Friday, October 9, 2009

Gnostic Christianity

Several people have wanted me to share some thoughts about Bodhisattva Jesus who has been the primary inspiration for the development of many Christian sects. During a previous phase of my spiritual journey, I spent a lot of time studying the Old Testament and the New Testament of the Bible. I spent eight concentrated years trying to study these texts in their original languages and even took three semesters of Greek to help this. I realized very quickly, though, that in order to really understand the New Testament in its original language and cultural context that I would need more than just eight years. I would need to do doctoral work in Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Archeology, and History, and probably pick up other supportive subjects as well. It was at the point where I discovered this that an inner voice gently spoke to me and said, "Now that you know what you need to really study this, why not find scholars who have these qualifications and see what they have found?" I did find a number of remarkable scholars that were in some sense geniuses in their fields and who illuminated a lot for me. I did find that there was a sense of being guided in this journey with an inner feeling leading me to make certain discoveries as well as information coming from many people and being placed in my lap. It is still a little hard for me to summarize what this journey revealed to me. I hope at some point in the future that I can not only write about what I found more extensively and even include a large number of footnotes and references to document what I found. There seems to be a few scholars that are emerging who are summarizing similar information, though all their views are somewhat different from each other too. There is a kind of common ground in these scholars, a consensus emerging, that I feel will converge to a more well rounded view of who Jesus was and what his teachings were.

My favorite Gospel is the one allegedly written by Saint John. My personal view is that it was written by Saint John and Mary Magdalene as a collaboration. Assuming it is an eyewitness account, there is one scene in the story where Jesus and Mary Magdalene are alone, after the resurrection, and therefore if it was an eyewitness account, one of the contributors to the story would have to be Mary. There is a certain amount of controversy about Mary Magdalene that has been stirred up by the book THE DA VINCI CODE by Dan Brown. This author took some scholarship from an excellent book called HOLY BLOOD, HOLY GRAIL and other sources and presented the data within a fictional detective story. Even though some parts of the book HOLY BLOOD, HOLY GRAIL were later on considered debunked, the majority of the scholarship seems to stand its ground. There are several scholars who feel that there was a bloodline (san graal = holy grail = bloodline) where Jesus had descendants through Mary Magdalene. Traditional Christianity has associated Mary Magdalene with a prostitute who appears in one of the gospel stories, but there is no scriptural reference to support this association. It seems one of the later popes made this association and it stuck.

The best proof that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married is threefold. In the Gospel according to Saint John, there is a record of the wedding feast at Cana. Jesus is often called a Rabbi and Rabbis are usually married. It was considered just as important in Judaism that Rabbis be married as it is that Catholic Priests not be married. The main way that a Rabbi would not be married is if his wife died. The next item is that in Judaism, it is custom for the bridegroom to supply wine at his wedding. Jesus's mother turns to him and says, "They have no wine," reminding Jesus the bridegroom of his responsibility, and then Jesus turns water into wine to fulfill this responsibility. The third item is that the pronoun endings in the Greek link Jesus and the bridegroom together.

There is a fourth item which is not as conclusive, but would be an expectation if he were married to Mary Magdalene. When Jesus and Mary meet after the resurrection, Mary embraces him and Jesus gently withdraws, asking her not to "touch" him, because he had not yet completed his ascension process. This touch is most likely sexual, loving, and intimate. Sexual intimacy would have strongly shifted the energies of Jesus and he wanted to keep his process moving in a certain direction. Saint Thomas is allowed to touch him, to feel his wounds, and this touch does not upset his energy process, because it was not sexual and was not as intimate. In the same passage, Jesus is not saying, "No," to her touch, but "not yet" which suggests that they could "touch" later on. This whole interaction would make sense if Mary Magdalene was the lover and wife of Jesus. So there are four items that at least suggest that Jesus was married and zero passages that suggest that Jesus was celibate. Inspite of this, Jesus is considered to have been celibate by traditional Christianity.

There is a version of Christianity that was deemed heretical by traditional Christianity called "Gnosticism". The Gospel according to Saint John is a Gnostic Gospel. In chapter 17, verse 1, Jesus says, "This is eternal life. To know God and him who he has sent." The word "know" used in this passage is the verb form of the word "Gnostic". The word refers to a specific way of knowing. Its primary application is the kind of knowing that happens in sexual communion with a lover. The way two lovers know each other in the depths of sexual intimacy is used as a metaphor for how we are meant to know God. The word is clearly chosen to show that the kind of knowledge that brings us into eternal life is not intellectual or belief system oriented, but comes from a direct and living experience. Chapter 17 is a prayer where Jesus prays that his disciples may be one with God, "just as we are one" (referring to his own unity with God). This petition for unity is repeated often in the prayer, enough to indicate that it is the central theme. In choosing the word "gnostic" and linking it with eternal life, Jesus also links the mystical union with God with the commandment to "love one another". This unity is a loving unity which is reflected in the ability of his disciples to love one another in the same manner as Jesus had loved them. When this love is understood, then the moral commandments are seen as pale reflections of what love naturally does with everyone. Love, in this sense, is beyond right and wrong, and yet fulfills what morality tries to do.

There are a few passages like this where there is a pointer to go "beyond beliefs" into a knowing based on direct experience. This is what Gnostic Christianity was asserting and presenting. The word for "truth" as in "God is truth, those who worship God must worship him/her in truth and breath." [I translate "pneuma" as breath, rather than the traditional use which is "spirit". The reason why is that there are passages that can be translated either as "breath" or as "spirit", but there is one passage in particular where it must be translated as "breath" rather than "spirit", namely the second to the last chapter of the Gospel according to Saint John where Jesus breathes (not spirits) on his disciples and gives them the power to forgive (heal) sin. This passage also shows that Jesus was familiar with Sufi energy breath training.] The word for truth used in this passage is "alethea" which means "that which is beyond words (concepts)".

These passages are relevant because the traditional criticism of Gnostic Christianity was that it was "anti-body" in its focus. While it was possible that some versions of Gnostic Christianity were anti-body in their theologies, the main theme of Gnosticism was not about theology at all, but about moving into a direct mystical unity with God through love, prayer, and breath. [In the letter to the Thessalonians, there is a verse that says, "Pray continuously in the breath".] The Aramaic word that Jesus uses for God is Abwoon which means both father and mother conjoined as creative birthing energy. It is also a breath mantra (Ah on the inhale and Bwoon on the exhale, both aspired rather than verbalized). The point of Gnosticism is that Jesus was not trying to create a belief system for people to memorize. All his sermons are in parables, metaphors, and potent one liners. They are designed to convey an understanding, but do not add up to a systematic theology. The key theme is a death ("pick up your cross") and rebirth ("you must be born again"). In other words, a mutation into a new kind of being ("the son of man"). It was meant to be a cellular transformation (I Corinthians 15 talks about "not all flesh in the same, but differ in glory (energy)" and links this theme with death and resurrection).

The chapter where Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead is another interesting passage in the Gospel according to Saint John. In most of this gospel, Jesus speaks metaphorically, but in this chapter he speaks "plainly" and actually dismisses several interpretations that are metaphorical. It indicates that Jesus is really going to raise Lazarus from the dead and that those who "keep his word" shall "never die". If you read this passage carefully, it shows that Jesus believed that physical immortality is possible and intends to demonstrate "conquest of death" during his crucifixion and resurrection.

In the 10th chapter of this gospel, we see the only time that Jesus defends his divinity. He does this by quoting the Psalms and saying, "You are gods." The next line in the Psalm is "all of you are sons (and daughters) of the Most High". He then says, "I am a son of God," not "the son of God". The word "the" does not appear in the Greek. Some more honest translations insert the word "the" and put it in italics to show it is their own interpretation. But given the context of a plural verse defending his claim to be divine, the word "the" is not appropriate. It is clear that he does not believe that he is the only son of God, but that there are many, and that, in fact, all of us are the same in this regard, only he has realized it.

Buddhism does not like to talk about God very much. It does not believe in a Creator God who makes the universe. There is a passage in the Madhyamika Sutras that actually give a kind of refutation for a Prime Cause God who stands apart from the universe and creates it. Buddhists do not believe in an anthropomorphic supreme personality type of divinity, but in an impersonal Dharmakaya which is infused into the universe and regulates all events within itself. When the illusion of a separate ego self is transcended in nirvana, we feel our oneness with the Dharmakaya and realize we are part of this, as deeply united as a wave and the ocean are, and because the Dharmakaya expresses itself as all the manifest universe, we feel one with life and at home in life. This Dharmakaya is like an energy field that has wisdom, creativity, and love infused within itself and which permeates everything. There is a sense of being loved by this field of energy. When Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist, he hears a voice which says, "This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased." Whenever anyone gets enlightened, there is this same feeling welcoming us home. Jesus has only had a glimpse at this stage, but he has not yet completed his enlightenment and resurrection process. But this experience is one of the markers in his journey.

There is one more passage that I find interesting and worth sharing here, but it is in the other gospels. This is where Jesus says, "There are some of you who are standing here who will not taste death until they the son of man enter his kingdom." This verse has baffled both fundamentalist and liberal scholars. Fundamentalists have seen it as a prophecy of the second coming of Jesus, but the problem is that everyone who was "standing there" has tasted death long ago. Liberals consider that Jesus prophesied his second coming and thought it was going to come very soon, within the lifetimes of some of the people standing there, but had made a mistake. But I feel that neither of these interpretations are correct. The key is that only some of the people are going to see something and Jesus only takes some of his disciples, Peter, James, and John, up to a mountain to pray (in the very next paragraph, whoever put the chapter breaks in the gospels did not see that this paragraph should be in the same chapter and is a continuation of the same story, rather put in the next chapter as another story). Jesus then "prays" and his body turns into light. This is called the "transfiguration" in traditional Christianity. This is the "son of man" coming into his kingdom. It is a kingdom of light. It is clear that Jesus was not doing conventional prayer, but a special form of breathing and invoking energy. His disciples, even though they prayed as devout Jews all their lives, ask Jesus to teach them how to pray, because they see something special in his method. The "Lord's Prayer" is a kind of coded lesson in how to pray differently and has several parts, the most important being using a breath mantra name of God (Abwoon), feeling the sacred energy, feeling this energy permeate all of life, trusting this energy to support our every step and take care of all our needs, forgiving everyone for all wounds inflicted on us so that we can be cleansed, and staying in right timing in all our actions (bisha, the word for "evil" used in this prayer is also a word for unripe fruit or premature action), and then seeing that the Dharma also includes the entire physical plane of existence ("malkuth").

Moses and Elijah appear visibly to the disciples. This shows that they are part of this same kingdom of light and arrived earlier than Jesus. Moses uses the energies of the Arc of the Covanant to transform himself and Elijah uses the Merkabah ("chariot of fire (aka energy)) to transform himself. This shows two other methods that were used to attain the same goal. Jesus is showing a third method involving a kind of breathing prayer and emotional healing.

When Jesus talks about the "kingdom of God" it is always in the present tense, not in the future, with the exception of the passage just quoted which points to an event only future enough to be in the very next paragraph or next event. The very first thing that Jesus teaches is, "Go above your ordinary mind (metanoia), because the kingdom of God is within your reach ("at hand")." As in traditional spiritual teaching, you sound the theme in the very beginning of your preaching that you will develop throughout all your teachings. Jesus does not talk about heaven, but about a mutation into a light being ("son of man") who enters a kingdom of light energy. Everything he does is about this. He shows that this transformation "forgives sin" (burns karma) and "conquers death" (the root karma is released and its main effect released). He ends all sense of separation on the Cross through the breath. He "releases his breath" and tears the veil of separation in the temple, between humanity and the "holy of holies". The word "nirvana" means "exhale" (nir=out, vana=wind). Jesus exhales and releases the sense of separate self, the core of all karma, and then says, "It is finished."

This understanding is echoed when John the Baptist announces Jesus by saying, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." The word "sin" in the original is singular, not plural (not "sins"). What this means is the feeling of separation from the Divine which makes all the other sins be effects. When Jesus is on the Cross, he says, "Abwoon, forgive them for they know not what they are doing." Both Buddha and Jesus see the root of karma in "unconscious ignorance". It is interesting, because this is the only passage that gives the reason to forgive everyone. People are lost in unconscious ignorance, walking as if already "dead" ("let the dead bury the dead"). There is a passage that Saint Paul quotes in one of his letters of an early Christian liturgy that has an alchemical formula, "Awake, O Sleeper, and rise from the dead, and the light of Christ will shine on you." This verse is older than the New Testament. Jesus feels that separation emotionally when he says, "My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?" on the Cross. It is the key point in the alchemical process, he is awake from "sleep" but has not yet risen from the dead, but eventually enters into the "light of Christ" and eventually ascends as a light being.

3 comments:

  1. Yes, I agree with the comment above,very interesting. Could you expound on the Lord's Prayer and the other 2 ways mentioned.

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  2. I am planning on doing a whole blog post on the Lord's Prayer soon. The Arc of the Covenant is an esoteric path that required the actual technology of the arc being used and therefore is not accessible to all of us right now. The arc produced monoatomic elements in a concentrated form that you can take internally and create a pillar of light feeling up your spine. Jesus and others seemed to have developed an extraction method by an alchemical process involving acids and bases in sequence to Dead Sea salt. I have made some and found an effect similar to what was described in the stories about the arc. The author Laurence Gardner in LOST SECRETS OF THE SACRED ARC (which has some excellent scholarship about the Old and New Testaments, mainly the OT) talks extensively about the arc, what it had, and what it did. Recently a Quantum Physicist named Nassim Haramein has also talked about the arc. Their testimonies, which seemed to have come from independent research converge on many points. There are apparently groups who are finding a method of creating monoatomic elements in the electrical manner of the arc and who might resurrect this method, but I have not tested their results. The sea water method is cumbersome to make, but the batch seems to last for quite a while. While it boosts the energy field and feeds the light body, it does not seem to be enough of a path or process by itself. It still needs the support of meditation and an ethical life. It seems that through conscious spiritual breathing that one can extract monoatomic elements from the air itself and concentrate enough of these elements to feed the light body. This is what Jesus was doing. It seems, according to Gardner's research, that certain desert mountains have a higher concentration of monoatomics in their air, due to how they ground electricity during desert storms. Both Jesus and Mohamed seemed to like to meditate in those mountains. The Merkabah of Ezekiel seems to be related to a 3D "Star of David" (which is also a Tantric Buddhist meditation symbol) with two tetrahedrons spinning in opposite directions to feed a common spherical energy core and create a spherical energy bubble around itself. This practice is roughly like the Tumo Yoga of Tibet where enough actual heat is generated to melt snow and ice in a Tibetan winter. The graduate exercise in Tumo Yoga is to be able to do this while meditating naked in an ice cold winter and dry a wet blanket placed over you. What I have gathered is that the Merkabah is created indirectly through the "Holy Breath" that Jesus used, rather than the specific visualizations involved. The visualizations, however, do not hurt the process and at a certain time actually help it. In short, all the methods are compatible with each other and synergize well with each other.

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