A commentary on the history, contexts, and meanings of the word "genius."

Sunday, November 25, 2012

27Sermon Review--Manifesto

Whenever Christmas draws near, I always find it to be a time of retrospection; thus, a review of this year's sermons is in the spirit of the season. As I look back over this last year's series of sermons, I get the sense of a rhythmic progression in time, as each of the individual elements of my newborn, newly reformed, newly constructed, theology slip into place.

These sermons have changed me. In researching each of the various subjects on which I have spoken, I have found my faith bolstered, and my vision cleared. Each sermon, or, rather, series of sermons, led me deeper into the realm of spiritual existence, and encouraged me to summarize my experience of that existence in words; even  though we know that the words are all vanity and Maya, we all still need to SAY things--we need to be able to say things that are meaningful and contribute to the realization of our Heaven on Earth; by putting things down in writing, my thinking has zeroed in on some basic issues, and the rough edges, of many of the details, have been filed off. Speaking the Word has brought me INTO the Word, and this is a good and interesting thing.

I remember starting the church year (I consider Advent to be the beginning of the church year)--I remember starting the church year with the Steiner myths about the dark giving birth to the morning.
The following is from Rudolf Steiner's Signs and Symbols of the Christmas Festival, I, The Birth of the Light, Berlin, December 19, 1904. It highlights (haha) the significance of light and sun, and points to the resonance of destiny that accompanies the symbols of the season:

"Christianity stands as the external mystical fact for the birth of the light. Christ brought to the earth what had existed from the beginning, although it was hidden from mankind throughout the ages we have been speaking of. Now, however, a new climax was reached. Even as the light is born anew at the winter solstice, so . . . the Savior of Mankind, the Christ, was born. He is the new Sun Hero who was not only initiated in the depths of the Mystery temples, but who also appeared before all the world so that it could be said, “Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). When it was recognized that the Divine could descend into a personality, the festival celebrating the birth of the Sun Hero, the Christ, came to replace the festival celebrating the birth of the light."

I remember a sermon on Santa Claus, referring to the primitive elf like magical energy that permeates this season.

Here is an offhand remark made in Wikipedia concerning Theosophy and angels:

"It is believed by Theosophists that nature spirits, elementals (gnomes, undines, sylphs, and salamanders), and fairies can be also be observed when the third eye is activated. It is maintained by Theosophists that these less evolutionarily developed beings have never been previously incarnated as humans; they are regarded as being on a separate line of spiritual evolution called the “deva evolution”; eventually, as their souls advance as they reincarnate, it is believed they will incarnate as devas."

Things just went on from there straight into the business of Epiphany:

From "Joyce's Dubliners as Epiphanies"
By Francesca Valente:

"--from Stephen Hero:
"By an epiphany he meant a sudden spiritual manifestation, whether in the vulgarity of speech or of gesture or in a memorable phase of the mind itself. He believed that it was for the man of letters to record these epiphanies with extreme care, seeing that they themselves are the most delicate and evanescent of moments."

From Joseph Campbell's Masks of Eternity:
"Joyce’s formula for the aesthetic experience is that it does not move you to want to possess the object. A work of art that moves you to possess the object depicted, he calls pornography. Nor does the aesthetic experience move you to criticize and reject the object — such art he calls didactic, or social criticism in art. The aesthetic experience is a simple beholding of the object. Joyce says that you put a frame around it and see it first as one thing, and that, in seeing it as one thing, you then become aware of the relationship of part to part, each part to the whole, and the whole to each of its parts. This is the essential, aesthetic factor — rhythm, the harmonious rhythm of relationships. And when a fortunate rhythm has been struck by the artist, you experience a radiance. You are held in aesthetic arrest. That is the epiphany. And that is what might in religious terms be thought of as the all-informing Christ principle coming through."

I remember, in Santa Cruz, at this time, we used to sing that Randall Thompson/Robert Frost song, The Pasture, because, it expressed the idea of spontaneous discovery. We have talked for a long time about the epiphanic discovery, and how true religious experience is like an epiphany because it takes us into a recognition of the eternal moment, stretched out in time like a vast mural.

Epiphany has proven to be a key concept in my theology, because it is so closely related to the subject of my Doctoral Thesis; it was all about achieving a conceptual end condition that depends, for its effect,  on psychological recentering. This is the moment of instantaneous contact with pre-conscious material: archetypal symbols, collective consciousness, higher spiritual dimensions, Omega Point, whatever.

In our discussions of re-centering, we talked about how, when you start searching for an idea, for the resolution to a problem, your thoughts undergo this mode of inspiration called recentering; in psychological recentering, the components of the train of thought become reshuffled. The resulting end condition, which includes the answer to the problem, is a consequence of that reshuffling. Epiphany is like recognizing, out of the blue, an old friend you had completely forgotten. The answer to the problem is the moment of recognition. Tony Bastick calls this the "intuitive response".

In developing a description of the epiphanic process, we talked about the role of the Freudian Ego Resolutions: Id, Ego, Superego--the three levels of man's psychology. We seem to be talking very often about groups of threes; in fact, when I was in L.A., my piano teacher enlisted me as his research assistant on a book (which he never finished) which was supposed to propose the idea that you needed three levels of structure in music notation.

Here is a lengthy quote from that sermon. It was an important one because it reviewed a lot of concepts in psychology that needed reviewing, but it also because introduced the term from Steiner "moral imagination"; this is a term which has played an important role in the development of my theology:

"Much of the following deals with some basic terms from psychology, many of which were coined by Sigmund Freud, so I thought it would not be amiss to provide a review of Freud's basic model of the mind since we will be referring to it for the rest of the sermon."

"Freud's Division of the Mind by David B. Stevenson '96, Brown University
"Freud understood the mind as constantly in conflict with itself, and understood this conflict as the primary cause of human anxiety and unhappiness. . . Freud's investigations into internal conflicts such as this led him to an eventual division of the mind into three parts, three conflicting internal tendencies, the well-known id, ego, and super-ego.
This division, it is important to note, is not the separation of the mind into three structures and functions which exist in physical partitions in the brain; they are not even truly structures, but rather separate aspects and elements of the single structure of the mind. Although it is convenient to say, for example, that the id "demands" immediate gratification, the mind has no three distinct little men who engage in a constant fisticuffs of conflict. The personification of these elements merely serves as a convenient guide through a complex psychoanalytic theory.
The id, the ego and the superego function in different levels of consciousness: indeed, Freud's theory of the mind hinges upon the ability of impulses or memories to "float" from one level to another. The interaction between the three functions of the mind represents a constant movement of items from one level to another.""

[Sidebar: The idea of "floating from one consciousness state to another relates directly to my idea of the multi-dimensional character of the human personality,  which we have discussed several times in the past; in particular, it pertains to the idea of conceptual re-centering of the intuitive response, or, as we have referred to it before, the EPIPHANIC response, a psychic  event which we will review momentarily.]
As the baby emerges from the womb into the reality of life, he wants only to eat, drink, urinate, defecate, be warm, and gain sexual pleasure. These urges are the demands of the id, the most primitive motivational force. In pursuit of these ends, the id demands immediate gratification: it is ruled by the pleasure principle, demanding satisfaction now, regardless of circumstances and possible undesirable effects. If a young child was ruled entirely by his id, he would steal and eat a piece of chocolate from a store regardless of the menacing owner watching above him or even his parents scolding beside him.

The id will not stand for a delay in gratification. For some urges, such as urination, this is easily satisfied. However, if the urge is not immediately discharged, the id will form a memory of the end of the motivation: the thirsty infant will form an image of the mother's breast. This act of wish-fulfillment satisfies the id's desire for the moment, though obviously it does not reduce the tension of the unfulfilled urge."

[Sidebar: In this case we are using the term "wish-fulfillment in the same sense as the term "end condition" as it applies to intuitive re-centering. Both terms refer to a mind state projected into the future at which our mental efforts are attempting to arrive.]
The eventual understanding that immediate gratification is usually impossible (and often unwise) comes with the formation of the ego, which is ruled by the reality principle. The ego acts as a go-between in the id's relations with reality, often suppressing the id's urges until an appropriate situation arises. This repression of inappropriate desires and urges represents the greatest strain on, and the most important function of, the mind. The ego often utilizes defense mechanisms to achieve and aid this repression. Where the id may have an urge and form a picture which satisfies this urge, the ego engages in a strategy to actually fulfill the urge. The thirsty five-year-old now not only identifies water as the satisfaction of his urge, but forms a plan to obtain water, perhaps by finding a drinking fountain. While the ego is still in the service of the id, it borrows some of its psychic energy in an effort to control the urge until it is feasibly satisfied. The ego's efforts at pragmatic satisfaction of urges eventually builds a great number of skills and memories and becomes aware of itself as an entity. With the formation of the ego, the individual becomes a self, instead of an amalgamation of urges and needs.

While the ego may temporarily repress certain urges of the id in fear of punishment, eventually these external sources of punishment are internalized, and the child will not steal the chocolate, even unwatched, because he has taken punishment, right, and wrong into himself. The superego uses guilt and self-reproach as its primary means of enforcement for these rules. But if a person does something which is acceptable to the superego, he experiences pride and self-satisfaction.

The superego is sub-dividable into two parts: conscience and ego ideal. Conscience tells what is right and wrong, and forces the ego to inhibit the id in pursuit of morally acceptable, not pleasurable or even realistic, goals. The ego ideal aims the individual's path of life toward the ideal, perfect goals instilled by society. In the pursuit, the mind attempts to make up for the loss of the perfect life experienced as a baby."

Having reviewed the basic Freudian vocabulary I now want to shift our discussion to a more spiritual plane. We begin our examination of some of this source material with Steiner. This is from a Wikipedia article on his most famous book, ‪Philosophy of Freedom‬:

Steiner observes that the key question concerning the existence of freedom of the will is how the will to action arises in the first place. Steiner describes two sources for human motivation: our natural being, our instincts, feelings, and thoughts insofar as these are determined by our character - and the dictates of conscience or abstract ethical or moral principles. In this way, both nature and culture determine motivations that play into our will and soul life. Overcoming these two elements, neither of which is individualized, we can achieve genuinely individualized intuitions that speak to the particular situation at hand. By overcoming the dictates of both our 'lower' and 'higher' sources of experience, by orchestrating a meeting place of objective and subjective elements of experience, we find the freedom to choose how to think and act.

Freedom for Steiner thus does not lie in uninhibited expression of our subjective nature, but in the conscious unification of this with the objective constraints of the world."

[Sidebar: The idea of "orchestrating a meeting place of objective and subjective elements of experience" is the crux of the matter; the whole process of evaluating experience as either spiritual or carnal depends on our ability to distinguish the spiritual from the carnal. How we take the various levels of experience in hand and reconcile them into an integrated experience is the subject of this discussion, and must be looked at closer and closer if we are to derive any meaning from these comments.]

"Steiner coined the term moral imagination for the inner act which results in free action. He suggests that we only achieve free deeds when we find a moral imagination, an ethically impelled but particularized response to the immediacy of a given situation. This response will always be individual; it cannot be predicted or prescribed. This radical ethical individualism is, for Steiner, characteristic of freedom."

[Sidebar: We remind you that the intuitive epiphanic response cannot be "predicted or prescribed." Unlike the ego, which depends on rigidity of thought--stability of literal meaning--spiritual truth defies all the devotee's efforts to control or direct the direction of the information stream. People determined to pin down the sayings of Jesus into neatly contained, fixed little boxes, will ALWAYS fail, because spiritual truth cannot be controlled by the literal mind--it takes the language of the heart to accomplish this. What Steiner calls the "moral imagination" is just another way of referring to the mysterious working of the heart on mundane issues and realities. Furthermore let me remind you that the conclusion arrived at by the heart are nearly always a surprise. It must be noted that staunch dogmatists HATE surprises.]
"We become aware of the outer nature of the world and its inner nature in radically different ways: our sensory perceptions inform us about the outer appearance of the world, while our thought life penetrates its inner nature. This division is particular to and defines human experience. Steiner suggests that we actually have the capacity to overcome the dualism of experience by reuniting perception and cognition. When contemplating our own thinking activity, we are perceiving that which we are thinking, and thinking that which we are perceiving. Steiner suggests that freedom arises most purely at this moment, when free ideation arises out of ego activity; this is, for Steiner, spiritual activity. . .
Steiner seeks to demonstrate that inner freedom is achieved when we bridge the gap between our perception, which reflects the outer appearance of the world, and our cognition, which gives us access to the inner structure of the world. He suggests that outer freedom arises when we bridge the gap between our ideals and the constraints of external reality, letting our deeds be inspired by the moral imagination. . . "

[Sidebar: Thus, it may be seen that Steiner wants us to USE the ego to motivate higher cognition, therefore creating imaginative realities whose purpose is to synthesize or integrate the energies of both flesh and spirit into each other.]

Talking about the illusion of the senses led us to Kant and several other 19th century philosophers. These people were all concerned with the idea that we can't be completely sure that reality is outside in the world--it might be completely in our heads.

By extension, from Wikipedia:
"Kant holds that there are two kinds of knowledge:
sensible (sensual) and logical.
Sensible knowledge is based on sensation;
logical knowledge is based on reason.
Kant's division of Transcendental Aesthetic and Transcendental Logic result from these two kinds of knowledge.

The Transcendental Aesthetic is that part of the Critique of Pure Reason that considers the contribution of sensation to cognition.
Kant distinguishes between the matter and the form of appearances.
The matter is "that in the appearance that corresponds to sensation".
The form is "that which so determines the manifold of appearance that it allows of being ordered in certain relations".

Clearly there is a fuzzy line between spirit and flesh--there is a definite barrier between these levels, but in addressing this problem we came up with the idea that Jesus is the mediator between  Man and God, Flesh and Spirit.

I conceived this sermon as a summing up of the year's activities, and as a kind of letter to a generic unbeliever. I was going to call the sermon, Preaching to the Choir, because everybody here already knows everything I'm going to say. However, it has been noted, by a few people, that the attendance of our website church audience is not a trivial number, and is, in many cases, equal to the type of church attendance that other larger churches in this area enjoy. So, it is not inappropriate to address this sermon to an audience which is not here at the moment--because somebody IS out there reading these things, and at least one of them is an unbeliever. I would like to convince this one person that the transformations that have taken place in me spiritually are not accidental, and not imaginary, and it all has to do with Jesus.

The thing that's so troublesome about any kind of religious jargon is that it tends to be exclusive; one variety of jargon addresses one community of believers, while a different jargon addresses a different audience. Many people have this idea about what spirituality is, and others have this other idea about what spirituality is, and when the semantic categories don't match, then there is dissension. But, bottom line, people very often think they disagree when they actually don't.

To me the most important spiritual dogma is that personal experience, is the ultimate authority of truth. The memories, of experiencing out-of-body states, or supernatural or superpersonal events, are the real test of spirituality. Although it is absolutely true that I have become more and more allied to the group of people in the world called Christians--people who put their faith in the words and the presence of Jesus.

Notice the word "people". Unfortunately, my opinion of most of the religious people in the world, is that they are not very religious at all, at least in the area of personal experience. As Kierkegaard mentions, most "people" derive their beliefs, pretty much, from a response to a sort of literal or moral monologue--a monologue that has been created by their peer group, or ancestors, or family, or culture. Thus, it becomes a matter of constancy, or stability, or safety, that these people cling to; the stories their grandmother told them represent order in the universe--and most "people" hate the adventure of discovery that dispels all quietude and calm, and invokes the storm that always accompanies evolution and change. I feel these people who would rather be comfortable than right are lacking the personal experience--for if they had the personal experience there could be no doubt.

Although it's just as easy to say that, on the multileveled continuum of existence, religious people are all religious in some small way and I am simply exercising my prejudices, and revealing my hypocrisy; because, surely, claiming that my spiritual level is higher than their makes me guilty of the same insensitivity of which I accuse THEM. Clearly, if we are all one, we are all links in a great chain of being and consciousness--the whole wholly contained in the partial.
Nevertheless, the bottom line to this semantic argument is this: the nonverbal superliteral experience is the ultimate authority.

One of the concepts that we have put forth in recent months is the idea the Cloud of Unknowing. We have suggested that our faith is an image created by our verbal consciousness, by our intellect, but which may become open-ended--which may become literally undefined, as the higher truth enters and is lost in that cloud of unknowing. The Cloud of Unknowing is situated at the the fringes of our brain's ability to comprehend verbal structures; we have learned that the nonverbal experience of spirit always must eventually take over, if we're going to get into higher levels of consciousness.

Another concept we have introduced in relation to Joy in the spirit is that of “sehnsucht”: the feeling of intense longing for the unattainable, first suggested by Novalis then taken up by C.S. Lewis. Our discussions of joy centered around this term. From the RFT Sermon #17, Joy III, we remember:

"Be warned, at the outset, that C.S. Lewis' definition of "Joy" is most complex, and has little of the implication of "Happiness" in it--it is much more a spiritual state of mind linked to the German philosophical concept "sehnsucht". Because the concept of Sehnsucht is so important in Lewis' writing, the Arizona C. S. Lewis Society titled their annual journal Sehnsucht: The C. S. Lewis Journal."

From Wikipedia:
"Sehnsucht is a German noun translated as "longing", "yearning", or "craving", or in a wider sense a type of "intensely missing".
[Sidebar: remember the scripture, 2 Corinthians 5:2:
    "Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our    
    heavenly dwelling,"

and Proverbs 13:12:

    "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire     cometh, it is a tree of life."

In the following discussion we will attempt to make plain this principle:

if we can take the experience of longing for a future heavenly dwelling, and, through impulse of desire, project ourselves into that future, we will have found the surest pathway to joy."

Finally, just recently we have explored the ramifications of the I AM Presence, in conjunction with the Unified Field Theory of the New Physics:

John Hagelin, Ph.D. in his YouTube presentation On Consciousness (1 of 2) says the following:

"With the discovery of the unified field, the so-called superstring field, we now understand that life is fundamentally one. At the basis of all life's diversity there is unity. In our basis you and I are one, and that unity at the base of mind and matter is consciousness-universal consciousness.

So with that deep understanding, that consciousness isn't created by the brain, it's not purely an outcome of mental molecular chemical processes in the brain, but is fundamental in nature; it's the very core of nature, call it the unified field. Now that we have that foundational understanding of what consciousness is, we can solve the mind/body problem-we can see how consciousness percolates up through our physiology to become the consciousness that we experience, see, the sensory perception of all of that. So there is a foundation now to really link, rigorously, neuroscience with quantum physics... What we've discovered at the core basis of the universe, the foundation of the universe, is a single universal field of intelligence--a field which unites gravity, electromagnetism, light, with radioactivity, with the nuclear force, so that all forces of nature all the so-called particles of nature, quarks, leptons, electrons, neutrons are now understood to be one. They're all just different ripples on a single ocean of existence."

So, with all this material, how do I convert the unbeliever? What words may I speak to entice the unbeliever to drop his guard and allow God to do what is most necessary and most simple--effect in the life of the unbeliever a personal experience? How do I get pride to relax its grip on ego and let in the healing soothing light?

How do I say that it is this spiritual experience in my life which seems to surpass all other considerations? It is simply the personal experience of Jesus.

I have to go back to a very traumatic period of my life in which I had a serious battle with demonic possession. It was this battle which awakened my dulled senses to the spiritual plane, but which, at the same time, also threatened, in a very destructive way, my very existence. The outcome of this episode was a moment of submission to the consciousness of Jesus. You may remember the story:

"I was standing in front of the heater, worrying that I had lung cancer, and I said, "Jesus, I give you one chance to prove your existence to me: if you are real, heal my lung. And then I heard a voice in my head saying, as clear as a bell, "Raise your arm." And, as I raised my arm above my head at an eccentric angle, something sprang loose in my back, and suddenly my lungs didn't hurt anymore."

It is that voice that has continued to speak to me for 25 years, and I have no doubt His voice is real, it is true; that it's so much smarter than me and that it could not possibly be some pretend fantasy of me, that I'm making up, like a multiple personality or something. It's not. It's absolutely external to me. It's bigger than me, but it is part of a higher part of me.  It speaks to me as a separate entity. It helps me in decisions, and it promotes aptitudes in the fields of healing and prophecy.

In my search for a broad-minded and universal religion, I have very often included so-called New Age principles, and organizations, and entities; the trauma of my childhood experience with the Jesus represented by my mother's soul-condemning church, has never completely worn off, and, thus, I have avoided all conventional thinking and language about God.

It was this conventional language that kept me away from Jesus for so long--I felt I must make sense of this religion thing as separate from all the religion of my youth. In me, the sanctity of the name of Jesus is threatened by all the memories I had of mediocre and and condemning and, of, frankly, evil personalities: people who prayed for me in the name of Jesus, but who more often condemned me to hell in the name of Jesus.

It's so hard to say that name without remembering all those bad memories. But talk about throwing the baby out with the bath! Jesus has never been more real than he is now, has never been more a constant companion. I begin each day in counsel with Him, and I know that that counsel, and that little bit of healing, was always there waiting for me to ask for it; but you have to ask nice: you have to ask Jesus, not scream in His face with your desperate fingernails. Humbly, meekly, and calmly, calm in the assurance of faith, you ask Him to enter, to bring his presence into yours, and yours into His.

And this can be your salvation. We call it salvation, not because it keeps us from going to hell, but because the kingdom of Being is here; the trip from Hell to Heaven is instantaneous. Right now. The salvation available through Jesus Christ is the miracle of the ages, and as much as we respect science, science can still not put a name to Him. They never will until they listen to His voice and not their instruments. Their instruments can only point a finger at God, they cannot hear the voice of God.

Like the music of the tree falling in the forest, the voice of God may only be heard by ears willing to hear. The tragedy of unbelief is that,  for those most in need, for those who suffer the most from the absence of spirit in their lives, the touch of spirit is blocked by the zeal of the insane mind, a mind alive and on fire with an intensity so determined to see the trees that the forest is rendered completely invisible.

I close with a poem of mine from 1999; it is a plaint, a plea from a period of my life when I still found it difficult to believe.

"Lift Thine Eyes

The new day covers its grin with a tentative hand,
Shadows and clouds for eyes;
But behind the gloom of sky,
Beneath the erratic earth,
Joy  is rushing up,
        a thousand miles an hour,
            a thousand miles away.

I know He is coming for me,
His fluttering virgin bride,
But it is difficult to bide that mountainous hour,
And I don't know whether to point my lantern up or down.
The moment coming, so long delayed,
Feels arriving never—and
The closer it comes the more impossible it seems.

I dawdle over prose for a moment, then lift mine eyes again,
Back to the drawing board, then again and again.
"Look there!" I moan, "Look—there!"
At nothing, always nothing,
And my eyes Lear over, and the blur darkens but will not extinguish itself.
I am imprisoned on a Grecian urn, in a posture of pain,
    forever young,
          forever frozen in an ecstacy of agony.

. . . notice how the mouth, fixed in an unnatural attitude,
shrieks silently, and in that silence rends the fabric of space-time like a cosmic knife, twisting in the heart of God.

One wonders,
    (stuck in the bas, from which there is no relief)
        whether suffering ends with the end of time,
And Jesus steps down off the cross, shattering the vase along with the pasty nails—
Or if it just goes on and on, and it is the last thing you feel in the end.

No! I must banish these thoughts
And scan the horizon once more,
He is coming—the ground is trembling—

Or is it the sky?"

Let us pray: Jesus, give us your patience. Let us continue to struggle with the quandaries of mind that so fatally block the light of heaven, and come to our rescue one more time, and one more time, and yet one more time. Amen.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

26 Before Abraham Was, I am--II

26 Before Abraham Was, I am--II

Today's text comes from two places in the 8th chapter of John:

John 8:25: 
"Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning."


John 8:58:
"Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am."

Last time we explored the ramifications of infinity on the spiritual plane. Today we will look at the eternal now of the material moment. This may seem to be a contradiction, mixing the words eternal and material, but let me remind you of an idea I expressed a few weeks ago about the compromise we make with  eternity while living and thinking in time and space:

"The apparent contradiction is not actually a contradiction; it's just like how, when we figure out how to say something, we're not really expressing truth as much as we are merely finding a way of articulating an expression so that our puny literal consciousness abilities can appreciate it. Likewise, an action is a, so-called, "elected invention"-- an action that is ultimately futile, but which we perform anyway, because, as Jesus says, we can see the reality even in the maya. In the Hindu philosophy all reality is maya, so all actions are maya; but Jesus says, "Yeah, it's maya, but it's also real, it's also there, and because of that we can validate it and cherish it give life to it, as yet another dimension of spiritual reality… Not a lower dimension but another dimension.

At the end of the lectures on the Bhagavad Gita Steiner expounds the singlemost important revolutionary contribution Jesus made to the philosophical evolution of Humankind: Jesus proclaimed, for the first time in human history, that the Christ Consciousness, through His Divine ceremony and sacrifice, was made available to EVERYONE. Steiner makes the distinction between the Hindu principle that physical reality is maya, illusion, and is therefore to be transcended through renunciation, and the completely new affirmation of spirit IN THE FLESH that was the primary thrust of Jesus’ entire career."
In Steiner's own words, the passage goes thus:
"In the Pauline sense, we too speak of the maya which surrounds us. We certainly say: We are surrounded by maya: but we also say: Is there not spiritual revelation in this maya, is it not all divine spiritual work? Is it not blasphemy to fail to understand that there is divine spiritual work in all things? Now arises the other question: Why is that maya there -? Why do we see maya around us? The West does not stop at the question as to whether all is maya: it inquires as to the wherefore of maya. Then follows an answer that leads us into the centre of the soul — into Purusha: Because the soul once came under the power of Lucifer it sees everything through the veil of maya and spreads the veil of maya over everything. Is it the fault of objectivity that we see maya? No. To us, as souls, objectivity would appear in all its truth, if we had not come under the power of Lucifer. It only appears to us as maya because we are not capable of seeing down into the foundations of what is spread out there."

Thus, we can see that, rather than thinking of maya as of the "illusion of reality", it may be just as effectively be thought of as the "obstruction of reality". Maya--that resonance of Adam's Curse that comes between us and the spiritual truth of material existence--it is the curse brought upon the heads of Humankind by Lucifer. But lo! the mediation of the power of the Christ defeats Lucifer's spell. Through Jesus' incarnation and sacrifice, through His blood (the blood of Abraham) shed onto the face of Mother Earth, a completely new Human epoch was ushered in, an epoch of Heaven on Earth. An epoch inviting spiritual beings to experience their personal, spiritual reality, in the exact same moment they are enslaved by the limitations of mundane reality--time and the physical dimension.
According to Hindu philosophy and Buddhist philosophy, life is a veil of tears; Buddhist monks spend their lives renouncing the illusions of maya, and attempting to escape this veil of tears by sidestepping it, and, in states of deep meditation, entering the higher worlds of spirit; leaving their bodies behind, they travel the higher planes, as free souls, detached from their earthly identities, except by a slender thread, that pulls them back into their bodes when they have to do body stuff, like eating. Detachment is the key--to not become attached to anything physical; if you have no expectations, you will never be disappointed, and the higher vibrations of spirit will dominate your life--this, even if your whole life is spent in the dream of meditation that is ultimately as illusory as the dream of maya you are renouncing.

Jesus' affirmation of the reality of Maya is what makes it possible to sense the PERSONALITY of God in the flesh. Thus it is through the living sensations of our bodies that the I Am Presence can achieve reality in the mundane plane.

The Wallace Stevens poem, Peter Quince at the Clavier  speaks of the immortality of the flesh in a very interesting and beautiful way:
"Beauty is momentary in the mind --

The fitful tracing of a portal;

But in the flesh it is immortal.

The body dies; the body's beauty lives,
So evenings die, in their green going,

A wave, interminably flowing.
So gardens die, their meek breath scenting

The cowl of Winter, done repenting.
So maidens die, to the auroral

Celebration of a maiden's choral.

Susanna's music touched the bawdy strings

Of those white elders; but, escaping,

Left only Death's ironic scrapings.

Now, in its immortality, it plays

On the clear viol of her memory,

And makes a constant sacrament of praise."

The speaker in this poem would have us perceive and believe in the body's beauty as an ideal; that "the body's beauty lives," as any archetypal entity lives, resonant with vibrations of the eternal; the immortality of beauty as a paradigm reaches across gulfs of time and unites the future with the past in an eternal praise. We have spoken many times of the moment when mundane reality becomes myth; in this poem myth becomes reality--so it goes-- spirituality goes both ways: from higher to lower and lower to higher levels of consciousness. We knew this--this is the dichotomy of maya--but it is not futile.

Jesus did away with the futility of human existence by affirming the spirituality and validity of maya; He says, "Of course the mundane dimension is an illusion, but, so what? What articulation of spirit does not fall short of the infinitude of its source? The fact that we are all tiny foci of an infinite personality does not make us insignificant, but rather makes us glorious realities in a universe in which levels of reality constantly intertwine and commingle!" That Jesus was Man and God is our inspiration not our condemnation! Jesus came into the world not to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved!"

[Sidebar: The question of reincarnation often comes up in discussions of new age belief structures. There are hints in the New Testament that reincarnation was in the collective mind at that time as per the suggestion, in Mark, that Jesus might be Elijah:

Mark 8: 27-28
27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”
28 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”

Clearly, reincarnation was not unheard of in this time and place, but Jesus, Himself, never mentions reincarnation as a spiritual option--why should HE? If "before Abraham was, I AM."? The eternal now of the I Am Presence negates not the possibility, but the NECESSITY of reincarnation. Why should Jesus offer His disciples a second or third chance to get it right, if the idea is to enter into the I AM consciousness IN THIS MOMENT, the ONE AND ONLY MOMENT? The Eastern devotee attempts to escape maya through the renunciation of the material plane; Jesus teaches us to escape maya by EMBRACING MAYA--by experiencing the I Am identity embedded in the essence of maya. He teaches us to defeat the tainted infection of Lucifer's curse by raising our spiritual attention above the consciousness level of Lucifer's spell.

Nisargadatta Maharaj says the following:

"The seeker is he who is in search of himself. Give up all questions except one: "Who am I?" After all, the only fact you are sure of is that you are. The "I am" is certain. The "I am this" is not. Struggle to find out what you are in reality. To know what you are, you must first investigate and know what you are not. Discover all that you are not - body, feelings thoughts, time, space, this or that - nothing, concrete or abstract, which you perceive can be you. The very act of perceiving shows that you are not what you perceive. The clearer you understand on the level of mind you can be described in negative terms only, the quicker will you come to the end of your search and realise that you are the limitless being."

One more quote from the Steiner Lecture V, The Bhagavad Gita and the Epistles of St. Paul ought to do it. In this quote, Steiner affirms that one's particular creed need not stand between him and the Eternal Now of the Christ Impulse--neither should it stand between him and other seeking Christians:

"We can go further and further in the Christian life and attain the utmost esoteric heights; but we must start from something different from what we start from in the Krishna-teaching. In the Krishna-teaching you start from the point you have reached as man, and raise the soul individually, as a separate being; in Christianity, before you attempt to go further along the path you must have gained a connection with the Christ-Impulse-feeling in the first place that this transcends all else. The spiritual path to Krishna can only be trodden by one who receives instructions from Krishna; the spiritual path to Christ can be trodden by anyone, for Christ brought the mystery for all men who feel drawn towards it. That, however, is something external, accomplished on the physical plane; the first step is, therefore taken on the physical plane. That is the essential thing. Truly one need not, if one looks into the world-historical importance of the Christ-Impulse, begin by belonging to this or that Christian denomination; on the contrary one can, just in our time, even start from an anti-Christian standpoint, or from one of indifference towards Christ. Yet if one goes deeply into the spiritual life of our own age, examining the contradictions and follies of materialism, perhaps one may genuinely be led to Christ, even though to begin with one may not have belonged to any particular creed."

It is the Presence of the I AM in the physical dimension that will occupy us for the remainder of this message:

As G.I. Gurdjieff  says:
"It is only by grounding our awareness in the living sensation of our bodies that the "I Am," our real presence, can awaken."

From Peter Erbe, we find this deep remark. (Notice the introduction, into the argument, of scientific terms.) With this quote, we begin to encounter definitions of the I AM Presence in the jargon of the  so-called "New Science":

    "The rise beyond judgment allows love to enter. This highest of frequencies changes our physical bodies by way of a restored DNA. Thus each individual in that position becomes a transmitter of the most powerful electromagnetic frequency, affecting everything and everyone around him.
    In summarizing this discourse on the balance of polarities, we say: God is All-There-Is, therefore God is ALL-encompassing. Whatever enters my realm of experience, must, of need, be God. How can I put different price tags on the various appearances of God? For the I AM in me is God. Thus I only judge myself by judging God. God is Pure Being, therefore innocent and so am I. Now I look 'out' into the mirror of Creation and see but myself and that is innocent, hence all of equal value. If witnessing destructive or discordant energy, I do not have to condone it, but I evaluate it as of equal worth to any other expression of Life.
    Any experience, no matter how fearful it seems, when seen as of equal validity to any other manifestation, faced and embraced as of equal right to be, shall unify and thus release this fear in to the All-There-Is."

This DNA quote is of some interest because the implication is that eternity is embedded in the structure of DNA. How this can be so is not explicitly stated, but it is of some interest to speculate, once again, on the relationship of the material to the eternal. There is something eternal.

At one point, in the movie A Beautiful Mind, the heroine asks the mathematician, Nash, how many stars there are in the sky; he replies,  "Infinite." She asks, "How to you know?"  and he says, "I just feel it."

Neville Goodard puts it like this:

"Every conceivable situation that you could ever think of exists now as a fact in God but cannot be made visible to you until you occupy it, for you are God's operant power. Everything in this world needs man as the agent to express it. Hate or love, joy or sorrow, all things require man to express it. We glorify or condemn the man, but he simply represents a state which God entered knowingly or unknowingly and remained there until the state was externalized. Everyone is free to choose the state he wishes to occupy. You imagined yourself into your present state. If you don't like it, you must imagine yourself out of it and into another. It is all a matter of movement."

The idea of infinite material is a mind-boggling one because, "How can something which has a beginning and an end be infinite?" It's a very tantalizing thought to think that the Infinite is embodied in the material. Thus, Jesus' contribution to philosophy: that that the Kingdom of Heaven is here on earth, has even more substance to it as we contemplate the infinity of matter.

In the opening of his Hymns to the Night, the German poet Novalis paints a portrait of the I Am Presence as the waters moving on the face of the deep before the world was made:

"Before all the wondrous shows
of the widespread space around him,
what living, sentient thing loves not the all-joyous light -- with its colors, its rays and undulations,
its gentle omnipresence in the form of the wakening Day?

The giant-world of the unresting constellations
inhales it as the innermost soul of life,
and floats dancing in its blue flood --
the sparkling, ever-tranquil stone,
the thoughtful, imbibing plant,
and the wild, burning multiform beast inhales it --

but more than all,
the lordly stranger
with the sense-filled eyes,
the swaying walk,
and the sweetly closed, melodious lips.

Like a king over earthly nature,
it rouses every force to countless transformations,
binds and unbinds innumerable alliances,
hangs its heavenly form around every earthly substance.
-- Its presence alone reveals the marvelous splendor of the kingdoms of the world."

This poem was written around 1800. Indeed, the infinity of Now, in its "countless transformations" is not a new subject of philosophical contemplation; as human beings we must have been able to sense Its existence for untold eons of pre-history. However, with the advent of the so-called "Modern Age", in 1600, Man became conceptually dependent on the rigorous constraints of science as the ultimate authority on matters of material reality. Man was thereby blinded, for lo these more than 400 years, to the spiritual dimension of material being; thus religion and science were put into a position of unfortunate opposition. Fortunately, one of the contemporary fields of study that that goes hand in hand with the New Age Philosophy is the New Physics. The New Physics is forging stronger and stronger links between spirituality and physical science. One of the new concepts of the new physics that pertains to the I Am Presence is the so-called unified field.

Wikipedia summarizes the term as follows:

"In physics, a unified field theory, occasionally referred to as a uniform field theory, is a type of field theory that allows all that is usually thought of as fundamental forces and elementary particles to be written in terms of a single field. There is no accepted unified field theory, and thus it remains an open line of research. The term was coined by Einstein, who attempted to unify the general theory of relativity with electromagnetism. The "theory of everything" and Grand Unified Theory are closely related to unified field theory, but differ by not requiring the basis of nature to be fields, and often by attempting to explain physical constants of nature."

John Hagelin, Ph.D. in his YouTube presentation On Consciousness (1 of 2) says the following:

"With the discovery of the unified field, the so-called superstring field, we now understand that life is fundamentally one. At the basis of all life's diversity there is unity. In our basis you and I are one, and that unity at the base of mind and matter is consciousness-universal consciousness.

So with that deep understanding, that consciousness isn't created by the brain, it's not purely an outcome of mental molecular chemical processes in the brain, but is fundamental in nature; it's the very core of nature, call it the unified field. Now that we have that foundational understanding of what consciousness is, we can solve the mind/body problem-we can see how consciousness percolates up through our physiology to become the consciousness that we experience, see, the sensory perception of all of that. So there is a foundation now to really link, rigorously, neuroscience with quantum physics... What we've discovered at the core basis of the universe, the foundation of the universe, is a single universal field of intelligence--a field which unites gravity, electromagnetism, light, with radioactivity, with the nuclear force, so that all forces of nature all the so-called particles of nature, quarks, leptons, electrons, neutrons are now understood to be one. They're all just different ripples on a single ocean of existence."

On of the interesting demonstrations of the Unified Field Theory is the presence of Ergodic Systems of Natural Structure or Fractals. I have demonstrated the concept of ergodic system before with the following illustration:

                              a     a
                           a        a
                          a    a    a
                       a                a
                        a    a   a   a  a

i.e. one big a made up of a bunch of little a's.  Thus, the smallest part is the same as the largest part.

In an ergodic system, we perceive levels on an infinite continuum; the smallest infinity is the same as the largest infinity. The smaller levels of the continuum of the I Am Presence are enfolded as fractal reflections of the ultimate level of cosmic construction--thus, each of us is a tiny corner of the I Am Presence, limited by the possibility of conscious appreciation, but unlimited in spirit.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

"A fractal is a mathematical set that has a fractal dimension (a ratio providing a statistical index of complexity comparing how detail in a pattern (strictly speaking, a fractal pattern) changes with the scale at which it is measured. Fractals are typically self-similar patterns, where self-similar means they are "the same from near as from far". Fractals may be exactly the same at every scale, or, they may be nearly the same at different scales. . . .
There is some disagreement amongst authorities about how the concept of a fractal should be formally defined. The general consensus is that theoretical fractals are infinitely self-similar, iterated, and detailed mathematical constructs having fractal dimensions, of which many examples have been formulated and studied in great depth. Fractals are not limited to geometric patterns, but can also describe processes in time. Fractal patterns with various degrees of self-similarity have been rendered or studied in images, structures and sounds and found in nature, technology, art, and law."
Even Plato was not unfamiliar with the fractal phenomenon, as, in The Republic, he describes the individual citizen as a microcosmic version of the political state, consisting, as this paradigmatic citizen does, of the same division into parts and levels, as does the society as a whole.

An ergodic system (of which the universe seems to be one) is enfolded upon itself creating what is referred to, by the physicist David Bohm, as an "implicate order".

Wikipedia says this about Bohm:

"David Joseph Bohm (20 December 1917 – 27 October 1992) was an American quantum physicist who contributed to theoretical physics, philosophy of mind, and neuropsychology. Bohm is widely considered to be one of the most significant theoretical physicists of the 20th century.

Implicate and explicate order
At Birkbeck College, much of the work of Bohm and Basil Hiley expanded on the notion of implicate, explicate and generative orders proposed by Bohm. In the view of Bohm and Hiley, "things, such as particles, objects, and indeed subjects" exist as "semi-autonomous quasi-local features" of an underlying activity. These features can be considered to be independent only up to a certain level of approximation in which certain criteria are fulfilled. In this picture, the classical limit for quantum phenomena, in terms of a condition that the action function is not much greater than Planck's constant, indicates one such criterion. They used the word holomovement for the activity in such orders."

[Sidebar: Hologram
"The technical definition is that a hologram is a "three-dimensional image reproduced from a (two-dimensional) pattern of interference produced by a split coherent beam of radiation (as a laser)."
Back to Bohm:]

"The holonomic model of the brain

In a holographic reconstruction, each region of a photographic plate contains the whole image
In collaboration with Stanford neuroscientist Karl Pribram, Bohm was involved in the early development of the holonomic model of the functioning of the brain, a model for human cognition that is drastically different from conventionally accepted ideas. Bohm worked with Pribram on the theory that the brain operates in a manner similar to a hologram, in accordance with quantum mathematical principles and the characteristics of wave patterns."

[Sidebar: Let us recall the several discussion we have had of Julian Jaynes' book The Birth of Consciousness in the Bicameral Mind. I'll be honest, I don't really know whether this idea is actually in the book, or whether I just kind of made it up from what I THOUGHT I was reading, but the idea goes like this: we have two brains, which are perceiving everything all at the same real time moment, but from slightly skewed perspectives;(remember our brains are cross-wired so that the left brain gets its input from the eyes and ears on the right side of the body, and vice versa). Thus, since the sense perceptions of the two hemispheres of the brain are separated by distance, they register slightly different things to our brains--different levels of intensities experienced from different angles. These slight differences in the two-fold perceptual experience of the bicameral mind interfere with each other creating crosstalk or, so-called, diffraction. And with diffraction comes the hologram; remember that a hologram is diffracted light light, bouncing off itself. So the these little waves of mentally generated electrons, projected by the radio transmitter of the bicameral mind, bounce off of each other, and consciousness emerges as a holographic representation of that energetic source.

Back to Bohm:]

"Thought as a System
Bohm was alarmed by what he considered an increasing imbalance of not only man and nature, but among peoples, as well as within people, themselves. Bohm mused:
"So one begins to wonder what is going to happen to the human race. Technology keeps on advancing with greater and greater power, either for good or for destruction.
He goes on to ask:
"What is the source of all this trouble? "I'm saying that the source is basically in thought. Many people would think that such a statement is crazy, because thought is the one thing we have with which to solve our problems. That's part of our tradition. Yet it looks as if the thing we use to solve our problems with is the source of our problems. It's like going to the doctor and having him make you ill. In fact, in 20% of medical cases we do apparently have that going on. But in the case of thought, it's far over 20%."
In Bohm's view:
"...the general tacit assumption in thought is that it's just telling you the way things are and that it's not doing anything - that 'you' are inside there, deciding what to do with the info. But you don't decide what to do with the info. Thought runs you. Thought, however, gives false info that you are running it, that you are the one who controls thought. Whereas actually thought is the one which controls each one of us. Thought is creating divisions out of itself and then saying that they are there naturally. This is another major feature of thought: Thought doesn't know it is doing something and then it struggles against what it is doing. It doesn't want to know that it is doing it. And thought struggles against the results, trying to avoid those unpleasant results while keeping on with that way of thinking. That is what I call "sustained incoherence".
Bohm thus proposes in his book, Thought as a System, a pervasive, systematic nature of thought:
"What I mean by "thought" is the whole thing - thought, felt, the body, the whole society sharing thoughts - it's all one process. It is essential for me not to break that up, because it's all one process; somebody else's thoughts become my thoughts, and vice versa. Therefore it would be wrong and misleading to break it up into my thoughts, your thoughts, my feelings, these feelings, those feelings... I would say that thought makes what is often called in modern language a system. A system means a set of connected things or parts. But the way people commonly use the word nowadays it means something all of whose parts are mutually interdependent - not only for their mutual action, but for their meaning and for their existence. A corporation is organized as a system - it has this department, that department, that department. They don't have any meaning separately; they only can function together. . ."
Bohm views physical processes as determined by information of more and more subtle levels which interact, and does not limit this consideration to matter alone. In an article of 1990, A new theory of the relationship of mind and matter, he resumes his view that there exists a close link to mental processes: "the whole notion of active information suggests a rudimentary mind-like behaviour of matter". In his view, mental processes as well can be understood as representing levels of activity of increasing subtlety which act upon each other. He recalls that thought is intricately connected with physical reactions, as is known from everyday experience. Yet on the mental side, action as response to information need not be immediate; rather, in some cases at least, it can be mediated by "suspension" of physical action and the resulting train of thought. Bohm suggests that the mental and the physical sides, which he sees as two "poles" of a unified whole, are closely interlinked and that "at each level, information is the bridge or link between the two sides". A relationship between the mental and matter may exist at indefinitely great levels of subtlety, while nonetheless each kind and level of mind may have a relative autonomy and stability. His article concludes with the statement that

"knowledge of matter (as well as of mind) has changed in such a way as to support the approach that has been described here. To pursue this approach further might perhaps enable us to extend our knowledge of both poles into new domains"."

From Holographic Universe: Part One 36:6

"So. . .  The " field " is a"place" outside of space and time where everything (all possibilities) already exists, but only in " wave" form. This field does not contain particles; it is not matter; it is not part of the physical universe. Instead it is what the entire universe is made from--from these waves of possibilities,

Fred Alan Wolf:" It's wave possibilities--it's a kind of thought wave-- and because it is a wave of thought possibilities, or not-matter, it's invisible to us. We can't explain what we do see is matter… Unless we picture that these particles somehow come out from or emerged from these thought wave patterns."

The fact that we are all tiny foci of an infinite personality does not make us insignificant, but rather makes us glorious realities in a universe in which levels of reality constantly intertwine and commingle! That Jesus was Man and God is our inspiration not our condemnation! Jesus came into the world not to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved!"

One of the implications of the I Am Presence resonating in the Eternal Now is this: that if we become more and more spiritually sensitive to the infinitude of the I Am Presence we should be able to get unstuck in time; I'm thinking of the Kurt Vonnegut novel Slaughterhouse Five in which the hero gets unstuck in time and passes freely from moments in his past to moments in his future, witnessing all, his birth and his death, many times. I'm sure that I spend a lot of time stuck in the past, and that's a bad thing, because I have a lot of bad stuff that cycles through my memories of the past; but I also find myself seeing into the future more and more often.

I see prophetic visions of good things that are going to happen, and I rejoice when my visions are realized, sometimes in very bizarre and unexpected terms. I feel blessed, and special, but I also feel that this ability ought to be the stock in trade of people who are spiritually attuned; the future should be just as available to us as the past, because the future is all one with the present-- especially when we pray to Jesus for guidance, advice, and direction.

Solutions to our problems are very often the answers to prayer--answers that anybody with a personal relationship with Jesus may receive. The I Am Presence should allow us, routinely, to make prophetic voyages forward into the future--voyages which  must necessarily have an effect on things that we do now. Now, don't think for a minute that I imagine I could do this by myself -- Jesus is always the mediator; but I believe Jesus is a prophet and that He can prophesy things for us which will dictate proper actions in the present.

Why does He do these things for us? Because He is connected to us, He is part of us and we are part of Him--He loves us. Were you waiting for the word "love" to finally appear in this discussion? Well, I was--a long time ago I defined love as "that which connects us"; thus, we arrive at the conclusion that the I Am Presence, the Unified Field, and Love are all the same thing. Love binds us to the Father and to each other. Before Abraham was I AM, means that we are all one--that as a fractal reflection of the Father, I Am the center of the Universe which has no center.

Deepak Chopra says:

"Know that you have a center.
Know that you belong there.
Know that the path to the center takes no effort."

Rasa says:

"Love is the absorption of all that is within the universe into the essence of I...As I am the giver of all that flows freely through me, it is to you...that love is given."

Let us pray: Jesus bestow on us your guiding illuminating love that flows out of the Oneness of all Being into the now of Heaven on Earth. Amen.