Saul on the Road to Damascus


How would history be different if, instead of reflexively interpreting their experiences, key figures had interviewed them instead?  One can never know, but what we can know is that the world would indeed be a different place, because instead of creating a world based on our projections, assumptions, preferences, and expectations, we would have created a world that was informed by the multiple perspectives of interviewed emerging potentials.  Would this make a huge difference?  You bet.

For example, the Roman emperor Caligula had a dream which he ignored; he was assassinated the next day. Adolf Hitler reportedly had a dream that saved his life. During the first world war he was asleep in his trench when he dreamed of himself and his fellow soldiers being engulfed by earth and molten metal. He awoke and disturbed, left the trench. While he was away the trench was hit by a shell and the other soldiers were killed. What might have happened if these men had known how to interview their dreams?

Christianity was largely the creation of Saul, who became the disciple Paul, because of an amazing experience on the road to Damascus. In Acts 9, Saul’s conversion experience is described: “As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.” It was because of this experience that Saul decided that Jesus was the resurrected Son of God and began converting people, mostly non-Jews.

But what might Saul have heard from Jesus if Saul had thought to interview him? Due to a recent discovery of parchment in a pottery jug found in the caves at Qumran on the shore of the Dead Sea, we now have the answer!

Saul: My Lord! Was that truly you that knocked me off my horse and blinded me with your radiance?
Jesus: Not exactly. I didn’t knock you off your horse. He got scared and threw you off. But yes, you did get blinded by my radiance. In two thousand years they will call that a somatoform disorder of the conversion variety, but never mind.

Saul: Are you really you, the resurrected Lord Christ Jesus, appearing literally to me in this vision, or are you some aspect of my own consciousness. or both?

Jesus: Now Saul! We both know that there is no way you could be asking that question! Your Bronze Age world view never imagined that I could be anything other than either literal or a hallucination! But if you could ask such a question, I would answer it by saying: I AM BOTH REAL AND AN ASPECT OF YOURSELF! On the one hand, you really saw me and the reality of my presence gave you an overpowering reason to change your life for the better: you stopped killing people! On the other hand, how could you even recognize me if there was not something of my radiance, awe, sacredness, majesty, and life transformative potential already existing within you?

Saul: How can you say that! You are so much more than I could ever be, Lord!

Jesus: I know that it is difficult for your concrete and literal prepersonal and pre-rational consciousness to grasp, Saul, but all of what you perceive as me already exists within you. If you take me as your savior, are you going to doubt me now, Saul?

Saul: But if I believe you, Lord, that means that my message of salvation and redemption will be entirely different! It means that I can no longer tell people that they were saved by the you that was born, died and resurrected! It means that I must tell them that their savior exists as an ever-present potential within themselves that they can access at any time, without the mediation of priests or religions! What will that do to the Community of Saints? What will that do to sin? What will that do to guilt? What will that do to salvation? Are you telling me there will be no Popes?? JESUS!

Jesus: Yes?

Saul: Er sorry. I was just sorta thinking out loud. There’s another problem, Jesus. People see themselves as stuck, miserable, and either unworthy of salvation or incapable of giving it to themselves. They NEED and WANT me to give them a message of somebody, something outside of themselves that has what they lack, someone to believe in. They don’t want to believe in themselves! They want kings and Gods and priests!
Jesus: Your lack of faith and confidence in humanity saddens me, Saul. The nature of life is to awaken life to itself. Some awaken sooner than others. Others choose to spend their lives disempowering themselves by giving their power away to gods or to others. But you, Saul, have to decide which message YOU are going to stand for in YOUR life. That’s all that matters.

Saul: All right. I hear you. So Jesus, if this vision were a wake-up call from my inner compass, what would the message be?

Jesus: Saul, you’ve got it! It’s to WAKE UP! It’s to stay in dialogue with me, just like you are doing now. It’s to use me to help you with your mundane daily problem solving. It’s to so become me, through identifying with me, as you are doing now, that my presence transforms your consciousness. How do you think I score, zero to ten, in confidence, compassion, wisdom, acceptance, inner peace, and wisdom, Saul? When you become me you will identify with a dawning perspective that is exactly so! Don’t take my word for it Saul! What do you feel when you become me? Is it not true?

Saul: You are right, Lord! I experience great confidence, compassion, wisdom, acceptance, inner peace, and witnessing when I allow myself to fully identify with you!

Jesus: So what makes you think that others cannot as well?

Saul: Yes, Lord! I can teach them to interview you for themselves! But one more question…you said that when I become you I will identify with a perspective that is divine. What did you mean?
Jesus: Saul, you can’t believe that God is limited. You can’t believe that I am the only possible manifestation of his divinity, can you? 

Saul: But lord! You are special!

Jesus: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Saul, that the destiny of man is to become any speck of dust, any rag of cloth, any dead animal, and find that it gives voice to a greater vision of life. If you must convert the heathen to exorcise your guilt for your past bigotry and cruelty, then convert them to THAT message.

Oh – and Saul – one more thing.  Will you please give up this “savior” business?  It’s embarrassing. You disempower yourself by putting the source of your salvation outside of yourself, in me.  You disempower me as a part of yourself when you turn me into a rescuer. It means that you see yourself as a victim. In time, when I do not live up to your expectations as a rescuer you will inevitably see me as a persecutor.  Even more important, you don’t need salvation.  It keeps you in the role of victim to always be looking for something or someone like me to rescue you.  I’ve got better things to do than to disempower you by having you think that I’m your rescuer.  If you require a rescuer you’ll not only make those who believe in me into victims of sin, the devil, unbelievers, and evildoers for the next two thousand years; you’ll turn them into persecutors who will kill and abuse in my name.  That may be religion, and it may be Christianity, but it doesn’t have anything to do with me.

Saul: Yes, my lord. But I don’t understand what you’re saying…?

Jesus:  Sigh.  It’s OK, Saul.  Go ahead and be Paul.  I love you anyway.

Note: As soon as Saul wrote this account he decided that it must be the work of demons that were trying to dissuade him from his Mission. He changed his name to Paul to purge himself of any memory of these demonic thoughts. I found it torn to bits among his papers after his death. I carried it here to these caves in Qumran where this message might find the light of day in a time when people might be ready to accept it.

We can’t change the past, but we can learn from history and not repeat the same mistakes. We have the opportunity to create internal, familial, and global cultures based on consensual, transpersonal, and multi-perspectival world views rather than on our own interpretations.  Are we mature and selfless enough to do so?

Those who confuse their mental representations with external events and think that the former are real or accurate may experience profound transpersonal states, like Saul did, but they are not stabilized on a transpersonal level of development, regardless of what they believe or tell you.   Lacking the ability to distinguish his mental representations from external events, Saul assumed that the light that he saw was actually Jesus asking him why he was persecuting him.  In fact, Saul did more than assume; he was absolutely convinced that he was being visited by the risen Christ himself.  This conviction, not the teachings of Jesus or the person of Peter, was the rock upon which Christianity was then built.   Saul’s pivotal experience was mid-prepersonal to early personal Bronze age revelation of a transpersonal state, rather than a manifestation of a transpersonal levelof development by Saul, who up to that time had been busy creating meaning in his life by murdering people.

If Saul had been able to differentiate his mental representations from external events he would have ruled out the former before assuming the latter. He would not have jumped to the conclusion that he saw and heard Jesus.  But Saul lacked the distinctions necessary to do so.  Like you and I today, no one taught him as a child to interview his dreams, revelations, or waking life issues. It was not to the advantage of society to do so, since it would only strengthen the authority of his life compass and weaken the religious and cultural norms upon which stable society depended. Saul also lacked the conceptual tools to distinguish between his mental representations (his conception of Jesus) and external events (hearing Jesus’ voice and seeing a blinding light).

If Saul had been able to distinguish between what he experienced as real and external and his mental representation of what he saw, it would have occurred to him that what he saw might have been a self-created mental representation, regardless of the depth of his conviction that it was an external reality.  He then could have imagined that he was that representation and simply asked it, “Jesus, are you externally real, or a self-created mental representation, or some combination of objective reality and my subjective experience?”  While the answer that he would have gotten to this question may not have been truthful, the ability to ask this question is more important than the accuracy of the answer that is received, because it implies the existence of possibilities that not only Saul but most human beings never consider before they make critical and fundamental life decisions.

The meaning and purpose of your life is created and powered by your belief in your self-created delusions, just as it was for Saul. The decisions that you make based on your unquestioned projections and interpretations, determine, to a great extent, your success, happiness, and peace of mind.  Still, almost two thousand years after Saul became Paul, almost no “normal” people and very few spiritual adepts, have learned to make the distinctions Saul missed.  Far fewer use such a process to support their development.   What is the price the world has paid for our not doing so?  Are we willing to be more awake than was Saul? Do we even want to, or like Saul, do we prefer to continue to deceive ourselves by demanding the truth of our own delusions?

You can learn more about Integral Deep Listening at IntegralDeepListening.Com and DreamYoga.Com or from Waking Up or Dream Sociometry or other books by Joseph Dillard.

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