[Note: This is part two of a two-part essay on the topic of Christ Consciousness]
3A Psycho-spirituality – The Gift
Jesus told many parables whose purpose, I believe, was to help the listeners differentiate between the ego and the soul. For example, he tells of a rich man who, before he went away on a long trip, set a manager in charge of his property and workers. The rich man delayed in coming back, so the manager figured he had gotten lost or had died. So, he began to regard the property and the workers as his own – and started to get drunk and abuse them. How to interpret this? I don’t think that the rich man was God and that the manager represented the typical sinful human, whom God would punish. Rather, I believe, that the rich man represents the soul and the manager represents the ego. Very often, we mistake our egos for our souls and neglect our incarnational missions.
Two thousand years after Jesus, Carl Jung came to the same conclusion by showing that the ego was an archetype which governed a particular level of consciousness – the waking state 7am to 10pm. However, the center of the entire psyche (conscious, subconscious and unconscious) he called the archetype of the Self. And what he termed the process of ‘individuation’ was the placing of the ego in the service of this growth into the fulness of the Self/Soul/Psyche.
The entire purpose of life, then, in Jesus’ teaching – and in Buddhism and Hinduism, was to come fully awake to (i) who we really are: holographic fractals of Source and (ii) why we incarnated – which was to help shift the psyche of the planet into Christ Consciousness. Alas, the vast bulk of us are asleep at the wheel, blindly following the dictates of the individual ego which, even more devastatingly, is bullied and reduced into following the mega-ego of the ruling oligarchy and their fabricated memes.
It is a terrible waste of an incarnation to live and to die in the service of these two egos. I think that this is what Jesus meant when he said, “Anyone who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is not worthy to be my disciple.” In other words, better to have never woken up at all than to temporarily awaken and then decide being awake was too hard and deciding to go back to sleep.
Allow me for a few moments to dip into a brand-new articulation of this mystery of consciousness. Tom Campbell is a NASA physicist who has spent his working life reconciling science and spirituality. His work is based on two postulates (i) the primacy of consciousness (all matter arises from it) and (ii) the reality of evolution. Since the time of Einstein, science has been struggling to develop ‘a theory of everything’ (a TOE) – a simple elegant formula that could unify the four basic forces of nature – Strong nuclear force, Weak nuclear force, Gravity and Electro-magnetism – and thus explain the physical cosmos.
So far, they’ve gotten nowhere and, to confuse matters further, they have to dismiss as poppycock all reports of the paranormal and the spiritual. Tom Campbell has written a huge tome called, “My Big Toe” in which he elegantly builds a consistent and complete model that can account for both ‘normal’ and ‘paranormal’ realities. To divest himself completely from the accumulated baggage of religious terminology he uses the following nomenclature (I will put my own terms side-by-side to make it easier to comprehend.) The Larger Consciousness System (LCS) – what I would call God/Source is the Awareness which lies outside of our ability to comprehend. An Individuated Unit of Consciousness (IUOC) – what I would call a Soul, especially the Atma element, or non-incarnated aspect of soul – is a fractal of the LCS. A Freewill Awareness Unit (FAU) – what I would call a Jiva – is the aspect of soul that incarnates. And an Avatar – what I would call human character/personality – is the role that an FAU plays in a particular incarnation.
To take it in reverse, an Avatar is simply a role you play in this particular life; the FAU archives all of the experiences of the Avatar (who dissolves on death); the IUOC then builds upon the FAU’s archives and once more dips into a new incarnation creating a brand-new Avatar for the drama. Finally, all of the archived wisdom and experiences are fed back from all of these Avatars through the FAU’s and IUOC’s to the LCS. Ain’t that a mouthful! Hence, the LCS is constantly evolving. Christianity has a theory of this also. It’s called, ‘process theology’ which says that even God – at least in his immanence – is always growing.
Hinduism’s version of this is the following. Every human being, incarnated in a physical body (they call it gross body) generates experiences which, upon individual death, are archived in the astral body. All of the experiences of all of the lifetimes (Jivas) of a particular soul (Atma) are stored in the causal body. All of the experiences of all of the lifetimes of all souls in all dimensions are stored in the Akashic Records. And, ultimately, they become part of Brahma (creator God).
I love Tom Campbell’s work but I have one criticism of it. It feels a little pantheistic – that God (the LCS) is simply the sum total of all the experiences generated by all of the Avatars of all the FAU’s of all the IOUC’s. This feels like saying that Shakespeare is simply the sum total of his collected works. I believe that there was much more to Willie S. than the compilation of his sonnets and plays. And I believe there is much more to God than Her creations. So, I tend to be in the panentheistic rather than the pantheistic camp. But I agree with Campbell that the LCS is utterly beyond human comprehension – or, in religious language, the Transcendence of God is utterly ineffable.
Let’s move forward. There appears to be a significant clash between the Buddha and Jesus on the question of the Self/Soul. The buddha taught ‘anatma’ or no-soul. He said that the ‘apparent’ soul was merely the aggregation of five attributes (Skanda’s) of incarnation – form, sensations, perceptions, mental activity and consciousness – which dissolve at death. Imagine a child with a Lego set consisting of many parts in just five colors. Initially, the child builds a castle using all of the pieces. He soon tires of it, dismantles it and instead, using all of the same pieces, builds a submarine. So, what happened to the ‘castle-hood’ of the castle? It was simply an illusion created by the physical pieces in a particular formation. Similarly, the ‘submarine-hood’ is another temporary configuration of the exact same pieces.Confucius, a contemporary of the Buddha, agreed. He claimed that the self was an illusion created by the sum of our social roles what he called, ‘the five constant relationships’ – those of husband & wife, parents & children, elder brother & younger siblings, teacher & pupil and emperor & subjects.
But here’s the thing, in his most mystical moments Jesus would agree with both Siddhartha and Confucius. At the last supper when Philip asked him, “show us the father and that will be enough for us’, his exasperated reply was, “Philip, have I been with you all this time, and still you do not know me? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” Then he went on to say, “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”
In other words, at core there is only the Father or Source. Everything else is simply a manifestation. To put it in my own words, “life is a dream that the ego is having; the ego is a dream that the soul is having; the soul is a dream that Spirit is having; and Spirit is a dream that Source is having.
When I look at the life of Jesus and wipe away both the cultural accretions and patriarchal redactions, I see a cohort of three great souls with a joint mission to move dogmatic religion into mystical spirituality. These souls incarnated as Jesus, his mother and his companion, Magdalene. The two women were the bringers of what I would call, ‘Christa Consciousness’; they were the revealers of the feminine face of God; what Judaism called, Shekinah, and what different schools of Buddhism called, Kwa Nyin or Tara.
So, the Catholic church, unbeknownst to itself, would eventually blunder into this teaching without ever acknowledging or even realizing the full implications of its decrees. In 1854, Pius IX declared the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, the teaching that because Mary had been chosen to be the mother of Jesus, by his merits she, too, was conceived without original sin. About a century later, Pius XII declared that she had never died but been assumed bodily into heaven. It’s called the doctrine of the Assumption. Incidentally, this was the only instance of an infallible decree since papal infallibility was decided at the first Vatican Council in 1870.
The Protestant churches, in 1950, reacted by claiming that Rome had finally lost its marbles. Only Carl Jung applauded. He felt that the Trinity had finally been upgraded to a Quaternity – a mandala – the fullness of the Godhead. The Catholic church had not intended that at all. But like water and the Tao, truth has a way of penetrating even the most heavily-fortified fortresses!
3B Psycho-spirituality – Historical Aberrations
In short order, the under-siege young Jesus movement figured out that in order to be taken seriously, in a patriarchal world, they’d have to quickly jettison the practice of women-as-leaders of Christian communities. The ‘Apostola Apostolorum’ – Mary of Magdala – had to be downgraded. The companion of Jesus, his closest confidant, the holder of the complementary ‘Christa Consciousness’ was conflated with two other biblical women and reduced to a repentant whore. Next please! Ah yes, the mother of Jesus. This Christ-carrier unfortunately because of her gender could never be ordained a priest let alone a bishop or, God forbid, a pope. So, she was reduced to a meek, mild-mannered, obedient handmaid, eyes modestly downcast while the man who had three times denied he even knew her son took control of the Jesus movement. Within 300 years, it would swap law for love, fear for wonder and dogma for gnosis. It swallowed Rome – the erstwhile great persecutor – only to be poisoned by the meal, becoming, in time, as draconian as had the hors d’oeuvre it had ingested. The gentle, forgiving, resilient Jesus movement, allegedly founded on the rock of Peter, now foundered on the rock of Rome. The temptation of secular power accomplished what three centuries of persecution could not.
The wonderful Johannine phrase, “in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God… and the Word became flesh…” was taken as descriptive of Jesus alone when, in fact, it is a declaration of what each soul has done in volunteering for incarnation.
At the other end of the spectrum, in the narcissism of some New Age thinkers, the ego is either inflated to divinity, identified with victimhood and entitlement or reduced to simply being an addicted consumer of baubles.
In between these two historical eras, as Protestantism rightly challenged Vatican corruption, it also dumped Mariology – the popular Rome-resistant devotion to God’s female face as Mother Mary – and also monasticism. In the process it would birth a dry, joyless Puritanism shorn of feminine grace and mystical movements, as it enthusiastically embraced a doctrine of ‘sola Scriptura’ to be interpreted literally by ‘the man in the street’
We need the courage and perspicacity to strip off (i) the literalism and fear-based theology of fundamentalist religion; (ii) the literalism and meaninglessness message of fundamentalist scientism; and (iii) the corporate-driven consumerism of secularism, in order to recover the eternal, mystical gem of pure spirituality revealed by the rishis of Hinduism, the bodhisattvas of Buddhism and the Christ/Christa Consciousness of the triumvirate. It is the next stage of human evolution and it has almost completed its millennia-long embryonic phase. It is ready to be born. Are you ready to midwife it?
In the rural Ireland of my childhood, the fire was never allowed to go out. Each night, after the rest of the family had retired, the mother would gather the glowing embers and cover them with the ashes. In the morning, before anybody else had arisen, she would rake back the ashes, uncover the still-glowing embers and blow them into flame. There were houses in which the fire had not gone out in over 300 years. That is the job of the mystics vis-à-vis the flames of God’s love. The mystics are the keepers of the ancient wisdom fires (not a few of which were actually burned at the stake for daring to fan the embers of truth.)