Mystery School member Faith writes:
One author that I have read and gained a lot of insight from is the late Alvin Boyd Kuhn. I imagine that you have read some of his works, too. What he revealed about the Christ being “the fire of Divine Intelligence” distributed among all of humanity, I believe is true. He explained that all of the myths of antiquity are depictions of the descent (incarnation), evolution in matter (Mother), and ascent (resurrection) of the Christ (the Sun of God) in us, as us. This being the meaning of the Gospel stories, I wonder whether or not Jesus and the Apostles were actually historical people. I understand that “the living Jesus” of the Gospel of Thomas was the Cosmic Christ, not a particular human being.
Hi Faith! Good thought-provoking questions. You have hit upon the historicity of Jesus argument long debated by theologians and historians since the writing of the New Testament. In the past 200 years the Myth vs. Historical Jesus debate has raged with new fervor. It’s fascinating.
I abscribe to the JRR Tolkein (Lord of the Rings author) and CS Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia) viewpoint. CS Lewis was struggling with the Jesus myth thinking it was all symbolic, archetypal, etc. and therefore he couldn’t believe it was “real”. His best friend Tolkein told him something very profound. Yes, said he, Jesus is a myth and the fulfilment of myth. An archetype bearer. But Jesus’ story is a myth that also happens to be true…historical. In other words, BOTH are true! This is why the debaters can’t solve this issue, because they are both right.
It’s like an onion. Each layer is “real” separately but they are part of a whole truth. The whole onion. Dream interpretation can be that way, too. Dreaming your brakes went out and you can’t stop your car can mean you should literally check your brakes — this could be your intuition warning you of a physical danger. AND it can mean that you are a bit out of control in your waking life and need to figurately “put the brakes on” regarding some issue or situation in life. We would ask the dreamer, how are you going too fast, how do you need to slow down and get control, get safe? So both interpretations can be true simultaneously. Like God can be real in the spiritual realm as well as the physical realm if She chooses. It’s cool! Goddess came as Mother Mary — Mary was an archetype-bearer of Sophia or God-the-Mother. And Magdalene and Yeshua also bore archetypes. They “actualized” the male and female wise-teacher god/goddess Krishna, Buddha archetypes or entities.
>The ancient Gnostics deplored those who believed the gospels as literal history.
I have always read that there were 200 or more Gnostic sects and they were about 50-50 on the historicity argument. In other words, some Gnostics believed and taught he had come in the flesh — perhaps they had great grandmothers who had been healed by him or heard one of his famous sermons, etc. The Mandeans are a Gnostic sect still alive today in Iraq and they believe firmly in the historicity of Jesus. They think he stole the messiah-ship from John the Baptist, but they believe they were all historical characters! I have studied Valentinian and Sophian Gnosticism and enjoy it very much. Valentinus certainly believed Jesus was historical. But the Sophians seem to have clergy who believe one way or the other depending on personal preference. They need to merge the opposites — do the Zen on it(!) and realize that BOTH are true. Yes he was a Sun-god myth and Dying-resurrecting God and yes Christianity is/was a cool solar “cult”. But. He also got himself a body and walked around this earth awhile, just like Buddha and Aristotle did. Wisemen who lived centuries before Jesus — and made their mark on earth even bigger a mark than Jesus some could argue! — yet they are never thought to be un-historical, or myth-only.
>These ideas have me feeling uncertain concerning the ideas concerning Jesus and Mary Magdalene implied in the lessons and suggested readings at the Esoteric Mystery School.
You are not the first member who has brought up this discussion with me. Our Catechumen Lessons, most of them, are quite old. We’ve been using them for years with a bit of overhaul here and there, but I am wondering if I need to address the myth vs. historical debate — that BOTH are “true” — right from the start. What do you think? Where specifically do you think in the Catechumen lessons maybe we are emphasizing too much of the historical Jesus and not reminding folks of his mythical cosmical (is that a word?!) function/fulfillment? I mean, what was it — besides the fact we recommend members read Holy Blood Holy Grail (HBHG) — that got you feeling uncertain, as you put it?
>As symbols of elements of our Being they inspire us to lovely virtues and ideals, and faith in our inner powers. But if the stories are regarded as historical, I can easily see how the ideas in the book, Holy Blood, Holy Grail, developed among literalist people over the centuries. A bloodline of Jesus misses the whole point of Gnostic teachings, which is the Inner Christ nature which is being brought to birth within us as children of the Father-Mother.
Oh so true about HBHG making people go LOOPY when they think of the literalism of it. Margaret Starbird herself says the bloodline thing is a huge distraction, a big red herring that makes people miss the point just as you say. She says believing/realizing Jesus was a lover and a co-parent in the physical realm is enough. We don’t also have to believe his descendants are alive today. Too much ego gets in there — and too much insanity. I get emails ALL the time from people thinking they are one of them.
If only that bloodline hype hadn’t mired us in the physical so much after some decades of being “only” in the spiritual / mythical realm. Hah. Margaret told me once that the bloodline nonsense really muddies the waters and I believe it can be a stumbling block big-time. So you are definitely on to something, yet I still “confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh,” as the test of spirits tests for….
Funny and lucky how we can believe in both. It’s so very Zen…
I think much of this Jesus-was-just-a-cool-myth is an understandable backlash against obnoxious churchianity insisting one BELIEVE in Jesus, “ACCEPT” him, believe, believe, BELIEVE in him! Ugh. Many free-thinking people are put off by this extreme mind manipulation. Believe like me or you will DIE. Uh, no thanks we say. Knowing instinctively that their lopsided Jesus never did exist, we then kinda throw the baby out with the bathwater and say well, I guess he never was an historical person at all! These goof-ball fanatics have sure scared me away from being down-to-earth about this.
There are so many cool Zen masters that everyone knows by name. And dozens of inspiring wandering rabbis, teachers, mystical rabbis. There are Buddhist sages and Hindu sages galore who lived at the time of Jesus and before that nobody doubts whether they existed or not. It’s because those sages aren’t being singled out and shoved down our throats, aren’t being used as a weapon. Even King Arthur is said to have existed although they know there were several characters whose stories may have been compiled to make his myth. The King Arthur myth is mythology, but he still probably was based on a real live man. Some say even Osiris was perhaps a real Pharoah way back in Egypt’s distant pre-historical origins. The Gods and Goddesses of the Northern Europeans may have been real people, or used real people just after we emerged from the last Ice Age.
Jesus gets the most attention because he has taken the most abuse! Manipulative control-freaks have hijacked his story, name and his teachings for such a long time. They are really turning a lot of us off. Fact is, Jesus was a liberator, a Zen-master sage dude whose true message and teachings have been all but lost. I think we can find the real teachings there under the layers of churchianity, and I think what he taught is very inner, very esoteric, at least semi-gnostic, and completely alternative to the extroverted “mundane” un-mystical mainstream.
Ya gotta have Faith, like your magikal name. <grin> Yet you also gotta resist insulting your free will, not to mention your intelligence!, by this oppressive mainstream beast best called by the name “Churchianity”.