My overall interpretive framework is settled, the period of revolutionary science in this field is over, and now I'm in the period of normal science, which amounts to filling in the holes within this framework. I can describe the sorts of interpretations that have a large degree of fit. Some puzzle pieces have to be shaken around for a couple years to fine-tune the fit.
There's a certain point where the puzzle starts coming together routinely and I'm into that phase, with much work remaining, including turning the puzzle pieces several ways to find the best fit. Some ideas, I'm certain of -- such as goat = freewill, sheep = no-free-will. Others, like "vicarious atonement" (God had such compassion on sinners that he gave his son as a sacrifice), I have the right kind of interpretation but am still evaluating what is the most cogent way of putting it.
The Christian 2-state meaning-system really is an assorted collection of separate metaphor domains:
o "Redeem" is a metaphor based on wartime exchange of prisoner-slaves and slave-trade conventions.
o The millennial messiah idea is based on revolutionary war leader figures.
o Sheep vs. goat is based on domesticated livestock.
o Astrotheology is also a transcendent symbolic system integrated into the Christian system as the 12 disciples.
o Son of man, reborn, sacrifice of one's firstborn son, hating your family, becoming God's son, this generation -- all are metaphors from the "family" and "generational" metaphor-space.
A given Christian mythic element can participate in several ways in each of these allegory domains, so it really comes down to artistic, literary, or high poetic judgment to decide which points to highlight, just as the three synoptic Gospels all choose substantially different metaphors to emphasize. In the end, the Christian mythic symbol-system is gluttonous, a catholic and universal black hole of meaning into which everyone attempted to connect every possible transcendent metaphor system.
No wonder it ends up being such a confusing, but also such a delightfully crackable, meaning-puzzle. It's got the skilled mystic-state allegorists working as hard to unravel the many threads of meaning, as were required to weave together all those threads borrowed from all the metaphor systems everyone could think of, like a huge collective project that took place over some centuries. Thus it is inherently debatable what the "main metaphor-system" of Christianity is.
Luther Martin characterizes all mystery religion ultimately being about an attempt to account for and relate to cosmic determinism -- that's like my non-metaphorical, non-poetic core theory of transcendent knowledge.
When we understand the Christian coagulation of hundreds of disparate transcendent symbol systems, combining many systems from Jewish religion, Hellenistic religion, and philosophy, Christian symbolism is like a grab-bag of all Hellenistic thinking and metaphor-systems all jumbled together. There was much debate and contention in which alignment of allegory-domains would win out.
The result in the canon was a viable compromise. Even then, there are multiple canons even among the top sects: the Protestant canon excludes the Apocrypha, which is perhaps why the Protestants are so innocent of thinking spiritually.
The best example of how it's hard to say exactly what the "Christian" metaphor-system comprises, as a set of allegory-elements, is the Mary Magdalene as Beloved Disciple and the one who Jesus pairs up with the Virgin Mary from the cross: is this Mary Magdalene tradition "important", is it really a part of the Christian symbol-system, or not? It depends on which sect you talk to, which group of religionists you talk to.
I would treat Mary Magdalene the same as the Apocrypha are treated: semi-canonical; not absolutely essential. There are positively essential meanings, optional meanings, and anti-essential meanings, such as the crucified and resurrected king theme (essential), the Mary "John" Magdalene theme (partly In, partly Out with respect to the canon), and the beyond-the-pale two-gods theme which isn't in the canon.
In addition, there are secret themes such as the entheogenic nature of all the meals in the canon. The Christian system is completely unidentifiable if we consider the cross and resurrection optional -- you have no theory of Christian mythic meaning if your theory omits the "crucified and resurrected king" theme. In contrast, a theory of Christian myth can be quite complete without accounting for the largely heretical Mary Magdalene theme which is only half-reflected in the canon.
In contrast to the book "Jesus and the Goddess", my strategy is the principle that the best theory should focus first of all on the narrowest canon: making full rational sense out of the Protestant canonical system of myth as it is scoped in the conservative Protestant churches and books.
Then, if you can succeed at turning Protestant myth into a profound system of initiation and enlightenment, expand the theory to cover the broader Christian myth-system, including the Apocrypha, the full Mary "John" Magdalene tradition, and Gnostic systems -- or, "the Gnostic system", again arriving at the problem of narrow vs. broad, and single vs. multiple, varieties of a myth-system.
These considerations apply to interpreting "the Islamic myth-system" and "the Buddhist myth-system" as well: given the tremendous variations within each religion, with multiple competing systems of lower-level and higher-level symbol-systems, it's questionable whether one can talk about "determining the meaning of the Buddhist system of allegory", since there is no single, determinately bounded system.
We can't solve the problem of what a myth-system means if we can't even agree what mythic elements are to be included in the scope of the meaning-system to decode. If we agree that Mr. Historical Buddha taught demons, karma, rebirth, deities, nirvana, and so on, then we think these mythic items must be covered by a rational decoding in terms of the core theory of transcendent knowledge.
If we fancy that Mr. Buddha only taught clear, rational, direct things -- only including karma, for example -- then we only expect a rational decoding of "Buddhism" to talk about that set of mythic elements.
If I simply say that I have cracked the puzzle of "the Christian mythic system", what mythic elements will people assume I have explained? A great example is, will they assume that I have a decoding of veneration of the saints, or purgatory? Or would those be considered peripheral to "the Christian mythic system"?
The best, most practical approach seems to be some sort of multi-layered approach, distinguishing between explaining "the core Christian mythic system" vs. "the overall, broad Christian mythic system" which would include the Mary "John" Magdalene system (partly canonical) and the Apocryphal (canonical for some leading sects but not others), and purgatory (not canonical for any sect, but a major, established part of the leading sect's tradition).
A theory explaining "the Christian mythic system" is poor if it can't explain the narrowest system -- the Protestant mythic system, which knows nothing of the Mary "John" Magdalene mythic theme -- or the most popular though extra-canonical system: the Catholic traditional mythic system, including purgatory.
If you tell a Protestant that you have an explanation of the Christian mythic system, they will assume you are strictly talking about the crucified and resurrected king, but it won't occur to them that you would explain purgatory or Mary "John" Magdalene. Similarly, if you tell a Catholic that you have an explanation of the Catholic or Christian mythic system, they will assume that you are prepared to explain the mystic-state metaphysical meaning of purgatory, and possibly the Apocrypha.
In the book "Jesus and the Goddess", Freke and Gandy make a strategic mistake of implying that the only way to make profound rational sense of Christianity is by completely violating the scope of the canon, as though only by dragging in the full Mary "Beloved Disciple" Magdalene tradition and the entire "two-gods" tradition can Christianity serve as a profound, fully enlightening system.
In fact, the Protestant tradition and canon, in which Mary Magdalene is not an essential or active component, has been proven to be a complete, sufficient system of conveying a 2-state meaning-flipping dynamic, expressing the switch from egoic to transcendent thinking. When I first made the connection between helplessness, no-free-will, danger, and the meaning of the Cross as a willingly self-cancelled pseudo-sovereign, this revelation had nothing to do with Mary "Beloved Disciple" Magdalene.
The Christian mythic system was always designed to be a universal, catholic collection of the elements of all the religions known to the Roman empire -- this necessarily means that in practice, some of the areas of this giant myth-combination ended up being more central, and other areas non-central, and other areas ended up being considered important only for some sects (purgatory in the Catholic version, two-gods in the Gnostic version).
The Protestant version of the Christian mythic system considers itself to be uniquely founded on the core idea of salvation through faith alone, a faith completely given as a gift to the utter sinner by God's action alone.
We also ideally would need variations of the "explanation of the Christian mythic system" for different varieties of Protestantism, such as Protestant scholasticism (such as Reformed dogmatics theology) vs. late 20th-Century evangelical Christianity: they technically have the same scope of mythic elements, but there is a very different emphasis and character of approach to those elements.
So the one who would explain "Christian" myth has some work to do just to define *which varieties* of the *family* of Christian mythic versions will be covered.
My inclination and poetic judgment as a theorist is that the first order of business should be explaining what is common to all the leading sects -- this must mean explaining the Protestant system according not only to the Protestant canon but also as heavily filtered through the Protestant *tradition* which has surely entrenched itself despite all the efforts to apply the principle of "scripture only, *not* adding extra-canonical Church tradition".
It's debatable whether this means the ultra-purified Reformed dogmatics theology, which may or may not be representative of de-facto, actual, lived Protestantism. In short, the theorist of Christianity should define "typical, common-core Christianity" which would surely include the crucified and resurrected king, but not purgatory or Mary "Beloved Disciple" Magdalene.
There may be some good reason why I have addressed solving this scope of common-core Christianity and was somewhat shaped by the denomination Church of Christ. That denomination is an ideal reference point; it is definitive of common-core Christianity in so many ways. It strives very hard to strictly adhere to the elements of liturgy and practice as recorded in the New Testament.
Their effort is highly distorted by not reading Greek and not understanding the cultural context and not understanding the initiation aspects of mystery religion, but that is standard for modern common-core Christianity. This denomination was created to try to be as non-divisive as possible -- eliminating swearing to "man-made confessional statements" such as the Westminster Confession -- while trying to strip down the liturgy until it has nothing but (their version of) what's in the New Testament.
In that sense, this denomination is as ideal as can be found to represent the minimum common core of the Christian mythic system. It's a "conservative" denomination in that it's literalist, retaining a generally literalist belief in heaven, hell, sin, judgement, and vicarious atonement.
Now you might say that "typical Christianity" is fuzzed-out, foggy and hazy, mere mundane ethics that has essentially cast aside the Christian mythic system, lacking a supernaturalist conception of the myth as well as an intense mystic-state conception of the myth.
Is washed-out liberal Christianity a participant in the "common core" Christian myth? To the degree that washed-out liberal Christianity (rejecting low myth, ignorant of truly high myth) retains the Christian myth-system at all, that brand of Christianity continues to participate in what I propose to call the "common core Christian mythic system". Even if such Christianity foolishly rejects the idea of Jesus' resurrection, it still is fully aware that the resurrection was always considered to be the most essential thing.
Same with sects that so misunderstand the Eucharist that they have more or less abandoned even going through the empty motions -- I believe the Salvation Army omits the Eucharist.
If a theory of Christian myth needs to be most widely relevant across all Christian sects by a strategy of first decoding the "common core" Christian myth, a perfect quick way of defining the scope of "common core" Christian myth is to point to the myth-system that is held by the Church of Christ denomination, which can be characterized by the keywords "minimalist", "conservative", "literalist", "scripture focused", and "not hyperdogmatic like pure Calvinism/confessional creeds".
They are dogmatic and literalist, but don't press the theological points to the max; they are not "Protestant scholastics" and don't make purity of theology their foundation of salvation -- the latter is not "common core Christian myth", but an eccentricity that is pretty much unique to one denomination.
I'm not concerned here with defining the most true or coherent Christianity, but rather, the most universally representative version of Christianity in practice, with the greatest number of mythic elements that are shared by the greatest number of sects. Imagine transparent sheets showing the spread of mythic elements held by each sect, then overlay them -- what is the overlapping area? The crucified and resurrected king, and a narrow set of other elements.
Sects like Church of Christ would fall entirely into that common overlapping area. The Church of Christ sect, which claims to reject denominationalism entirely, is extremely representative of what mythemes all Christian sects share in common, probably because this sect tries as hard as possible to stay within the worship style that is recorded in the scriptures, trying not to add anything from Church tradition.
For example, icons are not mentioned in the New Testament, nor instrumental music, not baptism of infants, so these aren't present. But the Eucharist is mentioned, and singing is mentioned, so these are prominently figured. Actually this sect does even less - just a subset of things mentioned in the New Testament.
Since the range of liturgical practice in this sect is so restricted to a conservative subset of what's in the New Testament, this sect's restricted set of Christian mythic motifs is an excellent definition of the scope of the "common core Christian mythic system" and thus defines one extreme that the theory of Christian myth must successfully decode.
At the other extreme would be the Catholic system, and beyond that, the most complete theory would need to explain heretical and Gnostic Christian systems as Freke and Gandy have begun to cover so well.
My criticism of Freke and Gandy is just like of Ken Wilber: because they scale their explanation of "the Christian myth" only to the broadest and most encompassing scale, their core theory falls short of breaking through in a way that would explain the real meaning of Jesus that sweeps across all versions of Christianity. They've done a fair job of explaining Gnostic Christianity, but not an effective job of explaining the meaning of Jesus as he sits within the common core Christian myth.
They have explained some religion, but not the Christian myth-religion as it actually exists in all the mainstream sects. What I seek to do is to explain the Christian myth-religion as it actually exists in all the mainstream sects, which means, excluding a focus of Mary "Beloved Disciple" Magdalene.
*After* that common-core mythic system is decoded, then all variants such as the Catholic and Gnostic variants, which are supersets of the common core, can be much better and more profoundly explained. If a theory of the Christian myth-religion covers the mythic system as held by the Church of Christ, which is a certain minimalist variant, then the theory covers the core of all major versions of the Christian mythic system.
I'm inclined to be a purist in committing to research and idea development strictly within a certain more-or-less "new" paradigm, and not inefficiently waste time interacting with people in the incommensurate "old paradigm" of literalism. However, engaging with alien paradigms has often proven surprisingly profitable.
Discussing issues with people who are operating from within an interpretive framework that I think is thoroughly distorted and off-base can be more efficient than one might expect. Still, I am looking for ways to make progress using methods and collaborating with researchers who are closer to the desired paradigm I want to work in.
The paradigm I'm working to define is that of myth as religion as purely metaphorical (not literalist at all) description of intense mystic altered state experiences, of which the most classic wellspring is visionary plants. Also fundamental to my thinking is a mystic-state experience of block universe determinism, a type of determinism which disparages the reigning notion of in-time, causal-chain determinism.
Three features characterize this paradigm most distinctly and set it apart: In abbreviated form: No historical Jesus, block-universe determinism, visionary plants. Each of these areas holds challenges for me; I don't mean necessarily the challenges that people put forth in postings, so much as general, inherent challenges.
In the topic of no historical Jesus, challenges include defining exactly what is meant by "no historical Jesus", and in reconstructing what in fact did happen, what the Jesus figure positively mean. I believe it is most profitable to write in the form of defining and clarifying a model, rather than in "debating" or "defending" ideas or in "disproving" or "debating" other people's ideas.
Polishing one's own view and critiquing others' views is more profitable than "debate" as normally conceived. Debate is usually point-by-point and is done on the assumption that a view is "founded on" some number of "basic assumptions". I take a much more network or systemic view. Debate proceeds too linearly or too strictly.
Real, relevant intellectual grappling and contest is a matter of putting two entire worldmodels side by side and judging them in a beauty contest, and imagining a stance from which we can neutrally judge the soundness or plausibility of the contestant worldmodels. Of course such neutrality is problematic, since the measure of "neutrality" and "plausibility" and "reasonableness" is itself paradigm-dependent, at least to some extent.
Sometimes I have the defeatist attitude that in a group of thinkers who agrees with my paradigm, that would have to cause stagnation; we'd all sit around and silently nod our heads, with research progress immediately halting. Contrasting two opposing paradigms can throw sparks that most illuminate. Why did Jesus die?
The fundamentalist literalist supernaturalist says "because we are condemned under God's righteous judgment, and only the greatest sacrifice, provided by God, can set us profoundly morally sinful beings aright with God's justice and justify his being merciful to us, rather than getting what we all deserve, eternal torment and damnation in hellfire."
The tepid, wishy-washy liberal-conservative evangelical skeptical atheist-agnostic fence-sitting wanna-be middle-of-the-road mainstream considers it most plausible and reasonable to make the most plausible and reasonable assumption that Jesus was just a plain nice guy who represents and embodies amazingly high spirituality that is beyond our normal grasp.
The modern normal mystics holds that he was that, but they fill in more detail of his high spirituality and they emphasize his cross, the Passion, also as symbolically representing mystic-state experiencing. The pure mythic-only Jesus mystics come in several types; I'm a theorist and modeller advocating one type of such conception as most sound and logical.
Why did Jesus die? One mentality, that of the modern sober and mysticism-oblivious scholar, answers "He was killed because he was a threat to the dominant official sociopolitical system. He didn't rise, or, he was resuscitated." Another mentality, that of the pure mythic-only Jesus mystics, answers "He dies -- and then ascends -- because he is a symbol of mystic-state experiential death and rebirth."
Contrasting these two mentalities is undeniably profitable for systematizers who want to construct and fill in the details of a worldmodel that is based on and informed by the realm of mystic-state experiencing. Just as Gnosticism begat Orthodox doctrine, so does critiquing the literalist worldmodel beget and help shape and define a purely mystic worldmodel or reconstruction of Christian origins.
However, though critiquing the literalist mindset is highly profitable, debating and refuting for the umpteenth time, point-by-point, the individual arguments of the literalists, is not so profitable, not so efficient. Point-by-point debate is not where it's at; painting broad worldmodels and reconstructive scenarios, widely informed, is the way to make progress.
The literalist move is to drag the debate down into the details, endlessly rearguing the points that have been already won by the mythic-only Jesus scholars; those scholars fail to make progress because the same worthless points are endlessly re-raised by the literalists, defeating any cumulative victory of the mythic-only Jesus scholars. One cannot make progress in a debate when the opponent uses a strategy of ignoring past victories of the mythic-only Jesus scholars.
That battle reaches a steady-state impasse. How then can any progress ever be made? Certainly not by point-by-point debate against those who ignore the fact that they have been technically defeated and slain many times over -- that is, by refusing to engage in actual point-by-point debate, by ignoring past defeats, the (especially modern-era) literalist worldmodel remains undefeated and thriving for ever, unvanquished.
What is most needed is to keep the technically victorious arguments and refutations put forth by the mythic-only Jesus scholars, exemplified by Doherty, but add a full, rich, detailed worldmodel of a thoroughly mystic-state understanding of the Jesus figure. Years of point-by-point debate of the same old won and re-won points against literalists can never achieve the necessary construction of such a detailed worldmodel of a mystic-state based comprehension of the original meanings of the Jesus figure.
What can the mythic-only Jesus researcher do to define and formulate a full, rich, detailed worldmodel of a thoroughly mystic-state understanding of the Jesus figure? What would such a worldmodel need to include, and how would it need to be framed and put forth? What is the goal? My goal is to form the simplest possible, and most ergonomic and efficient and streamlined, helpful working model of mystic-state experiential insight.
My great fear in mythic-only Jesus scholars of Acharya's school and of Michael Conley's school is that they will throw out the baby of mystic-state experiential insight together with the bathwater of the historical Jesus.
I want to use the ahistoricity of Jesus as a tool to increase our access to mystic-state experiential insight, whereas mystically ignorant scorched-earth atheist debunkers of some roughly conceived, broad-brush monolithic "Christianity" are hell-bent on using the ahistoricity of Jesus as a tool to wipe away everything associated with Christianity off the face of the earth, good riddance to every last bit of it.
The latter is the most grave mistake possible, greatly alarming to us esotericists, because such an absolute rejection can only amount to sheer incomprehension and deep, utter failure to grasp the meaning of what one is rejecting -- and the true evil, literalist misunderstanding, remains sitting on the throne, ruling over the world.
Modern atheism is exactly the same thing as modern Christianity: they are the same religion, worshipping the god of Literalist Misunderstanding and Ignorance of higher meaning, where higher meaning is mystic-state experiencing and its metaphorical descriptions.
The atheist refuses to convert from their religion of Literalist Incomprehension, and nothing of transcendent import is gained; no higher knowledge is achieved by the ersatz pseudo-conversion from literalist Christianity to its twin, literalist atheism, any more than anything is gained from an ersatz, pseudo-"conversion" from literalist Islam to literalist Christianity as endorsed by the book Unveiling Islam.
Unveiling Islam: An Insider's Look at Muslim Life and Beliefs
Ergun and Emir Caner
The only way out, really, from literalist Christianity is upwards, not a sideways move of uncomprehending broad-brush rejection of "religion" or "Christianity".
What is my interest in no-historical Jesus, that then guides my discussion participation? My overarching goal is to formulate a useful model of mystic-state experiential insight.
Refuting the historical Jesus assumption is highly useful, if not quite mandatory, in formulating a useful model of mystic-state experiential insight. Lately I think that refuting historical Jesus, as a narrowly conceived endeavor, profits very little, because the historical Jesus error is so elementary; how can the PhD profit by correcting the kindergarteners? It's really none of his business what foolishness goes on in the minds of children.
However, a study of the Hellenistic era overall, including but not limited to studying its arguably greatest product -- the Jesus figure -- offers much of important, even mandatory value in formulating a useful model of mystic-state experiential insight. A model of mystic-state experiential insight that failed to engage with the Hellenistic era and its Jesus product would be too isolated and circumscribed to be relevant, practical, and valuable.
Only a full engagement with and rewriting of history, to put forth a full-detailed system side-by-side and connected and contrasted at all important points, can provide a *truly* useful, ergonomic, and practical model of mystic-state experiential insight.
I also have to struggle to make progress while working at odds with the current modern dominant paradigms of determinism (what it is, why it's important) and visionary plants (disputing their exact extent and cultural role). Discussing drugs is frightening to the moderators for a slew of reasons -- clearly not due to a complete lack of interest in the subject.
Only a subject in which many people are greatly interested has such potential to wreak havoc in a disciplined and focused discussion forum. As an experienced and real-world skilled discussion participant, it falls on me to do the impossible task of writing something wise and on-topic and relevant and appropriate. It would be a failure of duty were I to write nothing; a disappointment to many participants and a failure to engage reasonably with topics that are not difficult to justify as relevant.
There is much to say, but much that would not fit well with today's conventions of divisions of topics. Many people write much of little worth about various fringe topics, creating what I consider to be worthless noise.
I have no great respect for the censorious moderators, and I have complete sympathy for the challenge they face; I can only bow in respect for their role, while also calling them ignorant fools, youths who are facing a challenge utterly beyond their capacity and that of the mob of contributors one can find today. It takes all that such moderators can do, to just hold back the floodgates of total chaos.
Visionary plants are the most relevant thing in the world for studying the Jesus Mysteries. It's *because* visionary plants are the foundation of the Jesus figure that they are taboo and totally off-topic. The Jesus figure was (among other things) the personification of visionary plants, and that fact is an arrow that shoots straight to the heart of the fabrication of the historical Jesus.
The most threatening fact to the financially profitable Church is that the Eucharist is based on the routinely and boringly standard, factory-like, mass-production-like, use of visionary plants in the Hellenistic era, an era that was first of all based on the mystic state that is a direct and mechanically reliable result, available on-tap and unremarkably, from this, the wellspring of the religious-mythic imagination.
This is why the topic of visionary plants is more on-topic than any other aspect, and yet is officially considered to be completely off-topic. The very taboo nature makes even the issue of *whether* visionary plants are relevant, to be by definition off-topic. One is not even permitted to defend the relevance of the idea; it is a-priori defined as off topic and irrelevant to finding some sense in which Jesus or the Word of God is descended in the flesh, in the shape of one like a son of man.
I don't envision a Jesus Mysteries discussion group as a place to dwell on the subject of recognizing the entheogenic nature of the Eucharist and of Hellenistic sacred eating and drinking, compared to the journal Entheos. http://www.entheomedia.org
or the books in the book list
Entheogen theory of the origin of religions
or in the Egodeath discussion group, where the subject of entheogens throughout religion-philosophy is truly central and most on-topic.
The entheogen theory of the perennial wellspring of religion is even more relevant than other topics to the subject of The Jesus Mysteries. Yet current conventions, the norms of separating fields and of relating fields, dictate pretending that entheogens are of minor relevant to the subject of the original meanings of the Jesus figure and the actual history of earliest Christianity. I can deal with that naturally, because indeed we do need to properly balance and limit the amount of focus on entheogens.
People make altogether too much fuss about drugs in religion when the eventual attitude will be that of the Hellenists: here is the mixed wine, Dionysus, the source of religion: now, what are we to construct as far as systems of *utilizing* this 'mixed wine'? Accepting the visionary-plant basis of religion is by no means a complete systematic model of religion and Greco-Roman religious history.
It's key, certainly -- even more key than other topics -- but still, there remains so much more to comprehend than that fact which the entheogen scholars halt at. There is a cottage industry now, the opposite of lone voices, involved in spotlighting and defending the historical use of entheogens in religion -- usually in the distant past, as though such inspiration had somehow ceased to exist in the later life of a religion.
Although my model of religion is based largely on entheogens, and it is therefore my job to paint a detailed picture of this scenario, somehow I've never felt interested in entheogens like the obsessed entheogen scholars; I've always been a metaphysical theorist driven by self-control and personal management concerns, first of all, with the field of entheogen studies as merely a perspective that is a utilitarian tool toward that intellectual end.
And that utilitarian attitude may help explain why there is so much mystic writing with so little explicit dwelling on the plant triggers (as far as we can tell so far). Harder than any other challenge a post'er may throw at me is the self-highlighting puzzle of, why aren't we inundated with tons of explicit writing about visionary plants? It's the hardest question, or among the hardest.
My greatest contribution to modelling the Jesus Mysteries is to start with the axiomatic assumption that there was no historical Jesus, and that all religion comes from the wellspring of visionary plants, and *not* to defend either of those isolated axioms, but rather, paint in the details of *meaning*. *Given* a Jesus figure as a personification of the plants, what is the meaning of theology, of salvation, of metanoia, conversion, repentance, of being given the mind of Christ, of being fished out of the lower world?
Particularly, what is the experiential mystic meaning of all these themes? This is the essence of my challenge against the literalist worldmodel: against their Mr. Historical Jesus, my most potent challenger is the *fully detailed* Jesus that is explained in terms of experiential mystic meaning. If we say that Mr. Historical Paul didn't see Jesus in the sense of seeing a literal person, then just what exactly, what in the hell, are we saying?
What does it *mean* -- be specific! -- to say that Paul's Jesus was "blah blah yaddah", that his Jesus was "a figure of experiential mystic meaning"? Any ignorant scholar can mouth those words and have no idea what they mean, and so they do. Today's models of what a "figure of experiential mystic meaning" amounts to, are hazy indeed, a completely unacceptable state for the modern powerful mind.
Against all other theorists of religious experiencing -- and here is a challenge that keeps reminding me it's as great as the determinism, visionary plants, or no-Jesus challenge -- I have to face a challenge more difficult than found in the Jesus discussion group: I say that we moderns are completely able to formulate, *to our own full satisfaction*, a model and explanation of Jesus as a figure of experiential mystic meaning within a model that is clear, rational, specific, determinate, rigorous, simple, straightforward, systematic, and summarizable.
I keep dismissing that aspect of my challenge, yet I keep remembering that my supreme heresy -- worse than a vertical version of determinism, worse than repudiating the historical Jesus hypothesis, and worse than basing all religion on visionary plants -- is that mystic experiencing, including the Cross and Passion and Resurrection -- can be explained easily, rationally, and systematically, to the full satisfaction of the modern mind.
This threatens to put a lot of complexifiers and mystifiers out of business, from dream-analyzing therapists to gurus to supernaturalist priests to European gobbledygook-spewing scholars of Western esotericism, to flatland reductionist atheist naturalist "explainers" of religion as being "really about" planets and reproduction and fertility cycles, or sociopolitical relations.
Whether judged as complex or simple, the theory that drops the most elements into place the most quickly is that theory defined by these axioms I advocate as a set: no historical Jesus, visionary-plant basis and wellspring of religion, timeless block-universe determinism with vertical causality, and, blasphemy of all, the easy systematizability of mystic experiential insight and descriptive metaphors for such insight, such as the Jesus figure with his feeding us at our Last Supper, his willing sacrifice of his mortal, perishable self with us on the Cross, and his ascension with us into the arrived secret kingdom of God.
There is only one thing preventing modern literalist Christians and literalist atheists from converting to actual Religion: ignorance of the mystic-state meaning of the Jesus figure and his life storyline.
Therefore the topic which is arguably more on-topic in the Jesus Mysteries forum than any other is the mystic-state *meaning* and descriptive allusions of the Jesus figure's storyline; pointing out the nature of mystic-state experiential insight and demonstrating how it aligns full well with the Jesus figure's storyline. Other approaches are reductionist and literalist.
>Michael probably wasn't subject to the sort of church that crushed the life out of him, broke his marriage, and drained his bank account, as it was with me. People with mild and genial experiences don't develop the incisive force of those who have suffered.
Such a person ought to be mad at their previous uncritical gullibility, and collective gullibility, and ought to repent and become truly discerning and critical, rightly dividing the scriptures. The faster we learn to rightly divide the scriptures, the better. Biblical Christianity is Hellenistic mystery religion and philosophy and universal mystic religion, taken over and largely distorted by Roman power-mongers who, over centuries, somewhat altered it to attempt to create a monopoly on religious experiencing.
Blind absolute scorched-earth hatred of Christianity altogether -- dogmatic atheism -- may feel good but is no real viable solution in the end.
Mystics have a special complaint against authoritarian literalism: not only does it cause harm in the mundane world, but it drives people away from real religious truth and spiritual enlightenment. People assume that because the particular version of Christianity they were given is bad, all Christianity is entirely bad, or even all religion is bad -- but the latter conclusion doesn't hold up to sustained critical investigation.
The Bible shows evidence of having been formed in a tug-of-war between good and bad guys, democratic gnostics and hierarchical strategic literalists. The Bible is a collection of texts and ideas from broad Hellenistic culture, with some distortions that were added to try to monopolize transcendent truth. It's hopeless to try to arrange the gospels in sequence of age, because they were all rewritten over a long time and contain older and newer writing.
The bad guys tried to force Christianity to be a single thing, and they succeeded only to a limited extent. Christianity is a mix of good and bad: it can be seen as a single thing, but there are many good reasons to also consider Christianity as a rag-bag motley assortment of sayings and ideas. Christianity was indeed a universal religion, patched together from all existing religions and philosophies, and then largely taken over by the bad guys.
If it is legitimate to treat Christianity strictly as a single thing, then we could condemn the whole thing as evil. It is not legitimate to treat Christianity only as a single coherent thing. It is a motley assortment of pieces of reasonable and true Hellenistic religion and philosophy, welded together over time by the bad guys but always with some counter-shaping by the good guys as well.
When I work on explaining the real meaning, the universally valid meaning lying behind Christianity, a serious question arises, of which version of Christianity is meant: Gnostic, Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, Charismatic, and so on -- earliest, proto-, Constantinian/Eusebian, medieval, reformation, or modern Christianity? Christianity is a complex thing over time, over region, and over sects or schools.
In practice, people take a pick-or-choose attitude toward the Bible scriptures, which turns out to be absolutely the historically correct approach, because they were assembled and rewritten to serve various conflicting motives. It is simple and lazy to insist that Christianity must be fully embraced -- every last scripture -- or fully rejected as entirely bad -- that would be like saying "writing is bad" or "all religion is false".
To think Christianity is a single clear-cut uniform thing that could be toppled by showing one point to be false, is just to buy into the rigid thinking that the bad guys (authoritarian religious leaders) promoted: the *illusion* of singleness of the Christian religion. To think Christianity stands or falls as a single thing, is to be in agreement with the power-mongers who originally distorted the collection of Christian scriptures in order to force a monopoly they control onto the populace.
Diversity and choice were present in many or most of the earliest Christianities.
To dismiss Christianity as entirely bad is easy and oversimplistic. The reality is more complex. I have a strong hunch that the modern reading of Christianity is much more literalistic than the previous eras -- the written evidence may seem to report that Christianity has always been entirely clueless and literalist, but I'm sure there were many more people and churches over history that read Christianity much more mystically than moderns know how to interpret it.
I completely distrust the official histories and their claims about what Christianity meant to people -- or the statistical spread of different readings. The official histories tend to paint an illusion that Christianity was a single literalist viewpoint, but I consider the official histories to be propaganda that is better read as a report of what people *didn't* think. Like the media news, the official histories are first of all, propaganda serving to distort and selectively omit information.
Actual people in Christendom included many who were more pagan, more shamanistic, more mystical. Christianity was a system of using or abusing religion for political control. It was largely a distortion of valid religion, and largely abused, and largely false -- but it integrated many elements that were legit. To deny that is to fight a simpler enemy than the actual one. The enemy is partly good and partly bad.
Literalism and spiritual atheism (which denies that there is any reflection of truth in Christianity, whether distorted or undistorted) are both simplistic positions. The hard path I advocate is to comprehend and recognize the truth in Christianity, and identify how to rightly divide the scriptures. In practice, everyone agrees that many of the Biblical passages are bunk.
The real problem to work on, that I am working on and that others ought to be working on, is the problem of identifying *which* scriptures and readings are bunk and which are legitimate. There are two ways to get a lobotomy and become exempt from the labor of critical thinking and rational comprehension of symbolic meaning: become a total literalist, or become a total atheist.
>And maybe I've spent too much time empathizing with burning witches, abominable gays, perfidious Jews, and the other targets of the wrath of the Lamb.
The idea of 'wrath' is not monopolized by Christianity -- other religions report this mystic experience too. In principle, every scripture can be read literally or mystically -- and some scriptures are entirely illegitimate, such as those insisting on a Jesus who walked the earth.
To rightly divide the scriptures, there are two principles of discernment:
1. Some scriptures can be read two ways, such as reading "good/evil" under the mystic and indeed Hellenistic assumption of no-free-will, versus under the workaday assumption of metaphysical free will. (I continue to think that Christianity should get credit for bringing the assumption of metaphysical free will to mankind.)
For example, the idea of burning away one's lower, mortal, sinful nature in purgatory is a mystically fully legitimate metaphor that occurs in many religions and myths. To think that purgatory is a horrific idea says more about one's ignorance and chronic literalism than about the idea itself.
2. In contrast, some ideas in the scriptures are not mystically legitimate, and are just plain bunk -- such as those that insist that Jesus literally walked on the earth -- such scriptures are blatant bogus additions by the power-mongers who were intent on creating a financially profitable artificial monopoly on religious truth -- the bishops, as in "obey your bishop".
The battle between the good guys and bad guys, the gnostics and the Roman-controlled bishops, is reflected in the scriptures. Christianity is two conflicting religious engaged in a battle with each other -- esoteric and exoteric versions jumbled together -- so it is sheer nonsense, or a grossly incomplete and one-sided view, to insist that Christianity really is a single thing that stands or falls as one.
There is only one possible strategic plan for success, and that is for scholars to rightly divide the scriptures; to understand and recognize what aspects of Christianity are legit and illegitimate. That's not an entire strategy, however, but just a necessary milestone, one that -- fortunately -- we can do immediately, without regard to the mass of actual Christians or semi-Christians.
The book Christ Conspiracy ( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0932813747 ) is a valuable step *toward* that milestone of comprehending the esoteric meaning of the Christian myth-system. What is needed next is full-on heavy research into the religious and philosophical context of earliest Christianity, informed by research in world mysticism, myth, and history of religions.
Spencer's book is far better than books covering just Christian mysticism:
Mysticism in World Religion
Fine coverage including astrotheology, philosophy, not Jewish religion:
The Religious Context of Early Christianity: A Guide to Graeco-Roman Religions
I'm filling in this section from the posting "Astrology domain is surface, not core of religion":
>>To rightly comprehend Christianity, the key, important task at hand is to properly relate the following domains ... Progress has been made in these individual fields by scholars such as the following:
Main thematic domains in Christian origins include:
Experiential cognitive phenomena produced by visionary plants
Self-control, freewill, and heimarmene/Necessity/Fatedness
Anti- Ruler Cult, sociopolitical resistance movement
The philosophy/idea of martyrdom and hero-cult
Healing and exorcism
In making sense of Christianity in terms of various meaning-domains or thematic domains, as well as Jewish and Greco-Roman and world myth-religion, progress has been made in these individual fields by scholars such as the following:
Visionary plants (identifying references to the visionary plants themselves in Jewish and Christian writings) - James Arthur, Clark Heinrich, Carl Ruck, Chris Bennett, Dan Merkur, Dan Russell, Robert Thorne
Experiential cognitive phenomena produced by visionary plants (identifying entheogen-triggered psychological phenomena, as cognitive phenomena, in Jewish and Christian writings) - Robert Thorne (visual distortion), Clark Heinrich (visual distortion), Michael Hoffman (self-control seizure, visual distortion, ego death and rebirth, experience of timelessness, experience of no-free-will, experience of no-separate-self, experience of timeless block universe trumping personal control power; experience of fatedness; cognitive dynamics of prayer for generous arbitrary transcendent rescue/restabilization of personal control).
Self-control, freewill, and heimarmene/Necessity/Fatedness (could be considered a subset of "Experiential cognitive phenomena produced by visionary plants") (identifying references to illusory aspect of self-control and freewill in Jewish and Christian and Greco-Roman writings) - Richard Double, Augustine, Martin Luther, Calvin, R. C. Sproul, Luther Martin.
Astrology/cosmology (identifying how scriptures reflect and allude to astrotheology/cosmology) - Acharya S and the "History of Religions" school (the authors cited by Acharya)
Anti- Ruler Cult, sociopolitical resistance movement, and "king" as metaphor for mystic-state phenomena (identifying how the Christian movement distinctly emphasized Jesus as anti- Ruler Cult) -- Richard Horsley, Wes Howard-Brook, Bruce Malina, John Crossan
The philosophy/idea of martyrdom and hero-cult -- Gregory Riley (Jesus as Greco-Roman divinized hero). Book list: How did Christianity catch on? Martyrdom as dissidence - http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/listmania/list-browse/-/E4V4QZWIUKPT
Fertility religion (identifying fertility religion themes in the scriptures) - Exemplary researcher/theorist: James Frazer (Golden Bough). The sex aspect of John Allegro's The Sacred Mushroom & The Cross.
Healing and exorcism (identifying and studying healing themes in the Bible, forming "Jesus as healer and exorcist") - Stevan Davies.
Why isn't Acharya/ History of Religions/Freethought listed at Peter Kirby's "Historical Jesus Theories" page http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html? Her absence there is one reason why my categories need improvement at http://www.egodeath.com/christviewstaxonomy.htm. Acharya claims to reveal the "esoteric" and "initiation" Jesus,
To categorize theorists, I formulated three binary questions:
>>The supernaturalism question (or axis or criterion):
o Do you include and allow supernaturalism in your thinking? [yes or no]
Answer given by Acharya/ History of Religions/Freethought: no.
>>The esotericism question (or axis or criterion):
o Do you strongly include and allow esotericism, such as a mystic experience of Jesus, in your explanation of the origin of Christianity and what Jesus was about? Is your theory of Christian origins largely driven by an interest in esotericism? [yes or no]
Answer given by Acharya/ History of Religions/Freethought: "yes". However, I reject their definition of "esotericism", because they commit the "ordinary state of consciousness fallacy" of assuming that initiation and esoteric knowledge is based in the ordinary state of consciousness. They are in fact allegorists/symbolists but *not* truly esotericists or initiation proponents.
They label their ideas "esoteric" and "initiation", but with the visionary-plant experiential state essentially or entirely lacking, this can only be a lower, restricted, mundane, vulgar, minor, inferior type of "esoteric initiation". If it's not *intense experiential altered-state* esoteric initiation, then it's the less significant type of "esoteric initiation". I may need to shut out this misunderstanding by rewording the question to distinguish between mere symbolism and the intense experiential altered state.
Mere ordinary-state secrecy of symbolism is one thing, altered state experiential revelation is something profoundly greater, higher, truly otherworldly, and transcendent.
Here is where Doherty slightly slips into a different category than Acharya. She at least gives lip service praising "ancient mystery wisdom", as ordinary-state astrology/cosmology. Doherty is more negative on this point: by comparison, his view is that Christianity is a harmful distortion of a worthless field or set of fields.
Based on my reading so far, Doherty has far less emphasis on astrology as the true original core meaning behind Christianity. He considers Christianity (and religion) as entirely error; she considers it as a corruption of a valuable ancient core knowledge-domain, where that core is astrotheology (basically as a lone thematic domain).
Of the atheist debunkers of the Historical Jesus and (official) Christianity, there are two camps: those who reveal that it's all harmful worthless nonsense, and those who reveal that it's all a distortion of a valuable core where that core is astrotheology (or possibly fertility-religion).
In fact it's all a distortion of a valuable core where that core includes several distinct, cross-linked thematic domains including astrotheology; socio-political resistance; and the experiences of the intense mystic altered state, such as no-free-will/no-separate-self, ego death, and rebirth.
In the modern era, astrology/cosmology is not important, and socio-political resistance is of debatable importance (Wes Howard-Brook's advocacy of resisting domination empire). Similarly, the healing/exorcism theme is little relevant to religion in modernity.
But there is one thematic domain that is universally relevant in all eras and areas -- the most truly religious domain of all, which is the experiences of the intense mystic altered state, such as no-free-will/no-separate-self, ego death, and rebirth; that's even more important than the Ruck/Heinrich domain of the visionary plants themselves (admittedly a purely academic distinction, since these plants directly cause these experiences).
Kirby's divisions are also problematic because they tend to encourage the single-theme fallacy, resulting in one camp of scholars who are geniuses at correctly recognizing the sociopolitical resistance thematic domain in Christian origins, but idiots at perceiving the astrotheology or altered-state experience domains. The only acceptable and reasonable theory of Christian origins, that each scholar must work within, is a system that integrates all the main meaning domains.
The question is not "Was Christianity about astrotheology or socio-political resistance or mystic experiencing", but rather, "How can Christianity be explained in terms of a combination of astrotheology, sociopolitical resistance, and mystic experiencing?" It is deeply misguided to work in one thematic domain while completely omitting integration with the other main thematic domains.
Sure it's simple and understandable for an audience of simpletons, to "explain" Christianity by only laying out the astrology dimension or only laying out the sociopolitical resistance dimension or by only laying out the altered-state mystic experiencing dimension -- but for a meaningful, mature, serious grasp of any of these thematic domains, the other main thematic domains must be integrated as well.
For my area of interest, it falls on me to not only lay out the altered-state mystic experiencing dimension, but to also show how this was integrated with the astrotheology and sociopolitical resistance domains -- or at least strongly and clearly communicate that such integration needs to be done.
Scholars at some point in the near future must stop putting forth their own thematic domain in isolation as though it was an isolated thematic domain, as though the Jesus figure was only one of Kirby's "Jesus as X" categories and was not at all the other types as well. Scholars must clearly advocate an integrated "all of the above" theory (reconstruction of Christian origins).
A reconstruction of Christian origins that basically omits intense mystic experiencing, or omits socio-political resistance, or omits astrology/cosmology, or omits the other main thematic domains, cannot be a correct reconstruction of Christian origins, but is only a partial reconstruction of Christian origins.
The astrotheology reconstruction of Christian origins is correct as far as it goes, but can only be a partial reconstruction of Christian origins -- the book Christ Conspiracy points this out, but not as strongly or consistently as is now needed.
>>The Literalism question (or axis or criterion):
o Was there a historical Jesus, where historical Jesus is defined as a uniquely distinctive man who was the basis for the Christian religion and without whom Christianity would not exist? [yes or no]
Answer given by Acharya/ History of Religions/Freethought: no.
The Bible is astrology/cosmology, but that is only one of some 7 main thematic domains. If you fully understand all astrotheology aspects of the Bible and religion, even if astrotheology could be considered the most important thematic domain, you'd still lack a decent understanding of the Bible and religion. The Bible and the success of Christianity through 313 CE are not decently understood if all you have is astrotheological understanding.
Most of these other thematic domains were also essential to the Bible and to the success of Christianity. Most of these thematic domains were also essential to world religions. This list of thematic domains, meaning-domains, or allegory domains is not even intended to be exhaustive; there are more.
It requires deliberate theorizing and debate to determine the relative roles of major thematic domains such as astrotheology, sociopolitical resistance, and intense mystic-state experiencing in Christian origins.
It would be interesting to expand my categories to sort scholars based on the major fallacies I watch for:
Is Christian esotericism a matter of intense non-ordinary experiencing?
Acharya's answer: no. It was the intellectual and ritual study of astrology. My answer: yes; what so elevated the various domains such as astrology or socio-political resistance, and gave them a sense of compelling authority, was the phenomena of the intense mystic altered state.
Is one thematic domain strongly dominant over the others in explaining Christian origins?
Acharya's answer: yes: astrology/cosmology/astrotheology. My answer: no; the origins are essentially multi-thematic, but some of the most important thematic domains are A, B, C, D, and E. Domain A was key because of X; domain B was key because of Y; ...
You could say my view is 7 times as complicated as the others such as astrotheology, because I advocate integrating some 7 thematic domains in studying Christian origins or earliest Christianity.
Most books focus almost exclusively on a single thematic domain, posing it as "the" real concern of original Christianity: Jesus as X (where X is astrological principle *or* resistance figure *or* healer...). It's more like a matter of Jesus as complex composite X composed of disparate themes A, B, C, ... My proposal for integrating *multiple* themes into the explanation of the origins of the Jesus religion breaks the pattern and confuses people, who have come to expect simple single-theme theories.
My specialty theme is the experiential phenomena of the intense mystic altered state, but I know that it simply won't suffice to say that Christianity was really about the experiential phenomena of the intense mystic altered state -- I'm too aware of the soundness of the other views, such as Horsley's "Jesus as sociopolitical resistance figure", and I know that astrotheology was very important.
Burton Mack proposes we use social science theories and history-of- religion to formulate theories of religion to account for the Christian myth.
But when it comes to understanding early Christianity and the mystery-religions, we are totally baffled and don't even have any compelling candidates for such a theory of religion.
Appling social science theories to the study of early Christianity has something to contribute, but cannot explain the main meaning of allegories for religious experience.
Mack tends to dismiss religious experience by grouping it with exoteric, supernaturalist Christianity that is more characteristic of post-313 than pre-313 mythmaking.
Religion was reduced to a social construct, one that included supernaturalist thinking, only *after* 313.
Mack asserts that the notion of personal religious experience is inadequate as a point of departure for defining religion or developing a theory of religion. (p. 68). He's right that it is *inadequate* -- that is, less than completely adequate -- but applying Ken Wilber's Integral Theory, we cannot understand socio- political-religious mythmaking by Mack's reductionist move of reducing the political and especially the religious aspects into the social aspects.
A Theory of Everything: An Integral Vision for Business, Politics,
Science, and Spirituality
We must separately assess Christian myth along these distinct, differentiated, but interrelated aspects:
pre-313 vs. post-313
social vs. political vs. religious
exoteric vs. esoteric
I propose those as the main distinctions to make in studying the origins of the Christian myth. Then, list the permutations and try to label them. Below, "religious" means religious only, without social and political aspects. "Exoteric" means supernaturalist thinking that is unaware of mystic experiencing.
These are the main distinct lenses for reading the Christian myth:
pre-313, social, exoteric <-- Burton Mack's main approach
pre-313, social, esoteric
pre-313, political, exoteric <-- Norman Cohn's main approach
pre-313, political, esoteric <-- Book of Revelation read w/
knowledge of mystic experiencing
pre-313, religious, exoteric <-- N. T. Wright's main approach
pre-313, religious, esoteric <-- main approach of Hoffman, Freke,
post-313, social, exoteric
post-313, social, esoteric
post-313, political, exoteric
post-313, political, esoteric
post-313, religious, exoteric <-- Catholic, Protestant
post-313, religious, esoteric <-- Eastern Orthodox
Can we collapse this by saying that pre-313 Christianity is esoteric, while post-313 is exoteric? Not really. In Pagels' book The Gnostic Paul portrays the early Christians as having an exoteric majority who is taught the Jesus storyline and an esoteric minority that takes the higher sacrament of apolytrosis and experiences the Jesus storyline firsthand. That sort of Paul is probably described more in this book about Paul, shamanistic experience, and religious experience:
The Religion of Paul the Apostle
I commend many aspects of The Christian Origins Project as described by Burton Mack in the book The Christian Myth, but his "social mythmaking" hypothesis is reductionist (in Wilber's sense) and inadequate, compared to the theory of Hellenistic experiential mystery-religion allegory. It is true that after Constantine/Eusebius in 313, most Christianity is dominated by social mythmaking rather than religious-experiencing allegorization.
Mack repeatedly calls for "anthropology" but I didn't see the word "shaman" even once in his book. Anthropological study has made great progress in learning about shamanistic techniques of inducing religious experiencing. I think Mack remains more of a conventional Christian thinker than he realizes.
Christian myth is a matter of different motives in different groups at different times, and in general, I propose that the greatest divides are pre-313 and post-313, and esoteric versus exoteric Christianity. After 313, exoteric Christianity was dominant, and social mythmaking, with overstrained and unconvincing mythmaking reigned in that era.
Pre 313, esoteric Christianity was dominant, so that religious- experiencing allegory was the main source of Christian myth, and the social storytelling merely followed. The fountainhead of Christian myth is not exoteric, ordinary-state social needs, but esoteric, religious-experiencing allegory as was standard for Hellenistic mystery-religions. Christian myth began with political aspects in religious form, and social aspects in religious forms, *and*, *truly religious* aspects in political form -- by religious here I don't mean supernaturalist thinking, but primary religious experience as was standard for the mystery-religions.
What is the greatest false dichotomy that keeps theorists debating without insight? The false assumption that religion only has two pools to draw from: supernaturalist exoteric religion, or socio- politics disguised as religion. The third alternative, or third component, is primary, esoteric, religious experiencing -- distinct from supernaturalism, distinct from sociology, distinct from politics.
Integral Theory of the Christian myth proposes Jesus as socio- political shaman archetype. However, in Up From Eden, Wilber portrays the shamanistic version of experiential death and rebirth as crude, being based on insufficiently developed rationality. In contrast, the Hellenistic type of shamanism could be called cultivated initiation, in which case we end up with the real Jesus or the real, pre-313, integral-theory, esoteric version of the Christian myth:
Jesus as socio-political mystery-religion initiate archetype.
Mack reminds us that we have to look at multiple groups of Christians (in multiple places) at multiple times:
Christian pre-gospel Cynic schools
Pauline Xristos schools
Gospel passion narrative schools
I support the project of investigating those realms of myth development. But these are the main groups of Christians I'm focusing on; I think these groupings may be more key in the long run:
Esoteric Christians pre 313 (early initiates, Gnostics in a general sense)
Exoteric Christians pre 313 (early pre-initiates or early literalists)
Esoteric Christians post 313 (mystics)
Exoteric Christians post 313 (institutional church literalists)
Mythic thinking is not ordinary storytelling of fantasies. It is not supernaturalism. Mythic thinking is allegorization that describes and conveys primary religious experiencing. Such allegorization can use metaphors including magic, healing, politics, animals, mythic gods, humans, and society. Mythic thinking is true esoteric thinking or true esoteric mythmaking.
Mack holds an incorrect conception of mythic thinking, as ordinary- state metaphor, storytelling, and magical supernaturalism. He tells us to think mythically about the origin of the Christian myth, but he doesn't really know what mythic thinking is. He eliminates primary religious experiencing from the origins of the Christian myth, to say that social and political needs are the origin of Christian myth.
He has it essentially backwards. Primary religious experiencing comes first, and has to be allegorized somehow, as the mystery- religions did first with magic and supernatural and god/man/animal metaphors. Later, the Christian version of the mystery-religion techniques of experiencing and techniques of allegorization came up with the good idea of using social and political metaphors to describe and convey primary religious experiencing.
About my Nov. 13-14 2001 postings:
o Cybernetic meaning of "Jesus is Lord" (11 pages, Nov. 13)
o The Revelation, Apocalypse, and Last Judgement (6 pages, Nov. 14)
I posted both of these postings to my Egodeath Yahoo discussion area (which I use as a public philosophy notebook area) and to the Usenet newsgroups for archival purposes.
These are the peak compositions of my life as a theorist. A month has passed now since November 14, 2001, and I've been testing my solution to the riddle of Christian salvation successfully against various History of Theology books. During the past month, Nov. 15, 2001 - Dec. 16, 2001, I have determined that further study of Greek myth, origins of Christianity, and diaspora Judaism will build up and fill in, rather than mitigate against, my interpretation.
It remains for me to read more about the origins of Christianity, and publish, but those are routine subsidiary tasks compared to locking onto the essential solution to the riddle, which I fully achieved November 14, 2001. The two postings are filled with compact summaries of what the riddle is and what the solution is. However, from a month-later perspective, I can here state some of the ideas that continue to loom highest.
I effectively began working on this riddle January 11, 1988. That's when I locked onto the pure core theory of ego transcendence by identifying the ego death and rebirth experience or insight as an encounter with determinism, including destabilization of the sense of being a self-controlling agent. I assumed that Christianity was mystically in full agreement with this pure core theory. I had no reason to doubt the pure core theory I found, because it succeeded at making fully rational and explicit sense of Alan Watt's book The Way of Zen.
It was axiomatic for me as a theorist that my core theory is correct, and that Christianity is esoterically in agreement with my core theory of deterministic (a-temporal, block-universe, single-future) ego-death or cyber-control crash-and-reboot. But the problem was to identify exactly how, in terms of principles, the core theory matches up with high, mystical, or esoteric Christianity. How can Christianity be explained and made most sense of by understanding it as primarily being about cyber-control crash-and-reboot, or deterministic ego-death? The explanation, the solution to the riddle, would have to be essentially extremely simple, though subtle and potentially rich. The parables explain the mystery of Jesus as being something that can be hidden in the open.
A turning point was when I explained the history of determinism shortly before November 14. Just as understanding the New Testament requires mapping patterns back to the Old Testament, jumping across time to draw isomorphic analogies, so did a comprehensive view of the history of determinism and history of Western religion lead to the recognition of the deterministic solution to the riddle or mystery of the salvation Christ provides. Ramesh Balsekar often comes to mind these days -- he provides the solution to the riddle (adopt determinism and feel moral weight drop away), but without acknowledging the prior presence of a riddle as such. He is the glaring exception to the rule that the New Age religion is a church of deluded ego, which is the church of free-will ethics.
He is the opposite of mystery riddling. An essential idea developed itself in my fingers as I posted that week, that freewill is the worldmodel of the animal and psychological child, while determinism is the worldmodel of the psychological adult. We are all originally freewillists. When we think and experience enough, we are all eventually determinists.
Determinism is high, freewill is low, and these two correspond to two completely different schemes of moral thinking. Most people are bound to be freewillists, for reasons Ken Wilber inadvertently explains when he explains why the vast majority of religion is merely translative and egoic rather than translative and transcendent. Plug in my discovery of perhaps a year ago that ego *is* the freewill assumption (the day New Agers succeed at killing their great enemy, ego, is the day they kill freewill thinking), and we discover the real nature, unknown to Wilber, of Wilber's “translative” vs. “transformative” spirituality.
He gets lost in his 21-step ladder of psychospiritual development, but the biggest transformation of all is when you reduce his ladder to two steps as I portray it: translative spirituality is low spirituality is egoic thinking is freewillist thinking. Transformative spirituality is that which transforms, specifically and more profoundly than any other transformation, from freewillist thinking to determinist thinking. Wilber hasn’t given determinism thought, so practically his theory is shot through with moral sin -- with sloppy, animal-like, spiritually childish freewillist assumptions about moral agency.
If you assume a culture that is entirely deterministic, then there would be no such profound transformation as I reveal here. But in practice, all cultures are weighted to be first and foremost freewillist. Anyhow, my main concern is not with theories of universal psychospiritual development that must happen in all cultures in all eras, so much as a positive identification of esoteric Christianity as being concerned ultimately with revealing a hidden secret about the cyber-control death-and-reboot phenomenon, and revealing a rational explanation of the mind’s transcendence of the sense of egoic agency. The ultimate revelation of profundity I was hunting was the mystery, puzzle, or riddle of how the core theory of cyber-death in fact matches the esoteric Christian revelation.
The solution to the riddle arrived by thinking entirely in allegorical terms about Christianity -- this happened when I assumed that not only is Jesus entirely myth, but even Paul is entirely myth.
My trinity of key fields became:
o Determinism (corrected to emphasize block-universe single-future a-temporal non-branching model, rather than the reigning “standard” model of a temporal domino-chain).
o The Christ myth theory (with all apostles being mythic-only)
o Entheogens (emphasizing Amanita and loose cognition)
I listed these here in an order comparable to God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit. My three-in-one formula is that it’s equivalent to worship (or seek moral salvation through) determinism, entheogens, or the Jesus figure as purely mythic. Jesus is the entheogen is the revelation of determinism is moral salvation... and is all embedded in the timeless block-universe, with no space for an egoic steersman to be additionally added.
In the present posting, for the first time I set forth an explanation of what "original sin" means in terms of pure theory of ego death. As individuals and a society, we start life as freewillists, as the animals are freewillists. Freewillist thinking comes naturally, in our youth. Some say the young are idealists -- more interesting is that they are freewillists.
Determinism doesn't come naturally, or rather, it comes naturally but *later* in our experience. Freewillist thinking is more obvious and readily apparent than determinist thinking, just as the flatness of the earth is more obvious and readily apparent than its roundness. Believing the earth to be flat is like original sin, except that the earth's shape is not relevant to our sense of moral agency, our experience of ourselves as moral agents. Our sense of moral agency develops in our youth, while we are in the state of freewillist precepts.
Just as discovering the roundness of the earth requires transcending immediate perception and mastering higher reason in conjunction with the perceptual tools that can be employed by higher reason, so does discovering the deterministic worldmodel require transcending our immediate conventional perception and mastering higher reason about moral agency, in conjunction with the perceptual tools that can be employed by higher reason. Among these perceptual tools, loose cognitive association such as entheogens provide is ideal and practically required. Without loose cognition, or the Holy Spirit, it is unlikely that the mind can discover determinism. With the help of loose cognition, it is unlikely that the mind *won't* discover determinism, or run right smack into it -- or be actively drawn into it like victims into the Minotaur's labyrinth.
For all practical purposes, loose cognition is the key, door, and gate to discovering determinism. That's why the solution to the riddle amounts to substituting "determinism" for "Christ". As far as moral logic is concerned, determinism is functionally identical with Christ as far as spiritual salvation, moral cleansing and renewal, and sin-cancellation.
When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, "The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, “’they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’” (Mark 4:10-12)
He said, "Go and tell this people: " 'Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.' Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed." (Isaiah 6:9-10)
The word “mystery” is “secret” in many translations. “turn” is “be converted” or “turn again” in some translations. The passage equates understanding the secret/mystery of the rulership of God with converting, transforming oneself, and having their sins be forgiven.
The passage is an equation; solve for “secret”. Determinism fully satisfies the equation. If Jesus is that which takes away sin as an error about morality, and takes away moral culpability, then “believing in Jesus” is functionally equivalent to “believing in determinism”. However, fullest meaning comes through considering Jesus as a figure consubstantial with a plant, Amanita, which is also consubstantial with determinism.
The plant reveals the knowledge that cancels moral culpability. This is the same plant that the low god of conventional moral thinking said is forbidden to those whom he rules over. To the worshippers of the low god of conventional morality -- who could well be equated with Satan, the animalistic way of thinking about moral agency -- the fruit of the Birch is indeed forbidden. The greatest sin for a low Christian is to eat Amanita -- on that day they will die as a subject to the low god of conventional moral delusion.
At the beginning, from the point of view of a low Christian intent on remaining so, entheogens are the ultimate sin, because they destroy moral agency altogether. From the point of view of those at the end, entheogens are the ultimate savior, the flesh of Christ that cancels, removes, cleanses, and takes away sin (moral culpability) in principle and at the root.
Why didn’t Reform theologians and Eastern Orthodox mystics admit all of this? Practicality and politics. Some of them may have written all this, but such knowledge was suppressed as the ultimate, perfect heresy.
Merry Christ’s Mass. Have you been a good moral freewill ego? If you are going beyond egoic good and evil, becoming like a god and gaining transcendent knowledge about moral agency, you should find a red and white present, with golden Christian halo on the underside, under your Birch tree.
>Many Buddhists believe that Christ was just another Bodhisattva. And believe that metaphysical speculation is much like a dog chasing its own tail. There is no end to the whirling.
I, like many Zenists, seek to build up intellectual understanding, first-hand experience, and intuitive insight together. Without maximizing one, you can't maximize the others. What is your goal? To end whirling? My goal is to continue building up a clear and sensible model of ego transcendence -- this requires sustained intellectual activity. Without sustained intellectual activity, that goal cannot be met. You may end up with some experience and intuitive insight, but not a clear and sensible model that can be rapidly communicated to others.
In a sense, my intellectual activity came to a stop after posting my Intro article at my site and at Principia Cybernetica -- that is the essentially finished core theory or model of ego transcendence. All my work past that has been polishing and popularizing. You could say I'm doing evangelism or teaching students now. Metaphysical speculation is required to create the rational model. I no longer speculate; I'm just expressing or packaging the ideas that fell together in the early 1990s.
Zennists are filled with cognitive dissonance about what their goal is. No wonder Zen has utterly failed to achieve its goals, unless you realize that the real goal of Zen as we know it is the endless pursuit of spirituality. Zen is every bit as much a spiritual disaster and a failure as Christianity. Both failed to bring ego death, ego transcendence, and transcendent knowledge. Zen will not succeed at its supposed goals until it includes a pile of mushrooms and a stack of philosophy books.
People are looking for an easy way to define sides in a battle so that all good and truth is on one side, and error and oppression is on the other. What can we coherently label the opposing sides? Proposals include:
Christianity vs. Atheism
Faith vs. Reason
Literalism vs. Gnosticism
Exoteric vs. esoteric religion
Science vs. mysticism
Superstition vs. Reason
Salvation vs. enlightenment
Scientism vs. perennial truth
Reactionary atheism vs. transcendent mystic philosophy
Modern Christianism vs. early Christianity
Institutionalism vs. individualism
Institutionalized religion vs. individual spirituality
The problem is, each of these terms, realms, and proposed oppositions are complex and paradigm-dependent. Debates could go around forever, with reasonable people taking a dizzying array of positions with respect to broad and multifaceted, historically complex realms such as "religion", "Christianity", "science", and "mysticism". Is science good, or bad? Is mysticism true, or false? Is Christianity stupefying, or enlightening? Is religion about "salvation from sin into immortal life", or is it about "enlightenment"? Is Christianity "literally true", "mystically true", or simply "false"?
A major reason the book Christ Conspiracy is so popular is that it resonates with the simple desire to simply "smash Christianity" and simply "debunk Christianity". But such a project is a weakly founded project, a simplistic project saying more about one's gut feeling wish for truth, than about a viable and coherent way to find truth.
The readers of Christ Conspiracy really couldn't care less about astrology, but are just strategically utilizing it to bash and smash some vaguely conceived monolithically conceived boogieman, "Christianity", without bothering with the burdensome nuances of detail and qualification. It's so much easier to simply take the simple position that there are two worldviews, A and B, one being all-good and the other all-bad, and one of these simply is Christianity, and the other worldview simply is something else requiring some other label such as "science" or "reason".
People looking for the simplest possible story are unhappy when someone comes along trying to ruin the simple fun of bashing and smashing the all-bad position labelled "Christianity", while wearing the identifying vest of the good guys, which some would label "Science", some would label "Reason", some would label "authentic Gnostic mysticism" or "Perennial Truth".
Instead of a simple battle of all-good vs. all-bad, clearly labelled, people who are drawn to debate around the book Christ Conspiracy can't even decide what the two sides are, what the labels are, and who is on which side. The only thing that all the readers of Christ Conspiracy pretty much can agree upon in the would-be simple bash-fest is that Christianity as we popularly know it should be disproved and discarded -- to disprove and discard it, it would be helpful if everyone could reach consensus on some positive definite alternative.
The book appears to suggest astrotheology as an alternative, but that is hardly a serious proposal; what the book actually puts forward is a certain type of anti-Christianity conceived of as aligned with science and reason -- conceived a certain way -- and "mysticism" conceived a certain way. Just because everyone enjoys the book's undermining of modern received Christianity doesn't at all mean that all the readership has any consensus about what the positive proposed alternative replacement is, constituting the true and correct worldview.
We all agree that received Christianity is bunk, but I don't think there is any agreement among the readership about what the truth instead is -- certainly almost none of the readership would leap to defend the merits of astrotheology as a worldview; no readers of the book give a damn about astrotheology in itself; it's nothing to them except a big rough club with which to beat down the monster labelled "Christianity" and conceived of as assumed by a generalized vaguely "typical", modern received conception of Christianity such as Establishment evangelical or Catholic moralist Christianity.
Mystic religion is not entirely good or bad; same with science, religion, Christianity, Reason, modernity, Tradition, antiquity, Gnosticism, and institutions; the merits and potential malformations of all of these are subject to debate.
But the first thing to do in such debate is acknowledge that things are complex and come in compound combinations and all are potentially deformable to harmful ends, and that there is no simple place we can all go running to that is all-good -- welcome to postmodernity; there is no simple programme and -ism that is the all-good place we can rest in without doing the work of sorting out the good from the bad.
In Christianity, Science, and mysticism alike we cannot escape the hard work and intellectual responsibility of sorting out the bunk from the valid, the clear from the distorted. If you retreat into slapping the label of 'Science' onto yourself, then you are liable to all the malformations in science and must defend yourself on that account.
People criticize the scholars for making things complicated: "Keep it simple" they say, but the world isn't that simple, and there is no simple resting place we can run to that is immune from abuse and malformation -- not Jungian psychology, not Science, not Christianity, not Ancient Christianity; to advocate any of these as "the truth" against a Christianity which is conceived of as entirely bad, one is going to have to do some work, because the world isn't simply divided into one scheme that has been all-bad and another that's all-good.
Debate is helpful, interesting and productive. A useful debate needs acknowledgement that it is not actually a simple matter such as all-bad Religion on one side and all-good Science on the other. Balanced, full-bodied analysis makes for a more substantial and productive debate than simplistic taking of prepackaged ideological sides.
>You made quite a few all-or-nothing, black-/-white, right-way/wrong-way statements...
This is largely to appease the archons who control this discussion group.
>I wouldn't know all the reasons the book The Christ Conspiracy is so popular, if it is, and in what context. There are multifaceted and many reasons various people find the book useful to them.
I'm generally characterizing the positive reviews of the book at Amazon and the outlook that is promoted by the moderators of this discussion group, who say one of the main purposes of the group is to stop Christianity. I advocate deep understanding of Christian metaphor-systems as descriptions of mystic-state phenomena. It's foolish to think we can simply get rid of Christianity, even if we assume per the moderators and author that such is the goal of this discussion group and book.
The notion of simply getting rid of Christianity betrays a lack of understanding of Christianity as the Hellenistic and Medieval/Renaissance world conceived it. The best we can do toward getting rid is understanding the legitimate mystic meaning behind the Christian metaphor-system, thus offering a viable replacement for the literalist conception, which has only been strongly dominant during the modern, post-Reformation era.
It's possible Christianity could become a dead religion, but more likely is that the mystic-state metaphor behind all systems of religion will be understood, thus greatly lessening the literalist conception of Christianity. I don't have any completely specific and concrete scenarios for the future of Christianity, but I'm working on clearly formulating a theoretical model of mystic-state metaphor that weakens all literalist religion, showing how religions are essentially metaphor-systems that originated as descriptions of mystic state experiential insights.
>>The only thing that all the readers of Christ Conspiracy pretty much can agree upon in the would-be simple bash-fest is that Christianity as we popularly know it should be disproved and discarded "...
>How do you know this? And why do you choose to be so quick to use these simple labels?
That's the general attitude in the positive reviews of the book, and expressed in the discussion group and favored by the moderators. I've written past postings and debates in the Christ Con discussion group against those who despise all religion or despise all Christianity in general. I know from debating people in the group that the main contention is about whether all religion is bad, or whether all Christianity is bad, or only received modern Christianity is bad.
The latter is an extremely generous-to-Christianity position in this group, among the range of popular views in this group. The typical position is either "all Christianity is bad", or "all religion is bad". My position is that mystic religion is largely good and mystic esoteric Christianity is largely good, and that we'll never get anywhere toward "smashing Christianity" until we accurately understand Christianity as the Hellenists who created it did, and to accurately understand it means to respect certain aspects of Christianity -- the legitimate esoteric/mystic-allegory aspect of it.
>>Is this a game? Are you just trying to get a reaction?
To some extent. When I write, I first include qualifiers such as "I think that in most cases..." but then delete some of them, because though technically correct, such qualifications can become low-content fluffy verbiage preventing clear vivid communication of a point. I want to balance clear, strong position statements with rich and balanced views of the various positions, rather than fighting straw man 1-dimensional conceptions of worldviews or paradigms.
From: Moderator of Christ_Conspiracy discussion group
Subject: Message not approved: Christ Conspiracy Re: Smash Christianity: the search for simple battles
>>Look, that's it. I've had it with you. I'm not going to keep approving your messages while you hurl insults at us [moderators]. How dare you call us "archons" while you go about touting your great mystical insights and experiential authority to pronounce judgement on how everything ought to be? You even presume to make proclamations about the littlest things such as how Yahoo should "do the right thing" in displaying text at the bottom of messages. As I've said several times before, for one who talks so much about egodeath, you manifest some of the most stunning egotism of anyone I've met on the internet. As far as I'm concerned, this makes you staggeringly hypocritical. If you don't stop the arrogance and insults, I will move to have you banned. I've never felt the need to address anyone in this manner before, but your arrogance, condescension, and grandiosity are simply over the top.
>They are falling victims to the disease they expose... They are just another branch of fanatics. FREEDOM of Speech means Freedom of Speech.....
... as long as the speech is on-topic; that's the most important condition in these supposedly scholarly discussion groups.
I wonder if it was a mistake for that archon to be appointed as replacement moderator after the previous moderator was retired for banning me and others in knee-jerk counter-fanatical style. Have those moderators actually converted from junk Christianity? They have only converted from one brand of junk thinking to the competing junk brand. The archons would ban me for arrogance. Since when is "arrogance" a banning offense?
They are such Catholic-style moralist knee-jerk reactionaries. What I wrote was interesting and on-topic, but the moderators have no control over their reactions. That ban-happy group is not alone in striving to draw lines and block posts which conflict with the approved worldview. The main basis to decide whether to ban me is not "attitude", but rather, being off-topic. If a post'er is on-topic, as I certainly was, that is the most important thing.
Humorlessness abounds in these would-be, so-called "progressive" and "radical" discussion groups that are not really very progressive, radical, or open-minded. Some of the most reactionary and discriminatory discussion groups are the supposedly "enlightened spirituality and scientific Reason" groups, such as Gnosticism groups and anti-Christianity groups.
Like freewill moralists who espouse determinist Reformation doctrine, these supposed "anti-Christian atheists" remain junk Christianity thinkers underneath their shallow atheism. A move from junk Christianity to junk atheism is so much a move from confused literalized mysticism to total cluelessness sporting a junk Christianity-style, uninformed sense of righteousness, devoid of any comprehension of the mystic metaphorical language from which religion, mystic enlightenment, and esotericism emanates.
I feel sorry for people with such a lack of humor regarding unusual, interesting, and surprising online postings. *I* find negative postings aimed against me to be often more worthwhile than positive ones that affirm my position.
Cheryl wrote (paraphrased):
>>Here's the part of the Christ Conspiracy forum's purpose which I haven't figured out yet. Isn't the group willing to discuss the multifaceted, complex, cultural, mystical, social, political, psychological etc. aspects of Christianity and the relationship of these things to the mythological facet?
I'm surprised to see the extreme extent to which the moderators and Acharya conceive of the group as purely a rah-rah soapbox to disparage Christianity. I *assumed* it was a place to critically discuss and seriously debate about the book. The true colors of the emotionally-based spirit motivating the book and its scholarship show even more clearly in the discussion group than in the book and at Acharya's website.
The book really is motivated more by political-cultural activism than by a neutral investigation of what early Christianity was about. I'm blocked from posting because why? Because I "disrespect Acharya and her scholarship" -- apparently her scholarship is so tenuous and weak, my critique and criticisms pose some sort of serious threat.
The moderator blocks me for characterizing the moderators as archons, but they are acting precisely like archons, blocking posts not based on their seriousness, substance, and on-topic status, but rather, on whether the posts are "for us or against us". It is thus in fact not a scholarly discussion group, but a *promotional* activist discussion group, an atheist advocacy and activist apologetics group comparable to Christian apologetics.
Such atheism is the spirit of junk (narrow, biased) Christianity defected to the other side, junk (narrow, biased) anti-Christianity -- no real conversion of spirit at all.
They say I'm blocked because of my aggressive attitude. I'm actually blocked because of my "daring" to take a critical stance, refusing both the battle armor of Acharya's army and the projected "enemy side", "apologist promoters and strong advocates of a resurgence of Christianity". In the view cultivated around Acharya's work, there are only two sides in the battle: those who want to promote Christianity, and those who want to smash it.
The third group of us is particularly anathema: those who deny the viability of that entire "us battling them" mentality, and are fully driven by the desire to understand early Christianity instead.
It might *seem* that Acharya is motivated by desire to understand early Christianity, but that's a deception; this is actually a project of desiring to smash Christianity, utilizing the appearance of desiring to understand early Christianity -- but the real goal of that scholarly labor isn't to understand early Christianity; it's to smash some monolithically and modernly conceived "Christianity", which is at heart an unreal projection of reductionist modern atheist rationalist scientism of the worst and most shallow sort -- thus skewing what insights are present in Acharya's work.
As with most scholars, Acharya contributes some points of value, but within a distorted and emotionally and attitudinally distorted interpretive and conceptual framework that prevents understanding the way in which Christianity includes reflections of the perennial philosophy.
She has limited ability and interest in expanding her model of Christianity and religion to incorporate potential insights from other scholars, because of a black-and-white, us-versus-them attitude driven by the feeling of rebellion rather than being driven first of all by the desire to comprehensively understand the early Christian and Hellenistic thought-world. Thus she contributes much needed work, but is far from being the final word; her interpretive framework needs much adjustment.
There's something strange about her choice of range of scholars; if you arrange a pyramid of her favorite scholars, she has a strong preference for those of the late 19th Century; that type of scholarship forms the main basis of her framework even if she does draw sometimes from other scholars.
You can't accurately understand something when you entire motivation is fervent desire to smash it. Such high-school black-and-white oppositional thinking characterizes much 19th-Century attitude-driven, cocky, adolescent rebelliousness, which is why Acharya reads exactly like a time-travelling scholar straight from the late 1800s.
I thought of starting a Christ_Conspiracy_Unmoderated discussion group. The moderators complain that it's too hard to moderate everyone -- so why don't they just *stop*? Would it *kill* them to take their finger off the Ban and Block button -- what are they afraid of; after all, any discussion of the book is good for publicity and sales? If they were good moderators, they would ban and block based first of all on whether postings are on-topic or not -- not on such low relevance considerations as whether the posts are "for or against us" and the "respectful attitude" of the posts.
The Christ_Conspiracy discussion group is an attitude-driven activist forum *posing* as a scholarly discussion forum.
I recommend the JesusMysteriesDiscussion discussion group; moderator George Harvey is far better than the moderators of Christ_Conspiracy, because he doesn't do anything, while the Christ_Con moderators are getting carpal tunnel from overworking their finger clicking the Ban and Block buttons while complaining about how much work it is to moderate people.
I maintain this criticism even while acknowledging the risk of a group being rendered worthless by Christian apologists and New Age mushheads. It's not as though the Christ_Con group is making huge progress toward some goal as it is now with heavy-handed moderation that rivals that of the (moderated) JesusMysteries group ("the JesusMysteries non-discussion group"). The latter at least is achieving some sort of serious scholarship even if missing the Mystery boat, by aggressively banning junk-Christianity apologists and mush-headed New Age spewers.
>>>If you're going to say "Text X refers to entheogens, see this passage right here," then you're going to have to deal with the owners of the texts, Mr. Radio Preacher and Father High School and Professor Institute, who will smile benignly and point out that you really have to read ALL the text to make a comment on it, like a good book reviewer, and over HERE Text X says explicitly, "Beware of false so- called gnosis" or "Crush the snake" or whatever, and "we have heard your partial interpretations from storefront preachers and other heretics many times, so please go away and stop misleading our flock with your amateur sophomoric hermeneutics".
>>>You have to play the game by the rules. If you want to interpret scripture to show evidence of entheogens, then you have to account for the counter- evidence. If not, then why play around with this old stuff?
>>It's easy and straightforward accounting for the counter-evidence: Christianity with its canon has always been a matter of a tug-of-war between entheogenic mystics and the Literalist power-mongers. The two contrary views in the canon -- the Church of Mary Magdalene versus the Church of Peter -- prove this view.
This comes down to an argument over whether the biblical canon contains one consistent view (the view advocated by the Church of Peter, the Literalists, the hierarchical power-mongers) or two opposed, battling views (the view advocated by the Church of Mary Magdalene, the Gnostics, the egalitarian entheogenists). As a member of the Church of Mary "John" Magdalene the Beloved Disciple, I maintain that the canon contains two opposed, warring views, one of which is rubbish and must be rejected, rightly dividing the scriptures to discard half.
The Church of Peter innately calls this dividing and discarding, this open pick-and-choose attitude "heresy". The Church of Mary Magdalene innately calls this dividing and discarding "the only possible way to find the truth in the canon".
The idea of Peter as earlier betrayer or hander-over of Jesus seems promising and significant, according to studies establishing the centrality and consistency of the Mary vs. Peter conflict.
Mary Magdalene, The First Apostle: The Struggle for Authority
Ann Brock, 2003
Judas: Images of the Lost Disciple
I found a review by author Carol Price of Alex Gray's book The Mission of Art ( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/157062545X ). This is interesting, finding that she knows of Alex Gray, because she wrote about Rush lyrics, overlooking their LSD allusions, and Alex Gray is explicitly an LSD-inspired artist.
As mentioned before, it appears that Carol Price, author of a philosophy book about the 1970s Heavy Rock group Rush, is the wife of Robert Price, author of Deconstructing Jesus. I haven't confirmed that, but that Rush book is coauthored by Robert and Carol Price, and the author of Deconstructing Jesus stated his wife is Carol. This may be a long shot and I could well be wrong, but these and lesser little clues seem to fit together.
>As one who finds Alex Grey's works of art imbued with sacred truths I am delighted that he comes forward to share his insights in The Mission of Art. In this work Grey speaks from experience on mystical states and how they inform the creative process. He includes choice gleanings from various wisdom traditions and mystical literature that map, describe and otherwise illuminate the nature of the transcendental frontier. We can regard visionary artists as emissaries between the spirit and material worlds, who employ their craft to translate the ineffable truths encountered beyond the veil. And the art derived from such a vantage point speaks to the deepest and highest dimensions of our being. It nourishes the seeds of potential and advances the evolution of consciousness. As an artist, Grey believes it a moral imperative to remain true to the order of things, thus it is a moral offense to create art that would thwart the healthful harmonious unfolding of this order. In setting forth art's moral dimension Grey is sure to raise the ire of a vast contingent of the art world who contend that art is amoral. I eagerly await their rebuttals. Any discussion from this day forward must now reckon with The Mission of Art; as it shall be sited among the classics of the philosophy of art. ~Carol Price, author of Mystic Rhythms: The Philosophical Vision of Rush --
The three key missing links that I most focus on in mysticism are the mythic-only Jesus, the entheogen theory of the origin of religions, and timeless block-universe determinism (or "no-free-will"). I evaluate mysticism books first on whether the author shows awareness of these key areas. My work in recognizing entheogen-state allusions in Classic Rock lyrics directly applies to recognizing entheogen-state allusions in world religions. Anyone able to discern and recognize entheogen allusions in Classic Rock is able to discern and recognize them in world religion-myth.
The Jewish king who crucified thousands of rebel Jews treated it as entertainment. Roman soldiers who crucified slaved nailed them up in amusing positions. For late antiquity, there was a rich blend of humor, myth, torture, politics, and religion. It's not that crucifixion was first invented as a serious thing, and later was considered from an abstract myth-interpretation perspective, and then later that myth was turned into a serious religion with a separate political theme.
No, you have to understand the tragi-comedy humor in egodeath. Crucifixion was always packed full of mythic meaning from the religious-experiencing mythic allegories. Religious experiencing, philosophy of cybernetics, political sovereignty, kingship, slavehood, drama, myth, and epic stories, and conceptual punning (cleverness) were all interrelated.
We must keep the joking and taunting in mind: "Hah hah, you supposed king, you can't save yourself, literally nailed to the cross just like king Pentheus in a tree! Some controller-agent-king you are, heh heh!"
"You tell religious allegorical myths about Prometheus chained to a rock, pecked in the liver-heart, the organ of will and cybernetic controllership, by the god-sent eagle. If you are such a savior and leader, we'll literally chain you to a rock and spear your side."
Always look on the bright side of ego-death.
Alan Watts: At this point, nothing is left for you to do but laugh at yourself and the whole absurd situation. The supposed controller tries to control the world, but it can't even control itself.
Even so wise as Gnosis magazine misses that point when striving to make absurdly fine divisions between camps of Jewish mysticism, thus tending back toward literalism; whether you frame the mystic-state allegory in terms of "union with God" or "ascending to a vision of God", that totally amounts to the same equivalent thing; either way, we have the same essential thing: allegorical description of the intense mystic altered state.
Without recognizing that essence, scholars instead make themselves look busy and perceptive by introducing *irrelevant* artificial boundaries and groupings within e.g. Jewish mysticism -- all premised on the incorrect fundamental assumption that mystic experiencing was rare and difficult to induce. Yes there may be degrees of mysticism, but mystic allegory is mystic allegory, whether "seeing God's throne" or "merging with God"; whether "going to heaven" or "avoiding rebirth" -- the basic meaning is the same.
All the various camps and allegory systems were involved in psychoactive sacraments providing full and rich abundance of mystic experiencing, so it is a complete misunderstanding to think of the camps as being significantly or substantially different. They all had the same mystic altered state available on tap, in spades, and these allegory systems are just different ways of expressing the same basic type of experiential insights and the same kind of spiritual adventures.
"Now it happened when the First Mystery finished saying these words to the discipls, Mary came forward. She said: "My Lord, my mind is understanding at all times that I should come forward at any time and give the interpretation of the words which she spoke, but I am afraid of Peter, for he threatens me and he hates our race."
-- Pistis Sophia Bk 2, Ch 73.
When identifying the protagonists and antagonists, consider the generalized dualism:
the lower part of the mind vs higher part of the mind
the unenlightened people vs. enlightened people
the females vs. males (or vice versa; being a pair of opposites, it's possible to map it to the master polar pair)
the Jews vs. the Gentiles (in Valentianian system according to Pagels' book _The Gnostic Paul_)
the children of darkness and the children of light
the literalists vs. the esotericists
the psychics vs. the pneumatics
the psychic part of the mind vs. the pneumatic part of the mind
the ruler/God of the lower world vs. the ruler/God of the higher world
the goats vs. the sheep
the lost vs. the saved
the unfaithful vs. the faithful
If Mary is the protagonist, the negative item in any pair is a candidate for the antagonist.
Is enlightenment or Gnosis available to everyone?
We're all equal in potential, from the point of view of the practical plane, but some are predestined to salvation and others are predestined to perdition. There are two races or even two species: the children of light and the children of darkness. The Master Duality Pair maps to all dualistic pairs: tares--wheat, lost--saved, sarkik/psychic--pneumatic, goats--sheep, idolaters--monotheists, and so on for all possible pairs.
Compare two people who are both predestined to be children of light but one is saved early in life and the other is saved late in life. They are of the same race or species or religion (the saved, the pneumatic, the sheep, the faithful, and so on), but one lives most of their life in darkness, while the other lives most of their life in the light -- yet both belong in the category "wheat" or "children of light".
Does a sarkik/psychic *become* a pneumatic? Does a pneumatic begin life as a sarkik/psychic?
Did Jesus die for everyone? From the practical-plane point of view, yes; but from the metaphysical-plane point of view, no -- he only died for the elect.
Who is a true child of Abraham? Either a person is or isn't a true child of Abraham, according to mystic dualist polarity. The concept of "predestined to adoption" arises. Some people "are already" true children of Abraham in that they are predestined to become adopted (my usage) children of Abraham. Syncretistic thinking produces hybrid legitimate mystic conceptual combinations such as "The Holy Spirit took control of me and made me into an adopted son of Abraham."
>...consider the generalized dualism:
>the lower part of the mind vs higher part of the mind
>the unenlightened people vs. enlightened people
>the females vs. males (or vice versa; being a pair of opposites, it's possible to map it to the master polar pair)
>the Jews vs. the Gentiles (in Valentianian system according to Pagels' book_The Gnostic Paul_)
>the children of darkness and the children of light
>the literalists vs. the esotericists
>the psychics vs. the pneumatics
>the psychic part of the mind vs. the pneumatic part of the mind
>the ruler/God of the lower world vs. the ruler/God of the higher world
>the goats vs. the sheep
>the lost vs. the saved
>the unfaithful vs. the faithful
>>>[in the Transcendent conception of good and evil ... Evil is the deluded assumption that each person is a prime mover and metaphysically free
agent able to choose and determine their own destiny.
>>How can there be a transcendent conception of good and evil as it moves out of opposites and into union? ... The evil above truly means ignorance for any one who believes they are a prime mover. And when some one is not aware consciously it is not their fault and they can never be considered as evil.
Jesus said (approx.) "I shall speak in parables so that those on the outside do not understand my meaning, lest they turn/convert and their sins be forgiven." Jesus told Peter (approx.) "I breathe the spirit on you and give you the keys: if you assert that someone sins, sin there is; if you assert that someone's sins are cleared, the sins are released."
'Sin' and 'purity' are deliberately ambiguous, meaning-flipping terms. The biggest nothing in the world is egoic-type "sin", "evil", "moral culpability" -- because of the egoic framework of interpretation, which is founded on the sand of the free-will moral agency assumption, all our personal "evil" and "sin" amounts to nothing.
The moment we repudiate the freewill assumption, *that* type of 'sin' and 'evil' becomes an impossible, meaningless, deluded chimera, a beastly impossibility -- and the demon is cast out, the impurity is healed, the sins are forgiven -- they vanish into the ghost-land of Hades, together with one's lower self-concept. "My self of long ago, in nature nonexistent -- nowhere to go when dead, nothing at all."
The Bible can be pictured as a 3-phase movement. At first, Adam and Eve are in the Garden, knowing God, with no free will. They eat the anti-entheogen, so to speak, and fall into the delusion of freewill moral agency. During the moralistic-seeming middle of the Bible story, Adam and Eve are under the delusion of freewill moral agency.
When Jesus hands them sacred food (his entheogenic flesh/blood), they re-understand good/evil into the higher interpretive framework, and their illusory egoic-type 'sins' and 'evil' vanish like a possessing demon -- and they reenter the Garden. A great way to picture the apple and "gaining knowledge of good/evil" is that the apple is a toggler between two meaning-networks built upon the terms 'good' and 'evil'.
You could say the infant has not yet formed the deluded egoic interpretive framework of 'good' and 'evil' as implying freewill moral agency; the infant or young child hasn't much formed the paradigm of freewill moral agency and its type of 'guilt' and 'praise' and 'blame'. You could say that when the infant does so, it is as though they ate a negative entheogen, toggling from "not assuming freewill moral agency" to now assuming freewill moral agency.
Strange as this idea of a "negative entheogen" is, it achieves a certain balance and reflects that under it all, unconsciously, we're always in the Garden, always operating within the reality of "no-free-will".
For those who understand the systematic meaning-flipping quality of terms, especially 'good' and 'evil', the apple generally is a clear representation of the idea "Taking the entheogen toggles the mind's interpretive framework of terms that especially include 'good' and 'evil'." To take the entheogen is to re-understand the meaning of 'good' and 'evil'.
You may morally object to the enlightened person deliberate using language in such a way as to confuse the unenlightened, but that is the whole "trick" behind the Christian mystery-system, and in its day, it was clever and a quite standard construct or theme.
The culture of the time always had heavy quote marks around "good" and "bad" and there were debates about whether there was any reality or legitimacy to morality, given that morality seems to necessarily imply the animal-like, childish-thinking lie of one's possession of the power and associated culpability of simple absolute free will.
The Devil is the father of "the lie" -- the lie is metaphysical freewill, the assumption that we are sovereign controllers who set our own fate and destiny. The Lie leads to the entire worldmodel based on the metaphysically incorrect assumption of freewill moral agency.
Why would any enlightened person deliberately mislead the unenlightened? To kill the egoic thinking of the young prematurely was looked upon as murder of children, corrupting the young, and destroying childhood -- even as barbarian, like training children in sex and drugs and conspiracies and making them soldiers. If we want to preserve the institution of childhood, if we love childhood, we must mislead children into the egoic moral thinking framework.
Also, this deceit may have been considered important for social stability, because the convention of responsible agency is necessary lest society collapse -- instability of society was a grave perpetual threat. Perhaps the slaves were supposed to be deliberately kept deluded, to keep them chained under the freewill delusion, lest they become like a sacred king who knows no-free-will and is informed by the encounter with divine authority.
If we enlighten the children, that will prematurely kill their egos and childhood; if we enlighten the slaves and masses, they will realize they have divine kingly authority, and will rebel, throwing society into barbaric chaos. Don't give pearls to swine, or else the swine will become enlightened and rebel.
Anyone who publically reveals the mysteries to the uninitiated -- to the underclass and children -- is guilty of endangering societal stability and corrupting the young; therefore, the death penalty, which amounts to ostracism from society.
The ignorant person *can* be considered evil by the enlightened person -- where 'evil' is redefined, systematically with all other terms, to mean "ignorance". When the enlightened person utters "Joe is unenlightened, therefore evil", that's a mystery code-phrase expressing the fact that "Joe is ignorant and deluded about the nature of moral agency".
When Adam and Eve "understand good and evil", the main point of the story is the ambiguous meaning-flipping property, and interpretive-framework dependence, of the concepts 'good' and 'evil'.
The initiated know the meaning of this. Those on the outside are impure and know not the meaning -- they need to be healed, they need a demon exorcised, they need their sins forgiven and cancelled (the same word carried all 3 meanings).
There is meaning-flipping of the term 'good' and the term 'evil' within two different conceptual frameworks. Before initiation, we have the egoic interpretive framework in which we hold ourselves and others responsible. When the egoic mind thinks 'good', the mind interprets that term within an entire framework of meaning such that the mind considers oneself as a guilt-or-praise agent, and so considers other people to also be guilt-or-praise agents.
The enlightened mind knows that that conception of guilt-or-praise agency is deluded, and the enlightened mind then can coherently systematically redefine all the terms, retaining the term 'evil' but redefining it to mean ignorance. This way, the enlightened mind can play a tricky game of hoaxing the uninitiated, saying to them the words "no matter what you do, you cannot but do evil -- be initiated, so that you are purified and become good".
It's a meaning-network game or a terminology-network game.
When the enlightened trickster says to the unenlightened "you are evil", he doesn't mean what the unenlightened person assumes he means, because the two people operate in fundamentally different terminology-meaning networks: the egoic person operates within a freewill interpretive framework, such that they assume the term 'evil' to mean freewill moral badness; while the transcendent initiated purified person operates within a no-free-will interpretive framework.
>Of course the Bible record is true and trustworthy. Therefore anything else must be considered rebellious speculation and highly disrespectful at that.
>Regards, J. S.
> (God's eternal Love)
> Matthew 11:6
The Bible record is true and trustworthy when read in a certain way, with certain meanings taken literally and other meanings interpreted allegorically. Holding to anything other than the Bible's correct meaning is rebellious and disrespectful speculation. It is sinful to wrongly divide the scriptures, misreading the Bible according to one's own interpretation rather than that given by the Holy Spirit and the tradition of the true Church.
>Does anyone know who said "Philosophy is the queen of the sciences"?
>I think Gauss said "Mathematics is the queen of the sciences, and analysis is the queen of mathematics", so maybe it is...
>>Since the only people I've heard or seen use the phrase "philosophy is the queen of the sciences" have most definitely *not* been people whom I would consider to be educated philosophers (e.g., Ayn Rand and that loathsome cult of neurotic pseudo-intellectuals who have co-opted the utterly misleading appellation of "Objectivists"-"Fearful Anal-Retentive Closed-Minded Self-Congratulatory Ignoramuses" being a far more accurate moniker, IMHO), my vote is that it's spurious, probably a conflation of Gauss' "mathematics is the queen of the sciences," and either Francis Bacon's "philosophy is the mother of the sciences," or John Locke's "handmaiden to the sciences." But that's just off the top of my head so don't quote me on that.
I conclude as the above does, adding Theology to the list of conflations.
Adler On Theology -- .... Such sacred and dogmatic theology is called by Thomas Aquinas the queen of the sciences, and philosophy is her handmaiden. The thinking that is done by the.... www.thegreatideas.org/apd-theo.html
Eastern Orthodox theology is considered inseparable from mysticism, even *grounded in* mystic experiencing, which I would portray as "the experiences of the mystic altered state".
I would say that the theory or philosophy *of mystic experiencing* is the queen of the sciences.
I am about to read a book by Bryan Magee, The Story of Philosophy.
>Good job. I had Aquinas bubbling around in the back of my mind but didn't make the connection with theology. However, there are a few caveats.
>First, one can't be sure in attributing this to Aquinas without a specific textual reference (e.g., to a section in one of the Summas). I did a quick scan of Copleston and found no such reference, but that does not mean one doesn't exist. Adler gives none.
>Second, Aquinas' conception of science would be based on the meaning of the Latin word 'scientia', which had a significantly wider scope than does our understanding of science, and according to which both theology and philosophy would count as science.
>Third, it seems Aquinas would be referring specifically to his distinction between revealed theology (which presupposes the truth of "revelations"), on one hand, and natural theology (which does not presuppose the truth of "revelations") on the other hand. For him, the latter falls within the domain of philosophy, while the former (including acceptance of such "revelations" as the doctrine of the Trinity) does not.
>However, I must register my opposition to the idea that either philosophy or theology is a science in the preferred sense of the word. This would include philosophy of mystic experiencing.
I consider what I do to be not really "philosophy" or "theology", but rather, "theory" or "model construction". I am alienated from "philosophy" in the conventional sense because it lacks the loose-cognition state as a tool and perspective. Some Philosophers of Mind, however, are starting to dabble in loose cognition -- entheogenic states of consciousness. On the other hand, Freke and Gandy in Lost Goddess portray real Philosophy, ancient "Philosophy", as experiential and transcendent, something one does after mystery-initiation.
Back then, Theology and Philosophy, and the intellectual culture generally, was drunk on mixed wine (wine-suspended unspecified psychoactive mixtures) and worked as I do, starting from a basis of data collected in the higher state of consciousness, rather than only being aware of the default state of consciousness and limiting oneself to that as a frame of reference and toolkit.
Foo cannot be queen of the sciences unless Foo drinks mixed wine. The queen must have her sacred plants.
Modern science is smugly self-congratulatory and can be so only by being totally oblivious to the very existence of the entire higher realm of experience (that is, the loose-cognition state of consciousness, or "mystic experiencing"). Modern Philosophy comes close to making the same mistake -- declaring victory through obliviousness. By reducing the world to flatland, and figuring out how flatland works, Modern Science can declare that it knows how "the world" works.
I'm Modern Science's #1 fan -- it is a great method, but has generally been ignorant of the vast realms of questions presented by the mystic state of consciousness. On the other hand, Modern Science -- *real* Modern Science, not the reigning caricature of it -- is the creator of Albert Hofmann and Sasha Shulgin, who cracked the mysteries of entheogen molecules.
I am excited about practicing Theology, such as Christology, on a solid basis of data provided by the Holy Spirit. Entheogen theory is the great dichotomy-breaker. The distinction between "revealed Theology" and "natural Theology" falls in ruin as a false dichotomy when the mushroom pushes itself up into the picture. The Holy Plant Spirit provides the "supernatural" revelation. When Modern Science has put the Holy Spirit of Supernatural Revelation on tap in the cognitive laboratory, revealed Theology *is* natural theology.
In Heaven's botanical laboratory, Supernatural Revelation is cheap, providing Paul's vision-experience of being dead and risen in Christ as often as the philosopher cares to. The mystical state, in which the Holy Spirit reveals the secret of Christ in you and the Kingdom of God, is a natural state, and has been explained by Modern Science, which, when combined with the Holy Spirit, created the Theory of the Mystery Revelation of Determinism.
Lest I sound like I'm glorifying Modern Science, coming up with such a Theory when you have the appropriate instruments is actually a fairly easy and natural achievement, just a simple and compact worldmodel, no harder to discover than the calculus or special relativity. The challenge for late antiquity was how *not* to be vividly aware of heimarmene and ego death -- how to suppress overly vivid awareness of that realm of experiential knowledge, and develop a lasting ego, a substantial sense of sovereign moral agency.
It comes as a surprise to Protestant theologians to learn just how mystical Eastern Orthodox Christianity is. In this age of American spiritual seeking, the rediscovery of Eastern Orthodox Christianity and earliest mystery-religion Christianity can be enervating, making "religion" seem exciting. I would expect Philosophy to have the same potential; Freke and Gandy's The Lost Goddess portrays early Philosophy as being an attempt to give a structured accounting of what one has intensely experienced.
I'm looking forward to reading Radical Enlightenment, by Jonathan Israel -- much coverage of the determinist Spinoza (theology as mathematic proof), and the vigorously competing interplay between ideas in theology, politics, philosophy, and science.
Is philosophy a "science" in the preferred sense of the word?
Is theology a "science" in the preferred sense of the word?
Is the philosophy of mystic experiencing a "science" in the preferred sense of the word?
The term "science" has broad and narrow meanings. So do the terms such as "philosophy", "theology", and "mysticism". In the Modern era, those terms were most extremely segregated. I am inclined to bend these terms together -- while partly preserving the distinction between them as in Wilber's Integral Studies -- ultimately producing what is best called "Theory". "Philosophy" as defined in the modern era is inadequate in scope, methods, and tools. Same with "Theology", "Science", and "Mysticism". My concept of "Theory" may be like Feyerbend's concept of the method of Science as "whatever works".
Therefore, I propose that Theory is queen of the sciences. This is in the spirit of Douglas Hofstadter, who discovered after writing some books that his actual interest was not cognition, or computers, but "patterns" in mind and machine.
Swami Vivekananda wrote:
>The Vedanta teaches that Nirvana can be attained here and now, that we do not have to wait for death to reach it. Nirvana is the realization of the Self; and after having once known that, if only for an instant, never again can one be deluded by the mirage of personality.
It is essential that we always differentiate between bodily death and mystic death. Never simply say "death" when discussing esoteric religion.
We *do* have to wait for death, to reach Nirvana. Everything hinges upon the absolutely essential qualifier that this death is specifically *spiritual* death and emphatically not bodily death. This distinction and qualifier is the key to cracking the puzzle of religious expression and higher, esoteric religion.
Everything the Literalist Christians and Literalist Religionists say is true and is false. It's all-important that we split all religious terms into two versions: the lower network of meaning and the higher network of meaning. All religions have a lower sense and a higher sense, and the lower network of meaning is strictly transitory, fit only for children who are developing the egoic way of thinking until it is mature enough to be preserved while it is transcended.
When you are reading about religion and come to the word "death", always come to a complete stop and insert the split distinction of bodily death versus mystic death.
Everyone must develop this ability to read all religious terms in two senses: the lower, exoteric, literalist sense and the higher, esoteric, mystic sense. Learning to make this distinction is the entirety of mystic thinking or mythic allegory. If you simply negate the sayings of the Literalist religionists, you're in error. We must negate the sayings in one particular sense and affirm them in another particular sense. Without this distinction, all we have is sheer incomprehension and ignorance.
You can't get far at all in studying religion -- no farther than secular humanists who know nothing of religion -- if you mistakenly assume that words such as "death" have one meaning. The cardinal sin of religious study is to assume that religious words have only a single, Literalist meaning, and to fail to recognize the mystic mythic allegorical truth that resides in every saying of the Literalist Religionists.
Everything the lower religionists say *is* true, but in a sense other than they intend. The labor of the higher religionists is not to dumbly negate the sayings and doctrines of the lower religionists, but to specify the higher sense in which the saying is true and rightly affirmed. The battle is not one of religious statements against their negation, but of one sense of the statements against a different sense of those statements.
Jesus *is* the only savior, we *do* bodily resurrect after death, we *do* suffer from original sin, there *are* two races: the saved and the damned, and so on -- but in the esoteric, mystic, Gnostic sense, as opposed to the exoteric Literalist sense.
>>You can't get far at all in studying religion -- no farther than secular humanists who know nothing of religion -- if you mistakenly assume that words such as "death" have one meaning.
Scotty wrote (expanded and paraphrased):
>Some secular humanists always look for the metaphor behind a religious saying. The expert on myth, Joseph Campbell, teaches this, to an audience that includes secular humanists, esoteric religionists, and Literalist religionists.
>Looking for the metaphor behind a religious saying is not novel. This method is widespread common knowledge. It's obvious to practically everyone because a metaphorical method of reading is the only way to make sense of things that can't reasonably be taken literally.
Most people remain profoundly unimaginative and disinclined to consider the metaphorical meaning of religious terms. Almost everyone assumes that the word "death" in a religious writing means bodily death.
People may generally know what metaphor reading is, but they are not in the habit of applying that way of reading; they chronically read in a Literalist way, thinking that if Jesus didn't miraculously walk on water, the one and only metaphorical alternative is that he was misperceived as walking on water, when actually he was standing in very shallow water. Most people are practically incompetent at metaphorical reading of religious expressions.
In myth-religion, there are several interpenetrating domains of allegory:
o The astrotheology allegory domain
o The socio-political allegory domain
o The mystic/mythic experiential allegory domain
The mystic/mythic experiential allegory domain is the most important domain. Some say the Jesus gang represents astrology, but I emphasize that the Jesus gang represents intense mystic experiencing and that astrology represents intense mystic experiencing.
Symbol/metaphor --> real meaning
The astrotheology theory says:
Jesus --> astrology
The fertility theory of sacrificial kings says:
Jesus --> food supply
Fertility rites --> food supply
The common entheogen theory says:
Hellenistic myth --> entheogens
Actually, the main direction from metaphorical symbol to real referent is:
Jesus --> egodeath/mystic experiencing
Hellenistic myth --> egodeath/mystic experiencing
Astrology --> egodeath/mystic experiencing
Fertility rites --> egodeath/mystic experiencing
Jewish pseudo-history --> egodeath/mystic experiencing
Burial cults --> egodeath/mystic experiencing
Entheogen plant symbolism --> egodeath/mystic experiencing
Kingship & socio-political allegory --> egodeath/mystic experiencing
Familial killing metaphor --> egodeath/mystic experiencing