Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Inner Teacher: Jesus, Yeshua, J, God's Help

The name Yeshua means "God's Help," or "God Helps" and it refers to the known, unknown Presence within which is always with us, and the goal of the Course is simply to help some people to find that Inner Teacher, as the Preface states.

The fundamental notion of Gnosis is the affirmation of that knowlege (=Gr. Gnosis), existing within everyone of us. Hence Gnosis in principle is the more experiential and spiritual dimension of the Judaeo-Christian framework. What became orthodox Christianity made the world real and emphasized the historical Jesus who died on the Cross, and thus made the need for external authority, manifesting most specifically in that self-proclaimed Vicar of Christ, the Pope. For if there is no Inner Teacher, and if we're born sinners, we need external authority to guide us, and that's the essence of the ego system, merely another form of the victim/victimizer script.
As a practical matter the terms Gnosis and Gnosticism, because of the plurality of systems associated with them tend to stir up possibly even more controversies than Christianity with its multifarious sects and denominations. For that reason I have elsewhere suggested a possibly clearer distinction between Johannine and Pauline Christianity, the former being an experiential path of initiation, and the latter being a moral path of observance. The former emphasizing an Inner Teacher, the latter a (more or less) historical Jesus.

Inevitably an important part of the story is that there is precsious little to be found in form of explicit historical documentation of Johannine spirituality. This is simply explained by the fact that building buildings is not a priority once we truly put the "Kingdom not of this world" as a priority. The only records are implicit, in terms of Jesus myths, in terms of the history of Chasidism, in terms of art and literature in which people gave expression to their inner experience. And a lot was simply oral tradition, which is something we routinely ignore as part of our culture, which blithely assumes that just because we can write with pen and ink, write books, and print them, that therefore everything that matters is written down. Even the briefest contemplation reveals that assumption to be patently absurd.

So as much as the historical documentation of 2000 years ago consists mostly of descriptions of the external circumstances of the life of someone named Jesus, not to mention his death, and then theology based on other peoples' interpretation of that life, the inner tradition was not much accounted for. Mary Magdalen in my view is the biggest symbol of that inner tradition of the heart, and a teaching example of the Holy Relationship. She understood Jesus to the point that she knew he would always be with her, and that in the end she was Jesus herself, and that is evidently why she was the first witness to the Resurrection, and became the apostle to the apostles. Her recent rediscovery, despite the vast amounts of nonsense that is being published, reflects an important change of consciousness, which however will remain without meaning unless we get in touch with her and the love she represents ourselves.

To skip ahead 1900 years, I'll discuss some of my own experiences next, in order to bring to life some awareness of the Inner Tradition, which mostly escapes history as we practice it today. In the early fifties, when I was an infant, my parents became acquainted with Ms. Margaretha Hofmans, who I later understood to be channeling Jesus. The popular press made her out to be a faithhealer, but in fact what she did was pray with people, not for people, teaching them how to pray, and teaching of the Presence in our Life of God's Help, which of course is merely the literal meaning of the Hebrew name Jeshua. She worked closely with Jan Willem Kaiser, pursuant to a mission they felt was theirs based on a channeled message she received in 1946. He wrote and published widely on spirituality, while she worked with people one on one.

Ms. Hofmans taught me even as an infant that God's Help was always available to us, wherever, whenever, with the proviso that unlike Santa Claus, He was not in the business of wishfulfillment, and we should be prepared to accept Help on His terms, not ours, realizing that in truth it would always be to our true best interest. From what I gather from the tradition around her, when Ms. Hofmans' channeling experience started, she identified the voice at first with her teacher in life, and I suspect it was Kaiser who helped her clarify that it was in fact the voice of Jesus. When I knew her, from about age four, that's what she would say, though she mostly confined herself to the term God's Help, or The Help. Sometimes she might refer to Christ.

Later in life I had a teacher by the name of Frits Willem Bonk, who was a former ballet dancer, who had danced with Anna Pavlova - who was certainly also a spiritual teacher to him. He became a student of Krishnamurti and J.W. Kaiser, but never wrote a word, except personal correspondence. From age 14-40 he was my de facto spiritual teacher, and I spent many hours with him, sometimes talking many hours, which meant mostly listening to the waterfall of his speaking about his spiritual experiences. Most importantly, he represented the love of Jesus to me in tangible form, to such a degree that I was very upset with God when he died. A few years later however the Course showed up, and it was clear to me that the Voice of Jesus was back in my life, with an even clearer invitation this time to learn to listen to him inside more and more, and instructions on how to do it. When in July 1991, I read the Course a chapter a day, it was as if J. was at the kitchen table with me, reading it to me. And as many times as you forget these things, that feeling never goes away completely.

The above to me describes my personal succession of forms in which the presence of Jesus in my life was tangible for me, and I could add to that many students and teachers of the Course who I know are giving expression to his love in their daily life. I believe it is important that the idea of an Inner Teacher be seen in the context of that teacher's being represented by external appearances which serve a purpose in our life as long as we think we're individuals. I refer a.o. to Ken Wapnicks article: JESUS: AN EXPRESSION OF LIMITLESS LOVE IN THE DREAM OF SEPARATION
(Volume 7 Number 4 December 1996), which can be found by clicking on the title of this post. As Ken has put it in some of his workshops and books: "Jesus is a what that looks like a who, as long as you think you're a who." That sums it up.

On a practical level, it may make sense for many, at least for a while to use other names, such as Gary Renard's solution of "J" which sort of bypasses the association with the idol that Christianity created, or the idea of God's Help, or Mary Magdalen, or Mary, etc. In the end it all comes back to the same thing for the simple reason that truth is true, and everything else isn't, and the Love these figures represent cannot fail to lead us back to our true identity as love, aware of our complete oneness with them, so they are always in our company. As the Course says: "Teach only love, for that is what you are." (ACIM:T-6.III.2.4) And the teachers who give expression to that love in our lives, be they material or immaterial, current or historical, in the end speak with only one voice, which becomes clearer and clearer as we start listening to it ourselves, giving expression to Cardinal Newman's wish as cited in Helen Schucman's "A Jesus Prayer:" "As they look up, let them not look on me, but only You." ( Helen Schucman, The Gifts of God, p. 82.)

Copyright, (c) 2005, Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.