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Archetype of Baptism

The act of baptism long pre-dated the early Christian community. One can find water for purification outside very ancient temples. Therefore the tradition of baptism is older than the historical Christian church. It had its ascendance in the love a mother felt for her children, and beyond that the love she felt and gave to other children. Beyond that still, a loving woman might suckle a creature and extend her love beyond the normal boundaries. She might hold that other child, or that creature, with the same tenderness that she held her own baby. In such a moment she would know something that was beyond herself. It is something that flows through all of us. We symbolise it as the milk, the wine, or the blood. It is the flow of love that comes from beyond our own small personality.

The urge that enables us to reach out to another person who is not our own kin, or to another creature, is a small awareness of that universal life and consciousness that pervades all things. It is an expression of the Mystery that we can perhaps never understand, that is Life.

Baptism represents a conscious opening or an introduction to that Life. It is also an entrance into the recognition of the wider family; of that mysterious body we call Life. We become brothers and sisters in a wider community. It takes some skill to recognise who these brothers and sisters are, and what part they might play in your life. Calling yourself a Christian does not necessarily mean you have been truly baptised in that spirit of life and love. In fact you might still be imprisoned by attitudes of bigotry, class, creed, skin colour or gender.

Fundamentally, baptism means a change in the stance or condition of your inner attitudes. It means relinquishing fixed opinions and having an open mind. It means opening the doors of your being to new experiences, to new possibilities, pleasurable and painful. It means learning to love without bending others to your will, without grasping them for your own needs. It also means becoming a channel for that river of Life to flow through. In this way we can become workers in the vineyard – that is, co-workers with the processes of growth and evolution in the worlds of nature. But more than anything it means being washed clean in the river of Life.

Example: For some time I had been earnestly surrendering my life to the action of God by offering my body and mind in any way. I was feeling very ill and depressed at the time, and longed for healing, but could feel no definite change. Nevertheless I sat every day with a ‘waiting’ or ‘open’ attitude. I deeply pondered the question of how the action of God showed itself. Maybe I wasn’t aware of it. But I had noticed that while I slept my body experienced a subtle vibration, like you feel when you put your fingers on a smooth running electric motor; even my wife could feel it if she touched my body. But I could observe no changes in myself from this. It felt like a river of energy was flowing through me, like baptism.

Then one night, B., my wife, got out of bed because the baby was crying. When she had settled I got up and went to the toilet. Just as I was getting into bed again I heard a voice speaking to me. Literally a loud voice came from everywhere around me. It said, “You have asked what are the results of God’s activity upon one – now watch closely.” This was an extraordinary thing to experience, and waiting for sleep to overtake me again I had a mood of expectation, waiting for something to be shown me.  In the morning I remembered the following dream.

I was in a huge theatre, or amphitheatre.  The stage was on my right.  The part of the play I observed was where the actor walked up to a mirror and looked at himself.  Then somehow the activity gradually began to take place on my left.  First of all an orchestra was playing on a slope facing left.  Then everybody was moving to see a big event that was going to take place on the left.  This was at the opposite end to the stage.

Two days later I was massively plunge into the inner workings of the spirit. See Life’s Little Secrets.

Rather like the artist archetype, the negative aspect of this is a hollow living out of baptism. We see this in some religious communities where an external ritual takes the place of the inner experience. The person is then influenced to live out a way of life dictated by the organisation or the social norm rather than by the flow of living experience connecting the person with their source.

Useful Questions and Hints:

Was my baptism an experience of life washing me clean? If so what was I cleansed of?

What change has the experience of baptism made in my life?

Was my baptism a ritual that did not touch me inwardly?

See People’s Experience of LifeStream – also Talking As.

Copyright © 1999-2010 Tony Crisp | All rights reserved