Ways of Christ

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Main text part 1, The Gospels,
chapter :

Crucifixion and burial.

Jesus on the cross

Today's views of the crucifixion and death of Jesus - e.g. John 19, 12-37 - vary even more than those of other stations in his career, firstly because of the significance attributed to it by churches and secondly because of the interpreters wanting to classify everything according to their respective ideology.

Although Gnostic(ist)** beliefs on the fringe of early Christianity were indeed willing to deal with Christ, because of their ancient Greek background they were not able to believe that such a great enlightened being could have been born of a woman and then died. Therefore they thought he must have made himself visible through an "apparent body" like an angel or as the spirits of some eastern spiritual masters did for a short time, if we are to believe their disciples. This apparent body would not have been mortal, but simply dissolved again. In their teachings the physical world and matter were judged to be eternally evil and for that reason nothing could be further from their thoughts than to assume that he went through the usual stages of earthly life or penetrated these stages with his light. **)The term "Gnostic(ist)" is used here differently to the "Apostolic Gnosis", which was even validated by the sect critic F. W. Haack . However, there were many common points in such teachings; for example the Gnostic "Gospel of the truth" acknowledged, that Jesus was nailed to the cross.

People of the first centuries with more material or negative attitudes also spread legends, e.g. that Jesus was an illegitimate son of a roman soldier, which would have been extremely bad, judging by the moral ideas of the times. There are also speculations that Jesus never died and that he was nursed back to health. Some people still try, for example, to relate the grave of an old man in Kashmir with the name Jesus to the biblical Jesus. Also another, "not yet discovered European sepulchre of Jesus" emerges in modern literature. Here we should note that "Jesus" (or also Yehoshua, Jeschua, Jesat) was not a unique name. For instance, in apocryphal books, (writings not included in the biblical "canon") some other Jesuses appear, e.g. Jesus Sirach, Jesus ben Pandira; apart from the fact that even the actual Jesus seemed to be interpreted by R. Steiner as two different boys named Jesus, who were connected with each other (see the chapter about this.)

Partially connected with such theses, contradictory investigation results concerning the "shroud of Jesus" at Turin appeared. Once the cloth was supposed to have contained pollen from the time and country of Jesus; others say it originated "in the Middle Ages". Some say that only sudden high-energy radiation and sudden dissolving of the body would have been able to cause the print; others say trails of blood indicate that Jesus was still alive as he was taken down from the Cross. An assessment of the latest state of investigation again suggests that the cloth is genuine and that the image was caused in an unusual way. This may help people (see the earlier remarks on the path of the disciple Thomas in the chapter "The miracles"), to reach an understanding of what happened to Christ. According to the mystic Lorber, (only) the "body skirt of Trier" is said to be falsified; with the obvious intention of encouraging people to search for the belief inwardly and not to be dependent on discoveries and theories about relics.

Such investigations, however, can prompt us to make our own meditative investigations. This suggests that here is something, which does not fit into any known scheme of life and death. (See also Groenbold "Jesus in Indien - das Ende einer Legende" - German and the photocopied writing of Margarete Eckel, Austria, "Am Kreuz gestorben".)

As already stated, reports of the mystics are often helpful in finding out something about the nature of former events and their significance for the current development of people. The more experience one has, the more one understands. The perceptions of Christian mystics and stigmatists - bearers of the stigmas of Christ - are similar, although they did not have contact to each other. In such reports there are also similar additional details about the experience of Jesus not given in the bible, from Francis of Assisi to Padre (Father) Pio and Therese of Konnersreuth. They all agree that the crucifixion and death of Christ is really and deeply imprinted into this world and that an unexpected or also conscious connection with this event causes them to experience inconceivable suffering, but also an inconceivable power that does not pull down, but "pulls up" everything. The existential nature of the crucifixion, concerning the whole being totally, is certainly closer to the life of such extraordinary persons than to those with a purely intellectual approach. On the topic of life and death it is a question of more than just single levels of being which are mutually involved, including the "causal" level of producing principles and fate. Even people with less mystical connection with God can use the events meditatively as a bridge to reality, as imperfect as that may be. Jesus told the criminal crucified with him, he would soon be with him "in paradise". This suggests that a rapid comprehension of his way is also possible.

The conscious penetration of the deepest processes of human existence, those related to depression, suffering and degeneration, can show itself as a real current possibility - to a greater or lesser degree. Although this possibility is not bound by the season or the geographic places where the ancient events took place, Easter seems to make it easier to experience. It is as if a new "octave" has been imprinted on the old traditional and seasonal rhythm of decay and renewal.

The case of Lazarus already shows that Jesus no longer supports the old agreement, that physical matter offers insurmountable barriers to the spirit. Nothing except God is eternally valid from his point of view, no matter how slow moving or negative; everything is finally transformable.

The lower or the more unconscious the subject is, the more difficult it is to influence.

During the crucifixion and at the events immediately before, apart from the power to overcome suffering, a universal consciousness is also indicated; for example in the words at the cross, that culminate in the sentence "It is accomplished!" The universally helping "sacrificing love", which can be felt there is also not expressed sufficiently by that old, almost juridical formula of the "ransoming of mankind by the sacrifice of Jesus". This is an approach to help the intellect understanding the significance. However, initially the Christians may have suited this style to the mind of ancient Jews and other ancient peoples, who thought, that sacrificing animals etc. would put God in a favo(u)rable mood. (See below too.)

In the same way those other theologies, which for example laid the emphasis on Jesus' keeping his basic principles up to death, don't give a sufficient explanation either - neither for their material concomitants like bearing the stigma of Christ and not eating. See e.g. Thurston "The physical concomitants of mysticism" (title retranslated; it should exist in English), and Höcht "Von Franziskus zu Pater Pio and Therese Neumann" (German) and the following chapter.

Rupert Sheldrake, a biologist known for his integrated approach, e.g. in new spiritual movements, developed the theory of a "morphogenetic field". When monkeys developed a new skill on an island, monkeys of the same kind were able to develop the same skill on other remote islands soon afterwards, without any physical contact. Beyond randomness, an influence by a field of force had to be there, connecting animals of the same species with each other. Rupert Sheldrake, once asked whether he could imagine that, for example, the development of Jesus up to the crucifixion and resurrection might have radiated a similar field of force onto the whole mankind, he said after thinking about it with astonishment: "Yes; however not the morphogenetic field, but a spiritual field of force would have to be assumed for that."

Even this is not a "proof of the existence of God", but some new scientific lines already supply better possible approaches to this hardly understandable context than the theologies that either observe the old teachings dogmatically, or explain away things that are hard to understand.

The crucifixion was also reminiscent of , - although it had no identity with - old initiation rites. The cross or the tree from which the person was hanged can also be found in the north, e.g. in the myths of Odin, who hanged nine days on the tree and had higher experiences during that time. The motif of the grave as an initiation place was widespread in the megalithic age, in the Celtic age too and was particularly distinct in the pyramid culture of Egypt. The pyramids, if in fact they actually were burial places - which has not proved because a mere inscription says little - they were used anyway in a cultic way, just like Celtic grave mounds. Since in the meantime it would require ignoring many factsin order to deny that, we don't need to go further into that at this point. R. Steiner notes that both spiritual paths, the cross (or tree) and the grave flow together anew in the path of Christ.

Today, inwardly re-experiencing the crucifixion or the "midnight of the soul", the "mystical death", the transition through a "desertedness", without anything a person could cling to - something that all known Christian mystics have felt in one way or another - - also has a certain similarity to the peak experience of Yoga, Nirvikalpa Samadhi or the experience of the emptiness of "Nirvana". However, Christian mysticism supplied the experience that in or behind this emptiness "something" exists, i.e. Christ or God. Aurobindo showed that it is possible to exceed "Nirvana" into what is behind - also in an Indian way. On the Christian path, however, something of the abundance of God behind everything may remain from the first moment onwards because Christ, having passed through the earth built a bridge.

When somebody like Aurobindo is confronted with powers seeming to have connections to the development of Christ, but this background is not there, it gives the impression of a difficult balancing act. It is not impossible by any means, however; some may remember the case of the Hindu boy Sadhu Sundar Singh, who did not know anything about Christianity, but who, after intensively asking inwardly for God, suddenly had an experience of the living Christ, later written down in books. Also during Hindu Tantric practices people, who would have expected to see Indian Gods, suddenly had a vision of Christ. "The spirit moves wherever it wants".

It may hardly be relevant for a theology bound to Christianity as a religious community, but all the more interesting for other cultural areas: the hint of R. Steiner of seeing Christ as a sun-like being known to some higher sages before his coming down to earth. See the chapter "In the beginning was the word…" in this text and the extra - page "The Old Testament and pre-Christian Religions".
During one station of his coming down to earth, according to other sources too, arose e.g. the experience of "Yehovah"/YHWH. This experience probably became obscured later, as elsewhere too,which does not mean that each old testament event can be evaluated from viewpoints of our contemporary society. God knows better than we do what he does and why.

Later, 2000 years ago we see the physical incarnation of Christ on earth, as a yardstick, at a turning point of the world’s evolution, taking this and mankind on himself, including them again in his life. The old cults were partially degenerated, just as Christianity later also became superficial, although an investigation in this direction would also be interesting. Christ would show himself to be something which does not match the role sometimes intended for him as a power guarantor of a special religious community - a being that just represents renewed humanity, the "new Adam" of Golgotha.

In the context of the crucifixion, theology speaks about forgiveness of sins (cf. John 1:29). What can really be had however, is, that this "redemption" as an "embryonic" possibility needs the conscious decision and emulation of Christ ("imitation of Christ"), in order to become really expressed in one's life.This is real work. One can really experience that life becomes more of an organic whole if one has the attitude of being guided through life by God as conveyed by Christ. If one instead has an attitude of mechanically effective laws of destiny or of the balance of "Karma", then life will indeed happen according to these principles. Christ also speaks of repayment "down to the last penny", but he does not say that this has still to be in terms of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth". The new task of the person is in the foreground - whatever is fruitful for him and his environment will be chosen from his abilities and done. Coping with the past is no longer an end in itself and it is no longer a motive for development. Help "from above" in the interaction of people’s various possibilities can be observed today.

Studying R. Steiner here may give the impression that Christ is only dealing with the fate of mankind and that each individual has to work out his own fate himself. But many Christians have experienced that Christ also helps peopleindividually while they are working on their own fate. He can lead to its transformation with regard for the rest of mankind too, instead of to the complete realisation of everything inherent. The power of forgiving between people is also a real experience that is one of the specific Christian characteristics. The eternal vicious circle, for example, of violence and counter-violence is "lifted off its hinges" by that. This is not only a teaching for the release from earthly entanglements or for the non-identification with them - in this respect there are some similarities to the teachings of Buddha. A deeper meditation on that makes it clear that it is also a real power that allows the entanglements to dissolve from within and in spite of that not to withdraw, although it would now be possible, but to have the strength to remain in the widest sense "in the world" at the same time - as a "worker in the vineyard".

Even on this ambitious level the individual obviously does not "liquefy" like a drop in the ocean. It is not enough to describe that one leaves behind thousands of suddenly dissolved particles of previous parts of the person, including psychical and mental ones. That would be like a description of the consequences of the "crucifixion" in the theosophical field and what is similarly described by Castaneda from the shamanistic field without the term "crucifixion", which are real experiences too.
A cell within the whole that maintains its responsibility for everything connected with it is still a better description of a human being that "took up his cross" and whose previous efforts now become involved in mastering the existential core of life.

In spite of all the attempts to exhaust the event and the symbolism of the crucifixion for spiritual purposes in the present time, we should not overlook the fact that several things are combined here:

- that Jesus had to pass through all the stages of human existence, from birth to death, changing everything with a new attitude;

- that the crucifixion, which - independent of other old meanings of the cross - is also simply recognisable as a former secular kind of penalty and which was also caused in this case unambiguously by fraudulent, illegal and materialistic methods of his opponents. It was as it was and it could not have happened any differently and so no cross fetishism can be based on that. It was a last, rearing reaction of the frozen, unconscious powers of that time, which turned negative. In turn it was a caricature of the really transforming consciousness of Jesus. The beneficial effect of the events did not depend on this violent action against Jesus, and is connected with the resurrection too. It's the work of God.

- The cross as a symbol includes the former context, even when it later became a general symbol for the most sacrificing love, in which sense it can still be used reasonably today - as contrary to indifference, hate and so forth.

- A more neutral picture for the inner processes going on in Jesus beyond the context conditioned by that time, would be his last words on the cross: "Into Your Hands I give my spirit"; as well as the grave, that does not represent a completely separate "step", unlike older esoteric depictions, but is connected to the crucifixion. The sense of the death of Jesus is not in death itself, but in overcoming the "death programs" within human beings.

This writing deals so fully with the "last events in the life of Jesus", because they have not been as mentally imbued than the more easy-to-understand events prior to them. For this reason, the more confusing theories arose about that, - which need more efforts to disentangle them. This can help to proceed to a more direct experience. This should not be misunderstood, as if the death by crucifixion would have been the most important event in Jesus’ life, as certain theological schools have defined it. 

Similar to the first disciples of Jesus after the Crucifixion and Resurrection, traditional theologians realised that several Old Testament texts, right down to the fine details, could be read as allusions to the later Passion of Jesus and its saving turnabout (Luke 24:27; Psalms 22; Psalms 40:7ff.; Psalms 69:22; Isaiah 52:13-14 and 53; Zechariah 12:10 and 13:1; Wisdom 2:10-20, etc.) Again in the traditional writings on Jesus’ years of ministry, there were several allusions to the later Crucifixion and Resurrection – which are partly somewhat difficult to recognise and particularly for that reason cannot be explained away as late additions. Moreover, the pre-Christian Greek philosopher Plato sensed that his ideal image of a completely just person in this world would end in a crucifixion (in Politeia II). It is noticeable that these occurrences must have also made quite a deep impression on the Romans (e.g. Mark 15:38). Despite the perceptibly major significance of this sacrifice in the greater biblical scheme of things, some critical theologians were not particularly impressed by it. Right from the early days of Christianity, various groups took the very steps that people of their groups had experienced, or those which they were able to comprehend, which led to varying religious focuses.

Help: a self-examination for the work with the main text

Do I want to ask* God to help me seek to overcome the old concepts of aging, illness and death?


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