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.
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