This book has been through numerous revisions and in a way shall remain unfinished because of the elusive nature of the subject material. It is not a result of academic research and a rehashing of intellectual ideas found elsewhere. You will not find elaborate footnotes and numerous references to other works here. Rather, this book is written out of a very personal and direct experience with the material presented, which can best be explored through symbolic means. It is always challenging to discuss any insights found in symbols through plain language just as it is difficult to articulate the substance or meaning of some great musical work. Our language is static and limited while symbols are dynamic and multi-dimensional. In other words, the interpretation of a rich symbol is often a function of each individual's unique perspective; therefore it is impossible to pin down a symbol to one valid interpretation that is applicable for an entire group or community. This mistake leads into the trap of an ideology or a frozen image that is often out of sync with the reality or experience of each individual in that community. With this in mind, the goal of this book is to present the story of Jesus, not as a historical or factual account but as a coherent, metaphorical story of the human struggle for freedom of the mind. This includes freedom from the gods and demons that have been pressed upon us over the ages and most importantly freedom from fear. In other words, this story is about us as human beings, and I hope that you the reader will come to recognize that a symbolic reading is much more approachable, empowering and meaningful than the literal, orthodox one. Symbols have the power to open connections between the individual, the environment, the cosmos and even the source of all life. Those who allow symbols to penetrate their psyches can see their lives mythologized, brimming over with meaning and wonder and most importantly freedom. But those things, if they are indeed real, can never be verbalized or intellectualized. In just that way, the significance of the Jesus story has nothing to do with fixed ideologies, religions or systems of belief as we generally know them; rather it transcends religious figures, cultural conditioning, philosophies, words, concepts and even time and space. Paradoxically however, it is in the simplest terms practical and very human.
For thousands of years now, we have chased after morality and tried to cultivate love and compassion for our fellow human beings while filled with violence, competition and discord. Our inability to resolve this dilemma has been a major source of our suffering. But we often deny or turn away from this suffering because we do not know how to relieve it. Even those who believe in Jesus' supposed divine mission of taking on the sins of humankind and setting it on the right path must admit that the impact of his story, as it has been widely presented, has had minimal effect in bringing about a real, positive change and relieving suffering. The world continues to be torn apart by religious discrimination, abuse, hunger, wars and genocide. The Jesus that has been taught in most churches is an impostor and mainstream religion, with its gods and demons, has played a significant role in suppressing the real message. Jesus is not the only son of God. He is not God at all. In fact, I argue that Jesus would see his deification as sheer idolatry and as a way for human beings to continue justifying and imposing an oppressive, hierarchical paradigm over each other based on a relationship of master to slave. Jesus is presented here, not as a distant religious figure who requires our obedience for the salvation of our eternal life, but as a symbol for the fully liberated human being in all of us who lifts up his head above the vast sea of social conditioning and recognizes himself to be a fundamentally free and unique individual. With that recognition comes a sense of deep mystery and acceptance of one's humanity and a dissipation of existential anxiety. Psychological suffering is an insight or doorway into the unconscious patterns behind one's own life and leads one to a more profound and liberated vision of the world. Metaphorically, this vision is the Kingdom of Heaven mentioned in the Gospels but it has nothing to do with a divine controller of the universe who lives beyond the reach of the human world. This vision is an ever-present dimension that lives among us but that is ignored daily by many of us. The power of that vision infinitely surpasses any feeling of security or joy professed by orthodox religions.
Now here is the problem that must be tackled: Words simply fail to try and capture or express this dynamic and liberated consciousness, vision, experience or process. Such words already carry biased meanings or suggest certain nuances that we have been conditioned to readily accept. But for now, let us call it a vision. Symbols, metaphors, and mythic imagery are the only viable instruments for capturing some glimpse of it. This vision is characterized by a movement toward understanding or a continually growing awareness and reconciliation of previously unrecognized inner conflicts. The goal of this movement is always consistent and uniform and can be depicted by a certain psychological process. Some psychologists refer to this as the individuation process or self-actualization. In the Christian tradition, the culmination of that process is symbolized in the figure of Christ. The Gospels depict Jesus as a man who was eventually recognized as the Christ by his followers. Christ is not a surname but a title meaning "the anointed one." Only as a result of this vision, this Christ mindset or consciousness, real love and compassion can be born. Its essence is real freedom and only the free can truly have virtues such as love. Such virtues cannot be teased out through practice or exhortation. They cannot be chased or acquired or cultivated or worn as decorative jewelry for our egos; rather they are symptoms of the Christ vision, of having gone through that transformational movement toward freedom. The constant exhortations that we experience as children to love and to have compassion for our neighbors are backward and hypocritical because they are based on an ideology that subtly assumes hatred and the rejection of one's own humanity. It is important to note that there is no intellectual formula or path to acquire or bring on this Christ vision, the metaphorical entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. It is often instigated through certain movements or crises within the subconscious mind and often results in the acceptance of the failure and complete surrender of a false image of oneself and the world. There is meaning in that surrender that cannot be expressed through words; rather, it is experienced as a tremendous release of energy that reverberates throughout every dimension of one's life. Having gone through this crisis, the individual no longer cares to impose a limited vision of himself and his environment upon the world. The Crucifixion is the symbol for this crisis or psychological suffering or breakdown and reveals Jesus as a man who took responsibility for his humanity as it is. The seeds for the Christ is embedded in the full acceptance of his humanity. Jesus dared to look at what is, rather than to cover it up with a lofty morality like that of the Pharisees and Sadducees. He did not put the blame for human conflicts on society or his parents or the government or his captors. He fully took on the responsibility for his life and understood that any perceived conflicts or “sins” of the world (as well as any sublime insights and glorious wonders) are reflections of his own mind. He is a microcosm of the world. In accepting responsibility for his life as it is, he turns all of his own judgments, perceived as the “sins” of mankind, unto himself. In that sense, he is responsible for them. And only those who are free can truly take responsibility for their lives. It is for this reason that he is revered as the Savior. In understanding that these judgments are projections of his own insecurities and fears, he is no longer bound by their gravity. He becomes light as a feather and is able to walk on water, symbolically speaking.
In accepting life as is, unconditionally, a certain spell is broken. Unlike the majority of humans who live and die by ideologies and are constantly haunted by the past and dragged along to their future, Jesus lived in the real present. By living in the present, his uniqueness was expressed and as such, he is the abiding symbol for the living, liberated human being. He is not an automaton whose life is an unquestioned repeated pattern, inherited and passed on for generations. Hence he is not a re-production; he was not born of generational flesh and blood, symbolically speaking. Rather, his life is lived from his own center and not from the center of the biological or social order or ideology or dogma of his time. This phenomenon is represented by the Virgin Birth. He lived through that unique, natural impulse at his core. It is that same impulse or energy that brings forth everything in the Universe. It is in this context that we can understand the orthodox believer’s notion of Jesus as the unique Son of God.
Here now is a tour of Jesus' life and words, presented as symbols for the living human journey or vision that lies dormant in all of us. It is my sincere hope that, through this exploration, the language of the orthodox Christian and that of the mystic or sage can be reconciled and understood in their own contexts, weighed down as little as possible by the baggage of dogma.