Thursday, September 3, 2009
Esoteric Christianity - Understanding the deeper spirit of Christ
The Christian community needs to ask, "What happened to the biblical reference to the Christ within, the hope of glory?" In the ancient mystical teachings we learn that the "second coming" will be a perfected consciousness of love-wisdom such as the Christ possessed. This vision for humanity is the cornerstone of esoteric Christianity.
Esoteric Christianity, with its transformational techniques, is little known to many. Some of its principles are often discovered through metaphysics, new thought, or mystical, agnostic, or other approaches. However, they are in danger of being distorted or glamorized, even over-simplified when taken out of context.
Historical creeds of all religions have some aspect deeply preserved until the aspirant is prepared or experiencing little-understood spiritual phenomena. At that point, the adage, "When the student is ready, the teacher appears, truly seems to work." Someone will reach out and, if only for a brief time, guide the one in need across troubled waters to safety.
To begin to explain Esoteric Christianity requires boldness, audacity, and tenacity. It can be endless in definition because it transforms the experiencer and the experience redefines the faith. However, as contemporary Christians find themselves needing a greater personal sense of intimacy (not dogma or doctrine) with their spiritual Source, this recognizable route to God gradually emerges, expanding our spiritual experiences.
A major challenge for many is whether esoteric, or mystical, Christianity, as some call it, involves God or Jesus. Esoteric Christians believe Master Jesus, the Christ, pointed followers to the Father, as he affirmed he "and the Father are one." The symbology of Oneness is important to esotericists as they lift their thinking to identify with Soul, rather than personality. I am the Soul affirms this new identity.
A major adjustment is to learn to live "as a soul having a human experience," rather than to relate so strongly with personality stuff. This ability to shift identity is a major effort of transformation: "Know Thyself." The concept of the mystical body of Christ focuses our soul identity to Oneness and aligns Esoteric Christianity to the kabalistic concept of Adam Kadmon, the heavenly human.
Another consideration is that each of us is one brain cell in the mind of the planetary being or in the life we share. We recognize thoughts as things and that each of us either blesses or pollutes our setting. Mindfulness is an attribute we seek to build, as we strive toward higher consciousness in the midst of daily living, believing we are to be the hearts, hands, and minds of God as we integrate with the Christ, teacher of angels and of humanity.
"New Age," having become a catch-all phrase, originally carried the meaning of seeing an expanded vision of the higher Plan. Jesus brought in the then-new Age of Pisces, perceiving his work and sharing a new perspective with his disciples, which, indeed, called them out of their old system. He challenged them to know God, the Father, in innovative ways, to move from just fulfilling the letter of the law to living by the spirit of the law.
Without negating the commandments of the Old Testament, he laid upon them the great commandment to love God and to love the neighbor as the self. Here the consciousness of the disciples had to shift to realize that mere obedience was not enough. Their master stretched them to loving hearts, loving hands.
The great commandment expands all of us beyond comfortable personality boundaries and into the energy of the soul--Lots Of Vital Energy. Then we bring our attunement Earthward from the higher dimensions into the world around us, acting upon it to bring transformative influences to daily life.
We expand the Christian vision by fulfilling it on a one-to-one basis. Spiritual laws and the love of Christ form the foundation upon which we carry out our part of the Christ mission. Consider Mother Teresa and those left behind in her order when death came, those upon whom the mission now falls. They took it upon themselves to align with her vision and continue to fulfill it. As contemporary Christians, we are to keep the vision alive, expanding our love-wisdom until the true fruit of this world religion blossoms.
Only enlightened ones can point direction to the holy; we admire, appreciate, and listen to the saints and sages, the teachers and masters who have found the way. Their wisdom may be just what we need to advance on our own path. In the esoteric tradition is a saying, "Only a lighted flame can pass on the light." Oral traditions used to pass teachings from a wise one to a devotee, who then lived accordingly; in due time, s/he would become responsible for passing the teachings on to others.
Fears around mystical moments, hard-to-grasp experiences, or phenomena often caused the wise one, the shaman, or the astrologer to be suspect. Persecution kept those with access to such wisdom quiet, guarding what they knew. The Inquisition murdered thousands of women who were the healers and visionaries of their people. Call it magic or folk wisdom, it cost them their lives.
Because we often fear that which we do not fully comprehend and because religious fanaticism runs high, people with broader ideas often limit what they share. This self-protection keeps concepts from being distorted by those who do not realize deeper meanings which may come through meditation and inner contact.
Yet at troublesome or pain-filled moments, all of us call out to the heavens: "Why?" "Is this all there is?" We invoke divine help, and doors often open at such power-filled moments.
Ten Points of Importance
Ten points of importance come to mind as I attempt to define an infrastructure of thought that fits most esoteric Christians:
l. Life has a reason and a purpose. Esoteric teachings offer an overview of this Great Life and its purpose. This set of teachings is called cosmology.
2. All life is sacred, especially human life: Remember ye are gods. The cosmos is seeking to expand us into divine beings--a major difference to many other approaches. Self-actualization, self-worth, self-unfolding of potential--all are part of the message. It does not mean we do not err but that we are in essence divine and are to embrace the struggle of transformation.
3. Humanity is never left without dialogue with the higher worlds. From the most ancient prophets to modern, inspired ones, the will of the Creator is broadcast (my term) through the ethers to those who would hear. Perceived by listening ones, all world religions have developed out of the necessity to respond to the message and the knowledge derived from it. Each world religion donned an outer form, a manner in which it could be presented. This explanation became the cloak of its revelations.
4. Spiritual law consists of many definitive messages from the higher world to assist us to conform to our vision of the higher will of the Father-Mother, the Divine, the Source--whatever vocabulary fits the perception. The Ten Commandments, the Four Noble Truths and the Eight-fold Path, the Koran, the Popol Vuh, even the Beatitudes fit this idea, if we accept that Master Jesus as the Christ was instructing his disciples in his yoga, or yoke. These words share a common root word, yug, which means "union." Indeed, Jesus's prayer was that we would come to be one with him.
5. Each denomination, holy order, or religion develops its vocabulary, and these concepts and terms may be confusing to others. Each system abounds in mystical realities, and this veil has to be penetrated to reveal and grasp the subtler inner teachings. Esoteric symbols teem with great meaning, with profound truths awaiting discovery and insight. Great teachings contain the story of the soul and the universe, and as teaching myths and parables preserve truths uncovered by preceding teachers or wise ones, they await our readiness for their revelation.
6. Master Jesus is accepted as the historical Christ. The long-awaited Great One created such a state of alignment to the heavenly world, his vehicles--body, emotional nature, and mental equipment--were of such holiness that the Great Lord Christ, who had never incarnated, could descend into the body of Jesus to live through his prepared nature. From the baptism on, Jesus is the Christ, the Wayshower, the Elder Brother, Son of God and Son of Man, or fully human and fully divine, which is our transformational goal. We are to realize the Christ consciousness as well.
7. The message of the Christ was preparation and how-to's. Disciples were to dedicate themselves to living by guidelines appropriate to their understanding of his instructions. By doing that, he explained to the disciples, they would be visited by the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, advocate of the Lord. They would find themselves visited by certain phenomena and gifts that would stretch them, lifting them into another level of relationship to the Holy. These gifts, like fruit on the vine, are to be harvested and revered for the bounty they bring.
8. The emphasis of the message of the Christ is to live as the Wayshower Jesus did--loving and caring, open to the mystical reality wherein we become one with the Father-Mother Creator, Giver of Life. In this mystical relationship we give birth to the Christ-Within, the hope of glory. We discover the central truth of all religions that focus on the inner nature as the fulfillment of life. The Christ-Within is the goal. We are to be obedient children as we begin our quest to come into alignment with the path of life, but we are to grow into spiritual maturity wherein the inner nature can be one with the Christ, the Higher, the Holy. The goal for the Esoteric Christian is to become Christed--whether called "enlightenment" or "salvation."
9. This goal permeates the life of the serious disciple with a dedication which often astonishes many. A life of self-discipline, understanding, discernment, prayer, and meditation is typical. Other practices may include: tithing, dietary disciplines, fasting, healing, dream study, intuition, silence, visualization, and service. Each one seeks to know higher will and to accommodate it within the framework of one's lifestyle.
10. Additional points of information:
* Not all esotericists are Christians, but all are aware of spiritual law.
* Groups vary from quiet and dignified to very flamboyant, but all recognize the importance of group life.
* Some believe in reincarnation, others do not, but all ponder it.
* There is a distinct interest in on-going life, other dimensions and phenomena that are confusing or uncomfortable for some--angels or devas, life-after-death, visions, and friends in spirit all hold interest.
Esoteric Christianity affirms healing of planetary life and all that this might mean. It does not see such wonders as "miracles"--just universal spiritual laws at work which are not yet comprehended. We learn to live in a mystical attunement to the Lord Christ, allowing the Plan to work itself out through us as it will.
REV. CAROL E. PARRISH-HARRA, Ph.D., is the founder of Sancta Sophia Seminary (1978) and Sparrow Hawk Village (1981), a spiritual community in the foothills of the Ozarks, near Tahlequah, Oklahoma. After a near-death experience in 1958, she began an earnest search for a new perception of spirituality. Today, she is a master teacher of teachers, international lecturer, and author of ten books. The latest of these are Adventure in Meditation--Spirituality for the 21st Century, each of three volumes earning the Athena Award for Mentoring, and The New Dictionary of Spiritual Thought, containing 1100 concepts of today's most important Western and Eastern esoteric and spiritual concepts. One review stated, "No other reference book today provides the clarity and depth of insight into the timeless wisdom teachings, going beyond intellectual understanding to touch the innermost heart and soul."