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The “Jesus of Faith” Vs the “Jesus of History” Part 5:4 “Take us down to the river”

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

I will conclude this series of considerations of the Jesus of faith versus the Jesus of history with Michael Baigent’s own words summarizing the journey we have taken through his provocative book The Jesus Papers — Exposing the Greatest Cover-Up in History, words and thoughts that I fully embrace as resonant with my own spirit of understanding of the life and ministry of Jesus.

Here are Baigent’s final words from his book:

DURING THE COURSE of writing this book, I have sought out knowledge of a very special context – that of Egypt and Judaea in the first century of the modern era, a period about which there are few facts that we can be certain of. We have seen how the context can be controlled and forced to support a story that simply can’t be true. The Jesus of history cannot have been as the theology of the Jesus of faith presents him.

During the course of our journey, we have discovered that Jesus rejected the political activity of his Zealot supporters. This is a crucially important piece of information that has been missed. We have seen too that there is no evidence that he died on the cross; in fact, what evidence survives suggests otherwise. And if he didn’t die on the cross, where does that leave the resurrection? His divinity? His equal­ity in the Holy Trinity? These claims all disintegrate once the spin stops.

We have discovered that all these assertions about Jesus came much later, the result of a glossy gift-wrapping of some historical events that were deliberately distorted in order to serve a strict theo­logical agenda, one that maintains to the present day a number of ex­tremely odd and eccentric notions. Foremost among these is the belief that only men were Christ’s closest disciples and so women cannot serve as priests, bishops, or popes. With this discovery, the male domination of the apostolic succession crumbles away, along with the Rome-centered concept of the succession itself.

And crucially, we have also discovered that there is no evidence to suggest that Jesus intended to be worshiped as a god. On the con­trary, his teachings indicate that he wanted each person to have the opportunity to travel to the Far-World to find the Divine for himself or herself — or as he put it, to travel to the kingdom of heaven and be filled with the “Spirit of God.”

Where did Jesus learn all this? Not in Galilee, we have concluded, but much more likely in Egypt, where the Jewish community appears to have been more diverse than the Jewish community in Palestine and to have nurtured a more mystical approach to religion.

Furthermore, nothing in our findings suggests that Jesus ever planned to start a religion, let alone encourage others to write down his words and organize them into an official collection of sayings. In fact, quite the reverse is more likely I suspect that he wouldn’t have minded at all if people forgot him; what was more important to him was that people should not forget the way to the kingdom of heaven, a notion not restricted to Christianity and Judaism: “To be ignorant of the divine is the ultimate vice,” proclaim the texts attributed to the Egyptian sage Hermes Trismegistus.

It should be clear now that history is malleable: we have our facts, but we never have enough of them to be able to put our hands on our hearts and say, in all honesty, that we know for certain what hap­pened. All history is a myth, a story created to make some sense out of the few events we can know. The past is a hypothesis erected to ex­plain and justify the present.

In some ways this does not matter, for myths exist to communicate meaning, not history. But in this scientific age we want to know that the myths we live by are, if not true, at least based upon some approximation of the truth. We want to know that Jesus was really crucified, that Caesar was truly murdered by Brutus, that Paul did have a mystical experience on his way to Damascus. All these events are plausible, and there is no intrinsic reason why they might not be true.

But what do we do with beliefs such as Jesus walking on water?  Jesus having been raised from the dead? Peter founding the Roman Church with infallible popes? None of these beliefs is plausible, and there is no intrinsic reason why any of them should be true. Yet there are many who equally believe both sets of assertions.

Our modern world is dominated by the “religions of the book”­ Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. We can see that to base truth upon a written word makes it vulnerable to all the problems of interpreta­tion and translation, to say nothing of religious distortion. The danger is that books foster a dependence upon belief rather than knowledge; if there has been one underlying theme of our journey, it has been that we need to travel the road for ourselves and experience its hardships, pleasures, and insights directly rather than secondhand or vicariously. (Bold emphasis mine)

And with that plea I must bring our journey to an end, not be­cause there is no further to travel, for of course there is, but because we have traveled much already and it is now time to pause and reflect on just how far we have come.

As we halt, it only remains to quote the great Persian Sufi Jelalud­din Rumi, who, cutting straight to the heart of the matter, as was al­ways his way, cried out to all who would listen: “Jars of spring water are not enough anymore. Take us down to the river!'”

To drink from the river is our birthright. Let no one deny us that freedom!

There is no argument that the impact upon the entire world of humankind that the presence and ministry of this one man made is nothing short of a profound transformation and elevation of the human spirit and of human consciousness. I know this is true for me personally. Just to think of him and to read his words in my red-letter Bible stirs my soul and quickens my spirit. Jesus is alive today in the heart of humanity as truly as he was alive and physically present on earth two-thousand years ago.

I’ll leave you with this five-minute video clip by Dr. Bruce Lipton on how our beliefs direct our lives 95% of the time and how religious beliefs are programs and not reality. Believing in God is not the same as knowing God. To know God is to go beyond belief and to know your Self. That is the only reality we can know for certain: that I AM.

In my next post I will consider the Aramaic Prayer of Jesus and the direct access to Father and Mother God available to all human beings on Earth. Until then,

Be love. Be loved.

Anthony

Read my HealthLight Newsletter online at LiftingTones.com.  Current post: Humble Honey Kills Bacteria.

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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 3:2 – 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 Faith” Vs the “Jesus of History” part 3:1– Initiation and Incubation

“Say, ‘I am a child of Earth and starry Heaven; but my race is of Heaven [alone]’”

I have been sharing a perspective of the eighteen missing years of Jesus’ young adulthood from religious historian Michael Baigent’s book The Jesus Papers – Exposing the Greatest Cover-Up in History. In my last post, we explored a possible scenario that Jesus spent those years in Egypt—possibly living in a community of healers called the Therapeutae. I will continue to share Baigent’s perspective of events in Egypt that Jesus might have know about and even explored experientially.

Pyramids for Soul Travel

The Egyptians saw themselves as keepers of the balance and harmony of our universe. The Pharaoh bore the primary responsibility in this keep and the pyramids were his means of traveling to the Far-World for wisdom from the gods. Michael Baigent gives details of this travel from information gained during several pilgrimages he made to the pyramids in Egypt and other sites of historical interest.

To ALL OF US “PILGRIMS,” it is evident that the Pyramids are more than just the extravagant tombs we have been led to believe they are. Stephen Quirke states bluntly that the Pyramids, along with many other buildings that disintegrated over time, formed part of an ornate complex dedicated to the cult of the pharaoh as a divinity, adding that “they are only secondarily tombs.” The Pyramid of Djoser and other buildings in the complex at Saqqara, he explains, provide “unambiguous evidence” for their ritual use—in this case, for the Sed festival, a great festival held every thirty years or so that aimed to renew the power of the pharaoh.”

The most significant study of the cult of the pharaoh has recently been completed by Dr. Jeremy Naydler and presented in his book Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts. He explains that the Sed festival was conducted to allow the pharaoh to bring the physical world and the Far-World into harmony, a balancing that would benefit all of Egypt. The “central rite” of the Sed festival “involved the king crossing the threshold between worlds,” with the aim of bringing himself into a “direct relationship to the normally hidden spiritual powers.” To allow this to happen, during the most secret parts of the ritual ceremony it appears that the king had “an ecstatic visionary experience.” This experience was deliberately induced by those conducting the rites, who well understood the linkage between the two worlds and the importance of the pharaoh as a point of contact between the two.

Naydler is blunt: his conclusion from his study of the Pyramid Texts is that “far from being funerary texts, [these texts] were primarily concerned with mystical experiences of a type similar to those that the living king had during the ‘secret rites’ of the Sed festival, for they can clearly be seen to belong to a genre of archetypal human experiences at the crossing point between this world and the spirit world.”

One of these texts reads: “O king, you have not departed dead, you have departed alive.” Another reads: “I have gone and returned. . . .  I go forth today in the real form of a living spirit.” Yet another text is entitled “Ascending to the sky . . . . and becoming an Akh.”

The Akh is “the shining one,” a “being of light,” and is the root of the word akhet, or “horizon.” It describes the end sought by the Ba: to convert into pure spiritual radiance. In terms of the dead, it reveals that the person after death, following a period when he is free of his body in his Ba [soul] form, eventually ascends to enter a state of transcendence and merges with the radiant Source of all. Stephen Quirke explains that “the akh is the transfigured spirit that has become one with the light.” The word used in the texts for this process is sakhu—meaning “to make [the deceased] an Akh … a being of light.”

As Baigent points out, scholars would dispute this experiential approach to texts and rites and relegate it all to “millennia of imaginative speculation” by priests who may have believed what they were writing but didn’t ascribe to the actual possibility of such occurrences  Naydler nevertheless suggests that the experiences of crossing the threshold of death while yet alive were indeed possible and real. Baigent writes:

IT IS HERE THAT I am reminded again of the unique term “ahket of Khufu” applied to the Great Pyramid of the pharaoh Khufu at Giza, which I referred to at the beginning of the chapter. Could this name, meaning “to blaze, to be radiant,” and indicating the point of entry into the Far-World on the horizon, possibly suggest that the pyramid was the place from which Khufu passed into the Far-World? And the place from which he returned?

With the responsibility of maintaining Ma’at upon him, could it be that Khufu sought answers from the spiritual beings in the realm beyond on how to ensure harmony in this world? And if he did indeed cross the threshold into the kingdom of gods, how did he do it? What specific techniques were known to the Egyptian priests who assisted Khufu and other Egyptians before and after him?

It is quite possible that Jesus himself visited the Great Pyramid of Giza (pronounced jeeza) and went through the ritual by which he initiated the process of revelation of his radiant divinity, which he revealed later on with three of his closest disciples, as the Gospels of Matthew and Mark both record. Jesus apparently crossed over the threshold between heaven and earth and visited with two great beings, Moses and Elias, with whom he had a conversation. He was “transfigured before them: and his face did shine like the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.” (Matt 17:2) How did he do this? And when and where did he initiate this process of transfiguration and revelation of his radiant divinity? Could it have been inside the Great Pyramid of Giza? Was not his mission, like the pharaohs such as Khufu, to bring balance and harmony back to the relationship between heaven and earth? Perhaps to restore harmony and balance between the planet itself and the solar system – or Solar Entity, as I prefer to call it?

Rites of Initiation

Golden plates were found in graves in Thessaly, Greece, that speak of a celebration or ritual “performance by the ‘blessed ones” that took place underground. The “blessed ones” are written about as being  “’The Holy Ones, who understand the mysteries.’ Meaning, it is evident, those who had been initiated.” One plate reads: “O fortunate and blessed one, you are a god, no longer mortal.” Another plate reads: “Say, I am a child of Earth and starry Heaven; But my race is of Heaven [alone]”–advice given to a Far-World traveler to prepare him for any query about who he was.

We cannot avoid it: we are forced to take seriously the idea of initiation in underground chambers, and of initiates sharing with the dead secret rites and knowledge. This is a strange claim for a modern person to take seriously, but we must view the ancients in their own terms: this is how they explained what happens, and there seems to have been little ambiguity or doubt involved. Simply because we find it hard to believe is no reason to think that they misunderstood what was occurring, or worse, that they made it up as part of a “pious fraud.” All the evidence at our disposal leads to the conclusion that those who passed through the initiation ceremonies felt that they had been well served. There are no reports of disgruntled initiates demanding their money back.

Perhaps it is time now to look at how the priests did it—that is, how they helped initiates actually leave their bodies and travel to the Far-World.

Incubation

There was a ritual performed in underground chambers, facilitated by Egyptian priests, called the “initiation,” which included a process of “incubation,” whereby those who wished to cross over to the Far-World and “be introduced to the divine secrets” could do so and return safely. This was performed in underground sanctuaries accessible by way of tunnels. Baigent relates it to an interesting classic story:

These initiates, as they were called, would enter, take the right-hand path—which was always recommended in the ancient texts—and be rowed along an artificial river to reach the inner sanctuary, which served as the doorway or portal into the netherworld they sought and the kingdom of the gods. To return, the initiates could pass back across the river. In the meantime, the alternative tunnel provided the priests of the site direct access to the sanctuary, where they would wait for the initiates to arrive.

It was all rather reminiscent of the visits to the underworld that classical writers had described. They began with accounts of visitors to the infernal regions being rowed across the River Styx by the silent boatman Charon. Then, after entry into the sacred kingdom, the traveler experienced, as Vergil describes it, “places of delight, to green park land, Where souls take ease amid the Blessed Groves.”!

The author actually visited this site and describes in intriguing detail features he personally saw that are found in Vergil’s Aeneid, a scene where Aeneas visits the Sibyl of Cuma and asks for directions to the underworld. Vergil’s story turns out to be more fact than fiction. Homer also wrote stories about crossing over to the underworld:

THE VERY NOTION of crossing to the realm of the dead has had a long tradition in the Greek world. The earliest report of such a journey appears in the famous book XI of Homer’s great epic The Odyssey. Odysseus, on his complicated journey back to his home after the battles of Troy, is required by a witch, Circe, to descend into Hades, where Persephone is queen, in order to seek advice from the soul of a famous but dead Theban.

As I read Baigent’s description of what was called “incubation,” it sounded very much like what we know and practice today as meditation or contemplation — or even what today is known as a “sweat lodge.”  Only this ritual was performed by priests who knew the techniques and how to administer them. The question I am interested in having answered is whether or not Jesus had a personal experience of incubation during his sojourn in Egypt—perhaps as a preparation for his three-days in the sepulcher between his alleged crucifixion and his celebrated resurrection. Baigent alludes to this possibility but leaves us to our own conclusions and speculations.

THESE MATTERS MAY seem far too arcane to have any relevance whatsoever to our story, which, after all, concerns Jesus and the source of his teachings. Yet Jesus, as we shall soon see, also took an experiential approach to his mysticism. Could men like Parmenides have transmitted ideas to the classical world of the time of Jesus? Could they have added to the fertile mix of techniques that found a center in the great city of Alexandria and a Jewish expression in the Pythagorean-influenced group of Therapeutae whom Philo described living in a community outside the city?

Practice of Dying – Near Death Experiences?

Out of body experience

Plato explains through the words of Socrates that those who are involved in following philosophy correctly “‘are practicing nothing other than dying and being dead…truly, then, those who practice philosophy aright are cultivating dying.’” The only difference is that one returns to this world. It sounds very similar to a Near Death Experience.

At the point of death, Themistius informs us, “[the soul] has the same experience as those who are being initiated into great mysteries.”

This definitive assertion can be taken as a true expression of one who had himself been through the great mysteries. This is not just an intellectual belief but something learned from participating in such a journey to the Far-World.

Themistius continues:

At first one wanders and wearily hurries to and fro, and journeys with suspicion through the dark as one uninitiated: then come all the terrors before the final initiation, shuddering, trembling, sweating, amazement: then one is struck with a marvelous light, one is received into pure regions and meadows, with voices and dances and the majesty of holy sounds and shapes: among these he who has fulfilled initiation wanders free, and released and bearing his crown joins in the divine communion, and consorts with pure and holy men.

The Healer-Priests

In 1958 evidence was uncovered among the ruins of the ancient city of Velia in Italy of healer-priests of Apollo who survived the fall of that city. One of these was the Presocratic philosopher Parmenides. The date 446 A.D. was the latest date inscribed on the stone base of a destroyed statue, indicating a time somewhere around the beginning of the Christian period. Baigent describes their ritual practice:

These healer-priests were important: one of their titles was Pholarchos—“Lord of the Lair.” This is revealing, as these priests were specialists in an initiatory technique once well known in the ancient world as the technique of incubation.

In antiquity the best way of actually making contact with divinities of the underworld was through the practice of “incubation”—of awaiting a dream or vision while sleeping, as a rule, either on or even inside the earth.”

The ritual practice of incubation involves lying down in complete stillness and silence in an underground room, or perhaps a cave, in order to have a prophetic dream or to fall into a state of consciousness that is neither waking nor sleeping. It was here in the enclosed dark spaces that the seekers might have experienced passing across to the Far-world, where they could receive a vision from the Divine, the Source of all. The god of incubation was Apollo.”

. . . . The sacred journey was undertaken for healing or for a revelatory experience. These healer-priests of Apollo were experts in incubation and, as Kingsley explains, “used incantations to enter other states of consciousness.”

We can see here that the practices of ancient Greece, using such sites as found at Baia or the deep caves or underground sites that must have existed in Velia, were not so different from the uses made of the crypts beneath the temples in ancient Egypt. Such dark secluded places were chosen by seekers who, after dutiful preparation and appropriate ritual and incantation, lay in the stillness and entered another state of consciousness. We are left with little alternative but to seriously consider that they did indeed leave their bodies in their Ba form (according to the Egyptians) or in their psyche, or soul (according to the Greeks), and travel to the Far-World.

We can also see that by the time of Jesus the two traditions were drawing ever closer together. In fact, during the Greek and Roman domination of their country, the Egyptians despaired of their secrets surviving; the first-or second-century A.D. Hermetic text the Asclepius laments:

“A time will come when it will appear that the Egyptians paid respect to divinity with faithful mind and painstaking reverence to no purpose. All their holy worship will be disappointed and perish without effect, for divinity will return from earth to heaven, and Egypt will be abandoned…. When foreigners occupy the land … a prohibition under penalty prescribed by law (so-called) will be enacted against reverence, fidelity and divine worship. Then this most holy land, seat of shrines and temples, will be filled completely with tombs and corpses…. Only words cut in stone will survive to tell your faithful works.”

And so did it come to pass: Egypt became a land of darkness and stone-engraved mystery simultaneously with the rise of Christianity.  This ended the “First Sacred School” initiated by Abraham and cleared the way for the “Second Sacred School” initiated by Jesus.  I will leave it there for now. Until my next posts then,

Be love. Be loved

Anthony

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The “Jesus of History” Vs the “Jesus of Faith” part 2: The Missing Years pg 2

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“WHAT IF EVERYTHING YOU THINK YOU KNOW ABOUT JESUS IS WRONG?” – From the cover of Michael Baigent’s book THE JESUS PAPERS – Exposing the Greatest Cover-Up in History.  Michael Baigent is a religious historian and leading expert in the field of arcane knowledge.

Jesus and Egyptian Mysticism

The Egyptian Mystery Schools were not about cloaking the truth of God in mystery so as to hide it from the uninitiated layman, as a reader recently alluded to in a comment on my last post. Or was it? There does seem to have been a certain secrecy about the “initiation” process which introduced one to Egyptian mysticism.

Now, there’s a word that could use some cleaning up. Mysticism need not imply a cloaking of truth in the illusory clouds of mystery. On the contrary, mysticism dates back to ancient times as a doctrine or belief that one can obtain communion with God, have a direct experience of the Divine Source of Life itself, through contemplation and meditation – “and love without the medium of human reason,” the New World Dictionary adds in its first definition of the word. It’s only the third option that defines mysticism as “vague, obscure, or confused thinking or belief.” The second option defines mysticism as “any doctrine that asserts the possibility of attaining knowledge of spiritual truths through intuition acquired by fixed meditation.” A mystic is a person who has found a spiritual path that takes him/her directly into the Light of the Divine Presence.  This is what Egyptian Mysticism was reportedly all about. So, why would Jesus not be interested in exploring Egyptian mysticism?

According to Michael Baigent, Jesus was more a mystic than a messiah — in the sense that he opened a pathway to the “Kingdom of Heaven” that is within us and all around us for everyone.  He knew the Way.  According to the Gospels, he reportedly said “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Where did he learn the “way” to the spirit world of heaven? Had he mastered Egyptian mysticism?

The “Master”

An essential aspect of the Master’s miraculous healings – and I call Jesus Master with purpose – was in the way he reached out to touch people where they were, not requiring them in any way whatsoever to rise up to where he was in order for him to heal them. These people had been led by the God of Abraham and of Isaac to their City of Habitation in Jerusalem. The Prophets of the Old Testament had foretold that a messiah would come and restore Israel and deliver its people from the bondage of the powers that were at the time, which was the Roman Empire. Jesus knew that and he respected their belief in a messiah – so much so that he took on the role of that messiah in order to touch them where they were in their state of expectancy. He rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, as we saw earlier, in order to fulfill the prophecy and satisfy their expectancy, an event Catholics celebrate even to this day on Palm Sunday. Where did he learn his mastery?

According to Michael Baigent, Jesus was taken by his parents to Egypt where he grew up and spent eighteen years studying Jewish law and the Sacred Scriptures in preparation for his public ministry among the Jews in Galilee and Judea. I resonate with his scenario for the simple reason that it would seem necessary that Jesus fully understand the task he was about to take on with a people steeped in tradition and scriptural beliefs. But beyond his education into the beliefs and traditions of the Jewish people, I see no heresy in allowing that Jesus may have explored the mysticism of the Egyptian people. After all, he came to minister to the entire world and not just to the Jewish people. His deep passion was to lead all souls back to the path that leads to the Kingdom of Heaven – which he said on many occasions, according to the record, is “within.” To enter the kingdom of heaven, one has to turn around, the literal meaning of “repent,” and look within oneself to find the “way” in.

The Egyptian mystics had found a doorway to that kingdom, only they called it the “Far World.” And here is where Baigent treads on sacred beliefs. Dare he, dare I, even consider the possibility that Jesus explored and underwent training in the mysticism of the Mystery Schools of Egypt? Yes, Egypt was a “‘land-of-darkness’ – or the state-of-darkened consciousness, gross darkness,” as a reader characterized Egypt in his comment on my last post. However, there was a light shining in the gross darkness of Egypt in a community of holy men and women.

The Therapeutae

I would like to turn now and consider a contemplative community of healers with whom Jesus may well have lived and studied. Baigent writes about them in his book. I will share the entire story with you mostly in the author’s own words, words that drew me out with a deep sense of deja vu.

On a low hill in southern Egypt, situated between the Mediterranean Sea and Lake Maryut just southwest of Alexandria, lived a small community of Jewish philosophers.  Being situated between two bodies of water, they benefited from the fresh breeze of cool and healthy sea air that swept over the limestone spur.  In an atmosphere of peace and “relative security” in this rural setting with nearby  villas and towns, they lived a contemplative lifestyle. As Baigent describes it best, I will let him tell the story, which is largely based on accounts written by Philo of Alexandria and a couple of other historians.

This community was given the name of Therapeutae, which, as Philo explains, carries both the sense of healing – not only of the body but also of the soul – and a sense of worship. Therapeutae worship centered on the “Self-Existent” – a belief in the One Divine Reality, never created but eternal. This was a concept of divinity far beyond the capability of language to describe.

In one important way, the Therapeutae were very different from the other dedicated groups Philo describes, such as the Essenes. Among the Therapeutae, women were admitted as equal members and participated fully in the spiritual life of the community. By contrast, the Essenes, according to Philo, Josephus, and Pliny, were proud of the fact that they excluded women; women, they believed, were a distraction. We should recall here the inclusive attitude of Jesus toward the women in his entourage and the criticism that this engendered among some of his male disciples in the Gospels, for there have been many questionable attempts to ally Jesus with the Essenes.

Comprised of upper well-educated upper class elite from Alexandria who had divested themselves of all worldly possessions, the Therapeutae’s communal life was one of simplicity – and they were not the only group in all of Egypt that followed a contemplative lifestyle.  They were, however, the only group representing a “Jewish version of a widespread mystical tradition that found expression in all lands.” Baigent gives another distinguishing characteristic of this group.

The implication of the Therapeutae’s inclusion of women, however, is that when a group is dedicated to the contemplation of the highest experience of the soul – to that sight of the soul “which alone gives a knowledge of truth and falsehood” – the gender of the worshiper is irrelevant. This may seem self-evident to us today, but in the world of Philo and Jesus this concept was truly revolutionary.

The Therapeutae were mystics and visionaries: “It is well,” Philo writes, “that the Therapeutae, a people always taught from the first to use their sight, should desire the vision of the Existent and soar above the sun of our senses.”

Members of the Therapeutae wanted to have a direct vision of reality – or of the “Self- Existent,” to use Philo’s term – in order to experience what truly exists behind the rough-and-tumble world of this transitory life. This too was the aim of many groups operating in the classical world, especially in those great and secret cults called “the Mysteries.” Here we appear to have a Jewish version, seeking the same end, but operating in a much simpler manner within the Jewish tradition.

The Therapeutae prayed at dawn and sunset. During the day they would read the holy texts, but rather than taking these as the history of the Jewish nation, they understood them as allegory. According to Philo, they considered the literal text a symbol of something hidden that they could find only if they looked for it.

Every seven days they would gather together and hear a talk by one of the senior members; every fifty days they would have a major assembly where they would all put on white robes, eat a simple sacred meal, and form a choir, men and women together, to sing hymns with complex rhythms and vocal parts. This festival would continue all night until dawn, revealing the solar nature of their worship: “They stand with their faces and whole body turned to the east and when they see the sun rising they stretch their hands up to heaven and pray for bright days and knowledge of the truth.’?”

Clearly this is a very different type of Judaism, one that does not depend upon temple worship at all. In Therapeutae worship, which has a very Pythagorean tinge, there is no concern with the cult of Judaism, which was so important to the priests in the temples of Jerusalem and the Egyptian delta, or with the purity of the high priests serving that cult, which was of such concern to the Zealots, or with the coming of the Messiah of the Line of David. For both male and female members of the Therapeutae, there was simply the possibility of a visionary experience of Divinity.

Their kingdom was truly not of this world: Jesus would have approved.

There is one further implication of the Therapeutae’s beliefs that warrants more discussion, and that is the practice of treating the entire Old Testament as symbolic. They would have read all the messianic predictions made by the prophets symbolically.  There would have been no reason in their minds for an actual messiah to come to liberate Israel; there would have been no reason for Jesus to be the actual king and high priest; the oracular pronouncements of the messiah would have been simply symbolic of something deeper and more mysterious. We have seen before how the “Star” is a symbol of the messiah, but can we now take this concept a little further? Can we see the statement by Peter in the New Testament as reflecting this kind of speculation, albeit in a Christian context? Could the phrase “Let the Day Star rise in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19) be interpreted as an encouragement to let the mystic light rise from within?

With such attitudes apparently widespread, perhaps even common, it is no wonder that Judaism in Egypt, and Christianity afterwards, had a distinctively mystical quality: it was in Egypt that Christian monasticism first began; it was in Egypt at Nag Hammadi that someone hid the Gnostic texts, that collection of Christian and classical mystical texts – including one by Plato and one from the texts of Hermes Trismegistus, the Asclepius – that had been compiled and used by a desert monastery.

The Christian Church in Egypt had mystically minded figures even as late as the third century – theologians Clement of Alexandria and Origen, for example. We have Egyptian traditions leaking into Judaism from very early days – the times of Joseph and Moses – and in more recent times, as we see in the writings of Philo. In the midst of all this we have groups such as the Therapeutae working a mystical type of Judaism and the Temple of Onias maintaining the true Jewish Zadokite priesthood.

At this point one is tempted to ask “What was it about Egypt that gave this mystical focus to Judaism and the Christianity born out of it? What kind of soil were these foreign faiths growing in?”

The irony of these questions is that it was not so much the land that nourished these faiths as it was the sun, which poured out its life-giving sustenance from above. A clue lies in the fact that both the Therapeutae and the Jewish Zadokites adopted the solar calendar from the Egyptians, whose major deity, Ra, was in fact an expression of the sun as the source of life, the source of all creation. Texts reveal that the pharaoh, at least, sought mystical union with Ra as the “deepest fulfillment of our human divine nature.”

I find this to be a curiously significant aspect of Egyptian Mysticism, as the sun is the central focus of cosmic energy for our solar system – which I would rather call a “Solar Entity” to emphasize its living and breathing nature.  As we shall see in the next post, the Egyptians viewed the visible material world as the cloak of an invisible spiritual “Far World” which governed the world of form.  Their gods lived in that spiritual world.

Could it be that their worship of the sun was prompted by a latent subconscious memory of their origin in the sun. Yes, the sun, the Star at the center of our world.  Is our Judeo-Christian “Heaven” perhaps located in the cool center of our Star?  It that where God lives as the “Lord of lords” and “King of kings,” in his Kingdom that “is not of this world?”  Is the Sun the radiant outer garment of the LORD GOD Creator of our universe – the fire that burns and the light that glows – that gives evidence of the Presence of the One that dwells within – the” Shekinah”? A possibility upon which to meditate and ponder.

The profound mysticism that lay at the very heart of the Egyptian experience of reality clearly influenced many of the other faiths that had established themselves there. This Egyptian mysticism, which employed secret readings of myth and private rituals, often played out in secluded underground chambers and temples, professed to connect this world with the next, to connect heaven and earth.

The approach of the Egyptians was not a kind of philosophy, a speculation on divine possibilities, or a faith built solely upon the hope for a better life after death. The Egyptians were not only mystical but intensely practical. They did not want to talk about heaven, they wanted to go there. And return. Just like Lazarus in fact.

It’s time now to look at the hidden mysteries of Egypt.

Until my next post, when I will tell you about the mysteries of Egypt as Michael Baigent describes them.

Be love. Be loved.

Anthony Palombo

 

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If you are interested in healing oils, I recommend these folks: https://www.ancienthealingoil.co.za/about

 

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

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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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