Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A piece of storyboard from the Faith & Mr. Floppy trailer- click on it to see it big!

Pt.2: The Maya of Religion (Essene but seldom heard...)

"Yeshua said: If you bring forth that which is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you."
Logion 70, The Gospel of Thomas

There are lots of obstacles to Enlightened Consciousness inherent in this human form, most of which are created by a level of unconsciousness that will never allow that goal to be reached. We struggle with these obstacles, usually not recognizing them for what they actually are, often denying their very existence – so it's necessary to show great care when pointing them out, lest we ruffle some feathers. Of course, some feathers probably need to be ruffled.

Presenting abstract or hard-to-grasp concepts of self-realization to people has often led to the invention of elaborate mythologies that end up permanently concealing the simplest, most effective truths. The beauty of the core teaching can be obscured and subverted by human ego, and it's pathological need for control. This leads to The Maya of Religion (of many religions really) illustrated in this "passion play" example of the early Church of Rome.

Prior to the inception of the Church, it's fathers saw the influence and potential of "Gnostic" post-Hebraic Eastern–influenced mysticism, like that taught and practiced by the (possibly mythological) Essene Master, Yeshua (Jesus), throughout Egypt (where he may have studied), into Asia Minor, and then upon his storied return to Judaea. 

The Essenes were a wide-ranging sect (or sects) of Hebraism, whose communal inns where all were welcome were the inspiration for modern hospitals. They fed and healed anyone who needed their help. They celebrated meals. They practiced advanced hygiene, and herbal medicine. They were strictly vegetarian, and disapproved of the taking, or disrespecting of any life. They wore white. They were into foot washing and massaging (feet were especially important back then). Love and service was their rule. In short, they were the christians before Christianity. It is from this school that Yeshua came. The Gospel of Thomas, quoted above, is one of their texts.

Hebrews, and Pagans, weary of the politics, corruption, and barbarity of Jerusalem and Rome, were very likely hungry for the Alexandrian synthesis of Eastern mystic "religion," like Buddhism, The Bhagavad Gita, and The Tao te Ch'ing that traveled the road from Egypt to India; mixed with the simple wisdom of the Ten Commandments, and consciousness expanding practices as taught by Yeshua. This wisdom from the east taught that The Kingdom of God was to be found within each person. That "heaven" was here and now – accessible to anyone, based on personal realizations of transcendent unity, or gnosis. It became the heart of the Gnostic (Essene, Ebionite), or Nazorean teachings, and it became quite popular.

Over the next several hundred years, the shifting power base of the Roman Empire systematically usurped and subverted the potential of this Gnostic message by cobbling together a synthesis of their own: They consigned the Feminine Divine to a subservient role; they fashioned a mythology from existing mythologies, replete with a ritual life that only they could administer – the Eucharist; and they synthesized the appealing aspects of numerous competing religions by styling messianic narratives for each group of potential followers whose ultimate message established the deadly authority of Rome. They even aligned popular holidays of pre-existing religions to their version of "Christianity." They began a ceaseless campaign of genocide against "heretics," and of scriptural suppression, effectively removing The Essenes and their texts from Western history.

This inexorable reconstruction project guided it's mostly illiterate followers along a "Path to God's Kingdom" controlled by an organized elite. Spiritual seekers were directed to take part in a tailored mythology – a kind of occult hall of mirrors that continues today – The Maya of Religion – full of constructions that conceal and subvert true spiritual discovery, limiting it to a fraction of it's potential. The Church parcels out the benefits of the underlying spiritual wisdom with corrupt or unconscious authority, forcing their adherents to accept the most egregious offenses of material humanity; politics, war, slavery, money-worship, sexual predation and pedophilia. Ironically, from it's own central text the truth comes, to paraphrase: "You shall know the tree by the fruit it bears."
This post-Christmas Tale is the story of the wealthy, corrupt—yet for some, spiritually irreplaceable—Church of Rome; but the recipe for The Maya of Religion described here has been applied many times through the ages, and can be clearly seen in more contemporary examples, in fabricated religious myths and dogma like those found in Scientology, or the anti-Essene versions of Christianity that replace humility with a prideful lust for material "superiority."

It's a testament to the illuminative power of the true light that shines through all that dogma and artifice – that even though it's potential is seriously stifled, the little bit that escapes this vacuum of delusion can still be enough to inspire profound spiritual transformation to take place. Direct inner, "mystical" experience has always provided this solution to the conundrum posed by institutionalized religion.  

The compassion and unconditional Love that gives us a connection to the Divine. Faith without works is dead. Showing up for one another. Releasing the false attachments of material desire. Entering into transcendent union though the means of self-examination and meditation. The silent surrender to the loving Universe, and the power that grows out of it – out of what Mahatma Gandhi called ahimsa – absolute non-violence. The powerhouse of Love to heal the rift between the two – Ego and Spirit, as taught by the Essene Master, Yeshua (...whose true story can only be found in your own heart).

"Yeshua said: If two make peace with each other in this one house, they will say to the mountain, 'Move Away,' and it will move away."
Logion 48, The Gospel of Thomas

Read about concepts like these and much more in: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor  from Llewellyn Worldwide available direct on this page, or online. The first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is available the same ways – but ask for it at your local bookstore!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tales: The Water's Fine - (1)The Maya of Individuality

"Yeshua said: If you bring forth that which is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you."
Logion 70, The Gospel of Thomas

This profound and timeless lesson by the Gnostic Master Yeshua speaks of ancient spiritual concepts, like The Kingdom of Heaven, The Tao, and Buddhist Karma, and in two little sentences underlines the whole of Modern Psychology as well: Freud, Jung, Adler, Maslow, and more. This is scripture that was left out of the New Testament, and largely purged from history by the Roman church.

For me, it inspires this first of three explorations into the Hindu concept of Maya, a term often defined as "The Illusion of Life," but is closer to delusion – the intellectual and emotional investment people make in various unreal surface "realities" or constructions in order to give their lives definition and purpose. I've heard it compared to living by looking at a map of your surroundings, rather than using your senses to experience them. It's the development of our sixth sense that enables our ability to perceive maya, and is the goal of Buddhism, Jnana Yoga, Gnosis, and Jungian Individuation.

Water has always stood for the mysterious depth of being, the unity of all things, the fluidity of spirit, the profundity of the unconscious. With that in mind, consider the New Testament metaphor of Jesus' "walking on the water," most often thought of literally, as something Jesus could actually do. He could, and so can you.

A Religious Literalist would attribute this ability to the human manifestation of an all powerful God, who can basically do whatever the heck He wants without regard for the physical laws of nature. An Agnostic Scientist, who needs a rational explanation for any magic trick, might suggest that Jesus was a master of quantum reality, and commanded the mechanics necessary to engage a phase transformation of the water on a sub-atomic level, temporarily changing it's physical characteristics to support his weight.

Both of these explanations only serve to separate us from the Divine by making any kind of real identification with the experience impossible. Which way can you realistically use to walk on water? Maybe Yeshua, the "Nazorean," Gnostic teacher had something else in mind.

Consider the water metaphorically standing for the depth of your personal experience; the formative moments, patterns of coping, and genetic predispositions that constitute your psyche, and provide the foundation for "who you are," determining your life actions and beliefs. The effects of those early experiences assert themselves in your conscious mind, often positively, when you remember a life lesson you've learned in the past, and make decisions based on that knowledge. Sometimes you might still behave irrationally, ignoring the lessons of your past and acting out on some destructive impulse, out of habit. You know you're acting irrationally, but the reason you have to do it is rooted in your subconscious mind, the "...that which is within you," in our opening quote by Yeshua.

When we don't know why we make certain life decisions, or harbor certain beliefs, it's time for some healthy self-examination, "If you bring forth that which is within you" – especially if it's manifesting as self-sabotage. If it's a destructive script we're compelled to act out over and over. (People experience this a lot in bad relationships...) Then it's our karma, a place our past actions are bringing us to so we can learn the lesson and move ahead with our lives. In these cases, our Ego forms some unfortunate opinion about how to "protect ourselves," which becomes a kind of survival instinct run amok. Often it's about something we feel we must have, or something we're clinging to. But if it's not Love, let it go. You're not protecting anything. There's nothing to protect. It's more likely, you're doing new damage based on old damage.

Time to dive in! to your conscious past. Jacques Cousteau around your memories, the circumstances and experiences that may have formed this instinctive need to repeat certain actions. Things arise from the depths to help you. Answers may have been staring you in the face all along.

"To dive into these dark waters and stay conscious, you have to take off your individual personality and leave it on the shore." Eknath Easwaran

Now comes the hard part about "walking on the water." Some destructive behaviors arise from deeper down, from your unconscious mind. These are based on experience that hasn't just been repressed subconsciously, but has been fully suppressed, deep in the watery reservoir of your psyche. Ancient fears. Shameful fears. The simplicity of being that you had as a child is stuck in the mud at the bottom by this stuff. You may never be able to fully "bring forth" these deep motivations, but you can become more aware of them. There are ways of bringing them into the light, where they might "save you," rather than stay within and "destroy you."

First, sit in meditation, where you learn to recognize the false internal voice of the neurotic Ego. It's easily recognizable: anything that's judgmental, comparative, or fearful...anything that's not Love. "Bring [that] forth..." You are not that. Disassociate yourself. (I discussed this method in more detail back on 11/11, in "Tales: Through a Glass Darkly.")

Next, realize there are seven billion people here, all going through very similar experiences. You are not so special or so important. Individuality is something of a delusion that your Ego will cling to, even if it destroys you. There's nothing to hide, everyone knows who you are already. They are the same thing.

If you believe it's especially difficult  even inescapable, if it's just "who you are, and that's all there is to it," if you just react, fearfully and unconsciously, then you'll sink into those depths and drown.

"What you do not bring forth will destroy you." In Matthew (14:30), Peter takes a stab at walking on the water, but as soon as his fears take over, he sinks. Guess who saves him? The simplest interpretation of this is look to Christ to save you, but that might lead you to neglect the actions you need to take yourself.

There are lots of creatures who walk on the water all the time. They're insects. They're just being. Their "personal gravity" isn't great enough to break the surface tension of those dark waters, so they can simply skate across the surface, using all that underneath as support. We can do that too, when we lighten our personal gravity and know we're not that special – except for Love. We have nothing to fear, nothing to protect. We never have to be what we used to be.

When we "bring forth that which is within you," we can use all that deep, murky stuff as a foundation for just being what we are truly meant to be, and "What you bring forth will save you." Then you can walk on the water too.

"Water finds it's power by seeking it's lowest point."
Zen saying

The book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is now available everywhere, but ask for it it at your local bookstore!