The Inner Path To Christ 8

First Steps on the Way

To grasp the first steps of discipleship you need to remember that Christ frequently taught in parables.  Such teaching by the use of analogy and symbols was not limited to the stories told, but was also given via the very events and actions of his life.  In the ancient world, much more than in the world of today, teachings were given in the form of rituals or mystery plays, stories and analogies.

If we look at the path of the discipleship, it starts with birth. In the Bible story, this is the birth of Jesus. That event in the mystery play into which Jesus is born, is also true for each of us.  For discipleship is concerned with the arrival of our individual identity or soul amidst the forces of the cosmos, not with its nirvana or blinking out and melting back into the ocean of being.  So unless there is the coming into being of a living feeling person, an identity that can make conscious choices, there is nothing to work with.  For this reason, whether as a ceremony or as a psychological fact, Christening has always been an important first step in the Christian mysteries or inner teachings.  Particularly in some denominations of Christianity it is felt to be of great importance if a baby is ill, to have it named before, or in case, it dies.  If this were not done, it is believed that its ‘soul/individuality might be lost.’

Studies of human babies who were lost at an early age and reared by animals, show that even when physically adult, the lost baby never developed a sense of identity or selfhood.  What we call ‘self’ or ‘I’ or the ‘soul’ is not innate.  It does not develop by itself.  In fact it is given to us by other human beings who have attained it.  It is a precious gift, a flame passed on to us by our parents and the society in which we are reared.  Being given a name, taught to speak, and looked upon and related to as a person, enable us to achieve identity. (See Animal Children).

The life of Helen Keller throws an enormous light into such children’s ability to learn. Helen was struck dumb and blind at an early age when she had only learnt one word. She lived like an animal without self-awareness until the age of eleven. Then she was taught by a deaf and dumb teacher and remembered the first word and quickly began the climb to become a human person. See Helen Keller

Then, perhaps because she had learned one word prior to her illness, meaning flooded her darkness. She tells us that “Nothingness was blotted out.” Through language she became a person and developed a sense of self, whereas before there had been – nothing.

This ‘nothingness’ described by Helen Keller is difficult for most of us to imagine, having all our life been exposed to other human beings through behaviour and speech. Helen describes it as having no awareness of personal pain or events. She says that perhaps things happened to her, perhaps they were painful, but as she had no personal self to appreciate this, they were merely passing tactile sensations. She was not personally disturbed by them because she had no ‘person’ to be disturbed. Her story tells us that it is not our DNA that is the cause of our personality with its traits, it is a blend of so many things, including the learning of language, our cultural influence and our upbringing.

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