Ancient Religion and Christianity

Posted November 16, 2013 by jackmeier
Categories: Uncategorized

O virgin Mother, daughter of thy Son.  (Dante, Paradiso)        

Many people today have rejected the symbols of Christianity along with the religion itself because they no longer find inspiration there. This is understandable, although such people are depriving themselves of a rich heritage of symbolism. The Christian Church took over much of the symbolic heritage of the ancient world and degraded it by turning these symbols into signs denoting historical events. To take the ancient and rich symbol of the cross, for example, and make it refer simply to a place to hang their dying savior on destroys centuries of accrued wealth of symbolism. As Plato had said centuries earlier,

 The Creator stretched the soul of the world onto the body of the world in the form of a cross. The duty of mankind is the release of that crucified soul.

Byz. Cross-cropped

If the cross is simply the place to hang the dying Christ, what meaning would Plato’s statement have? Hence, to reject the symbols which the Church has degraded is, as you see, a rather foolish act. By undoing today what the Church has been doing for centuries, we are being heretical and even diabolical in the eyes of Christian fundamentalists. We are here relativizing the Scriptures and denying the uniqueness of the Christian message. Jung put it rather forcefully:

 The insistence on the uniqueness of Christianity, which doesn’t even allow it a mythological status conditioned by history, renders the gospel unreal; all possible points of contact with human understanding are abolished, and it is made thoroughly implausible and unworthy of belief, and empties the churches. It is very convenient because then the clergyman doesn’t have to bother about whether the congregation understand the gospel or not but can comfortably go on preaching to them as before. Educated people would be much more readily convinced of the meaning of the gospel if it were shown them that the myth was always there to a greater or lesser degree, and moreover is actually present in archetypal form in every individual. Then people would understand where, in spite of its having been artificially screened off by the theologians, the gospel really touches them. Without this link the Jesus legend remains a mere wonder story, and is understood as little more than a fairy tale that merely serves to entertain. 

A religious tradition severed from its archetypal roots, its mythologic grounding, becomes a set of signs or rituals without depth. Rather than rest everything on the uniqueness of a religion, one might better argue for the ways in which it taps the same mythic sources that undergird every other religion. This is the best antidote to bigotry.

The beginnings of Christianity are not to be found in the life and teachings of a single founder such as a historical Christ. But everything impossible as history is not only possible as myth, but can be the creative cause of the history! Only the mythical origins can explain the birth of the child that was begotten without the father; the virginity of the mother being the natural status of the most ancient genetrix in mythology, who was far earlier than God the father. The virgin mother is nothing if not divine, and being a divinity she cannot become humanly historical. The most ancient, gold-encrusted Byzantine pictures of the virgin and child represent the mother as Isis, not a human Mary. Only the mythical origins can explain why there are two Marys, both of whom are described as being the mother of Jesus. Only the mythical origins can explain why Jesus was rebegotten as the anointed son at 30 years of age, the time of full adulthood according to Egyptian reckoning. Only the mythical origins can explain why there is no history furnished from the time when the child was about 12 years of age to that of adulthood of 30 years. Only the mythical origins can show how the Word, as Manifester, could be made flesh. The dogmas of the incarnation, baptismal regeneration, transfiguration, transubstantiation, resurrection, and ascension were all Egyptian mysteries. These included the mystery of the ever-virgin mother as well as the mystery of a boy of 12 transforming suddenly into an adult of 30 and then becoming one with the father, just as it had been earlier in the mysteries of totemism.

There was the mystery in which the dead body of Osiris is transubstantiated into the living Horus by descent of the holy spirit; the mystery of a divine being in three persons, one of whom takes flesh on earth as the human Horus, to become a mummy as Osiris in Amenta, and to rise up from the dead as spirit as Ra in heaven. Amenta corresponds to the Christian Purgatory, and was the source for the Christian doctrine of Purgatory. All of these, and other miracles of the Christian religion, were already part of the Egyptian mysteries. But the Egyptians did not pervert the meaning by literalizing them since there was no fall of man to deal with, so there was no need for a redeemer. Horus was the justifier of the righteous, not of the wicked. He did not come to save sinners from taking the trouble to save themselves. He was an exemplar, a model of divine sonship — but his followers must conform to his example — and do in life as he had done — before they could claim any fellowship with him in death.  Read the rest of this post »

LANGUAGE

Posted September 15, 2013 by jackmeier
Categories: Uncategorized

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is really a large matter. It’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” (Mark Twain)

A few years back on TV I saw a group of rabbinical students sitting around a table in a room reading from Hebrew holy scripture, aloud. Each seemed to be reading a different passage and so the sound of their reading was an incomprehensible sound between a mumble and a roar. I did not understand what the meaning behind this exercise was, but now I believe I know. I discovered it while reading David Abram’s “The Spell of the Sensuous”, aided by my having briefly studied that language in graduate school. It seems that Hebrew has a single word for both ‘spirit’ and ‘wind’ — the word ‘ruach’. Thus spirit and wind are very closely related in their religion. The very first sentence in the Hebrew Bible, the “Torah”, states:

When God began to create heaven and earth — the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind (ruach) from God sweeping over the water. . .

At the very beginning of creation, before even the existence of the earth or the sky, God is present as a wind moving over the waters. This idea exists also among the Navajos, and can be found among other primitive groups as well. And breath. as we learn from the next section of Genesis, is the closest link we have to the divine. For after God forms an earthling (adam) from the dust of the earth (adamah), He blows the breath of life into the earthling’s nostrils and the human being awakens. The Hebrew term for breath of life is not ‘ruach’ but ‘neshamah’, which denotes both breath and the soul, the more personal, individual aspect of wind, the breath. In this sense, it represents conscious awareness. As we find in the Emerald  Tablet and also in Meister Eckhardt, “Words derive their power from the Original Word.” Read the rest of this post »

Myth, Religion and Spirituality

Posted July 22, 2013 by jackmeier
Categories: Uncategorized

Parmenides wrote: If you think it, it is.

No one has ever added to the sum total of human knowledge by denying the existence of anything. In order to conceive of something, it must already exist in the collective unconscious outside of time and space. As soon as someone conceive of it, it enters time. If it is then invented, it enters space. Therefore, everything conceivable exists at least as a possibility. However, nothing is certain. There is nothing whose existence can be accepted except as a hypothesis. Everything depends on point of view. Even that we are here. It may be that we are simply being dreamed, As a Bushman once said, “There is a dream dreaming us.”

In the mysteries, initiation was kept secret because no uninitiated person could believe what the initiate had experienced, or even how the initiate was now seeing the world he/she was presently inhabiting. The initiate, however, has learned this new way of seeing; namely, that one must accept all beliefs as hypothesis. As Jung pointed out in The Red Book, to hold beliefs as fact creates wars, magic, and religion, all of which, he said, were the same. Since all beliefs are hypothetical, one can see the world through the lens of each belief as it is presented. For example, in polytheism there are as many lenses as there are gods , and when one deals with a particular god, one sees the worlds through the eyes of that god. That is why polytheists do not proselytize. When they hear of another  god, they merely see that here is a different way of looking at the world. They can then accept that all things are possible, but nothing is certain. They are then free to choose among a multiplicity of beliefs. However, in a single-lensed monotheistic society, such a person may be burned at the stake, so one is better off not exposing the secrets of the Mysteries.

We are living in an era of unparalleled impoverishment and depreciation of the human soul. The collapse of old religious forms has been followed by a general demoralization of the dominant Western culture. The now-prevailing secular religions of humanism and rationalism prove inadequate because they fail to engage the transformative layer of our psyches, nor can they even provide explanations for occasional phenomena perceived by our senses. People are beginning to bump up against the limits of materialism and rationalism, realizing that these fail to offer a purpose in life. Man does not live by making a bundle alone. Although a few turn to institutional religion for orientation, many find that road barred to them by their reason and their skepticism. There must be a marriage between reason and faith, science and religion. The closest approximation we have to this today is Jung’s school of psychology, which affirms the redemptive power of consciousness. For this reason, we shall deal here with those elements from the past, many of which had been forgotten, and which, having been returned to consciousness by Jung and others may seem to us useful in our search for both consciousness and belief. We shall start with a quotation from Plato’s Republic, Book X, which describes the function of the Fates.     Read the rest of this post »

Sacrifice

Posted March 5, 2013 by jackmeier
Categories: Uncategorized

ImageSacrifice is essential for life.  We see it all around us all the time. The problem lies not in its existence, but in the fact that we have forgotten the original meaning of the word and that means that we don’t know how to deal with it

As you most likely know, the word ‘sacrifice’ comes from the Latin meaning ‘to make sacred’. Today we go through many sacrifices without thinking there is anything sacred about them. And perhaps there isn’t, but when you stop to think about it, they often turn out to be a significant part of your individuation process, what we call maturation. But right now I am thinking about it from a Christian point of view which I think you will see is not significantly different from the psychological except that the religious standpoint adds a minor factor called immortality, at least of a sort, what we might call ‘survival.’ Let me explain.   

Going back to earliest times we have the Egyptian myth of Osiris, his wife Isis, their sons Horus and Seth. It seems that in the earliest times, this myth did not contain the idea of sacrifice because  Egyptian myth was not concerned with it since they were mostly concerned with the preservation of life by blending it with death which under proper conditions could be also a continuation of life. Later the idea of sacrifice came into their religious outlook which soon spread into the surrounding cultures and ultimately became an important aspect of Christianity. You can see its beginnings in the myth of Osiris being cut into pieces with Isis seeking him throughout the Egyptian area.  In our secular age we do not see this so much as sacrifice, but more as murder, since we no longer believe in sacrifice as a spiritual act. This is similar to the myth of Demeter and Persephone. Plants must be destroyed by those who will guarantee their rebirth (the farmer) in order to preserve both our life and theirs.  In sacrifice we must destroy life in order to preserve it. In hunting societies, animals are said to give up their life in return for our guaranteeing their rebirth, as among the Ainu.

There is only one absolute requirement: it must be done in full consciousness. Osiris must have known (after all, he was a god) that his body was about to be destroyed. Persephone must have known (after all she was a goddess) that eating the pomegranate seed would mean that she would have to return — after all, she was a maturing young lady who didn’t want to remain for all eternity under her mother’s wing, and being queen of Hades can’t be all bad. And Abraham now was certain that he could accomplish his goal by substituting the death of an animal for his son, and he might even have assumed that this would guarantee the rebirth of the animal just as he had intended the same for his son. Conscious sacrifice guarantees results; unconscious sacrifice guarantees only the suffering that may lead to learning the lessons needed to acquire the needed consciousness. This is what lies behind one of the most important myths that entered Christianity in its early centuries, although in some Christian areas, mostly the Protestant, it has been largely forgotten. It is the myth behind Twelfth Night, or Epiphany, which falls on January 6.

In Orthodox areas, and many Roman Catholic countries such as Mexico, gifts are not given at Christmas but on Twelfth Night since that is when the gifts were given to the Christ child. One may, after all, have a Shower for a mother on the birth of a child, but one would be much more likely to wait a while before giving gifts to the child. With that in mind, 12th night would make more sense for giving gifts to children in our secular world. There is a small coterie of apparent believers in this myth that can be seen when Christmas lights are turned off in January. Secularists turn theirs off about January 2, believers turn theirs off after January 6. After all, if you want the gifts of the Wise Men, you must keep that star lit until they can reach you with those gifts, and that’s Twelfth Night. But just what were those gifts? Gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The Wise Men are supposed to have been Magi, Persian Zoroastrian fire worshipers to whom these articles had other meanings, namely they wanted not to worship the Christ, but to find out what this bright star was signifying, and if it was a child, what did this mean? Was he a god (frankincense), a king (gold) or a physician (myrrh)? Which gift would he accept? He accepted all of them. So they assumed he was all three. Their religion was at that time primarily a medical religion for healing the body. But when St. Matthew wrote his gospel, he had other things in mind. To him it meant what it has come to mean in the Catholic and Orthodox churches ever since. It represents sacrifice, one of the most important concepts of Christianity. Christ was being given three gifts which he would have to sacrifice at considerable cost during his lifetime on earth in order to achieve his goals on earth — something that is also true for every believing Christian. During one’s time on earth, one must consciously sacrifice these three things: Wealth (gold) — this is what the story of the widow’s mite means. This is the original meaning of Collection as a part of church services.  Remember, it is voluntary, thus to be done in full consciousness. That is what Christ meant when he spoke of the rich man passing through the Needle’s Eye. Christ had to give that up as far as we can tell when he reached age 30, for that is the age at which the Gospels begin. From that point on, he was dependent on others.  Secondly: Power, kingship (frankincense). He claimed he was king but not of this world, but still for that reason he was crucified, even though the Roman power was not willing to indict him. The Jews brought his death about because King Herod feared rebellion. This enabled him to sacrifice the power of kingship in order to attain the sacrifice of his body necessary to achieve immortality, but it was not an easy sacrifice for him especially since it had to be done consciously. Third: Since myrrh is used primarily for incense in the West (it was a medicinal plant for the Persians) Christianity looks upon it as spirit in the sense of atmosphere. When in Church with incense in the atmosphere one can understand why we sometimes use the word atmosphere to mean spirit. The atmosphere of a particular place is actually the spirit of  a place. So incense symbolizes the body being an actual part of the spirit, surrounded and imbued by it. Myrrh is an incense which has little about it that is sweet, but it is pungent. This is spirit. This oneness with spirit has to be sacrificed at some point in our life — as  Meister Eckhardt wrote: There is nothing more sorrowful than the leaving of god for God. And Eckhardt is no polytheist. This Christ found at his most dreaded moment, when he cried out: “Oh God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” This was the final sacrifice made for him by his god, who by abandoning him, left him open for his return as spirit, and his everlasting life. By the term ‘his god’, I do not mean that his god was not God, but remember that even Satan helped in the enabling process with the three temptations. ‘His god’ was the spirit of life and love who enables us all, if we wish to make the necessary sacrifice.

So sacrifice is a Christian idea which has been around for about 3000 years, and is common to both hunting and planting societies. It states that death need not be permanent, but can not be avoided without consciousness. It is true that these sacrifices are made by everyone at death, but unless they are made consciously, they are not ‘made sacred.’

ImageWe have not only forgotten why man’s life should be sacrificial, but we have forgotten how sacrificial it actually is. Indeed, life in matter is itself a sacrifice for soul. Separation is itself a sacrifice of oneness. It is a training in the opposites. We live a separate life in order to know better the meaning of a spiritual life. It is learning by experiencing the opposites. So in attaining anything on this earth we must sacrifice something else, its opposite. To become something we must give up hope of becoming something else. To attain a body, we must sacrifice spirit. If we want both, say, a spiritual body, we should have to give up one or the other. This is impossible, at least without divine intervention. So it seems that the Mysteries are becoming individual instead of collective. The Church has always radically opposed the Mysteries, insisting that Christianity is not a Mystery religion as the Gnostics would have it, but it is now becoming a Mystery religion simply because it can no longer maintain the historicity of its doctrine. St. Malachy may have been right after all; the next pope may be the last. The Christ may continue as Paraclete or daimon, also the Virgin, but both must accept the entire gamut of all points of view. Christ must no longer turn his back on his brother as he did at the three Temptations. As you can see, this religion is not one of merely sweetness and light. Consciousness, as Prometheus knew, is fire, and we must suffer as he did for stealing that fire from the gods. Consciousness is the most cherished dream of the soul — the day is the dream of the night. As the Bushman said, “There is a dream dreaming us.”

Linking the Conscious with the Unconscious Mind

Posted August 7, 2012 by jackmeier
Categories: Uncategorized

Image

The little girl had a dream that she was having a conversation with her grandmother. In it she told her grandmother, “Grandmama, I can make myself disappear.” Her grandmother replied, “Nonsense, child, no one can do that!” This reply upset the child so she woke up. After thinking about it for a while, she fell asleep again and, as sometimes happens, she re-entered the same dream. Her grandmother stared at her in shock and said. “Lord, child, how did you do that?”

For years, I thought of this as an amusing tale, which it is, but it is actually much more. Long before I ran across it, I had asked Hermes in an active imagination why it is that when one asks for something, one may or may not get it, and if one does, it is frequently in the form of a disaster. He replied in the form which is most common with him; that is, with a metaphor. The answer did have a literal meaning; that was that I should carefully explain to him why I wanted it, if it was necessary for me in my life, and give him any details necessary, because, he said, he can not know my life except through what I describe to him in words,  and also through my dreams. Read the rest of this post »

Healing Then and Now

Posted October 29, 2011 by jackmeier
Categories: Uncategorized

A neurosis is suffering that has not yet found its meaning.

A neurosis is an offended god.

These are both statements that Jung made at different times, and they both mean the same thing. It all depends on your point of view. I hope to show today that there are many ways to heal, all of which work, but none works unfailingly. Whether they work or not, I suspect it again depends on your point of view That people struggle so hard to show that their methods are superior to others, past and present, tells us more about the people than it does about their methods. However, I shall not bore you with statistics. Although statistics never lie, statisticians often do. We tend to use statistics as drunks use lampposts, more for support than illumination. In determining if a certain method works better than another, we must depend on experience; indeed, we cannot know anything without experience, nor can we even be certain of the validity of what we deduce from our experiences, let alone what others have deduced from theirs. Therefore I have deduced from this that nothing is certain; but what guards me from a lifetime of pessimism is the other side of the coin. Experience is not limited to what can be experienced in ordinary states of consciousness at least as defined by Reason. So I have concluded that everything is possible, even though nothing is certain. As Plato said, all knowledge is remembering, so forgotten knowledge can be dredged out of the sea of the collective unconscious through relating what is known to various experiences, even such irrational phenomena as dreams and visions. Non-rational methods have throughout the ages been successfully used in healing.

The problem many of us have is that if non-rational methods work, why don’t they always work? But this is also true with scientific methods. Here again, it may result from the point of view of the healer and also the patient. My problem was at least partially explained by a story of a man who was a firm believer in God, had always led a good life, and so he believed that God would save his life when a massive flood enveloped his home. He had to flee to the roof when his house became flooded and clung to the chimney as a rescue craft came to carry him to safety. He refused to accept the offer on the basis of his certainty that God would preserve him as a reward for his faith and good works. Soon the water was up to his neck when a second boat came by. Still he refused. At the point when it was up to his chin a helicopter came his way offering to carry him to safety. Still he refused and so he drowned. Upon his arrival at the Pearly Gates, he was shown to the Divine Presence and immediately began complaining to God that he certainly did not deserve to be abandoned after a lifetime of faith and service. God was sympathetic and said that He also was surprised to see the man there since He had sent him two boats and a helicopter. This at least partially solved my problem. We cannot depend on one solution only. Healing methods are not opposite but supplementary. Despite the rivalry among various types of medicine; spiritual and material, holistic and allopathic, this opposition is, like all opposites, illusory. Indeed, healing can occur only when the opposition between matter and spirit is transcended. This sounds terribly New Age, but I hope to show you that this has been the accepted method in practicing medicine throughout the world at all times until the gradual growth and domination of allopathic medicine in the West. We shall look at a few of these earlier methods, which have survived, and some recently revived, into the present.

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Wise Sayings from Many Sources

Posted September 14, 2010 by jackmeier
Categories: Uncategorized

Every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.

It matters little what you believe so long as you don’t altogether believe it.

Religion is a department of politics.

The purpose of morals is to permit people to inflict suffering with impunity.

Violence is the last resort of the incompetent. (Isaac Asimov)

Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd. (Voltaire)

The trouble with politicians is that the 90% who are corrupt give the rest a bad name.

Do not fear suffering; only fear that you will not learn from it.

The IQ of a mob is equivalent to the IQ of the most intelligent person in the mob divided by the number of people in the mob.

The exploited create the exploiter just as the worshippers create the object of worship. (Krishnamurti)

Inscription on a gravestone in Cumbria:  The wonder of the world, the beauty and the power, the shape of things, their color, lights and shades; these I saw. Look ye also while life lasts.

The path of the soul after death is the same as the path of the soul in dreams. (Lakota saying)

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