Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Docetism revisited after the Course

The other day my reading of The Book of Andrew caused a sort of a flash of recognition of the meaning of docetism post ACIM, simply because the details of the story are a bit at odds with the Gary Renard material, but internally the teaching is very consistent with A Course in Miracles. The form of our experience of Jesus is a function of our mind, the content is the Holy Spirit's... and for that docetism is merely a somewhat dated, overly theological explanation.

In parallel, I was working on the translation of Margot Krikhaar's The Great Liberation, specifically the final part of Chapter 6, where she talks about the meaning of Jesus in the Course in the context of the two levels. Margot discusses the issue very much in line with what Ken Wapnick has said about Helen Schucman's experience in this regard, in Absence from Felicity,his biography of Helen. Ken's favorite expression for this phenomenon is: "Jesus is a What that looks like a who, as long as you think you're a who," or in the words of the Course, Jesus is the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. In terms of our individual experience what this means is that Jesus always seems very familiar, sometimes in surprising ways, but his presence comes with a deep awareness of authenticity and authority, that is beyond question because at some deeper level we recognize our own. Here is what Margot says:
 The ‘paradox’ of the person of Jesus who is so important in the context of a non-dualistic teaching, can newly be explained on the basis of the two levels on which the Course is written. You could say that ‘Jesus’ belongs on level two of the Course—the practical level where the Course meets us in our present experience of ourselves as a person in relationship with other persons. As a result the in and of itself completely abstract love can appear to us as a person. As one who for many in the Western world has become the personification of complete and boundless love: Jesus.
Metaphysically (on level one of the Course) this Jesus is only symbolic. As a ‘person’ he is part of the dream. But as we saw earlier (see paragraph 3.3) in fact everything in the dream is a symbol, and what matters is what the symbol points to, to fear (ego) or love (God). Jesus is a powerful symbol that points directly towards the Love of God. In other words: the form ‘Jesus’ is purely a symbol and not real in and of itself, but the ‘content’ is altogether real. And exactly because of that content is the symbol so powerful and effective.
From a metaphysical point of view, hearing Jesus’ voice means that someone’s mind (like that of Helen Schucman) is able to reach so high that it reaches the very highest levels of consciousness that is possible within the realm of perception. That is the level that lies just below the truth. This level of consciousness therefore is also the highest level of perception, right before it is transformed into knowledge. Knowledge, or Heaven, is not consciousness, but a pure and completely loving ‘being’ or oneness. (Margot Krikhaar, The Great Liberation, Chapter 6.7)
It all boils down to understanding the relationship of content and form, of a non-dualistic reality versus a very dualistic world of perception that we think we live in. The ancient theological struggles over the divinity of Jesus, which rested on such passages as the discussions of the apostles in the Acts of John, about how different their respective experiences of Jesus were (post the resurrection), gave rise to the construct of docetism. Predictably, it was roundly rejected by the church, because it was closer to the truth than the mythology they created about Jesus, as the person who died on the cross, and then experienced a bodily resurrection, in which case he would only have one body and look the same to all. Having said that, the modern explanation based on the metaphysics of the Course contains a way of reconciling both, to a degree which was never before possible. The key insight is the notion that duality is metaphor--everything in this world of appearances is only... an appearance, a perception, and never the truth. Thus the appearance is colored by the mind of the perceiver, as it does not have objective reality of any kind, but the abstract truth that is expressed is the same everywhere regardless of the appearance.

This is how at one point Helen had a dream of Jesus, in which she found that he looked like Bill Thetford. When she expressed her surprise, Jesus responded: "Who else would I look like?" I.e. of course he would appear "somehow familiar" to us. This is the same in the discussion in the Acts of John, he looks different to all of them, but completely familiar and authentic at the same time.
Helen Schucman's Jesus was an ace in advanced statistics, knew his King James Version, was a student of Shakespeare, and for the sake of Bill he also knew the Bhagavadgita very well. He spoke English. After all if Jesus really is who he is, why wouldn't he speak your language? Learning to recognize his voice in whatever form is part of our learning process in the Course in developing our relationship with our own inner teacher.

Through these experiences, and by accepting these differences in form, we learn to tune into content more than form, which is essential to learning to follow the guidance of our own inner teacher, and learning to distinguish his voice from the voice of the ego.

No comments:

Post a Comment