Sunday, March 27, 2016

When Jesus met Christ

After the enormous response to my last Huffington Post, I want to share some more of the story about why Jesus and Christ are two different entities. They do become one eventually, in full maturity, in a similar way that a child grows in the womb, is born, and develops into an adult over time.

What is the point of understanding the process of Jesus taking into himself the Christ you may ask? Isn’t it simpler and easier just to worship the one being and be done with it? In fact why even differentiate between God, the Father, Christ, and the Holy Spirit?

If the detail is not important, why does the Bible have so much detail? Surely not so we can boil it all down into a few basic ideas! What is the point of that?

We unlock the Bible when we look into the detail and see its place in human evolution, and in our own lives - that is its point and purpose. The Gospels tell us quite clearly that Jesus began his intimate relationship on this earth with Christ at his Baptism when he was 30 years of age. For this reason, the Gospels of St Mark and St John begin with the baptism of Jesus. St Matthew and St Luke begin with the birth of Jesus and that is a story for another time.

It is also interesting to note that Jesus is not referred to as the “Son of God” until after the baptism.
A thorough study of all four Gospels shows that each writer looks from a different angle at the life of Jesus; the first time their views coincide is with their accounts of the baptism.
“Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” Mt 3:3, see also Mk 1:2-3, Lk 3:4-6, Jn 1:23
The baptism of Jesus is celebrated each year on the sixth of January with the religious festival of Epiphany. The word epiphany is a combination of two words, epi, meaning on, to, and phainein, meaning to show. Epiphany then means to manifest, to come into view. At the baptism of Jesus, facilitated by John the Baptist, the physical appearance of the mighty Cosmic Christ Spirit manifested. How did it manifest? Like a dove. Let’s look into that.
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, "Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased." Mk 1:9-10 
We find three main points in the accounts of the baptism; heaven opened, spirit descended as a dove, and the Son of God announced. The dove is the sign of the Holy Spirit, always the precursor to the Son, as the Son is the precursor to the Father. St John explains:
"These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Jn 14:25-26 
If Christ was already present in Jesus why send the dove / Holy Spirit? We can look at these beings as The Trinity, or we can look at them individually to see the different work each one does. We can also ask, if Jesus and Christ were one being all along, was this baptism necessary? Also, why was it suggested that John the Baptist might be the Christ? Read what St Luke says.
As the people were in expectation, and all men questioned in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he were the Christ, John answered them all, "I baptize you with water; but he who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into his granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." Lk 3:15-17 
Jesus was no stranger to these people; he was part of their life working as a carpenter. If Jesus and Christ were one, why would people say John might be Christ? Luke also says they “were in expectation” which means they knew something was going on, just as we sense something is going on in our own lives at times.

What was going on here was the entrance of the mighty Christ being into the earth, or at least the beginning of the process. It was begun by the Holy Spirit. Jesus was the most pure person on the whole earth able to withstand the power of these heavenly beings. Taking the Christ into himself took three and half years. It wasn’t until he was nailed to the cross, immobilized physically, that the Christ could enter fully into him, right into his bones - which is why "Not a bone of him shall be broken." Jn 19:36

Understanding these details can give us a greater sense of expectation during Holy Week as we walk to the cross with Jesus knowing him more completely.

First published on Huffington Post  
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Friday, March 25, 2016

Jesus and Christ

Understanding the true meaning of words in the Bible unlocks the meaning of this ancient and sacred text. Before we go any further, we need to look at the central character in the New Testament, Jesus Christ. Is this one being or two different beings?
A survey of the New Testament reveals that we rarely find the names Jesus and Christ expressed together. This is an important observation because not only are they two different beings, they are not interchangeable. We can only understand this if we understand who these beings are. To begin with, one is a human being; the other is a spiritual being.
In the Gospel of John for instance the name Jesus is always used alone except in two places:
Jn 1:17 “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ,” and,
Jn 17:3 “And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.”
In fact, St Paul reverses the names to Christ Jesus. This could suggest that Christ is a title; like saying President Obama or Queen Elizabeth.
If we read the New Testament with this in mind, a new story unfolds. Here is a man called Jesus Iesous meaning saviour, who becomes Christ Christos meaning anointed, or we could say Jesus becomes Christ-ened. This is our task too, but it is not plain sailing as Matthew points out in his discussion of the pseudochristos or false Christ:
For false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray.” Mt 24:24
If we take the Bible as a manual for evolving consciousness then we could have a goal to become like Jesus striving to achieve Christ-ened perfection. The New Testament is full of descriptions of the nature of Jesus and how this nature might be attained, or followed. The word follow is akoloutheo that literally means ‘alike-way’ and gives the sense of becoming like Jesus, copying the way he is. The way he is has been greatly misunderstood.
When considering human consciousness it isn’t enough to say human beings are conscious and have consciousness. This state of being awake and aware clearly differs from person to person and changes within each of us throughout the day. Nor is it sufficient to say things like; I am health conscious, I have a national consciousness of shared beliefs and feelings, or I lose consciousness if I faint, or the way I think represents the kind of consciousness that I have. This is generalizing, skimming the surface of what it means to be conscious.
To be fully aware of our consciousness means to consider it in detail. Human consciousness has three core activities: feeling, thinking, and willing. We each use these activities differently, and in different combinations.
These three activities actually take place in the human soul, psuche. We form our feelings, thoughts and actions in our soul and express them in our body. The more aware of this we are, the more conscious we are.
In the biblical Greek there are more than thirty different words for these three activities. If we look up “An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words with their precise meanings for English readers” by W.E. Vine, M.A. we find fifteen words for think, five for feel and seven or more for act, commit, do (will). Each particular word reveals a specific quality of human consciousness, and a particular aspect of our soul, and it is in the specific use of these words that the real wisdom of the Bible unfolds.
Aristotle (384BC-322BC) was among the first to write about the human soul. Prior to this, it wasn’t necessary to write anything about the soul because the soul wasn’t differentiated into different activities as it is today - pointing to the fact that human consciousness changes.
Aristotle was aware that a differentiation was taking place which led him to described the soul as having three qualities that he called: Orektikon, Kinetikon, and Dianoetikon.
  1. Orektikon refers to desires, appetites, sensations, impulses which is the soul activity of feeling.
  2. Kinetikon means to set in motion, to try every way, reasoning, which is the soul activity of thinking.
  3. Dianoetikon is about intention that is the soul activity of will.
If we take these things into account, the difference between Christ and Jesus, representing the evolution of consciousness, makes a lot of sense. Jesus had to prepare himself by becoming more aware of his consciousness, giving him the ability to be as objective as possible when he was treated the way he was.

Understanding this, we can follow Jesus on his journey to Golgotha and see how the human being makes way for the spiritual being to arise. Jesus was able to bear all things through his ability to be fully aware of his feeling, thinking and will, just as we are able to bear life’s difficulties when we control our feeling, think clearly and act consciously.
First published on Huffington Post - causing quite a stir, hundreds of people commented.

The Word

“Every one should consider his body as a priceless gift from one whom he loves above all, as a marvelous work of art, of undescribable beauty and mastery beyond human conception, and so delicate and frail that a word, a breath, a look, nay, a thought, may injure it.”
Nikola Tesla

Do we really have the freedom to say what we like or even to think what we like? How often do we stop to consider the impact of our words on another person before we speak? If we are angry with them then, probably rarely. Yet, we only have to think about our own response to the way some people speak to us to realise the truth of Nikola Tesla’s words.
Harsh words, words said in anger, insults, all create wounds in the soul. We could even say that if we let an insult fester in us, we assist with the wounding.
If we look at the true meaning of the word, ‘word’ we will have greater understanding of Nikola Tesla’s ideas. The Word, in New Testament Greek, means Logos and it is an important word in the Bible. It is so important that St John uses it to begin his Gospel. To the Apostle John the Word or Logos means much more than a simple word; in the Logos word and concept become one. This means that if we experience the Logos, we live in the concept the word describes, and we experience a full understanding of it. This is an, ‘aha’, moment. Unfortunately today the world is drowning in words that are mostly misunderstood.
When St John speaks of the Word, the Logos, he means a spoken word that creates something.
When does a spoken word create something today? Perhaps when it inspires, for example, during a motivational talk, or at school when the words used by a teacher ignite the life path of a student. Although, as Nikola Tesla says, the word can also be destructive.
With these ideas in mind we can look at the words used to begin the Gospel of St John. They are not usually translated accurately. The following is a more considered translation.
In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was a God. The same was in the beginning with God;
all things entered into existence through it and without it nothing entered into existence. In it was life, and the life was the light of mankind.
John 1:1-4
So if this Word, this Logos, was a God, what exactly was it? We can gather some helpful ideas from St Mark as he reports on the parable of the sowing of the seed. After he told the parable of sowing the seed on rocky ground, among thorns, or on good ground, he said privately to his disciples that the “sower sows the word (Logos).” Mark 4:14
This parable explains that the word is a seed and how it is planted matters. While the word remains a seed it is mute, the seed only speaks when it becomes the plant it is destined to become and bears the fruit it is intended to bear.
This also tells us of a creative process, a birth process. When we speak we give birth to words, we conceive them, then we form them, and then we let them go.
It follows that when we become aware of this primal Logos resonating through us, we are in touch with the creative impulse of the Universe. We could also say that this word is a universal form of communication, a universal language we must awaken within ourselves. We know that words are what connect us to each other, when one speaks and the other hears we are joined by the Word, the Logos. When the Word is expressed in its purity, out of love, we experience grace.
As St John tells us, from the very earliest beginnings the Word, the Logos, filled cosmic space with the sound of creation. If we think of sound as a note, we know that a note must have a perfect tone otherwise it is discordant. If we can hear the original sound, we know that through it we can make sense of the mysteries that underpin human life. This is our challenge, to get in touch with the Creative Word, the Logos - that which was in the beginning.

First published on Huffington Post  

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

What is Sin

Sin is one of the most misunderstood concepts today. All too often it is tied to guilt and fear which has the potential be psychologically disturbing. “If you don’t do A, B will happen to you.” Surely this is not encouragement to avoid sin but rather motivation to conceal sin.
In the New Testament, the Greek word for sin is hamartia, which literally means ‘to miss the mark’. Think of an archer pulling on the bowstring to point the arrow at the target. Think of the archer’s body; every muscle aligned with precision, eyes focussed on the target, coordinated breathing, stillness, and full concentration. To hit the target the first time, and every time after that, is expecting a lot.

Let’s take a look at the word ‘sin’ in this bible text.
“Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” John 20:22f
If we start with the Greek word for ‘any,’ which is tis; it is an interrogative pronoun used in order to ask a question: who, which, what? It doesn’t necessarily refer to others, it can refer to ourselves by applying it in this way: ‘If you forgive the sins of yourself? they are forgiven;’.
Forgive is aphiemi made up of two words; apo and eimi. Apo means separating the part from the whole, or distancing ourselves; eimi means ‘to be’, as we might say, “I just am.” This suggests a state of harmony and balance, and a position of recognition (not necessarily acceptance).
Retained is krateo which means to have power, to be powerful. Whenever we want power, we usually have the wrong motive. We enter into a state of compensation rather than just being with whatever is happening.
A better way of understanding sin is to see it as a state of non-perfection, which has the possibility of becoming perfection. Then sin becomes something constructive, part of our goal. With this attitude, we have the courage to keep pulling on the bowstring, working on our aim and our poise.
When we have developed a certain level of skill we are able to see how we have underperformed. When it comes to sin, this takes courage. Usually we are inclined to make excuses for missing the mark; it was someone else’s fault. Then we engage in the power of retaining sin, not the recognition required for forgiving sin.
If we are going to hit the mark, we need to work out what the mark is. What target, as human beings, are we aiming for? Surely is it love, the New Commandment: Love one another as I have loved you. John 13:34
This love understands; it has the right perspective. It is a love that recognizes the effort involved in honing the archer’s aim. We become objective and in this way, we stand in the other person’s shoes and see, not their failure, but how, step by step, they sharpen their aim. We also apply these same principle to ourselves.
We could also say that we sin when we don’t make an effort to understand sin. Without this understanding, we perpetuate sin. Our task is to aim the bow by recognizing the right way and the wrong way. None else can do this for us, not any law of government or religion, but only our own understanding of who we are as human beings and where we stand in the universe. There is an ancient saying, “Man, know yourself!” and as we work towards knowing ourselves we become much more aware of our motives. The true meaning of sin gives us the courage to objectively recognize how we miss the mark and work on perfecting our aim.
First published on Huffington Post