This is the second part of a three-part special report on Jesus and Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion of the Christ". In Part One I shared my thoughts about this important topic. In Part Two and Three, 34 NHNE readers share theirs.
Because of the length and repetitive nature of many of the letters we received, I have decided to break with tradition: instead of sending them all out via email, I will only be sending out those that I felt were the most succinct and/or compelling. The rest have been posted on NHNE's website.
Part Two, then, is this report, while Part Three has been posted online at this address:
In addition to reading the letters that were received in response to the Jesus/POC Report, I encourage you to visit two special sections on the "In Search of Jesus" website. One section contains the personal stories of three prominent Jesus scholars (Marcus J. Borg, John Shelby Spong, and Walter Wink):
The other section contains three stories detailing personal encounters with Jesus <http://www.insearchofjesus.org/encounters.html>. Two of these Jesus stories were written by long-time NHNE readers, Linda Decloedt and Helena Rocca. While not written in response to the Jesus/POC Report, I have decided, for reasons which will become apparent when you read them, to include them here.
If you pay close attention, you will discover that Jesus is a living, breathing, often exceedingly important topic for many of our readers.
You will also discover that there are almost as many visions of Jesus as there are writers -- AND that there are LOTS of sources that claim to have a direct pipeline to him. There is the Jesus of A Course in Miracles, the Jesus of the Pathwork Guide Lectures of Eva Pierrakos, the Jesus of the Book of Urantia, the Jesus of Barbara Brodsky and Aaron, the Jesus of The Masters of the Far East, the Jesus of the Shroud of Turin, and, of course, the Jesus of the New Testament, which comes complete with a myriad of conflicting translations and interpretations. There is the Jesus of Mel Gibson, Edgar Cayce, Rudolf Steiner, John Shelby Spong. There is a Jewish Jesus, a Catholic Jesus, and a Jesus who sojourned in India. And, of course, there is the Jesus of visions, voices, dreams, near-death experiences, and other inner revelations and personal encounters.
While I don't think it is possible for all these visions of Jesus to be correct, especially since many of them flagrantly contradict one another, it's clear that they are providing sustenance to those who have embraced them -- which might be something the real Jesus, whomever he is, would applaud.
And while my core questions about Jesus remain unanswered, these letters bear witness that some kind of presence -- a presence that is tenaciously linked to the first century Jewish teacher/healer/rabble-rouser we've all heard so much about -- is still very much alive, well, and walking among us...
Your thoughts on Jesus were very interesting, and I am very interested to hear what your other readers have to say. As for me, I come at it from a different angle -- brought up in an atheist household, I have never read the Bible and have only a very general idea of what Jesus is "supposed" to be about -- turn the other cheek, the meek shall inherit the Earth, that sort of thing. But did he really say that? I'm pretty skeptical about the Bible, seeing how political the compilation of it all was, and I know that the early Christians used to believe in reincarnation, until some committee made it heresy. The Holy Blood/Holy Grail angle (he ended up raising a family with Mary Magdalene in the south of France, founded some European royal bloodlines) makes more sense to me than that he died on the cross.
Anyway. The point is, despite much spiritual searching and many interesting experiences (astrology, past life regression, channeling, numerous initiations, Reiki, circle working, meditation, etc., etc.), Jesus was not much more than a name, along with Buddha, Lao Tze, etc., etc. -- until October last year, when I was in a hotel, far from home, sleepless and stressed out, and I had the very clear feeling that he was there with me.
I don't have much intellectual baggage around the idea of Jesus Christ, but I had a very strong personal feeling of his presence, his love, divinity and compassion. And I got the very clear message that he is a unique bridge connecting each person to God. The sense I had was like a kind of transformer, stepping down the energy to the human level.
The point is that, of course you can go on a spiritual quest, look deeply into yourself, try and heal your wounds, attain enlightenment, but at the end of the day he is still there, and he is endlessly patient, because he understands the human condition so well, and he can touch your heart and connect you directly to God -- if you let him, if you surrender to him. I guess that is why the Christians say you have to surrender to Jesus and accept him as your lord and master. I can understand that now. I've met a few masters in my life, in both physical and non-physical form, and I have to say that Jesus is one of most potent, and most easily accessible. No need to meditate, no need to do anything much, just set aside the ego for a moment, acknowledge your feelings (especially the painful ones) and admit that you need his love, and the love of God. It's a very heady feeling, like I said, very potent. I can really see why the Christians talk about salvation.
And on the other side, I can see what sort of an effect this feeling might have on someone who doesn't have much other spiritual/personal growth type of experience. It would be very easy to get swept away and think that this energy, as wonderful as it is, is the only path, the true path. It is very difficult to be discerning and step back and say, "This energy, this being, Jesus, did not create Christianity, he wasn't trying to start a religion, and who are these people who are using his name anyway?" I can imagine he'd be a bit slow to come back to Earth again, seeing what people have done in his name.
Another thing I don't really understand is the whole crucifixion thing. I really don't see why it was necessary for him to sacrifice himself for us. When I felt his presence, it was a very positive message -- he can save us by his love, his compassion, and his energy -- the power of his love is so enormous that he can melt your heart, he can change your entire perspective on life. I think that the suffering he endured deepened his compassion, just like the suffering each of us has endured makes us deeper (unless it is too much, and we just shut down, but even then, hidden depths are formed), but part of that suffering was just his way of convincing us that he really does understand what it is to be human. My theory (just forming now, really) is that the Christian religion uses the crucifixion as a sort of way to express the enormity of what he is and what he has done for us, just by his energy Being and the fact of his coming to Earth. But because the church does not want to say that each of us can experience Jesus directly, and feel the miracle in our hearts, they have to externalize it in some event two thousand years ago, and say that is the important thing -- but it isn't; the important thing is that he is still here now, he still hears our prayers, intervenes in our lives. It's pretty crude, I think, to say that he died for our sins, it forces us to "admit" that we are imperfect and that we need Jesus. The truth is that we are imperfect and that we do need Jesus, but there is nothing to force us to this conclusion -- only our own need for love, and our own need to forgive ourselves for everything we have done on this Earth. So, to sum it up, I think that Christianity adds an unnecessary element of spiritual coercion, if you like, to what could otherwise be a wonderful awakening to something -- and someone -- much larger than ourselves.
Sorry this is all a bit rambling. Does that make any sense to you? If you want to republish this, please do, but I'd like to remain anonymous. This is all very personal!
[Editor's Note: The very last lecture that Eva Pierrakos did presented a view of Jesus very similar to the one outlined above. For more information, see the links below. --DS]
Special Report on The Pathwork Guide
I, too, saw "The Passion of The Christ", but unlike you, I wasn't bombarded by Christians with New Testaments. I walked into the theatre with an open mind. The difference between you and me is that I believe you were cynical from the beginning.
Your report sounds desperate to prove Him wrong as The Savior which He is and perhaps you don't want to face His sufferings as being so violent because it's difficult to believe He suffered so much for our sins. Which is of course the whole point of His suffering. It wouldn't be pretty; it might have been worse than what you saw in The Passion. It seems from your article that the one thing you DIDN'T do to seek Him out was to STOP seeking and to just pray for Him to show you all you need to know about Him.
I, too, was cynical and searching until my own conversion when I called out to Him. Some of those people you quote as being experts on the life of Jesus, the Bible, etc., are really not great writers or thinkers. I have read some of their writings and have come to the conclusion that no human is fully capable of understanding the mysteries of His life and death, so why not go to The Master Himself for guidance? I am at peace now because I reached out to Jesus in the way He taught -- by amending my life, seeking holiness through holy living and prayer in a world that's so noisy and loose -- it's difficult, but do-able. Fasting is another way to get closer to Him. If you pray and fast He will reveal Himself to your heart. I am proud to be a Roman Catholic despite the sins of some members, but if we truly look at ourselves we will realize that we are all sinners on Earth. Our goal should be to know Him personally while we are here and sometimes that means being quiet enough to let Him in. The Sacraments of the Church, conversion and prayer are what will lead anyone to Him. I suggest you spend some quiet time in front of The Blessed Sacrament in adoration. It will clear your mind as His presence in that sacrament is an unbelievable healer of any skepticism. After many years wandering around with theories, info from various sources, etc., I found the true path. Ask Him. He's waiting for you.
Gee, David, you really outdid yourself this time. Fabulous writing, insights, and reading. Thank you.
I did a commentary on all this too, though it's not even close to being as thoughtful as yours. If you'd like to check it out, it's at:
I too have had experiences with Jesus. Or, at least with someone who, on the surface, is Jesus.
My first experience was when I was about ten or eleven. I was going through a particularly rough time in my life and I had seemed to hit bottom. I prayed and prayed, while lying in bed, and after a fairly long time a Being appeared to me. He was entirely of light and was in the form of what I considered Jesus to be. He held his arms out and I knew I was okay, and I would be looked after. That experience probably started me on my spiritual path. Although maybe I was already on one, since I had been praying fervently for a while.
After, I went upstairs to where my Mom was watching TV and I told her, "Mom, Jesus just came to my room." "That's wonderful", she said, "Now please, go to bed." Like any good parent she had her priorities straight.
I have meditated and prayed pretty intently all my life and have had many experiences. At some point I decided most were just experiences and not to pay much attention to them. Lights, beautiful sounds, angels, and all the rest seem neat, but for me they weren't life changing. The Jesus experiences seem to go beyond that and ground me in a way the other experiences don't.
Over the past few years I have had a series of dreams in which Jesus comes to me and answers questions, usually. I have an alternative health practice and I often struggle trying to help certain clients, or understand some conditions. Jesus has answered some very important questions for me.
In the dreams he always appears standing right beside me, to my right. Usually my clients are in front of me, as though we are standing watching them as you would at a party. They aren't paying attention to us. In the dreams Jesus speaks almost curtly to me. He often points something out that I should have noticed, but sometimes he tells me something that would be hard for me to know. If this is Jesus he is a nice guy, but a little abrupt. For some reason I never look at him in the dream. We just stand side by side talking to each other looking at other people. I always wish when I wake up that I had just turned my head and had a look at his face.
I have developed my own system of pulse-taking and in order to treat a disease I first have to identify all the little blips and squiggles on the pulse that is unique to that disease. Then, I match the disease with medicines that have the same pulse characteristics. So, for example, the disease of heart-ache has the same pulse pattern as does chocolate. So, chocolate, in small enough doses is medicine for heartache. Black tea and daydreaming, a huge factor in many heart conditions, are compatible. Black tea is medicine for chronic daydreamers, and also for many people with heart problems. Too much black tea actually exacerbates those conditions, by the way, in the same way that a half a chocolate bar helps with heart-ache but eating a whole box of chocolates makes the pain of break-up worse. The more benign the substance, the more you can take and have it be medicine. The less benign the less you take. Some have to be taken homeopathically because of their toxicity.
A number of my clients have HIV. I found the pulse pattern of the disease easy to discern. It is very clear and nearly the same in every person I have tested. However, I didn't have any herbs in my arsenal that would help. Testing herbs is laborious and not too pleasant. I smoke them because that gives an immediate effect I can feel in my own pulse. But it is hit or miss testing herbs as to what the pulses will show. And it really throws my own pulses out for awhile after testing three or four herbs.
Jesus came to me in a dream, my HIV clients were also in the dream and we were watching them walk around and talk. He said, "It is Black Seed you're looking for." And I said, "Oh, Black Cumin Seed, you mean." And he said, "yes". Then I said, "I guess other black seeds help, too. Black mustard seed, and poppy seeds." He said, "Yes, they will help, but it is Black Seed that will cure them." And that was that. The dream ended.
I resolved to get some black cumin seed and test it, but put it off for a bit. One of my HIV clients, and the one who taught me about the disease came to see me and I told him about my dream. He got really excited and searched through his brief case. He pulled out a sheet on Black Cumin Seed. The essay on this herb identified it as a very important herb from the Middle East, used extensively in biblical times. The essay said in biblical times it was known simply as 'black seed'. Which is how Jesus referred to it in my dream.
My training is in ayurveda, so I checked my Indian Materia Medica. Black Cumin Seed, nigella sativa, was listed of course, but Black Seed was not listed as one of its many names used throughout India. Having never heard of it referred to as "Black Seed", and learning that is how it was referred to in biblical times, lends some credence to my friend being Jesus. At least, to me.
I tested it, and of course it is perfect for HIV. Actually, I think it is to viruses what penicillin is to infections. At least chronic viruses, all of which seem to have similar, but not identical, pulses.
Anyway those are a few of my Jesus stories. I do think He is the most important spiritual being. I don't go to church, but have read the Bible, the New Testament anyway, quite thoroughly a number of times. I think for me the most significant book explaining Jesus' teaching is "A Course in Miracles" <http://www.acim.org/>. And I don't think in any way it contradicts the essential teachings of Jesus from the Bible. Certainly the Sermon on the Mount is very consistent with The Course.
I'm not usually in the habit of sticking my neck out with people who are obviously more well-read than myself but your recent article prompts me to reply to you in respect of one issue within it.
The matter in question is your references to the Turin Shroud in the context of this article, which I believe has been attributed beyond reasonable doubt to an entirely different era. Some time ago I recall reading several credible publications which all pointed to the Shroud being traced to somewhere around the 12th or 14th century, I forget the specifics, and I seem to recall, possibly from a media source, that the Shroud had indeed been successfully dated through scientific methods to around that time. I also seem to recall that it probably had more connection with Jacques de Molay than anyone else.
I humbly admit to the strong possibility that I could be completely wrong in this speculation, but it feels firm enough in my consciousness that I strongly felt the urge to respond. I hope this is of some help and no offence.
I should also say that the links you've included in the mail are outstanding! What a fountain of material to ponder over, even by your usual outstanding standards. Thanks for that. Keep up the good work.
[Editor's comment: While many people believe that the Shroud of Turin is a medieval hoax, the evidence for its authenticity is overwhelming. For a comprehensive overview of the many issues currently surrounding the Shroud, including the controversial 1988 carbon-14 tests which dated the Shroud to the 12th century, I encourage you to read Dan Porter's letter to best-selling biblical scholar John Dominic Crossan <http://shroudforum.com/dearjohn.pdf>. You can also find out more by visiting the links below. --DS]
SHROUD OF TURIN
TURIN SHROUD CENTER
DAN PORTER'S SHROUD
OF TURIN WEBSITE:
OF TURIN WEB PAGE:
David, thank you so much for your sharings on this. I appreciated learning more about your journey and the depth of your wrestling with these issues. I've been on parallel journey of spirit over the decades and I honor your honesty, grounded vision, and the meandering process that forged it! I am also grateful for your lucid comments about 'bloodthirsty Jews,' etc. As a Jewish-born eclectic torch carrier for The One, I have been concerned about the resurgence of anti-Semitism and the relative silence about it in "New Age" media. I salute your efforts and appreciate your voice. Please keep shaking the tree; you're marvelous! Thank you.
After reading your extensive ramblings about Jesus I will be sure to cancel my email subscription.
Oh ye of little faith, I find it interesting how your beliefs can be swayed this way and that. You have fallen into the trap that encompasses many: the search for the truth in many places except your heart. All the controversy about such mundane thoughts such as whether or not he married and had children, or even if he died on the cross, makes it all the more important to understand that he brought the message and belief, that God loves us, sinners or not.
Is Gibson's film important? Yes, because many cannot understand how deep the sacrifice was unless we can be there at the cross with him. Gibson's film transports us back to Golgotha and we become witnesses to how deep God's love is for all, believers or not.
You misunderstand the power of God. Even if the Gospels were written at a later time, God has the power to inspire the authors with the truth. His power is greater than you give him credit for.
I respect your right to believe as you do for God has given each and every one of us free will, but I no longer wish to read such ramblings.
Last night I braved the crowds to go see Mel Gibson's controversial new movie, "The Passion of the Christ". I was surprised at just how many people were clamoring to see this movie. We were surrounded by church groups, people wearing t-shirts with pictures of Jesus on them, and entire families huddled together. This was not your usual movie crowd. Where were all the noisy teenagers and young adults? What happened to the kids with weird haircuts, gangster clothes, pierced ears, noses, and you name it? I felt like I had just entered Sunday school, or more accurately, a revivalist convention.
The movie starts with a bunch of soldiers capturing Jesus, beating him and dragging him in chains to the authorities, in this instance a group of Rabbis. The film continued to show Jesus beaten, whipped, kicked, insulted, spit on, clubbed, etc., with periodic close-ups of of the Virgin Mary staring teary-eyed at this horrible spectacle. Occasionally there was a short cut to a scene in the past of Jesus healing the sick or talking to his disciples. Those scenes were very brief breaks from what was, overall, a relentless ordeal of torture and cruelty.
Why anyone would want to sit for over two hours to watch a movie made up of blood and torture with just a threadbare plot? It beats me. I found the whole thing boring and terribly unpleasant. The film could have been easily cut down to just twenty minutes, instead of 126 minutes long.
My big concern is why Mel Gibson would want to focus solely on Jesus' death. To me, the question of who Jesus was and what he taught was far more important that how he died. Yes, I am aware of what his death symbolizes to Christians -- that he died for our sins -- but if you were to ask Jesus himself what he would like to be remembered by, I sincerely doubt that it would be for the gory details of his death. That makes his whole ministry seem insignificant and besides the point. If his message didn't matter too much, then why didn't he just die early on and skip the three years of teaching?
Why not focus on the beautiful example Jesus made by his kind and gentle behavior? He said to resist not evil, to love one another, to seek the Kingdom of Heaven within, and to be like the birds who think not of tomorrow. What about these teachings? Why weren't they included in the movie?
I am including excerpts from two film critics:
Myself, I wish I had asked for my money back. On an artistic level, I found it terribly boring, and unpleasantly violent and gory. From a spiritual level, I didn't find any redeeming qualities expressed in the film. Any spiritual qualities such as love, kindness, generosity, peace, joy, truth, or humility were overpowered by the emphasis on cruelty and inhumanity, by the extremely graphic violence, and by the amount of blood that practically splashed out of the screen at the audience.
So, I am writing this movie critique to warn my friends to not go to this movie expecting to be uplifted, educated or inspired. Instead, it just may be one of the worst movies you've ever seen. Trust me, wait for the DVD to come out. It is easier to turn off if you get disgusted.
This is just my opinion. Of course others may think or feel completely differently.
I've been studying [Rudolf] Steiner lately <http://www.steinercollege.org/rs.html>. His world view seems to validate the fall as a premature descent into incarnating, too early for there to be a smooth transition of spirit into matter. Souls, then, got enmeshed in the material/animal level, so removed from spiritual awareness that they couldn't help but reactivate through the many forms of pain and suffering we've been inflicting on each other for thousands of years.
According to Steiner, Jesus/Christ came to bring a balancing of energies so that human-enmeshed souls could reconnect to spirit aid. Left to themselves, humans would have self destructed. The Christ energies were brought in to shift mankind back toward spiritual awareness and safety, aka salvation. It was a cosmic shift that included everyone whether they knew about Jesus or confessed their sins or not. Like the sun shining on everyone alike, these Christ energies are given to all.
I've had a couple really cathartic experiences where that signature energy identified with Jesus entered into me and loosened up what had hardened in me from my own life of suffering, ignorance, loss, fear and the pride of depending on my own knowing. Jesus for me is quintessentially patient and ever available for helping to overcome these.
I still find it questionable, though, why souls were allowed to fall in the first place. I suppose it echoes the theme of the parent who lets their child go on and make their own mistakes. But this is a pretty extreme letting go we get to experience here on Earth. Complete amnesia from our safety in God. Depths of despair and fear turning to rage and destruction. Jesus seems a turning point in all that. In fact, Steiner says Jesus was the most significant event in human history. The perfection of souls through Earth life would not be possible were it not for the Christ energies that came to establish a workable balance for souls to function in. He says that this Christ impulse had been gathering through previous "sun god" impulses developed throughout history that finally culminated in the Mystery of Golgotha: dying to the lower nature in man, and rising again to the higher spiritual natures.
Personally, a part of me still sees all of this as rather goofy -- "cosmic" as it plays out. Basically what you've got is Godself/love reducing itself down to such constrictions that it no longer knows itself, and in its dire individuality, experiences itself through the minutia of bordered self preservation. Ultimately, awareness returns, and with it, forgiveness, which is really the giving of love where it seems to be missing. Along the way, zillions of stories at all ends of the spectrum of the dramatic are played out through themes of limited love seeking to reconnect with the unlimited.
It's an odd way to spend this side of eternity. Compelling as hell, though. And I suppose it's as valid a way to set up a universe as any other. One of many approaches.
My longing is to in some overall general way, grasp the setting, make peace with it, enjoy it as much as possible, keep from getting swept away by it, and along the way, contribute some sense of insight, levity and equanimity wherever I can. Then finally, to leave with some appreciation for it being just the way it is and maybe a little better off for my having been here.
This was an insightful, very interesting piece of writing. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
I have not done anywhere near the research that you have, but over the years, I've heard stories and read articles and watched TV shows about the origin of the Bible (for example, there is good evidence that the early Jewish writers borrowed the story of the flood from an account that predated the Old Testament by hundreds, possibly a thousand years). I also recently read the DaVinci Code, which makes several of the same points that you do, and which apparently has caused many to question their religious education, while others attack the book for its accuracy.
Why do we believe in Jesus? Well, if I don't, I've been told we have an eternity of damnation to look forward to... I was given the chance and turned Christ down. That's a conscious decision, so it's off to hell I go! That's pretty scary, which is probably why I think much of the Jesus story is a myth. Because, after all, religion like any political system, is about control, and the people on top want to exert control over all those around them -- at least that appears to be the case in the hierarchical religious organizations that dominate our society. How best to do that except through fear and guilt? Don't think for yourself. We'll tell you how to live, what to eat, how to have sex, etc.
Still, religion is a strange thing. Without the tempering influence of Christianity, wouldn't we be like the immoral Romans? That hedonistic part of us lies just beneath the surface? Sometimes I'm amazed that our society controls the primal urges as well as it does.
I would love to believe in the Jesus story. I would love the myth to be true, but I don't think it is. A part of me wants it to be true, so I'm open to different ideas and interpretations of the world but, ultimately, the skeptics in our society make the most sense to me because they keep their defenses up and challenge everything. And, at least from my perspective, they have been right for the most part.
I'm quite ready to be proven wrong though. I look at my dog lying on the floor by me, and I realize that my comprehension of the world is on a completely different level from hers. I can imagine a society on some distant planet where the basic level of intelligence exceeds ours by the same amount that mine exceeds my dog's. If so, that society would comprehend things that we cannot begin to comprehend. Does that mean aliens have visited us, and have intervened over the years? No. I don't think so. I think that's another myth, because we always want to seem to look outside ourselves for an answer. It's hard to accept ourselves for what we are -- just the end of an evolutionary chain that started with one-celled animals in a primal ocean.
All of this could be discouraging, except when you think about what a true miracle our minds are. Just the fact that we can sit around and contemplate these ideas is a miracle to me. Somehow out of the biological mass that is our brain comes this entity, a mind, that can reason, project into the future, and connect with others around us, both via language and non-verbally. That's the true miracle, wouldn't you say?
Thank you for your Jesus/Gibson article. I'm an ACIM student so that I question the literalness of "history". I believe that "Jesus" represented a great and to a large extent unrealized paradigm shift, and that there is a Christ energy that exists today in its many manifestations. I also believe that there are paths to Buddha/Christ/etc. level of awareness on which the example of someone who has made it is extremely helpful.
I don't believe that historical "proof" of Jesus would change anything -- to a certain extent the idea of Jesus needs to evolve, and the center of that idea is not a physical manifestation, but a "spiritual" i.e. abstract one.
Nevertheless I found your research (and your journey) very interesting. I was about to go to see the Passion, but fortunately waited long enough to find out that inspiration that I sought from the story was not in the movie (having seen Braveheart was a big clue). I find it very disturbing that people are responding so enthusiastically to the movie after having seen it.
I would love to see a movie that attempted to recreate the time and setting for Jesus' story. I was in Jerusalem, Easter last year, and think that it would be fairly easy to recreate some of the settings. It is guaranteed that a more accurate portrayal would be widely condemned.
I agree with you that Jesus was probably a product of his times, or more accurately, limited by his times in what he could talk about that was not off message. My guess is that the 18 percent that is allegedly accurate is the love thy neighbor/turn the other cheek part, and that much of his real message was unable to be understood within the historical context.
The extent that Jesus has relevance today is only to the extent that individuals follow the 18 percent that is true. The other 80+ percent including Gibson's movie is nonsense at best and dangerous at its worst.
The Jesus that I believe in may never have existed in physical form (he certainly wasn't white like me), but he represents an idea that I very much want to believe and experience. In the end, the relevant question about Gibson's movie is, "Did it further an expansion (Love) or contraction (Fear)?" It is pretty obvious what the answer is, and I am grateful for people like yourself, who saved me from having to experience that contraction myself. Keep up the good work.
My whole life has been about the religion/spirituality/truth search, and has moved through many stages. The first 18 years were spent in a relatively fundamentalist setting (Oterbein United Brethren), followed by 20 years of mainstream Presbyterian and wrestling with predestination. Tumbling to reincarnation through a miraculous experience and 30 + years of meditation has greatly expanded my view of reality from my earlier beliefs. I now think of God as Almighty Creator, with many dimensions and levels and many many Beings. Recently I re-read the Urantia <http://www.truthbook.com> version of the life of Jesus and the feeling I had within as I read it has made me a believer of this version. I never could swallow that he died for us to erase our collected karma. That never made sense to me. If the Urantia story is true then it is an even bigger event (hard to believe it could be bigger) than we thought. That's where I am at this point.
Thanks for your article on Jesus. You confirmed my suspicions that I wouldn't want to see "The Passion." I'm not interested in blasting my psyche with Gibson's graphic images.
I find my own interest in Jesus has been gratifyingly expanded by the work of Barbara Brodsky and Aaron, whom you can learn more about at <http://www.deepspring.org> if you like. Barbara channels an entity who calls himself Aaron for convenience. His last incarnation was some 600 years ago, as a Buddhist teacher. In another, earlier life, he was privileged to know Jesus... [For stories about Jesus], after entering the website mentioned above, go to:
Hope you find them as helpful as I have.
David, thank you for NHNE and for sharing yourself with us. I am 72 years old, a former social worker and political activist, living on a pension that meets my needs and finishing a long novel about a spiritual woman who has lived a life somewhat like mine in the ever-changing world since 1931.
From my childhood in dire poverty in a family of fundamental Christians, I have always "known" that most of the stories told about Jesus were not true and I took it personally because I believed that I had walked the earth with him, that I knew him well, and that I had witnessed his dying on the cross -- and that it wasn't to save us from sin, but to teach us that death is not permanent; that we do not die. After being confirmed in this by some intuitives, I asked a hypnotist to regress me to that experience but when I got there I screamed that I wanted to come back -- it was too painful. (I wish I had been able to witness it again.)
Through the years, various intuitives have told me that I have lived many lives even extending back beyond the Pleiades and finally about five years ago one of them said, "You are from the oversoul of Mary Magdalene and her brother, Lazarus, and I have never heard of dual oversouls before. It is a huge oversoul." Now when I seek spiritual guidance, they invariably tell me that Jesus shows up and my presence in his life has been confirmed. (He asks to be called "Sananda" because of the load of fear that hovers around the names of "Jesus.") And a number of people, including Margaret Starbird in person and in her many well-researched books about Jesus, confirmed for me that he was married to Mary Magdalene.
You can put my email address in your message and ask anyone who has any memory of the crucifixion (with or without hypnotic regression) to contact me directly and tell me if I may include their experience in any compilation I might make...
I fully recognize that everyone's subconscious mind (at least in the US) may have been greatly influenced by depictions of the crucifixion in movies, art, etc., but it's worth assessing real or pseudo-memories.
It had not occurred to me to send in my thoughts. I agree with most of what you say. For me, the spiritual journey has been long. I can remember as a young child wondering what the purpose of living was. I just could not believe the only purpose was to reproduce. I have attended churches most of my life. Listening but never being satisfied. I could not understand what they were saying. I could not make sense of it. I would ask for explanations and just nod quietly as if I agreed with them but quietly disagreeing. I kept on attending. I attended Lutheran, Baptist, Catholic, and New Age churches. I have studied Edgar Cayce, not as extensively as you, but as his writings were so convoluted I stopped reading them.
One of my earliest desires in life was to understand what was happening without someone having to explain it to me. Many years later, I finally understood what I was looking for was Wisdom. Seems like a grandiose concept for a youngster. I read a lot. I liked Edgar Cayce, Jane Roberts with her Seth series, Richard Bach's "Illusions". Then I finally came to the Conversations with God books. I have read many others, some were good, some were bad. I have finally come to peace with a God that makes sense to me. A loving, non-judgmental God who is the source of all.
Jesus, I have struggled with and finally have been able to resolve that by coming to this conclusion: Yes, Jesus is the Son of God and is Holy, but so are We All.
I have trouble with the Bible. I have studied it to some extent and believe it has some spiritual truth in it but it is a political document. I do not support the politics of the Bible. I have not studied the other Holy Scriptures but my guess is they have the same truths and the same political agenda. I believe churches are male-dominated power structure's with very few of the hierarchy giving a damn about the individual. I guess my major belief, and from which I try to base my actions, is "We Are All One." Literally. We are One with God and One with each Other. Basing my life on these beliefs, I have found a measure of peace and and ability to love all others.
I don't know if this statement helps anyone but me but it has helped me organize my thoughts.
published April 4, 2001 on the "In Search of Jesus" website:
When I was 15 years old, I had an experience that stayed with me for the rest of my life. I was with a group of 20 girls, and we had backpacked into the Three Sisters Wilderness Area in Central Oregon. We were staying there for ten days. This was a club, and several of us were "pledging"; our initiation was to be on the 5th night.
Well, I was miserable (mainly because I was a spoiled brat and wasn't used to being treated like a second class citizen). I was lying in the sun one day and had practically worked myself into a lather, telling myself what a bunch of jerks they all were and how I should just pack up all my stuff, tell them to shove it, and stomp the eight miles out by myself (of course, the trailhead was about 20 miles away from the nearest civilization, but I wasn't really thinking coherently).
In the midst of all this adolescent angst, a presence came to me. It's very difficult to describe. It's as though I could see him, but couldn't really see him. I could hear him talking to me, but there were no words. But the feeling! There was an absolutely overwhelming feeling of totally non-judgemental love, mixed in with a considerable feeling of humor. It was an emotional warmth beyond anything I could ever imagine. The message I was given was that it wasn't good for me to get so wrapped up in these bouts of anger and resentment, that this experience was transitory and would soon be over. Nothing particularly awe-inspiring about the message, but it wasn't the message that affected me so much as the presence. In less than five minutes it completely transformed me. I knew that it was Jesus. And that's interesting, because at the time I didn't believe in Jesus. I had had no religion in my upbringing and had, in fact, been given the message by my parents that those who believed in religion -- and most especially Jesus -- were weak-minded. Yet I knew this was Jesus. I still didn't believe in churches (and I still don't), but it certainly changed my mind about Jesus. I couldn't understand why he would come to a snotty little 15-year-old who really wasn't going through much of an ordeal at all, even though she thought she was (at that point I was embarrassed that I had made such a big deal of it -- it was embarrassing that I was so emotionally out of control that Jesus had to actually come and shake me out of it), but I've come to believe that that wasn't the point. The point was that it was the catalyst for a life-long search for truth, for the real Jesus and the real message, and for the reality that hides behind everyday life.
published May 15, 2001 on the "In Search of Jesus" website:
In March of 1990, while vacationing in Florida, our family was involved in a serious car accident: a head-on collision with a drunk driver. Rose Marie, our five year old daughter, and I only sustained minor injuries, but my husband and our two and a half year old daughter Kayla were gravely hurt. Along with fractures to her right leg and collar bone, as well as other injuries, Kayla's left hip was smashed, requiring several weeks in traction and more weeks in a bodycast.
The earliest prognosis was that Kayla's left leg would likely not heal properly since the fracture occurred across the growth plate. The fractures did heal, but one leg was markedly shorter than the other. We were then told she would likely have a permanent limp. But six months after the accident, the limp was no longer apparent. And a little less than a year later both legs had grown to be the same length. One is slightly longer from hip to knee and the other is longer from knee to ankle, but she has no physical disabilities whatsoever. In fact, she is an excellent dancer, gymnast, and sprint and relay runner for her School's track and field team.
Aside from my daughter's remarkable recovery, there is another aspect of the accident I would like to share -- Kayla's near-death experience.
After the impact, my husband was pinned inside the wreckage and writhing in pain beside me. As I turned and looked into the back of the car, I could see Rose Marie was not seriously hurt. But, to my horror, Kayla was no where to be seen. Her side of the car had been obliterated by the crash. I thought at first that she might be tangled within the wreckage, but seconds later discovered she had been thrown out of the seat and into the hatchback of the car.
A bystander hurried to our aid, wrapped Rose Marie in a jacket, and carried her to a bench some yards from the car so that I could attend to Kayla. Kayla's eyes were closed, her face was an ashen white, and her body was still and motionless. I was sure she had died. To spare my husband from this knowledge, I gathered Kayla's limp body in my arms, lifted her out of the car, and stepped a short distance away. The moments that followed are forever imprinted on my memory.
As I stood holding Kayla, all the sights, sounds and commotion around me seemed to fade away. I was only aware of my child and a bright, white light that emanated from her body, surrounding us both. Then Kayla's eyelids began to flutter and she opened her eyes and looked into mine. Her gaze was intent and fixed. I felt she was looking at me and also through me. And there occurred between us what I can only describe as an outpouring of love. Within this love, I felt perfectly at peace. I knew Kayla was about to die, but I was not afraid to let her go. A second or two later, she closed her eyes and was gone.
When Kayla "died," my peace was instantly and violently shattered. The reality of living without her seemed unbearable. And it felt as though my soul had torn from my body and entered into some other dimension, a dark and empty void, in search of my child. But Kayla was not there. And the grief I felt was so agonizing, all I could do was scream.
It was a silent scream, one that could only be heard inside my mind, but out of this pain came a thought, a solution: I began calling out to God from within the void, asking God to bring Kayla back, and to bring her back whole. Suddenly, the sounds -- my husband's moans, the running and shouting of the people -- were part of my awareness again. And I began calling out my daughter's name, hoping it would somehow help to revive her. "Kayla! Kayla!" I shouted loudly and firmly, over and over again. A woman came and put her hand on my shoulder, as if to tell me to stop, that my daughter was dead. I noticed then that there were many people around us. Some were crying. But I could not stop, and continued calling Kayla's name.
Although it seemed like an eternity, likely only a minute or two passed before Kayla's body suddenly jolted. It was as though she had been shocked by electricity or dropped from a great height, and all her limbs jerked. The force was so strong, I almost dropped her. And then, in an instant, all the color rushed back into her face, her eyes popped open, and she screamed, "I NEED A BAND-AID!" Overwhelmed with relief and with tears still streaming down my face, I began to laugh, as did the other people who were there.
The first few months after the accident were tremendously stressful. The reality of death seemed a constant presence. I felt traumatized. Why did God put my family through this? Had we not suffered enough? I felt guilty. Why was my child spared while others die in their mothers' arms? I felt angry -- very angry with God. But during the month before my husband and Kayla were well enough to be transported home by air ambulance, and during the year of recovery that followed, this rage seemed to give me the strength and energy I needed to get myself and my family through.
I was also plagued by nightmares in which my children were dying, slipping out of my grasp and falling into some bottomless abyss. I would awaken from these dreams in a cold sweat, shaken and in tears. The events surrounding the accident would replay themselves in my waking hours as well, often while driving. It was horrible and confusing. All I knew was that the world was not a safe place. At any given moment, God might come and try to snatch my loved ones from me. And there wasn't a thing I could do about it.
At first, I didn't tell anyone, except my husband and my parents, that Kayla had come so close to dying. The experience and the feelings it aroused were just too painful for me to talk about with anyone else. But eventually I did share the experience with a few close friends, hoping they might be able to help me work through my anger and confusion. I needed some sort of validation that what happened to me was real, that I had not imagined the light and void, and that my daughter had survived an encounter with death. But as supportive as my friends had been throughout this time, this validation was not something they could give me.
The alienation I felt from not being able to find the kind of understanding I needed just compounded my confusion. I began to wonder if maybe my friends were right. Perhaps what I experienced was the result of shock. Perhaps Kayla's condition was also shock and not a near-death experience as I had thought. Soon, I began to think that maybe God and all the mysterious experiences that had hinted at God's existence over the course of my life might also be illusions, delusions really, the result of wishful thinking and an overdeveloped imagination.
By mid-May, just over three months after the accident, my husband was able to walk short distances with the aid of a walker. Kayla's bodycast had recently been removed and she needed to be in a stroller since walking was still quite difficult for her. But they were both well enough for us to pay a visit to my father who was in hospital at the time, recovering from surgery for bladder and prostate cancer. During this visit, Kayla spied a get-well card on my father's bedside table. On the front was a picture of Jesus sitting on a rock in a garden, holding a small child on his lap. She became very excited about it, tugging at my clothes and then at my mother's, trying to get our attention.
"Who's that?" Kayla asked, pointing to the picture.
"It's Jesus," I answered.
"Well, Jesus picked me up," she said matter-of-factly.
"Where did he pick you up?" I asked.
"In Florida," she said.
"Where in Florida, at Disneyland?" I asked, thinking she might have been referring to some flesh-and-blood person.
"No, silly mommy! At the car accident!" she laughed.
My family members and I just looked at one another in amazement, and for a moment we were speechless.
"So Jesus picked you up? Where did he take you?" I continued.
"He was taking me to heaven."
"Did you go to heaven?"
"No," Kayla said. "You were crying so much that Jesus gave me back to you."
As I listened, chills ran up and down my spine, and tears filled my eyes. Kayla went on to tell us that Jesus had taken her by the hand and lifted her out of the car. As he carried her away, she could see the car wreck below. She wanted to go to heaven with him, she said.
When I asked what Jesus looked like, she said something even more astonishing. The Jesus who picked her up was a being of "blue light." As she recounted this memory, the expression on her face became blissful. "He was beautiful!" she said.
Seeing the peace and joy on Kayla's face as she shared her NDE with us, I was immediately released from many of the difficult feelings that had been tormenting me over those months. But it would be several more years before I could even begin to think about the many questions the experience inspired. These questions, although still unanswered, continue to hold my attention to this day.
Kayla sometimes liked to talk about the NDE during that first year, but stopped when she became embarrassed by the curiosity it aroused. These days, she doesn't mention it very often, but she has agreed to let me share her story.
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