The Inner Path To Christ 16

The Wilderness Years

There cannot help but be a repercussion, a response in your life to the new energy and potential you are releasing.  This is represented by Jesus going into the wilderness and being tempted by the devil.  It is described in the New Testament as follows:

And Jesus, being full of the Holy Ghost, returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted by the devil. And in those days, he ate nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. And the devil said to him, ‘If you be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.’

And Jesus answered him, saying, ‘It is written that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’ And the devil, taking him up into a high mountain, showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.

And the devil said to him, ‘All this power will I give you, and the glory of them: for that is delivered to me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If you therefore will worship me, all shall be yours.’

And Jesus answered and said, to him, ‘Get you behind me Satan: for it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve’.

And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, ‘If you be the Son of God, cast yourself down from here: For it is written, He will give his angels charge over you, to keep you: and in their hands they will bear you up, lest at any time you dash your foot against a stone’.

And Jesus answering said to him, ‘It is said, you shall not tempt the Lord thy God’.

And when the devil had ended all the temptations, he departed from him for a season. (Luke 4:1-13)

Everything new is confronted by the old.  In our everyday activity’s habits serve us well.  Without them we would not be able to stand, walk, or talk.  Some habits we have created simply through repetition, such as those in learning to ride a bicycle or drive a car.  But some have been etched into us by great pain, by punishment and reward, or by the enormous pressure of social opinion and peer pressure. The outcome of all this is that we respond to the world and to our own urges and perceptions in particular or predictable ways.  These responses are not necessarily well thought out.  They may not serve us well.  How often have we heard of a person making the same mistakes again and again; or of a man or woman who consistently fall in love with partners who are apparently trying to destroy them?

Therefore, the temptations described in the New Testament are subtle commentaries on the habitual responses that often arise out of our own inner darkness and pain.  If not that, then they have arisen out of perceptions of the world that tell us there are no living connections between ourselves and other people, between ourselves and the rest of the universe.

The Personal Desert

In 1927 Buckminster Fuller stood on the shore of Lake Michigan contemplating suicide. He said to himself: ‘I’ve done the best I know how, and it hasn’t worked.’ He was still grieving the loss of a daughter who had died five years earlier; his business had just failed. He was penniless and 32 years old. He wondered how he could support his wife and newly born baby, but, after struggling with his despair for hours in the dark and the freezing wind, he decided to live the rest of life like an experiment. He wanted to discover whether the golden rule of life was dog eat dog. He would find out by seeing what could be physically demonstrated. To free his mind of conditioned thinking and reflexes he stopped talking for a year because reading Korzybski [i] had convinced him that language structures caused conditioned associations or mechanical reactions that lock us in fixed perceptions. When he began to talk again, he refused to use the words up or down, because there is no up or down in the universe. He also saw, as one of his insights gained through experience, that the golden rule was, ‘If I worked always for others and only for all humanity, I would be optimally effective.’

Buckminster Fuller went on from there to design the Dymaxion House, which was mass producible; the Dymaxion world map, which is the only flat map with hardly any distortion; the Geodesic Dome; the Floating Breakwater, and to become one of the world’s great prophets of a sane, human future, coining the phrase ‘Spaceship Earth.’

Bucky Fuller [ii] managed to step out from behind his habits, his conditioned responses, and create a new life.  In fact, from failure he managed to express his amazing potential and leave an indelible mark in the world.

Fuller said that he had experienced a profound incident while standing on the shore of Lake Michigan which would provide direction and purpose for his life. He felt as though he was suspended several feet above the ground enclosed in a white sphere of light. A voice spoke directly to Fuller, and declared:

“From now on you need never await temporal attestation to your thought. You think the truth. You do not have the right to eliminate yourself. You do not belong to you. You belong to Universe. Your significance will remain forever obscure to you, but you may assume that you are fulfilling your role if you apply yourself to converting your experiences to the highest advantage of others.”

The shore of Lake Michigan was Bucky Fuller’s wilderness.  It depicts exactly the situation we will each meet in our own way at this stage.  The wilderness confronts us with a choice.  On this stretch of the way you will have experienced for yourself the realisation of eternity and the recognition that your thoughts and emotions can never encompass reality.  Therefore, any sense of failure you might have, any rigid judgments you make about yourself and others, any belief you entertain that money and power alone will give you happiness or wholeness, can be seen as illusions.  The problem is that old habits, old responses, will tempt you to follow these illusions because for all your life they have been what you have taken as truth. So, the choice is this; will you follow your old habits and your old illusions, or will you trust your sense of the eternal and your awareness of the life beyond the paradox of right and wrong, good and evil?

Trials and Difficulties

Another feature of the wilderness is that you feel you have touched the heart of things, and although you have had an experience of being part of everything, there is now nothing.  Perhaps the events that have led to this point have been extraordinary in their intensity and variety.  You may feel you have made the great Voyage, travelled a wonderful Odyssey, and yet at the end of it what is there to show? Where is the Golden Fleece?

This is a difficult time.  There aren’t many wise words to say about it, it’s just has to be lived through.  But it does seem to be a time of adjustment.  Up until the wilderness the transcendent, the divine, always appeared as something external, something you might achieve or reach one-day.  Then, on meeting it, it disappears.  At least, it disappears as an external, as something separate.  The adjustment then, is one of recognising that what appears to have been lost is a part of ordinary everyday life, and the moment-by-moment contacts and relationships you meet. What you had as an apparent external reality now needs to be roused and seen as yourself, your own potential.

Another thing that may happen is the falling away of many ambitions, activities and directions, that previously seemed very important.  Perhaps they were important enough for you to believe that without them life would be meaningless.  But here they are dropping away, and you may feel very confused.  The confusion arises because the activities were connected with a belief you had that the activities or directions made your life worthwhile, that through them there was something you had achieved or could be proud of.  As they drop from your life you may be left empty-handed, and with the feeling that you are achieving nothing, going nowhere, losing power.

You are in the Middle of Things

Yet, as your expanded awareness has shown you, you are in the middle of things.  There is nowhere that you are disconnected.  Your life has meaning simply through existing.  Yet why aren’t you being used?  Why are you wandering alone in a wilderness?

Those questions have to be answered by you.  For how are you going to reconcile timelessness with the passage of time?  In your time bound world every day, especially every year, must be filled in a way that satisfies your own perception of achievement or power.  But yet, as someone close to me once told me, “Your life is just a gap in eternity.”

The following is the dream of someone passing through the wilderness:

A few nights ago, I dreamt I was with a group of people walking in very dry, desert type countryside. It was like I imagine Egypt to be – or as I saw Israel. We were walking somewhere quite purposefully, but I was not aware of where the goal was. I was caring for a younger man who was not mentally alert, or at least appeared to need looking after. Our path took us into a rock tunnel cut into a huge rocky hill. The tunnel was large and with a well-worn path, and with enough height to easily stand. It was dry and comfortable. Deep within the tunnel we entered a huge cavern that spread for over a hundred yards to our left. The others in the group were ahead of us and out of sight, but the young man and I stood and looked at the cavern that was not at all dark or dismal. What was so remarkable was that on the floor of the cave, entirely covering it were thousands of shoes. I knew a race or tribe of people who had been on a great exodus had left them. They had left their homeland and travelled through this tunnel. The shoes had been left as a sign of the great journey, the great change they had undergone – as if they had left all behind. I felt it had happened long ago.

In exploring this dream, the dreamer said:

I realise this dream is about my readiness to move on. But there is something in connection with the cave I do not want to let go of, something I do not want to leave behind. When I was looking for God there was always the sense that if I found God I would be transfigured; I would be somebody wonderful. I don’t want to look at this tomb thing. There is something I don’t want to see. I feel it is that I betrayed him – the one who appeared to need looking after. He put his trust in me and I betrayed him – this said after a fantasy of sacrificing/killing my younger companion in the cave. These were feelings I had when I left my children. I felt I had sacrificed them to my needs. They put their trust in me and I betrayed their trust. And because in the dream the cave is a place of leaving behind something from one’s past way of life, then what I need to leave behind is this sense of pain about feeling I have betrayed that precious trust.

It was a terrible thing to decide but I am now ready to make this change. I am ready to let go of the past – I need help to unburden myself of all I have been – like these other people have with their shoes. The past is so powerful though. While we are still living in the old country there is still the sense that we can make reparation for the life we have lived; there is still time to change, to make amends. One is making reparation by staying. But when one decides to leave – then I am faced by the finality of what I have done, and that it may never be undone.

I have mourned at that grave so long though. I have wept so many tears over it, to remain would be sickness. There are few tears to shed now, they have fallen in the past. There are regrets, but they are regrets that are not binding me or keeping me in the tomb. So in this way the cave is like the tomb one dies in or is resurrected from.

So now I have the feeling that although I am ready to move on I am in a state of preparation – getting my bag packed, putting my kit-bag/rucksack on. I have left my shoes in the cave, paid homage at the shrine of the dead or the past. I have what may be an old pattern emerging though. In looking forward to changing I keep expecting something amazing to happen.

The change is that I have made up my mind not to go back into the old rigid roles of trying to live in a particular way – trying to be something in particular – struggle for recognition and make a name for myself.

The Whole is Greater than the Part

In a certain way things never end.  The tree can never depart from its roots.  It still needs the life of the earth.  As strong as it may become there are still tender and vulnerable twigs and buds somewhere on it.  Nothing is taken away, but much is added.

So, it is with your own growth.  You still remain a vulnerable human being, and yet so much is added that mitigates your tenderness.

The Human Spirit

Through discipleship you gradually come to recognise that your Spirit is the central fact of your being.  Through the awareness of this you arrive at a greater personal peace, and harmonise with your innate nature, without having to join any sect or give yourself to a rigid set of beliefs.  You may also meet and converse with the master and receive the teachings at first hand.

An example of that was this man’s second meeting with the master:

“It was this knowledge aspect I received in the second meeting. This time there was no subjective imagery as there was in the first. But if I put the experience into images to make it clearer, then it was like standing with this all-seeing presence, and him/it explaining to me how many of my feelings and fears about sexuality were not based on reality. This communication was not verbal, but a flashing interplay of thoughts and feelings.

What was pointed out to me in this way was that what we call love is rooted in cosmic and biological facts. Involved in this is a sort of dying or self-giving apparent in what happens between the sperm and ovum. When the sperm penetrates the ovum, they give to each other their most vital treasure, their genes. Each of them dies to what they were, and their blending becomes something new and unique. Christ showed me that this complete giving of themselves was the foundation of human existence and love. If we could allow even a small part of this into our everyday life, then we would begin to experience the love that underpins the phenomenal universe.”

Achieving this means that you have transcended your own previous state of awareness.  When you transcend your own needs, your own biological, social, sexual needs, and reach across what may be a huge gap that separates you from another being, you change something in yourself.  From the most ancient of times some men and women have done this to extraordinary degrees.  Just as society has built physical and sociological structures that have evolved into what we can see and live within today – for instance we live within this body today that is a physiological structure gradually developed over billions of years – so, behind that is another structure brought about by these extraordinary men and women.  Like our body, like our language, like the social rules and attitudes we live within, this other structure is built out of thousands of lives and endeavours.  As with language it is the accumulation of an unimaginable synthesis of human feeling, action and thought. We have this heritage of extraordinary human action. It is the spirit we open to when we accept baptism. It is the gift we are offered by proxy at christening. It is represented by the blood of Christ.

“Wine was originally just the juice of the grape. It was the fluid, the blood that runs out of the grape when you crush it. The juice of the grape is its life that it gives you freely. It is the blood of its being it lets flow and gives to you. It does this to perpetuate its seed. But this act of survival is done in a way of self-giving. That is why the grape and its juice has become a symbol of the eternal life, the blood of Christ, the love that flows out to us from God and from God’s creative forces. They constantly give of their body to us. The grape is therefore a symbol of our relationship with God.”

The mystery of you

This is so important it needs to be made very plain, otherwise you proceed along this path of discipleship in a fog of misunderstanding. Most of us now understand that the body we inherit from our parents is the result of the physical and mental characteristics of countless forebears.  Your physical body, and who you are as a person, have not arisen from a vacuum.  The details of this are becoming more and more understood as thousands of researchers dig deeper and deeper into the mysteries of the genetic code.  But our science has been sadly lacking in helping us to understand what is meant by the human soul, and the human spirit, and unless we have some grasp of these, we remain vulnerable in our journey towards a fuller spiritual life.

For a single cell, which is a seed from which all life forms evolved from, doesn’t become old or die because it is immortal, for it keeps dividing and doesn’t die. In dividing it constantly creates copies of itself, but as it does so it gathers new experience, it changes what is copied, so becomes the ‘seed’ for multi-cellular organism. We all started from the original one cell, and we, you and I, are the result of gathered experience.

No plant or creature grows from a dead seed, and each living seed carries within it all the past gathered from all its forebears. So, the seed in your mother’s womb is as old as and even older than human kind, and you carry that wisdom or memories in you. But in this life, you developed a new brain, and the memories, education and programming you gathered this time are what you built your personality from, but beneath that is a very ancient self. To explore it see Opening to Life

Just as the human body emerges from immense past action and experience, so do the intangible and huge aspects of your own personal awareness and mind.  As already mentioned in previous paragraphs, without your relationship with parents, family and the people around you, you would never have developed the ability to speak and think.  The language you inherit, like the body you inherit, is the result of enormous human experience, thought, struggle and sometimes bitter hardship.  That immense gift comes to you through your relationship with those around you. But there is another gift that arises with barely any awareness of its impression upon you.  This is the gift of behaviour, or more precisely, behavioural responses.  From the moment you are born, perhaps even prior to that, you are learning, or there are pressed upon you, responses to what you are experiencing.  The culture you are born into is a huge ready-made set of behavioural responses.  For instance, an Australian aborigine would easily respond to a huge living grub/caterpillar by eating it.  This would be a very difficult behavioural response for most Northern Europeans or Americans.

Without knowing it, without thinking of it or being aware of it, when we make decisions or choose directions, or simply decide what to eat, we are drawing upon our own massive behavioural pool.  That may appear to be basic psychological insight, and you may wonder what it has to do with the human spirit.  Perhaps you will have a clearer view of this if you consider just for a few moments a little of human history.  Remember the immense bloodshed, the torture, the constant conflicts between different nations and religions, the struggle of countless individuals to survive, to care for their children and those they loved.  As was said earlier, your behavioural responses do not emerge from a vacuum.  They emerge out of history.  What you do today has its roots in what took place yesterday – even in the long past – as it says in the Bible – unto the third and fourth generation. And those roots are passionately feeding upon those past struggles, the past triumph, the times of transcending evil and war. If you do not understand this, then you do not understand the human soul.  You do not understand yourself, and the passions and pains you are moved by. For the human soul is that great pool of inherited human experience and responses, only part of which you recognise and call your own – yourself. In fact, your soul is the part of that grand inheritance that you recognise and are aware of.

The path of discipleship is long, satisfying and including many lives and changes of roles.

[i] See – He argued that human knowledge of the world is limited both by the human nervous system and the languages humans have developed, and thus no one can have direct access to reality, given that the most we can know is that which is filtered through the brain’s responses to reality. His best known dictum is “The map is not the territory

[ii] See

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