Yield – Chapter Six
The symbolism of the New Testament
Yield – Chapter Six
Father – I Tremble
There was a time when a great vision came to me. In it I returned to the womb; it was not my mother’s womb, but the Cosmic Womb, from which God gives birth to us. Back and back I went until I knew that if I should be drawn deeper I would cease to exist as an individual. Yet I did not fear, for I knew from old that God did not seek to destroy me, and I cast myself into the void.
Then, instead of extinction, the formless God grasped me, and grew me like a seed springing out of the void, Feeling like a seed of corn, my body, which had been curled like a babe in the womb, opened. My arms and legs became roots holding the earth, and my penis like the growing frond of the wheat reaching to the sky.
Then God spoke to me, not in words, but as surely as if words were used, saying “I have grown you out of my being into the world of time and the body. Such is my desire in regard to you. Through fear and pain you have oft thwarted my power in you. But now, through your surrender unto me, I have released within you my creative power. For though you are a man, you lacked manhood, which can only arise from the unfettered child. Through the power of my spirit I have taken you through childhood to youth, and your manhood now is as a tender plant beginning to grow. Come to me in surrender each day, and I will grow you into fullness, I will make of you a great tree over the years. And when that tree of your soul is prime, others will stand under the shelter and strength of its branches. In its protection they will be able to grow also, until trees themselves, they will shelter others.”
Like someone new born I arose from this vision, realising God had led me to experience the beauty of youthful sexuality for the first time in my life. For in my childhood it had been slain by my mother, my teachers, and by lifeless religion. Its symbol was the penis, and proud at last of my holy manhood, I now felt the urge to piss. I walked to the toilet, knowing I could now look in a girl’s eye and be proud, for I was at last a man, at thirty years of age.
As I stood above the toilet I laughed with pleasure and pissed into the water making a great noise – a thing I had before been frightened of, for boys are often aware of their inadequacy. And many bubbles rose up on the water and drew my attention, for they were as a host of eyes looking up at me. This was so strange that I knelt by the toilet to observe it. Yet as I did so, they were not eyes, but l’s; for the reflection of my body in the countless bubbles had looked like a pupil of an eye, but was now seen to be but a reflection of myself.
And now my spirit spoke to me as a sense of knowing, and said, ‘Wait, for I show you a wonder; look further’. And looking I saw the multitude of bubbles were counter-parts of me. The eyes with which they had stared upon me were but reflections of my own The awareness which saw me was the very consciousness looking out of my own eyes. Without me they would cease to be, and I knew I was their Creator; they my children, and I loved them.
The horde of beings, each in their separate little self, their own cell-like world, all had their unity in me, though by themselves they were a diversity of different sizes, shapes, colours and position. Yet as I looked, some burst and disappeared, while the movement caused others to jostle and change, and in this way my spirit showed me another deep strangeness. For as I looked, nothing had changed. No water had been lost; nor had my consciousness been depleted in any way. The only difference was a memory now stored within me of that tiny separate ‘I’, which for a short moment had found itself locked within a trembling, moving form and jostled with its brethren, then blinked out and found itself for what it never ceased to be myself.
How strange a paradox. That I should be myself and then become a multitude, separate and apart, yet all myself, and I am still myself unaltered. What a rare delight it is to love and be thus loved by these, beings of my very being, yet lost and separate souls of bodies I have caused from out my water and its pleasure. What a deep mystery it is to see them born and give and die, yet not die at all, but live in me – in truth not born or live or die – yet in truth also this is what they do, and I too, with them.
How do I say it? I know not. They have burst, and yet burst not. I have lived, yet lived not; moved yet moved not; multiplied yet remained one. Then my spirit spoke again and asked of me, ‘See you not its meaning?’ And the third wonder came on me then, for my being cried out, ‘I Am A Bubble!’
I, too, am but a swelling form jostling its brethren. Jostling am I born and live and die. And is this light I call myself an I of some great I who made me? Great Self, whose very self I am, yet know it not – mind whose mind I am – heart whose life doth pump me – love whose love is mine – life, whose very being made me, what is there to say but ‘Who Am I?’
Know me as you know yourself, and thus may my small knowing know as yours. Love yourself as you love me, and thus will my love, love you with your fervour. Die in me as you have lived, deathlessly, that I may die to life in you. But Lord, I tremble. I speak, yet I do not understand. Is there a Thee and Me? There cannot be, yet here I am, not THEE, but me. Here I am, not knowing who my neighbour is, or what is in his heart, or what pain hides behind his smile.
Yet I am Thee. But this is horror. It is terror. If I am Thee, who have I been all these years? What pain made me forget myself? Or did I ever know? But yes, I must have – haven’t I? If I am not myself, who am I? I dread to think, lest it be some great un-familiar. And if I am not self I know myself to be, what will become of me? Lord who is not Lord, and is yet Lord, take my frightened hand and lead me there to where I am already. Take the un-familiar me who is not me, yet is, and have me know the me I am, yet never knew. Hold me, even in my own arms, while all the world falls apart around me; while all my world shatters; while my mind breaks; while my heart stutters, while everything quivers and shakes.
I trust you God. I trust myself. I trust you God. I trust myself. I trust you to me God. I myself trust God who trusts me. I God am myself trusting to you. I am trusting you not to take God from you. I am you trusting me to be trusting. I am me trusting to God because I cannot trust myself. I am myself and not God. I am God and not myself. I am God and myself. I am not God, or myself. I am not what I know, perhaps not even what I know not. I am not even what I know not, but what I know I know not. I am known to God who knows me not as I am but as I am not known. I am not the not that is not. I am the not that is not itself. I am the ‘is’ that is forever not, I am the not that forever is’ I am the I am, am I. I am the am I. I am …I am …I am ……………I AM.
No, no, please, not that, anything but that. It is too much, too little, too wonderful, too horrible. I cannot bear it. Take it away. Take it away!
But where? Where is there to take it? Where is there but myself, myself in myself? Yet I want it away, for I am frightened. Frightened perhaps of the thing that I am. Frightened because, if I am a bubble and the I that I am bursts, and in bursting knows itself as the I that is changeless, might not bursting be a pain? I can see the shadow of that bursting already cast upon me. It is the shadow of the cross. On it I will be pierced, broken, yet lifted up; die yet be born, sleep yet awake, be acquainted with sorrow yet know joy.
Dare I swell and burst? Can I trust myself to what I am? Have I the courage to become myself? Have I? Have I? Am I, I am? Turmoil – Pleasure – Pain – Peace – Turmoil But what the hell am I worried about, maybe it’s all a dream. But what if I acted as if it were and found it wasn’t, then I’d be really fucked up. Life is but a dream I wonder?
You know how it is in dreams; sometimes in dream after dream some real monster, dripping slime and stinking ooze chases you and you wake screaming. Then one day, or rather, one night, you scrape up some semblance of courage, and as the horror comes at you to tear you apart, instead of running you smile gently at it and say, ‘Sure, do your worst, enjoy yourself.’ And then that damn monster, with a shy smile either turns out to be, (a) your best friend in disguise and actually an angel who now wouldn’t harm a hair on your head. (b) a melting female/male who loves you and you alone, with all the oomph of a long frustrated goddess, or (c) quietly melts into a puff of smoke and charges up your nostrils, making you realise that’s where it came from in the first place. And so whether friend, goddess or smoke, it’s all in your mind. If you approach it trembling with fear, then it is a bloody devil, trying its darndest to tear you into aching shreds of painful soul. If you approach with love, it metamorphoses before your very eyes from a devil to a lover. If you approach with courage, then it is a friend struggling with you on the path of a rugged adventure. If it is a smile you arrive with, you come face to face with the divine comedy. Or maybe you want to approach it like a Zen monk, with nothing at all.
Okay, so then it is, nothing. On the other hand, approach it with everything – and there it is, the All. But the agony of it; the bleedin’ tearing agony of it; Christ only knows!
You must know it too though; you dream as much as I do. Only the other night I had this dream, who hasn’t? And in it I had somehow got myself suspended by a slender tree branch half way up a sheer cliff thousands of feet high. I kept looking down at the roaring sea, and I was terrified. So okay, who wouldn’t be? But the thing is, I knew I was dreaming. I knew that I had fallen thousands of times in dreams, and my only injury had been fear – nothing else. I could easily let go and drop into the sea at bone-shattering speed, and, quite unharmed, float under water for as long as I liked. After all, who needs to breathe in dreams?
Or else I could have let go and flown like a bird up and up into the sun, and been burned to atoms, yet rise like the phoenix from my own destruction, But I didn’t. I clung there sweating drops of terror – knowing I was dreaming. Life is but a dream I keep telling myself, and maybe one day I will believe, even as much as a mustard seed.
Good God, do you know what happens to people who begin really to believe life is a dream – they begin to metamorphose the world! You don’t believe me? What you mean is you don’t want to believe me, it’s too bloody frightening. Have you heard of fire walkers? How do they walk on red hot rocks with bare feet, unscorched? What about spiritual healers; the ones who bring about sudden and dramatic cures, even to the extent of immediate changes in body structure? Some people never eat – others just reach out and take physical objects out of ‘thin air’ without first having them up their sleeves.
Lots of people have floated through the air without any support. St. Theresa is one of many who did so in front of reliable witnesses. Some people even vanish while in a locked room – or appear in several places at the same moment – or rise from the dead – or any damn thing you like. You think it up, and I bet you some bright spark has done it. Don’t you begin to get the – er – somewhat tentative – er – feeling, that there is a sort of – er – dreamlike quality about all this?
What if you really believed this – I mean really believed it, what might happen? Maybe, when the next circus comes by, and their fierce Bengal tiger escapes, you would walk right up to it as it rushed through the streets roaring, and people were doing cartwheels and double back flips to get away; and you would say ‘Look tiger, you and I know, deep down, that if I believed hard enough, I could turn you into a stuffed teddy bear. But I don’t want to interfere with this dream too much, so be a good tiger and go back to your cage.’ And the tiger would lick your hand and go home to his circus.
You don’t believe me? Daniel did it. Plenty of recent holy men all over the world have done it. Why not you; or for that matter, me? Hey look, whose conversation is this? Tigers are out, hear me. If I am going to start believing in mustard seeds or whatever, I’ll start on something more my size, like pussy cats, or a conjurer’s rabbit. Okay, but think of the possibilities. Read the thoughts of distant friends like St. Catherine; walk through a fiery furnace like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego; or, better still, find the one who dreams it all.
For I saw a great vision, and I am moved to tell you. The deeps in me opened and I was shown my spirit walking on earth in all the ages of men, taking on flesh time after time. Man and woman, beast and plant it has known. Death has been upon it in all the ways men know their end. In torture, in bliss, in war, in love, in fear, in prayer, in all these ways has it known death, yet it has never died.
It, that has screamed as men tore its body; it, that has lain as a woman beneath men; it that has known loneliness as only a child knows; it that has been staked out in a desert; it that has been saint and sinner; it lives in me now! It survives all, beyond all, it lives and has placed me in the world. Yet , . . yet . , . though I know this, can I walk up to the cross? Can I? The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak, Dare I face the shadows of the world, see them for what they are, and plunge into the unknown? Authority, religion, science, social codes, death, pain, dishonour, ridicule, powerlessness, failure – aloneness – utter aloneness – can I face them like the dreamer faces his monster, and smile?
And Faith said unto him, “ ‘Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death’. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me”
“And he came out and went, as was his wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place he said unto them, ‘Pray that ye enter not into temptation’.
“And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will but thine, be done’. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
“And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, and said unto them, ‘Why sleep ye? Rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.” (1)
Then it was that he was taken before Caiphas, Pilate and Herod Antipas, the while being mocked, scourged and ridiculed.
Yet now I tell you to be still and listen again to the song: to listen while I sing once more the verses of the hymn of life. Open then to me with not just your eyes to my dancing, or your ears to my song, or yet with your skin as my lips brush your cheek. Open your soul, wide and ready, unfurled to feel both pleasure and pain, tears and laughter; then deep will cry unto deep, and you will know me for what I am nothing.
For I am neither the flower that blooms nor the bee that sucks it: neither the woman who croons nor the babe who feeds. I am all that is left when they are gone – which is as naught to men. But in the something, which ye call the world, which is the ever changing tumescence of my forms, swelling, bursting, something becoming nothing and returning to me, there arises your soul – me knowing myself as you. And there comes Mary in your soul – Mary to her first bleeding, her little death of self and her womb’s tenderness for me. For your soul is me known as yourself, and your spirit is me known to myself. And there comes a birthing as you drop the barriers of mind, of heart, of genitals. Mary borns not of just a man, but of the essence of a world – perhaps the cum of a whole cosmos enters your soul and lodges there to be birthed.
And it is so, for do I not sing it, and am I not the one who dreams? Child of stars, born to the mother of God; son of man and light of men, bathe in the river of the will, wash in the stream of life. Then is the dust of mankind disturbed, that the light of your Father the stars may shine. Then is the dirt which has covered your soul washed off and the devil within comes out to taunt.
And so sing on, as the dew of the desert is scattered, as you wrestle the devil by shining the light of your stars upon him. ‘You are but unreal shadow,’ you cry, ‘get thou behind me as I stand before the sun. Yea though I fear you, I have seen my birthright. With its truth I deny your existence, and I still the frantic dance of my soul, that it may not dance to the tune of the devil.’
Then the light of my stars will shine forth. I will stand upon a hill, and men will be bronzed by the light of the sun. The vine of my soul will rise up in the light and bear fruit and the truth of my being will enhance the truth in other beings. But now, in the light of this light there is a call. You are neither darkness nor light, it says. Neither stars nor earth, form nor formless, but the essence of all. Therefore, why deny the dark or worship the light? Why cling to the world or drop into the void? Why fight the devil and worship God, for all these are contradictions. If there is God who is ruler of all, there can be no devil. Your fight with the devil is but an affirmation of his reality and of God’s non-existence.
And of your worship of God, it is a denial of me in thee, for it is saying, I am apart from thee. And thus are you squeezed at the olive press of Gethsemane, while the sacred oil of yourself is pressed from its form. And you cry out as thee and me; and because you come thus I answer, saying, Be as a reed; be as grass that is crushed, yet has strength to rise again. Be like unto the turtle which when it chooses can withdraw to its shell. Be as one who lets loose an arrow, yet knows he is not that arrow. Be that which perceives through a man, and not that which is used to perceive.
Shout out to the world, I know, I dream. Do all that you wish, for naught can harm me. And by this act allow the devil to leap upon you, to dance and rave, while you smile. Then you redeem as dreams are redeemed by a dreamer’s smile. Be, oh man, oh God, as nothing – nothing.
A man dreamt he had been captured by a group of men bent on destroying him. They were, they said, part of a huge criminal organisation which spanned the earth. With tremendous power: they secretly ruled the world, and those in high places remained simply because they were tolerated.
Most men did not know of this secret criminal brotherhood and were allowed to indulge in their petty affairs without hindrance. But the dreamer was a threat because he had begun to suspect and make known their terrible activities. For this they would torture and kill him. But even so, naught could harm them, so cleverly organised were they. Like a wartime underground movement, their bosses were never known. Yet they existed in supreme power, and this was the mighty strength they represented.
And the men were the man’s own fears made real to him. They were his fear of opposing social authority, even though it crushed his soul; his fear that others were right in saying there was naught but death; his fear of ridicule; his fear of failure in the eyes of society; his fear that unless he conformed to the world’s way, he would never get anywhere, his tear that life did not love and support him, and he needed therefore to fear men and women and their threats, to fear fate, circumstance, position, madness, lack of education and opportunity; in fact all things.
Then the men came toward him with an electric drill to torture him, but he kicked one in the balls and seized his gun. Now it was that he had reversed the situation, and they were afraid. But beneath their fear they still smirked, for even if the dreamer killed them, they knew their brotherhood would avenge them.
So does a man desperately turn the tables upon his fears, by destroying his instincts, his sexual feelings, and his natural energies, as is done when a man sits in the wilderness. But the
devil only goes away for a season; and at Gethsemane his voice tempts again.
But brotherhood, in mankind itself, in our own self, not having been redeemed or transmuted, but only suppressed, rises again. Jesus in us has grown since Jordan. In the sense of the eternal within us has arisen a greater certainty that Life does not seek to destroy us. All it brings is brought in love. Only in this strength can we say to Life, ‘Even pain, I can now see, is given not as a punishment, but as a warning we are destroying or damaging ourselves; or as a part of your healing process. For as a splinter is pulled out of a poisoned finger, there is bound to be some discomfort. So, too, as hate, fear, malice, animal instincts, greed, and the other inner sicknesses, are drawn out of my soul, there may be discomfort also. But I am now ready to let this happen, without, as I always did before, snatching myself out of your influence. Therefore work your will upon me, though sometimes my own will may draw back. Let the angel of intuition strengthen me in this, though I am feverish as if sweating blood. I am ready, though my faith, my love and my will become inactive through sorrow and not knowing the ways of God.’
In just such a realisation, the dreamer looked upon the men, upon his own fears, and handed back the gun, saying, Do to me what you will; and he laughed at them.
Amazed, they forgot their plans, and asked him why he had done such a thing. He replied saying, ‘I can suddenly see you for what you are; harmless, frightened little people. There is no great brotherhood of evil. There is only people like yourselves running around believing in it because you are afraid of your own weakness, your own loneliness and powerlessness. Now I see through you – you are as nothing. I, too, am weak and powerless. But it does not frighten me. I accept it, therefore it is no longer a hidden fear. But I also see that beyond my human weakness and vulnerability Life in me is indestructible, eternal, and all-knowing, and I am a tiny part of that wonder. Take your gun.’
We only become whole by becoming whole. While large areas of our nature are pressed back because we judge them bad, we are not whole. Judge not, says the Bible; yet generations have judged, and so divided not only the world, but themselves, into fragments.
The infinite, which we have called Life, has in it all things, good, bad and indifferent. In the infinite all opposites exist, meet and unite. In the infinite, all actions at the finite level, which we judge as good or bad, are seen from an infinite number of viewpoints. Thus the bad can be seen as good, the good bad. What is important practically, is that when we hand our whole being over to the infinite Life, giving our good, our bad and our indifferent, all parts of us can be united in a common good. Or perhaps good is the wrong word. Better to say there is achieved an integration and balance. But to reach this, we must be ready to have what we judge as good and bad things happen to us. This handing over of our centre of judgement is Gethsemane. It is the relinquishing of what we will from the limited viewpoint of emotion and intellect, to that which arises in us I from the infinite. This does not crush human will, for our tiny will is an expression of the infinite will. To crush it is to deny God. But the handing over is an act of enlargement. A wider view has been glimpsed, which if acted upon would change the direction of our will. Gethsemane is the agony of this leap into a vaster sensing, a huge inclusive viewpoint, in which we act and will, not for the good of self only, but for the good of self in the All, in the body of God. We therefore take our place in this huge organism of Life, and become enriched by it. But the agony comes in recognising that much of what we willed in the past arose out of our inadequacies, weaknesses, fears and habits. In the great organismic body of Life, there is no room for these for limitations. They hinder our full-blooded dance, song, creativity and self-giving that we are called upon to achieve in corporate as living. But to let go of them is to be naked, dead, defenceless, open to all attacks from within and without. It is to be completely open and undefended, to be ready to feel and experience everything. Can we do this? Does our Father-Abba love us? Can it we trust ourselves to the love of Life to take care of us? Can we walk toward social ridicule, misunderstanding, being lied , about, abused, CRUCIFIED?
But we have that courage, or we would not have come this near to the cross. Indeed we would never have passed through the wilderness. Through that patient waiting on God; through the deliberate putting aside of actions and courses arising from our fears, hopes, ambitions, or even our ideals, our devil, we found there arose in us the voice and impulse of Life, of God, of the Eternal Wisdom. Choice is with us every moment of our existence. There is no subconscious, or unconscious, as the psychologists say; there is only that in us we choose not to be aware of, or not to act on.
And in the wilderness, when the spirit moved us into Galilee, we chose to allow its action. And what is this spirit and its action? In the words of personal experience rather than theology, it is that in us which is other than our own personal fears, pains, lusts and longings. These also cry out in voices and urges, moving us here and there. But if we choose to stand aside, we will eventually notice a voice and direction other than they – other than our individual self. In the wilderness and on the mount of transfiguration, we had to deny these voices in order to make clear the voice of Life. We suppressed the many to hear the one; which we now realise had always been there. The voice, the inner action of Life, had been covered up by surface habits, tensions, denials – that were washed off by the Jordan – and by the inner calm our of our mind, our emotions and passions, which were disciplined in the wilderness. Yet this had only silenced them, suppressed them; it had not redeemed them. For our energy, our life force, is involved, even locked up in these various hates, attitudes, fears and pains. If they are not redeemed, much of our spiritual energy is never released. We see this in the approach of Mary Magdalene to Jesus. All the Marys are aspects of our soul. The virgin is our soul opened to God. Mary Magdalene is our soul open to the world and human passion. She is the prostitution of our love and sexuality in relationships out of harmony with our inner Life. Jesus does not thrust her aside. She stands, kneels, before him, and she is taken as one of his own. Here is the wonderful tableau of human passion and sexuality, not denied or suppressed, not looked upon as evil or damned, but seen as misapplied. Jesus redirects and changes her life. As we offer our dynamic and full-blooded sexuality to our inner Jesus, it is redirected and restored to its rightful place in our experience. The same with Mary and Martha, respectively the urge to open to the inner counsel, and the urge to inner activity arising from one’s own sense of what is needed. As Jesus says, Mary’s is the better way.
Our energy of thought, of emotion, of passion, although denied for the sake of strengthening our consciousness of and relationship with the Life in us, must eventually be released and integrated. For the true Christ life is not one of denial, or suppression, or killing parts of self, but one of integration and wholeness through love, patience, perseverance and fearlessness based on trust of Life’s action on us in our yielding. Now that we have, through the inner birth, baptism, wilderness, and transfiguration become assured that our Father loves us, and leads us only to our own well-being, we have sufficient strength to know we can loose the devil from our command to also ‘Get thou behind me’ into our unawareness. At first we had not we the strength to face all the error, past mistakes, pains, miseries, bitterness and malice locked deep in us. We needed first to cement our relationship with our Father, with Life in us. But now this is sufficiently secure – although by no means perfect – we can open to our own inner torment. We can at last admit more fully to God, ‘lam sick in soul and body, and I come to you for healing. I am ready to experience pain, discomfort, my own hates, malices and fears, knowing they are being cleansed from me by your loving action. Thy will, not mine.’ Now the doors of our own darkness are flung open, and our devil, who left us ‘for a season,’ returns. The twofold action of the rising and descending Life in us, now reaches the extremes of our being. The ascending Life moves toward the ‘place of the skull’ to heighten consciousness still more. The descending Life moves into the depths of our material body to redeem and lift up earth; and to the depths of our soul to redeem and release the parts of our life energies trapped in the hell of inner conflict, misapplication, guilt, hate, terror and loneliness.
To achieve this, our will, our love, our self, has to be closely oned with Jesus. Because we have learnt to keep centring our activities, our will, love and passions in our sense of the eternal and formless Life, we can maintain our sense of God, of deathlessness, of desirelessness, of being beyond harm; while our inner malice, hatred and the whole rabble of lusts, grievances, terror and the rest, come and strike our consciousness. If it were not its for Jesus, we could not stand this battering, this menace, this madness and chaos within. Only in the power of the eternal and Life can we let it act on us, and in doing so, bring it to consciousness and redeem it. Thus does Jesus suffer taunts, injury, crucifixion and death, to redeem the world – our world. He suffers it knowing deathlessness, yet only now proving it to consciousness by letting the inner darkness destroy his body, and knowing that in this act of faith, there is released the eternal Life which resurrects and at-ones the previous separation. Tremendous energies are locked up in matter; and this penetration into the depths of our body by the descending force of spirit, releases functions and capabilities only latent in human beings prior to this level of evolution. This then is ‘the hour of darkness’ when Satan is released to be redeemed by Jesus – who in the act of redemption becomes the Christ.
“We are confronted, in that hour, by the Divine Word: by that Life in Whom is the life of men. Sometimes the encounter is like that of Pilate – none of our seeking. Sometimes it is that of Herod – the disappointing, the hardly recognised satisfaction of our vague and selfish curiosity about spiritual things. Sometimes it is that of Caiphas – deliberately sought for evil ends.
God comes to us, for the most part, so gently and willingly, His advent conforms so humbly to the conditions of His creatures, the freedom of our spirit is so great, that we may choose almost any part in the World’s Tragedy. The only thing which is beyond our power is to remain wholly apart from it. It is open to us to betray, to judge, to mock, to deny; to follow His footsteps, to watch Him from the roadside, to serve Him on the way. Some, when He confronts them, still go through the solemn farce of washing their hands; refusing all responsibility. In vain. In this very act they send perfect Love to the Cross. In the choosing of our part in the moment when He stands before us, we judge Him, and He us.
“There are three forces within the Self, three aspects of our being; which, if we place any one of them upon the judgement seat, will judge Him unjustly. “Caiphas the High Priest, the conserver of our prejudices, will judge Him unjustly because no formalist can conceive God when He works in and through life itself, instead of in and through the symbols we have chosen for ourselves. Jesus of Nazareth, the free and spontaneous incarnation of the Godhead in human life, cannot be known and loved by the timid and prejudiced reactionary which lurks in each man’s soul, which sets up egoistic standards of truth, and is beset by evil fears when they are threatened by the onward sweep of the unresting Spirit of Life.
“Caiphas is afraid of Life: envious of Life. Its simplicity and freedom evoke his malice and distrust. He looks for a Messiah who will conform to his own formulae: all others are but pretenders. Caiphas worships creeds and laws – the traditions and definitions of theology or of science – but not a living God. When life, disconcerting in its creative liberty, thwarts tradition – when experience runs counter to science – he cries ‘Blasphemy!’ When the Divine Nature is manifested under an unexpected form, disappointing us by its humility of circumstance, who confusing us by its defiance of all our ancient standards, amazing us by the secret and insistent power which is yet so different in kind from all that our imagination had persuaded us to expect; then he is filled, not with awe, but with terror is and wrath. His is the first voice to send the Eternal Wisdom to at the Cross.
“Herod will judge unjustly because he is delicate, supercilious, self-indulgent: because his attitude towards the spiritual universe is one of egoistic curiosity. He is, as we say nowadays, ‘interested in all these things’; and, by this very fact, hopelessly separated from them. He is a taster of life, not immersed in it. No most amateur of the marvellous is capable of recognising the Living Christ; at most he will deck Him in the gorgeous robe of condescending approbation and send Him away. Herod never to condemns God: he only finds him rather commonplace and uninteresting. To him, the Eternal Wisdom seems folly: more, in the bottom of his heart he knows it to be dangerous folly, which would destroy forever his sleek comfort, his tolerant curiosity, his passive and amiable interest in the marvellous, did he but listen to its voice. But the voice speaks ordinary and simple things: the Speaker seems poor and ineffectual to one who demands an atmosphere of wonder as a necessary ingredient of supernatural reality. There is little to tempt Herod to change a tepid and comfortable curiosity for the harsh and dreary actualities of spiritual experience. It is the horror of the when situation for the Herod of our souls that there is no third choice: we leave Perfection to Its fate, or take up the Cross and follow It.
“Pilate, the ultimate tribunal of the unregenerate mind, implicitly indifferent to God, will judge unjustly because he represents convention which regards culture and civilisation as more important than reality, the keeping of rules as safer than seeking of truth, and the ideals of government as taking precedence over the expression of life. It grieves the aesthetic instinct of the Pilate in us that the Beautiful, the Innocent, the Ideal, should be hurt. He loves order and moderation, hates the fanatics of all creeds, and feels an impatient disgust for the vulgar and ignorant minds which insist on the condemnation of interesting, picturesque and harmless things. But it is the way of the world: and so, he supposes, beyond his control. His business is to manage the world in the interests of law, peace and comfort – concrete matters, to which clear benefits are attached. Life, says Pilate, is inevitably a matter of compromise.
There is no use in forcing on a community ideals which it does not understand. For himself, he finds no fault in the Eternal Wisdom. But the people prefer Barabbas. So he washes his hands, ostentatiously, in the presence of the crowd which he both despises and fears; and – obedient to the wishes of the majority – he releases to them the Evil and sacrifices the Good.” (2)
Caiphas is our bigoted opinions, either for religion or against it, for a materialist is as much bigoted as a fanatic. These rigid views crucify Life in us. Life cannot express, cannot grow us, cannot become itself when condemned by them to be nailed to the cross of matter. At this time, when the doors of the soul are flung open, our dogmatic views, our fixed concepts of the world and life are released to confront our sense of Life. All the fear, distortion and avarice: all the petty selfishness and ignorance inherent in these views are released upon the Christ consciousness. For we must KNOW!
This is not simply an agony or a trial. This is the great confrontation – the hour of judgement – the time of encounter. All that has gone before has readied us for this time. Until now we could not have faced this eye-to-eye conflict. But now, all the things intimated by the voice of the eternal sense, by Jesus, must be put to the test. The judgement by Caiphas, by Herod Antipas and by Pilate, are a time of trial not only for Jesus, but for all they represent in us. Now it will all be put to the test. If we are to arrive at CERTAINTY – not just in a small area of our being represented by Jesus, but in all the rest of our inner world; in our depths; in our bitterness; in our cynicism, in our doubts, in our black despair, then all hell must be loosed upon our Jesus to test his mettle, his deathlessness, his redemption of us. So he takes it all, and swallows it all up in his Love, is Wisdom and Power. His forgiveness heals us, his love unites us and his power redeems. But we, to unite our life with the inner Christ, and to be as great, have to become as nothing. This is what terrifies Caiphas, that he might be stripped of rank, of authority, of . . . everything!
And Herod is the desire for worldly authority, pomp, esteem. He is our ambition for titles, recognition, rulership and power over other lives, ruled as he is by a foreigner; which is to say that our love of domination is in us a power that arises not from our own soul, but from the enemies of hate and envy and egotism which possess it. Jesus stands before Herod a simple man without worldly goods, without the tools of authority in the shape of an army, or powerful followers, or position. For Life does not offer us glory or worldly power, or titles, only a part in the great body of Life itself, as but one of numberless cells, none higher than others. And if there is a condemnation of the Christian church, there is none greater than this given by its Master. For he had nothing, and sought nothing, offering his very body to be wounded and broken to death. In the utter and simple faith of eternal life, and God’s power to raise from death, he protected himself from no injury, no slander, no attempt to ruin and destroy. Yet the Church has ever protected its body, its wealth, its beliefs, its teachings, its dignity, never believing in despite its claims. So they are become as Caiphas, as Herod, and as Pilate, destroying the spiritual life of the nations, preserving not the Life, but the dead body of a past incarnation Life we expressed in.
And Pilate is the foreigner in our midst, The authority entered into us from the values we have placed upon social rules, political creeds, appearing right and balanced in the eyes of others. For this is truly foreign to our nature. Life in us expresses freely action to the moment’s need, blending into the life of society moment. Thus the actions of living out of the formless blend with the needs of others, even though those needs are not pondered over and heavily weighed by intellect, or dictated by our tradition, or decreed by government. But inasmuch as we cannot yet live out of our formless self, we need rules and reminders and disciplines to guide us. When the Pilate in us is confronted by Life itself however, out of habit he will hand it to the rabble, to the rules, to crucifixion. But in this way, our consciousness sees through, and becomes released from the bondage of Pilate. For we suffer the pain not only of his judgement, but also of Jesus’ agony, and this is our redemption.
Believe me, you cannot escape You cannot, even in sleeping or death, escape from relating to the Life that causes our existence. We do not judge and scourge, mock and spit but once upon that – Life’s humble action in us. No, not once, but every year of our life, every month, every week, every day, every moment, we deny it like Peter, scourge it like Caiphas, turn from it like Herod, and wash our hands of it like Pilate. But having travelled this far, to the Centre, the Jerusalem, of our own being, and seen more clearly our action on Life in us, we can never now escape that vision, those scenes, that sight of innocence whipped, spat upon and mocked – by us. What matters it if we scourge and kill a thousand times, or a thousand thousand, which is but a day, or a week’s denials of Self, it will arise again. Like cropped grass it will spring up to meet us on the road, or at the mouth of the tomb, or on the edge of sleep, or anywhere, as the risen Christ. And though we turn from it to books, to creeds, to rules, to suppression, to burying it after we have killed it, yet it will arise again, and again, and again. And because we have once seen that face, wherever it was, we will know it now for the face of Jesus, for we have seen it at the cave, at Jordan, in the wilderness, and on the mount of transfiguration. There is no mistaking it now, no excuse for what we do. Perhaps only the bitter weeping of Peter, the dying of Judas’ ego, can expiate us, for herein lies our alienation. Yet we do not have to judge or put these things out. They occur spontaneously.
And in the end, this time of trial resolves itself into the utmost Self-reliance; Self and God and Life being synonymous. Can we trust our own sense of the eternal, and the instructions and assurances arising from it? Or must we ever run to teachers, to yogis, to books, to churches, to creeds, to authoritarian shoutings, to those who say ‘I have the only way, all others are damned’. Or else deny self all together and live only for wages, television, the local, hobbies, sex, or the host of distractions?
To believe your own thought”, says Emerson, “To believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men – that is genius. Familiar as the voice of the mind is to each, the highest merit we ascribe to Moses, Plato and Milton is that they set at naught books and traditions, and spoke not what men, but what they thought. A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognise our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good humoured inflexibility even when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. Else tomorrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced with shame to take our own opinion from another.
“Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept a the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events. Great men have always done so, and confided themselves childlike to the genius of their age, betraying their perception that the absolutely trustworthy was settled at their heart, working through their hands, predominating in all their being.
”The other terror that scares us from self trust is our consistency; a reverence for our past act or word because the eyes of others have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts, and we are loathe to disappoint them.
“But why should you keep your head over your shoulder? Why drag about this corpse of your memory lest you contradict what you have stated in this or that public place? Suppose you it. should contradict yourself; what then? It seems to be a rule of wisdom never to rely on your memory alone (scarcely even in acts of pure memory), but to bring the past for judgement into he thousand-eyed present, and live ever in a new day. In your physics you may have denied personality to the Deity, yet when the devout motions of the soul come, yield to them with heart and life, though they should clothe God with shape and colour.
Leave your theory, as Joseph his coat in the hand of the harlot, and flee. “Speak what you think now in hard words and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said today – ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ – Is it so bad then to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.
“These varieties are lost sight of at a little distance, at a little is height. One tendency unites them all. The voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks. See the line from a sufficient distance and it straightens itself to the average tendency.” (3)
“I must create a system of my own”, says Blake, “lest I be crushed by another man’s.” (4) For if I be true to Self, I cannot be false to any man. This is the moment of truth, when we face the charging bull of our passions, and if we falter from our Self reliance, then we will be thrown down by the creature we face. Or like Jonah, we will be swallowed up by the forces of misery, of fear, of distress within us. But as soon as we give ourselves once more to that higher will, we are delivered again from bondage.
There came a time in my life when I was in such misery I would curse God and life. I suffered an almost constant pain in the chest; I was so drained of energy, what little I did do left me exhausted. Beside this I felt dizzy so often I would have to lie down. But perhaps worse than the physical condition was the state of my soul, which was full of anger, longing die (for living was unbearable), criticism and dull blackness. And when – the pains – my shoulders and chest became bad, this inner state would deepen and I would sometimes cry as I walked the street, weeping for death. But I could not die, and I could not live. I was neither dead nor alive in body and soul, and I would shout out ‘Fuck you God! Fuck you and all this fucking misery!’
Then I would feel terrible remorse because despite my pain I loved God, and it Was only in desperate moments such thanklessness would tear out of me. And each night, even though during the day I had lost all hope, and turned against God, I would fight against the darkness and surrender all my being to God. And this went on for some years. My hopelessness would say to me, ‘You will be like this for the rest of your life. What the hell is the point of all this religious stuff, and looking for the help of a God who isn’t there?’ But my voice which spoke to me from beyond my pain would say, ‘Though you cannot see it yet, God is already doing for you all that can be done. Keep going. God will make you whole.’ And to strengthen the resolve which arose from this I would read of others who had prayed for years without help, but found it through persistency and love.
For it takes love of a strangely powerful kind to come night after night to that lonely encounter of self surrender. All one’s fears of being forgotten by God – of there being no God of not being heard – of all manner of problems, arise and try to tear you from your purpose. Only loving persistence in the face of all this – only a trust, which, despite tailing time and time again, rises beneath its cross and carries us on, gets us through.
And this is the time of our trial and judgement. Which side will If we take? Will we take up the cross, or will we turn back? After nearly four years of this I awoke one night and heard a voice. When I spoke of a voice above, I really meant the voice of one’s realisation. But this voice was like somebody speaking to me. It didn’t seem to come from anywhere in particular, but was very clear. At the time I had been pondering just what is God’s action on us – how do we experience it. And the voice said, ‘You have asked how God acts upon you: now watch closely.’
Shortly after this, all the painful events from childhood, past shocks or operations; past malices I had locked in me; terrors carried over from past lives; all the great darkness we store in us because we do not let go and offer it to the healing and relief God can give us; all began to break through into consciousness and be resolved. But that is another story. This is crucifixion, Through handing my whole being over to God’s care, I was enabled to face the pains long held back in me.
Through that same action, healing began. But that surrender has to be total. We have to surrender not only the good, but the bad also; not only the thoughts but the passions and lusts. And we have to let go of them so God can work on them. We must be ready at times to feel hate, or lust, or terror, or being a child again, as God brings these things to the surface to cleanse and heal. We must be ready to cry, or laugh or even scream out, if God moves us in this way. And it was the example of Jesus’ acceptance of what the mob did to him; of what happened on the way to crucifixion, that helped me more than anything else, to let this process happen, in the faith that God would support me through it all.
Regarding that voice, that presence, that Self which speaks beyond our own noise, a woman had a dream. “I was walking in a desert in bare feet. The sand was very hot. I was alone but not lonely and seemed to be looking for something. The sand was very golden and the sky a brilliant blue. Looking all around I saw a huge tree.”
The desert is our inner barrenness, It is our past experience, our earth, full of promise, but not yet made fertile. And the tree is that of ourself which has grown of Life; the formless in form; the universal made individual as ourselves.
“I walked to the tree and the sand became softer until I began to sink. But I caught hold of a branch and pulled myself up. I easily climbed quite a long way. Then I came to a particularly broad branch. I walked along it and it became wider like a road. I came to a house so I opened the door and went in. A woman sat in a rocking chair with a baby on her knee. A man came in and spoke the name Liza to the woman, and I knew her to be my grandmother, and the baby my mother. I went over to them but they did not see me.”
And we are swallowed in the barrenness of our soul unless we be lifted up by the power of Life making strong the form of our body. For the Power is the reality, and the form but that which the reality holds together for a few of Time’s moments. It is the reality which grows us from conception to birth, birth to youth, youth to maturity and maturity to death. The form swells and bursts, but the Life remains. There are many branches from the Tree of Life, planted in the midst of our being. From the one Trunk, the one Life, comes infancy and age -love and anger – wisdom and folly – male and female – sexuality and the mind – passions and peace. All are branches. And our family is a branch also. Along this have arisen our mothers, and the mothers of mothers who brought forth the fathers of fathers. These are the generations of our body from which we have arisen. And invisible to us are the children of our children, till our own unfolding reveals them to us from the great Unseen.
“Then I was back in the tree. It was becoming dark very quickly down below but it seemed light further up the tree. The leaves ‘were exceptionally green and shimmering. Climbing up I came to another wide branch and went along it. Suddenly I realised I was holding someone’s hand. Looking up I saw it was my Father. I was about six, and we walked through a meadow full of flowers. I picked a few and he bent to kiss me.”
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting as we lose sight of our homeland in our growth and emergence. Sprung up from the universal Ground of being, darkness covers our beginnings. But to emerge, to grow, to spread the countless leaves of our being to the Light of our life is to become aware. And from the generations of our body, and the one Ground, we become a child, kissed and held by the Father.
“Then I looked down and I was back in the tree. I climbed further up and went along another branch, finding myself in the garden of my mother’s house. It was full of people. They all seemed happy. My Grandmother, Mother, Father, Husband and your children were there. This seemed brighter and more real than the other branches. But suddenly everything seemed to change. Everybody seemed the same age they were, but their clothes and the colour of their skin were different, as different people from different lands. Only I remained the same.”
Irresistible Life goes on. To resist is to moulder as a branch cut from its sap. To go on in the stream of Life’s changes is to grow and unfold. The child from the mother becomes a woman who becomes a mother who unfolds a child who. . . and on. But the tumbling cycle of birth and union and each other is the same theme played over and over by the One Life in different bodies, different lands, different combinations, different results.
“I went out through the gate and I was in the tree again. As I climbed further up I was becoming tired. I came to another wide the branch and went along it. I saw my mother sitting on the branch. She was crying. Floating away in the distance was a coffin carrying my grandmother. But the face kept changing until it had been the face of all the family except myself. Then it changed to all the different colours and hairstyles imaginable and disappeared.”
And that which emerges falls back into the Sea of Life; back into the unseen from whence it came. So too do all our different moods and thoughts, opinions and emotions, in all their changing, enter back to that.
“Feeling tired and old I climbed yet higher up the tree, and he walked slowly along another branch. I was back in the first house again. The woman with the baby was there with another woman who was very old. And a children’s choir began to sing, and called, ‘Jane, Jane, Jane’, over and over. The old woman stood up and said, ‘Yes I’m coming’. And I looked at her again, and knew her to be myself.”
So the Great Mother remains in the world, growing mothers out of babies, and babies out of mothers. And who am I? Am I the unborn, the baby, the child, the newly wed, the aged mother; or am I that which is all of them?
“Now I was at the top of the tree and looked across the clear horizon. It was morning. I saw a white bird in the distance. It was flying toward me I felt tremendously happy yet very sad at the same time. The bird came slowly nearer, I felt myself floating up above the tree, but I was afraid of falling. Then the white bird flew below me. It came nearer to me, and I felt its soft feathers near me. Looking down the bird had gone. But looking at my arms I saw they were covered in white feathers. Flapping my wings I slowly flew around the world. I flew down to countries ravaged by war and famine. I shouted to all the crying children, ‘Come to me. I will wipe away your tears’. Looking up they said, ‘Who are you?’
“I looked down again and saw a long, long line of babies, all different, and a long line of coffins with old people in. I did not know who I was; perhaps all of them. “I said again, ‘I love you all so much. Come to me’. Some came, and some turned and did not see me.”
It is morning, for death is birth; and birth is death, for the darkness fell upon the roots of the tree. And in death we merge gently with that which encircles the world; with that which is all those born, and all who die; who enter into flesh life after life that we may become a separate soul, yet remains the white bird beyond life or death, which knows not itself, except as we come to know it. And the white bird of our eternal self calls out to us. ‘Come to me. I love you so much, I will wipe away all your tears’. Sometimes we do. But more often, we scourge the white bird and spit upon it. We judge it with our petty earthling minds and painful hearts. And we nail it to our tree, for in our souls we are sore afraid.