Why Aren't We Talking About This?

And so offered in a teaching form which was common to the ancient near-east – a teaching form known as sohbet (something of a spiritual conversation, really), the first of the disciples asks, “Tell us about matter.”

And Jesus started by saying, “Those who have ears, let them hear,” which was his way of saying, “Heads up, people.  You might want to listen to this.  I’ve got something good for you here.”  And then he answered.

“All of nature, its forms and creatures, exist together and are interwoven with each other.  They will be resolved back to their proper origin, for the compositions of matter return to the original roots of their nature.”

And I find myself thinking, “Why aren’t we talking about this?”

It’s certainly not unique to our tradition to say that each of us (along with all of life) expressed or individuated from that realm of infinite potentiality we call God into form, that God might experience Itself as human, as smiles as bald eagles and coffee beans slowly roasting in the early morning hours.  My new favorite way of saying it is that there is a Oneness of which I am an eachness.

I like to think that the early Hebrews were saying the same thing when they imagined the origin of humanity as having eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  I like to think that they were describing the choice to depart from that Eden of singularity for this world of duality – this world of light and dark, high and low, male and female, hot and cold.  I like to think that they were describing the choice to incarnate!

You see, it’s not so much that Adam and Eve ate the fruit as it is that we all ate the fruit.  To be here together in this earthly paradise is to have eaten the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The issue with this is that we tend to forget that we expressed or individuated from that realm of infinite potentiality we call God.  And we tend to start believing what our senses tell us.  We tend to start believing that we are limited bags of carbon and atoms, sloshing around for whatever period of earth time is allotted by a fickle fate and ultimately verified by dates on papers and dates on rocks.

We tend to start believing that we are restricted to the edges of our respective hairdos, that we are defined by the colors of our respective skins, that we are limited to the laws of our Newtonian understanding.

Perhaps most painfully, we tend to start believing that we are separate.  Oh, the wounds we inflict with this one.

We tend to start believing these things because this is all that the grossly limited eyes of the sensory self are capable of revealing.  We’re like the frog in the bottom of the well, perceiving only that tiny fragment of reality that’s allowed by the well walls.

And in this beautiful teaching, Jesus becomes something of that proverbial turtle who peers over the edge of that well wall and describes a world infinite in possibility, limitless in beauty.

Jesus becomes something of that proverbial turtle who peers over the edge of that well wall and says, “Oh, honey, there is so much more to life, there is so much more to you, than what you’re seeing.  Do not be deceived by what your senses tell you.”

In his closing words, he reminds the disciple to turn from the eyes of the physical body to the eyes of the spiritual heart for Truth.

And then Peter is noted to have asked, “Tell us about sin.”

And Jesus started by saying, “Those who have ears, let them hear.”

And then he answered.

“Sin, as such, does not exist.  You only bring it into manifestation when you act in ways that are adulterous in nature.”

“Sin, as such, does not exist.”

And to this, I say, “Welcome to Unity.”

And I find myself thinking, “Why aren’t we talking about this?”

Sin, of course, is a longstanding preoccupation, saturating the Hebrew Scriptures and serving as something of a backdrop to orthodox Christian theology as well.

And yet the Rabbi just dismisses the entire question, “Sin, as such, does not exist.”

This is something of an eastern leaning, really, and yet he stops short of saying that this world is a grand illusion or that the world is a fallen state.  Rather, he goes on to say this world is good, noble, rich - interpenetrated with divine energies which can be accessed simply by keeping the heart aligned with that original root of our nature (you remember that it’s his “pure in heart who will see God.”).

It was some sixteen centuries later that a German mystic would express the same idea with such eloquence when he wrote, “There is one Heart, one Being, one Will, one God, all in all.  When the realms are in spontaneous resonance, the music of the spheres bursts forth.  When they are not...”

So, he says that while sin of itself doesn’t exist, sin is introduced when humanity acts in ways that are adulterous in nature.  The better translation, then, might be, “Sin is introduced when humanity acts out of alignment with one’s higher nature, out of alignment with one’s truer self, out of alignment with that original root of his nature – that original root from which each of us emanated and individuated.”

“Tell us about sin,” asks Peter.

And Jesus effectively answered that the fundamental sin is to forget the truth of our oneness as expressions of God and that the fundamental repentance (if you will) is to remember the truth of our oneness as expressions of God.

I have to believe that this remembering is what most faith traditions mean in their various iterations of, “Wake up.”  Remember the truth of our oneness as expressions of God.

In closing, Jesus continued, “Guard carefully that no one misleads you saying, ‘Look, he is here,’ or ‘He’s over there,’ for the Son exists within you.  Those who seek him there will find him.”

And with this, he departed.

And I find myself thinking, “Why aren’t we talking about this?”

Well, some scholars think power is the answer.  It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that a teaching of individual empowerment would be tamped into obscurity by those seeking to preserve the power machine of the day.

And, of course, still others think jealousy is the answer.  After all, it seems clear from reading the full text that the other disciples were plenty unhappy that these teachings – considered to be the rabbi’s advanced teachings - had been reserved for this one most gifted and cherished disciple.

And, of course, still others think patriarchy is the answer; that we aren’t talking about this because this one most gifted and cherished disciple was a woman.

Widely referred to as “first among the apostles” and “the apostles’ apostle,” she was a pillar of the ministry, both counsel and close confidant to the rabbi; a revered spiritual teacher in her own right.  She is considered by many of today’s scholars to be the one who most fully embodied and demonstrated Jesus’ teachings.

She was present from Galilee to Jerusalem to the cross to the tomb.  And of course, she wasn’t alone.  The women were integral to the important ministry of Jesus from the very beginning.  Likely a woman of some means from the bustling seaside village of Magdala, you know her as Mary of Magdala or, more commonly, Mary Magdalene.

Perhaps it was because the early church had so bound the concepts of divinity and chastity, that Pope Gregory the Great assigned prostitute to this one most cherished and gifted disciple – a choice as sad as it was false.  It’s certainly not supported by your Bible.

So, regardless of the reason, we’re not talking about this because what remains of the gospel of Mary Magdalene - more than enough to rattle the very foundations of normative Christianity – has remained buried in the sands of Egypt.  For centuries.

While the voices of Magdalene and her counterparts remain conspicuously absent from the early days of the church, thank God these are no longer early days.  We continue to live in the ill effects of an extended era of patriarchy and in the same way that we now ask, “How might today’s Christianity be different if the voice of Mary Magdalene had been heard?” let us not become so weighted by questions of the past that we forget to ask, “How might tomorrow’s world be different, if the voices of today’s women are heard?”

As modelled by Jesus in his exchange with the woman at the well, how might tomorrow’s world be different if the questions of today’s women are met with receptivity, if the perspectives of today’s women are met with embrace, if the gifts of today’s women are met with welcome, if the visions of today’s women are met with celebration?

How might tomorrow’s world be different if the leadership of today’s women is met with the red-carpet treatment of a guest long overdue?  I have a fantasy of tomorrow’s global political machine being driven, not by men with suits, but by grandmothers with hearts.