Monday, April 17, 2006

Judas Revisited - Synchronicity

By clicking on the title to this article you will connect to the National Geographic site on the Judas Gospel. The english text was available there in a PDF format, but today I only find the coptic text. The book however is in all the stores.
The single most critical line may be Jesus speaking to Judas, saying: "For you will sacrifice the man who clothes me."

Which brings to mind an experience Regina Dawn Akers related before just before Easter, in the context of her writing down the paraphrasings of the New Testament text by the Holy Spirit, which she recorded as follows:

Since I have been writing the Holy Spirit’s interpretation of the New Testament, I have experienced intense joy and gratitude for what I am hearing and learning, and I have experienced intense resistance as well. One of the most difficult books for me to write was the Holy Spirit’s retelling of the Book of Mark. I think this was difficult for me because I wanted to know the “truth” about Jesus’ life, and I knew the Holy Spirit was giving me another fictional story.

I once asked the Holy Spirit why it would tell a fictional story through me, and I was guided to a random opening of A Course in Miracles. I opened to the Clarification of Terms, #3, and read these words:

Forgiveness might be called a kind of happy fiction; a way in which the unknowing can bridge the gap between their perception and truth. They cannot go directly from perception to knowledge because they do not think it is their will to do so. . .

And so they need an illusion of help because they are helpless; a Thought of peace because they are in conflict. God knows what His Son needs before he asks. He is not at all concerned with form, but having given the content it is His Will that it be understood. And that suffices. The form adapts itself to need; the content is unchanging, as eternal as its Creator.

After this, I accepted that the revised fictional story of Jesus’ life was being given to me because it included new symbols that are more helpful to us now than the symbols originally given in this story. However, I must confess, Mark remained my least favorite part of the interpretations, and I perceived it as the least useful of all of the interpretations that I was being given.

Since then, my eyes have gradually been opened more and more.

Everything given to us by the Holy Spirit is given for one purpose, the healing of the Son of God. Or, said another way, it is given to lead us from illusion to the remembrance of Truth. A part of that process is, obviously, letting go of illusion. The retelling of the Book of Mark offers wonderful opportunities for letting go of our thoughts and beliefs about illusion.

For example, as I wrote about the early miracles (e.g., the healing of a crippled hand), I experienced resistance. My belief was that the physical miracles did not happen, and now the Holy Spirit had me writing that at least some of them did. Why would he have me write that? Why, to lead me to let go of the world, of course. As long as I hold onto my belief that the miracles did or did not happen, I am holding onto the world.

As long as I hold onto my desire to defend that the miracles did or did not happen, I am holding onto the world. This led me to really look at my beliefs about Jesus’ life. As I opened up to willingness to look at these beliefs, an article found its way to my inbox. This article included a lot of “evidence” to prove that Jesus never walked the earth. He was just a myth, built up by early “Christians” to support a new cult they were making. This article included all of the earlier mythological sources from which the fake personality of Jesus was made. The article, standing on its own, seemed convincing. I felt confusion. I saw doubts. I noticed fear. And then, I remembered forgiveness.

It took about 1/2 day, but I was led to look closely at my beliefs about Jesus and his life.

My key belief seemed to be that if Jesus didn’t live on earth, the Truth isn’t true.

Now look at that - - If “x” didn’t happen within the illusion, then “y” cannot be true.

What the heck does “x” have to do with “y”?

This is when my eyes were opened. I was expecting something within illusion to prove truth to me, instead of forgiving illusion by letting go of it. And if a seeming person named Jesus did walk the earth, even he had to let go of belief in “Jesus” and the “life of Jesus.”

It was then that I realized that holding onto Jesus as a person and having any desire to defend stories about his life as true were ego-maneuvers of holding onto illusion as true. It was then that I let go of Jesus as a person.

This letting go experience happened after I finished writing the Holy Spirit’s interpretation of John and just before beginning the Holy Spirit’s interpretation of Acts. I let go of Jesus! And then, do you know what happened? The Holy Spirit gave him back to me again in Romans, Chapters 6 & 7 as a powerful symbol and guiding light.

You could say that Jesus died and was resurrected in me.

So, with Easter coming up . . . I felt guided to share this story. I am also looking forward to going back and rereading the Holy Spirit’s interpretation of Mark, now that I can read it with openness and a willingness to learn from symbolism that was given to me by our one Holy Spirit.


In the same time frame an interesting exchange took place on the Dutch Course list (ACIMNed on Yahoo), instigated also by the Judas issues, and culminating in an interesting way in a message of Annelies Ekeler, who is the moderator of that group, and which pertained to Bach's Mattheus Passion. I subsequently translated some of her message and posted it to the ACIM&Abraham list, and I repeat some of that material here with slight modifications:

Apparently there was a TV program in Holland in relation with the new Judas material, in which Johann Sebastian Bach was discussed, and the fact that evidently he very well understood what the real story was. This is not at all surprising, since the insight that the Twelve Apostles were purely a symbol for the whole sonship in it's stumbling attempts of following Jesus out of the Diaspora of this world was evidently around in Bach's day.

Hereby a translation of what Annelies wrote about her experience the program:
[she tuned in to the program just as the narrator mentiond that evidently JS Bach also understood the true message, I am taking some slight liberties with the translation, to make it smoother]
When I just started to read ACIM I developed a sort of revulsion against the Mathheus Passion, to my own surprise, because I only heard the message of suffering played out in it. But the funny part was that the music survived all that in me, so I thought something is not right, the music is right-on, so Bach HAD to have understood, must have been in a connection to Truth, how then can the text be so much of the ego. But in the program yesterday the point was raised that at a certain moment when Jesus is at the table with the twelve apostles, the apostles ask who is the betrayer. In the chorus by sopranos, altos, tenors and bassos, we hear: "Herr, bin ich's?" (Lord, is it me?) This is sung three times by the sopranos, altos, and tenors, and twice by the bassos. ELEVEN times therefore. You would expect that
Judas (the twelfth apostle, a basso), would sing "Herr, bin ich's" a twelfth time, but no, immediately after [the eleventh repetition] the choir starts a Choral, which was alwasy sung by the whole community and which sings: "Ich bin's, ich sollte büssen," etc. So here the collective comes to the fore, that we have collectively assumed the guilt, and it cannot be projected on to one person. And so then my
toughts had obviously been right on, and forgiveness has taken place, and I understand why people like Bach are such a powerful presence in the collective consciousness. They understood and understand the message, and that is recognized by the listener. So now I can listen to the Mattheus Passion all over again, differently.

On one level I think Judas can be understood as acting out the tendency we all have in our attempts to follow Jesus, or being students of his Course, is asking the ego to sanction it. That is the betrayal by which we shortcircuit ourselves constantly and fail to be true to Jesus, by relapsing into the arms of the ego at just the crucial moment. The message of love which the teaching of the crucifixion and
the resurrection entails, however is that Jesus is not his body, not a form in the world, but he is alive within us as our Inner Teacher, who we may follow on the way home.

On another level, this is the same issue that the body of Jesus, his appearance in the dream, is a symbol we must let go of in the inner process of choosing content over form permanently, which RDA also reported on in her message, quoted above. In that spirit we can understand that gratitude to Judas is in order, for he acts out the mistake we all make of ever again choosing form over content, choosing the crucifixion over the resurrection, until we finally do learn the message of Love, that nothing is ever lost, and moreover that it is us who have to let go of our false reliance on form over content, the world of time and space over the real world which the Holy Spirit holds out to us through His guidance and Vision. Thus the self accusation of "betrayal," is turned into a realization that it was merely the empty form being handed over to demonstrate to us in the resurrection the true meaning of a Kingdom NOT of this world, and of the eternal life of the spirit which is our true home in God.

Again in the same wave of exchanges on various lists, Lucia Constain, a moderator on the DU forum reported her earlier acquaintance with some channeled materials on the true meaning of Judas as follows (on the ACIM&Abraham list 4/14/06) :
"The Christ cannot BE betrayed" In the tradition that Rogier mentions, exposed in the book "The Flight of the Feathered Serpent" (TFOTFS) by Armando Cosani, it is clarified by Judas himself that his role was just as important as Jesus's. Yes, it is around playing the chosen role well, and the Holy Spirit doing with what the ego would use to destroy, something miraculolus. Judas was drunk according to DU. What was he drunk on? According to TFOTFS he was AWAKE, and during the last supper J dipped the bread in the wine, giving it to Judas said: "What you are to do, do it promptly" As he took the wine-soaked bread into his lips his consciousness fell asleep all over again, he forgot himself once more, and as agreed, his heart became darkened so that he could carry out his agreed upon mission. This is why I say "Blessed is He would would lay down His reputation for His Friend, for all eternity." The image of Judas as an evil greedy betrayer would be the root of condemnation for all Jews and was for ages used as the stereotype by which orthodox Christians would accuse and judge the Jewish community. Much hatred has come from all this. But I say onto you "Blessed is He would lay down His reputation for His Friend, for all of time, for when time is over He is One with Me. One cannot lay down his life, as Life is One and it cannot be laid down, but one can risk a mistake perception of onenself for all the illusion of time, and that's is ok, since time will not last long. The Christ cannot BE betrayed. Only Love is true. What Judas did was an act of Love, or an "act of obedience" as revealed in the Gospel of Judas by now. This is why Judas is the one to be mentioned in A Course in Miracles, the one without whom a perfect lesson in Love is incomplete.

Also on the ACIM&Abraham forum David Fishman reminded us of an earlier post of his going back to a post of November 13, 2005.
In speaking to Rogier last week, I shared with him an AHA that came to me some years ago.... As someone who was brought up Jewish in a mostly Christian society, my early learning from the world's curriculum was that Jesus was not for Jewish people, as he was the center of Christianty, and certainly they were "different religions' as all
religions are different from all others. Part of the belief system we
engage in here.

Yet it was also apparent to me that Jesus was Jewish, not even knowing what a "Christian" was... as practiced by 500 million people worldwide.

Concurrently, I also saw the way that Christians by their talk and actions condemned the Apostle, Judas.

They would name their children and churches after all the other Apostles gladly, even those that denied and doubted Jesus...yet totally condemned the "betrayer" Judas.

Many years later, I was led to ACIM, and after going thru the Original Text book back in 1978, found on Page 87 (page 95 numbered edition, Ch 6, para 15), under Chapter 6, The Lessons of love and the Message of the crucifixion, Jesus speaking very personally in the "first person" of his experience with his own Apostles, and then mentions the only name in 1200 pages of The Course, "Judas"...(Adam which is mentioned is symbolic of all mankind).

It is clear from his Message to us..that he could never have said ..."Thou betrayest me with a kiss"... the famous line that has endured for 2000 years and has turned generations of Christians "to despise Judas as having done the unforgiveable". Betraying the SON of God.

As we read, study and practice ACIM, it is clear why we choose to leave Judas as "unforgiveable"... as he is the symbol of "our own guilt" based on our belief that we "betrayed our Father, Creator, Love, Our Self..and it is this guilt, we would project out onto the "scape goat"... Judas... The Course tells us on every page of its 1200 pages, this is impossible. We cannot betray either God, His Son, or Love, except in our dreams of sleep and forgetfulness.

Jews perceive Jesus the "one to blame" for their centuries of being nomads without a country, and for their persecution as a "hated minority"..that is "responsible for the death of the "Son of God".... impossible dream...which remains intact until finally exposed as the ..."illusion we believe in and by our belief,
strengthens it so it becomes hardened in our minds" ...until we bring it to the Light and expose its fallacy.

Yes... I see it is a mistake of the same level and proportion...

"Jews need to Forgive Jesus...for what he did not do... as Christians need to Forgive Judas...for what he did not do...."

Jews not see ONE with them...their projections on Jesus as he is the "source to blame for their being attacked and discriminated against over the centuries... in a way, a Jew, betrayed them.....of course that is pure projection of the ...idea that we are unloved and outcast... nomads from our Home. not see Judas as ONE with All the Apostles...choosing to name their children and churches after all the Apostles...except Judas, for he has done the "unforgiveable... "betrayal". what we all "believe we did, as that is the 'source of guilt"...from all who have 'renounced their Creator and Home and Self, in favor of being author of their own will and world.

As it is impossible..yet we believe in it...same as belief in guilt... guilt equates to betrayal... the idea that Jesus used Judas the only person's name used in the 1200 pages of ACIM, outside of Adam, the symbol of mankind... his message to us all... is " any impossible...and if you believe in it...we use it to perpetuate the dream... for it serves only to reinforce our "fearful weak self".

The Son of God when He Identifies with The Strength of God as His Source, and Extends Love... can only Create by Extending His Love....

Those are the thoughts that came to me...many years ago when i came across page 87 in the original unnumbered Text.

Lastly, again in this time leading up to Easter, our Dutch friends Reint and Gabriela Gaastra-Levin sent a newsletter (in Dutch) on the true meaning of Judas, which also greatly emphasized how much Jesus was grateful to Judas for playing a vital role in the cosmic drama of the Crucifixion, and how he was clearly a dearly beloved disciple, who played a crucial role in the cosmic dramav of the crucifixion.
The emphasis in their story is different, but I feel that the content is very consistent.

Throughout all of these various traditions, perhaps the most important realization is that Judas is an integral part of the sonship and our brother in Christ, and that his role is instrumental in having us learn the true message as Jesus sums it up in the Course: "Teach only love, for that is what you are."

Copyright, © 2006 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Apostolic Tradition - or how the Ego puts itself on the Throne

For those of us who forgot our church history there is a link under the title above to a site which explains the concept of the Apostolic Tradition. In my earlier post today: "Taboo: Trump Card of Ego-Obfuscation," I made reference to an important passage in the Course where Jesus points out that the ego system may be fool proof, but it isn't God-proof. We might as well keep that in mind in another April fools' day reflection.

One of the fundamental modes of operation of the ego in creating its own substitute "reality" in order to replace and repress the Memory of Heaven, is the inversion of the relationships between form and content, or more generally cause and effect. We continually see in the history of shifts in perception - think of Thomas Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" - how viciously the ego defends itself against anything that challenges its perceptions, and its "truths." Never to be defeated however the ego always insures its own continued relevance by co-opting the new models once they become inevitable in popular opinion. We keep fooling ourselves that this time we've really found the truth, which is an evident manifestation of the fact that none of these truths are ever true, but only another justification of the ego's point of view, which needs to be modified to support the reality of the ego in order to be accepted by the orthodoxy.

Thus the very process of canonizing various newer truths which come to replace old truths in the course of time, entails their reformulation in terms which do not only not threaten or question the ego, but suitably reinforce its hold on power. In other words revolutions never change anything except appearances, which can fool us a while longer.

In light of the above we should go back and review the events of the time of Jesus in Palestine, and the recorded histories about that. The fundamental divisions that arose almost immediately was about the question if his teaching was for Jews or Gentiles, and the only correct answer is of course either both or neither, for he clearly transcended these categories in teaching of a Kingdom NOT of this world. It was Paul and others who followed - and Paul in particular had a pervasive influence on New Testament literature since he wrote before even the canonical Gospels were recorded, who evolved a theology which made the crucifixion central, and the related teachings of the eucharist, and the resurrection (of the body) as a future event.

In other words the way to render Jesus and his teachings harmless, emphasis was put on the life of his body, and the crucifixion, which were hateful events in and of themselves, and not on his teachings of love, which were sort of mangled in the process. The resurrection was re-explained as and event of the body, not of the mind. In the process the emerging mythology proposed Peter as the founder of the Catholic church, and reinterprets Jesus' saying to him that he should become a rock on which his "church" could be built, as about the physical world and actual buildings and congregations. And so Jesus' very universal teachings are turned into specific teachings pertaining to time and place, to some people not others, and another world religion (to be) is born.

Meanwhile in the absence of the teacher, who by interpreting only his bodily, earthly life as real, and not his message, the apostolic tradition is now the vehicle of succession for the substitute teachers, the popes. And the focus is now shifted from Jesus' teachings and the contents of his message to the people who claim to be his authorized representatives, and who legitimize themselves by dint of their very interpretation of his teachings. And so a very worldly process of form now comes to take the place of Jesus' early call to the apostles to "leave" the world and follow him. And again also this should not be (mis)taken literally. As the Course frequently points out it is about our investment in the things of the world, not about doing them or not doing them. The shift which the miracle represents is the birth of a present solution of spirit, of peace, to take the place of a future expectation of salvation, which the world always holds out, and which is by definition always illusory, since it is the child of thinking that the causes of the absence of peace in the present are in the past and therefore by definition are exempted from any real hope of change. Hence the last section of the last Chapter of the Course has the title: "Choose Once Again," for this is the most crucial teaching of the Course, that if we choose for the present, we can make another choice, instead of continuing to act out our role as a victim of our past.

Thus the miracle is the choice for God, and leaves alone the foolish choice for the ego, which we made too long already.

Copyright, © 2006 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.

Cognitive Dissonance as a Defense against Truth

Under the title of this article you will find a link to some information on Cognitive Dissonance, at a site called I will quote the salient opening paragraph:

Cognitive dissonance is a psychological phenomenon which refers to the discomfort felt at a discrepancy between what you already know or believe, and new information or interpretation. It therefore occurs when there is a need to accommodate new ideas, and it may be necessary for it to develop so that we become "open" to them. Neighbour (1992) makes the generation of appropriate dissonance into a major feature of tutorial (and other) teaching: he shows how to drive this kind of intellectual wedge between learners' current beliefs and "reality."

Throughout the Course Jesus uses cognitive dissonance in the active sense of the second half of the paragraph above as a constructive educational tool, while the ego uses it as a defense against what he is teaching in the sense of the first part of the paragraph above, quite along the lines of the original observations of Leon Feistinger.

The ego uses cognitive dissonance in the same way as the cult members in Leon Feistingers original research, i.e. to reinterpret contradictory information in such a way as to validate its model of reality. The "ego" of course in that sense is just such a cult, devoted to the untruth of the separation. Ken Wapnick in seminars and in his books has given the example of lucid dreaming where we half hear the real phone ringing in our room, but cope with it in our dream with an episode that involves a ringing phone, so that we never wake up and pickup the actual phone. In this sense then Christianity in making Jesus into a figure in the dream, and validating the world of duality, of time and space is the ego's way of explaining Jesus away. The use of cognitive dissonance in the Course is designed to show us how untenable that position is, through experience (non-dualistic), not through argument (dualistic), as the ego would have us do.

The many ways in which Jesus uses cognitive dissonance is by using familiar theological idiom from the Christian tradition in non-"traditional" ways, suggesting that he actually meant something else. Secondly he addresses us as "you," and we all start out studying the Course thinking that he is talking to us as individuals. Slowly however the dissonance grows because it is clear in various places such as the "Dreamer of the Dream," that he is not, and thus it begins to dawn on us that he is addressing us as what we are, the Son of God, or more precisely he is addressing our ability to change our mind (meta-noia) and choose the "present" memory of who we are over the seeming reality of who we think we are (ego/individuality), which then leads to increasing dissonance and discomfort in our lives as we resist this realization, and try to hang on to who we thought we were instead of who we really are, as Jesus is making us realize.

One of the most salient examples perhaps of how this works comes up in people's experiences with lessons such as Lesson 94, "I am as God created me." If one attempts to do those lessons at all we soon see the ego squirming and hollering it must be a lie, when the entire point of the lesson is that we start to shift our understanding, and our identification from the false self of individual existense, to our true selves as sons of God, and once we change our mind about that the lesson also starts to make sense.

Along the way we come up with many defenses, from the ridiculous to the sublime, including such things as teaching others ACIM, which is an excellent defense against learning it ourselves, and a huge temptation to make ourselves important in other ways. We can become influential teachers of the Course and other such nonsense. Or we can develop a special relationship with the Holy Spirit, and become HS groupies, hearing voices and telling others what to do, when evidently the central concept in the Course is that a messenger should realize that the teaching is meant first for himself, not to mention that it is never about behavior in the world. The point here is always that from the standpoint of individual consciousness we must project what we deny, and in this case this can take the form of denying that our own choice for the ego is a problem (and one that can be fixed, since the solution is also present in our mind), and attacking others for their choices for the ego is a perfect way of doing that, and the Course makes a handy weapon. It used to be even better when it was in three volumes.

Teaching the Course is clearly meant to be doing what it says, and therefore teaching by example, and teaching it in the formal sense is a side show from that point of view. The Course needs neither defense, nor explanation, it is complete in itself. Obviously however many of us can get help along the way from various teachers who may be a little more advanced in their understanding of the Course, and there is nothing wrong with that either. As the Course itself implies when the memory of who we are comes back to us, both the Course, its worldly teachers, as well as the Inner Teacher from the introduction (Jesus) become irrelevant, for in remembering that we are the Son of God, we will realize that Jesus was merely there as a symbol, as one who remembered before we did, and who could therefore lead us on the way home.

In the world, one of the many forms the teaching activity takes is the doing of translations, and this has happened under the leadership of Ken Wapnick, and of necessity -- since he does not and could not know all these languages -- his effort must focus on helping the translators with their understanding. Content comes first, and is then expressed in another medium, in this case a language. Approaching translation purely as transformation of one language into another without regard to content would lead to hilarious errors. However to the extent that translation is de facto impossible, and always limited in its ability to duplicate an exact parallel of the original, including all the word plays, etc., this is an endeavor that must be approached with a great deal of humility. And we should take the outcome with a grain of salt, and direct our attention to content, not form in our attempts to learn the material in another language.

My attention was recently drawn (again) to some issues in the Dutch translation, which I can appreciate, since Dutch is my native language. Harmen Kooremen is doing a lot of work on the semantic structure of the Course and has an interesting way of documenting that, which very much looks into the consistencies and inconsistencies in the usage in the Course. As a result of his work he has also been documenting tendencies in the translation to be excessively creative in Dutch, and thus sometimes lose the fact of the deliberate use of words in the original. Some of his comments are very interesting, and while it would not serve here to discuss the details, it occurred to me, as I was reading some of his articles recently on a Dutch ACIM list (ACIMNed on yahoo), that the issues he raises are equally important in English, because they are a reflection of our own difficulty in hearing what the Course says, and that the message really is as simple as it is. The temptation in teaching the Course in the formal sense is always in thinking that our understanding is a powerful contribution to the truth, or in this case that our translation would be such.

The way of the Holy Spirit would be to realize that we as individuals do neither teach nor translate, but perhaps we may be channels for the sonship to remember who we are. That is the only attitude which can, should, and undoubtedly would guide the process towards a successful translation, but it would not surprise me if some of the translators in Dutch or any other language, would over time see a need to revise the language as the appreciation for the semantic and didactic purpose of the original English text becomes clearer and clearer in their own minds. The only sane advice to any reader ould be to try and read the English text at least some of the time, if you can at all.

In some other way, in reflecting on this whole process, I also found a lot of help in my work in translating Mark from the Greek, which has prompted a lot of reflection of how translations happen. It is in essence of course the "opening of the understanding," as related in Luke 24:45 which the risen Christ performs to the Eleven which is the shift from form to content which occurs in us if we truly follow Jesus in leaving the world of duality and form, and starting to "know" (gnosis!) the non-dualistic reality which he teaches us. And it is only from this standpoint of content, not form, that there is any hope for any sort of translating or teaching in the world, in which we could be of service to others.

Copyright, © 2006 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.