Wednesday, October 19, 2005

God, Bible, ACIM, and other trouble

Throughout the Course it becomes clear that God did not create the world. Never before the Course was there any teaching, in particular not in the Judaeo-Christian cultural domain which has made this so clear. Yet it was always right in front of our faces. We just chose not to listen.

In particular the convenience of religion provided the ego with the necessary veiling so we could skip wondering about these questions, but allow ourselves to carouse in the time space hologram some more, and help ourselves to a serving of religion on Sunday mornings (or Saturday, as the case may be), in which any spiritually disturbing questions were eliminated in a homogenized, pasteurized version of substitute spirituality, which we paid priests, preachers, and theologians to provide for us, in order to keep our conscience at bay. This is part of the deal the world has to offer. Lifetime job security, in exchange for some steady donations, in order to pacify the guilt pangs from which we suffer.

In one of the more interesting direct corrections of the Bible, the Course offers the following:

quote
11 I cannot choose for you, but I can help you make your own right choice. 12 "Many are called but few are chosen" should be, "All are called but few choose to listen." 13 Therefore, they do not choose right. 14 The "chosen ones" are merely those who choose right sooner. 15 Right minds can do this now, and they will find rest unto their souls. 16 God knows you only in peace, and this your reality.
unquote (ACIM:T-3.IV.7:11-16)

The Course has this disconcerting way of putting the responsibility right back on our shoulders, inducing a flight response many a time for any serious student, until we finally start to realize that "The secret of salvation is but this: you are doing this unto yourself." (ACIM:T-27.VII.10:1) and then we get ready to "take up our cross and follow him," to use the NT phraseology for the same thing.

More so than ever before since the publication of "The Disappearance of the Universe," by Gary Renard, with its documentation of the inner consistency between the teachings of the Thomas Gospel in particular with the teachings of Jesus in ACIM, the message is that Jesus always did and always will teach the same thing. Christianity was the aberration, the ego is the aberration.

Careful readers however, who have not let theology delay them (c.f. ACIM:C-in.4:5) and who therefore took the trouble of reading the Bible for themselves, without the convenience of theological padding, have consequently had to deal with the different forms of our relationship to God which are expressed in the Bible. To quote a comment from a theological dictionary by a German theologian (Doz. Theol. Abraham Meister, Namen des Ewigen, Mitternachtsruf Verlag Grosse Freude, Pfäffikon/ZH Schweiz 1973, p. 304 - my translation):

quote
God has made Israel in to what it has become through His deeds and His Revelation. It was certain of its God in that, and through that of its existence. His Glory was reflected in that, more so than from creation and all that is visible. In the Old Testament the Glory of the true God is revealed by his Revelation in his chosen people by means of prophecy and by His miracles (Is. 41:22, 43:9-11, 44:7). That is a higher level of Revelation than the creation of the world.
unquote

This is a wonderful commentary, from an otherwise fairly traditional theologian, who however is a careful reader, and who keeps pointing up the material questions the Bible raises for anyone who takes the trouble to read it, rather than accept the brand name re-packaged versions that religions have to offer. In other words, while Meister and his ilk never get around to the psychological refinement that the creator God really is a projection of the ego, and the Gnostic teachings which addressed this point never reached the level of clarity of teaching which we now have in the Course, enough so that people might have heard it, the careful reader cannot escape the notion that there are (at least) two levels of God concept in the Biblical tradition, and that the inner experience of God as manifested in the prophets is of a different order than the creation of the Universe.

Another interesting example of the same occurs in the book Job, and I quote J.W.Kaiser on this, from his book "De Mysterien van Jezus in ons Leven," Servire, Den Haag, 1965, Chapter 15 "Beproeving," which I'm currently translating, and expect to publish in the next few years.

Here is what Kaiser says about the ending of Job, when the temptation is over, once Job quits listening to the ego's witnesses (his "friends"), and the Voice for God is heard by him:
quote
For this is the secret of all doubt and all despair in Temptation, that a human being equates the blessings of Time with the blessings of Eternity. Loudly all temporal values scream as proven facts, but the Imperishable One is silent.
Until Job and his friends shut up. Then God speaks.
That is why all yielding to temptation is a relapse into the pseudo-promises of life-in-Time. But enduring a Temptation gives us the awareness, that the Angels of God serve us.
“Then God-upside-down let go of Him... and see! Angels came and ministered to Him.” (Mt. 4:11)
unquote

And in the Glossary of the same book (p. 151), he offers the following comment on Job:

quote
Job means "who experiences hostility." The old proper names were absolutely not "accidental," in this way.
His "friends" are the three accepted principles, which no longer work, as soon as the new, God as Opponent, enters his life to remove the split from it... Their names are Eliphas=God is Force, Bildad=Son of Battle (aggression therefore) and Zofar=Chatterbox. Exactly the simple scheme, which together with the "goodness" of Job, characterizes meaningless man.
The book was extensively mutilated. The last part, which comes after "here end the words of Job," as the end of his complaint, according to experts has been added by a later editor. This does not prove that there was no ending before that. The "opener" now is Elihu=This my God. He removes from Job the semblance of having been shortchanged, the appearance of being "right" before God. And it is this which still liberates the Initiate from the irresistable pressure to feel "unfairly" treated, of being ignored and neglected. That is why the Book Job is so valuable, even today, because it lifts man above being stranded in self-justification, in bitterness, which reflects being caught up between High and Low.
unquote

In other words the whole point of the book of Job is about the inner transition from the ego's "Good God, Bad God,") towards an inner knowing of God on His terms, as he truly is, which is not possible as long as we listen to the committee in our head, the voices of the ego, who we think are our friends, but which really try to shield us from knowing who we are in truth.

Much later some gnostic schools tried to give expression to the concept of the creator God of Genesis as a lesser entity, without ever arriving at the level of clarity of the psychological explanation of the Course. Finally it is clear now that that God of Genesis and generally the angry God who appears many a time in the Old Testament is in fact the ego's projection onto God of the guilt over the separation thought, and is terrifying as long as the belief in separation is what drives our concept of ourselves as an ego.

Only with the Course do we finally find conceptual clarity about the difference between the creating of God, and the making of the ego, combined now with the psychological wherewithal to make it all practical in our daily lives. In looking back on the tradition with the clarity of the Course, we must notice that at least some hints were always there, and that many aware people over the ages struggled with these issues. Fair to say that the Bible, stripped of the theological straight-jacket of either Jewish or Christian theology, ranges all over the place, covering the creator God, the God/Devil duality of the ego, as well as the inner God. It reflects more the struggle with man's relationship to God in our particular tradition, than that it gives a homogeneous picture. That is provided by the veneer of religions which use the Bible as their "Holy Book," and proceed to tell us what it says, so we won't have to take the trouble of going on our own quest.

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