A Jesus Christ Series – Part 4
I am feeling guided and met in my Jesus Christ exploration. The journey over the past few weeks has been truly amazing. My heart is on fire and expanded. A true breakthrough in my relationship with Jesus Christ is emerging. I can but put out the pieces to this evolving process in me and struggle to make the experience clear and orderly to others and to myself in this blog entry.
A few weeks ago I was struck by a sharing from Pat. She has been reading Letters to a Dying Friend – Helping Those You Love Make a Conscious Transition – Based on The Tibetan Book of the Dead (Foreword by H.H. The Dalai Lama) by Anton Grosz, Ph.D. In this book Grosz gives a concise description of Jesus Christ and his mission. I just had to smile that such clarity would come from a Buddhist perspective. (Open quote)
Also a few weeks ago Sage Walker, the Sage part of the Sage/Anthony team that support Pat and me in our couplehood experience, shared two books by Glenda Green that have informed her own close relationship with Jesus Christ: Love Without End, Jesus Speaks… and The Keys of Jeshua. Pat, who strongly supports me in this Jesus Christ exploration, has now started reading one of Green’s books and was deeply touched by Glenda’s (Jesus’) emphasis on heart-centeredness. Her books speak of a heart connection that is nothing like a mind-only connection.
However, I was not drawn to look into to Green’s books yet. Well this is not quite true. I am drawn to them but sense I have to hold back from them until I have cleared out more blocks and images I hold about Jesus Christ. I sense that Green’s “new wine” will require new wineskins in me. But I Know that these writings by Green will someday speak to me, perhaps sooner than I think. Pat has already shared some pieces of Green’s book that resonate with me deeply.
At our Pathwork helper retreat last weekend Darlene, one of our Pathwork Helpers, was saying how much she was touched by the book The Meaning of Mary Magdalene: Discovering the Woman at the Center of Christianity by Cynthia Bourgeault. Pat read and enjoyed this book last year. It deals much with Jesus Christ, of course. I have read and was moved by another of Bourgeault’s books: The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind–A New Perspective on Christ and His Message. This was a book I deeply enjoyed several years ago, though I have not read the Magdalene book yet (since it is not available in audio, my preferred mode).
In Darlene’s sharing more of Bourgeault’s book over lunch last Saturday, Beth, another woman in our helper group, shared that a man by the name of Peter Rollins was speaking to her heart about Jesus Christ in a book by the name of Insurrection: To Believe Is Human, To Doubt, Divine. The title alone caught my attention. My heart jumped for joy with a “YES!” before I even knew more about Peter Rollins. He has an even newer book out, The Idolatry of God: Breaking Our Addiction to Certainty and Satisfaction, and I ordered them both in audio format before I left for home after the retreat last Sunday.
On the way home from the retreat I listened to a recent book by Elaine Pagels: Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation. Actually I started listening to this on the way to our retreat. I have to admit that I bought it earlier in the year and had forgotten about it. Then while driving over to Sevenoaks I ran across it on my iPod playlist by accident. As I thought about it I realized I was not even sure why I bought it. And as I listened to it I was at first not relating to her points. But I continued to the end and she won me over.
Pagels (the Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University) is well known for her work with the Gnostic Gospels. In this book on Revelation she was contrasting the Gnostic Gospels’ picture of Jesus and the Christian message with the dogma officially adopted by the Church Fathers at the Council of Nicea in 325CE. Pagels talked about the debates over whether or not the Book of Revelation should be included in the canon, and the political role that Athenasius of Alexandria in particular played in this compilation. But what I was struck by was Pagels’ brief explanation of the orientation of the Gnostic Gospels, which, if I get it right, speak of a faith more based upon personal experience of Jesus Christ than a faith based upon belief in a specified set of dogmas about Jesus Christ. This Gnostic position, if I understand it correctly, feels right to me on some level.
In the days following my return from the Helper Retreat I began listening to Peter Rollins’ books. I did not understand some of his arguments, but something in me was still giving a resounding YES! And my YES was there even though I was not completely on board with his teachings and was only beginning to listen to his books. It seems that these Rollins’ books are, perhaps, exactly the books that I need to truly help me break out of my images about Jesus Christ, about what a “relationship with Jesus Christ” means, and to discard the old wineskins that I have been trying to put my relationship with Jesus Christ into all these 70 years of my life. After I have discarded the old wineskins (of dogma and beliefs about Christ and what a relationship with Christ even means), I have a sense that I shall begin to be able to pour in the new wine from Glenda Green and other sources, including from a deeper meaning of the works of Bourgeault, Pagels, Rollins, and, of course, the Pathwork teachings about Jesus Christ. Central to these Pathwork teachings are the words from Pathwork Lecture 19 Jesus Christ, in which, in paragraph 19, the Guide invites me to consider these words: “[Christ] is indeed the best friend you could ever have and he is your strongest helper.” I could feel my energy building as I consider all of this.
As I listened to Rollins I was taken by the similarity of Rollins’ works and both with the Pathwork teachings as well as with my own journey experiences. In Insurrection: To Believe Is Human, To Doubt, Divine, a single endorsement on the cover reads: “In this book, Pete takes you to the edge of a cliff. And just when most writers would pull you back, he pushes you off. But after your initial panic, you realize that your fall is a form of flying. And it’s thrilling.” (Rob Bell). I could easily make that very same endorsement for Pathwork! Consider Pathwork Lecture #60 with the title: The Abyss of Illusion – Freedom and Self-Responsibility, or #183 The Spiritual Meaning of Crisis, or other Pathwork lectures that speak of the abyss that needs to be jumped into only to learn that you float! (Open this quote from Pathwork Lecture 60 and note the comparison with Rob Bell’s endorsement of Rollins above).
But I was even more moved by the front piece of Part I that is titled simply Crucifixion and then the quote from Matthew 27:46 which reads, “Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ – which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’’ Rollins uses only the words, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” but it seems he is using these words of Jesus in the way the Pathwork Guide uses them in Pathwork Lecture 82 The Conquest of Duality Symbolized in the Life and Death of Jesus, given on Good Friday (March 31, 1961) (open this quote). The seeming agreement between Rollins and Pathwork on this radical interpretation Jesus’ words feels very significant to me. Another Good Friday message given in Pathwork the previous year in Pathwork Lecture 63 Questions and Answers (open) also seems aligned with Rollins’ thinking.
Finally, Rollins quotes Dietrich Bonhoeffer on a cover page (page ix) after the Table of Contents of Insurrection: “The Pauline question whether circumcision is a condition of justification seems to me, in present-day terms, to be whether religion is a condition of salvation.” On the back cover of this book John D. Caputo (Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion Emeritus, Syracuse University) writes, “Rollins writes and thinks like a new Bonhoeffer, crucifying the trappings of religion in order to lay bare a radical, religionless, and insurrectional Christianity. A brilliant new voice – an activist, a storyteller and a theologian all in one – and not a moment too soon.” Just a year ago I was very much into Dietrich Bonhoeffer, reading Eric Metaxes biography: Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. So much about Jesus Christ is aligning in my life.
And I am aware of my Soul’s role (that is, my positive ego’s role) in moving me forward in my inquiry into what Jesus Christ means to me personally. Not the least of my Soul’s work in this regard has been my manifesting a powerful network of Pathwork helpers who themselves have close relationships with Jesus Christ (Moira Shaw, Sage Walker, and Brian O’Donnell). My Soul, my positive ego, also has manifested my steadfast, ongoing, and faithful inquiry of the Pathwork teachings.
My positive ego has also manifested other spiritual seekers and Pathworkers who have interests in Jesus Christ to accompany me along this path. To remind myself of this, I note that this list includes Pat, who is a product of the Catholic church (including a year in the convent), and who is a pursuer of Christ after a period of disenchantment with the Catholic Church, and who, though not a Pathworker per se, is a constant guide in my inquiry regarding Christ. The list also includes my Pathwork buddy Jenny Zia – herself a daughter of Christian missionaries to Africa and who is a long-term faithful Pathworker who majored in theology in college and who is interested joining me in this exploration regarding Jesus Christ. And more recently Beth has revealed her interest, as noted above in her introducing me to Peter Rollins’ writings, and is one who, like me, is now fascinated with Jesus Christ after a long period of estrangement. And next there is Darlene, whose fascination with Bourgeault led Beth and me to discuss this topic of Jesus Christ over lunch at our Helper Retreat last Saturday. And dare I add most recently a new acquaintance from Las Vegas with whom I had an interesting exchange of emails this past week after she wanted a copy of my audio recordings of the Pathwork Lectures? All of this seems to be building a momentum that cannot be resisted any longer.
The synchronicity of all of these threads concerning my relationship with Jesus Christ coming together is not lost on me. In a way it is all overwhelming, but in a positive and inspiring way, and in another way it feels guided in every detail by the engagement between my God-self, my positive ego, and Spirit – all part of the One.
Shared in love, Gary