There are a number of proclamations, made by the orthodox Christian faith on the one hand and by the experience of the sages and mystics on the other, that are identical on the surface. The two speak the same language but point to very different experiences. That is to say, the mansion of God, in which the orthodox Christian seeks refuge and salvation, can become his ultimate prison. His "religion" becomes his wealth, his spiritual possession, which he cannot surrender. And so it is more difficult for him to "enter the Kingdom of Heaven." Ironically, as mentioned previously, those very things from which the orthodox Christian seeks to escape can be the very foundations of his true salvation and those things that he seeks may enslave him. And the perplexing and seemingly heretical proclamations of the sage or mystic drive the orthodox Christian cowering deeper into this dreary, theological corner out of fear, stubbornness, and self-righteousness. This I believe is a more viable view of the Antichrist.
The Antichrist is not some force of evil outside of us. Rather, the Antichrist is the resistance to inherent change in the Universe and in the dynamic nature of life. And those who continue to clutch onto their beliefs while the impulse to life within them seeks to mature and grow, are the ones in the grip of the Antichrist. Orthodox beliefs, such as those of the Church, are static; therefore the Church can be seen as harboring the Antichrist. This is the vision that the Twelfth Century mystic, Hildegard of Bingen had of the Antichrist. She saw him as being born from the Church and coming forth to deceive people. If we see the Antichrist as a metaphor or symbol, then Hildegard's vision makes sense. The Antichrist is a system that requires obedience, whether it is a system of government, a society, a philosophy, or whatever else it may be. It has its static rules defined by static ideas. Hildegard foresaw the oppressive quality of static ideas that limit imagination and hypnotize with fear and desire. The Antichrist operates in those polarities.
Those polarities or dualities are necessary in order for the drama of the world to continue. So once again, there is a need for the Messiah to come and liberate the people from their confining quarters, which they have constructed for themselves out of the Word of God. Man has been cruel to the gods and the gods have been cruel to his children. History has come full circle; the people have gone to sleep on their bed of religion and need to be redeemed once more. They have crucified the Word once again, which no longer walks among them, and have prostituted it. They have taken the breath out of this great Work of Art and have left only a semblance of it, a shell made of stone. They have extinguished the candles, silenced the music, snuffed out the incense, and drawn the curtains. They can no longer see the statues, these figures of imagination moving, but they continue to worship the graven images, these idols made of stone. Their humility has become their arrogance and their righteousness has become their blindfold. They bathe themselves in the blood of Jesus, to cleanse themselves of their sin, but in so doing they repeatedly transgress against humanity. They extinguish spontaneity and creativity and decline the body of Christ. They turn away from their own experience of Life and refuse to break bread with Jesus at his table. With every muttered, empty prayer from their lips, they plant the kiss of death on his cheek, betray him, and hang themselves once more. They organize and hold meetings on how to best recruit new souls to the Lord but do not realize that the blasphemer has become the redeemer and the redeemer has become the blasphemer. And if the devil can come as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), then an angel of light can appear as a devil. He, who has been deemed as offensive, as a heretic and a blasphemer, has become a way to redemption and salvation. In Matthew 21:42, Jesus quotes Psalm 118:22 saying: "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone." Simply, the builders of Christianity have rejected Christ and have shut themselves out from the kingdom of the Father. Jesus says in Matthew 23:13: "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in." Therefore, many Christians today are like the scribes and Pharisees of old, but they simply do not know it. They take up crusades in Jesus’ name and proclaim their righteousness with God. But in Matthew 7:21, Jesus has a warning: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” To him who understands, these sayings are absolute and sublime music.
We can see that the sage and the orthodox Christian are looking through the same mirror but perceiving different images. They are living upon opposite sides of the same mountain. The sage has come full circle, after traveling the circumference of his own experience, to the same point where the orthodox Christian, who has yet to venture out, now stands. The sage lives in full knowledge and experience of the endless Landscape while the other, the orthodox Christian, must accept the Landscape by the faith of the masses, that Landscape which he has not seen with his own eyes. Psychologically, the sage is walking on the waters of the subconscious, while the orthodox Christian is being tossed by them but does not understand the reason. It will take a monumental effort, an enormous act of compassion to save the orthodox Christian from himself because he is shackled by the very symbols that are supposed to free him. It is simply impossible and futile to convince the orthodox Christian of the point of this discussion through debate. In fact, there is no “convincing” to be done here. There is nothing to be “understood.” There is only sheer, existential living, a dance really that is inseparable from the dancer.
How then does one awaken that impulse, that spark of innate experience? How do we depart on a journey to see this Landscape? How does one enter the Kingdom of Heaven? The answer will certainly not be found in reading this book. At best, this discussion has offered a match to light a small candle of curiosity in the halls of a vast mansion of possibilities. Simply, the answer is to be found in you. To begin to explore this question, you must ask yourself how deep is your desire? How profound are your joy and sorrow? How parched is your spirit? History is full of wise figures who counsel us about the Way and how to get there, but you will find no prescription that will heal your tired spirit, no vehicle that will escort you to the doors of your perception, no savior that will calm your winds and roaring seas, and no wine that will quench your thirst and deliver you to be born anew. Those that claim to have the answer are false prophets. Therefore may I suggest that you invite Life to enter your house and, with your own hand, open the doors of perception so that they may be cleansed. You must scale the mountain of self-knowledge and hunt for your food and separate the bones from the flesh with your hands. Each day, you must step into the silence of your sanctuary and be with yourself, unaccompanied, in contemplation. And in your solitude and stillness, you shall recognize the presence of Truth through Mystery and you shall find that which has been forsaken. For then, you shall find Him, the Way, the Truth, and the Life beyond any image or thought. This is the sacred communion. This is your most holy prayer. Shut out the world for a few moments with all of its temptations and problems. Shut out all that you know about yourself in the world and forget your fears and desires. Surround yourself perhaps with books or music or passions that inspire you to reach greater heights and stir compassion in you. Forget that you are a laborer or a teacher or a king or a preacher. Forget, for a moment, that you are a father or mother, a son or daughter. Forget that you are a Christian or a Buddhist or a Muslim or a Jew or a Hindu. Forget your goal entirely. But should you desire to awaken this innate experience and bring about a transformation out of personal gain or benefit to be found in this world or even in the hereafter, then it would be best that you rejoin the world and live in it some more… until the day when you return to your solitude, broken, bruised and scarred by life's blows, in surrender to your greater life. And when you are finally crucified, forsaken in solitude, and when your side has been pierced and have no more blood and tears to shed, and when you have truly surrendered all that you think you are, you will know that you are more than you could have ever conceived to be and that truly you are not alone. For you shall be with an army of lovers, astronomers of the deep, men and women who have gone before you and who are now as stars in the heavens. They are with you, here and now. Their light still shines upon your face, across the dust of time, though they have departed long before you. Most of all, you will realize that the desolate desert in which you once thought to have been standing is truly a blooming Garden of Delight, the heart of God. There, you shall know that you are an heir to a Kingdom that has no end. You shall know that the Sacred Ground, which you have sought so fervently to visit, is in fact beneath your feet and that you have been performing a beautiful dance without your knowledge, even through pain and suffering. Moreover, you will know that you are that Sacred Ground. You shall know that the very world, which you had thought to be corrupt and dying, is the same world that is overflowing with the radiance of the Father. You shall know that the moment in which you sought to live is now and that moment lives in you. You have sung your song and the singer has sung you.
Perchance, on a Dark Night, when you are alone, you shall look up into the heavens and recognize the enigma of Creation within you. For then you may behold a supernova of brilliant light and recognize your name written upon the infinite skies that straddle this Creation and the next. Then you shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with power and great glory. You shall no longer be exiled but shall come into the Garden in the open. For that which was conceived in imagination, out of that Primordial Desire, has been fulfilled. The Word has become flesh once again and the world is refreshed.