In the past week we had ourselves a nice snow storm here in the mountains. The temperatures have dipped down low enough that it has kept the snow melt at a minimum. There is a feeling of so much that is on hold, and I don’t mean just getting out and running errands or doing things that I might otherwise be doing if the snow wasn’t there. The snow has a way of muffling sound with its soft powder acting like a noise suppressor or absorber. It does close things in, and many things come to a halt. It is in such a place, a few days ago, where I began working on a project that I have been researching for a decade and a half. In fact, the project is as old as my own awakening process is. That project is about the ties that earliest Christianity has with the phenomenon of awakening. I have gone through this, through all of the books available to us now, the history, the archeological digs, what we know about kundalini from other cultures which used to be knowledge that was only known to a select few. We are in a different time now and the doors are opening. I need to get started on this.

I already have an unwieldy manuscript that I began writing a couple of years into awakening that I felt could serve as perspective on the experience, a kind of memoir of sorts that was started before this book concept about early Christianity was begun. The problem for me with this first manuscript was that at the time I was trying to write it, I was so deep into altered states, doing release work, and being swept away by this powerful force in my awareness, that it was really hard to write a book that had a cohesive feel. It grew to 750 pages…..I spent months editing it down to 180 pages, only to find I had lost the heart of the work. It was frustratingly difficult. Then my friend and gifted intuitive Ali said when I was getting ready to gas up the car on the way to the airport, “Don’t you have a second book, Parker?” As I was getting ready to get out of the car to gas up I quickly said, “No I don’t.” She did that thing she does which tells me she is scanning something. She looked out across the lot to the road into the distance with that look. Ali is never wrong. I know it is tricky when we speak in absolutes, but Ali’s ability to dig into something she knows nothing about is astounding. I know that might be hard to believe, but it is true.

At the time, my mind wasn’t on another book, my mind was on this book I had been wrestling with, this memoir. She added while she sat there musing, “My guidance is telling me that you have a second book…” I knew what she was talking about, but I wasn’t thinking about it as a book. It was an idea for a book, something I hadn’t told anyone else about. The last thing I wanted to do at that point in time was to start a new project. I then admitted to her so her own inner intuitive abilities wouldn’t be jammed up in her head, “I have an idea for a book, but it isn’t anything I have started on.” She continued looking out into the rain as we sat parked under the canopy of the gas station, adding, “My guidance is telling me that your second book needs to be your first.” When I heard this, I was stuck with the idea of getting this first manuscript into a better state before I could begin contemplating this concept which I hadn’t even started on, beyond just research. “I don’t feel like I can begin another project right now, I have so much to do on this first one!” She took in a breath and steeled herself a bit, she knows how I am. I am hard-headed and I can be difficult to deal with when I get in this kind of space. “My guidance tells me that this is THE book, Parker, that it needs to be the first one, then finish your second one later….how about you just put this book you are working on aside for a bit and give this second one they are telling me about a try?”

I was dismissive and impatient with all of this. I was stuck wrestling with this first project that was at that time in front of me, which had so many arms. I wish I could have been more patient with her ideas, which she was getting in an authentic space where she nearly always hits bullseyes. What I did do over the next nine months was I promised myself that after digging into a major edit, I would try to put it aside to see what would come up in regards to this second project. One edit turned into about half a dozen, and this process took nine months. I have close to a dozen variants of that project saved on my computer. I finally just walked away from it, cleared my head and forgot about writing at all.

Only after I did this, did ideas begin to slowly filter in about that second project. I didn’t put word to paper for years but instead immersed myself in study and research into a field that most Christians think they know a lot about and have some very strong opinions on. I’m not a historian on the subject, and while I have spent a good deal of time in academia both as a student as an educator, I didn’t get my degree in divinity. I had a lot of work to do, a lot to learn. Luckily, I was able to begin learning what the last hundred years or so have turned up since archeology became a serious field of study. The earth has given up her secrets and we now have more information on the history of Christianity than we have ever had, short of the documents that the church has held in their collections (which has formed most of our thinking before this period in our history). The problem though, with what the church has held and what the earth has offered up, is that what we keep finding are not books or fragments of books that are Orthodox in nature, but heretical ones. Additionally, the more work that is being done on this front, the more the subject of heresy keeps coming up in the historical record, and not in the way that the church has used it, which has been to put down any story that it felt stood at odds with the standard they were bearing. I am not using “heresy” in this case to mean what is not true but what has been labelled by the church as not true. You perhaps can see where I am going with this.

What we know now is that essentially the Orthodox church chose books that it agreed with, that it understood. It put those books forward….but there were other books. While it is true that there were many books that were deemed by the church as non-authentic, such as stories of the early life of Jesus clapping his hands and making something he made out of mud turn into birds and fly away, there is the issue of a body of work that was completely suppressed and nearly destroyed in order to keep those stories from coming forward. The church will say that those books were heresy and this is why it acted as it did. However, what scholars are seeing in this last century is that this was more about choosing what stories you wanted put forward in order to formulate doctrine based on those narratives that the Orthodox wing of Christianity thought it understood. There were some very important books that were simply dismissed out of hand because (I suspect) they were so poorly understood. They were poorly understood because of the nature of the writings themselves and what it was that they were intended to achieve. What this body of work did was to pull back the veil on consciousness to reveal a capacity that all humans have for realizing the divine within. As I will show in my book, what they were on about was revolutionary for the location, the religion that it came from (Judaism first, then Christianity later), and the culture from which it sprang. It wasn’t a bunch of incoherent gobbledy-gook, however, despite how some have received these newly discovered texts and gospels. In some important cases, these books represent some of the most sophisticated writings having to do with how to reach enlightenment and to achieve a full activation of awakening, something which the Hindu call kundalini and what the Taoists call the Golden Flower. It doesn’t help that the scholars who first examined these books (Thomas and Philip to name a few) were not versed in world religion or philosophy because they described them as being influenced by Hermeticism. To say this is like saying I was influenced by the Hermetic teachings because I had awakened even though I was completely unfamiliar and unschooled in that strand of philosophy that emerged in Egypt. But the fact that these books were found in Egypt doesn’t mean they are Egyptian in character. The only thing the discovery reveals is that the dry desert of Egypt helps to preserve documents on papyrus very well (as many texts that are not Christian that have been unearthed there attest to). There is a lot to cover in this book, the least of which is how Orthodox Christianity developed ideas over time which appear to us today as having always been there. No, Christianity evolved like all religions evolve. It was the Orthodoxy that put forward the idea that what they had to say about Christianity and Jesus himself had always been from the very beginning when in fact this was not the case at all. Rather than trying to tear down Christianity, I am seeking to correct the record using historical evidence, archeological discoveries, studies of the texts both within the so-called Gnostic strand as well as the Orthodox strand of the same religion. While that will be looked at askance by many, there is evidence that now exists for why this second look is necessary if we are to understand Christianity and how the victors in the battle of the “truth” got to tell their story while another deeper story didn’t get to be told until 50 years ago when the Nag Hammadi Library began hitting bookstore shelves after a protracted period of translating the codices.

This book will be a story about two competing camps and how their perspectives were very different. One was an outer understanding stripped of a deeper knowledge and carried elements pointing to this deeper knowledge, while the other was representative of a deeper knowing, both of who we are and how the divine works in us. The two diverged in degrees over time until the two were only partially related. When you look at the two camps today, they look almost completely unrelated. Neither camp had writings that were “perfect” in the sense that there are transcription errors, or deeper doctrinal issues that keep scholars busy at work printing books on the subject. They are both, though, speaking to the same phenomenon but with a different understanding. It is a bit like holding a piece of string that is white on one end and blue on the other. The two look completely different at their most extreme ends, but they are in fact all the same string. One camp, the Orthodox one, fought very hard to dismiss this other camp and did so by flatly stating that what these so-called Christians were on about was sheer heresy, nothing more. The Orthodox church had books that proved it. But what was actually going on was a war over ideas and values about the very foundation of human spirituality. The Orthodoxy won out and they continued to choose the stories that agreed with their particular view, and they had the resources to press their view, making their imprint on humanity appear as though it had always been the view, and never-mind those dirty heretics. This is the perspective we still have today as codified by the Orthodox view, and it only looks like it was always that way. Billions of believers think so to this day. It wasn’t always that way, however. Not by a long shot. Yes, in light of what Orthodoxy has put forward, this other camp which got buried in this conflict looks very strange and incompatible….heretical, even. Like I have said, though, the earth keeps offering up her truths and we have learned a lot in a pretty short time.

Many cornerstone concepts of Orthodoxy were created. To the casual observer, this isn’t obvious at first. The effort will be to show what new knowledge we have from our most recent discoveries and see how it compares with the historical accounts and what Orthodoxy has put forward, at least in part. An example of this is the divinity of Jesus as the son of God. This wasn’t something that was known about from the get-go. This only came along later, it was a development that grew with each generation. We know enough about when the synoptic gospels were written and scholars today can trace the development of the ideas surrounding Jesus’s divinity and identity as human, as God, or as someone who was adopted at God’s son (these ideas were all existing at the same time early on) for example. Some of the synoptic gospels don’t mention Jesus being God. This was something that the church came up with and put it into the belief system and then said “world without end, amen” and that was that. You also wont know the full story if you don’t go looking, but given how belief itself works, who is going to bother to question their beliefs or what they perceive is the foundation of their faith? This is one example how doctrine was formed and how human a process it was. There were other ideas that some take as an article of faith today that are just like this.

The camp that lost out was a group of Christians who formed the esoteric wing of the faith which we call today the Gnostics. They didn’t call themselves Gnostics, though. If you asked any one of them they would have said that they were Christians. These people and their teachings seem strange to us today in large part because we have been fed a steady diet of Orthodoxy, the outer-most understanding of the deeper principles within Christianity. Some of what the so-called Gnostics have on offer cast new light on our spirituality and they also reveal discrepancies with regard to the Orthodox view. One example is that Orthodoxy essentially says that you need to accept Christ into yourself, to accept his act of sacrifice in order to be saved. The so-called Gnostics, however, pointed out that Jesus was teaching his closest followers how to BE Christs. Like all esoteric traditions, though, they veiled the teachings in order to make them inaccessible for all but those who were in the process of being initiated into the deeper teachings and experiences that led to an innermost realization which they called gnosis, or knowledge. For these Christians, you didn’t need to believe in the crucifixion and what that meant, instead it was the knowledge that would save and free people. What is so interesting about this process and these teachings is that they describe in identical form, but using different vocabulary, identical concepts contained in other esoteric traditions the world over. There is no evidence that suggests that there was contact between the cultures of India and Judea during this time. While modern scholars suggest that the Gnositc texts have ties to Hermeticism, I suggest in my book another possibility and it is informed by my own experience with awakening.

The book will do its best to make the case for the Gnostics and why their work deserves a second look. It is a story about how the kingdom was found, then lost, within a century or two. Part of the book will be my own experience, notes taken from my journal in those first weeks and months after awakening happened and the observations that I made at a time when I had no idea what was happening to me. I will show how what I observed as the central symptoms of the experience match those in the Gnostic texts as well as parts of the Orthodox ones, and how this then reveals at the least that the Gnostics had grasped something that is incredibly rare and difficult to reach for the average person. It will show how a school sprung up around this knowledge which was later put down by the tide of Orthodoxy that came after the “heretics” came onto the scene, not before. We know this because of careful research that has been conducted by numerous archeologists, a linguist, and other researchers. I will reveal that while the early church had these heretical teachings at its earliest core, the look and feel of the church was also very different in its earliest days. The beliefs were different, too, as the ideas that would become the Orthodox view would evolve over time into what many of us know today.

Concurrent with the later tide of Orthodoxy came an effort to marginalize the role of women in the church. Hand-in-glove with this effort was also an effort to marginalize knowledge of the true source of the Holy Ghost as a feminine quality of the divine. As above, so below. I will show that the early church was a very different animal from the one it is today, and how it is that we are all poorer for it. The book isn’t out to seek converts but instead may well be a cautionary tale about what happens when we allow an authority who is less capable than ourselves to call the shots. Augustine, who was one of the early church fathers, once said that he would not believe anything unless the church itself said that it was true. Most people just want to be told what the truth is without ever really examining it and doing the vetting themselves (“The kingdom is within’). The Orthodox story is a great one but it isn’t the only one and isn’t the whole story given how much that we now know. It is just one strand of comprehension about a drama that played out while Jesus lived on earth. We now have evidence that women served as bishops in early Christianity. So much for the writer of Timothy (which most scholars today explain is a forged letter attributed to Paul) telling women to shut up in Church and submit to their husbands. For Timothy, a woman could save herself by bearing a man children. Yes, the early church was a very different animal than it was just two hundred years later.

I am not writing this book in an effort to fuel controversy, however. My purpose is to show how the Gnostic texts are tied to an authentic phenomenon in consciousness and how it fuels a transformation of the personality and self. It will also show the discrepancies that are contained in the Orthodox view and how what it said does not mesh with the facts. Many Christians believe that the Bible is a perfect document given from God. That notion itself is simply not true and I will show how this is so. From miss-translations, to outright forgeries, the story has been massaged and changed in key ways in the Bible. The book will be an effort at laying out the facts instead of resting on just what those in Orthodoxy have said was the truth (“trust us” they have said, “what we tell you IS the truth!”). Trust but confirm. The book will be about how two different camps were addressing two ends of the same string and that both have something to tell us about ourselves and our ability to reach the divine that is found within (“The kingdom is within you”).

What I will also be doing with the book is bringing contemporary voices into the divide to help illuminate how awakening is the same thing that early Christianity was teaching about privately to those who were prepared for it. My hope is to add enough voices to help to paint a picture and make the case for why the Gnostics had something important going on in regards to understanding the Christ drama. My hope is to be able to assemble numerous first-hand accounts of contemporary awakening stories. To that end, I am interested in your story should you be interested in contributing to this project. One aspect of this book will be to point out that awakening does not require belief in any religion in order to achieve it and that those who were on to this rare phenomenon were themselves probably not well understood in their day and that much of the deeper teachings of Jesus were lost for a very long time. It is my sense that awakening was precisely what Jesus was speaking to when he was quoted in both Philip and Thomas and that he was showing a way for a person to know themselves better and their place in the divine drama. To that end, accounts will not be tied to the religion as much as they will be tied to the phenomenon described in the Nag Hammadi Library and how this was fed into the ministry of Jesus. I understand that for some people, there is a concern about remaining anonymous, so any material that you provide me will be treated in the manner which you have requested. The effort here will be to shed new light on an old story and how Christianity as we know it might need a second or third look. If you are interested in finding out more, you can contact me, Parker Stafford, at info@staffordartglass.com.