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Posts tagged ‘Jesus and Mary Magdalene’

Gnosis: A Return to Our Roots

(Preface: As much as I’ve tried to shorten this post, no part of it could be omitted without a loss to its impact and meaning, as well as the spirit of the authors of the excerpts. I think you will agree after reading it.)

GNOSIS is the experience and knowledge of spiritual truths. In essence and in practice during the Early Christian era, it was the experience of knowing God within.  The experience of Spirit. Of Divinity. 

According to the Gnostic Gospels, which included the gospels of Thomas and Philip, Jesus had given “secret knowledge” to some of his apostles of the way to ascend the “Tree of Life” and come to know Spirit as one’s Self.  The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, in which she describes her personal ascension up to the “crown” of this tree that Jesus said had its roots in her body, does not belong to the collection of thirteen Gnostic Gospels that were discovered at Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in 1945. The Gospel of Mary was discovered earlier in 1896, also in upper Egypt. It stands alone as a testament to the true experience of Gnosis. 

The Son of Humanity

I will conclude this series with a passage from The Gospel of Mary Magdalene by Jean-Yves Leloup, followed by the author’s commentary. It begins with a question posed by the apostle Peter about the nature of matter:

[ . . . ]What is matter? Will it last forever? 

The Teacher answered: “All that is born, all that is created, all the elements of nature are interwoven and united with each other. All that is composed shall be decomposed; everything returns to its roots; matter returns to the origins of matter. Those who have ears, let them hear.”

Peter said to him: “Since you have become the interpreter of the elements and the events of the world, tell us: What is the sin of the world?”

 The Teacher answered: “There is no sin. It is you who make sin exist, when you act according to the habits of your corrupted nature; this is where sin lies. This is why the Good has come into your midst. It acts together with the elements of your nature so as to reunite it with its roots.”

 Then he continued: “This is why you become sick, and why you die: it is the result of your actions; what you do takes you further away. Those who have ears, let them hear.

I will let the author give his commentary on this passage first, because he offers such profound insight into the dishonest human condition and into the path the “Son of Humanity”set before us for our return to our “roots” in Source. 

Lack calls for fullness. Thirst calls for the Source. The Good has come into our midst because the nature of matter involves lack. Humans as we know them are beings who feel a lack of Being. The process of corruption begins with their own identification with this lack. They then confuse themselves with the matter of which their bodies are composed, which ultimately leads to an experience of their own vanity and emptiness. Thus they may finally become open to that which can fill them.

The Original Sin of Adam was a fall from identity with Spirit to identity with form that left us with a feeling of profound lack which gave rise to a deep desire and longing for redemption, ironically creating a void for a Savior to fill. “Blessed fault of Adam, that gave us such a Redeemer,” the traditional chant for the Easter Vigil says. “What is it that transforms matter, adama, a lump of clay, into Adam, the true human being capable of this essence of desire,” the author asks. What can we do now to make room in our hearts for Spirit to come and fill the emptiness there?

Meister Eckhart, a Christian whose metaphysics was very close to the Gospel of Mary, said it more simply: “If you do nothing, truly nothing, God cannot help but come into you.” Unfortunately, in those who are full of themselves, there is no place for the Other. This is why he added, “If you leave, God can enter.”

This means that we must leave the illusion of taking ourselves to be something, some thing, an object that exists in time. We must return to our true being as Subject, living in wonder at its manifestation in those transient objects that it calls its world, its body, its emotions, its personality.

When we leave behind the illusion of belief in a permanent thing, the Good can then come into our midst. In the heart of this finally accepted impermanence shines the presence of this unborn, unmade, uncreated “Nothing that can be found in the All of which It is the cause.” This is the clear light unimpeded by the opacity of all the things with which we are identified. In the midst of the heavy, the light is revealed.

According to the Gospel of Mary, the Teacher came in order to help free us from the ignorance that is identification (corruption). For he is the very countenance, the incarnation, and the practice of this Good.

The Good is the manifestation of the famous triad of the ancient philosophers: goodness, truth, and beauty. The Good in this sense does not have evil as its opposite, for it means the unity of these three, the One that embraces the multiplicity of all qualities through which it is expressed.

What does goodness become when separated from light, consciousness, and truth? A softness that is the gateway to hypocrisy and compromise.

What does truth become when separated from goodness, love, and beauty? A hardness that is the gateway to fanaticism and persecution.

What does beauty become when separated from truth and goodness? Art for art’s sake, an aestheticism that is the gateway to a brilliance that clarifies nothing.

Beyond the realm of opposites, the Good is the One, the doorway to Being. This Being can only manifest in a heart, body, and mind that have been emptied of all illusion, meaning all inflation and presumption; for it cannot fit into the straitjacket that they offer.

“This is why the Good has come into your midst. It acts together with the elements of your nature so as to reunite it with its roots. “

The radiance of Presence has come to us, and “we have seen its glory,” or its kavod, as the Hebrews called it — the glory of the Son, “full of grace and truth,” which is also that of the Father, or Source.” [The author’s footnote: “The Metaphor of Mother could just as well be used for the Source.”]

By planting the seeds of his knowledge (the sperma Theou, in Greek) in the elements of our nature, the Teacher restores us to our own true heritage and ushers us back to endless resonance with our uncreated Source, the “Father whom none has ever seen, and none can know,” but who is revealed to us through the monogenetic Son, the Good that unites the ancient philosopher’s triad. This invites us to live a life of glory, a life of love and consciousness, just as he did.

This reunion with our roots is not a mere event in time, but an ever-renewed relation with the Source engendering us in every instant. It is our ignorance that creates our distance from it, and this distance involves all sorts of sickness and suffering. By an ever-new act of knowledge that is both metanoia (in Greek, passing beyond the known, beyond the mind and memories of which we are composed) and teshuva (Hebrew for the act of return, a turning about of our consciousness from our externalized, objectified being toward our inner Being), [the literal meaning of the word “repent”] we act from the deepest heart of our lack, from the intimate space of our desire of desires. This is the space where we receive the inspiration of the Teacher and his teaching.

 Then he continued:

 “This is why you become sick, and why you die: it is the result of your actions;  what you do takes you further away.  Those who have ears, let them hear.”

Having spoken of matter and its impermanence, and of attachment and identification with this impermanence, the Teacher now shows the consequences of ignorance and attachment.

Sickness, suffering, and death are the consequences of our acts. There is no one to blame for this, and it is vain to complain and expostulate about the evil nature of matter, the world, and humanity. There is no room here for hatred of the world, for it has been clearly stated that there is no sin, no evil. Evil and sin arise from the blamer in ourselves.

(The “blamer” in Hebrew is the shatan, which means “obstacle.” In Greek the word is diabolos, which means “divider.”  I find this most interesting and revealing of what is actually happening in ourselves as we point a finger of blame away from ourselves.  

Attunement with Source

In a word, the Teacher came to offer attunement to the Body of Humanity through the open hearts and resonant substance of his disciples in order to reunite the flesh Body of Humanity with its roots in Source by drawing forth the Spirit of Love, the Father, from within them.  His own incarnation as the “Son of Humanity” set a precedent for the whole of Mankind. 

But he didn’t do it alone. Mary Magdalene, who brought the Divine Feminine into their shared mission of redemption, was his companion. Together they restored the sacred union between Man and Woman and their union with the Father.  They shared the ultimate Attunement with Love.

The revelation of Love, the Father within, through Humanity was his expressed purpose for incarnating. He was on fire with this purpose, as was his companion. It is our purpose as well.  This excerpt from a talk given by Lord Martin Exeter, who was my spiritual mentor for twenty years, speaks passionately to this purpose: 

Until God’s Love comes into the individual and sets the individual on fire, the physical substance of his body, the substance of his whole outer being, remains subject to the destructive burning of the fire. It is only as he is actually set on fire, while he is living here on earth, that there may be a purification and transmutation into a state of being in attunement with the core of Being – which is God’s Love – so that the form is not destroyed. We can recognize these basic principles. Only as there is lust, so that the individual lets himself be set on fire by God’s Love, can he be consumed by God’s Love instead of destroyed by God’s Love. Being consumed by God’s Love there is no loss, because every level of Being is supposed to be the means by which there may be a manifest revelation of God’s Love, and this level where we are was so designed by God not to be destroyed by God’s Love but, being consumed by God’s Love, to reveal it….

…The body of Truth is lust, that all-consuming hunger and thirst, that depth of feeling, that longing, that which springs from the intensity of aloneness, an opening of the heart to God without reservation, without holding back anything, in a surge, a constant surge of passionate lust. And until we do open ourselves so, we cannot know the reality of God’s Love as it is; we can only know it as a painful fire, whereas in fact God’s Love, received into the true body, is the resurrection and the life of the body.

I think this well encapsulates who Mary Magdalene was and the pivotal role she played with her Beloved Lord that made Jesus’ mission on earth at all possible. She gave him her all, an open heart through which he could enter and plant the seed of Love in the Body of Humanity.  She was the true founder of Christianity — “The Woman at the Heart of Christianity,” as Cynthia Bourgeault identifies her in the subtitle of her profound book, The Meaning of Mary Magdalene.  

There is much more that I could share from the pages of these three books However, I feel complete in this series. If you feel inspired, and in the least bit inclined, to obtain copies of these thought-provoking books, I certainly encourage you to do so. Until my next post,

Be love. Be loved.

Anthony

All of the books and many more are available at Amazon.com/books 

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Who and What Was Mary Magdalene?

Catholic theologian Saint Augustine called Mary Magdalene the “Apostle of apostles.” His basis for such an esteemed title was St. John’s Gospel text (19:25) in which Mary is said to be the first one to see Jesus resurrected from the tomb and the one appointed by Jesus to bring the good news of his resurrection to the other apostles. She was, in truth, the Beloved Companion of Yeshua/Jesus, whom he had named the “Migdalah”(which means tower of courage and strength).

In 591 AD, however, the Beloved Companion of Jesus was reduced in status and dignity to that of a prostitute by Pope Gregory I in Homily 33, according to Jean-Yves Leloup, author of The Gospel of Mary Magdalene.  In his homily, Gregory “declared that she and the unnamed woman in Luke 7 are, in fact, one and the same , and that the faithful should hold Mary as the penitent whore.” To the faithful of the Christian world, this is who Mary Magdalene was: the woman out of whom Jesus cast “seven demons”– and whom he rescued from being stoned to death as a “sinner,” saying to those who would stone her, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

About this word “sinner” Leloup writes:

“It is interesting to note that the Greek word interpreted as ‘sinner’ in the verse of Luke to which Pope Gregory referred was barmartolos, which can be translated several ways. From the Jewish perspective, it could mean one who has transgressed Jewish law. It might also mean someone who, perhaps, did not pay his or her taxes. [This is more likely the case in this incident with Mary Magdalene, who is often painted by artists with red or golden hair, suggesting a fiery woman with a passion for truth and a disdain for the laws of men.] The word itself does not imply a streetwalker or a prostitute. The Greek word for harlot, porin, which is used elsewhere in Luke, is not the word used for the sinful woman who weeps at Jesus’ feet. In fact, there is no direct reference to her – or to Mary – as a prostitute anywhere in the Gospels.” 

It was not until 1969 that the Catholic Church admitted its error and officially repealed Pope Gregory’s labeling of Mary as a whore. This retraction did nothing, however, to alter the public teachings of all Christian denominations that Mary Magdalene was a penitent sinner.  Jean Yves writes:

“Unfortunately, the fact that Mary Magdalene is freed from the possession of seven demons has resulted in greater focus on the perceived stigma of her past as interpreted in Homily 33 than on her cleansed state after this healing. . . . Like a small erratum buried in the back pages of a newspaper, the Church’s correction goes unnoticed while the initial and incorrect article continues to influence readers.”   

The Woman with the Alabaster Jar

Mary Magdalene, often depicted by artists holding an alabaster jar in one hand and a skull in the other, is the same as Mary of Bethany who is said to have anointed the head of Jesus with expensive oils during the Last Supper. The author of The Gospel of Mary Magdalene compares her to a priestess of Isis:

In addition, the presence of Mary at the Crucifixion and at the tomb, beyond illustrating her love for Jesus, also indicates her comfort and famil­iarity with death. The many artistic depictions of Magdalene with a skull may suggest that this has long been seen as part of her identity. In fact, Gol­gotha, the hill where Jesus was crucified, means “place of the skull.” Perhaps visionary artists of the past, in their representations, were implying that Magdalene understands the thresholds of death. Her appearances with special oils to use in anointing Jesus Christ place her in the tradition of priests and priestesses of Isis, whose unguents were used to achieve the transition over the threshold of death while retaining consciousness. 

Jesus accepts and encourages this anointing, explaining to the other disciples that she “helps prepare me for my burial.” This statement implies Jesus’ knowledge that Mary is aware of what is happening at a deeper level than the other disciples. We can ask ourselves, “By what authority does she anoint him?” But we cannot ignore the fact that the very word christ means “anointed one.” How can it be that Christians have pushed into a dark corner the female minister of the rite of anointing?

After one anointing of Christ by Mary, in Mark 14: 9, Jesus remarks, “Verily I say unto you, wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, what she has done here will be told in remembrance of her.” How is it, then, that all Christians do not remember and revere this memorial, so clearly marked by their teacher? Why do most people know her as the reformed prostitute, rather than as what seems more likely-a ministering priestess with a deep understanding of the thresh­olds of the spirit world?

In the legends and stories told about Mary Magdalene there can be found some hint of what she may represent to us today: As one who was cleansed from sin; who remains with Christ throughout his death on the cross; and who first witnesses, understands, and believes Christ’s resur­rection, she represents a human being who is open and available to true “inner knowing,” who can “see” in deeper, clearer ways through a unique spiritual connection to both earthly death and the Divine. 

Honored in Southern France

In Southern France Mary Magdalene is honored and celebrated as the Madonna in what historically is known as the “Magdalene tradition.” There is evidence that Mary Magdalene traveled to and settled in Southern France after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus – and after her ordeal with Peter and the apostles who rejected her as the Apostle of apostles, the one and only one, other than John the Beloved, who knew oneness with her Lord and Master and who moved closely with him into the experience of gnosis, “the priceless wisdom of ‘direct knowing.'”

This is the true and original meaning of Gnosticism before it devolved into a cultish community: the direct knowing of Spirit within and as one’s Self without the mediation of an ordained priesthood – which is why the early Christian Church founded by Constantine and a group of bishops condemned them and sought to eradicate them altogether.  Those bishops who disagreed with Constantine about what gospel texts were to be included in, and excluded from, the New Testament Bible were exiled “on the spot.” Thankfully, some of these excluded gospel texts were preserved from the book burnings, later to be found and brought to light, notably in our time.  The Gospel of Mary Magdalene and the Gospel of Thomas are two of the most noted gospels that were discovered and became the sources of contemporary authors’ books, such as Jean-Yves Leloup, Jehanne De Quillan (author of The Gospel of the Beloved Companion), and several others.

I particularly like the way in which this sentence is phrased by the authors of the Preface of her book, acknowledging the vibrational significance of Mary Magdalene’s return to consciousness and awareness at this time:

We consider her reemergence and renewed awareness of her importance as an essential remembering of the Feminine.” 

As surely as Jesus’ spirit is considered to be present with us today, so is that of his Beloved Companion present and actively guiding the rise of the Feminine.  It’s what seems powerfully evident anyway.

I will conclude this consideration of Mary Magdalene in my next post – which will be an in depth look at the true meaning of Gnosis and the obscured message inherent in the companionship of Jesus and Mary Magdalene – the core mission and purpose for the incarnation of the Divine in the Son of Humanity.  Until then,

Be love. Be loved.

Anthony

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

 

 

 

 

And the “Rock” Comes Tumbling Down

 

It was inevitable. Founded, not on the solid rock of Truth, but on the quicksand of fabricated lies and deception, along with redactions of scriptures, the Church of Rome is teetering on the edge of utter collapse – its existential crisis being triggered by cumulative disclosures of the irreparable harm its clergy has inflicted upon innocent children over the decades. 

(Note: a redaction is done when a scribe or editor replaces what is written with what he/she understands it to say rather than what it actually says; to slant or frame its meaning or simply remove the text before publication or release.)

Suppression of women at the core

The suppression of women is at the core of this crisis. By denying and suppressing women – and thereby the Divine Feminine – which it has done since its inception – the Catholic Church has denied and shut out the Holy Spirit. For the Holy Spirit of God is the Divine Feminine, as we considered with excerpts from The Gospel of the Beloved Companion in my previous post

I wrote about this current “breaking news” and disclosure of the criminal activity on the part of Catholic clergy and the cover-up by the Catholic hierarchy, all the way up to the “Holy See” in the Vatican, back in the 1990’s when I was creating the first draft of my book Sacred Anatomy.  Under the chapter heading “Sacred Sex” and subheading “The Holy Grail” I wrote:

The suppression of the mysteries of feminine sexuality may well be at the root of the scandalous turbulence we are witnessing today in the Catholic Church relative to pedophile priests. Thwarting the natural design and purposes of life for human beings can only lead to distortions in behavior. The Divine Feminine cannot be left out of human experience without repercussions. She will find her way into human relationships at the most intimate levels without respect to gender, and those who attempt to deny Her will find themselves seeking union with Her in the shadows of deviant behavior with the same irresistible passion that drives them to seek union with the Divine, for She is divine.

Historically, the Feminine Principle was once the centerpiece of much controversy and, as we have noted, persecution–strangely enough focused in a hatred and fear of midwives who posed a threat to the status quo of civilized decency because of their knowledge and skills in minimizing the pain in childbirth, when painful childbirth was taught by the Church to be the punishment for original sin. During the early centuries of the Christian era, women’s sexuality was regarded with fear. Knowledge of the secrets of the Feminine was considered to be so fiercely powerful that it posed a unique threat to Christian thinking and to the authority of the Church itself. This gave rise to the atrocities perpetrated by the Church against the Cathars during the Albegensian Crusades in thirteenth century France when over a hundred thousand, mostly women, were massacred.

Quest for the “Holy Grail”- The Divine Feminine

Like in the Arthurian Legend of the quest for the Holy Grail, in my opinion it is their own Divine Feminine, suppressed by their imposed vow of celibacy, that these pedophile priests seek to reclaim and have union with, a quality so expressive in young boys and girls. I myself was cuddled and molested by a priest when I was an altar-boy. My impression even then was that this Dutchman needed to be married and have children to love and wrestle with on the floor – or shower with, as one priest, my spiritual advisor no less, had me do while in seminary. I was fourteen then, and sexually fondled my very first day in seminary by a church deacon, who was directly relocated after I reported the incident to the Rector.  Weird stuff I thought back then. Not so weird as I see it today. The feminine and masculine energies belong together and function naturally when allowed to be together as equal partners in co-creation. Finding these dual energies in ourselves as individuals and allowing them to emerge and balance one another is a worthy spiritual path to take toward true Self emergence. To ignore this essential aspect of our Humanity can only lead to an eruption and take over of the shadow side of our human nature.  

Dissolution the only solution  

There is one solution to the Catholic Church’s crisis that could avert its demise: dissolve the dishonest foundation upon which it was built — the patriarchal “rock” of Peter, the apostle who openly despised women.  This could easily be done by the Church recognizing Mary Magdalene as the Apostle of apostles and the Beloved Companion of Jesus and sanction the Gospel of Mary Magdalene and the Gospel of Thomas by including them in the Codex of Holy Scripture – then by eliminating the Acts of the Apostles and all of Paul’s letters and gospels, basically eradicate Paulism altogether, which is what Christianity is in reality. 

The next step would be to allow priests to marry and have a family, just as the Episcopal Church does, and allow women to become priests.  Canon Law would have to be abolished along with all the laws that the Church has held over the heads of the faithful, including its dogmas relating to “original sin,” not mentioned once by Jesus, not even in passing as he admonished us to humble ourselves and become like little children in order to enter the Kingdom of the Spirit. He didn’t say “Oh, by the way, they have to be baptized to wash away original sin so they don’t end up in Limbo.” No, all that came with the Council of Nicea along with the doctrines of mortal and venial sin, punishment in hell and reward in heaven, along with its “Apostles Creed.” That all has to be abolished – in my humble opinion and righteous judgement anyway. 

In essence, the Church of Rome must undo itself as a legitimate entity sanctioned by God and established by Jesus.  The Vatican must be dissolved and liquidated, its enormous wealth distributed among the poor and those innocent ones its clergy has violated.  Following the undoing of the Roman Church, Christianity and all of its denominations need to be purged of all its fabricated doctrines and fear-based theology then renewed by adopting the Gospel of Mary Magdalene and the Gospel of Thomas as providing the true accounting of the life of Yeshua/Jesus and his message of love and compassion to the world. 

The Church of Rome, not of Jesus 

Christianity was established as the religion of Rome by the Emperor Constantine and the Council of Nicea in the fourth century AD, which laid down the infalible laws by which all professing Christians were to be governed.  This in contrast to the one law that was given by Jesus to his apostles: the commandment to Love the Lord our God with all and each other as our self. In fact, Jesus instructed them to make no laws other than the one He had given them.

Tell others of what you have seen, but do not lay down any rules beyond what I appointed you; and do not give a law like the lawgiver, lest you be constrained by it. (The Gospel of the Beloved Companion).

Such a sensible guideline and simple instruction he gave to those simple men and women as they set out to tell the world about what they had heard and seen.

What really went down after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus

What happened after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is alluded to in the Gospel of Mary Magdalene. This excerpt follows on the heels of my previous post wherein I share Mary Magdalene’s account of what Yeshua/Jesus showed her in a vision of a great tree whose roots he said are in the earth of her body and whose trunk extended upward through the “five regions of Humanity to the crown which is the Kingdom of the Spirit.” This tree had eight boughs and eight gates, upon which she ascended and through which she entered respectively, eventually finding herself at the crown where she beheld the Spirit in the form of “a woman of extraordinary beauty, clothed in garments of brilliant white,” who embraced her and freed her soul from the world.

Sounds like a description of the Tree of Life embodied by the Seven Endocrine Glands and the seven chakras – of which there are thought to be eight or more. You can read what happened after that in my previous post

This is how the disciples reacted to what Mary Magdalene had told them of her encounter with their Rabbi:

Many of the disciples did not understand what she had said, and grumbled against her amongst themselves. Andreas therefore answered and said to the brethren, “Say what you wish to say about what she has said. I at least do not believe that the Rabbi said this, for these teachings are certainly strange and complicated ideas.”

Shimon Kefa (Peter) answered and spoke concerning these same things. He questioned them about Yeshua and said, “Did he really speak privately with this woman and not openly to us? Are we to turn about and listen to her? Did he prefer her to us?”

Then the Migdalah [Mary Magdalene] wept and said to Shimon Kefa, “My brother Shimon Kifa, Think that I have thought this up myself in my heart, or that I am lying about Yeshua? Only from the truth again I tell you that what I have said is the truth.”

And Levi answered and said to Shimon Kifa, “Shimon Kifa, you have always been hot-tempered. Now I see you contending against this woman like the adversaries. But if the Rabbi made her worthy, who are we indeed to reject her? Surely as his companion, Yeshua knew her better than all others. That is why he loved her more than us.

Rather, let us be ashamed and do as she says. Let us put on perfect Humanity and acquire it as she has done, and separate as he commanded us and preach the testimony of the Son of Humanity, not laying down any other rule or other law beyond that which he gave us.”

Here’s the clincher:

And when they heard this, they were divided, and argued amongst themselves. And therefore they began to leave separately, and go forth to proclaim and to teach what they understood of the words of the Rabbi.

“…what they understood…” and not what Mary Magdalene told them what Jesus had said. In other words, they refused to listen to a woman, even the very companion of their Master, who alone witnessed his resurrection from the dead and spoke to him “privately.” That was just too much humility for their male egos to yield to and take on.  And that moment was the beginning of the end of Christianity before it ever became the religion of Rome. It was doomed to failure.  And we are witnesses to that failure today, God help us. 

I will close with these words of the author of The Gospel of the Beloved Companion, Jehanne De Quillan – yes, a woman, no less and fittingly so:

My question is this: when will orthodox Christianity grow up? Surely it is time to put aside these antiquated, man-made principles, and start to look for the real treasure that Yeshua left us two thousand years ago–the Kingdom of God that lies within each one of us–a treasure that requires no pope, bishop, priest, pastor, or preacher for us to discover the treasure he defined in a single saying:

“…BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM…” 

Be love. Be loved.

Anthony

Read my HealthLight newsletter online at LiftingTones.com

For a copy of Sacred Anatomy, and/or for my recently published Third and Revised Edition of Attunement with Sacred Sound, simply email your request to me at tpal70@gmail.com.

The Gospel of the Beloved Companion

I interrupt this series to bring forward into the light of day something new and enlightening, something I have never seen in the Canonical Gospels of the New Testament Bible. It’s found in the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, which reveals a different view of the life and public ministry of Jesus — whose historic name, by the way, was “Yeshua.” I found this while reading THE GOSPEL OF THE BELOVED COMPANION  by Jehanne De Quillan, who translated her gospel directly from the original Greek.

The setting for these words spoken by Mary Magdalene is a room in the “House of Bethany” where the disciples of Jesus had gathered just after the crucifixion and resurrection of their Master. As the Canonical Gospels relate the story, Mary of Bethany – whom Jesus had called “the Migdalah” (which means tower of strength and courage) – went to the tomb where Jesus’s body had been placed and found the stone rolled back and the tomb empty. Mistaking a presence in the garden as the gardener, she asked where he had taken the body, at which point Jesus called her by her name, “Miryam,” to which she answered “Rabbouni.” Being moved to embrace her Beloved, Jesus said to her “‘Miryam, do not hold to me, for I am not of the flesh, neither am I one with the spirit….'” He then asked her to go to his disciples and tell them the good news of his resurrection so that, as he put it, “‘all would know that my words are true and that any who should choose to believe them and keep to my commandments will follow me on their last day.'” [These words are packed with historical significance – which I may unpack in a future post.]

So Mary went to the disciples and told them how she had seen and spoken with Jesus. They apparently were a bit disbelieving and even jealous of her intimate rapport with their Master, especially Peter, who said “‘Sister, we know that he loved you more than any other among women. Tell us the words of the Rabbi, which you remember, which you know and understand, but we do not, nor have we heard them.'” 

And here is what she reportedly answered them:

What is hidden from you, I will proclaim to you. 

My Master spoke thus to me. He said, “Miryam, blessed are you who came into being before coming into being, and whose eyes are set upon the Kingdom, who from the beginning has understood and followed my teachings. Only from the truth I tell you there is a great tree within you that does not change,summer or winter, and its leaves do not fall. Whosoever listens to my words and ascends to its crown will not taste death, but will know the truth of eternal life.” 

Then he showed me a vision in which I saw a great tree that seemed to reach unto the heavens; and as I saw these things, he said “The roots of this tree are in the earth, which is your body. The trunk extends upward through the five regions of Humanity to the Crown, which is the Kingdom of the Spirit.

There are eight great boughs upon this tree and each bough bears its own fruit, which you must eat in all its fullness. As the fruit of the tree of the Garden [referring to the “fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”] caused Adam and Chav’vah [Eve?] to fall into darkness, so this fruit will grant to you the Light of the Spirit that is Eternal Life. Between each bough is a gate and a guardian who challenges the unworthy who try to pass.

“The leaves at the bottom of the tree are thick and plentiful, so no light penetrates to illuminate the way. But fear not, for I am the Way and the Light, and I tell you that as one ascends the tree, the leaves that block one from the Light are fewer, so it is possible to see all more clearly. Those who seek to ascend must free themselves of the world. If you do not free yourself from the world, you will die in the darkness that is the root of the tree. But if you free yourself, you will rise and reach the Light that is the Eternal Life of the Spirit.”

She continues to relate how she ascended the tree, bough by bough, entering gate by gate, until she reached the top crown of the tree. Each bough had its own unique requirement and its own unique gifts.

On the first level, she had to release all judgement and wrath in order to receive the nourishment of the gifts of love and compassion.

On the second bough, she had to release ignorance and intolerance to receive the gifts of wisdom and understanding.

To enter the third gate on the level of the third great bough, she had to release duplicity and arrogance in order to receive the gifts of honor and humility.

At the  level of the fourth great bough, she had to confront and free herself of the weakness of the flesh and the illusion of her fears. Here she received the gifts of strength and courage.

Then she says this about her remaining ascent upward:

Only then, my Master told me, when you have rejected the deceiver, can you pass through the hardest gate of all, to attain the fifth bough and the fruit of clarity and truth. Only then will you know the clarity and truth of your soul and, knowing your Self for the first time, understand that you are a child of the Living Spirit. And as my soul moved upward, I realized that I could no longer hear the voice of the world, as all had become as silence.

Then in the Light above, I saw the sixth bough, the one that bore the fruit of power and healing. My Master told me that when you truly have eaten of the fruit of the clarity and truth of your Self, then could you partake of the fruit of power and healing. The power to heal your own soul and thereby make it ready to ascend to the seventh bough, where it will be filled by the fruit of Light and Goodness.

And I saw my soul, now free of all darkness, ascend again to be filled with the Light and Goodness that is the Spirit. And I was filled with a fierce Joy as my soul turned to fire and flew upwards in the flames from whence my Master showed me the eighth and final bough, upon which burned the fruit of the grace and beauty of the Spirit.

And I felt my soul and all that I could see dissolve and vanish in a brilliant Light, in a likeness unto the sun. And in the Light, I beheld a woman of extraordinary beauty, clothed in garments of brilliant white. The figure extended its arms and I felt my soul drawn into its embrace and in that moment I was freed from the world and realized that the fetter of forgetfulness was temporary. From now on, I shall rest through the course of the time of the age in silence. And then, as if from a great distance, I heard the voice of my Master tell me, “Miryam, whom I have called the Migdalah, now you have seen the all, and have known the truth of your Self; the truth that I Am. Now you have become the completion of completions.” And thus the vision ended.

“This is what my Master has told and shown me, and only from the truth I tell you, that all that I have revealed to you is true.”

When the Migdalah had told of all the Yeshua and said and done, she fell silent, since it was in that silence that Yeshua had spoken with her and revealed these truths.

And she has remained silent ever since. The Catholic Church and all of Christianity has kept Jesus’s Beloved Companion, along with the feminine in general, suppressed and silenced. But she is silent no longer. It’s no coincidence, I feel, that this Gospel of Mary Magdalene, The Beloved Companion has surfaced in this day and at this specific time of the rise of the feminine movement. It may even be vibrationally causal relative to that movement. 

This passage bears much fruit for meditation. Just the revelation that the Spirit is feminine, “a woman of extraordinary beauty, clothed in garments of brilliant white,” is thought provoking in the context of a male-dominating world and religion.  Here is the Divine Feminine revealed to the world through Mary Magdalene, Jesus’s beloved companion.  Earlier in the text of this Gospel, Jesus refers to the Spirit as “she.” I felt a refreshing breeze blow through my soul as I read his reference to the Spirit as feminine — my own feminine energies, no doubt, stirring with recognition and acknowledgment.

In rejecting the Divine Feminine, the Church rejected the Spirit, leaving it spiritless and dead – my own personal impression of the Catholic Church and its priesthood, to which I once aspired as a young man. There is more spirit expressed in the Pentecostal religion, and in the worship service of the Black churches I’ve visited, than in all of Catholicism – in my humble opinion anyway.  

I will leave you to your own thoughts and realizations and return to share some of my own in another post.  Until then,

Be love. Be loved.

Anthony

Read my HealthLight newsletter online at LiftingTones.com.  

 

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 History” Vs the “Jesus of Faith” part 4:1 – The Kingdom of Heaven

“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.’ (The Gospel of Thomas)

The Gospel of Thomas, a product of Egyptian Christianity, was one of the collections of codices found at Nag Hammadi in 1945, now popularly called the “Gnostic Gospels.” Gnostic Christianity was considered heretical since the second century. Thomas, however, was not a Gnostic. Harvard Professor Helmut Koester, along with many other scholars, feel strongly that this gospel should be included in the canon of the new Testament. It isn’t for one reason only: it exposes the deception of Christianity which bought into the Egyptian tradition that heaven–the “Far-World”–was a place to visit while we live and eventually go to when you die. Thomas proclaims in his Gospel the revolutionary teaching of Jesus that “The kingdom of heaven is within you and outside of you.” In other words, it is not somewhere up there but right here on earth, and one does not need the Church with its creeds and dogmas to get there.

In his provocative book The Jesus Papers–Exposing the Greatest Cover-Up in History, Michael Baigent presents the Gospel of Thomas as the contrast to Zealot Christianity that it is.

. . . it is clear that its information comes from a hidden tradition that was passed only to a special few; as its opening sentence states, “These are the secret sayings which the living Jesus spoke and which Didymus Judas Thomas wrote down. . . . It gives fresh information about the “kingdom”–or “the Kingdom of the Father.” Jesus’ disciples ask “When will the new world come?” Jesus replies “What you look forward to has already come, but you do not recognize it. . . . The Kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth and men do not see it.”

In the Gospel of Mary of Magdala, another text found at Nag Hammadi, Jesus is recorded to have issued “a warning against looking for physical evidence of the kingdom of heaven. . . . The translator, Professor Karen King of the Harvard University Divinity School, has used a nonstandard expression to replace ‘Son of Man’–she uses ‘child of humanity,’ which is probably a better phrase, avoiding, as it does, the sectarian and dogmatic baggage; for similar reasons she replaces ‘kingdom’ with ‘Realm’ . . . .  ‘Be on your guard,’ says Jesus, ‘so that no one deceives you by saying “Look over here!” or “Look over there!” For the child of true Humanity exists within you. Follow it! Those who search for it will find it. Go then, preach the good news about the Realm.'”

Mary Magdalene was not liked by the apostle Peter simply because she was a woman and “unworthy of the life,” as he said of her to the other disciples, some of whom were irritated by her closeness to Jesus, who favored her over the other disciples, kissing her often on the lips. Peter is recorded by Mary Magdalene as saying “Sister, we know that the Savior loved you more than all the other women. Tell us the words of the Savior that you remember, the things which you know that we don’t because we haven’t heard them.” As it turns out, Mary Magdalene had received secrete teachings from Jesus. She replies to Peter “I will teach you about what is hidden from you.” This irritated several of the disciples who began to doubt that Jesus ever said secrete words to her and not to them, that he even spoke to a woman in private without them knowing. “Are we to turn around and listen to her? Did he choose her over us?” Peter demands to know.

The disciple Levi defends Mary: “Assuredly the Savior’s knowledge of her is completely reliable. That is why he loved her more than us.” Baigent goes on to conclude that Jesus “taught secrete doctrines that concerned the passing over to the kingdom of heaven–a metaphor, as I have noted, for the concept described by the ancient Egyptians as the Far-World, or by the Greeks variously as the land of the Blessed or the Netherworld. All depict the divine world. The disciple of Jesus who understood his teaching the best was Mary Magdalene….”

It was Mary Magdalene who anointed Jesus with precious oils days before his royal entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. She alone knew the significance of this ritual anointing, an important aspect of which is that it be performed “by someone who understands what is being done, and by one who can participate in recognizing the messiah–for the anointment is just the final act of a longer process, the details of which have not been recorded in the Gospels.” Baigent concludes this chapter with these words of appraisal of the Catholic Church:

No wonder the power brokers of Rome wanted to exclude knowledge of this sacred path as well as knowledge of these additional gospels. Unfortunately–for them–they could do nothing about the Gospels that later became the New Testament except to control the interpretation of them–to control the “spin.” The conceit, of course, is that some theologians with attitude presume to understand hundreds, perhaps a thousand or two years later, what the writers meant better than they did themselves. Why ever have we believed this for so long?

Although there were always scholars and commentators who saw through the spin, it is only in recent times that the manipulation and error have come so much to the fore in public. But so far, particularly in the ornate halls of the Vatican, nothing has changed. Power prefers spin to truth.

“Kingdom-Consciousness”

Andrew Harvey, series editor of Steven Davies’ 2002 release, The Gospel of Thomas – Annotated & Explained, writes eloquently and passionately about this Gospel.  He describes the character of Jesus and his revolutionary vision for the world with such authenticity that one might think he knew Jesus personally. I will share much of his foreword in two posts simply because it articulates so well the “alternative” I promised to offer at the start of this series–as well as the primary purpose of Jesus’ mission and ministry. He speaks of a “kingdom-consciousness.”

The Gospel of Thomas is, I believe, the clearest guide we  have to the vision of the world’s supreme mystical revolutionary, the teacher known as Jesus. To those who learn to unpack its sometimes cryptic sayings, the Gospel of Thomas offers a naked and dazzlingly subversive representation of Jesus’ defining and most radical discovery: that the living Kingdom of God burns in us and surrounds us in the glory at all moments, and the vast and passionate love-consciousness–what you might call “Kingdom­-consciousness” –can help birth it into reality. This discovery is the spiritual equivalent of Albert Einstein’s and J. Robert Oppenheimer’s uncovering of the potential of nuclear fission; it makes available to all humanity a wholly new level of sacred power. By fusing together a vision of God’s divine world with a knowledge of how this divine world could emerge into and transfigure the human one, the Gospel of Thomas makes clear that Jesus discovered the alchemical secret of transformation that could have permanently altered world history, had it been implemented with the passion and on the scale that Jesus knew was possible. Its betrayal by the churches erected in Jesus’ name has been an unmitigated disaster, one major rea­son for our contemporary catastrophe.

Unlike the Buddha, or Krishna, or any of the Eastern sages whose wis­dom of transcendent knowledge left fundamentally intact the status quo of a world often characterized as illusory, the Jesus we see in the Gospel of Thomas saw and knew this world as the constant epiphany of the divine Kingdom and knew too that a wholly new world could be created by divine beings, once they had seen this and allowed themselves to be transformed and empowered as he was, by divine wisdom, ecstasy, and energy. What Jesus woke up to and proceeded to enact with the fiercest and most gloriously imaginable intensity was this new life of “Kingdom­-consciousness,” not as a savior and not as a guru claiming unique status and truth–the Gospel of Thomas makes this very clear–but as a sign of what is possible for all human beings who dare to awaken to the potential splendor of their inner truth and the responsibilities for total transformation of the world that it then inspires within them.

Jesus’ full revolutionary vision in all its outrageousness, grandeur, and radical passion is to be discovered in a close reading of the Gospel of Thomas. The greatest of the sayings are like the equations of physicists Werner Heisenberg or Niels Bohr–complex but intensely lucid expositions in mystical and yogic terms of the laws and potential of a new reality, an endlessly dynamic and fecund reality created by our illusory perceptions and their sterile hunger for separation, division, and stasis.

What I have discovered on my own journey into the increasingly challenging understanding of “Kingdom-consciousness” is that as I continue to uncover and develop in my own depths the “fire” that Jesus speaks of in the Gospel of Thomas, reading the sayings by the brilliant light of this “fire” becomes even more astonishing. The sayings expand in radiance, significance, and reach as I expand my own awareness of divinity and of the powers available to all those who dare to risk trans­formation.

What I want to offer here is a linked reading of seven of the sayings that have most inspired me. Through this linked reading, I hope to open up to seekers everywhere the full glory, as far as I understand it now, of what Jesus is trying to communicate through the Gospel of Thomas, not just to Christians but to the whole of humanity. Let us begin with saying 2:

“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.”

This saying suggests that the Jesus who is speaking in the Gospel of Thomas is not presenting himself as a Messiah with a unique realization and a unique status of mediator. This Jesus–for me, the authentic Jesus–is like the Buddha, a human being who was awakened to the full glory of his inner divinity and so knows the secret of every human being and hungers to reveal it to change the world. The life to which this Jesus is inviting everyone is not one of endless seeking, but one of finding­–finding the truth and power of human divinity by risking everything to uncover them.

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.

I will share more of Andrew Harvey’s foreword in my next post. We are headed toward Holy Week and the Easter Season in the Christian world during which I will bring this series to its climatic conclusion with a provocative scenario of the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus, a drama that forms the very foundation of the Christian Faith. Until then,

Be love. Be loved.

Anthony

I invite you to visit my HealthLight Newsletter blog 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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