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Participation Mystique


In my mind, the purpose of religion is not to be centered in faith or belief but in participation mystique. This is a ‘knowing’ of the things of life and their inherent mysteries through the experience of the mundane as well as the spiritual. It is an immersion in the mysteries of nature and the seeking of knowledge through mystical participation. This results in a transformation of consciousness. It is a ‘doing’ not a stagnation of spirit where you believe that the mystery has been revealed to you and the ‘work done’ through Jesus Christ—the basis for the concept of faith in Christianity.

Jesus was a “teacher of a way or path, specifically a way of transformation.”[i] Common sense would then dictate that the concept of faith goes directly against Jesus’ personal belief, message and teachings. And it is very well understood that he was not only the messenger, but he was the message. This message was about the relationship of ‘self’ and ‘others.’

His teachings emphasized love, which unites—over fear, which separates. Love and forgiveness begin with ‘self’ (divine intrinsic self) and then expand out to ‘others’ (divine intrinsic selves and things). This was, and still is, the mystery of transformed consciousness—the mysteries of our ‘kingdom within;’ the mystery of ‘self’ and ‘other.’  This then was the message that Jesus brought and taught to all who had ‘ears to hear:’

Thus, according to Jesus, what was needed was an inner transformation of the self at its deepest level. “Blessed are the pure in heart,” he said, “for they shall see God.”[ii]


Since Christianity’s message is contrary to Jesus’ message, they must not have ‘seen’ or ‘heard.’ But in reality, they had the ‘ears to hear’ but instead devised a Lie—not only to acquire great power and wealth but to be above and superior to all institutions, other religions and governments. The foundation of their message is that you only have to clean the outside of the symbolic cup and dish (belief and faith in Jesus Christ for eternal salvation). The ‘inside’ may harbor guilt, vengeance, resentment and the knowing that whatever actions are committed, despicable as they may be, it doesn’t really matter, since you are a Christian and are already ‘saved.’

There is no emphasis on self-transformation. There are no ‘mysteries’ to be explored or experienced. There is no need to ‘do;’ it’s been done. Even though Jesus participated and guided his students in the mysteries of nature and the earth, Christianity emphasizes dominion over and separateness from nature and the earth. Christianity can be recognized as being ‘brown’—the exploitation of nature and the earth.

But Jesus was ‘green’ and recognized the divine in nature and the sacredness of all living things. One of the ways that he referred to himself was as a ‘son of man.’ On the surface this seems to be a straightforward identity, but it is not what it seems. In Hebrew it is ben ‘Adam or son of Adam. Originally Adam meant humanity and was linked with the word for earth—Adamah. In reality, Jesus was referring to himself as a ‘son of the earth.’ As one ‘sown from the earth,’ he understood nature as being both sacred and profane (earthly). How much greener can you get?

Albert Einstein, one of the greatest, if not the greatest mind of the 20th Century believed in seeking and experiencing the mysteries of life. He did not believe that it had been done for him, but that he needed to seek and experience the mysteries himself. Jewish by birth, he was not influenced by nor had any loyalties with Judaism or Christianity. He felt that “the important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.”[iii]


[i] Marcus J. Borg, Jesus A New Vision, p. 97

[i] Ibid, p. 110

[ii] Michael R. Burch,