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I had a dream...

I received the following question from a reader....

“How does a liberal Christian who "will defend to the death the right of every human being to find and follow their own path to the divine" reconcile himself to Jesus' own words: "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6)? Sounds like Jesus was one of those narrow-minded bigots you have so little tolerance for.”

I am going to answer your very valid question by paraphrasing the quote from the Gospel of John into the language of my spiritual life.  I don’t pretend that his is a translation since I am not a scholar and certainly don’t speak either Greek or Aramaic.  The purpose of this rendering into contemporary language is to make clear what, for me, was the spiritual intent of the original words of Jesus which we will never know for sure.  The Gospels were written long after the events and were written by believers to convert and instruct First Century people—a people who had considerably different world views and experiences from us 21st Century people with our media, science, politics and issues.

“I am the inner work.  Inner work is the essence of truth and the essential life.  No human being comes to the divine but by doing this work.”

So no I don’t think Jesus was “ of those narrow minded bigots.”  But many of his followers are.  Jesus, for me, is a human being who successfully completed a task that we were born to do and then tried to reform the Judaism of his day to enable others to do the same.  Unfortunately, his teachings got caught up in the politics of the Empire who saw him as a threat to thier power. Thus the crucifixion—the death Rome reserved for political prisoners.  What happened next?  We don’t know for sure.  Conservative and fundamentalist Christians who read the Gospels as literal truth believe that his body rose from the dead.  Isn’t that the very ancient and pervasive Mediterranean myth of the male resurrected god that you find in Osiris, Mithra, and the Elusinian mysteries imposed on the death of the Jewish prophet to make it believable to the pagan world and thus easier for them to convert?  That is one way First Century people could make sense out of what happened.  His followers saw him after he died.  The only way they could understand that vision was he had raised his body from the grave.  OK, so this is what I believe on this day in 2005.  I am still on the search.  I believe that Jesus had done the human work so successfully that he had grown a soul so powerful that it could transcend death and he chose to reveal that “spiritual body” to his followers. Does this make him divine?  I think so.  The first to see him were the women—so much for the all male apostles.   It was his intent to show us all human beings can succeed in this work regardless of race, class, gender, religion or politics.  He left no directions.  We have to figure it out for ourselves.  We have filled in the blanks with dogmas, creeds, rituals and theologies that all seem to miss the mark.  The mystery of Christianity is inner work.  It is also the essence of Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Taoism, Paganism etc.  “The way that can be named is not the real way.”  Lao Tzu.

I am going to end this by sharing with you an experience that up till now I haven’t shared very often.  But I think it is a clue to the mystery.  My partner of many years died of HIV in 1993.  We had a very deep and powerful relationship on many levels.  After his death, I had several dreams where he would come to visit me.  In these dreams, I would “wake up” and John would be there.  We would sit on the edge of the bed and talk.  Then he would leave and I would go back to sleep and then “wake up” to the real world in the morning.  In these dreams, his body would be shimmering atoms of multicolored light—incredibly beautiful.  He would never let me touch him.  In one dream, there was a door in the wall behind my loft. In the real world, there is no door in that wall.  John stood and started to walk through the door and I stood to follow him. He turned and said, “Curran, you can’t follow me through this door.”  I went back to bed, back to sleep and then woke up in the morning wondering what it all meant.  Of course, I could make all sorts of wild claims but I choose not to.  They were just dreams.  And dreams are a mystery.  Spirituality is a mystery.  Christianity is a mystery.  But on the basis of these dreams, I believe that something of John transcended his death and could still speak to me.  And I couldn’t help but think that if Jesus’ followers had had similar experiences, they would have said “He Lives.”  

So does this mean it was all just a dream?

Posted: April 2, 2005 

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