It has been a while since I wrote this, and a while since I read it. It was interesting to read again, having forgotten it in the meanwhile. What it means will vary by each individual, of course. But here it is, for what it is worth.
Bertram was a medieval monk in Norman England who is one of my strands – what I would have called a “past life.”
Friday April 7, 2006
F: I would like to talk to someone about the Gospel of Judas that is in the news. What is going to happen (what is happening) to Christianity, and is there any part in it for me? I don’t know who to ask to contact. Bertram is closest, I suppose. For a silly moment I was thinking, Bertram, that you couldn’t help because you wouldn’t know what’s going on in modern times.
B: A reminder of how others see our lives. If you are able to disturb the idea that the past is dead and the dead are past, it will be a valuable contribution.
F: Yes, I can see that. I really was casting about. I didn’t feel I could call on Jesus, and considered Columba, but it all seemed too close to what somebody called autography-collecting.
B: Unnecessary. You have within you connections to all, as all are one being – but it is unnecessary to go to the most exalted or even the most outré for information. Someone close to you will always have it, or will be able to get it.
F: This tempts me to start a discussion of spirit guides, and all that, but let’s first talk about the Gospel of Judas and what if anything it means to the church, to society, and to what I really care about, which is the regeneration of people’s access to the underlying world, the source of our being.
B: You do realize that you verge on asking for prophecy. “What will happen?”
F: An old bad habit of mine. All right.
B: It is a habit rooted in the idea that there “will be” one future, that may be discerned. You have somewhat adopted and adjusted to the idea that there are multiple (indeed, essentially infinite) futures, all of which exist, as all presents and all pasts exist, “in potential” seen one way; “in reality” seen another way.
There is usually little point in predicting a future; never any point, really, save to offer insight into the tendencies of present behavior or to prepare people psychologically for coming events that are in practical terms not avoidable. Prophets, as you yourself have pointed out more than once, predict not in order to gloat but in order to persuade. They don’t want people to suffer, they want them to repent. If they will change course, they will visit a different future. It is all in the Book of Jonah.
Now, from that understanding of the words “future” and what “will” happen, we can talk about Judas.
Is it so hard to see that there is something wrong with the simplest ideas about Judas?
Jesus could penetrate to the core of a person’s being with a glance. He could tell them their past or future; he could tell them what was in their hearts. How do you betray a man like that? Or – to make it clearer – how can a man like that be betrayed?
Is it possible that Jesus did not see at a glance what Judas was in his inmost soul? Is it possible that he did not sense every change in those around him as they moved day by day? Is it possible that he did not see every nuance in any of the futures available?
How can a man like that be betrayed? He wasn’t surprised, and he wasn’t deceived. And he wasn’t a bad judge of character, either!
So – the melodrama is out. It is not the case that Jesus picked a dozen men and one of them was a traitor. (For that matter it wasn’t just a dozen, and they weren’t only men.)
What scenario next, then? That it was a mystery play, set up and enacted, and someone had to play the bad guy?
Suppose that were true. Would it in some way aid Jesus’ teachings to have him betrayed?
Suppose further that Jesus’ entire life was a mystery play, which is a perfectly acceptable view. If you step away from what you have been taught all these years, is it likely that crucifixion was a necessary part of that story?
Jesus came to bring life, that we might have life more abundantly. He referred to God as his father. Do you think it likely that he could think that God required a death by torture in order to bring humans into line?
And, if he did not, then in what way would crucifixion assist him to carry his message?
If you had never heard of the crucifixion, would you think it a logical end to the career of a man who had superhuman abilities and perceptions? Who came to bring access to life more abundant? Who came to give people courage?
Well, it is a fearful thing to go against history. You can feel it in yourself, writing this, arguing. “There must have been a crucifixion; too many of the apostles died in similar ways, and Christians in general over the next generations.” True and not true. Jesus dying on the cross made a wonderful inspiration for those who suffer and are treated unjustly. His betrayal by church authorities [temple authorities] to the Romans makes a good parable about the corruption of ecclesiastical organizations that have political power.
B: You are conflicted. The resurrection, the Pentecost, the change in the apostles, all that in Acts. It seems to you to cut directly across the idea of no crucifixion.
F: Yes it does.
B: Enough for now. Ponder.
9:50 a.m. Okay.
B? TGU? Let’s say O for other: Maybe the crucifixion wasn’t what it seemed, and wasn’t for the purpose it is understood to have been for.
F: Jesus didn’t die? Was drugged and recovered, all that? People have said that. I don’t believe it.
O: No. no, if Jesus were to pretend to die, what would that say about the integrity of the man who above all teachings preached integrity? So, no. We would say this is an example of people trying anything rather than seeing what must break their belief system – in this case, that dead means dead.
F: Is this Bertram, or whom?
O: You may take it as Bertram.
F: Odd response.
O: The important thing here is to clear your mental air.
Jesus was essentially superhuman. He was – is – a model for what all human will become. He came as model. That is key. He had superhuman abilities and perceptions, and could not have been surprised or betrayed. He had superhuman integrity and could not have pretended or dissembled. He had superhuman connection, and so could go to the point of death – and beyond – and, holding himself together beyond death – reconstitute his body-soul connection in a new and, shall we say, even more superhuman form.
Jesus as perfect model. Remember that.
Do you really think God gets angry? Do you think he approves of inflicting suffering as vengeance? These are infantile ways of imagining God. They are not God.
However, having said that, remember – God does not see things in the way you in time-slices and delayed-consequences see them. Just as a parent working out of greater foresight and wisdom may put requirements on a child that the child is tempted to consider punishments or even vindictive restriction, so God may set you in circumstances that seem “unfair” (what parent has not heard that accusation?) or cruel.
(Yes there are parents who are cruel or unfair. Does this mean God could be? Well, you decide.)
If harsh circumstances will bring about desirable results and we on this side can see it but you on yours cannot, we are quite capable of actions and intentions you will see as ruthless. But are you in the best position to judge? This too is in the Book of Jonah. Take heed.
As a thought-experiment, we propose this:
1) Humanity was straying ever father from its innate connection with the divine – with “the other side” as you call it. Not that there were none, but that the tendency was away from, rather than toward, closer connection. Hence, the fall of man.
2) Implied in that fall was an increasing deafness to spirit. Hence, spirit was increasingly powerless to overcome the influence of the physical environment that taught that “the world is all there is” regardless what pieties were mouthed.
3) This being so, any demonstration by spirit must come in material form if it were to have any chance of being perceived. The word had to be made flesh, or the blind would continue to refuse to see. Perhaps we should say the deaf might possible be able to accept that they could see, since they could no longer hear.
4) Hence, a demonstration. How? By lights in the sky? By more strident assertions? By what else in the world but a human life, lived as it can be lived only in perfect connection to spirit?
5) Hence, the life and teachings of Jesus, as earlier the Buddha, and other spiritual teachers. But Jesus’ life was to be the teaching, not merely what he said. Now, it is true that much myth later accreted to his story; that is how the human mind works. That does not invalidate the story, which is of a man of mysterious origins who lived a perfect life, taught others how to live that life (as best they could), was unjustly killed and brought himself back from death, demonstrating that death itself was not what humans thought it.
Jesus demonstrated a life of perfect congruence with spirit, or as it is usually phrased, perfect obedience to the father.
Does this clarify things any?
F: Does it not! Thank you.