Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Mysticism and Christianity


It feels right to elaborate here, since "Christianity" is a largely historical phenomenon, while "Christism" might have been more philosophic.

In the beginning, when Christianity was a non-organized, non-institutional "family" of loving, kind people, it was understood that Jesus taught a radical new vision of God.

The God taught by Jesus was nothing like the peevish, petulant, dangerously unpredictable Jehovah. Indeed, it was largely to protect this god and his religion that the "loyal organization" of Jehovah engineered the murder of Jesus.

This childish, tantrum-throwing god had been created by soldiers; and, not surprisingly, "he" was "himself" a soldier! So, he thought like a soldier. He had enemies everywhere, and his only mission was to kill as many as possible. Like a dangerous human being, he was paranoid, and schizophrenic. Besides his "chosen people," everyone on earth was his enemy, and so, the murder, massacre, and slaughter of the whole human race was not beyond his countenance. This is why the ghastly nightmare of "Armageddon" is still a dismal part of the Jehovist worldview. This is astonishingly impossible for Love even to contemplate. Take a couple of minutes to visualize and imagine its blood and horror!

Jesus taught the existence of one God for all people, but Jehovah was the possession of Israel only. The Israelis "owned" him, and he was literally "their" god. Jehovah was never seen, by any ancient Israeli, as the god of any other people. In fact, it was inconceivable for the ancient peoples of the Middle East even to conceive of one god for the whole world. Each nation had its own "god."

Jesus' god was purest Love. He forgave all, and forgave easily. In Mark 3:28, Jesus predicted the forgiveness of all sins. Since this implied universal salvation, it was distasteful to the ancient people of Jehovah. They were, like many "Christians," exclusivists. They tried jealously to "own" God, but no one could ever do that. For God was not like Jehovah.

People can be amazingly dull and shallow, and history reflects those limitations. Just because Jesus was born in the geographic region of the ancient Hebrews, people assumed-- and still do-- that his message was all about the local god. Jesus was genetically, culturally, geographically, and socially Jewish. But his murder makes it clear that he was never religiously Jewish!

But the lie that his God was Jehovah was the opposite of the truth. Jesus taught a breath-taking cosmic God of infinity, and this God held nothing against anyone, ever.

This sweetest message was like annoying, irritating fingernails on a blackboard for the exclusivists who thought that they had a "monopoly" on god. Jesus went so far as to say about a Roman, a pagan worshiper of Jupiter, "Nowhere in Israel have I found so great a faith."

Abandoning Jehovah was the zenith of sinful blasphemy. It deserved death, according to the old law. So, the religious leaders made a pact with the Romans to murder Jesus.

The God of Jesus was not "out there, in the sky," as Jehovah was presumed to be. No, this God, as Paul often states, was within the heartmind of the person. As John says so boldly and clearly, this God was Love. This is the very God discovered by mystics of all lands, and all centuries. The entire goal of this life, and of life itself, was to know this God.

To "know" was so much more than simply "knowing about," however. The ancient Greeks had a special word for this type of deep, intimate "knowing," and that word was gnosein. So, early Christians called themselves "gnostics," taken from this word. They were "Christians" because they knew God, because they were gnostics.

CAUTION: Don't confuse these generic gnostics with the "capital G" Gnostics, who were cultlike groups in the first two centuries, and who had strange doctrines and even stranger leaders. No, these "small g" or generic gnostics were people who knew God. They were the people of Love.

They knew God in a very deep, intimate, immediate, and personal Way. For they touched God within their own heartminds; it was revealed that their minds were, deep in the Unconscious, connected with, grew from, one massive, galactic Mind. This Supermind was perfect Love and enormous intelligence. It was cosmic Mind, universal Spirit, or God. To be "Christian" in the most ancient and authentic sense meant to surrender your mind, your whole identity, to the interior Lovemind of purest forgiveness. It meant to be a gnostic-- an ancient synonym for "mystic."

So, at first, all Christians were gnostics. It was only later, after the fall of the church into organizationalism, institutionalism, and doctrinalism, in becoming political and economic, that this pure vision was lost. It became corrupted by greed, intellect (replacing Love), and power. The rest, as they say, is history.

So, in its most idealistic and elevated definition, to be a "Christian" was to be a mystic, although not necessarily vice-versa.

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