Monday, July 17, 2006

The Bitter Idols

Is he the Christ? 2 O yes, along with you. 3 His little life on earth was not enough to teach the mighty lesson that he learned for all of you. 4 He will remain with you to lead you from the hell you made to God. 5 And when you join your will with his, your sight will be his vision, for the eyes of Christ are shared. 6 Walking with him is just as natural as walking with a brother whom you knew since you were born, for such indeed he is. 7 Some bitter idols have been made of him who would be only brother to the world. 8 Forgive him your illusions, and behold how dear a brother he would be to you. 9 For he will set your mind at rest at last and carry it with you unto your God.

Idols must fall they have no life, and what is lifeless is a sign of death.

Idols inevitably are ego artifacts, they are forms substituting for content, and an attempt to freeze-dry spirit, and keep it around for a rainy day in a form, a graven image.

And since death can never symbolize life, the idols are bound to disappoint, since the hollow pseudo-content the ego ascribes to them as a sort of a charm to reinforce its view of the world, can never pass the test of time.

The business of forgiving Jesus for not living up to the idols we made of him is particularly important. Different aspects will play up for different people, but in some form all of us have to deal with it at some time in order to straighten out our relations with Jesus, and starting to see him for what he is, and not our misconceptions of him. The gospel drama as told in the NT offers an interesting list of idols, which is pretty comprehensive, if not exhaustive:

Successively Jesus is seen as: 
  • the Savior King, the King of the Jews, and the crowds shout out: Hoseannah!
  • But he bitterly disappoints by evolving into the defenseless wimp that he seems to be in front of Pontius Pilate, and we promptly chime in with the crowds: Crucify him!
  • As the suffering Body on the Cross, he sends a message of Guilt, and as one of the subsequent pastimes of good Christians everywhere, a scapegoat must be found, with the predictable result, even if utterly without any historical merit, but: Blame the Jews!
  • And when the scene changes we now have--as a construct of the new sacrificial theology of Paul, with its vicarious salvation as a sort of reductio ad absurdum of the "pagan" ritual of sacrifice-- the Lamb of God, who meekly dies for our sins. 
  • And the further development of the same theology sub-sequently produces the idolization of the body (not the spirit) in the Second Coming, which is held out similar to the magical expectation of the Savior King, in which finally all will be made well.
  • And, Last but not least there is the Final Judgment, in which he becomes a very fearful idol, who represents our self condemnation.

And all the while what he meant to teach was:

         The message of the crucifixion is perfectly clear:
         2 Teach only love, for that is what you are.


And so our own ways of idolizing him are probably variations on the above themes, and constantly get in the way of our relationship with him, being the ego's way of telling him who he is, and giving him a definite, and above all "meaningful" role in the drama as we choose to see it. When we finally are willing to try the "little willingness," and entertain the possibility that our ego might be wrong, we have to let these canned images go, and get ready for the real thing, which will tell us of itself.

The distractions on this path are endless, and we all go through it in different ways. External teachers in the world who we idolize and cannibalize are a prime example.  In my own past I see my disappointment with some of them. Even just for the fact that they had the temerity to die - I mean, how dare they. In my book The Gospel as a Spiritual Path, I described my own experience with just such a transition, which actually led me to the Course, when Frits Bonk died, who had been a spiritual teacher to me from age 15 till 40. He was a student of Krishnamurti and of Jan Willem Kaiser, and in retrospect he specifically led me to the Course through a dream experience.

They showed me the way to follow the Internal Teacher, but we have to let go of the ego in order to follow Him, and the ego insists on coming along for the ride and that they take us "there," which is exactly same thing as what we expected from Jesus: that he would come to magically save us as we are, without changing our minds. Never in a million years would the ego permit for us to get up and go to him. We'll try anything rather than the tenuous (for the ego!)  relationship with our Internal Teacher. Yet this remains the Course's most simple purpose: " provide a way for some people to find their own Internal Teacher." (Introduction).

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