A New Consciousness for a New Age
To me, one of the main points to Jesus’ life was to demonstrate that God was not located in some distant place up in the sky separate from humans. Rather, Jesus made known the reality that the divine is located within the individual.
The Woman At the Well
Jesus' interaction with the woman at the well is one of the most revealing and intimate conversations he had with someone outside his discipleship group. Mainly because of how Jesus offers her a peek at the heart of the revelation that informed his spirituality. He removed the veiled parables or analogies from his speech that would require deep contemplation just to understand. Moreover, once she perceived him to be more than an average man (a prophet) she turned the conversation toward theology, “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship” (Jn. 5:20).
What Jesus says next is profoundly revolutionary and not a mere side note to his life purpose. It is the epicenter of the heart of the Christ revelation stating, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father…But the hour is coming, and now is when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth" (Jn. 5: 21, 23a). In other words, the presence of the divine will not be located apart from you on a separate sacred location; rather, YOU are now the sacred location. Worship in spirit and truth will be from within the depths of your Being. When the Presence is made known within the individual, something remarkable emerges, the entire world becomes a temple; there is no place that isn’t sacred. From the boardroom to the bedroom it is a holy place because you are there.
I love the imagery of the well in this story because the well is deep and filled with life-sustaining water, which is metaphorical for the spiritual. Everyone can go deep within oneself to locate that spiritual water that is so existentially satisfying that one never longs for something outside themself to be filled.
Practically speaking, this is why so many of us are deeply unhappy and unsatisfied because, just like the woman at the well, we are looking for things outside of our self, externally, in our environment to meet a deep emotional and psychological need. It’s like an itch that can’t be scratched. We sabotage our relationships by placing the expectation and demand for people to be something to us that they cannot be (hint, God won't allow it). For example, the woman at the well went through four husbands and a shack up partner looking for the answer to her unhappiness. We even turn toward religion, thinking that surely our devotion to the church and religious activity will do the trick only to find that drastically unsatisfying. Connecting to Source is the only dimension that we are free from the suffering of wanting and longing.
The Christ Mystery
The Apostle Paul continued this revelation after the life of Jesus, stating that we are temples of the divine. All the people groups Paul ministered to would have been familiar with temple worship, whether it was Artemis/Diana of the Ephesians, the Roman pantheon of gods, or his people who had a highly structured and well-defined worship system in Jerusalem. Everyone in those ancient days understood that their particular gods or goddesses dwelt within a most sacred room in a temple. The Jewish people had within their tradition the belief that the interior room of the tabernacle of Moses and later Solomon's temple was the holy of holies, the place where heaven and earth met on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant. This external temple worship structure deeply embedded within the consciousness of the Jewish people. So imagine their shock when Jesus and later Paul began to use that imagery of the external temple as a metaphor for the spiritual reality within the human. The writer of Hebrews claimed the outer temple in Jerusalem is merely a shadow of the substance. The profound revelation is the substance of the spiritual dimension within the human. Paul’s revelation was so weighty and bold that he went as far as to say that the Christ that embodied the man, Jesus is also within humanity. Maybe this is just old news to us, but in Paul's day, it was something that would get you stoned and left for dead. Paul used the term "In Christ" more than 20 times in scripture, either referring to our current position or where The Christ abides within humanity. You are in Christ and Christ is in you. (Future blogs to come about the Christ reality)
The True Self Is One With Source
Think about that, the Universal Source of all of life is located within every human being. This Universal Source is the Christ that embodied the man, Jesus. As the great German theologian Paul Tillich called it "the Ground of Being."
The challenge is learning how to live from our true self, which only knows Christ or the Universal Source. One of the spiritual practices I find helpful is what Psalms 46:10 exhorts "Be still and know that I am God." God in you made known in the stillness. As the great 13th century Christian mystic, Meister Eckhart, once said, “Stillness is God’s first language.” As one anonymous Christian mystic of the late 19th century wrote, "Only as we turn from the without [external] to the silence of the within [the interior], can we hope to make conscious union with God." In other words, Union with God is our unchangeable environment; however, the experience of that reality is by choice.
We call the connecting point the secret place because it is a hidden mystery within the person that goes beyond your thoughts and emotion to pure consciousness in Union with the Great Consciousness that we all share.
Learning to Detect Beingness Within
When a person practices stillness, he or she begins to detect one’s sense of Beingness, the sense perception of what it feels like to be you. Within every person, Presence exists just beyond the illusion of "I" apart from stories we have concocted about our self. It is best detected when we are able to get past the mind. I know that sounds like an impossibility but people experience it all the time once they realize that their true self is not their thoughts or their feelings. The origin and substance of our Being emerge from "the Ground of Being," or Source, or God. I would go a step further; the Beingness you detect within yourself is of the same substance as the Source and has always existed from eternity. Indeed it is the mystery of Union that Jesus often spoke of, "The Father and I are One.” Moreover, when Jesus confronted the religious leaders of his time who were struggling with this revelation he stated, "Is it not written in your scriptures, 'ye are gods?'" implying that there is something genuinely divine within the spirit of humans (Jn. 10:34).
The point Jesus was making was not a small matter because it was this revelation of Union that got Jesus killed. His teachings were so threatening to the institutions of his day that it provoked his people to crucify him.
From the Christian tradition, there is a paradox here: the religious and political institutions felt threatened enough they had to kill Jesus to protect the systems. However, it was their act of murder and Jesus' resurrection that made it possible for all to experience the same Oneness that Jesus experienced when he walked the earth. The very thing the principalities and powers (religious and political institutions) were attempting to end actually opened it up for all. Amazing huh?
Therefore, one of the primary purposes of Jesus ‘ assignment on earth was to help humanity shift away from separation consciousness where guilt, fear, and shame flourishes to Unity consciousness where only love is known. This significant shift allowed humanity to begin to transition into the new age of Oneness and the spiritual reality that God is not somewhere up there distant and apart; rather, His geography is immanent, closer than my next heartbeat.