Down the Rabbit HoleAt a certain point, life for the sage takes on a distinct dream-like quality. It is as if all of Creation seems to be lurking behind that thin veil of reality, that "normal" appearance of things, and whispering the greatest Secret to him. But he cannot make out what is being spoken. But then the realization or awakening comes and he beholds all of Creation shouting gleefully that Secret from the rooftops, from the mountaintops, on the steps of the neighbors' gardens, and in the silent rooms where children lie in sleep. That realization may come slowly or abruptly. It is inescapable; his doors of perception are cleansed. And what is that Secret? It is, as we proclaimed at the outset, that Landscape of the Father where he has been immersed all along. This perception is an unutterable experience of an underlying Rhythm to all of life; it is an awakening to the mystery that he is. It is a love affair with Life, THE love affair, which is the story of Creation and out of which all of the colors and patterns are reflected in nature. The sage finds himself intoxicated and enwrapped in an epic Love story, all played out on the stage of Life. All human stories are reflections or representations, on a historical scale, of this Great Tale. The experience sensitizes all of the sage's being, engages his physical and psychic senses. Many such mystics, sages and artists speak of seeing the world in a much more vibrant color. They can smell fragrances quite vividly. And ordinary music, which they may have heard before, now moves them to tears. Some become even hypersensitive to the touch. It is as if their entire lives and senses awaken and become receptive to all of the wonders in the primordial Garden of Eden, in its perfection. This is what it means to be truly "spiritual." It is to be truly alive!

Astronomy tells us that a supernova is the explosive death of a massive star collapsing under its own weight, the light of which can outshine a galaxy. The density or pull of gravity within the colossal star becomes too much to bear, resulting in its death and the scattering of its brilliant remnants all over space. Some supernovae, through their radiant and massive explosions, form new living solar systems, such as ours, from their remnants. In just a few seconds, the explosion of a supernova produces more energy than our sun’s entire lifespan. This is what science has uncovered. "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." This passage from John 12:24 is yet another metaphor for this idea. Jesus is the grain of wheat or this supernova who collapsed under the weight of his introspection, exploded in a mighty and radiant light into the vast recesses of time and became sown in the hearts of men and women. Through self-observation, the sage becomes aware of the conceptualizing mind’s power that turns him into a fragment and cuts him off from the union with everything else. The result is a constant battle between the need for the sage’s ego to assert itself and the sage’s growing awareness of the operations of his ego. This conflict explains the many undulating, manic-depressive states of saints and mystics. Eventually, there is a breaking point, a terminal density that causes the whole conflict to collapse in on itself. The light of consciousness in Jesus was turned on itself, which led to the final explosion (crucifixion and surrender) into brilliant light. He who undergoes this experience becomes a co-creator of his own life because he realizes in the end that he and his Beloved are One. He cannot separate himself from that which he observes (Heisenberg’s principle). His heart becomes hollowed out deeply by compassion. He reinvigorates the world around him, without effort, and gives it new life simply by living out his life. This is a possible and practical state of living and not a fabrication or fantasy.

This experience, then, this journey is not unlike that which is described by the early Gnostic Christians and other mystics of the East and West. As a matter of fact, Buddhism and Gnosticism in particular, echo some of the ideas that are discussed here and communicate them through their own mythology. There is still much debate today about the extent to which the four orthodox Gospels found in the Bible were watered down or edited by the early Church Fathers in order to conform to a desired perspective of Jesus. Certainly, even if the Gnostic Gospels that were discovered in Egypt in 1945 had never been found, any reasonable person would have to question whether the four orthodox Gospels could have been the only accounts of the story of Jesus, a story of such a powerful message. This suggests that orthodox Christianity at best reveals only one dimension of Jesus and that other perspectives have been hidden from the mainstream world. Eventually, the early Church Fathers won their fight against the alleged heretical perspectives on the mainstream battle lines. A closer look at the four orthodox Gospels, as discussed in this book, reveals some evidence suggesting that those responsible for their compilation had some knowledge of a deeper significance of the story and were attempting to express it in mystical or secret language. The Catholic rituals embody this mystery; however, we must question whether or not the original Catholic vision has been lost through the centuries to less than visionary interpretation, amidst human corruption, power and greed. The mystery of the experience or perception, however, has been preserved through the orthodox and Gnostic Gospels. This vision cannot die because it is not built on a theology or purported texts that are handed down, but on an ever-present state of being or perspective that is inherent within the human heart. Even though there could have been a conscious attempt to control the message in the Gospels by those who compiled them in a way such that power and control remained reserved for the Church authorities, there was perhaps a subconscious impulse or need found in those responsible for their compilation that wished to know and reveal the truth. And it is to this impulse that we owe a debt of gratitude for retaining the true message of the Gospels. The inner experience illuminates the message in the Gospels, no matter how deeply buried it may be. Jesus as a symbol is in constant resonance with our depths. The Message, the Word of God is imprinted upon the human heart and the psyche, despite the shortcomings of intellect – cut off from the other dimensions of the individual - and its hunger to limit and conceptualize. And as I mentioned, this experience lives radiantly in thinkers, mystics and artists from every generation and of every religion and denomination.

If indeed the Church Fathers had limited vision, orthodoxy could not completely erase from the traditional Gospels the reference to the personal experience that is the topic of this book. It bubbles luminously beneath the pages and line numbers of the four Gospels, as I have attempted to illustrate. However, it is after all a personal experience and cannot and would not be objectified. Because it is inherently personal, it is foolish to ask a sage to define the experience or to define Jesus, for example, in a way that is acceptable to a group of people. Why? Each individual has to define Jesus (or the experience) for himself, in context with his own life. In Matthew 16:15, Jesus asks: "But who do you say that I am? Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven." In all four of the Gospels, during his ministry, Jesus is hesitant to directly tell or readily explain to anyone who he is. He is always looking to find out who others think he is, not because he is unsure of himself – although at times he was probably filled with self-doubt - but because he was looking for signs of this personal awakening in others, to see if they have been born of the Spirit. In this passage, Peter, of his own volition, proclaims Jesus as the Christ. Peter, in context with his own life, “recognizes” Jesus and the divine spirit within him. In turn, Jesus, convinced that Peter is now of the same “mind”, entrusts his church to Peter. Although this saying is sometimes interpreted as Jesus’ desire to start a religion in his own name, it is highly unlikely that this is so in context with the portrait described here.

The transfiguration is another example of this idea. In Matthew 17:1, we read that Jesus took three of his disciples up to a high mountain, where he was transfigured before them and began conversing with Moses and Elijah. Matthew 17:2 states that Jesus' "face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light." This is the vision or perception that the three disciples have of Jesus, namely that he is like the great prophets. The transfiguration is not an external phenomenon but an internal or psychological one. Also, the reference to the "high mountain" can be read as a metaphor for a peak experience and tells that something important and defining was occurring. The disciples' consciousness was being transformed. They were viewing or interpreting Jesus according to their own perception and through a particular stage of their own inner development, one of many stages. There is a glaring example of this idea in the Gnostic texts, specifically in a Gnostic fragment of the apocryphal Acts of John. I will not quote it directly here; however, in paragraph 88, we see the way in which Jesus approached the disciples James and John. They were out at sea when they saw someone calling them from the seashore. To James, this figure appeared to be a child, but to John, that figure was a man. Both of them were seeing Jesus according to their own perception and level of experience. He appears to each of them in a manner that is relevant to their own lives. Jesus, as a symbol of salvation or life, is reflected in different ways, each according to his experience or wisdom.

Our admiration or love for great human beings is rooted, in equal measure, in their ability to reveal us and reunite us to ourselves.