True religion is not about safety, or the salvation of the individual from naked confrontation with suffering and pleasure and death and love.
True religion is about the difficult evolution and ultimate transcendence of the individual, and mankind, and Man.
Therefore, we must awaken from our self-protecting illusions of religious safety, and we must surrender to the Current of life in which the body and the mind are swimming forever.
There is no “Holy Substitute” for Man.
There is no “representative” sacrifice.
There is no true alternative to awakened consciousness and unqualified love in the case of each individual.
Every one of us is the necessary sacrifice of God.
The Secret Identity of the Holy Spirit of God
A Prophetic Criticism of Great Religions
The religious consciousness of Western Man is trapped within an archaic structure of myths, dogmas, and social conflicts that no longer serve the true religious and spiritual process of true Man. These myths are largely Christian, Judeo-Christian, and broadly Semitic in origin, and they are held in place by the large-scale cultural, political, and economic dominance of the ancient religions of the Middle East, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
The dominance of specifically Christian cults, myths, and dogmas is especially apparent in Europe and America. And if the dominance of Judaism and Islam is less apparent in Europe and America, the power of these ancient cults is certainly apparent throughout the Middle East (with clear, practical effect on the rest of the world).
Man himself cannot awaken to his evolutionary spiritual Destiny until the spell of mythological and self-possessed thinking is broken. And the future whole bodily culture of Man, in which East and West will realize a new cultural Synthesis, cannot take place until all the old religions are surrendered to the higher Principle or Truth that is the ultimate Master of religion.
We tend to think of “religion” as a benign influence on individual thought and behavior, and this is indeed the case when the higher aspects of religious consciousness begin to inform the thought and behavior of any individual. But religion is only rarely found to be an influence of such a kind. Very few individuals become truly creative personalities, mystics, saints, or even reliably good men or women as a result of religious associations.
Religion is, in general, an exoteric cultic phenomenon that controls the thought and behavior of individuals through external and psychologically manipulative techniques. And the principal religious phenomenon that is common in the world is not true or free religious consciousness and benign behavioral habits on the part of individuals. The principal phenomenon of religion is the institutional “Church”, or all the central and centralizing institutions that contain and otherwise manipulate broad and massive segments of the human population.
The “Church” (or the primary institution within any religious tradtion) is religion, insofar as religion basically affects the world at large. And large-scale institutional religion is not primarily a benign power in the world. We have only to look at the cultural and political conflcts in Europe and the Middle East to see how the immense institutions of ancient religion have now become, for the most part, contentious, absolutist, and the sources of petty social conflicts. And the problem is made extreme by the immensity of these institutions, each of which controls millions of people.
What is more, the power of the great traditional religious institutions is, for the most part, a worldly power. That is, these institutions are actually political and broadly social agencies that manipulate the political, social, and economic motivations of the citizens of all Western nations, as well as the nations of the Middle East, and much of Africa and South America. (The nations of Asia are, for the most part, controlled by secular political institutions which tend to exclude not only religious institutions but also every kind of religious consciousness, and this pattern of secularization has also begun to spread to other areas of the world that have traditionally been under the powerful influence of ancient Middle Eastern religious institutions.)
In the popular media of our day, small non-establishment religious cults tend to be the target of hostile commentaries. But such groups are, in most cases, basically oriented toward the development of a higher or more universal spiritual and religious consciousness. It is the broadly based and worldly domain of established institutional religion that represents the more direct and practical threat to human development and to the communication of the Truth of Life.
And why is it that religious institutions, which seem to be founded on higher human and cultural persuasions, ultimately become the primary basis of social conflict and even personal neurosis? The reason is that religious institutions are obliged to deal with masses of immature and unevolved people who have very little will or capacity for the evolutionary and practical cultural exercise of higher religious or spiritual consciousness. As a result, the institutions of the “Church” develop much like institutions of “State” under the same conditions of universal human irresponsibility.
Thus, any institutional “Church” tends, except during periods of renewal by living and prophetic Adepts, to become more and more dogmatic, and eventually it becomes irrevocably associated with fixed ideas that, in one way or another, deny the religious authenticity or religious completeness of people who belong to other religious institutions or cultures. The “Church,” like any other mortal or threatened entity in the world, tends to become more and more centered in itself and devoted to its own survival.
Conventional religious institutions learn how to survive by serving and manipulating a massive membership that is largely incapable of true and practical religious responsibility. This is done by minimizing the true religious demand for literal and personal conversion of mind and action, and replacing that difficult religious demand with the “easier” and more secular demand for mere allegiance to systems of myth, belief, ritual, and dogma. Thus, the condition for membership in most large institutions of religion is allegiance to fixed ideas and other outward or superficial signs of belonging to the “cult,” whereas true religious practice is founded on conversion of the total being to the Living Divine Reality and the acceptance of behavioral disciplines that make one at the very least an outwardly moral and personally benign or restrained character.
Institutional religions of course recommend certain moral attitudes, but the practice of moral restraints is, except for a few extreme criminal acts, not made a condition of membership. And morality tends to be associated with archaic, neurotic, and petty sexual and social taboos, rather than with the obligations of love, service, and compassion. Likewise, most religious institutions today have abandoned even all ancient recommendations relative to personal disciplines of a healthful dietary naturesuch as the obligation to avoid meat or other killed food, or impure manufactured food, or toxic stimulants, and so forth. And the esoteric, evolutionary, and universal spiritual teachings that are the only ultimate significance of religion have been almost totally abandoned and even lost by the great “Churches.”
In the conventional affair of popular religion, the communication of difficult religious demands and also of esoteric spiritual understanding and practice is avoided, because conventional religious institutions are trying to survive by acquiring and maintains massive memberships. Thus, religion is promoted and sold by hyped appeals to the nondiscriminating mind of “Everyman.” But true religion is a superior human impulse, founded in self-criticism and profound psycho-physical conversion or change. Thus, over time, only false and merely exoteric or popular “religious” inventions are communicated by so-called “great religions.” And, at last, the esoteric Truth and practice of universal religion is not only eliminated as the core of conventional religious instruction, but the survival pressures of dogmatic Churchism make such Truth and practice unacceptable and even damnable. Thus, over time, great “Churches” tend in fact to become the enemies of ultimate religious Truth. This was the situation that confronted Jesus, and it was and is the situation confronted by all true religious prophets and spiritual Adepts.
Since actual and mature religious practice has been generally replaced by outward adherence to false or deluding exoteric beliefs and superficial behavioral modifications, the true esoteric core of religion has lost its use within the great traditional cults that exist in our time. The whole affair of traditional religious institutions has become dangerous nonsense, because such religious institutions long ago abandoned the practice of making true religious and esoteric participation a condition of “Church” membership. If the demand for authentic participation had been continued, the institutions of religion that we now call “great” would have remained small esoteric communities (if they survived at all). Therefore, the “Churches” chose to survive, and they adapted to the world (rather than demand that the world change itself).
True religion is a universal, evolutionary, and self-transcending psycho-physical motivation of Man. However, at the present stage in human history, only relatively few individuals in any generation are able to make that gesture. Mankind is simply, in its great numbers, not yet ready or willing to adapt to the higher moral, spiritual, and evolutionary culture of Man. Therefore, until the races of humanity begin more generally to respond to the prophetic Teaching of true Adepts, religious “cultism” (or religious culture) in its true form must necessarily remain relatively small in its institutional dimensions. This is because an authentic religious institution must be devoted entirely to the communication of ultimate religious Truth and the relentless demand for higher human transformationand only relatively few people are interested in that message! An authentic religious institution must, because of its inherent nature, remain more or less outside (or superior to) the stream of daily secular or worldly “culture.” And, until mankind in general is able to become truIy religious, religion must remain largely prophetic in its function. That is, religion must accept the role of critic in the world and not become like the world in order to become powerful and great in the world. No other role than this prophetic one is possible for authentic religion at this stage in the history of Man. Otherwise, what is truly religious is compromised and ultimately abandoned in the process of the mass institutionalization of popular religion.
When religious movements practice their critical prophetic role, they tend to be attacked by the reactions of worldly people. Thus, true religious leaders and true religious institutions or movements tend to suffer and become victimized to one or another degree by the factions that exist in the popular culture of the time and by the hypocritical attacks of foolish people, who suffer from the lack of the mental power of discrimination. (False leaders and movements may also come under attack, but not because they are bereft of allegiance to the esoteric Truth of Life. Rather, it is generally because of some more obvious human failing, or some conflict with the conventional values of ordinary society.) We find unjustified religious persecution in the case of Jesus and the early followers of Jesus, and also in the case of Moses and certain generations of the Jews, as well as Mohammed and his early converts. But the “Churches” of Jesus and Moses and Mohammed went on to achieve worldly dominion by serving and adapting to the conventional mass culture of future generations. Thus, in our time, the factions of ancient official “Church” power are among those influences that serve and thrive upon the irresponsible subhumanity of Man and even dogmatically prevent the true religious awakening of Man.
The prophets who initiated the so-called “great religions” were made to suffer the official or popular displeasure of their day. The “Churches” that grew up on the foundation of those prophets survived and grew in power by gradually accommodating the very influences that true religion and every true prophet must criticize. Therefore, true religious cultism always arises as a critical voice, not only in relation to the worldly domain of popular and secular society, but also in relation to the wide culture of hypocritical, immature, and unspiritual religious institutions.
But the time will comeindeed, this is the hourwhen true worshippers will know they must worship God, the Creator or Father of the world, in Spirt and in Truth. God is seeking for those who will worship God. And God is Spirit, or the Breath of life. Therefore, if it is God we would worship, we must worship by surrenderng into the life-Spirit, and our worship must be founded in right understanding, or Truth.
(Adi Da’s expository translation of the words of Jesus of Nazareth, as recorded in the New Testament, the Gospel of John the Beloved, chapter 4, verses 23 and 24.)
John, known as the Beloved, and, presumably, also as the Elder, was apparently the principal disciple or devotee of Jesus of Nazareth. His primacy was essentially within the “inner circle” of mature converts (to whom the secrets of the esoteric or higher spiritual worship of the Living God were communicated). We may presume, from the indications in John’s gospel, that he was also intended to be the principal spiritual successor of Jesus within the “inner circle.” That is, the full esoteric spiritual Teaching as well as the initiatory (Spirit-baptizing) functions of Jesus were apparently transmitted to John, and all that John thus possessed was intended to be transmitted through him, within the “inner circle” or esoteric community that responded to the spiritual Teaching of Jesus. (Jesus himself had been the principal disciple or devotee of John the Baptist, and Jesus, therefore, succeeded John the Baptist, after the latter’s death.)
Some investigators have offered evidence that Jesus of Nazareth may not have been an actual historical figure. And the same may be true of John the Baptist, John the Beloved, and others. Certainly, if these figures actually lived, they may have been significantly different from the exoteric myths and archetypes described in the New Testament.
But there is a sufficient integrity to the documents of the New Testament that they may fruitfully be considered as if historical events and persons informed the writings that have come down to us. (And this in fact is how the writings of the New Testament, and especially of John the Beloved, will be treated in this essay.) Such relics as the “Shroud of Turin” appear to support the claims of historicity (while perhaps calling for a new interpretation of that history). And, in any case, the New Testament writingseven though they may ultimately fail as an historical basis for exoteric religioncertainly do provide interesting examples of ancient esoteric mystical philosophy and practice.
The New Testament is designed to appear as a single, coherent account of the life and total Teaching of Jesus and his disciples, or apostles. However, modern scholarship has begun to demonstrate that the New Testament is a strategically collected and edited conglomeration of many examples of oral and written material from the early centuries following (as well as preceding and including) the period of Jesus’ presumably historical ministry. The New Testament is essentially an exoteric or outer and public manual of instruction. And it was created by the exoteric public cult of Jesus that became the official Church of the Roman Empire.
What I am indicating here is that the historical Christian Church (in its various sects) was and is essentially an exoteric or publicly oriented institution. And it intentionally limited its communications to exoteric matters when it first designed and established the New Testament as the basis of all of its instructions. In and by that process, the esoteric Teaching and practice was separated from the official institution, and it was gradually and completely lost.
However, we may find aspects of the “inner circle” Teaching described in certain texts of the New Testament, particularly the gospel and the letters of John the Beloved. And it was only that “inner circle” Teaching and practice that represented the full Teaching of Jesus and his school. The outer, public Teaching of Jesus and his followers was not much different from that of the other exoteric religious sects of the Middle East (such as Judaism) at the time of Jesus. And that public Teaching was essentially directed toward the winning of converts, who would later be “baptized” and instructed in the nonpublic setting of the “inner circle.”
In the writings attributed to John the Beloved, we find aspects of the Teaching of the “inner circle,” spoken more or less clearly. Thus, the Teaching of John the Beloved survives as testimony to the actual Teaching and practice of Jesus within his “inner circle” of converts. And if one approaches that literature from the point of view of higher spiritual understanding, gotten through awakened practice outside the outer cultism of exoteric religion, then the Teaching of John the Beloved can be rightly interpreted or understood.
Throughout my lifetime, I have entered into the deepest and most profound spiritual labor, and thus I have uncovered the various dimensions of esoteric realization that pertain to the native psycho-physical structure of Man. I speak as one who has lived the presumption and practice of esoteric Communion with the Living Reality or Divine Source of Man and the world. I have considered all that I have experienced and realized, and I have compared all of it to every kind of historical evidence relative to ksus and the tradition that developed in relation to him. On the basis of all of this, I have come to the point of intuitive certainty about the essential experience and esoteric Teaching that was shared by Jesus, and John the Beloved, and the inner or initiated community that surrounded them.
The religion of Jesus and John the Beloved was essentially a proclamation of release from the negative burdens of life in this world through ecstatic or self-transcending union with the Living God. The Way of that union began with conversion from abstract belief in the “God of our fathers,” or the “God of the Holy Book.” Jesus and John the Beloved preached that there must be conversion from mere and idolatrous belief in an idea of God. Jesus and John the Beloved preached liberation from the exoteric Idol of God as a Being who is apart from Man and the world of Mana God who created everything and imposed an order on everything, and thus obliged Man and all other creatures to live by various kinds of objective moral rules and natural laws in order to survive and succeed during life and after death. The Way of ecstatic union proclaimed by Jesus end John the Beloved was the ecstatic or self-transcending Way of Life, rather than the formal, legalistic, or self-fulfilling way of exoteric knowledge and conformity. And that ecstatic Way began with psycho-physical conversion, from Lifeless abstractions of the mind and to the Living God, the Truth of Man and the world.
John’s gospel Teaches that the “Living God” is “Spirit.” That is, God is eternally Present as the All-Pervading Life-Power, with which, therefore, every living being may Commune directly. In fact, the Living God is so intimate with Man that the word “Pneuma” or “Life-Breath” or “Spirit” is used by John the Beloved to describe God. And God is said to be identical to the Spirit, or the Living Energy that pervades the world, and that pervades the nervous system of Man, and that every one of us can contact via the bodily process of breathing and feeling. Indeed, John says not only that Jesus Taught that God is the Living Spirit (rather than the idea of God as abstracted Creator), but that he Taught that the Way to worship God is to worship in the Spirit. That is, Jesus Taught a method of worship that involved ecstatic bodily Communion with the Life-Power via breathing and feeling, based on Truth (or an awakened and secret understanding of the Divine Reality).
John the Beloved always wrote or spoke as an intimate devotee of a Spiritual Master. That is, he was communicating about the Way of true worship, or ecstatic bodily Communion with the Living God, but he always acknowledged his own Spiritual Master (who initiated him into the practice of esoteric Communion with the Living Spirit) as if his Master were identical to the Spirit and thus to God. This is a habit of acknowledgment that is typical of all oriental esoteric societies. It represents a profound acknowledgment and appreciation of the mechanism of initiation, guidance, and ecstatic participation enjoyed in the unique spiritual and esoteric relationship of the devotee and his or her Spiritual Master.
No heresy or delusion is contained in this manner of acknowledgment, unless, as has been the case with the exoteric Christian Church that survived the time of Jesus and John the Beloved, the language becomes exoteric and exclusive. That is, if the language of the ecstatic acknowledgment of a Spiritual Master by his true devotees is inherited by a nominal or exoteric cult, that individual tends to become exclusively identified with the Divine Reality. The result of this is that the Living God ceases to be the principle of experience and practice, but abstracted ideas or beliefs and symbolic personalities become, again, the idolatrous basis of the religion. And the religion, or cult, then ceases to understand itself as one of many possible traditional communities involved in esoteric worship. Instead, the cult tends to see and communicate itself as the only community that possesses the Truth.
This has precisely been the case with the Christian churches, most of which have become exclusive cults of Jesus, and most of which have lost both their esoteric foundation and their ability to see the Divine Truth in the Spirit-Worship of all esoteric tradirions. And the Christian religion, as well as all other exclusive exoteric and even esoteric traditions, must again be re-awakened and transformed by the esoteric Teaching of Truth.
To continue in this description of the Teaching of Jesus and John the Belovedthey both proclaimed the Way of ecstatic union with the Living God, or Spirit. Jesus, as the Spiritual Master of John, was identified with the Spirit, or God, since he had given John not only the Teaching of Truth but the Spirit-Power itself, through baptism (or esoteric initiation into the Way of Life).
The “Spirit-Power of baptism” is an esoteric process wherein the Life-Current in the body-mind (and, principally, the central nervous system) of the human individual is stimulated to a point of profound intensity and turned about in its basic polarization or tendency. Thus, the Life-Current is felt to press inwards and upwards, via the spine, and towards the crown (or brain core) of the body-mind. The effect of Spirit-baptism was an experience of bodily conversion to a subjective movement of Life-Energy, away from the “flesh” (the “senses,” or the plane of vital desires in the autonomic nervous sytem). As a result of such baptism, the various classical mystical phenomena arose, and this entire procedure was called, by Jesus and John the Beloved, “to be born again, via the Spirit.”
The “born again” phenomenon proclaimed by modern Christian enthusiasts is merely a superficial mental and emotional conversion toward surrender into belief and dependency on the person Jesus, who is presumed still to be mysteriously present as a universal God-Man. But the “born again” phenomenon initiated by Jesus and John the Beloved was an esoteric procedure, involving mystical experience and literal transformations in the cycle of the Life-Current in the human body-mind. It was a process communicated only to serious convertsthose who had already accepted responsibility for the personal and moral discipline of their daily lives. (In contrast, the “born again” phenomenon of exoteric Christian cultism is a conversion of mind and emotion upon which the convert is only then presumed to be capable of true personal and moral responsibility.)
In the writings of John the Beloved (consisting, according to tradition, of one gospel and three letters) “Jesus” is the name or code word for the Spirit of God. He was also the person who was John’s Spiritual Master, and he was the historical figure who was the ongoing symbol of the Way inJohn’s religious community. But, in the writings of John the Beloved, “Jesus” is primarily to be understood to be the Life-Principlethe “Living Word” or “Spirit” of God.
As the initiator or baptizer of others, Jesus was also the “Savior” of sinners. (The fourth chapter of John’s gospel says that Jesus did not baptize, but had his disciples do it instead. This refers only to the first baptismthe water or cleansing baptism of repentance and forgiveness for turning away from the Divine Life-Spirit of God. After that conversion had matured into practical personal and moral responsibility, Jesus himself might then perform the baptism of the Holy Spirit, or initiation into the esotericism of ecstatic prayer and surrender into the higher mind via the Life-Current within the human body.) As one who enjoyed the ecstasy of union with the Spirit of God, Jesus, the Spiritual Master of John the Beloved, wasas are all others who share in his secretthe “Son of God.” But “Jesus” is primarily to be understood to be the “Living Word” or “Spirit of God” personified (or represented by a human Adept or Agent).
Therefore, if the writings of John the Beloved are read as a Teaching about ecstatic bodily union with the Life-Principle, or the “Spirit of God,” and if “Jesus” is understood as the representative person, symbol, and name of that Spirit and the Way of Communion with that Spirit, then those writings can be rightly understood. And only then do they represent a true and universal religious inspiration.
The broad tradition of evidence, including evidence presented by non-Christian sources and investigators, generally indicates that Jesus was an historical personality and that he survived the crucifixion bodily. (That he was an historical personality is somewhat in doubt, but there is no doubt that he survived the crucifixion bodily!) The New Testament is based on the claim that Jesus survived the crucifixion bodily, and the “Shroud of Turin,” which is a remarkable relic, also confirms this. The means of his survival are not made clear in any of the gospels. There is evidence that he may have been forced into a coma on the cross and so was taken down before he had died. According to some theories, he later was restored to health and met secretly with at least some members of his “inner circle,” including John the Beloved. Then he simply left Israel, perhaps in order both to flee from those who would kill him and to continue to work as Teacher and Baptizer elsewhere. There are indications that he may have continued his work among the scattered Jews in the Orient. And there is evidence that he may have settled in India, with his disciple Thomas, and that he died and was buried in Kashmir.
In any case, John the Beloved and the other initiates and intimate disciples of Jesus all went in various directions afrer Jesus’ departure. Through their preaching, they developed unique communities, each founded on various kinds of emphasis, both exoteric and esoteric, and each expressing the special cultural background of the individual who founded the community as well as the cultural background of the members of the community itself. In the decades and centuries that followed the lifetimes of the original disciples, various literary documents were produced from the oral and written traditions of the various communities that were created by Jesus’ disciples and by various converts and mystics, such as Paul 1 , who became associated with the cult of Jesus after Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection, and secret departure from Israel.
The claims of Jesus’ “ascension into heaven” are themselves merely symbolic and exoteric statements that veil the esoteric secrets of bodily worship of the internally ascending Life-Current, and such exoteric stories also served to account for Jesus’ absence from the public scene after the crucifixion and resurrection. If we understand that Jesus was simply the honored symbol for the Living Divine Spirit (or Life-Principle) and also the Way whereby every individual may worship or Commune with that Spirit in Truth (and so become a “Son of God”), then we can understand how the symbolic or exoteric descriptions of his “ascension to heaven” developed. (Whereas, to believe that Jesus somehow bodily rose into the clouds and out into the starry heavens not only is to propose a naive cosmology, but it is like believing that the Last Supper, or the holy and symbolic feast of the “body and blood,” was actually a cannibalistic orgy.)
The idea of Jesus’ ascension is simply an exoteric or symbolic expression of the esoteric mystical experience of the ascension of the Spirit (or Life-Current) from the lower body to the brain core, whereby various kinds of mystical illumination and bliss are experienced. Thus, Jesus’ fate is identified with mystical ascension of attention to the bodily or internal and mental Place of God above And that same fate was mystically reproduced in the experience of all initiates within the “inner circle” of Jesus and John the Beloved (and, presumably, within the “inner circle” of at least some of the other disciples or apostles).
The method of entering into Communion with the Spirit of God in the company of Jesus or John the Beloved was to receive the second baptism (the baptism of “fire,” or second birth via the Holy Spirit). That baptism, along with certain esoteric instructions, made it possible for the individual to “worship in Spirit,” through surrender of body, emotion, and mind into the internal Life-Current. After the first baptism, or water baptism (the ritual of purification), a period of personal and moral testing followed. The convert who “kept the faith” and showed it in the form of personal and moral disciplines was eventually given the initiatory touch (baptism or anointing) of the Master (or one of the empowered disciples), usually during a secret meeting within the “inner circle” of initiates and disciples.
This same procedure may be observed even today in esoteric communities all over the world. It involves first the development of various psycho-physical changes in the case of an Adept, so that the Life-Current in him is made to function in an intensely magnetic fashion, polarized, in the central nervous system, toe to crown, rather than crown to toe. When this occurs, the Adept becomes fit to initiate others into the same process, and he does so through touch, or by looking into the person’s eyes, or through the medium of speech (including the giving of a secret “Word,” “Name,” or magical formula to be repeated in prayerful meditation), or by merely thinking about the person (or regarding him in silence). Indeed, even to come into close proximity to such an Adept, or a group of people initiated by an Adept, may produce psycho-physical changes in one who does so. (A case in point is the woman who is said to have been healed merely by touching the garment of Jesus.)
It may be presumed that Spirit-baptized initiates were also taught esoteric methods of evocatory or invocatory prayer, as well as other contemplative exercises. And the name “Jesus” as well as the names “Abba” (“Father”) and Amen were likely also intoned or otherwise used as a mystical means of entering into bodily Communion with the Spirit within the “inner circle” of Jesus, John the Beloved, and the others. The esoteric sacrificial feast of Jesus’ “body and blood” was also practiced as a kind of common meal among the initiates, and it signified the act of taking on the Way of Jesus, which is the Way of self-surrender, love, and spiritual dependence on the Living God.
John the Beloved (or the Elder) apparently survived the longest of all of the original members of Jesus’ intimate circle who remained in Israel after Jesus’ departure. Perhaps for this reason his writings contain the most direct expression of the esotericism of his traditionsince all other early Christian writings seem to have reflected only or mainly the exotericism of the earliest public work of the disciples. John apparently survived long enough to communicate beyond the earliest period and in geographical areas where an esoteric Teaching was less threatened by hostile exoteric cults as well as hostile political cults. John also appears to have been inherently of a more innocent and mystical mind, and less interested in adapting or proclaiming his message to a hostile and immature public.
It was said of John that he would survive until Jesus came again. And so he did. He survived until old age, and fully demonstrated in himself and in his own “inner circle” of devotees that Jesus was simply the Spirit, and that the Spirit remained Alive even after Jesus had departed from the scene. It may also be presumed that John’s own devotees realized the Spirit was still Alive for their benefit after John’s own death.
I have written this special treatment of the exoteric and esoteric cults of Jesus because the Christian tradition currently predominate in the Western world. I wanted to clarify the difference between exoteric, archaic, and ultimately childish (or superficial) beginner’s beliefs and the true and even ancient esotericism that belongs to the higher Wisdom-Culture of mankind. The same consideration I have brought to the Christian tradition could and should be brought to any and all other popular exoteric cults of religion. We must do this, or else we cannot go beyond the childhood of Man. And we must also exceed the adolescent reluctance of Man (in the form of scientific materialism or any other kind of superficial intellectual point of view) to yield beyond objective knowledge and into ecstasy, or self-transcending Communion with the Living Reality.
John the Beloved may also be heard to speak to the rational scientific mind of our age, if we read and rightly interpret the beginning of the Gospel:
At the Origin of everything is the Creative Spirit, the Intelligent Life-Principle, the All-Pervading Matrix of the total world. And the Living Spirit-Breath of God is always united with very God, the Radiant Transcendental Consciossness, the true Heart of the world and the Truth of all beings. Indeed, the Spirit is God, for God is the Creative Life-Principle, the Eternally Free Transcendental Reality in Whom all beings and things arise and float and change and pass out of sight.
All things and beings come to exist through the Agency of the Eternal Life-Principle, and not otherwise. And whatever or whoever exists because of the Living Spirit is indeed Alivebecause everything and everyone is presently and eternally Sustained through surrender into that Living Spirit.
The Life-Breath that sustains Man is also the Light that can show him the Way through the darkness and blindness of the world. That Light is now and always has been shining in the world and even in the body and mind of Man, and no darkness has ever quenched it.
(Adi Da’s expository translation of chapter 1, verses 1-5, of the Gospel of John the Beloved)
1. According to the New Testament Paul (A.D. 0-5 to 67 or 68) was one of the principal apostles of the new religion that was formed around the life and Teachings of Jesus. Paul was not a personal disciple of Jesus, nor did he ever meet him personally. After Jesus’ death, Paul was a persecutor in the growing Christian movement, until he was converted by an overwhelming mystical experience, which he interpreted to be the spiritual Light, Presence, and Voice of the Ascended Jesus. From that time until his death he was one of the most energetic of the apostles, journeying throughout most of the Mediterranean coastal lands and the Middle East to preach the new “gospel” of Jesus the Christ. He was imprisoned many times, was nearly assassinated by hostile Jews, and, legend has it, was finally beheaded during the persecutions of the Christians by Nero, Emperor of Rome.
When the official councils of the Christian Church were convened by the Roman State to create the foundation of Christianity as the official State religion, the beliefs of Paul, relative to Jesus’ personal and ultimately superphysical survival of death, became the dogmas of the Church.
Jesus apparently renewed, for his time, an ancient psycho-physical conception of the nature of the realm or world in which we appear. The mood of ordinary experience conceives the Principles of this world to be separation, negative results, and death. Jesus communicated the view that the Principles of this world are prior Unity with God, renunciation and forgiveness as a means of purification, and an individually conscious Life that is ever changing but never destroyed.
The significance of his entire life is the argument of this communication. He argued that we should accept these “good” Principles, which make those men good who believe or accept them, rather than accept the conventional and “evil” Principles, which only make all who believe or accept them into fearful, deluded, and wretched beings.
Jesus represents only the argument, the conviction, and the confession of this good assumption of Good Principles. He does not represent any independent historical Act that makes it unnecessary for any one else to accept and be responsible for these Principles. In other words, the Principles of our Life are Good, but these Good Principles are only as effective in our own case as the degree of our acceptance and responsibility relative to them.
All who accept these Principles must be wise and intelligent and humble, since their goodness, or identity with the Good Principles of Life, is gradual, or a process that matures and grows forever. Their Enlightenment is always instantwhenever their presumption of the Good and True is Realbut their lives are forever, and forever transformed by whatever they believe, accept, or presume.
Not a Survivor
Jesus of Nazareth has become a universal archetypal figure in the minds of all mankind. But he has thereby become more a part of conventional mind and meaning than a servant of the Real. Unfortunately, he has become identified with personal or egoic survival rather than perfect sacrifice of self, mind, life, emotion, and body.
Paul the Apostle said that if Jesus did not survive his death, then belief in him and his Teaching is fruitless. Therefore, the bodily and personal survival of Jesus became the traditional foundation of Christian belief and practice. But Paul’s conception is false. The Truth and the Law of sacrifice are not verified by or dependent upon the knowable survival or immortality of any man, including Jesus. The Truth of the Teaching of Jesus, itself an extension of the Teaching of the ancients, did not at all depend on his survival, or, more specifically, knowledge, on the part of others, of his survival. If it did depend on his personal or conventional soul-survival of death, or the knowledge of such on the part of others, he could not have taught anything of ultimate significance during his lifetime, and all Teaching before his time would have been inherently false. But Jesus himself specifically denied both possibilities.
The Teaching of Jesus is essentially the ancient Teaching of the Way of Sacrifice. He, like others, taught that the sacrifice that is essential is not cultic or external to the individual, but it is necessarily a moral and personal sacrifice made through love. It is the sacrifice of all that is oneself, and all that one possesses, into forms of loving and compassionate participation with others, and into the absolute Mystery of the Reality and Divine Person wherein we all arise and change and ultimately disappear. Therefore, the proof of his Teaching is not in the independent or knowable survival of anything or anyone, but in the enlightened, free, and moral happiness of chose who live the sacrifice while alive and even at death.
We cannot cling to the survival of anyone, or even ourselves. This clinging has for centuries agonized would-be believers, who tried to be certain of the survival of Jesus and themselves. Truly, Jesus did not survive in the independent form that persisted while he lived, nor does anyone possess certain knowledge of the history of Jesus after his death. All reports are simply expressions of the mystical presumptions and archetypal mental structures of those who make the reports. And neither will we survive the process of universal dissolution everywhere displayed. Jesus sacrificed himself. He gave himself up in loving service to others and in ultimate love to Real God. All who do this become what they meditate upon. They are Transtated beyond this self or independent body-mind into a hidden Destiny in the Mystery or Intensity that includes and precedes all beings, things, and worlds.
The popular Myth of Jesus is an Idol of mass religion. It was created by the exoteric Christian Church, when it moved to legitimize itself in the eyes of the secular State of Rome. That Idol is worshipped by popular belief, and many have been and continue to be deluded and oppressed by the Cult of that Idol.
Like every Idol, the Myth of Jesus contains a secret about Man himself. But that secret is locked away in the features of the Image men worship. Men worship Jesus as an exclusive human embodiment of God because they are unwilling or unable to accept the kind of responsibility for themselves that Jesus accepted for himself.
Jesus did not teach the worship of himself as an Idol of God or a Substitute for the responsibility of each man for his own religious and spiritual sacrifice. And even if he did, it would be our responsibility to liberate ourselves from that Doctrine.
The popular Myth of Jesus is founded on archaic cosmological archetypes. Jesus is believed to have come down from Heaven (or the sky of stars above the Earth) and become a blood sacrifice (in the ancient style of cults that ritually killed animals and men), and then he is supposed to have risen up into the sky againback to Heaven. The man Jesus is popularly believed to be God, the Creator of the Universe, and his death is glorified as a necessary Cosmic Event that somehow makes it unnecessary for any believer to suffer permanent mortal death.
All of this, and more, may have made some kind of imaginative, street-level sense in the days of the Roman Empire, but it is nothing more than benighted silliness in the last quarter of the twentieth century. And, in any case, none of this Idolatry was the teaching or the intention of Jesus or any of the other great spiritual Adepts of the world. All of the mythological idolization of Jesus was the creation of the exoteric and popular cultism of the early Christian Church. And the time has come for the world to renounce this nonsenseeven if the Christian Church itself is yet unwilling to renounce its obnoxious absolutist claim on all of humanity.
The Myth and the Idol of Jesus have nothing to do with true religion or the spiritual responsibility of Manas I have tried to explain in these essays and in many other writings. And it is time we stopped glorifying the martyrdom of Jesus. Even though it seems possible that he personally survived the crucifixion and went on to continue his work outside Israel, the popular belief is that he died on the cross. And the persecution and attempted assassination of Jesus by the hypocritical religious cultists of his time was not in any sense good for mankind. It was a grave misfortune, and a prime example of the stupid, unillumined, and aggressive mentality that still characterizes the popular or mass level of subhuman existence. The world would have profited much more if Jesus had been able to work openly and live to a remarkable old age as a great prophetic Teacher of Israel. In that case, the true esoteric foundation of religion might have begun to become the basis of human culture two thousand years ago. And, at the very least, mankind could have avoided the long tour of domination by yet another impenetrable Idol of the mind
The idea that the martyrdom of Jesus was the literal and final Sacrifice of God is a perversion of the Truth. The true sacrifice of Jesus occurred while he was still alive. That sacrifice was of an esoteric spiritual nature, and it is of no inherent value to any other human being, unless that individual will duplicate that same sacrifice in the processes of his own body-mind.
Why do we persist in a retarded and negatively cultic understanding of religion? The Truth is plainand it has been plainly preached and demonstrated, not only by Jesus, but by many Adepts in every epoch of human history. But the Idol of Jesus persistsbecause it is one of the great archetypal alternatives to authentic personal religious or spiritual responsibility. It is time for mankind to awaken to Wisdom and to the understanding of Jesus in Truth. Then perhaps some benefit will have come to us at last from that ancient outrage performed in Jerusalem.
Teachings of Jesus
ADI DA: The teaching of Jesus is both exoteric, or public and outward, and esoteric, or hidden and spiritual.
In our consideration of Jesus, we must first of all differentiate the exoteric or public teaching that Jesus himself represented from the exoteric or public teaching of the Christian tradition that succeeded him. In general, the exoteric teaching of the Christian Church is based on a cultic, liturgical or ritualistic, and mythbound relationship to Jesus, who is proclaimed to be exclusively identical with the Creator-God of the Semitic tradition. The Jesus of exoteric Christianity is useful to Man only after his supposed death on the cross and his legendary resurrection and ascension. The essence of the traditional exoteric teaching of Christianity is that we can realize a personal relationship to this legendary Jesus, the exclusive God who will “save” us from a life of suffering, although we may not realize the same relationship to God that Jesus realized.
The exoteric teaching that Jesus himself actually offered was quite different from the cultic dogma that survived him. He taught that we must be free of cultic religious illusions and moral reluctance. He was willing to be of service as Spiritual Master to individuals, but not in the cultic form promoted by the Church in the centuries after his death. If the only relevant Jesus is the Jesus who has died for our sins and gone to heaven, then he could not have taught anything useful during his lifetime. Of what service was he, then, to somebody to whom he talked while he was alive, but who died before Jesus was supposedly “ascended to the Father”? Does it follow that the individual did not hear his teaching and did not have contact with the Presence of God? Clearly, there is no truth to such logic. Thus, the “ascended Messiah” exotericism of the Christian tradition is nonsense.
The exoteric teaching of Jesus during his lifetime was true, however. It was essentially a moral teaching that clarified the centuries-old Hebrew tradition of behavioral laws and ritualistic obligations. Jesus communicated a single moral disposition that obliged everyone to transcend mere adherence to the ancient, external legalisms and, instead of observing rituals, to sacrifice themselves in the midst of the daily circumstances of life. Since ancient times, the way of sacrifice has been the essential way of human integration with God. The orthodox, cultic sacrifices of the ancient days were ritualistic and superficialone murdered a pigeon or a goat, performed a ritual or a prescribed liturgy, walked around a holy place, sang hymns, and so forth. Even today such ritual sacrifices are common to religious practices. Jesus, like the other Adepts who appeared before and after him, communicated the principle behind such ritual sacrifices, which is the sacrifice of self, the sacrifice of Man through and in the form of the individual human being. The ritual of any sacrifice is only the instrument, while also the evidence, of the individual’s integration with the Living Divine Reality. The primary sacrifice is the sacrifice of the individual himself, not of something other than himself.
This teaching of sacrifice is the essential and true exoteric religion that has been communicated since ancient times. Jesus found a way to integrate it creatively with the lives of his contemporaries. He taught people that they themselves were obliged to be a sacrifice, through love and self-release, through ecstasy, through letting go, through abandoning rigid reactivity and self-possession when confronted with the circumstances of life.
True religious teachings oblige people to personal as well as moral disciplines at the exoteric or foundation level of practice. As the cultic falsification of Jesus’ point of view has proceeded over time, however, the personal disciplines have largely been abandoned, and even the moral obligations have been weakened. Today, the essence of mainstream Christianity is that we may be “saved” through “faith,” or belief in a cultic personal association with Jesus. We are not thus obliged to the full degree of self-transcending personal and moral responsibility, since Jesus supposedly will save us from the “wages” of our sins. Thus, the true exoteric teaching of Jesus has been diluted by the false exotericism of the cult that followed him. Jesus himself primarily obliged people to a life of personal and moral sacrifice, whereby they could transcend cultic limitations and personal pettiness in the midst of the ordinary conditions of living.
Jesus’ teaching is summarized in the Great Commandment “Love the Lord thy God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.” How that all-absorbing, God-Realizing love was to be accomplished was communicated in the “inner circle,” through esoteric or secret, higher, and mystical teaching, but the God-Realizing process included and began with one’s life in the world, among one’s neighbors, in intimate cultural relationship to others. One was obliged to be a sacrifice in the management of intimate community, daily work, diet, and health. One’s sexuality was to be managed through concentration, through relational love-commitment in marrige. One’s relationship to others was to be managed from the point of view of moral sacrifice, the life of loving and compassionate service, the abandonment of petty legalisms in favor of wholehearted love relations, community relations, mutual agreements, and unreserved help.
These disciplines that were the foundation of the way of life that Jesus communicated are only a preparatory phase of true religious life. Yet in Jesus’ time, as today, it was immensely difficult to bring people to change their orientation from reactive self-possession to self-transcending relationship With the Living God and all other beings. Even the simple personal and moral disciplines were more than most people could conceive of and accept as the appropriate burden of a religious life. Many of them spent the rest of their lives struggling with that ordinary doctrine. Likewise, the leaders of the official cults of that time and place had so much difficulty with the implications of this natural teaching that they contemplated means to defame and ultimately destroy Jesus. To live simply and directly in the personal and moral disposition Jesus recommended would have negated the dependence of the people on all of the cultic laws and temple practices by which the priests maintained their wealth and their control over the mass population. Jesus was too revolutionary for ordinary childish people as well as for the parentlike priests who were their “shepherds.” Therefore, the way of life he Communicated in public was very upsetting and threatening to the official cults of his time.
This is how Jesus managed his exoteric and esoteric levels of instruction: As his disciples traveled and communicated the radical, moral point of view, they looked for those who were most prepared to accept, in relatively simple and human fashion, the personal and moral responsibilities of this way of life. The disciples were instructed to look for the most devotional, the most responsive and responsible, individuals. When they discovered such men and women, they did not initiate them into the esoteric teaching immediately, but they did bring them into closer proximity to the esoteric core of Jesus’ work. The New Testament describes several occasions when Jesus and the disciples spent time in the homes of followers. Here and there they found an individual who was physically, psychologically, morally, and emotionally capable of the full esoteric way of life, which included higher psycho-physical disciplines and adaptation in addition to the personal and moral disciplines of the exoteric teaching.
Thus, those who were prepared were initiated into an esoteric order or circle around Jesus. These were the people with whom he did not limit his speech to parables and lessons of moral transformation. These people were given the mystical, bodily secrets of the “Kingdom of God,” the secrets of how to become the Sons and Daughters of Godin other words, how to be pervaded by the Divine Life-Current and “lifted up” and transformed.
Jesus was not the Messiah that the Jews had expected. He had no intention to be a political figure and to purify Israel of the Roman rule. Thus, it is true that he was not and is not the traditionally expected Messiah of the Jews. He was a different kind of person altogether. He denied being the worldly Messiah that his contemporaries sought: “My Kingdom is not of this world.” All during his ministry he avoided any obligation to worldly power, to be warlike and politically active. He gave all his attention to the reawakening of a moral way of life in the world, the transformation of the relationships between individuals, the regeneration of the relationship between the individual and the Living Divine, and restoration of the Law of sacrificenot the sacrifice of pigeons sold in the hallways around the temple, but the moral and spiritual love-sacrifice of the individual himself in his relationship to others and to the Living Spirit that is God.
Jesus’ exoteric teaching is quite different from the exoteric teaching of the institutional Church of conventional Christianity. Nor is the conventional Christian Church the bearer of the esoteric teaching ot Jesus. That secret teaching was lost in the social circumstances of the early centuries after Jesus’ death. It did not disappear immediately, but it disappeared fairly quickly. A fragment of a letter that was written in the second century after Jesus by a man named Clement of Alexandria indicates that the writer knows something about the esoteric tradition among Jesus followers, but it is obvious from the tone of the letter that the higher esoteric tradition had already disappeared by Clement’s own time. He is a wise old man of the Christian tradition, and he knows something about this esoteric matter, but it is already in the past. He writes about the way it was in the past.
Thus, within the first 150 years or so after Jesus’ disappearance from Israel, the esoteric aspect of his teaching disappeared. By the time the Church councils were created to formalize the cult and its dogma and to exalt the teaching of Paul as the official point of view of the Church, the esotericism of Jesus had long since ceased to be practiced. Finally, it was completely, officially, and dogmatically eliminated. Certain aspects of the exoteric moral and personal disciplines of life recommended by Jesus remain in the Church, but they are not its fundamental focus, nor are they obligatory in any fundamental sense. The essential focus of the cult of the Christian Church is the believer’s “saving” relationship to Jesus as an exclusive and mythbound manifestation of God. Only the greatest saints of the Christian tradition have broken through the exoteric limits of orthodox Christianity to develop an illumined, mystical, or transcendental and ecstatic relationship with God or Christ as Living Spiritand they have often been brutally persecuted by the authorities of the conventional Church.
In the literature of Jesus’ time, very little survives of the esotericism of his work. Only some suggestion of it is revealed to a careful reading of the New Testament, and related documents, such as the fragment of the letter by Clement of Alexandria. But, elsewhere on the Earth, there still remains the esoteric tradition of which Jesus, in his time, was simply a representative. He only applied the understanding and the techniques of higher adaptation, prayerful meditation, psychic awakening, and spiritual growth as they already appeared in the esoteric cultures of the ancient world, and he communicated or interpreted these through the traditional law, archetypes, and mythology of his contemporaries in Israel.
The conventional cultic and exoteric interpretation of the life and person of Jesus considers him to be an exclusive manifestation of God, representing a history, a way of life, and a destiny that no one else can enjoy or duplicate, and thus for which no one else can be responsible. Such was absolutely not the point of view of Jesus himself. He communicated a way of life for which each individual must be as responsible as Jesus was in his own case. His teaching relieved people of conventional exoteric religious cultism, and it led true “hearers” into a life of spiritual sacrifice of self, including the higher, esoteric or evolutionary practice of ecstatic prayer (or meditation on the Life-Principle via concentration in the brain) and an esoteric spiritual interpretation of the Hebrew tradition. He essentially communicated the point of view of sacrifice, as a total human activity that fulfills the Law and is the essence of the Way of Truth, and his teaching was directed to the personal, moral, and higher psycho-physical experience of Love-Communion with the Life-Principle, the Living Spirit that is God.
I have criticized the cultic Christian revision of Jesus’ life and work, since it forgets and even anathematizes his real work and totally misinterprets the significance of his spiritual influence. At another level, however, my criticism must also be directed at the inverted, self-divided, world-denying, soul-glorifying orientation of the ancient oriental mystical traditions as a wholesince much of the “inner circle” Teaching of Jesus was an extension of that ancient “gnosticism” of “Heaven-seeking” via internal mystical techniques. Ultimately, the esoteric idols of mysticism must be overcome, just as must the exoteric and public idols of analytical intellectualism. Mysticism, like science, is another way of “knowing about.” It is simply an arcane method for acquiring certain kinds of knowledge.
On the one hand, the ancients presumed they were knowing about and participating in the total universe with their mystical, inward methods. This was true only to a modest degree, limited by the mechanics of reflection and symbol (as in all cases of mere knowledge). On the other hand, they thought, and rightly so, that they were viewing the inner side of Man. That is, in fact, fundamentally and exactly what they were doing. They were viewing the interior, subtler aspect of the body and the subtler aspects of the brain-mind. However, they generally attributed an independent reality to what they viewed within.
The two most prominent doctrines of traditional oriental mysticism were that inner visions were direct experiences of the cosmos beyond Earth, and that the inner being, mind, or soul of Man is not only distinct and therefore separable from the physical bodybut that the fulfillment of human existence is the conscious separation of the mind or soul from the physical body and the Earth. Therefore, mystical practitioners’ including the “inner circle” of Jesus, commonly believed tbat by stimulating these inward phenomena they could temporarily (and even finally) escape the Earth, the human body, and ordinary existence. (And this “gnostic” or more or less ascetic mystical ideal was contrary to the exoteric and world-affirming doctrines of the “establishment” Judaism of Jesus’ time, just as it runs contrary to the world-affirming or worldly point of view of exoteric Christianity and of modern societies in general.)
The ultimate presumption of conventional mysticism is not, in its traditional formulation, simply or patently true. Mystical experience and mystical language are rightly understood only if they are accepted as forms of paradoxa special way of intuiting and surrendering to the Eternal Divine Mystery, rather than an experience that is itself taken to be God. Most of the phenomena that are experienced inwardly are not truly cosmic (arising outside the personal sphere of the body-mind), and neither are they separable from the physical body They are, in most instances, expressions of the individual psyche, determined by the conventions of the human nervous system. They are native to the body of Man. They depend on the physical or elemental structures of the human body and brain-mind. They are not truly separate from the physical or superior to it. They do not represent another or alternative reality that one can cling to and thereby abandon the physical.
In any case, experiences are not Truth. And, although we may learn and grow by experience, experiences do not in themselves liberate us into the Transcendental Reality or Realm of the Absolute Divine. Only the Life-principle itself, which is the Matrix of all experiences, is the Truth. And, therefore, the ultimate liberation of Man is not in knowledge or experience, but only in self-transcending and total psycho-physical surrender into the ultimate Domain of the Life-Principle (which we contact directly via the central nervous system, and which is senior to every aspect of mind and body).
The Truth is not within. However, from the point of view of rhe ancient and traditional mystics, the Truth is indeed within. The esoteric initiates of Jesus were themselves essentially traditional mystics, involved with the mystical and magical phenomena of the “kundalini.” They used the language and symbols of their own time and place, but the process they engaged was essentially that of the “kundalini,” 2 or the internal Life-Current in the central nervous system, rising from the “flesh,” from the realm of the senses, from the lowest point or base of the body, to the brain core and the “heaven” of inwardness.
This mystical and magical absorption of attention in the Life-Current certainly does belong to the developing stages and practical expressions of the esotericism of the ultimate Way of Truth. But the phenomena that are experienced through the method of ascending inwardness are not the liberating Truth, they are not the very Divine, they are not the very Realm of God. They are simply inner phenomena, inner knowledge, subtler aspects of the human body-mind itself. The liberating Truth is in the Realization that “l” am not within this body. “I” am the body. And the total bodily (or psycho-physical) being inheres in the Living Transcendental Divine Being. It is only when we are relieved of the subjective being, when we are released from the illusion of mind as a separable reality, when we are released from the illusion of mind as an independent soul, or the illusion of mind as another territory, another dimension of ourselves that can be taken away from this body and separated from this worldit is only when we are relieved of the entire inward search, the selfward tendency, the self-divided solution, that the radical and whole bodily confession of Truth can begin.
Therefore, if we study and understand Jesus rightly and in Truth, we must transcend the sectarian limitations of the historical Cult of Jesus (or Christianity). Thus, we will necessarily enter into the esoteric domain of religious, mystical, and magical religion, which is communicated in traditions all over the world. But at last we will exceed the conventional limitations of the esoteric mysticism of “soul-development.” Such a course is necessarily implied in the worship of God in Spirit and in Truth. And since such worship was apparently recommended by Jesus himself, we can assume that his highest Teaching embraced this very Realization, exceeding the outer and the inner cults of Man.
2. The “kundalini,” or “serpent power;’ traditionally viewed, is that aspect of the internal current of bodily energy that is awakened from a dormant state at the base of the spine, and ascends the spinal line to the crown. That is, the process of the “kundalini,” or mystical ascent, essentially involves the inversion of attention, so that the nerve energy in the autonomic nervous system withdraws (from the realm of the “flesh” or the “senses”) and is experienced more or less exclusively in the “heavenly” terms of the central nervous system (the spinal cord and brain). The path of “kundalini,” or internal energy, is the basis of all religious mysticism, and the process produces a range of extraordinary psycho-physical phenomena that are symbolized and otherwise described in many of the exoteric and esoteric religious literatures of the world.
The notion that Jesus died for our sins (rather than because of them, or merely as part of the natural chaos of the subhuman world) is based on the Hebrew ritualism of the Old Testament and the ancient cults of “blood sacrifice.” Just as the idea of Jesus’ “ascent into Heaven” does not really coincide with the cosmology that we know to be true from our present knowledge (but actually coincides with the traditional mystical symbolism of internal ascent), similarly, the ancient rites of “blood sacrifice,” of which Jesus’ death is traditionally supposed to be the highest example, are not really understandable in the conventional terms of modern daily life.
If we are to find some value, or likeness to Truth, in the biblical idea of sin, we must examine what “sin” is in any case. The dreadfully dark word “sin” is a version of an ancient expression which simply means “to miss the mark.” To miss a mark, as when missing a target with a bow and arrow, is to be eccentric, off the center. Thus, to “sin” is to turn one’s attention away from the Center or Heart of Existence. It is to be unattached to God, turned away from God, deflected from God, turned elsewhere than to God. It is to worship principles that are not God. It is to be attached to experiences, to self, to the body-mind, rather than to the Divine Life-Principle or Transcendental Consciousness.
The New Testament proclaims that all sins are forgivableexcept one, which is the sin against the “Holy Spirit.” But the idea of a special act that is a sin against the Holy Spirit is only a kind of play on words. All sin is turning away from the Living God, the Life-Principle, or the Holy Spirit. Then what is not the ultimate sin? What is the only activity that is “forgiven” (or permitted to find God)? It is to meet the mark, or to worship the Living Godnot with conventional ritualism or cultic belief, but through Love-Communion, through feeling and breathing, through the total, cultural, and ecstatic or self-transcending process that is most intimately associated with one’s very existence and with all one’s relationships. One cannot, therefore, avoid committing the unforgivable sin by means of any ordinary behavioral aversion, since all sins are the sameall sins are a matter of turning away from the Life-Spirit, or the Living Divine. All sins are equally and absolutely “unforgivable.” Therefore, not only must all sins be forgiven, but sin itself (or the “sin against the “Holy Spirit”) must be forgiven, or else there is no forgiveness (or no intimacy with God). To be “forgiven” for one’s sin is to be released from the consequences of sin, but, above all, it is to be released from the tendency, activity, and consciousness that is sin. “Forgiveness of sin” is to be released from eccentricity and returned to the “mark.” To be “forgiven” is to be converted, or turned about in one’s attention. It is to be released from reactive and self-possessed (or Narcissistic) obsession and returned to self-transcending Love-Communion with the Life-Principle, the Holy Spirit, the Living God. Therefore, if we will only accept the Teaching of Truth in our understanding and turn body and mind from self-possession to God-Communion, we are “forgiven”, or released from “sin”, by virtue of that conversion.
Thus, it should be clear that the process of human liberation in Truth has nothing whatsoever to do with any cultic ritual of “blood sacrifice,” even the “blood sacrifice” that Jesus supposedly performed by being nailed to a cross. Such an idea is cultic and ritualistic nonsenseexactly the kind of religious nonsense that Jesus himself preached against. Jesus and his disciples preached conversion to the Living God, not to the “God of our fathers,” not to the God of cultic belief, not to the God of priestly ritualism, not to the God of liturgies and literal or vicarious and symbolic “blood sacrifices.” Everyone must make the true and bloodless sacrifice of conversion to the Life-Principle. Everyone must be “forgiven.” Everyone must turn away from “sin.” Everyone must submit to the living “cross,” the central nervous system, which obliges all knowledge and all desire to submit to Life. In other words, everyone must enter into heartfelt bodily Communion with the Living God.
This is the single and entire message of the New Testament. There is no other true message there, or in any other religious tradition. That is it. The question is, what are we going to do about it? We can spend the rest of our lives studying the New Testament and all the superficially complicated content of biblical faith, but true religion still depends fundamentally on this matter of personal and total psycho-physical conversion to the Life-Principle, and the assumption of a truly spiritual Way of Life, or a practical habit of existence that always (or via all our human functions) Communes with the Spirit.
I once functioned as chaplain in a mental hospital. On at least two occasions I gave a sermon on the passage in the New Testament that describes the sin against the Holy Spirit as the only unforgivable sin. People who are insane are often obsessed with the idea that they have committed the one sin that cannot be forgiven. When I preached the first sermon on this matter, I presumedbut I did not have to presumeI noticed that everybody there was completely insane! I very quickly had to become responsible to serve people who had not one whit of attention left over from their mechanical, self-possessed, inward life, their turning away. They were devoted sinners! They were not communing with God; they were not openeyed, clear, conscious, full of attention. They were distracted in themselves. They were obsessively missing the mark, moment to moment. Their breath was irregular, their bodies were all out of harmony, they were self-possessed, dark, demonic egos. They were like any ordinary person, except that they were an exaggeration of the ordinary state.
It was the perfect place to preach, a perfect setting, and the ultimate place to preach that particular sermon. The people in the audience were doing exactly the thing that I was talking about. The only imperfection in the circumstance was that no one in the audience was capable of “hearing” me and understanding what I was saying! I was obliged to give this sermon, but they could all do whatever they pleased while I gave it. They were generally expected to remain confined to the room, but, apart from this basic obligation, very few demands were placed on them. Thus, their “sinning” was totally obvious.
The usual man functions, he talks to you, he often seems reasonable and intelligent. Even so, he is also mad, because he is utterly and fearfully involved with himself. He is creating the fake reality, the subjective world of self, exactly as were the mental patients to whom I preached. Like a madman, the usual man or woman is completely involved with the repetitive ritual of obsessive interpretations and misinterpretations, and the chronic contraction of his or her own body from the obvious and Radiant Reality of the Living Person, the Divine and Transcendental Truth of Man.
The people in the mental hospital were simply a kind of cartoon version of humanity. While I gave this sermon, which seemed to me basically insightful, they were aggressively busy with themselves, shouting, playing with their noses and their genitals, and rehearsing their bizarre emotional rituals. They were all totally out of relationship to their environment and to me and to all the other people in the room. Each one of them was like a planet in a separate universe, with no relationship to any other planets and universes. The “audience” reeled with this tremendous movement, like a great ocean. As I look out at you who listen to me today, I see a relatively orderly gathering. But the audience of mental patients was not orderly at all. All the heads and bodies were moving constantly. Each person was a heap of gestures and a chaos of noises and silences, acting in an eternal moment that is without relationship to anyone or anything else.
They were the perfect example of “sinners.” In that eternal and absolute moment of self-involvement they were eternally and absolutely “unforgiven.” The teaching and the fate of Jesus made no difference to them. They were unforgiven because they would not be converted in their attention. They would not, in other words, cease to sin. They would not turn from self to Life. They would not return their attention to the Absolute and All-Pervading Reality. They maintained their attention on and in themselves to the point of madness, the “black hole” of egoic implosion. Most people have not reached that point. Most people are neurotic and deluded, but they are conventionally sane. They function within the same ritual order that most other people acknowledge to be “reality.” Still, everyone is a “sinner,” exactly as every madman who came to watch me preach.
All of this is perhaps not quite so obvious to the Sunday morning preacher. When he confronts his dreadfully sane congregation, it may not seem obvious to him that every one present is sinning atthatvery moment. It is not really obvious to the preacher that he himself is also sinning via the ritual of all his thoughts and acts. He and his congregation have their Jesus, and this makes them orderly, but they have no awareness of the sinless life of ecstatic conversion to the Living Truth! Their attention is on themselves, they are full of concerns, and, together, they believe in the ritual nonsense of ordinary religion, in order to alleviate the critical anxiety of ordinary fear. They are not awakened to true “faith,” which is literal God-Communionperhaps because they have not yet experienced and recognized the stark reality of their own madness, their own sinfulness.
The deadly tendency of my own body-mind has always appeared as stark to me as the tendency I could see among the madmen in the mental hospital. The Life-negative and self-meditating tendency of this human mechanism has always been obvious to me. From the beginning of my life, I have been dealing with this literal matter of “sin.” However, to the usual man or woman, asleep with all the anchormen of the TV news, the reality and effect of “sin” is not obvious. To the usual man, “sin” is merely conventionally “illicit” behavior, such as stealing, or alcoholism, or sexual intercourse, or even enjoyment itself! A false idea of “sin” only contributes to our fundamental insanity and “sinfulness.” “Sin” is not merely or even at all a form of behavior that may be socially inappropriate in a white Christian suburb of puritan America. “Sin” is an anti-spiritual gesture. It is the Life-negative gesture of self-possession. It is the contraction of body and psyche from the Life-Principle. It is self-attention and self-division. It is recoil from Ecstasy, toward the inward obsessiveness of the defined and separative self.
We are all struggling with this chronic gesture of reactive contraction, of psycho-physical recoil, of fear, of self-possession, of self-division, of turning attention away from the Life-Principle and toward all the idols of egoic experience. Such idolatry is the chronically negative substance of everyone’s life, even of the highest of lives. It is even part of the substance of the life of Jesus. (This realization should not shock us. In his ecstasy, Jesus was identical to the Spirit that is God, but in his natural state, he was a devotee of God, a mystic, and a man of his own time. Therefore, Jesus himself declares, in the New Testament, that it is not Man that is “Good” even if he is Jesusbut only God is “Good,” and it is to God that every man and woman must be surrendered.)
Even so, in the context of his own moment of time, Jesus was not an idolator. He angrily denounced the idolatrous trends of his day. He was part of the movement in that epoch of ancient history in which all the “great religions” were developed. In that epoch, the cultural movement of mankind was focused on the realization of the awakening of the undifferentiated psyche to a position of moral and mystical self-consciousness. All the religions of that time existed for that purpose. Thus, they were true in their time. Nevertheless, the concrete mysticism of the ancient cults, including the “inner circle” of Jesus, represents only a moment or an early stage in the ultimate drama of human transformation.
There is a kind of worship of idols in the form of mystical experiences, just as there is in the common idolatry of the scientific and religious worship of the powers of Nature and all the cultic and secular frenzy over the Gods we make from words. Once we pass beyond the limits of our own body-mind, and, therefore, of the ancient concept of mind, we can see that even the mystical realization preached by the ancient esoteric cults is, as much as any other form of idolatry, to be transcended as we mature in Divine Communion. What is offered as the absolute Realization of Truth from the point of view of the ancient mysticism is simply a more highly evolved aspect of human knowledge and experience. But the Truth is a matter of absolute self-transcendence. The Truth is not Realized by the confinement of attention to any form of experience at all, but only by the release of attention, and all the gestures of attention, into the Living Divine Reality.
Therefore, the Truth is the Life-Principle itself, and the Realization of Truth is never Absolute, since the Living Truth must necessarily be Realized in every newly arising moment of existence. The Realization of Truth is an endless Process of constant transcendence of self (and of the functional limits of Man) through psycho-physical surrender into the Life-Principle. Man himself will have become evolutionary rubble long before the experientially reflected Light of God-Realization even begins to produce an intimate glimmer of the Wonder that is yet to be born at Infinity.
The historical person of Jesus is now beyond the ordinary reach of mankind. He has gone on to fulfill his own evolutionary destiny in the realm of Nature. Only the Living God, or the Transcendental Reality to which Jesus pointed with his entire life and Teaching, remains for us to embrace in love.
We must surrender to the Life-Principle, the Living God, the Holy Spirit, the Radiant Self of all beings, Who is the Truth, the Way, and the Destiny of Man. If you like, you can name that Living Reality “Jesus,” or the ‘Christ,” but do not threaten and deny the rights of those who name that same Principle by other names. Every religion is simply an historical intuition of the One and Only Life-Principle. Therefore, people in other traditions than the Christian tradition name that same Reality by other names, such as Yahweh, Allah, Krishna, the Atman, Brahman, Om, the Buddha, Nirvana, or the Tao. And it is time for us to see beyond the names we have given to Life. It is time we surrender ourselves bodily to the Life-Principle and accept compassionate and loving responsibility for the Wisdom and welfare of all mankind.
“Jesus,” or the “Christ,” is simply a traditional name or archetypal symbol for the Life-Principleand, therefore, in the symbolic or archetypal sense, “Jesus” is “God.”
And the universal Life-Current pervades the body of Man via the central nervous system. Therefore, the central nervous system is the “Mountain of God,” the “Tree of the World,” the “Savior of the World,” the Living “Crucifix,” the Spiritual “Law,” the Way, the Truth, and the Life of Man. And “Jesus” is a traditional name or symbol for the central nervous system in its direct Communion with the Life-Principleor Man in his wholeness, crucified, or sacrificed to the Living Spirit.
The Life-Principle manifests as the mind and the bodyor the “higher” and “lower” parts of Man. But neither mind nor body is the Truth and the ultimate resort of Man. Only the Life-Principle itself is the Way, the Truth, and the Like of Man.
The Way of Life is not found in the mind itself or in the body itself, but only in the transcendence of the total body-mind through Love-Communion with the Life-Principle. Therefore, the Way of Life is to be founded on the heart of Man, since mind and body spring from the Center, or the Life-Spirit of Love, which is at the heart of Man.
The Great Commandment of “Jesus” is to love, trust, or surrender to God, Who is the Life-Principle. We are obliged by the Law of Life, to which the central nervous system and the heart of Man are eternally bound. Each of us must Awaken to his own positive and total functional connection to the Life-Principle. And then each of us must love, or Radiate Life to all others, to the same absolute degree that we are all given Life, or love, in and as ourselves.
Therefore, since we are given absolute Life, we must consent to e absolute Life in all our relationships. And, since we are only love, we must consent to transcend all psycho-physical limits in the exercise of love, or unqualified Like-Radiance.
Man is mortal, and also immortal. The individual apparently lives and dies, but his existence is not threatened. His psycho-physical form passes through cycles of birth, and change, and death, but each cycle is followed by another, so that all the evolutionary lessons may be learned. This is the understanding that enlightens our perception of Man.
But unenlightened men and women do not perceive or understand the paradox of Man and the immortality of the cycles of mortality. Therefore, the usual individual is full of self and fear, and he constantly seeks to protect himself against ultimate and apparently absolute threats to his survival. And, because of his self-possessed search for immunity from frustration, pain, and death, the human individual fails to surrender to the full cycle of his own existence.
Therefore, unenlightened Man lives recoiled from his own bodily destiny. Indeed, he lives recoiled from the Principle in which the body is arising. That Principle is the All-Pervading Radiant Life and Transcendental Consciousness that is the very Condition and Self of all beings.
Unenlightened Man is recoiled from surrender as the body and into the Life-Principle. He is self-possessed, recoiled from Life and even all relationships. He is, unwittingly and even unconsciously, the enemy of the body, and all relationships, and Life itself. He is Narcissus, the separated one, the mind-bearer.
Thus, the human world remains tormented and chaotic, unable to make peace or love. And there is a deep disposition of fear in us that resists the bodily confession of Life. Therefore, human beauty and vitality are always tending to be destroyed, by the fear of bodily death and the inability to surrender bodily to Life.
The civilizations of mankind have to date embraced cultural principles that reflect the universal fear of death and all the self-possessed, self-protective, and separative strategies of conventional consciousness. In the East, the revolt against the body has produced the more or less ascetic ideals of mystical other-worldliness. In the West, that same revolt has produced the ideals of victorious manipulation of the natural realm. In both cases, the revolt and struggle against material and bodily existence is the root of all cultural adaptation. Man revolts against mortality by negatively manipulating his own body and the natural or material realm. Thus, he either separates himself from the body and the world by resorting to the illusory independence of the inner self or mind, or else he dominates the body and the world with an unillumined will to power through knowledge and conventional self-fulfillment.
Even the traditional culture of the West, with its seemingly indomitable will to embrace the worldly play of Nature, has associated itself historically with the ultimately other-worldly cult of Christianity. And no matter how hard Western man tries to “humanize” the religion and person of Jesus, the more or less ascetic, other-worldly, mystical, self-effacing, and body-denying core of that religion remains to complicate the typically self-protecting and world-exploiting tendency of Western-born individuals.
Thus, the West has historically demonstrated an inherently self-divided, self-destructive, and Life-denying disposition by embracing a religious ideal that is, at the root, oriental, or Eastern and ultimately world-renouncing in its character. And conventional religion, in both the East and the West, has thus provided the historical basis or justification for negative cultural programs that recoil from the bodily Life-Principle.
Even so, the Life-Principle is enshrined in the idealisms of Christianity, and Judaism, and Islam, and even certain dimensions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and other oriental religious cultures. It is simply that the implications of the truly human relationship to the Life-Principle have not been consciously acknowledged or implemented in the broad cultural programs of the traditional East or the traditional West. Thus, conventional religious culture or idealism tends to be associated with certain positive moral values (such as truthfulness, honesty, non-stealing, non-killing, and so forth), but traditional religious culture is also always associated with an ultimately negative evaluation of bodily existence and the existence of Man within the realm of Nature. As a result, religious acculturation, East and West, always carries with it taboos against bodily pleasure, sexual intensity, and even the will to live a long and healthful life.
The time has come to transcend our ancient acculturation to the bodily negative recoil from Life. We must transcend the ancient religions and the ancient cultural taboos. We must be enlightened in our understanding of the paradox of human mortality and immortality. Therefore, we must embrace Life bodily and surrender into bodily Communion with the Living Reality. We must throw away all of our bodily negative, anti-sexual, anti-Life adaptations. We must realize a truly regenerative bodily love of Life. It is not that we are to become libertines, but neither are we to become ascetics. We must surrender bodily to Life, via all our actions. We must transcend mortal fear and all of its false religious and social dogmas. We must allow Life to regenerate us in every part, and we must yield to the evolutionary plan and pattern that is hidden in the body and in the play of Nature, and which is not at all contained in the mind (since the mind is only a reflection of previous experience and previous or chronic limitations of knowledge, perception, and presumption). We must transcend ourselves through ecstatic, mind-transcending, bodily love of Life, or direct and whole bodily Communion with the Living God. Only by doing all of this can Man move beyond the present impasse of worldwide conflict and subhuman idealism.
We are at the dead end of the ancient ways, and we are suffering from the inability to move fully into our right, human, and immortal destiny. Only an enlightened and liberated understanding Of our old cultural and subhuman presumptions will permit us to yield to Life bodily, in love, and so move on in the Way of God.
I attest to this with every cell of my body. I affirm it with all my heart. I plead with you to consider it fully and resort to a new Way of Life.