Jesus

How’s your relationship with Jesus?  As an avatar of love, you can do a lot worse than get on a first-name basis with a perspective that not only personifies oneness with God, unconditional love, and selfless service, but also resurrection and eternal life.  Maybe by doing so you’ll get in touch with a source of light and life that transcends and includes who you are and that can guide you along the path of your life.

Everyone has their own theory, opinion, and idea of who Jesus was. It doesn’t matter very much if that opinion is right or wrong, but what we do with the Jesus we have. Do we treat him as a god? Do we ignore him? Do we seek validation for our Jesus by telling others he is the true Jesus? Do we make him all about love, or do we make him about something else – salvation, sin, holiness, worship, world peace, or human rights?

This interview was inspired by a conversation with a good friend, David Sunfellow, a talented photographer and founder/shepherd for New Heaven New Earth (NHNE), which includes marvelous resources, including support for and testimonies by near death experiencers. Much more importantly for me, David has been a long-time sounding-board and “reality check” along my path. His approach to spiritual growth, as I understand it, is centered on having a personal relationship with the true historical Jesus, who still exists and is available to everyone as the ultimate source of divine love.  This loving relationship is the model or example for all human interactions and relationships. (Please see David’s comment below that clarifies his relationship to Jesus and the Christ Consciousness.)

This approach to understanding and relating to Jesus was different than my own, and it inspired me to attempt to deepen my own relationship with Jesus, hence this interview.

How was it different from my own? My understanding and relationship with Jesus has changed a great deal over the years. I had a positive association with a loving, caring, available Jesus as a child, mostly through the Bible stories taught to me in Sunday School in the Presbyterian church.  Then beginning at age twelve (1962), I had a number of very positive and sometimes very personal associations with Jesus as a result of his portrayal in the Edgar Cayce readings. Cayce was an amazing trance medical clairvoyant.  In my adolescence I got to know well a number of remarkable people who shared Cayce’s portrayal of Jesus as someone who was genuinely and deeply loving, a miracle worker, and a soul who incarnated again and again. He kept returning, so the Cayce psychic readings said, because of a sense of personal responsibility and his own karma. As the original Adam of the Bible, the soul who became Jesus had caused humanity to become enmeshed in earthly incarnation. It was his responsibility to show a way out.  The Readings also claimed that the resurrection really did take place.  Following this, I read books on the Shroud of Turin and became convinced that it was not a fake and that the only way it could have been made was if the body underneath it dematerialized.  I was not convinced by the carbon datings that occurred in the 1990’s because they did not explain the existence on the Shroud of the pollen of uniquely Palestinian plants.  The pictures above of Jesus are based on the image from the Shroud, which is on the left.

In 1975 I lectured with Hugh Lynn Cayce, the son of Edgar Cayce. Hugh Lynn dedicated his life to serving Jesus through advancing public awareness of his portrayal in his father’s readings and by living by Jesus’ motto, according to the readings: “Others first.”  At his birth, Hugh Lynn had been told in a Cayce reading that he had been Andrew, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples. He had a number of powerful and personal encounters with Jesus throughout his life. Beginning in 1969 with a college course on comparative religion, I had to reconcile Edgar Cayce’s view of Jesus and God with Hinduism, Buddhism, and Chinese religions.  I decided Cayce’s portrayal was a mixture of Bible, Vedantic Hindu, and theosophical ideas. I began to put both Jesus and the Cayce idea of the “Christ Consciousness,” or universal divine love, available to us all, in a broader context. The Buddhist world view in particular presented a perspective that raised questions that were not adequately answered by either Vedanta or the Cayce readings, much less by the Western monotheisms of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  Was Jesus one of many incarnations of the divine? Of those, was he first among equals or simply one of many faces of God? Was there a God? Buddhism said “no.” If there wasn’t, what was one to do about the relationship between Jesus and the Father? Was there an eternal soul? Buddhism again said “no.” If there wasn’t, then was salvation necessary? If it weren’t really souls that needed saving, then what was one to make of the purpose and mission of the Jesuses of the Bible, Paul, and Cayce?

Looking for a context that would honor all these different perspectives, my work became informed by the Integral world view of Ken Wilber in the 1980’s.  As a result, my view of Jesus changed. I now believed that people could have a powerful personal relationship with the group thought form of Jesus, created by worshippers over the centuries, and even have personal experiences with Jesus himself, say in a Near Death Experience. However, I saw such experiences as culturally conditioned. Through my work with dreams and waking dreams I no longer viewed Jesus as “real” or “unreal;” I had become quite comfortable with indefinite realities that were extraordinarily real from some perspectives and delusions from others. I also knew that Hindus, Moslems, Buddhists, etc. would have visitations by their own particular incarnations of God.  I came to view Jesus as an incarnation, manifestation, and personification of subtle level I-Thou oneness with the divine through loving relationships. However, Jesus was no longer the only, exclusive doorway for me.

As I worked with my breath and recognized within it six core values through which life manifests itself, I came to see love and compassion as one essential value and perspective, which when over-emphasized and not balanced with confidence, wisdom, acceptance, inner peace, and witnessing, created great personal and social problems for humanity. The result was that the “Christ love” that Jesus exemplified became conditioned by other qualities that were just as important, and could not be reduced to some expanded definition of love, any more than love could be reduced to one component of wisdom or inner peace.

The following interview was an attempt to move my understanding forward, to build on all this history and see if I could not create a deeper, more meaningful personal relationship with Jesus through it.  My goal was to get in touch, through my own subjective mental associations with Jesus, with Jesus Himself, and hear what he has to say to me. As you read this, remember that this is merely one perspective, and that yours is as valid and important as mine, and perhaps more so. The following interview is only a suggestion; it can never replace the inspiration that you’ll get from interviewing Jesus yourself. Also, there is no claim that this interview represents the divinely inspired words of Jesus. I am clearly putting words into Jesus’ mouth here, something that humans have been doing since the Bible was written.

 

Jesus, would you please tell me about yourself and what you are doing?

“I am infinite, unconditional love of the sort people report in Near Death Experiences.  I am the sort of love that makes all hurt, all guilt, all shame go away and replaces it with an extraordinary sense of freedom in an awareness that you are loved, you are love, and you exist in a universe that is abundant and loving in ways that are far beyond your comprehension.  People can incarnate me in form.  As the Cayce readings said, the prayers and focused intentions of generations incubated my incarnation as Jesus in Palestine over two thousand years ago.”

“I neither like or dislike; I am beyond such preferences. However, I grow when people wake up to me and become me.  My infinite, unconditional love grows a little bit brighter and stronger through the consciousness of each individual that takes it up.  My strength is that when people act like me they are selfless and able to love regardless of what pains or injustices are done to them.  They dedicate themselves totally and selflessly to the advancement of their fellow man.

There is nothing that I dislike about myself.  It is not that I am perfect; it’s just that my love so transcends what humans experience and comprehend that by comparison I seem to be. I personify Joseph’s oneness with the divine, particularly in selfless, unconditional love.  This is a perfect love that casts out all fear and which carries any burden. If I had my way, I would be fully alive and present as a possessing spirit or muse within and through Joseph in particular, and everyone and everything else.  That’s because I heal, balance, and transform lives by people’s experience of me.”

“On a scale of zero to ten, I score myself a ten in confidence. This is because I can’t die; I have no fear.  I am perfect love.”

“I score myself a ten in compassion. You are an aspect of me; by loving you, I love myself.

I score myself a ten in wisdom. I am so much more than the historical Jesus was, because he was limited and conditioned by his socio-cultural context.

I am also a ten in acceptance, inner peace, and witnessing.”

“If Joseph scored all tens like I do, he and the Father would be one, as I am.  That does not mean that he would be perfect; it would simply mean that for his present level of experience of those qualities, he would be complete and whole.  But he wouldn’t stay there.  As he grows his awareness of those qualities expands, requiring a further expansion of his consciousness. This never ends. I would also be fearless in pursuit of and expression of those six core qualities, because they are at the heart of my message and what I personify – life.”

“Regarding his relationship with me, if he takes me with him wherever he goes and into whatever he does he will not only be loving but very, very strong due to the quality of his dedication. Regarding his desire to maximize his contribution to others, he should continue along his present lines but with redoubled effort. Regarding waking up, serve more, meditate more, do more interviews, and work harder at applying the recommendations that you get.  Give it all away… Live today as if you just had a Near Death Experience. I am here to help Joseph get out of his own way. It would be good for him to become me anytime, of course, but particularly when he feels fear or forgets that he is me.”

So, what did I hear myself say? Having more of an ongoing, personal relationship with Jesus than I have ever had before is a good thing and that I need to do it. Be one with universal love and act like it!”

The problem is that this version of Jesus might as well be perfect, since he scores ten in each of the six core qualities. It is difficult to remember, become, and internalize any perspective that is so far above and beyond our own. People have been trying to become like Jesus for centuries, to more closely approximate an unattainable ideal. An implication of such a nobel effort is a lack of acceptance of the imperfect, personal, and real. Integral Deep Listening notes that life doesn’t choose favorites; it attempts to express itself anywhere and everywhere as fully as circumstances will allow. Consequently, instead of repeatedly turning your attention back to one perspective, entity, or approach, it increases both the quality and utility of whatever is available, from diamonds to doormats, from Jesus to Hitler. It does so by putting you in touch with many different perspectives that are as important, influential, and transformative as Jesus. This can be a problem because it destroys exclusivity and replaces it with a holographic universe of creative possibilities. That can be overwhelming for people who want things to be simple, concrete, true real, and good. Those who do not know how to wrestle with apparent contradictions, who are threatened by an overabundance of richness, or who have deep emotional investments in a particular avatar, religion, or path may feel threatened.

A related challenge is how to honor multiple perspectives without submitting to a vanilla pluralism in which no real value distinctions can be made, out of fear of leaving one out or not honoring some particular path. Integral Deep Listening does not have this problem, because it does not view all perspectives equally. Jesus, Buddha, God, or Krishna may be all someone needs, but probably not, based on the historical track record of Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Moslems, and Hindus. However, the lessons to be learned from such teachers stand the test of time.

I am left with a personal relationship with Jesus that is everything and most important, but at the same time is nothing and no more important than my relationship with say, mosquitos or the blue corn tortilla chips I am currently eating. When anyone and everything can be a wormhole to the divine, is nothing sacred? Of course it is. The answer is to honor the life in this moment, and this breath, and whatever attracts the attention of my eyes and mind, and to invest into those objects of my awareness more of those six core qualities that are the essence of Jesus.

Who is Jesus to you? How do you use him to make you a better person? Please let us know!

To do your own interview, you can use the IDL interviewing format here.

What follows is the transcript of the original interview.

 

What are three fundamental life issues that you are dealing with now in your life?

1. My relationship with Jesus

2. Maximizing my contributions to others

3. Waking up.

Which life issue brings up the strongest feelings for you?

Because of my dialogue with David, the first.  As I told him, I had a positive association with Jesus as a child being brought up in the Presbyterian church.  Then at twelve (1962), I had a very positive and sometimes personal association with Jesus through his portrayal in the Edgar Cayce readings (Cayce was an amazing trance medical clairvoyant) and through association with a number of remarkable people who bought into his portrayal of Jesus as someone who genuinely was loving, a miracle worker, but a soul who had incarnated again and again and came back because he had caused humanity as souls to become enmeshed in earthly incarnation and it was his responsibility to show a way out.  The Readings also claimed that the resurrection really did take place.  Following this, I read books on the Shroud of Turin and became convinced that it was not a fake and that the only way it could have been made is if the body underneath it dematerialized.  I was not convinced by the carbon datings that occurred in the 1990’s because they did not explain the existence on the Shroud of the pollen of uniquely Palestinian plants.  In about 1975 I lectured with an elder mentor, Hugh Lynn Cayce, the son of Edgar Cayce, who dedicated his life to serving Jesus through advancing public awareness of him in his father’s readings.  In addition to being told in a Reading at his birth that he had been Andrew, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, Hugh Lynn had a number of powerful and personal encounters with Jesus throughout his life. Beginning in 1969 with a college course on comparative religion, I had to reconcile Edgar Cayce’s view of Jesus and God (which I decided was more Vedantic Hindu than anything else) with Hinduism, Buddhism, and Chinese religions.  The Buddhist world view in particular presented a world view that raised questions that were not adequately answered by either Vedanta or the Cayce readings, much less by the Western monotheisms.  Looking for a context that would hold it all, my work became informed by the Integral world view of Ken Wilber in the 1980’s.  My view of Jesus now was that people could have a powerful personal relationship with the group thought form of Jesus, created by worshippers over the centuries and perhaps even an experience with Jesus himself, say in a Near Death Experience, but that these experiences were culturally conditioned and Hindus, Moslems, etc. would have manifestations by their own avatars.  In other words, I came to view Jesus as an incarnation of subtle level I-Thou oneness with the divine through loving relationship, but hardly the only doorway (not exclusive) and not universal.  This, however, is conjecture, and the following interview is an attempt to move my understanding forward, to build on all this history and see if I cannot create a deeper, more meaningful personal relationship with Jesus through it.  My goal is to get in touch, through my own subjective mental associations with Jesus, with Jesus Himself and hear what he has to say to me.

Now remember how as a child you liked to pretend you were a teacher or a doctor?  It’s easy and fun for you to imagine that you are the shape that took form from your color and answer some questions I ask, saying the first thing that comes to your mind.  If you wait too long to answer, that’s not the character answering – that’s YOU trying to figure out the right thing to say!

Jesus, would you please tell me about yourself and what you are doing?

I am infinite, unconditional love of the sort people report in Near Death Experiences.  I am the sort of love that makes all hurt, all guilt, all shame go away and replaces it with an extraordinary sense of freedom in an awareness that you are loved, you are love, and you exist in a universe that is abundant and loving in ways that are far beyond your comprehension.  People can incarnate me in form.  As the Cayce readings said, the prayers and focused intentions of generations incubated my incarnation as Jesus in Palestine over two thousand years ago.

What do you like most about yourself? What are your strengths?

I am beyond liking or disliking, however I grow when people wake up to me and become me.  My infinite, unconditional love grows a little bit brighter and stronger through the consciousness of each individual that takes it up.  My strength is that when people act as me they are selfless and able to love regardless of what pains or injustices are done to them.  They dedicate themselves totally and selflessly to the advancement of their fellow man.

What do you dislike most about yourself? Do you have weaknesses?  What are they?

Nothing.  It is not that I am perfect; it’s just that my love so transcends what humans experience and comprehend that by comparison I seem to be.

Jesus, you are in this person’s life experience, correct?  They created you, right?_____  (Character), what aspect of this person do you represent or most closely personify?

I personify Joseph’s oneness with the divine particularly in selfless, unconditional love.  This is a perfect love that casts out all fear and which carries any burden.

Jesus, if you could be anywhere you wanted to be and take any form you desired, would you change?  If so, how?

I would be fully alive and present as a possessing spirit or muse within and through Joseph in particular and everyone and everything else.  That’s because I heal, balance, and transform lives by people’s experience of me.

(Continue, answering as the transformed object, if it chose to change.)

Jesus, how would you score yourself 0-10, in each of the following six qualities:  confidence, compassion, wisdom, acceptance, inner peace, and witnessing?  Why?

Confidence: 10 I can’t die; I have no fear.  I am perfect love.

Compassion: 10 You are an aspect of me; by loving you, I love myself.

Wisdom: 10 I know the Buddha; I am so much more than the historical Jesus was, because he was limited and conditioned by his socio-cultural context.

Acceptance: 10

Inner Peace: 10

Witnessing: 10

How would Joseph’s life be different if he naturally scored high in all six of these qualities all the time?

He and the Father would be one, as I am.  That does not mean that he would be perfect; it would simply mean that for his present level of experience of those qualities, he would be complete and whole.  But he wouldn’t stay there.  As he grows his awareness of those qualities expands, requiring a further expansion of his consciousness. This never ends.

If you could live Joseph’s life for him, how would you live it differently?

I would be fearless in pursuit of and expression of those six core qualities, because they are at the heart of my message and what I personify – spirit.

If you could live this person’s waking life for him today, would you handle his three life issues differently?  If so, how?

1. Regarding his relationship with me, if he takes me with him wherever he goes and into whatever he does he will not only be loving but very, very strong due to the quality of his dedication.

2. Regarding his desire to maximize his contribution to others, I would say to continue along his present lines but with redoubled effort.

3. Regarding waking up, serve more, meditate more, do more interviews, and work harder at applying the recommendations that you get.  Give it all away…

What three life issues would you focus on if you were in charge of his life?

The above three are good.  Living today as if he just had a Near Death Experience wouldn’t hurt.

Why do you think that you are in Joseph’s life?

To help him get out of his own way.

In what life situations would it be most beneficial for Joseph to imagine that he is you and act as you would?

Anytime, of course, but particularly when he feels fear or forgets that he is me.

Joseph, what have you heard yourself say?

Having more of an ongoing, personal relationship with Jesus than I have ever had before is a good thing and that I need to do it.

If this experience were a wake-up call from your soul, what do you think it would be saying to you?

Be one with universal love and act like it!