our own by way of various transformational spiritual paths.

It also interrupted a much larger cycle of spiritual evolution that began with Abraham, the great patriarch of Judaism, and the children of Abraham, the nation of Israel. It ended with the collapse of Egypt as the world center of religion, mysticism and esoteric knowledge.

Actually, the cycle initiated with Abraham ended with the fall of King Solomon’s reign and empire. He had gathered and united many empires under one by taking their princesses and queens as wives, of which he simply had more than he could placate and still maintain stewardship of the cycle he was bringing to a potentially victorious climax and completion. His was a classic example, yet again, of the Man being distracted by  the Woman to the abandonment of his purpose in the divine scheme of restoration, a repetition of the same pattern of failure enacted by the parents of the human race in the Garden of Eden–a pattern that continues to be enacted between the men and women to this day. But not all was lost.

I ended the last post on a transitional note marking the end of the Egyptian era and the beginning of the Christian era. In this post, I will take a look at this transitional period and see how something great and significant did come out of Egypt besides Jesus, the Messiah. I will continue sharing religious historian Michael Baigent’s thought-provoking perspectives from his extensively researched book The Jesus Papers—Exposing the Greatest Cover-Up in History.

The Hermetic Texts

The Egyptian priests sought to preserve their secrets by learning the Greek language in which they wrote an entire collection of wisdom texts that circulated under the name Hermes, but for which they drew their essentials from Egyptian tradition. This collection of literature was attributed to the ancient Egyptian god Thoth, aka “Hermes Trismegistus” in the late classical world. Baigent raps up this chapter with this insightful overview of the Hermetic roots of Western civilization and of the pagan roots of Christianity:

Above all, and of most relevance to our investigation, the Hermetic concept of man is “as a cosmic rather than a terrestrial being.'” The Greek gold plate (see the previous post) put it well: “My race is of Heaven [alone].”

A particular value of this Hermetic literature is that, despite its late production, it comes from the very source of the mysteries of the ancients and so can be used as a lens through which to view the earlier texts, allowing us to gain a deeper understanding of their true concerns.” Significantly, at the very heart of the Hermetic texts is the concept of mystical initiation: “Then he [Poimandres] sent me forth, empowered and instructed on the nature of the universe and on the supreme vision.”

It is still more curious that the production of these books of Hermes began about the time of Jesus and paralleled the rise of Christianity. At the end of the second century A.D., Clement, the Christian bishop of Alexandria, referred to them as “containing the whole philosophy of the Egyptians.” The pagan philosopher Iamblichus, writing a little later, was also aware of their importance: “Our ancestors dedicated the inventions of their wisdom to this deity, inscribing all their own writings with the name of Hermes.'”

This collection of texts . . . has had an enormous and incalculable effect upon the Western mind. It is fair to say that the Western world would not have developed as it did without them. Science itself might never have evolved without the impetus given by men and women enamored of these works. For they were rediscovered in the Renaissance and translated by Marsilio Ficino about 1463 at the behest of the wealthy Florentine banker Cosimo de Medici.

(For a review of the Hermetic Principles that have come down us—such as the principle of cause and effect—and the most often quoted: “As above so below; as below so above”—visit this website: http://thirdmonk.net/knowledge/seven-great-hermetic-principles-teachings-thoth.html#)

Going Home NOW

We all want to return Home—some of us, myself included, would like to be able to do so now while we breathe the air of this world. Our prodigal sojourn on Earth has left us hungering and thirsting for Home—for eternal life. And we will go Home, even if we have to die to get there. This belief that one has to die in order to go to heaven is central to Christian doctrine. The only trouble is Heaven is not “there.” It is here, waiting to be revealed where we are, here on planet Earth—where we’ve rather made a hell of a mess. For this reason alone, going Home has been an escape, or at least a reprieve, from our miserable plight.

Herein lies part of the deception hidden within the “Greatest Cover-Up in History” Michael Baigent has boldly brought to the fore for our critical examination and honest review. The truth has been adulterated with fabricated lies and what has been handed down as “truth” has been horded and sold to the faithful by a false priesthood. Baigent speaks to this here:

No one individual, no culture, no civilization, has a monopoly on truth. For this reason, we should not make the mistake of thinking that the techniques of entering the Far-World were known only to the Egyptians or the Greeks. The gates to the Far-World have always been open to those whose world-weary longing draws them across the divide.

And there were few more world-weary than those who came to be baptized in the River Jordan by John the Baptist, a unique event that even Catholic editors of the Jerusalem bible consider to be an initiation. Was this perhaps the true meaning of John’s statement, “The kingdom of heaven is close at hand?” (Matthew 3:2)

Jacob’s Ladder

This doorway to heaven has been sought after throughout the history of mankind. Bagent cites the story of Jacob’s ladder in the Old Testament as an example. If you recall the story, Jacob had a dream of a great ladder connecting heaven and earth with angels ascending and descending on it.  Upon awakening from his dream, he realizes that he is in a sacred place and, externalizing his dream, he exclaims: “This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” He then proceeded to build an altar with stone and he called the place “Bethel” which means “the house of God.” (Genesis 28: 10-19)  What he didn’t realize was that the ladder and “gate of heaven” were not out there but within himself, as was the dream.

Now, the context of this story as Baigent tells it has to do with “sacred sites.” There are places on the surface of the Earth that are known even today as being “sacred” by reason of their vibrational frequency and their historical significance to ancient civilizations, such as Stone Hinge and Easter Island, to name just two of many such places on Earth where the veil between heaven and earth seems to be very thin. Jacob may have well been in one such high place. This veil, of course, is within the individuals who make pilgrimages to these sacred sites. The energy of such places is such that it impacts the individuals’ electromagnetic biosphere raising their vibratory frequency to a height where they experience an intensification of energy. The “house of God” is none other than the body temple itself.  I know this is true from personal experience in such a sacred place where the energetic field was rare and uplifting. For me, it was a direct experience of God—of my own divine Self.

In this sense, Baigent is astute in saying “there are places where the Far-World and the terrestrial world are linked—places that serve as the perfect conduit between the two worlds.”

I resonate with his interpretation of Jacob’s dream:

More significantly, Jacob’s “dream” is better understood as a vision, and one that teaches us a number of important things. Perhaps the most crucial lesion lies in the report of angels “ascending and descending.” This is clearly a symbolic demonstration that the link between heaven and earth is dynamic, that the divine qualities are constantly flowing to and fro (underscore mine). This expresses the idea we have already seen in Egypt that the Far-World and the terrestrial world are intimately—and dynamically—interlinked. This is proof, should we need it, that Jacob’s vision emerged from a living tradition of which this Old Testament report is just a fragment, a glimpse of the lush landscape of the promised land.

The Way was Blocked

Throughout the Old Testament, Baigent suggests, the link between the two worlds is portrayed as being broken, making the passage to and fro difficult if not impossible.

“. . . angelic beings with flaming swords block the entrance to the Garden of Eden; Jacob is not encouraged to climb the ladder to heaven. Religious administrators had apparently taken over the tradition and restricted its message about the pathway to the Far-World—much as Vatican strongmen did later with regard to the teachings of Jesus.

More accurately, the angels with flaming swords, according to the story, only blocked access to the Tree of Life. We must remember that this is a metaphorical story told and written down by Moses. We have no written record of what actually happened. The point the author is making, I believe, is that the way to the kingdom of heaven has been obstructed and access barred to the uninitiated.

There’s an event in the Gospel of Matthew (23:13) where Jesus rebukes the false priesthood of the Temple: “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.”

But how did they “shut up the kingdom of heaven?” And what was their understanding of the nature of the kingdom of heaven? Was it the Far-World of Egyptian/Judaic mysticism? And what “kingdom of heaven” was Jesus referring to?

Baptism, a Pagan Ritual

This concept of the intimate relationship between heaven and earth along with the crossing over to the Far-World was huge in Egyptian tradition, which left its mystical mark on Judaism. A second influence came from Babylon during the Babylonian exile, when King of Babylon, Nebchadnezzar, “seized and captured Jerusalem in 587 B.C. and deported the Jewish king, along with thousands of people. Many others fled into exile in Egypt.”

We can see, for example, the Babylonian rite of baptism as the origin of the Jewish practice of purification before rituals, the aim being to separate the person from the terrestrial world while at the same time establishing a pure relationship with the divine world.

This pagan rite is enacted in the Christian culture as a sacrament, only for a different and fabricated purpose: to wash away the stigma of “original sin,” a sin that was allegedly committed by Adam and Eve, both of whom are fictitious characters created by the author of the Book of Genesis to represent our first parents. This is all part of the hidden agenda Baigent is seeking to expose. There was no actual “original sin” committed by Adam and Eve. It was a story, an allegory, brought forward by Christianity as a means of bringing the faithful into submission to the Church’s rules and requirements for admission to the kingdom of heaven after they die. The reality is we are born into this world not with original sin on our souls but, to borrow a phrase from Catholic prelate and author Matthew Fox, with “original innocence.”

We all worship One God

The Jewish calendar also derives from a system used by the later Babylonians. Even the traditional incantation bowls used by Jewish rabbis were of Babylonian origin. The Babylonian Talmud too has medical information from earlier Babylonian lore, and Babylonian astrological texts have been found to have been used by Jewish groups as well. Even the belief in one god, which carried over into Christianity and Islam, has been seen by some scholars as deriving from ancient Mesopotamia: the name of the god of the Assyrians, Ashur (Assur), means the “One,” the “Only,” the “Universal God.”

It appears, then, that Islam and Christianity worship the same One God.

Mesopotamian influence can also be detected in the origin of the Tree of Life, now the backbone of the mystical Jewish practice known as the Kabbalah. The notorious “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil” in the Book of Genesis of the Old Testament also has its roots in the very early oral mythological teachings of humans well before the invention of writing.  The story of Ezekiel also comes out of Babylon and suggests that Ezekiel may have been involved with the esoteric mysteries of Egypt as an initiate himself. So, much of our Judeo-Christian heritage comes from pagan religions.

I will leave it there for now. In my next post I will give in depth consideration of the Book of Enoch. Until then,

Be love. Be loved

Anthony

I invite you to read my Health Light Newsletter online at LiftingTones.com.

 

 

The “Jesus of History” . . . . Vs The “Jesus of Faith” . . . . Part 2: The “Missing years”

My Chorale Pic

Eighteen years of Jesus’ life are not accounted for in the four Canonical Gospels. The last we hear of his early childhood is the alleged story about him debating with the chief priests and elders in the Temple of Jerusalem at the age of twelve. Where he went after that is a question that has given rise to much scholarly speculation.

Religious historian Michael Baigent has a very intriguing chapter on the missing years of Jesus’ life in his book The Jesus Papers – Exposing the Greatest Cover-Up in History. Digging deeply and tenaciously into whatever ancient texts and oral traditions he could find—the most resourceful being those of the Dead Sea Scrolls, written by the Jewish Zadokites and Zealots in Egypt, where they were found around 1947-56, and the Nag Hammadi texts discovered south of Cairo in Egypt in 1945—Baigent places Jesus in Egypt where he receives his messianic training in the Egyptian Mystery Schools.

It is in Egypt, Baigent suggests, where Jesus received training in the ancient rituals of Egyptian mysticism that opened heaven’s gate for passage into the Underworld—the “land of the dead,” which was thought more to be the “land of the living”—and re-entry into the physical plane.  Bagent suggests that Jesus was initiated into these mysteries whereby, with the assistance of fellow initiates who attended to the physical body during the soul’s out-of-body journey, one could die to this world, visit the realm of the gods and obtain wisdom, then be resurrected from the “dead.” Not entirely without historical support for his scenario, Baigent’s speculation is quite conceivable and compelling, especially knowing what we know today about “near death experiences” (NDE’s). Was Jesus’ crucifixion, death and resurrection akin somehow to an NDE? Let’s have a look and decide for ourselves whether or not Baigent’s scenario is in the least bit credible, perhaps even likely.

(This is a dense and complex consideration with many political and religious threads weaving through the fabric of the story. I will attempt to condense it into two or three installments. Encompassing the larger part of Jesus’ thirty-three years of life as recorded by the four Gospel writers, it is perhaps the most crucial and important period, as it was his formative years of preparation for the three-and-a-half years of his public ministry, which ended in his personal victory over death—which was the sole interest of the Gospel writers, though not the sole reason and purpose for Jesus’ life and mission, as we will see.)

Where did Jesus live as a young man?

According to three of the four Canonical Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), Jesus was living in the town of Nazareth in Galilee in his youth. Luke says that Jesus grew up there and that he went with his family every year to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. It was on one of those occasions that he was found debating with the learned scholars in the Temple. “Unfortunately,” Baigent writes, “there is no evidence whatsoever that Nazareth even existed in Jesus’ day.” Then, as is his style when he comes upon an inconsistency such as this, Baigent’s critical thinking and suspicions kick in. I love the manner in which he goes about questioning everything handed down as history. Here’s a taste of his reasoning and compelling writing:

The first mention of it appears no earlier than the third century A.D. Could this mention of an exchange at the Temple have been placed here as some kind of cover story for a period in Jesus’ life that was otherwise unaccounted for?

As far as the Gospels were concerned, Jesus appears to have vanished during his youth and early adulthood. But it was during those years that he learned the ideas, the beliefs, and the knowledge that he later taught. So where exactly was he? And why have his whereabouts been kept hidden? Had he been “talent-scouted” by priests or rabbis and whisked away for almost two decades of secret training? Surely the disciples must have known where Jesus had been. But what could have possibly been at stake, what problem could have arisen, through sharing this information? In fact, we cannot avoid asking, what were the writers of the Gospels intent on concealing?

Scholars over the years have speculated about this gap in the account of Jesus’ life. Some believe that Jesus traveled with his family to the East,

“far beyond the jurisdiction of the Romans, to Parthia, Persia, or beyond, to Afghanistan, or India. Even today there are many who believe that the shrine of Yus Asaph in Kashmir is that of Jesus himself who, after surviving the crucifixion, returned home to the East to live and ultimately die. There are also suggestions that he studied as a child under Buddhists—this would explain, it is said, the parallels that can be found between the teachings of Jesus and those of the Buddha. And we have the very early Christian community, centered in Malabar on the west coast of India, which claims to have been founded by the apostle Thomas. Surely where Thomas went then so too could Jesus have gone?

Is it possible that the Great Spirit who incarnated in Jesus is the same Divine Being who was also incarnate in the Buddha some six-hundred years earlier in Nepal, India?  Well, that’s getting a little ahead of the current story. There was no reason for Jesus to have fled Roman jurisdiction as he was not involved in the Zealot’s revolutionary activities against the Romans. Baigent reasons:

Any move he made out of Judea or Galilee must have been by choice rather than by coercion. But where could he have ventured, and why?

There is a single clue in the Bible, one in the Old Testament that is echoed in the New. As we have seen, it was important for Jesus to follow, to act out quite specifically, the predictions made by the Old Testament prophets in describing the coming of the messiah. We have already seen the very literal expression of these predictions during Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem when he finally went public with his messianic claims. We can therefore be confident in expecting that every messianic prediction in the Old Testament would be pressed into use in this manner.

In a real sense these predictions by the Prophets limited Jesus. They provided a set of boundaries within which his messianic mission needed to express itself. A particularly interesting prediction was given by the prophet Hosea (II:I): “When Israel was a child I loved him, and I called my son out of Egypt” (emphasis mine). Matthew (2:I5) picks up on this in one of the earliest prophetic predictions he mentions: in a garbled historical account, he records that the Holy Family fled into Egypt when Jesus was still a baby, explaining, “This was to fulfill what the Lord has spoken through the prophet: ‘I called my son out of Egypt.'”

I’ve learned that anywhere in the New Testament when these words “This was to fulfill . . .” are used to preface a Biblical event, one can be sure that what follows is a rationalization by the author(s)inserted into the text in order to connect the event with words of prophecy from the Old Testament. It’s like doing research in order to find something that backs up or proves one’s preconceived conclusion or beliefs.

Why Egypt?

AT THIS POINT, we cannot help but ask, why Egypt? This is a minor detail in Matthew’s Gospel and is treated as such in the Roman Church. But for the Egyptian Coptic Church, which separated from Rome in 451 following the Council of Chalcedon, it is a matter of considerable importance indeed. For almost a thousand years it has maintained a legend about the journey the Holy Family made into Egypt, all the sites they visited or resided at, and all the miracles that accompanied the presence of Jesus. This legend is called “The Vision of Theophilus.” Theophilus was patriarch of Alexandria and leader of the Egyptian church from A.D. 385 to 4I2, but the Vision seems not to have been written down until the eleventh or twelfth century

Given the highly devotional nature of the story and the very obvious use made of it to justify Jesus’ uniqueness and divinity, we can locate its theology far beyond the beliefs of the Jewish community in Egypt—the community that would have been giving refuge to Jesus’ family. What’s more, these same factors place the origins of the theology in an era following the dogmatic decisions of the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325. It seems fairly evident that the Vision—at the very least—is a product of Christian thought in the fourth century A.D. or later, and certainly not of Judaism or Judeo-Christianity. It therefore cannot be an accurate account of any such journey, although it may very well contain some elements of a real journey. Thus, we need to ask, whom does the story serve? Who would have benefited from its telling?

No one would have benefited more than the author of the Gospel of Matthew himself, as it added credibility to his Gospel. For less obvious reasons, the Coptic Church in Egypt would have benefited by the story of the Holy Family’s travels to the East. “The Coptic Church has been at odds with Rome for over six-hundred years, and its faith was at least tolerated by the Muslim rulers.” There appear to be political and economic factors influencing Mathew’s scenario.

If the Gospel of Matthew is given greater credence, then it stands to reason that various Egyptian holy places within the story would also be validated, thereby opening up a whole new pilgrim route that would include Egypt. With pilgrims, of course, came trade and gold.

Despite its deficiencies, the tale gives every appearance of picking up on local oral tradition or legend. And local legend is dismissed at one’s own peril, for local memories are long. There has certainly been a very ancient and widespread Jewish presence in Egypt—extensive enough to justify the story’s telling well into Islamic times.

There was a legitimate and functioning—although controversial—Jewish Temple in Egypt during the lifetime of Jesus. It was founded by the Zadokite high priest, Onias III, who built it upon the ruins of an old Bubastis temple in the Egyptian delta on the same design as the Temple of Jerusalem.

Onias III, a Zadokite priest, was forced to flee Israel to Egypt when Jerusalem was attacked by the Syrian ruler, Antiochus Epiphane in 170 B.C., and the Temple in Jerusalem was taken over by non-Zadokite priests allied with Epiphane. The Onias Temple with its Zadokite priest became the only legitimate Jewish Temple in the region. That is until his son, Onias IV, a military commander in the Egyptian army and a non-Zadokite priest, succeeded his father as high priest. This made the Onias Temple in Egypt illegitimate, a diminishing of status by Josephus that was used as his rationale for excluding it from serious academic consideration, by Josephus himself as well as by Philo of Alexandria—both of whom had friends in high places in Israel to placate; friends in the upper class wealthy Jewish sector as well as in the ruling class. Both groups wanted to put distance between them and the Zadokites and the Zealots associated with the Onias Temple in Egypt as well as the Temple in Jerusalem.

The Onias Temple was on the road that Jesus and his parents would have traveled from Judea to the city of Heliopolis in Egypt in order to avoid the strongly-influenced Jewish communities in Alexandria and Naucratis to the west. They would then have traveled south along this road that passed by Onias’ temple, where they would most likely have stopped and settled. Baigent reasons:

And it is highly unlikely that Jesus and his family, raised in a Zealot environment, one that hoped and prayed for a reinstatement of a Zadokite priesthood in the Temple of Jerusalem, would have just passed by this Egyptian Jewish temple. All of these observations lead naturally to the thought that the Temple of Onias served as the initial training site of Jesus. It was here perhaps that he received his introduction into the politically active world of the Zealots.

In a sense, we can see the temple as an overseas branch of Galilee where Greek-speaking Zealots could learn their trade. It would have also been a good place for Jesus’ family to bring him so that he could learn what it would mean to be the Messiah of Israel, for all the texts and commentaries on the role of the messiah would have been available there. So we do now have a good reason for the Holy Family to have traveled to Egypt, and a reason for Matthew’s brief comment, disguised as a flight from the dangers posed by Herodian infanticide. In fact, it would seem not to have been a flight at all but rather a positive action undertaken in order to allow Jesus to grow, to study, and to teach away from the troubles in Judaea and Galilee.

Despite his training in the Zealot cause, Jesus, as we have seen, at some point secretly took another path – one revealed only after he had been anointed as messiah [by Mary of Bethany, who was also Mary Magdalene, Jesus’ wife and companion], when it was far too late for anybody to challenge him. That path was a more mystical path. Yet where in the Jewish world of Egypt could he have learned such a path? For the answer to this question, we need to look at one of the mystical groups of the time, one described by Philo of Alexandria.

In my next post I will consider the Therapeutae healers in Egypt with whom Jesus may have studied and developed his own gift of healing. I will also consider a most enlightening chapter of Baigent’s book that tells about the mysticism of Egypt and the rituals of initiation into the Mystery School and what was called “incubation,” a most interesting and exciting consideration that may shed light on what really happened on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. So, stay tuned.

Anthony Palombo

Read my Health Light Newsletter online at LiftingTones.com – shedding light on health issues from a Holistic perspective and paradigm.

 

 

 

 

 

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