[captionpix imgsrc=”http://img191.imageshack.us/img191/7696/nicea2.jpg” align=”left” captiontext=””]Raised as a Catholic when the Mass was in Latin, I was compelled to go to church six days a week (five times before school, once on Sunday, when it was a mortal sin to miss). One Sunday, as a senior, I came downstairs and said I wouldn’t be going to church that day or ever again. In forty years, I haven’t.
Even so, at this time of year I find myself reflecting back on my childhood of brutal Church and family conditioning, and wondering if there is any truth to Christianity’s distorted story about Jesus.
It’s become fashionable in some circles to suggest that Jesus never existed, that he’s an entirely fictional character, invented by the patriarchal founders of the Roman Catholic Church. As besotted and misbegotted as the Catholic Church is (founded not by Peter but by the Roman Emperor Constantine from a motive that had little or nothing to do with spirituality), Jesus lived and taught and was crucified.
Beyond that, we can be certain of very little. One thing is clear however—the cornerstone of Christianity, decreed and set in place by the Council of Nicaea in 325 (that Jesus was God, not man) is preposterous on the face of it. Though the truth is heresy to Christians, saying Jesus is God is actually blasphemy.
Even so, something tremendous happened with Jesus life and death. Stripping away all the half-baked misinterpretations, obfuscations, Catholic misconducts and Protestant misconstructions, what was it? Can we gain insight into Jesus’ mission, and does it have any relevance for our world?
For many thousands of years, since well before the time of Jesus and perhaps since the evolutionary beginning of man, there has been the intent, derived from the immanent intelligence of the universe and flowing through human beings, to bring about a radical change in human consciousness.
Consciousness is not what we have as sentient humans, but what we can have and urgently need to awaken as sapient human beings.
We are the only sentient species on this planet, conscious of our consciousness, potentially conscious of the cosmic mind–if we would only be self-knowing.
Jesus was neither God, nor some unique, special gift from God, but one of the most poignant attempts in human history to bring about radical change in human consciousness–that is, in the human heart.
Had Jesus’ mission succeeded, would there have been 2000 years of war, not to mention the human race having fragmented the earth to the brink of destroying this planet? Obviously not. Of course, Jesus’ failure wasn’t his, but rather the people of his time, down to ours.
Jesus represents not a supernatural mystery, as Christians maintain, but the unresolved mystery of man. His last words (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) echo through the ages. They are our riddle to resolve, because Jesus was human, and was betrayed by men and women.
So what went wrong with Jesus’ mission? (The guilt-ridden and grief stricken belief of his followers, that has stuck for over two millennia, that he was born to die on the cross for our sins is just too childish.) But how could Jesus have gone from that triumphal, prophecy-fulfilling ride into Jerusalem on the back of a burro, to being scourged and nailed to a Roman cross?
Illumined or nearly so, Jesus was a man, and as a man, he made mistakes. His fundamental mistake seems to have been that he believed he had vanquished evil during his time of trial in the desert. But Darkness just withdrew, and laid a trap for him.
Jesus apparently overestimated the people of his time, and underestimated the evil in human consciousness. It’s hard to make either mistake in our age.
There’s an immense intent in and beyond human consciousness to see humanity flower. But there are also self-hating and life-hating forces in human consciousness, born of the wrongful use of ‘higher thought,’ that want to destroy the human potential for true consciousness.
There’s nothing supernatural about either movement, nor is there some kind of celestial war between good and evil being played out in the world. What ultimately happens with humanity has cosmic connotations, but humankind isn’t the only species in the universe in danger of flaming out in the crucible of consciousness.
What matters, now more than ever, is to keep questioning and keep the faith. The question is: What is the relationship between those imperatives and organized religion?