The Inner Path To Christ 20


 Self-sacrifice is the fundamental influence in this experience. It has been formed by countless people giving of their life, either in death or in long lives of self-giving, such as mothers give to their children, or so many give themselves in war or a life of service, that it has created a huge behavioural pattern in the unconscious of humanity. Therefore, the symbol is not referring only to Christianity, it is an image that expresses a fundamental aspect of life itself.

Many processes in nature are confronted by the need for self-giving, in creating the new, or giving life to another. A mother animal gives of her body and sometimes dies in the process of giving birth; during reproduction many animals die, the sun is dying as it pours out its energy, thus enabling life on earth.

Crucifixion is linked with love, and of course deep love is a way of giving yourself to or for another person. Such a death arising from self-giving is shown, in the symbolism of crucifixion, as opening the door to sharing a wider life. In the death or willing sacrifice of one’s ego there can enter awareness of how this links you with universal life. You experience how life itself is continually sacrificing itself. But there is no real pain as birth follows death, and both are part of a huge cycle.

The sense of the enormity of the presence of Christ suddenly arrived one day to me and showed me a form of love I had never seen before. It was an enormous experience. I use the word enormous because the experience is often one of meeting someone or something so huge, so beyond the apparent limitations of human life that I, and others, are often overwhelmed by awe. At other times the awareness of Christ brings with it a feeling of communicating with a knowledge, or base of information, that seems to be all knowing, or all inclusive. Sometimes this means a penetrating insight that strips away one’s own lies and reveals unconscious motivations in a gentle way.

It was this knowledge aspect I received in this meeting. This time there was no subjective imagery, 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.

Unfortunately, Christian teachings paint a picture of just one life followed by death – with resurrection a long way off. Yet ancient beliefs saw the Sun, overclouded and nigh to death in winter, come to its birth again each year; they saw the vegetation shoot forth anew in spring — the revival of the spirit of the Earth; the endless breeding of the Animals, the strange transformations of Worms and Insects, so they taught that everything, including human lives, goes through the cycle of birth – death – rebirth, as happens with the seasons, Spring – Summer – Autumn – Winter – Spring.

If we begin to see the crucifixion as a symbol, then we can see so much more in the whole event, for the death seen as a symbol depicts a personal ‘winter’ after which the new birth of Spring arises again and is celebrated each year. This can lead to a new view of the cry, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.”

If this is not just a historical account, but about one’s personal path of discipleship, then it gives an amazing view of what we face. Yes, it is about death, but obviously not death of the body, but as a disciple we face death or loss of our old self, a self that was dominated by a sense that we were simply our body, and were trapped in the illusion that what we see or understand through our physical senses is reality – though we now begin to understand that we are only capable of seeing one percent of visible light, and only can hear one percent of audible sound, and we can also start to understand that dogs and other animals can smell and hear many thousands of times better, so our ability to feel we experience ‘reality’ is a flawed assumption. But our death of this illusion, this self, opens us to the wonder of being raised from the death we thought was life into a full experience of the Divine and the Life it brings.

A different cry reveals even more, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” This is a cry from the human man – the view of the normal human who sees life as a solitary existence, during which one is always a separate body distinct from others. Such a cry comes because the one crying out sees God as separate from himself and so calls out for help as he faces death.

On the path of the disciple we face this feeling that God is far off and so we face death. But the cry comes from one who faces death, but not as we see from the churches view of death which is a torturous agony. but death of the human sense of a self distinct and separate from all others. When that personal sense of self dies, we open to immense possibilities. We open to the realisation that God is not separate from self, but is the very foundation of our own existence, and crucifixion was the experience that produce this wonderful change.

Many people have personal experience of burdens/ crosses they bear. They may also fear being trapped or nailed to work, painful relationships or life situations, and people express this in various ways.

“This is crucifixion, allowing oneself to be buffeted, torn by all the fears, angers, hates, prejudices human beings are heir to. There’s no creator we are told by our pundits. We are only maggots. There is no life after death. Crucifixion is the meeting of the fears and darkness this leads to. It is to meet the death of all one’s inner life cries out for and through experiencing it moving beyond it.

As I went through this it really did feel as if I had at last understood the meaning of that cry for the father, and the taunts of the mob. The mob are all our own inbuilt doubts, fears, angst, cynicism that lash out at our feelings. Our fears have to hit us to test the strength and validity of our inner sense of the spirit. Also, they need to not just believe that experience, so they shout, “Crucified him. Crucify him!” They need an actual experience of testing and death to discover what the truth is; what lies beyond death. And the cry from the cross is a meeting the reality of the human condition. We are not divine. There is no father to help us. We are alone. Death confronts us. We reach rock bottom. We fully accept our humanity. Then comes death of our hopes or beliefs and we become the divine spirit in everyone. Not something to earn or reach beyond for, but to uncover it as it waits within us.

Gradually there was an awakening. The crown of thorns was lifted off. I felt my pierced side. There were nail holes I felt in my hands. I understood I had suffered these by being willing to work at the common task’s necessity demanded. The nail holes in my feet I had suffered as the willingness to accept everyday life and earthbound consciousness, instead of struggling to raise my own consciousness. The binding clothes were the restrictions of sensual consciousness falling away.

Then I saw the Christ standing above me with a crown of thorns. A cup was in my hands, and I asked that it be taken from me, but if necessary, “Thy will be done.” Then the crown of thorns was lifted and placed upon my head. I was crucified, dead, and buried.

The symbolism of the nails in the hands and feet depict how our personal awareness, the divine at our core, is nailed to physical life, and through being willing to work at the common task’s necessity demands, we experience the falling away of personal desires. The nail holes in the feet are the willingness to accept everyday life and earthbound consciousness, instead of struggling to rise above common humanity. The binding clothes are the restrictions of sensual consciousness as it falls away.

When we begin to experience these things for ourselves, we want to record them as in the following:

As I lay in the tomb I wondered when was Gethsemane and crucifixion in my life? When was death? The answers came from within quickly. Gethsemane was my recent fear of the irrational. It was the conflict I have felt about going further into the unknown. I had prayed – “God if this be illusion take it from me, for I want it not. But if this be what you wish for me, then I accept it.” This had been my Gethsemane. My death was in being willing for my egoistic hopes and beliefs to die and be absorbed or eaten by the Self. My crucifixion has been over the past many years.

To meet and go through these experiences we need to surrender our whole being to the divine action. 

In this surrender, however, instead of questions answered, each time there was for me a bringing all to the centre, offering my ideas of God, Christ, the Devil, in their outer, past, future, conscious, unconscious, all were put into what I had “avoided” – the dark centre, the nothing that was also everything, and they died. There was a feeling of the unreality of Christ, that the Christ has gone, dead, only an illusion, a facade. I see that through this feeling I denied him thrice, and felt he was gone. But now there seems to be something else emerging. I realise that everything had to die into that centre, because this is like the shadows standing before the Light. Only that which is Real can survive this death into the Real. There comes now a feeling that I have been present at the birth, life, trial, crucifixion and death of the Christ. Now comes a glimmer of hope that the Real Christ will be resurrected – a unity. I do not know what this resurrection will mean in actual experience. But perhaps it means that the Paraclete; the helper, that the Holy Spirit will come to me – that I will know the arisen Christ to then ascends into union – that I will be led by the Spirit to baptise with the Spirit in the name and preach the Gospel.

As I reached this part of the experience, I began to feel it as deeply Christian. Christian in the sense of experiencing it, understanding it through the being of Jesus.

“Jesus being a willing sacrifice, that was the terrible thing for many to see or believe. Saying he wasn’t afraid of death was what awed everybody. That’s what awes everybody about a saviour. They say – Okay, I’m going to face this thing that everybody is so afraid of. That is why. That is what it is all about. Okay, so I will explore death. Right, here we go.”

The question on my mind, and seeing already, intervened at various points. Now came the question of how to communicate capably to others.

“You just don’t need to do anything. You don’t need some big technique. There is David off there, there’s me here, there’s my wife; we are all just doing our growing, exploring. You don’t need to do anything, not anything in particular, only to accept and love each other. That’s all there is, without any big doctrine or anything else.”

And as Elliot so rightly said –
I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:

So, the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

As I practised what Elliot has written, I experienced death, bodiless sensation, the end. I had taken on the role of the one who explores death. It was such a simple, yet such a profound experience because of the realisation that brought. I do not know whether I can capture it all in words. I was ready to die, to end, to suffer the defeat of extinction. I had found the dignity, the manhood of that acceptance. I met death.

So, I died. There was an ending.

The person who recorded this experience saw another view of crucifixion.

Somehow, I knew we were all actors performing a show or drama. It was the crucifixion, and I was to be crucified. Yet at the same time I was simply watching it and was someone else as well. But instead of being put on a cross, a figure on a slightly higher curve of the battlement, who was also me, carefully aimed an arrow at the sacrificial me. The bowman me was like an Eros figure, and the arrow a dart of love. It was fired and hit me in the heart. Yet in some way it never pierced me, as it had a rubber sucker on the end. Nevertheless, the show was over. We all dispersed. With others I walked down a street with two friends, Bill and Ray, maybe as one person. He showed me a poem he had written about his son, or a heart shaped thing.

Here, crucifixion is linked with love, and of course deep love is a way of giving yourself or dying to another person. Such a death, one arising from self-giving, is shown in the symbolism of crucifixion as opening the door to sharing a wider life. In the death or willing sacrifice of one’s ego, as described in Elliot’s poem, there can enter awareness of how this links you with universal life. You experience how life itself is continually sacrificing itself. But there is no real pain as birth follows death, and both are part of a huge cycle.

Yet another facet of crucifixion lies in our vulnerability as human beings. Our personal awareness is at the centre of all it is touched or impacted by. Here is the agony of personal crucifixion being met by one individual on their journey through the darkness of our times.

I had been talking with my wife about where and how do we find purpose, real manhood and womanhood in today’s world. We talked about past cultures, primitive peoples, and how many of them had the dignity and shining quality of manhood and womanhood.

I felt the situation wasn’t a simple one though and did not necessarily mean we had to learn from the primitive. Because when the primitives, such as the Kalahari Bushmen, were stripped of their myths and fantasies, they became smashed beings who lost their purpose, their quality, their manhood, their soul. Many of such primitives became alcoholics or lost people. And aren’t modern men and women primitives who have been shorn of their ancient fantasies, religions, ways of life, territory, securities, and beliefs? But on feeling this I knew we cannot go back. We must go forward to survival with some wholeness.

What came out of this as I explored inwardly was a reply to these questions. That is, there is no way of life, whether as ancient peoples, modern human beings, hunters, intellectuals, business person, social success or failure, that will in itself give us purpose or meaning or wholeness. There is no answer to our problem in that direction. No religion, no practice or philosophy will give us that assurance and quality the primitive had by being protected by their deep involvement in their religion and traditional way of life.

The answer as I saw it is to go through the agony of completing the job that has been started. If we are primitives who are smashed because we have lost most of our fantasies that protected as from the reality, awfulness and wonder of our situation, then we must complete the process and let the rest of our fantasies fall away until we cut through to the wonder, so we can really look at reality. We must come to terms with our situation. That is the maturity and quality of manhood and womanhood today. After meltdown it is only what is left that has any survival value.  So, we do not look back to past leaders or ideas but move onward creating a new world.

That is the atmosphere many of us are in at this moment. Our beliefs in anything except the physical have been stripped away. What has been put in their place are statements told as truths that there is no mystery to human life except it be chemical or hormonal. There is no reality except death. In a recent copy of the magazine New Scientist there is a reader’s letter in response to a previous statement about there being no evidence for life beyond the death of the body. It says:

I contest your statement that the “so-called ‘Lazarus phenomenon’ has never been documented in brain-dead patients” (5 August, p 6). If a flat electroencephalogram is taken as an indication of brain death, then there are documented cases. An article in December 2001 in The Lancet (vol 358, p 2039) refers to the case of a young woman ‘who had complications during brain surgery for a cerebral aneurysm. The EEG of her cortex and brainstem had become totally flat. After the operation, which was eventually successful, this patient proved to have had a very deep NDE [near death experience]’. This included an out-of-body experience, during which she observed things that happened during the period of the flat EEG and that were subsequently verified. (From issue 2567 of New Scientist magazine, 02 September 2006, page 18)

Although such evidence exists for a reality other than our existence only as chemicals and hormones, bones and muscles, our culture largely denies it. This denial is another form of crucifixion of your personal potential and the reality in which you exist.

All those feelings and stages are implicit in the experience of crucifixion. So many men and women have trod this path of being ready to walk directly into the darkness of personal death, because life as it is painted by the extant philosophy and religion have taken away all personal connection with the underlying reality of life in them. Life is a spirit that never takes form yet is in all form. It is forever dancing absorbing experience, and only if we let drop all the things we hold onto as security can we know it as it dances. When we touch that power and it leads us to crucifixion, then we are led into an initiation in which we meet all our illusions and fears and come face to face with death. And that exposure to conscious death is a doorway to new life.

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