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Self and Other

The key to a peaceful and fulfilled life, one that will result in happiness, love and power, is to be found in the relationship of ‘self to self’ and ‘self to others’—others including the world at large; animals, etc. This was the true message of Jesus—a new ‘way,’ a new ‘path.’ It was a radical new view of consciousness—the relationship of self to other. In an act of egotistical power, Jesus’ ground-breaking message was corrupted by the church into one that was solely about the relationship of ‘others’ to Jesus. And of course ‘others’ (only human beings) are only the Christian faithful. Muslins, Jews and Buddhists are not included in this category of ‘others’—nor is nature.

 

Talk about a separation paradigm… any other design in today’s world would be hard pressed to cause more separation than this core belief of Christianity. This is the dogma of Christianity, which has caused and still causes, undue suffering throughout the world.

 

It is easy to follow some type of dogmatic paradigm that requires no transformation of self—no ultimate self-responsibility. But on the other hand, if I teach to others my belief that each one of us is divine, as well as all other things in creation, and then go on to state that each thing has an unique intrinsic identity, how easy would it be, or how hard would it be to follow this and to also live this message? It puts the responsibility and the conducting of our lives on our own self—the responsibility is ours—no one else for us to look to or to blame for our Life. This message is totally about ‘self’ and ‘other.’

 

And this is what Jesus taught. His teachings as well emphasized love, which unites, over fear, which separates. Love and forgiveness begins with ‘self’ and then expands out to ‘others.’ 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 that had ‘ears to hear:’

 

…. As a sentiment ‘love one another’ may appear to be an important ingredient of the message, but as each of us knows only too well, love, like hate, cannot be conjured out of thin air – it has to spring up inside of us due to a profound connection between ‘self’ and ‘other’ [my italics]. We seldom hate for the same reason that we seldom love – lack of a profound connection.

 

I think Jesus understood the dynamics of ‘connectedness’, the meaning of love, and hate, but that what he had to tell us has been changed into an exercise in self-propaganda, a narcissism which we have each taken up in our own way.[i]

 

Because of his own personality and this revolutionary message of ‘self and other,’ Jesus upset a lot of people: “Almost everything Jesus says and does challenges what people, the poor and the wealthy, Gentile and Jew, believe to be valuable and important.”[ii] Duncan Holcomb in his book, The Gospel according To Us, talks about the Law of Moses:

 

…. Neither can you change other people. They are free; as the disciples discovered; you can’t determine who they’ll be or what they’ll do. You can’t make someone reconcile with you, says Jesus. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try anyway. You have to forgive your neighbor even if he doesn’t accept your forgiveness, even if you think he’ll probably wrong you again. In an undetermined universe you can never know what consequences your actions will bring. So you need to act based on considerations other than those of consequence.

 

Jesus apparently believes that law encourages people to care about nothing but consequence and outward results. The effect of this is the spiritual atrophy he sees everywhere. So he harshly condemns, even vilifies the law’s protectors and interpreters; the Sadducees and Pharisees and priests and lawyers are often portrayed by him as evil people…. There are no legal scholars more finely trained than the Pharisees. But Jesus calls them “blind guides,” “hypocrites,” and “children of hell.” 

 

…. Law allows people to concern themselves with outward behavior, with events evident to the senses, with all apparent consequence. In this way they can ignore the unseen impulse for their behavior, the measure of what they really are. This is the basis for all of Jesus’ accusations of the Pharisees: “You clean the outside of cup and dish, while the inside is full of what you have gotten by violence and selfishness.” By contrast Jesus emphasizes the inner impulse for behavior. “Clean the inside of cup and dish first,” he says, and provides specific examples of what he means. There’s no point in giving gifts at the altar as expiation if you’re not inwardly at peace with your neighbor…. Blake:

 

A truth that’s told with bad intent

Beats all the lies you can invent.

 

The Pharisees’ “bad intent” is to take advantage of the external nature of the law, to bend it toward their selfish purposes. They believe that outward observance of the law will justify them before God. They already know it justifies them before others. The Pharisees are good, decent, law-abiding citizens whose behavior convinces others of their worthiness, thereby affording them social power and prestige….[iii]

 

How ironic—same thing, different time—in 2000 years nothing has really changed. One of the evils of our present world is, as it was before, still based in Rome. The ‘Law’ of yesteryear has changed into the ‘Lie’ of today—the ‘Lie’ of Christianity. Christianity stands and promotes the very same thing that Jesus taught and ‘preached’ not to do—focus on the outer self while the inward self lies barren in fear, corruptible and in a despicable condition concerned only with money, external status, power and material goals.

 

The ‘Lie’ allows you to focus on outward behaviors only; not inward ones and surely it doesn’t encourage you to focus on self-transformation. In fact, it makes ‘evil’ out of any practice that would lead to ‘awakening.’ i.e. indigenous practices of inner journeying. But isn’t it true that Jesus practiced and conducted bathings, carried out exorcisms and performed shamanic healings? Why then would the church discourage and consider such things ‘evil?’ Two words: power and control!

 

Christianity’s 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) while 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. 

 

Returning to Duncan’s book, he goes on to refer to the relationship of ‘self to other’ as the Love Commandments; much different from the ‘Law:’

 

…. A law has to be enabling rather than disabling. It should open up possibilities instead of limit them, tell us what we can do rather than what we can’t. This is exactly what Jesus does again and again, most notably in his “sermon on the mount.” The law Moses delivered from his mountain consisted mostly of “thou shalt nots.” With the Love Commandant Jesus takes the negatives of the old law and replaces them with the potential and possibility he sees in all life…. He says human beings are free to eat what they want, to speak and live with whom they choose. They are masters of the Sabbath. They can forgive sins. They are free to love whenever, however, whomever they can….

 

He tells people to act in accordance with the central human dynamic composed of Self and Other, I and Thou. Treat others based on how you want to be treated. Love others as much as you love yourself.

 

This may sound fair and reasonable to us; we’ve heard it so many times now that it barely registers. But it implies a great many new things…. For example, under the Love Commandant, the ways we decide to act may be different. My expression of love may not be yours, just as I may not want to be “done unto” the same way you want to be “done unto.” ….

 

This is exactly what much of the Christian church has breathlessly opposed for ages. Each individual deciding for herself or himself how to live? We can’t allow that. People will begin to do anything. Everything will be possible. But this is exactly Jesus’ promise! “Nothing will be impossible for you,” he tells his followers.[iv]  

 

While I was on the internet searching through Google, I came across this brief explanation of the Christian Research Institute: “The Bible goes on to teach us that we must repent of our sins. ... eternal life are not based on what you can do but on what Jesus Christ has done for you.” The website went on to say this:

 

The Bible goes on to teach us that we must repent of our sins. Repentance is an old English word that describes a willingness to turn from our sins towards Jesus Christ. It literally means a complete U-turn on the road of life – a change of heart and a change of mind. It means that you are willing to follow Jesus and to receive him as your Savior and Lord. Jesus said, "repent and believe the Good News" (Mark 1:15), and, indeed, that's what we're talking about. We're talking about the best news ever shared in the history of humanity, the news that you can have a relationship with the very one who knit you together in your mother's womb.

 

If you want to demonstrate true belief it means to be willing to receive. To truly receive is to trust in and depend on Jesus Christ alone to be the Lord of our lives here and now and our Savior for all eternity. It takes more than knowledge (the devil knows about Jesus and trembles). It takes more than agreement that the knowledge we have is accurate (the devil agrees that Jesus is Lord). What it takes is to trust in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life. It takes knowledge, agreement and personal trust, placing your trust in Jesus Christ alone. The requirements for eternal life are not based on what you can do but on what Jesus Christ has done for you. It's not d-o, it's d-o-n-e, it's done through the person and work of Jesus Christ. He stands ready to exchange his perfection for your imperfection.[v]

 

How absurd is this nonsense; the idea of a Satan (the devil) in Jesus’ mind would have been ridiculous. He saw no cosmic battle between God and the Devil or a dual between good and evil; he only saw the evil deeds that people were capable of doing to others. As well as the lack of regard people had for the poor and the outcast. Jesus walked his talk as an example to his students—both male and female. He made mistakes and got angry—his human side. He talked his truth, forgave and healed—his divine side. He lived the importance of self and other. He felt more comfortable in the presence of the ‘outcasts’ as they were more authentic whereas the rich and the temple elite were greedy and false-faced. He did life and asked others to do as well.

 

Jesus was a messenger but most importantly, he was the message. He lived his message; he walked his talk and taught to all who would listen that what he could do, they could do, and even better:

 

…. the power of infinity is now readily available to every human being, so that his followers will perform even greater feats than he has! People can now forgive sins. They can heal. They are masters of the Sabbath, and “greater than the Temple.” The Pharisees want to stone him for saying such things. Jesus confronts them with – what else? – the text! “Is it not written in your Law: “I said, ‘You are gods’”? And scripture cannot be broken.”[vi]

 

His revolutionary message of self went far beyond our present day state of self-help gurus and books. Many of these so-called experts deal with ones economic condition or prosperity but few if any promote indifference to money and outward status:

 

But what would happen if someone refused to define himself by his economic status? What if someone came along and insisted that there’s nothing ultimately valuable in material progress? What if someone were to treat the getting and spending of money, neither with contempt, nor with respect, but with indifference? That would make him the world’s first real revolutionary. Marx says man consists of the material he makes and is made by. What’s revolutionary about that? People have always assumed such a thing without even thinking about it. That was our philosophy before there was philosophy. Jesus is the revolutionary. Karl Marx is one of the most conventional thinkers who ever lived.

 

The gospel is a rebuke of both liberal and conservative political theory, an offense to free-market and state-based economic systems, an indictment of the rapacity of the rich and the covetousness of the poor, all because it preaches a kind of wealth that we can’t count or control or even very well understand. Wealth of the spirit is for Jesus the only treasure worth having, and he speaks rapturously of its abundance – “good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over” – waiting for all who would accept it.[vii]

 



[i] Douglas Lockhart, Jesus The Heretic, p. 12

 

[ii] Duncan Holcomb, The Gospel According To Us, p. 20

 

[iii] Ibid, pp. 109 – 111

 

[iv] Ibid, pp. 116 – 117

 

[v] http://www.equip.org/hanksays/whatmustido.asp

 

[vi] Duncan Holcomb, The Gospel According To Us, p. 78

 

[vii] Ibid, p. 92