Archives for posts with tag: Orthodoxy

Recently I shared with you a project I undertook as the result of a realization I had during the course of my early awakening related to early Christian texts and how it was that I saw a big elephant in the room that had managed not to make its way to the canonical Gospels. 

My first big question as I made this realization was “why?” The answer has pulled in a number of reasons, not just one, which is one reason why I have been moved to undertake this project. It is a fascinating story, and it helps to bring early Christian thought back to where it needs to be, in my estimation, which is a complete system not only for being, but for becoming more than we thought possible. 

The first, and perhaps most important layer or impediment to deeper realization of what Christ was teaching is the barrier of language and culture. The original teachings were conveyed in Aramaic while the Gospels that we now know were written in Greek. To understand how different the languages are, it helps to study both, which I am doing. The problem as it exists is that Aramaic is a language that is highly contextual and it does not have all the same words that Greek has. Greek, on the other hand is less context driven and is more precise in some ways, but it’s precision comes at a cost when translating the Aramaic Jesus spoke. 

To understand what I mean, I will provide you with an example. Greek often will identify concepts in great detail, resulting in a sense, for example, that the heart, mind, soul, higher self, and heaven, are separate things. In Aramaic, the sense of division is not so precise and since that is so, how ideas are conveyed are done so in a different way. Instead of the kingdom being in you, the term also means that it is among you, a delineation that it does not create while the Greek can, or does. Further, the concept of God in Greek is a masculine usage while the Aramaic includes aspects of both male and female. You might wonder how this impacts our understanding of the Greek compared to how we might understand the Aramaic. The answer is “plenty.”

In the Greek we have Jesus saying, “I am one with the father.” However, in early documents such as the Nag Hammadi, he is clearly referring to a masculine AND feminine deity when he says “father and mother.” 
While these are strange ideas to most within Christianity, when tracing the message back before the Greek into Aramaic, the use of the feminine in Aramaic actually is consistent with a deity as described originally.

Maybe you are wondering what difference any of this makes. Regardless of the tradition, anyone, and I mean EVERYONE who seeks to describe something that is part of the “higher” realms in spirit, the way that it is done is never to describe it directly. Take your pick: Jesus, Buddha, or anyone else. It has to be described by way of metaphor or parable because there really is no frame of reference except our experience here in the physical. The problem is that all of these weighty things are not physical, so how do we even explain them?

What I mean is that nothing is completely literal in anyone’s descriptions. When Jesus describes the kingdom, there is one word he always uses which is the key to what I mean here. Do you know what this word is? It’s in every parable. This word is “like.” He says, “The kingdom is like….” He doesn’t say that the kingdom is a mustard seed, or a treasure buried in a field. He does this because there is no way to use physical words to describe a nonphysical and multidimensional experience. The same is true for anyone trying to describe spiritual experience. Why any of this matters is that when you change the meaning of a word, you can change the meaning and thus the understanding of important aspects of the teachings as told originally. In many ways the teaching is already handicapped by virtue of its inability to adequately describe what’s in the next world. All of this goes over people’s heads as they envision angels with trumpets perched on fluffy white clouds in a heaven that must certainly be up in the sky.  The kingdom comes, but it comes within and among you. Now think about how the people of the time were expecting a leader to come that would be the king of the Jews. They thought it was coming as a material thing, but Jesus was describing an inner event. 

To help to explain this issue with language a little more it’s good to know more about the language as used. Did you know that Jesus didn’t use the term “hell” in the Bible? “Preposterous! It plainly says so in the Bible!” my friends have said when we discuss this issue. Actually, it says hell in the Bible, but in the koine Greek, he uses the word Gahena. Gahena was a place just outside the city walls and was home to a trash heap. Instead of a place in the afterlife, he was describing something that exists here and now. This Gahena people find themselves in has important ramifications for the teaching, which is that hell is here and now. This Gahena is spiritual poverty of a sort that is right here and right now. If you took the “hell” of the Bible, I bet you were thinking of a place you go when you die if you were bad enough.

To understand how words, even just a few, can change the meaning of a passage in the Bible,  let’s look at a passage in Luke where Jesus is, we assume, talking to Peter after the crucifixion. In the passage, Jesus asks Peter if he loves him. In fact, Jesus asks Peter three times if Peter loves him. Now most Christians explain the purpose of Jesus repeating himself as a reminder to Peter of how he denied knowing Jesus three times when the Romans came for him. 

Except that isn’t what happened at all.

In the Greek Jesus asks Peter if he loves him using three different words for love, all with very different implications. He asks Peter if he loves him “agape” which is divine love. He also uses the term for familial or brotherly love. Lastly, he uses the word “eros.” In each case, Peter answers in the affirmative. Here Jesus is asking Peter if he loves him erotically, like a lover. The breadth of this love is no small love and this is no ordinary person, this Jesus. Normally, we just shrink back in either shame, denial, or disgust, but this passage demands to be understood if we are ever to know the love that is the Christ. Without that understanding, we don’t get the depth of the man nor his teachings. Without this understanding, we are left unable to reach what the Christ is. We fall instead for “Jesus Light” instead of “Jesus the deep.” As my friends would say, we were handed these books by the early church and surely it is the unerring word of God, so there’s nothing more to learn. The truth is, this isn’t true. Hard as it may be to admit to, recent discoveries have led scholars to a radical rethinking of Christology and what was and wasn’t told.

In 1945 the Nag Hammadi codices were discovered, which once translated, represented a radical rethinking of Christianity. Linguist studies have shown that what Orthodoxy called heresy was in fact the earliest teachings, not the Orthodox ones. This of course is scandalous, but points to orthodoxy as an offshoot or interpretation of the original teachings. It also helps to explain why, upon reading these codices, I found that the words written spoke perfectly of my own experience in my awakening. I am not a scholar of the Bible, but an expert in this area is and he claims the codices are describing awakening, or, as the Hindus call it; kundalini. No slouch these texts; they take you right to the garden gate, pulls out the key, and bids you enter. The difference is the cannon doesn’t do that at all. It’s inspiring, but it doesn’t show you what awakening is, which these books do. 
It was this contrast between the books as translated along with my own discovery of the Nag Hammadi that set me on the journey to understanding why a “heresy” just so happened to be describing my deep mystic union with God-dess  perfectly, and poetically. It wasn’t just a matter of style, it was content too.

For these reasons, words are important if we are to hope to capture the depths of what Jesus was teaching. Perhaps more fundamentally, the language used is incredibly important if we are to hope to capture the range of subtlety that is present in these teachings, which gets lost or mangled once we are presented with the translations into Greek.

There is much more to all of this, and in time I will be getting through it. I will show that the Jesus of the Orthodox tradition was stripped of important teachings that would have given new weight and expanded meaning to the reality in which this man dwelled. Now, more than at any time in history, we have more evidence and many more resources than we have ever had.  The result is that there is more to know, and these will be like keys to a gate that we have all been longingly looking at but not fully understanding the implications of. We were meant to open the lock!
Until then, the work continues.


I am working on the most difficult chapter in my book, which is going back into the historical record to show how Christian orthodoxy was an outgrowth of a much deeper mystical current that existed with the first Christian (Jesus), and that through the intervening years between his Ascension and the institutionalizing of the church, this deeper connection to soulful truth was lost.

It is a difficult chapter  for a number of reasons. One is bias.I am up against an entrenched tradition that is used to believing what it believes.  The other is a tradition that was built off of and drew from an earlier “doxos” (or thought) but lost critical aspects or concepts necessary for it to more deeply guide it’s followers to the depths of who they were. The other difficulty has been time. The sheer accretion of it as a belief system has made it a stumbling block, most notably for those with the most need for clearing a path within that leads both into themselves and into the vast realm that is the Kingdom. Lastly, it is challenging because so much has to be packed in to what must be a short and to the point chapter.

To untangle this has meant that I need to bring not just scholarly resources to the table, but the reality and experience of awakening as well. It means that I have to show how this first tradition was lost long before ink was set to papyrus, and how it most likely happened. 

The challenge that comes along with all of this is how the early church sought to scour from history those books and sects that actually served to birth Christianity before it was a state institutionalized religion. A lot of supporting material that I could have used has been lost. However, despite all of this, something amazing has been given to us in our current era. It came in the form of a time capsule, an honest to goodness time capsule buried in the perfect spot in order that it could survive the heresy hunters that have come and gone over the centuries as Christendom has grown.

In an interesting twist of fate, a man named none other than Muhammad Ali (no, not that Ali) uncovered one of the greatest finds to date of early Christian thought in the desert in Egypt just outside the town called Nag Hammadi. Without knowing it, Ali played a role in helping rewrite history by helping to bring forward the very documents the early church came to revile, and which it spent so much effort in burning, anathematizing, and demonizing.

While the Nag Hammad find took place in 1945, translations of the more than forty books were not completed and brought into the broader publishing world until about 1972. As a result, we are only now beginning to assess more deeply the impact that these books have had not only on how we conceived Christianity, but also ourselves at our deepest of levels. 
The reason why I am approaching this subject is two-fold. First, as Westerners, we have been touched most by Christianity than any other religion. Even people who are not members of a church or who buy into the faith at all are still affected by the reach of a religion whose values have threaded themselves into so many facets of our lives. Many people today might not be involved in the church, but very often their parents took them to church as children, or they have grandparents who did. Secondly, there is the issue of the truths and the path that could have happened, but didn’t, and how important the teachings were to anyone, regardless of any religious affiliation. Before there was a religion, there were brilliant messages that were plucked from the Light, which transcends all religions or institutions.
The story here, at its core, is about an infection. It is the infection of ignorance and how it can turn it’s own deliverance into a 1600 year odyssey of illusion. I know how bad that sounds, and honestly, I am grappling hard with how to strike the right balance in this one important chapter in WTI. Sometimes you have to know how to break the news gently. But this isn’t just about overturning a beloved institution. It is  not about that at all. It is in fact about a way to recognize that we have been swimming in the shallows all this time, and that a deep ocean beckons to be explored.
The problem that we face in the wake of the discovery and subsequent dissemination of the Nag Hammad Library into the mainstream is that the conversation about it has lacked a thread of continuity of knowing (or gnosis) when studying the texts that make up the collection. As a result, those who did the translating and the commentaries that accompany the books admit to being mystified by their central precepts. These books cannot just be read with the intellect, or with orthodoxy weighing heavy in the mind, but must, I feel, be read with the heart and the soul. These books ask of us something more than what orthodoxy ever did. It isn’t surprising to find that Christian scholars are so dumbfounded. They are inheritors of a tradition that never demanded that they utilize the hidden depths. It is now time that we did. What’s more is that people are  ready.
These books from the Nag Hammad Library, the best of them, ask us to take that leap into the unknown in order to retrieve or discover that which most of us have lost or have buried. This isn’t about facts and concepts, but a quality that IS us. Curiously, in some of the books, they provide the simplest and clearest means to reach awakening, which Jesus called the Kingdom.
To do all of this in one small chapter has led to the realization that this first book won’t be “the” book most widely read, but will be the foundation for a number of them. What gets laid down in this one small but potent chapter on Christianity will lead to a book that side steps the Orthodox journey and helps to bring a turn of mind and willingness to go deeper. More than a dry analysis of these “new books” from Egypt, it will show how they communicate the ineffable and help bring us closer to it, less by rational discourse and more by tapping our innate powers of feeling in order to conceive what is in fact entirely revolutionary in each of us. In an effort to set themselves apart from other religions, Christianity denied the very aspects that are universal to reaching enlightenment by hiding something terribly important to all of us.
The chapter on Christianity in the book I am writing now will be to wet our whistle for a deeper dive into what the origins of Christianity could have become. The book will examine all of the historical evidence and will ask readers to be audacious enough to step into the gap, their own unknown, to reach out, and in, to retrieve what is still missing in so many of us.
My dear friend and spiritual cohort who is one of the most gifted psychic intuitives I have ever met, said to me many years ago that there would be a book that I would write that would be the book, and it wasn’t the one I was working on then. This ruffled my feathers back then partly because I had so much time, so much experience, tied up in the effort of that manuscript that I had in front of me. But here it is, six years later, and as I begin working on this one chapter, I can feel the presence of an entirely new book muscling it’s way into my awareness. When Ali told me about this as we sat in the car at the gas station that rainy day, she said, “That book is already written, Parker….it’s just waiting for you to put it to paper.” Sometimes a wise man needs a wise woman to help him see the bigger picture.

Part of the soul of this new book is how we can change our world by being able to acknowledge one element, one simple aspect of our inner spiritual reality  that the Orthodox tradition swept under the rug right from the beginning. I sense, at this time, that it has to do with something that will only work if we begin to embody and practice it in our day to day. The way we are going about it now will only lead to a growing divide between all of us and our fundamental nature’s. We need to become aware and begin working now if we are to stave off what could become an ever-widening gap in our society and all of its institutions. 

How A Book Not Yet Written Catalyzed A New Paradigm For Men

What is so interesting about this is that in the months prior to beginning work on this chapter, I felt a clear need to begin doing a type of inner work with men.This was an unexpected realization, and it happened during a conversation I was having about retreats for women who were doing spiritual healing of their own. When asked if I would want to be a contributing partner in this visionary idea, I found quite suddenly that I really needed to work with men, at least at first. At the time I really had no idea about what that work would entail.  
The idea was firmly planted though, and it hasn’t budged a single bit since then. The earliest ideas began in my mind as a group who would first gather locally to begin revisioning the masculine, to, as a group, share and work together to come up with solutions that will aid in recreating the masculine experience and identity. This would be done without destroying what is the essence of what it is to be men in an essential way, apart from cultural expectations and programming. This local group would then be translated into a larger arena where workshops and retreats would be formed in order to reach a wider audience. That assumed that men would ready for this, and I personally see many who are.

Since then, without fully knowing what the content would be exactly, the concept has evolved very quickly into a means to effect a much needed paradigm shift. This shift will have the result of creating a space and knowing about how to heal our innermost spiritual, and emotional fractures related to masculine identity. The outcome of this, I sense, will be men who live very different lives and whose own healing will also help heal a new generation of women who have been yearning quietly for this sort of outcome, for this kind of man in their lives, be they father, brother, son, or lover.
I know that you might be wondering how this type of work is connected to a book on Christianity. It ties into fundamental beliefs about our identities which were supported and informed by the church. It has played it’s part in keeping a great secret from itself and us. This secret has the power to transform all of us. It is the missing ingredient that when added, is tranformative at the most basic and essential levels. Since paternalism had a hand in the early church, and because of the extraordinary scope of the reach the church has had on most Westerners, being able to see the church as how it could have been actually can show men how they can be today by correcting this one simple aspect that got hidden away by men. Men did this, and now we can each undo it. The results should be interesting to say the least.
Having said this, this work won’t be limited to heterosexuals since it will not be built on the old paradigm which has an often unrecognized or acknowledged codependency at its core. It will instead seek to bring healing and fresh thinking to the individual first, with the balance then achieved in the self naturally rippling outward with new effects, new eventualities, coming into the lives of those who participate. This will be driven naturally and organically as an outcome of this re-visioning process that will call upon, not coincidentally, the one aspect that the early Orthodox Church sought to hide, whether by ignorance or design.
There is a lot that I haven’t written about in specific terms because to do so would mean a number of posts. The main core of the work will in fact be incredibly simple because instead of this being a process of reshaping the selves of men, it actually serves to bring men to the one place within them that society has taught them to ignore. Instead of methods, finding this lost part of themselves will BE the method, the compass, the guide, the teacher. We have been envisioning this the wrong way, you see. 

What I sense that this awareness can liberate in men is an amazing relatedness to their deepest selves…this in turn will bring greater and greater layers of fulfillment which will be a healing balm for the rough edges we have had for so long. I am merely it’s facilitator. You are the healer!
It only takes a single pebble dropped in the calm waters of a self ready for change to effect this change.

Who knew what writing this one chapter might birth or clear the way for all of this to begin coming through?
For now, I have a chapter to write. Besides my own work that sustains me in my day to day, I have an outline to write along with how to include all elements necessary to make this book what it needs to be. Concurrent with this will no doubt be setting up the framework for my first group of men who are ready to take that first step into a new world.

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