I would like to take you on a walk this morning, and begin our climb to the summit of what I am trying to talk about. It is my hope that from there you can get a glimpse of the terrain to be traveled.
A couple of weeks ago I was sitting on top of Mount Nebo in Jordan, looking down across the valley just upriver from the Dead Sea. The Jordan River flows into the Dead Sea.
I was sitting in more or less exactly the spot where Moses stood, the place where he gazed out across the "Promised Land," to which he had led the Israelis after their forty years of wandering in the desert.
I was sitting there trying to get a feeling for what it might have been like for him to gaze out over that God-forsaken desert wasteland.
My thought was, "If this is the Promised Land, God you can take it back and keep it. I'm going to Virginia."
But no, I said, the paradise offered by God to His People, those who love Him, or who are at least willing to look into His whereabouts, this paradise is a Spiritual paradise. And, as I have known so long from experience, it is often in the most difficult and rugged of human experiences that this paradise is found.
The difficulty and struggle and pain, I have learned at long long last, are nothing but the breaking up of human will that would resist that paradise.
Because discovery of the paradise, the divine, means the destruction of the human, the mortal.
Until, inch by inch, step by step, the human and the mortal relinquish their hold to the immortal being we really are.
The human does not like to yield and give way; and yet it is only by means of our willingness to let go of the human and pursue the divine that the road to the discovery of our absolute protection and perfection in the realm of Heaven, the realm that Jesus came here to preach about, is found.
This is the nature, then, of the "Promised Land. "
It is a desert of human hopes and wishes; it is the promise of the unseen realm, fourth-dimensional consciousness, that guarantees you bliss, happiness, harmony, wholeness, and union with your Father, who is also your Mother, your Maker, your home.
Human theories about the nature of human life are exactly like explanations of the moon--and this is a perfect metaphor--that leave out the explanation that the source of the moon's light and luminosity is the sun.
Human theories of psychology and religion that try to explain the moon on their own, without making reference to or understanding the fact that it is lighted by the sun, end up with efforts to explain the phases of the moon as if they were phases and features of the thing in itself, as if the moon really were a waxing gibbous, or a waning crescent, instead of seeing that the phases are merely the result of the moon's casting its shadow on its own surface as it revolves around the earth.
Imagine trying to understand the moon and its phases on the belief that it really did change shape and size exactly according to the way it seems to appear in the sky at night.
That would be a prototype of literal-mindedness.
And it would produce theories about moon behavior that would generate huge turmoils of confusion and despair, if people's lives and well-being depended on the success and accuracy of the moon theories.
Well, it's been done before.
The flatness theory of the earth.
The epicicular theory of the planets and the solar system.
And today it is happening again, with just as destructive effects as the Catholic Church's buying of the Ptolemaic astronomical theory, which dominated the minds of enlightened men as effectively as the feudal system dominated the workers in the field.
It isn't the theory, so much as the destructive tenacity with which it is held. We don't use the lash and the rack to correct deviant points of view to the scientific methodology, which bases its analysis of man fundamentally and irrevocably on the belief that he springs from matter and is a being unto himself, but we do enforce the point of view on children, who don't need a lash and a rack to be brought into line.
"Line up children, it's time for recess. Now we all believe in matter, and that man is alone in the world, and that he can sin and die, don't we?"
And the belief will be punished for as long as it is held.
Which is the cause of all the torment in the world today.
It's as simple as that.
That is the only thing that causes the flies swarming all over the little girl's face that I saw in Egypt.
That is all that needs to be healed, or changed, for the massive problems that confront mankind to be instantly eliminated.
I know it is hard to believe.
Impossible for most.
But I tell you the Truth, or I never, ever, would say this to you.
All that needs to be corrected to heal the woes of this world is the thought in the minds of men. Not all men. Just a few. A few good men. And women. Correcting the thought that causes the world its woes in their own minds will do the job.
Too fantastic to be true?
But it is true.
The disciples revolutionized the world with such an idea.
We even date our calendar as the result of their work.
You may think it was all Jesus. But the movement needed a Paul and all kinds of guys to carry the Word after Jesus got buried.
As far as the world was concerned, at that time there hadn't been any resurrection.
Jesus was just a guy who was left to die on a cross outside of Jerusalem, whose disciples stole his body after it was taken down and buried.
How do you suppose the word got around after he had proved what he had proved: that you can't die, you can't be hurt, you can only be glorified when you get in the place of Love.
"Glorified" here means that you have dominion over every lack and want and need and fear and terror that you feel in the human experience. It means the discovery that you were never born and you can never die. It means that you reflect all the Truth, Beauty, and Loveliness, all the Power, Joy, and Happiness of God.
Because it means discovering that You are His Reflection.
But, it takes a long time to get there, at the rate that most human beings are willing to concede their human beliefs.
And trade them in on their divine heritage.
Such is the nature of the climb I propose to you.
And from here to the end of this course I shall be leading you, as best I can, over the stony, rocky trail that I know so well, to the top of the Mount of Temptation in the Wilderness of Judea.
Well then, let me start off by telling you some very nice things I found out on my trip to the Middle East.
First of all, Americans are really appreciated.
One of the reasons I am addressing an exclusively American audience, in fact, is because if I can get them to see what I am saying, and perhaps accept it, to some extent the rest of the world will look into it because they know that Americans have good ideas. And that they are very, very good people.
We are good people because we are a melting pot. A voluntary melting pot. We don't believe in race.
The turmoil over race in this country occurs only because of our (general) violent disbelief in race.
We don't know what racism is.
Little skirmishes are blown up into major productions because of our deep desire not to allow that particular ugliness to infect our thought and our way of life.
Anybody who is an even halfway dispassionate observer knows that we didn't get into the Vietnam War for bad motives. As the way we were defeated, or seemed to be defeated, or allowed ourselves to seem to be defeated by that grubby little pack of guerrillas in the North will conclusively evidence.
Lyndon Johnson did not have a bad heart: this was the same man who did more for Civil Rights than any man since Lincoln; yet he got us into the Vietnam War.
People around the world seem to know more about these things than Americans, who in their (I think) sincere self-searching humility are most quick to blame themselves for seeming failure.
This is goodness. And people around the world recognize it. And take advantage of it. Or seem to take advantage of it.
Actually, we are setting a good example. That the world never forgets.
We are like a big brother or an uncle who allows himself to be taken advantage of, not because of some kind of moral superiority, or because he is a soft touch, but because it is simply in the goodness of his heart. And he would rather keep the goodness of his heart than his petty playthings.
And we are that way because we have seen pain, and we are a melting pot, and we believe in the Constitution of the United States.
The single greatest emancipating factor that I have seen is our refusal to be limited by tradition.
We are free, open-minded, freshly re-emerging at every new challenge that would force us to grow.
This became most apparent to me in London. It is striking.
You get a seven-course meal, and, as the country gets poorer, and the food gets more expensive, they make each course cruddier.
Rather than dare to question the authority of worshipping an exactly seven-course production.
The Tower of London is an impressive sight.
It impressed me because it was so small.
I think the importance of all the things that happened there was blown way out of proportion because the people could write.
Like any good, red-blooded, American boy I wanted to see all the torture devices they used to use in the Tower--you know, the ones they used to use to persuade people to come around to their way of thinking. But I never got a chance.
The English were too interested in showing us the Crown Jewels.
The Crown Jewels are impressive, if you're impressed by translucent carbon. But frankly it's hard for me to be impressed by baubles, no matter how glittery.
What is impressive to me is how people can let themselves be gripped by the worship of baubles. Or the traditions that spring up around them.
Hypnotism always interests me.
You have to be self-hypnotized for hypnotism to catch you. You have to let yourself be gripped by the seeming importance of a belief, or a value. For it to have any power over you whatsoever.
You are completely, 100% in charge of your own hypnotism.
What you decide to let hypnotize you will master you, until you tire enough of it to let it go.
The real question, then, philosophically, religiously, and morally, is: what is hypnotic worship and what is recognition of the real thing to be sought?
Answer: Coca Cola.
In Cairo the most impressive thing is the absolute clash between the absolute poverty and the absolute desire to better the lot of the people by her leaders.
Again, tradition, or the grip of ignorance, or the hypnotic fear that things will get worse or fall apart if you let go of the old, seems to be the enemy.
I went into the can in the airport, where we had to wait a couple of hours to get admitted into the country, and there was a guy in there who was supposed to help me. It wasn't that he was so frightening; it was rather that he was so poor. That I changed my mind. And left.
I simply left and turned around and held it.
And took a chance and sat down on the floor and watched these fellows who smelled like camels herd these women around who had veils that completely covered their heads.
They were dressed in black.
I guess they cover themselves to hide their shame. I don't know. But it's pretty powerful.
I was immediately struck by what every visitor has to encounter: that for most of these people there is no way out. They are trapped in that ignorance and that poverty.
The second thing one is struck by is that absolute friendliness and warmth of the people.
You will look at the eyes in an "Arabian" face, that you have been taught by the movies to instinctively mistrust, and, suddenly, if there is the slightest recognition, or break in your own effort at facial indifference or expressionlessness, you are greeted by this wonderful breakthrough of recognition and greeting of your common humanity.
The smile may not have very many teeth in it.
But it is warmer than anything plastic caps have been able to do for Hollywood.
In Cairo, a city of 8 or 9 million people, they are not quite sure which, it becomes clear that moving to the city from the country is a definite advantage. Indeed, as the guide will tell you, it is the "dream" of every village boy and girl.
I learned to see why.
We later went to Luxor, or ancient Thebes, on the Nile, to check out the ruins.
The squalor that operates in the villages there makes you feel like you are in the middle of somebody's very bad dream.
The country folks bring rural ways into the city. So. across from my hotel in Cairo--my room was on the fifth floor, the average height for a building in Cairo--I was awakened in the morning dawn by a turkey.
A turkey on the roof of the building next door.
When I got up to meet him I couldn't see him; I never did. But I did see his buddy the goat, who was also on the roof.
Which comes, I guess, from the Bedouin habit of having the animals live right there in the tent with you.
None of the houses are finished.
They are flats (in the better parts of town) where they take the tourists; but the uppermost story isn't done. That is, they leave unfinished the uppermost flat, so that the next guy who moves in can build on top, a flat identical to the ones just below.
So that the whole area has a certain unfinished air about it, with iron rods and walls and things sticking up every which way waiting to receive the next builder.
This was a definite improvement over Luxor.
Where the homes were built of bricks made of straw and mud. Which was sort of okay, until you saw the mud that they made the bricks out of.
The water, or what passes for water, makes an open sewer look downright drinkable. At least you know with a genuine sewer that at some point you started with clean clear water.
Here, the rule for foreigners is don't even eat the raw vegetables because of what they have been washed in.
Don't go to Egypt to eat.
I remember one incident in particular that grabbed my thought and made me hurt.
There was this young hotel manager of the hotel we were staying at in Cairo. About the only thing I felt safe drinking was their coke and Pepsi and 7-up. Unfortunately, they had two kinds--the imported, for a buck a can, or the domestic, for thirty-five cents a can.
I made the mistake of asking this young hotel manager, who was obviously very proud of the tremendous advances and achievements of his country, whether the water in the domestic can of pop was fit to drink.
He just looked at me.
But I could feel, mentally, what I had said and done.
I felt like a dog for the rest of our trip to Egypt.
I want to start talking about temples. In Luxor (ancient Thebes) there is a most impressive set of ruins, including Karnac, the oldest and most impressive set of ruins in the world (I think. Different guides tell you different things that turn out to make their guideship the most important in the world.)
Anyway, for me, apart from illustrating the devotion of man for something higher and better than himself, in his current state of existence, what was impressive about these monolithic ruins was the Holy of Holies, or what was just like the Holy of Holies back then.
It was a room. The most sacred place in the world, where only the High Priest could go to worship on behalf of his people.
Once a year.
That's how removed they felt from their sense of their highest ideal.
Located there too, across the river, was the place where they found the bones of Tutankhamen.
This was a serious marble orchard.
First of all they wanted the burial site to be located in the most god-awful forsaken hole you could imagine in the Egyptian desert. They had a thing about not being found.
King Tut's grave was actually found under this other guy's grave. They found it because the other guy's grave seemed a little high.
When I say "grave" I mean something like a passageway into a chamber, which is long enough and large enough to hold all of King Tuts treasure.
All the way down the passage to the inner chamber there are hieroglyphics, which the guide reads to you on the way. That tell you about the King's wonderfulness, and his immortality.
I was impressed by all the little figures without any heads. The ones with their hands tied behind them.
They were the bad guys.
So the guide said.
How they defined "bad" was not very clear.
When we were back in Cairo we had gone to the Cairo Museum, and to the Pyramids.
The Pyramids are just about exactly what you'd expect. Except for the way they were billed now, by the people running the show there.
Everywhere you hear about the wondrous glory of these everlasting marvels of the Universe--these god-men, the Pharaohs.
And their monuments.
Which defeated time.
Which may be the most preposterous piece of intellectual junk ever proposed, even to tourists.
The Pharaohs were charlatans and frauds. They started subjugating their populations the instant they took power--in their teens. And they did this for the sole purpose of glorifying themselves in the most pretentious, arrogant, systematically outrageous way ever devised in the history of man: they set up a tomb to hold their bodies until they were ready to come back and enter them again.
In other words, all the effort of all the people in the country was focused and engineered on preserving and demonstrating the immortality of this one guy so that he could come back and prove what a hotshot he really was. At the expense of every other living soul in the Empire.
The stones of the Pyramid, the one I saw, were cut of different sizes. It was boasted that they didn't need mortar, they were cut so perfectly to fit together.
The passageway to the inside chamber was a weird thing, cut through this massive hulk of solid stone to a completely unexpected location inside the Pyramid.
The Pyramids themselves were about as long and as wide and as tall as a football field. And steep. I would hate to fall off the top of one of those babies.
But the most impressive thing about the Pyramids is the "sound and light show."
Or, "sound and lights" as they like to abbreviate it in the land of travel, to indicate a truly spectacular Walt Disney Production.
If you can imagine those three huge pyramids with a Sphinx sitting in front of them, looking at you, with rows and rows of seats, sitting in front of the Sphinx, looking back at it.
And at night the lights come on, and the huge loudspeakers, with perfect sound reproduction, that means that the acoustics were probably done by SONY or JVC.
The floodlights come on, and illuminate various Pyramids, at different times, depending on the point in history that is being recorded.
In different colors.
And then, out there in the open air, with a gentle Egyptian desert breeze making you feel the desert evening air like it must have been 3,000 years ago the Sphinx speaks!
This Sphinx starts speaking to you right before your eyes.
And he tells you about all the facts pertaining to the ancient Egyptians, and how they were all devoted to these preposterous little mental pygmy god-kings, and how they gave and sacrificed and gloried in their labor for the immortality of these little farts.
Meanwhile, the pygmies kept the rest of Egypt in absolute poverty, as they collected lots of gold to stash in their tombs so that they were sure to have some to keep them company in immortality.
The camel drivers, the guys who "persuade" you to get on camels and ride up to the Pyramids, and the cops got in a fight while we were there. The camel drivers live in a state of such absolute poverty that they will do anything to con you into getting on their camels to ride up the hot dusty trail to the top of the hill where the Pyramids are located.
The balance is one where the cops have to let them put enough pressure on the tourists to make a living, but without driving them away. The tourists arrive like a continuous stream of fat, endlessly pouring out of brand-new Mercedes Benz buses.
They get these grotesque fat mamas up there and then take a picture.
And then demand money.
It's a living.
That resembles what comes out of the other end of the camel.
The great joy of the trip to Egypt for me was witnessing the spectacle of how these dudes ended up in the Cairo Museum. Under glass. With little girls walking by the showcase, looking at the sunken jaws and decayed teeth, with the wide open eye sockets staring right up at them, and the hideous, helpless grin......with little girls walking by this testimony, saying things like "yeeh," and "uck," and "oooh how neat!"
These were the same guys who, we were told, built the Pyramids. "Man," it was said in the sound and light show, "had from the dawn of history been afraid of time. Time...was afraid of the Pyramids."
When I was in Luxor there were a couple of incidents I want to tell you about.
The first happened the night after our group went to see the belly dancers. I didn't go, so I could get up at the crack of dawn and see the life of the city.
I strolled down to the center of the city, down to increasingly narrow and scary little streets, as straight for the heart of this mass of volatile Arab confusion as I could make out.
These were the people that Moses knew; this was the life that Jesus must have seen, the thought that he must have dealt with as he walked around in the New Testament.
It was scary, and affectionate, and moving.
Little things catch your eye.
That you didn't expect.
Like how much weight a donkey can carry. One could carry me easily.
They haul these huge loads of, say, sticks that will become firewood. Or grass, to feed the animals.
In the street.
Close to the center of town--this was about 6:00 in the morning--I met a farmer out in his field harvesting some grass they feed the animals. It's a kind of cross between clover and alfalfa, it seemed to me. He was using an ancient system of mowing: he sat on the ground on his feet, i.e. he squatted, and grabbed a hunk with his hand, and then ripped back toward himself.
Then he took the freshly torn handful and set it on a little pile of similarly ripped off handfuls. Then he reached out and grabbed another handful.
Another thing was the absence of any hostility or commotion.
I expected to risk having a hand reach out of a doorway and snatch me inside to be robbed and pillaged and murdered, judging from the impression that I had received from the Press and the Movies in America.
But no, there was an atmosphere of absolute, disciplined calm, in spite of the destitution, just as there would have been in the days of the Bible, because an extraordinarily high degree of morality controls the people. The Moslem religion springs from the highly moralistic Judaic background that Christianity comes from too. Abraham's two kids are the historical progenitors of Islam and Judaism.
I found a little place by a bridge where I could sort of hide and be inconspicuous.
I could watch fathers going to work, and coming home from the store. With a couple of jugs of milk slung across the back of their donkeys.
There was a fellow selling food right across the street from me.
It began to smell good.
It didn't look good.
There was a warmth in the early morning air, a reason for why these people were all stirring at this early hour, almost before dawn. There was an early morning sort of cool-warm freshness in the air, which was far far better than the intense heat they were going to see later in the day.
There was a hustle and bustle of activity, and I thought of it as a marble game, where it was just endlessly cyclical--the same rut, the endless pattern of birth, death, poverty, and trying to hit the bottom line, which was bringing the couple of jugs of milk home on the donkey.
But it was a little different here. You can really pass that kind of judgment only on people who are free to break out of that kind of poverty because they have the intellectual capacity to imagine alternatives. These people were locked into a cycle where that didn't really seem possible.
The other incident happened as I was strolling along the Nile. I was trying to pick up a feel for what the river was like.
They can clown up these historically important sites by building churches all over them, so you can't see exactly what the physical structures were like that the biblical characters were working in; but they can't take away the air, the smell of the desert, the hot or the cold. They can't take away the importance of what a river means, or the softness and gentleness of a climate that has a lot of agriculture that surrounds the interplay of events and ideas.
What goes on in the mind of a Moses when he grows up by the Nile?
You can sense that a lot better, you can get a feeling for what the people he led out of the land of Egypt left, when you smell the deeply fertile, warm, secure, promising air that belongs to that region.
I grew up by the Columbia and Missouri Rivers. I know the Mississippi.
The impressive thing to me was the fundamental similarity of the feel of this river, and the feel of those that I have known before.
There were kids playing on the bank.
And young fellows with boats trying to make a living, one way or another, off the river.
Well, I was strolling along the bank, and it became clear that I was going to have to pass by and interrupt a young guy and his girl, talking by the water.
I stood close by for a minute, gazing at a likely looking fishing hole that reminded me of a spot where I had been rafting on the Clark Fork. When the guy got my attention and said, "Hi." I walked over and these two bright faces (they knew English pretty well) started speaking to me.
As soon as I told them I was a Philosophy Professor they got real interested real fast.
The girl left and got some of her friends. And by God pretty soon we were having a good, old-fashioned Philosophy Pow Wow.
There was one guy in particular who gripped my interest.
He was emphatic.
He wanted to know, "What is truth?" Which was the same question that Pilate had asked just before he crucified Jesus.
It is the most compelling, interesting question in the world.
I always respond to someone when I see that light in their face.
They want to know; and they don't give a good god-damn, or a strawberry shit about anything else. They have let go of everything else, and they realize that nothing else matters, or everything else is based on a rotten foundation, until that question is answered.
I love that.
I love it more than anything else in the world.
As a teacher.
As a person I love love more than truth.
But as a teacher, when I am on the job, Truth is number one.
So here I am, on the banks of the Nile talking to this Egyptian kid, who is earnestly imploring me, the educated American, to answer his question.
This kid and most of his friends were going into Pharmacy, so they could do something to help their people and advance themselves at the same time. Their vision was limited to Pharmacy because, for their intelligence, for the level of education they had benefited from, that best met the need they found. So they thought.
How could I tell them the one thing I knew for sure was that the whole problem is mental, that the real essence of human motivation is Truth and Love, and that if you just follow the leadings of Truth and Love in your life they will lead you up and out of whatever morass you seem to be in.
That was the message I had for them. That was what I knew for sure.
But the problem was one of finding the images to convey effectively what I was talking about.
Always before in my Philosophy courses the problem had been one of searching, of believing in the search, even though it led you into something as seemingly mindless and impractical as Philosophy.
Now the problem was reversed--how do you tell the face of ignorance and disbelief that he already knows the answer to his question?
If he can just quiet his human "self" long enough to hear it.
"The truth is within and the truth will set you free," was what the man said.
Well, how do you say that to the face of desperation without seeming to appear to be one of those crackpot, false, ludicrous, pious "Christian" preachers that have systematically done so much damage to the world by spreading false gospel?
For their own ends.
From Egypt we went to Amman, Jordan, ancient Philadelphia in the Bible of old.
Petra was the place where some biblical historians think that Paul went to spend the three years or so after he was struck down by the divine light on his way to Damascus.
Paul, you may remember, was a persecutor of the early Christians.
He was a good man, a member of the old sect, the Pharisees, (as well as a Roman citizen), and he was bent on helping them destroy this newfound heretical faith.
That was gaining such popularity.
And they couldn't understand why.
Because it so patently contradicted the teachings of the old ways.
The orthodox theological thought of the time.
In fact, Paul was present at the stoning of the first Christian martyr--Steven.
Well, Paul was on his way to Damascus to round up and destroy some more of these new heretics, when he was struck down by this light. "Theophany" it is called by biblical scholars. Or "epiphany." For want of a better name. It means having the spiritual light dawn. In consciousness. At long last. When the human will has yielded.
Well, this particular dawning was so powerful in Paul's case that it took him three days to recover.
And then he went somewhere for three years, to think it over.
And they think it was Petra.
Some of them do.
Which is (was) southeast of the Dead Sea.
On the way to Petra is a spring, they say is Moses' spring. It is the only clear clean water in the Middle East, so far as I could make out. It comes right out of a rock. You can kneel right down and suck it up like it was coming out of the tap.
They say that Moses just struck the rock while they were wandering in the desert, and the water just came forth.
The thing about manna is that it only lasts for a day.
Teaches you how to live in the present. And not to worry about the future.
The whole thing teaches you about trust; that is what it is basically up to.
Do you remember when Peter was going to walk on the water? Here was old Jesus, the teacher, walking along with absolute faith and understanding, sufficiently much so that the laws of gravity yielded to his knowledge and understanding of spiritual law, and Peter, eager to try out his faith jumps out of the boat and he's going to try it too. Only a little wind is blowing, a violent wind in some accounts, which catches Peter's eye.
When you give power to material law, in the spiritual understanding business.
So Peter sank.
And his friend Jesus helped him up again.
He wasn't quite ready yet.
He did walk a little ways.
But he yielded to the belief in the temptation of material power when the storm blew.
And so he wasn't ready yet.
You can't yield one mite's worth of belief to the power of the material world in this business; the universe that we live in is 100% spiritual, and in no way material. If you yield you will fall.
Jesus understood that.
And that is what he was trying to teach us about.
The "miracles" were little demonstrations or "illustrations" of that fact.
But the goal was not (simply) supremacy, or dominion over the so-called "material" world, (which is put there precisely for us to overcome, so that we may learn about the nature of reality).
The goal is achieving a state of consciousness, or mind, which Jesus referred to as "Heaven."
That is reality.
Jesus preached about the "Kingdom of Heaven," as he put it. That was what he came here to do. That was what his ministry was all about. As he himself continually said.
It was not about all the junk that the churches and the evangelists are talking about today.
It certainly was not to set things up so that people would be sitting around waiting for him to come back in person.
Jesus left the idea of being a person when he ascended.
That was what that final demonstration over death meant. It was his last parting statement, proof, or lesson to his students that, when you place your head 100% in the place of Love, then death and everything pertaining to death cannot harm you.
His old sense of person was left behind as he proved that fact, conclusively, 100%, to everyone's satisfaction.
So much so that people have been bewildered by it, and sitting around wondering what happened ever since.
When all they have to do is read about it. Particularly the book of John.
John was the disciple that Jesus loved the most. In other words he was the best student, the one closest in understanding to what Jesus was talking about.
So while Matthew, Mark, and Luke provide very nice accounts of what happened, John (uniquely) provides the Metaphysical understanding of what was going on, what it meant, while it happened.
These folks who have been sitting around in these churches all these years waiting for the second coming of Jesus contradict, fundamentally, his teachings.
They should be off working, praying, healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons; in other words demonstrating and learning what they know, so that they can earn their way, step by step, into the Kingdom that Jesus was talking about.
The Kingdom is understanding, a state of awareness, that is given to you as you progress, i.e., as you are willing to part with all the things that would block your awareness or understanding of all the good that is right at hand. In other words, as you are willing to part with greed, envy, hatred of every kind, sensuality, and, above all and most important--self-will, self-love, and....self-righteousness--the number one problems that dominate the minds of the so-called Christians sitting in their so-called churches today. Christians waiting in their churches for the so-called "second coming" of Jesus Christ remind me of the "Cargo Cult."
The "Cargo Cult" was an outfit described in a movie called Mondo Cane a few years ago, as I recall.
It was a weird flick, about all kinds of completely freaky events going on all over the globe.
This particular segment, about the "Cargo Cult" was about this tribe of people in New Guinea. Who saw a cargo plane that had run into one of their mountain peaks.
They deified it.
They set up religious rites around it, and glorified it.
They were so astonished.
To this day they are still mumbo-jumboing around it, and waiting for it to take off and take them with it, away from this land, and off into the land of promise.
Either that, or they're waiting for some more planes to come and get them to take them away.
Anything so that they don't have to give up their own precious beliefs about the material world, and their own kinky ways of personally deifying it.
There is just one thing going on in the Universe and that thing is God.
And He ain't a thing.
He is characterized by the personal pronoun "I."
And when you pull the bones out of your nose, and quit thinking that you are so goddamn important, you will see what that word that pronoun "I" refers to.
And it is something ever so much infinitely more important and interesting and breathtaking than you could ever have imagined if you were thinking things up yourself that, when you do see the nature of reality, as you most certainly will....when you give up the crap, as each and every one of us will, you will have only one predominant feeling: Praise the Lord that it wasn't up to me to think it up.
Well, anyway, as I started to say, we went in our tour of the Middle East from Amman to Petra.
Petra is a very interesting little place, going back many centuries before Christ...many many centuries. In fact, it is for the most part cut out of the sides of sheer cliffs. The remains of the temples are, that is.
We took a climb--the more ambitious of us--up to the tops of the cliffs and the ancient city surrounding the basic city temple below.
One of my extreme images for why I hate temples and what they do to the human mind was illustrated for me here.
Temples are a place of sacrifice and worship--right?
Well, what are you supposed to sacrifice out of your love for God, good? (God is goodness in whatever form it appears to you. God is subjective: immediate, direct, and whole).
What you are supposed to sacrifice are the beliefs that obscure the goodness, obscure the fact that you are the son, the child, the image of God. Not material: spiritual.
What happens when you misplace that obligation, that sacred right and duty that forms the precious ladder that each of us uses, each of us in our own private way, to get into Heaven? What happens when you put that obligation of sacrifice in the hands of a human being, called a priest? You end up with priestcraft. Or pastorcraft. Or ministercraft. Or whatever you want to call it when you put the sacred right and obligation that is uniquely yours into the hands of another man.
Immediately all the self-will, self-love, sensual material ritual and devotion to church and group and institution and person, and all the ugliness that make it impossible for any self-respecting person to enter into and accept the orthodox church as it is understood today, all of this immediately becomes planted in the unsuspecting ground like a fresh crop of Crab Grass after a spring rain.
Your relationship to God is unique, personal, and entirely subjective. You should not allow any of these quacks to teach you false doctrine--doctrine that coincidentally makes their rule in the church essential to you. And jacks up their self-aggrandizement correspondingly. In a way that they couldn't get it through any other course. Or they never would prostitute themselves into believing and selling the lies that they do.
In Petra, as in most of the ancient religious temples, you can see very vividly what happens when you give the religious authority to someone else, or transform your subjective experience into the worship of an external material idol.
As I walked up the steps carved out of solid rock I could see the troughs or grooves cut in the rock for the blood to flow down into the city below, from the animal and human sacrifices.