…when it comes to scripture; there will always be disagreement – especially if we are looking for objective truth. But again, this was not Jesus’ goal; neither should it be our own. For the purpose of our spiritual growth and development, all we can look for is how scripture is reflecting or revealing our own truth. Case in point, the scripture passage below can be taken any number of ways, depending on our point of view, or on the agenda of one who is interpreting this passage for us. Let’s start with a single line:
“Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him.”
For some, this passage points to exclusivity. God will ONLY love those who keep Jesus’ word. For others this passage speaks of reward and punishment. IF we keep Jesus’ word (what word exactly are we to keep?), God will love us, implying that if we do not keep Jesus’ word, God will no longer love us. This one tiny line from John’s gospel has been used for two millennia to establish so-called Christian privilege and to justify persecution, condemnation and even the wholesale slaughter of “non-believers.” Is this really what Jesus meant in these words? If we believe that Jesus’ overriding message was of Love and of a Divine parent who loves without condition, then no, Jesus could not have meant these words to privilege anyone or to deny anyone of the unconditional and unmerited love of God. But human beings, through their limited perspective chose otherwise.
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Two-thousand years ago, a Jewish man fell in love with the mystical teachings of his faith – teachings about love, compassion, and oneness. In his love of his faith, he discovered an intimate relationship with the Divine who he called “Abwoon” – meaning all that is. He felt the love of this Divine being as the love of a parent for their child – and even more so. In this love, the man found peace, contentment and joy along with the means by which he could experience “heaven on earth.” In his excitement of this discovery, this Jewish man did what every rabbi did before him; he sought to teach others what he had learned.
He taught where all rabbis taught – in the synagogue, in the courtyard of the Temple, in the fields, on the hillsides and near the shores of the living waters. He was invited to dinner in people’s homes and he taught there. He taught wherever there were those “with ears to hear.” In his wanderings, he attracted a company of women and men who chose to follow him so that they might learn even more from this man who knew and showed great love.
In this company of women and men, there was a very special woman, Mary, from the house of Lazarus. She along with her brother Lazarus and sister Martha, became Jesus’ devoted students, learning all he could share with them, while gaining insights and revelations of their own. Mary took to Jesus’ teachings in a unique and special way. Soon, Mary and Jesus became one. Mary understood the depth of what Jesus had come to know in a way unique from the others and in this, she too became teacher.
When Jesus was arrested, put on trial and murdered, Mary was there by his side. With the other women and a few brave men, they stood watch and offered prayers of support for Jesus as he suffered and died. They never left his side. When Jesus’ body was removed from the cross, Mary and the other women anointed his body for burial, wrapped it in linen cloths and offered the requisite prayers of burial. When the stone was rolled in front of the entrance to the burial cave, the women wailed. They cried. The tore their hair and clawed at the ground. In tending to their own grief and to the horrors of Jesus’ dying, they created space in which new life could begin.
And it did. Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to Mary. She saw and she believed. And then Jesus did a remarkable thing – he appointed Mary, now called Magdalene, “Tower of the flock.” Mary was ordained and sent forth to continue Jesus’ mission in his stead. He did not give over his mission to the men who remained hiding in the Upper Room. He gave it to the woman who had the willingness to be emptied of all within her that might hinder her from knowing anything other than LOVE. He gave it to the woman who was free enough of ego to stand face to face with her greatest fear – the torture, suffering and death of her beloved and to have the courage to trust that even in this greatest loss, new life would emerge.
Mary was the new life. Mary, now called Magdalene, went forth to share with the other disciples the good news and to continue what Jesus began – supporting the disciples and anyone else with ears to hear – in the mission of Love.
But then, patriarchy stepped in. Unwilling to let go of their fear of the patriarchal cultural norm and unwilling to set aside their egos enough to remember the equality that Jesus taught, the disciples rejected Mary’s message. “This is the ravings of a woman. Jesus’ could not have risen from the dead. What does that even mean?” Then Mary showed them. She showed them how they could see Jesus and experience his presence, his guidance and his teachings. They saw a glimpse, but they did not experience the fullness of what Mary described and then they became jealous. They asked Mary why Jesus would appear to her and not to them. How could he love her more than they? Mary tried to explain, and Jesus through her. But still the disciples could not accept that Jesus would choose her over them. So they cast her out.
Mary then went on her own way, with Lazarus and Martha beside her, the other women, along with a couple of the men who believed, and did what Jesus ordained her to do. She continued in the mission of Love.
The other disciples tell it differently. It is to Peter that Jesus gave the mission of building the new church (a church Jesus never spoke of building), and the purpose of this church was salvation. Only those who believed as the disciples told it would be welcome into paradise at the end of time – totally forgetting that the only kingdom Jesus spoke of what the one right here in our midst when we are free enough of our fears to know Love. Sadly the Love Jesus taught was forgotten and replaced instead by fear.
This fear is the patriarchal wound of Christianity. Fear born out of jealousy. When the disciples cast out the woman Jesus ordained to continue in his stead, they cast out all women. No longer reflecting the balance between masculine and feminine that Jesus favored, the Church became the distortion of love. Instead of being rooted in the Oneness that Jesus preached, the new Church was based in separation and fear, power, control and privilege. Like the patriarchal culture in which they were raised, the men created a hierarchical, patriarchal institution where those in power are lauded as better than the rest and where salvation was the privilege of the few who would obey their commands. What we have today is a sad and broken institution whose fear comes out sideways in gluttony, lust for power, wrath, envy, greed, sloth, and the worst of these – pride. Here children are raped and the offender excused, women are denied their rightful place as teachers and guides, our humanness (including our sexuality) is demonized, and instead of people living in LOVE, they are cowering in fear.
Embracing Mary Magdalene changes all that! In place of fear we find love. Instead of hierarchy we discover collaboration. Instead of power over, we have power with. Not because of Mary, now called Magdalene, but because of what she represents – the core of Jesus’ message which is LOVE. But this message of Love is not even about Jesus – it is about the truth of our Source, our original nature, ourselves, all of creation, and that which some might call God. Love is who we are. Love is all there is. When we remember as Jesus and Mary Magdalene remembered, then there will be peace and we will fulfill our mission as humans which is to discover heaven on earth. So mote it be! Amen!
For the past several years, I have been operating two distinct and separate businesses: Authentic Freedom Academy and Temple of the Magdalene. While there has been much overlap between these two aspects of my offering to the world, they individually represent two aspects of my own being. Authentic Freedom Academy represents the more linear, pragmatic, academic and therefore masculine aspects of whom I am. Temple of the Magdalene has become the platform through which I have channeled the more interior, inner, shadowy, esoteric, and therefore feminine parts of whom I am. I have bounced back and forth between these two poles depending on where I am in my personal journey and what aspect of myself needed attention. I have always felt a little divided as I have nurtured both of these offerings and confused as I have tried to navigate how best to share these offerings in the world. The question has always been, “Who am I and where do I want to focus my attention?”
Not anymore. As will always be the case when we enter fully into the dance of the masculine (active) and feminine (receptive) within us, the Holy Child will be born. Authentic Freedom (dot) Love is that child – born out of the full integration of the masculine and feminine within me, a new life has come forth – one that reflects all that I am and all I wish to offer in the world – the kind, the fierce, the courageous, the vulnerable, the self-righteous, the compassionate, the empathic, the steel-clad boundaries, etc. etc. etc.
This integration of the Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminine and the Love Child produced out of that union is the highest/deepest/most profound/ lesson and truth of every spiritual tradition that exists – whether it be Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Pagan, Indigenous, etc. etc. etc. As it relates to my own Catholic-Christian tradition, this is the most hidden of all of Jesus’ teachings…
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Authentic Freedom (dot) Love is my Holy Child. What is yours?
The deeper we move into our inner spiritual work, the more we become aware of the subtle temptations of the ego – especially those we would never have thought of as ego-attachments because our cultural conditioning tells us these are good and benevolent traits. For me, this has come more and more fully to light over the past 10 days – a time that has been deeply transformational albeit painful. The ego-attachment that presented itself to me (which admittedly has been presenting itself over the past many years in all its many guises) is that of SAVIOR.
What has hit me upside the head in the most painful and glorious way is the long-standing pattern within me of wanting to and believing I was capable of changing the world (or for that matter, changing anything or anyone around me.). I falsely believed that partially by my efforts, the world would/could become a kinder, gentler place. You know, kinda like Jesus. But the trick is that even Jesus was unable to change the world. By Jesus’ efforts, the world did not become kinder or gentler. Some might even argue that because of the acts done in Jesus’ name, the world became more violent. If the so-called savior of the Christian religion was unable to change a broken world, how could I believe my efforts would prove any more fruitful? As it turns out, they have not.
The threads of this savior-complex in me are long and deep. They reach back across time and generations and are tangled and intertwined with centuries of societal conditioning – the deception that says, “humanity can be saved and it’s your job to do it.” For 53 year I have believed this lie and given my heart and my soul to trying to “save” the people around me while also trying to save the world. I wholly admit that part of (maybe all of) my need to “save” is a projection of constantly feeling unsafe in this violent and fearful world. Instead of finding a way to make myself feel safe, I have turned my efforts outward. Ignoring my own safety needs, I have tried to save (help) others. Time and time and time again this has ended in failure.
As it turns out, it is not my job to save others. It is my job to save myself. I think of this in terms of The Titanic: “If the ship is sinking, the only one you can save is yourself.” (Unless you’re a mother with children, then you definitely risk your own life to save theirs.)
Coming to this awareness, confronting it and letting this attachment go has been excruciating. I’ve raged. I’ve wept. I’ve felt paralyzed by grief. At the same time, a profound liberation is taking place. IT IS NOT MY JOB TO SAVE THE WORLD! And I cannot help those who are unwilling to help themselves. All I can do is uncover what I need to feel safe, fulfilled, joyful, supported and loved in an otherwise broken and violent world, and bring these things into my life (including all the resources and tools I share here). In making and allowing this choice this is what I’ve discovered:
Freed of the burden of savior, space is made available for pure enjoyment, true freedom, and abundant and fulfilling love. Here, I AM enough!
In no way, shape or form do I profess to have attained enlightenment. In fact, if someone has to tell you they are enlightened, they are not. Those who have reached true enlightenment, like Jesus, have come to know that:
“… though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of all human beings, and being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Phil 2: 6-8
Enlightenment is not about escaping the human condition or denying the human experience. Enlightenment is about being fully human and embracing all that it means to be human – death and all. While the path toward enlightenment does include ascending toward and coming to know our true Divine nature, as Jesus came to know and which he demonstrated to his disciples. Enlightenment doesn’t end there. As Jesus demonstrated, once we have come to understand our inherent Union with God…
“The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” John 17: 22-23
…we then have to bring that Union into our human form and live that union fully. While the journey toward enlightenment begins with ascending, it can only be fulfilled when we allow that Union to descend fully into our human form so it can be lived out in our human experience. In this, we become, like Jesus, fully human and fully divine.
Herein lays the challenge with many of the modern-day interpretations of enlightenment. Instead of honoring the fullness of the human experience, many of the ways in which enlightenment (ascension, 5D consciousness, etc.) is spoken of today, would lead one to believe that enlightenment is all sunshine and roses. It is not. Enlightenment does not mean we have some magical way of avoiding the darkness of the human experience…or that we have to. With true enlightenment, we still experience pain, suffering, sorrow, loss, betrayal, disappointment, and the sharp pain of rejection. When we attain enlightenment, we are not given a “get out of jail free” card. In fact, for many who have attained enlightenment, it seems the human experience is that much more painful. Look at Jesus for example. He was condemned, beaten, and crucified on a cross. Enlightenment didn’t make Jesus’ life easier. If anything, it made it more difficult. HOWEVER….because Jesus had become enlightened – both fully human and fully Divine…..he had the tools within him to face all that life gave him – including his suffering and pain. Jesus didn’t run from, ignore, or try to “la la” the reality of the human experience away….he embraced it….crucifixion and all.
The Order of Melchizedek Training includes study of the Kabbalah and the Tree of Life – tools which guides us in our journey of ascending and descending – ascending into Union and bringing that Union (Love) fully into our human experience. Learn more by clicking on the image below.
Denying death seems to be the primary preoccupation of Western culture. Our religions reflect (or maybe inspired) this in their wholesale denial of Jesus’ death. How can we stop denying death so that for once we might live?
Have we ever really dealt with and appropriately acknowledged Jesus’ death?
Theologically, socially, collectively, I believe we have not. Very much in the same way that Western Culture collectively denies (or tries to deny) the very real truth that each and every one of us are on a slow (and in some cases hasty) march toward our inevitable death.
Jesus was whipped, tortured, and hung on a cross to die the slow and painful death of crucifixion – the most painful and torturously slow deaths reserved by the Romans for only the worst criminals. Jesus suffered and died while Mary Magdalene, his mother Mary, a few other female companions and (perhaps) John watched. While the aforementioned accompanied and did their best to offer prayer and words of support for their beloved Jesus, the rest of the disciples were hiding in the Upper Room – afraid that by their presence they too might suffer Jesus’ fate.
Jesus died because 1) death is the inevitable outcome of the human experience. And 2) because some human beings are jerks.
But nowhere in our Christian theology are the aforementioned given as reasons for Jesus’ death. Instead, we are given platitudes like:
It was God’s will.
Jesus died to atone for our sin.
Jesus was the sacrificial lamb.
Jesus died to save us.
He’s in a better place.
At least he’s no longer suffering.
Blah Blah Blah.
What kind of God kills his own son so that we might be free??????? A jerk of a God, that’s what I think. My God (as Jesus said) is a God of “mercy not sacrifice.” My God is the prodigal Father/Mother who is standing with open arms waiting for his/her children to come home to the love that they are – never judging or condemning her/his children for BEING HUMAN – making mistakes so they might grow, exploring the world so they might learn, venturing away so they may return. The God of love that I have come to know in my relationship with Jesus wasn’t the cause of Jesus’ death, human beings were.
As such, it was NOT God’s will that Jesus would die. There was no atonement or sacrifice needed for the “sin” of being human. Jesus died for one simple reason – because some human beings are jerks. They were afraid of who he was and what he tried to teach….so they killed him. Period. Death, as we all know, is the natural consequence of the human journey – some just get there earlier than others.
BUT…in Western culture, we live in a constant refusal of death…and I sometimes wonder if the source of this denial is a projection of the male disciples’ guilt for not having the courage to be a source of support for their teacher and friend when he was dying. We demonize and try to delay aging. We plasticize and paint the bodies of our dead to make it appear as if they are still living. We separate ourselves from the process of decay and death. We avoid those who are ill or dying. Then we do everything we possibly can to numb ourselves so that we don’t have to face the inevitable outcome of our human experience – which is death.
When we can no longer deny death, but still need to hold it at arm’s length, we come up with platitudes to make ourselves feel better – the very same platitudes our religion has offered us in response to Jesus’ death: It was God’s will, he’s in a better place, at least she’s no longer suffering. If we believe it was God’s will, etc. then we don’t truly have to acknowledge the very real pain of death and the loss we experience because of it, or the guilt of having (for now) survived it. Denying death by holding it at arm’s length allows us to deny the very real fear we all experience in the face of our ultimate demise.
We live…..so that we might die.
I don’t believe there is anything morbid or defeatist in acknowledging this truth. The journey of life is the same as the journey toward death….and we make of it what we will.
Jesus made the most of the life he was given. Then human beings took it from him.
We are given the very same choice. We can make the most of the life we are given until human beings, disease, an accident, etc. take it from us. God knows when we will die, but God isn’t the one doing the killing. It is a natural and inevitable consequence of the human experience and the quicker we embrace this truth, the more free we are to enjoy what life has to offer. In accepting death, the fear of it no longer has power over us. Herein lies the path to our true freedom…the same path that Jesus discovered when he overcame his own bargaining, denial, anger, fear and sorrow over death…and in this we can truly say that Jesus died so that we too might live.
As a trained Spiritual Director and Transformational Educator, Lauri Ann Lumby, OM, OPM, MATS, provides support for those moving through the grieving process – whether it be the loss of a loved one or brought on by one of life’s many transitions. Email Lauri today at email@example.com to learn more.
Jesus did not come to teach us how to get to heaven. Jesus came so that we might know how to experience heaven on earth. We experience heaven on earth when we, like Jesus, we come to understand the truth of Oneness:
The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17: 22-23
Jesus experienced this Oneness as peace, contentment, love and joy. In this state of Oneness, Jesus was able to transcend the inherent fears and false perceptions of the human condition, avoid the temptations of the ego/false self, and find clear guidance and direction in his life. Jesus called this experience of Oneness “The Kingdom of God” and sought to teach everyone who would listen how to attain this state of Oneness.
In coming to know this Oneness ourselves, we remember that we are the beloved children of God. In this the mission of Jesus has been fulfilled for we have become like him – Daughters and Sons of the Living God who is known and experienced as love.
See what love the Father has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God.
Yet so we are.
The reason the world does not know us
is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.
If we say that we are Christian but are selective about who and how we love, we are liars. Rather, we are wounded and broken people who have not yet come to know the fullness of God’s unmerited and unconditional love. In order to love in the way Jesus calls us to love, we first have to heal those places within where we do not yet know love. Authentic Freedom provides the tools and resources to help us learn this love.
My children, I am writing this to you
so that you may not commit sin.
But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous one.
He is expiation for our sins,
and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.
The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep
Those who say, “I know him,” but do not keep his commandments
are liars, and the truth is not in them.
But whoever keeps his word,
the love of God is truly perfected in him
1 JN 2: 1-5a
Lovers and Liars
In this week’s letter from John, the author makes no apologies for their opinion of those who say they “know Jesus” but who are not living according to the commandments that Jesus laid out for them. The author calls them liars. Jesus called the same kind of people hypocrites. These are people who say they “know Jesus” or who have “proclaimed Jesus to be my personal Lord and Savior,” who attend mass every Sunday, show up for coffee and donuts, maybe even serve on the parish council, and who feel justified in their faith because they are doing what they are told to do in being a “good Christian.”
But are they – “being a good Christian?”
Being a good Christian is not about accepting Jesus as our savior. Neither is it about whether or not we attend mass on Sundays. Being a good Christian is about doing what Jesus did and doing what he commanded us to do:
“Love God. Love your neighbor. Everyone is your neighbor.”
If we say we believe in Jesus and think of him as our savior and teacher, but choose to be selective about this love piece, then we are liars. If we think we are loving our neighbor, but refuse to take the next steps which Jesus called us to do:
Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Heal the sick. Set captives free. Provide a home to the homeless. Etc. etc. etc. etc………ETC.
Then we are liars.
When we turn a blind eye to those in need….we are liars.
When we allow our privilege to blind us to the deep needs of others, we are liars.
When we believe that fulfilling the “American Dream” is simply a matter of hard work and effort and have no compassion for those who are struggling just to get their basic needs met and then judge them as worthless and lazy…we are liars.
When we believe the illusion of “equal opportunity” we are liars.
When we blindly throw money at organizations who serve the needs of those in need but do not take action to change a system that places these people in need in the first place…we are liars.
When we judge others without first walking a mile in their shoes…we are liars.
When we refuse to advocate for those who have not because of some judgement we have of them (usually based in grave misinformation) we are liars.
Every single time we say we “know Jesus” but turn away from those in desperate need – the poor, the outcast, the disenfranchised, etc. we are liars. The author of John, it seems, has no patience for liars. According to scripture, neither did Jesus.
Or did they?
What if the final verses of John’s letter are not judgement or condemnation, but a simple observation of fact:
Those who say, “I know him,” but do not keep his commandments
are liars, and the truth is not in them.
Those who John is calling liars, are simply those who think they know Jesus and the truth Jesus came to reveal, but who in fact do not. They do not (or have not yet come to know) the LOVE of God that Jesus came to know and then sought to teach to the world. Not having come to know the unmerited, unconditional love of God, they are unable to live the love that God is and which God seeks to be through them. As such, they have no choice but to live in non-loving ways (or in ways that are limited). This doesn’t make them a bad person, simply one who does not yet know the breadth and depth of God’s love and who has much yet to learn.
Coming to know the fullness of God’s love is a journey of healing – healing the fears, false perceptions and ego attachments that otherwise stand in the way of fully knowing God’s love. In being open to and doing the difficult work of identifying and then allowing these fears to be healed, the experience of knowing God’s love deepens and widens and we are more and more able to live the fullness of Jesus’ commandments. Or as John so astutely observed:
But whoever keeps his word,
the love of God is truly perfected in him.
How are you being called to allow the Love of God to be perfected in you? How are you called to support others in doing the same?
Please join Lauri Ann Lumby on Monday, April 16th on Blogtalk Radio where she will be the guest of Cindy Bentley with Healing Fountain. Learn more and join HERE.
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Phil 2: 6-11
Jesus – Man and Example
Jesus was born an ordinary man. Somewhere and somehow through his human experience, Jesus was awakened to the Presence and Action of the Divine within and among him. Though we do not know how he came into this awareness, we can surmise that it came partially (if not wholly) through his Jewish faith. As Jesus grew in his knowledge of God, he grew in knowledge of himself, eventually coming into the knowledge and belief of his original nature in Oneness with God. Jesus called and experienced this state of Oneness intermittently as union,love, peace, and truth. This Oneness is what Jesus taught as “the truth that shall set you free.”
As Jesus grew in his intimate state of Oneness with God, he then sought to teach others the process of coming to know that truth that would give them the same sense of freedom that he had come to know in God. In this, Jesus became both the man and the example. By living his Oneness as Love, Jesus showed others how to live. In living this Love, Jesus awakened others to the truth of Oneness within them, and then showed them how to master that LOVE. The process that Jesus underwent, and then taught others is hiding in plain sight in both canonical and non-canonical scripture and can be found with those who have eyes to see and a heart open to love (and with a little guidance on how to find the truth that is hiding behind the veil of dogma).
Jesus’ formula for the path to love is simple and has been articulated in the scripture passage that says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God..and all the rest shall be given unto you.” As we seek to know God, we come to know ourselves. As we come to know ourselves, we come to know God. The nearer we draw toward God, the more we are confronted by those things within ourselves (fears, false beliefs, unhealed wounds, dysfunctional societal conditioning, ego attachments, etc.) that are not reflective of the unconditional and unbidden love of God which unleashes our love of self. As such, the journey toward God is one of healing, but it is also one of stumbling. In our journey toward God we are challenged by all within us that is not “of love” so that we might transform these non-loving fears, behaviors, perceptions, etc. into the truth of the LOVE that we are as Sons and Daughters of God, becoming more and more perfect in Love every step of the way. Jesus struggled with these fears, as did all those who were guided by his presence and the example he set. During these final days of Lent, we focus our attention on these struggles – within and seemingly outside of Jesus and in the life of those he called his disciples. No one is exempt from the ministrations of “the adversary” for it is in confronting and moving through our fears that we find the liberation that Jesus promised. As he did……so shall we do.
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Jesus became self-actualized and sought to teach others how to achieve self-actualization. Today’s blog explores Jesus and his teachings as a model of psychological and spiritual development through which we are empowered to become self-actualized and through which we are able to be freed of the obstacles which prevent us from reaching our full potential as human beings.
Has Jesus Become Irrelevant?
It saddens me that in our quest for intellectualism and individuation, Jesus and his teachings seem to have become irrelevant. When we pierce through the veil of dogma, however, what we see is that Jesus provides a model for psychological and spiritual development which supports the self-actualization of those following his example. What Jesus taught rivals the currently popular paths toward enlightenment and might even be more befitting those who were raised in the Christian tradition. While I acknowledge all these paths as holy and sacred and as valid means through which we can develop and grow as human beings, I contend that we are missing a HUGE opportunity by ignoring or worse yet, demonizing, Jesus and the gifts that he brings to the journey of self-actualization.
Jesus as the model
When we read scripture without the threads of dogma obscuring our view, what we see in Jesus is a man who came to understand the fullness of his human potential and who lived that out as freely as was possible. Examining Jesus’ life through the lens of psychological and spiritual development, we see:
A man committed to his spiritual practice.
Who came to develop a deeply intimate and personal relationship with that which he called “Abwoon” (God).
Who found healing, comfort, restoration, inspiration and guidance through this connection with his higher self.
Who, through a process of formation and discernment came to understand his unique giftedness and how he was called to live that out.
Who overcame the inner obstacles, temptations and fears which might prevent him from living this path with humility
Who learned and practiced the gift of spiritual obedience.
Who learned to surrender to and trust the Source that was guiding him.
Who was able to stand freely and without compromise in his truth, even to the point of death.
Who was a force for change and a voice for justice – ministering to and speaking out on behalf of those who had been ostracized by society.
Who challenged the laws that provided privilege to some while infringing on the rights of others.
Jesus as the teacher
Jesus did not go up on a mountain, become self- actualized, and then stay there. Instead, Jesus lived his self-actualization in the midst of the human race and taught others how to reach the fullness of their own potential. Jesus accomplished this through his example, and also through his teachings. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to those writers who attempted to capture Jesus’ model and message in the scriptures that have been handed down to us, as well as those that did not quite make the cut (many for obvious political reasons!). Again, looking past the Institution’s attempt to doctrinize Jesus’ model of psychological and spiritual formation, these are some of the tools Jesus left behind to help us in our own journey toward self-actualization:
practices of meditation and prayer which help us to quiet our minds so that we can be open to the higher intelligence that speaks to us in the silence, that guides us, moves us, inspires us, comforts us, heals us.
stories which teach us about the call to justice, that speak to us of the importance of compassion and forgiveness, that heal us from our own fears and woundedness, that remind us of our own unique giftedness and the call to share those gifts in the world.
The beatitudes – pithy statements that demonstrate for us the natural results of our potential – as we grow toward our human potential, we are naturally poor in spirit, merciful, working for justice, etc.
Stories that remind us that first and foremost….we are loved….more than that….we ARE love and that the purpose of the human journey is to remember that love.
Reclaiming Jesus’ path to self-actualization
In honor of the upcoming Holy Week and Easter season, I am extending this challenge: I am inviting us to set aside the wounds we may have experienced at the hands of religious institutions, to look beyond the veil of dogma and to restore Jesus to his rightful place as psychologist, spiritual director, healer, teacher and guru. As we celebrate the miracle of Easter, the day that Jesus was first raised form the dead, let us allow for ourselves the Second Coming of Christ and give ourselves permission to know Jesus anew and to look at his example and teachings through new eyes. And my prayer is that through the light of Christ, we might see the truth beyond the words and in Jesus find our own path to self-actualization.