Ascended Master Resources

This website is part of the Ascended Master Resources network, which also contains the following websites:

Ascended Master Light
Numerous direct messages (dictations) from the ascended masters, giving teachings on a wide variety of topics.

Ascended Master Answers
Numerous answers from the ascended masters to people’s questions.

Transcendence Toolbox
Practical tools for enhancing your spiritual growth, including decrees, visualisations and invocations.

Explaining Evil
A profound explanation for the origin and methods of dark forces and how to free ourselves and the planet from them.


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Become a prince or princess of peace

Ascended Master Elohim of Peace, May 4, 2006 through Kim Michaels.

Ah, my beloved, if you would give the greatest service for eradicating conflict and war from this planet, then commit yourself to walking the inner Path of Peace, so that you can learn from Jesus, so that you can learn from the Prince of Peace, until you too can become a prince or princess of peace. You can inherit your Father’s kingdom and then give it to all.

The sixth ray is the ray of Peace. And the seventh ray is the ray of Freedom. The earth is destined to move from the Age of Peace into the Age of Freedom. Yet, how can there possibly be freedom until there is peace? For if you do not have peace in your own being, how can you possibly be free? You will be enslaved by the emotional thralldom that pulls you away from peace at the slightest provocation. As soon as some condition on earth does not live up to your expectation of perfection, then you are pulled out of peace. And since hardly anything on this earth can live up to the expectation of perfection, you are constantly in a state of non-peace.

Likewise, how can the Golden Age of Saint Germain be manifest on earth as long as the dark clouds of war are hanging as a constant threat over this planet? How can nations truly build the Golden Age if everything they build could be destroyed in a matter of minutes through a nuclear holocaust or even through a conventional war? Look at the nation of Iraq today. How can you build a nation, how can you build a future, when at any moment a bomb can be exploded and destroy what people have built?

This shows you that the key to freedom is peace. And I have now given you the key to peace. Will you apply it, or will you allow the ego to continue to trick you into believing that only when certain outer conditions are met, can you be at peace?

The ego wants you to think that only when certain conditions are met in your personal life, can you be at peace about your own life. And only when certain conditions are met in the world, can you be at peace about the future of this planet. Yet I tell you: it is a lie. For the outer conditions are nothing but the reflection of your inner conditions. And thus, you will never have conditions of peace in your own life or on your planet until you make the decision to be at peace inside yourself—regardless of the outer conditions.

You see, my beloved, the essential expectation that the ego has built is that your inner peace depends on peace in the outer world. This is the illusion of the ages, for your inner peace depends on nothing outside yourself. Your inner peace depends on only one thing—your inner contact with, your centeredness in, the God Flame of Peace. And there is nothing that can stand between you and that inner contact with the Flame of Peace because, as Jesus also told you, the kingdom of God is within you. Meaning that no outer conditions in your own psychology or being, or on the planet on which you live, can come between you and your oneness with God, your oneness with the Flame of Peace.

Thus, stop looking for peace outside yourself. Start looking for peace the only place it can be found—in the kingdom of peace that is within you, in the Flame of Peace that I AM, and that I am willing to share with all those who will dedicate themselves to being at peace regardless of outer conditions.

Thus, peace be still and know that I AM God. Peace be still and know that the I AM Presence within you is God. My peace I leave with you. Multiply it and radiate it to all life so that this planet can be at peace.

 

This is an excerpt from a longer teaching. You can read the full dictation HERE.

 

Copyright © 2006 by Kim Michaels

Have You Been Hurt by Christianity?

By Kim Michaels

Do you have inner conflicts about spiritual topics? Do you feel that certain outer doctrines cannot answer your questions? Does it seem like God doesn’t make sense? Is your relationship to God or a religious figure influenced by negative emotions, such as fear, guilt, shame, anger or just plain confusion?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then the real question becomes how to deal with the situation:

Do you want to continue living with the emotional pain?

Do you want to give up on religion?

OR do you want to look for a different approach that can heal your relationship to God?

This article will help you discover a new approach to spirituality. This approach can help you heal your wounds and make peace with God and your spiritual teachers. In this section, you will find teachings on how to start the process of spiritual healing. See below.

The Outer Approach to Religion, and the Inner Approach to Spirituality

You can take an outer or an inner approach to finding answers to your questions about the spiritual side of life.

Many people take the outer approach and seek to find answers from a source outside themselves, such as a formal religion, a doctrine or a belief system. There are numerous belief systems that claim to have the answers to spiritual questions. These answers are often presented as formal doctrines that are seen as complete, perhaps even infallible. The outer approach has a couple of limitations:

If you accept an outer doctrine as complete, how do you deal with questions that are not answered by the doctrine? Many people find that no outer doctrine can answer all of their questions about the spiritual side of life. This often leads to an inner conflict and a feeling that God simply doesn’t make sense.

If you accept an outer doctrine as infallible, then all different or conflicting doctrines must be false. This often leads to an outer conflict between groups of religious people. It is a sad, but undeniable, fact that religious conflict has caused more bloodshed than any other single factor.

If the outer approach is no longer working for you, perhaps it is time to look for a different approach?

The inner approach to spirituality

Many people are losing faith in a particular religion or even in all religion. This does not mean that such people no longer care about the spiritual side of life. On the contrary, people often become disappointed with formal religions because they are not getting answers to their questions. The questions demonstrate that such people do care about spirituality.

What if the real cause of this disappointment is the outer approach to religion? What if there really are plausible and sensible answers to your questions about spiritual topics? What if the key to finding such answers is to go beyond the outer approach to religion?

Instead of seeking standard answers from an outer doctrine, you can seek personal answers from a source inside yourself. This inner, mystical or spiritual approach has been practiced by people from every walk of life and from every religion. For example, Christianity has had its share of mystics. One might argue that Christianity was started by a person who did not accept the standard answers given by the Jewish religion.

A journey of discovery

Adopting the inner approach to spirituality does not mean that you have to abandon an outer religion. In every religious tradition you can find many people who practice the inner approach to spirituality within the context and culture of the outer religion. However, when you take the inner approach, you realize that the outer religion serves as a foundation, a stepping stone, for your personal quest for answers. The outer religion must never become a cage that prevents you from looking for answers outside a certain framework.

When you take the inner approach to spirituality, you realize that the spiritual side of life is a complex and vast topic. Most religions teach that God is beyond this world. This world is a finite world, and God might be infinite. How could a finite doctrine possibly give a complete description of an infinite God? So if you truly want to understand the spiritual side of life, is it wise to believe that one organization or doctrine can give you all the answers?

When you open your mind to the inner approach to spirituality, your life takes a new turn. You now realize that life is a journey of discovery, and the journey is ongoing. The purpose of the journey is to attain a higher understanding, but not an ultimate or absolute understanding.

After all, the central idea of all spirituality is that there is a spiritual realm beyond the material world. Perhaps it will never be possible to attain an ultimate understanding of the spiritual side of life while we are still here in the material world? Therefore, why argue over which outer doctrine is the only right one? Why not simply continue to seek for a higher understanding of life?

The need for a higher understanding

Today, humankind knows a lot more about the natural world than people did in the past. Therefore, we can now ask questions about atoms that no one would have thought about 2,000 years ago. One might say that humankind is engaged in a process of gradually increasing our understanding of every aspect of life. Consequently, we can now ask more questions about life, including the spiritual side of life, than in the past.

If we accept that humankind is engaged in a process of increasing our understanding of life, how can we expect that a religious teaching, formulated thousands of years ago, can answer all of the questions about spirituality we could ever ask?

It is a simple fact that the only constant in this world is constant change. If you look at the past, you will see that many religions have vanished, because they could not adapt to the changing needs of their followers. Why do so many religions tend to become rigid?

When you take the outer approach to religion, you see a particular religious doctrine as complete and infallible. If the doctrine is complete and infallible, how could it ever need to change? Therefore so many religions refuse to change and continue to claim that their doctrine can give you all the answers you need (or are allowed to have).

The result of the outer approach to religion is that more and more people realize that the religion in which they grew up can no longer meet their spiritual needs or answer their questions. How can you best deal with that situation?

Some people become angry and feel cheated or manipulated. Others become disappointed and they either give up on all religion or a particular religion. Some people reason that their questions must be wrong, and they stop thinking about spiritual topics. While such reactions are very understandable, they seldom lead to a true resolution of people’s inner conflicts about spirituality.

Is there an alternative? What if the real problem is not a particular religious organization or doctrine? What if the real problem is that the outer approach to religion prevents you from finding answers to your questions about spirituality? What if you could simply look beyond that outer approach? What if you could become a seeker of truth instead of a follower of doctrine?

Answers must come from within

What can you do to find personal answers to your questions about the spiritual side of life? You can begin by recognizing where such answers must come from.

The only way to resolve your inner conflicts about spirituality is through answers that come from a source inside yourself!

Millions of people have sought answers through outer doctrines. While such standard answers might suppress your inner conflicts, they can never resolve your conflicts. True resolution comes from internalizing outer knowledge so that it becomes personal, inner understanding. With all thy getting, get this inner understanding!

Obviously, many people have been conditioned against accepting the inner approach to spirituality. When you take the outer approach to religion, you must reason that only an outer authority can define a true doctrine. Only a particular religious figure, such as Jesus or a church hierarchy, can define a true religious doctrine. How could you possibly know what is true?

The answer is that every human being has an inherent ability to recognize truth. This is the open door which no human can shut.

Why Do I need to Change My Approach to Religion?

The obvious reason is that the outer approach is no longer working for you personally. It can no longer answer your questions, and it cannot heal your inner conflicts about spirituality. Giving up this approach frees your mind to look for a better approach. However, what if there is a universal reason to give up the outer approach?

If you step back from your personal situation, you might discover that you are not the only one who is disappointed with outer religion. In fact, one might consider that it is a sign of our time that more and more people lose faith in a traditional approach to religion. Why is this so?

Many people believe there are certain cycles of change that are occurring in the religious life of this planet. Is it possible that we are witnessing a planetary shift that causes so many people to lose faith in the outer approach to religion? To illustrate this point, consider the analogy of a steam locomotive.

Imagine that you suddenly find yourself in the engine room of an old steam locomotive. Unbeknownst to you, someone has stoked the fire burning under the kettle. As the pressure in the kettle rises, the locomotive begins to move forward. You panic and pull on the brake as hard as you can. The locomotive stops, but the pressure keeps rising. Unless you do something to change the situation, the kettle will explode!

Let us imagine that a new type of spiritual energy is being released from the spiritual realm. It causes the pressure to rise in the engine that drives spiritual change on Earth. The rising pressure creates the need for religious organizations to change. However, people who take the outer approach to religion are afraid of this change. Consequently, they pull on the brake and seek to prevent the locomotive from moving forward.

From an outer perspective, they might seem to be successful, but from an inner perspective, the pressure will simply continue to rise until the kettle explodes. Is this why so many traditional religions are losing members or going through outer challenges? One example of this process might be the exposure of sexual abuse by Catholic priests. Is this simply a sign that the old order is beginning to break down under the mounting pressure of spiritual change?

To change or suffer

If spiritual change really is occurring, how can you best deal with the situation? Imagine what might happen if you take the outer approach and go into complete denial of any need to change your approach to religion. Obviously, the pressure will keep building and if the kettle explodes, you might find yourself in a full-blows spiritual crisis.

An increasing number of people experience that a certain outer event triggers a breakdown that sends them into a personal crises of faith. This might be a personal event, such as the loss of a loved one, but it can also be an impersonal event.

For example, many Catholics have become so disappointed by the Church’s handling of the sexual abuse by priests that they have lost faith in the Church and feel like they have nothing left. Other people have lost faith in traditional Christianity, because Christian churches have refused any serious attempts to reconcile the Christian faith with the discoveries of science.

Blowing off steam

Is there a better approach? Let us return to the steam engine. We have seen that complete denial, meaning trying to prevent the train from moving forward, is not a good option. It will inevitably lead to an explosion. Another option is to look for the safety valve and let off some steam. Many religious people take this approach, which we might call the path of least resistance.

Such people might make minimal concessions to the changing times, but they are not seriously reconsidering their religious beliefs. Most importantly, they are not even considering changing their basic approach to spirituality. Such people are not committed to change; they are simply trying to prevent the kettle from blowing up.

The problem with this approach is that as long as the pressure keeps building, you will have to constantly let off steam. Some religious people are consumed by the need to defend their religious beliefs against change. For example, many Christians are consumed by defending certain Christian doctrines even though science clearly demonstrates that these doctrines cannot give us a complete understanding of how life was created.

Will trying to stave off change without reconsidering your basic approach to religion really get you where you want to go? Will it help you find peace of mind, or will it simply delay the inevitable crisis

Putting spiritual steam to good use

What if there was a more productive approach? After all, steam has the potential to be converted into work that can make the entire train move forward and reach a new destination, perhaps a better destination.

By looking at history, it is not difficult to see that human beings are creatures of habit and often resist change. For example, one of the major problems encountered by Jesus was that so many orthodox Jews, especially those in leadership positions, resisted his message that a new spiritual approach was needed.

Is it possible that God wants to see change in the spiritual life of this planet? Is it possible that spiritual energy is being released to assist us in embracing this change and making the most of it? What if we released the brake and allowed the locomotive to move forward? Is it possible that it might take us to a better destination?

Obviously, you don’t need to throw caution to the wind and allow your spiritual locomotive to run amok. Instead, it is far better to take a balanced approach and move forward safely. However, to remain balanced on your personal path, you need to adopt the inner approach to spirituality.

All or nothing

When you take the outer approach to religion, you accept a religious doctrine as complete and infallible. Therefore, you inevitably end up taking an all-or-nothing approach to your current beliefs. They must be completely right, so if one aspect is proven wrong, your faith is destroyed. That is why so many religious people resist any kind of change.

When you take the inner approach, you realize that your current beliefs are not complete and infallible. They simply represent the highest understanding that you have been able to grasp up to this point in time. In fact, you expect that as your understanding grows, you will naturally gain a deeper understanding of the spiritual side of life.

The main benefit of the inner approach to spirituality is that it removes the sense that your faith is threatened. Thereby, you can overcome the fear that your faith could be lost. Letting go of a particular religious belief is not a matter of losing your faith and being thrown into a personal crisis. Instead, your life is a continual journey towards a deeper understanding. You never lose a belief; you simply replace it with a better and more complete understanding.

Holding on to the outer approach forces you into the extremes, where you must hold on to existing beliefs out of fear of losing everything. Adopting the inner approach makes it possible to experience a balanced and gradual growth in your understanding of the spiritual side of life.

When you take the inner approach, you don’t throw away or question all of your existing beliefs. Instead, you gradually open your mind to a new understanding of some aspect of the spiritual side of life. You use your existing beliefs as a foundation for your journey. You never lose your bearings and feel like you are in a free fall. Your existing beliefs are a safety net instead of a dead weight that prevents you from climbing the ladder of spiritual understanding.

By adopting the inner approach to spirituality, you don’t run the risk of having your kettle blow up. You don’t have to spend all of your time letting off steam while getting nowhere. Instead, you can move forward in a balanced and controlled manner that allows your spiritual growth to stay on track.

How to Know Truth

There are reasons why so many people take the outer approach to religion and refuse to change that approach. One reason is that the outer approach is an easy approach. If you allow a religious organization or authority figure to tell you what to believe, you don’t really have to think for yourself. When you let someone else tell you what is true, you don’t have to make personal decisions about what is true. This is not only easier; it can also seem a lot safer.

When you take the inner approach to spirituality, you cannot allow someone else to tell you what to believe. You have to think for yourself, and you have to decide what is true. At first, this can seem confusing and even unsafe. After all, how can you know what is really true?

In reality, the task is not as difficult or scary as it might seem. You already have the ability to know truth. This is an ability that is built into your being. It is a gift from God, and you cannot lose it completely. As every ability, it can atrophy from lack of use, but by making an effort, you can develop it to full capacity. The ability to know truth is commonly known as intuition. The teachings on this website might help you realize that intuition is far more than most people expect.

How do you decide what is true?

To begin overcoming your fear of deciding what is true, consider how you came to accept your current beliefs? No one can force you to accept an idea; you must make a decision before accepting any idea. You might not be consciously aware of making such a decision, but the decision was made nonetheless.

Therefore, before accepting your current beliefs, you made a decision. You might have been brought up in a culture that conditioned you to accept a particular religious doctrine as true and infallible. Yet, somewhere in your past you had to make a decision to accept that claim, and you must continually make decisions to uphold your acceptance of that claim.

You will find many religious people who will reject this idea. They claim that they follow the only true doctrine there is. This is not a matter of opinion or a personal decision; it is simply the only truth. If you think about this more closely, you will realize that there is no absolute and undeniable proof that a certain doctrine is true. Even a spiritual leader such as Jesus did not convert everyone, and the reason is that people have free will and that they make decisions based on their current level of consciousness.

Therefore, the acceptance of a certain doctrine is not a matter of an undeniable proof, it is a matter of a personal decision. That decision is inevitably affected by your current understanding (people often cling to what is familiar and makes them feel comfortable) and your current level of consciousness.

To grow or not to grow

If you take the outer approach, you accept a certain doctrine and declare it infallible. It follows that you will never come to accept any understanding that is beyond the doctrine. Therefore, you could never be part of a spiritual renewal. Imagine that everyone in ancient Israel had stuck to orthodox Jewish doctrines. The Jewish authorities rejected Jesus, so any orthodox Jew should have done the same. Consequently, Jesus would never have attracted any followers and Christianity would have died with him.

When you take the inner approach, you accept the fact that your current beliefs are not final, complete or infallible. You made a decision to accept your current beliefs, and that decision was based on your current understanding and level of consciousness. You also recognize that you are following a systematic path that leads you towards a deeper understanding and a higher level of consciousness. As you move forward on that path, it is only natural that you will receive a higher understanding, and this might cause you to go beyond your current beliefs.

The simple fact is that you are constantly making decisions about what you think is true, even if it is a decision not to question your existing beliefs. This is what is illustrated in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. Prince Hamlet was facing a difficult situation and did not want to take action. Yet, by not acting he brought about his own death. Therefore, not making a decision is still making a decision.

The essential point is that you cannot avoid making decisions, so you might as well make the best of it and learn how to make constructive decisions. You might fear making decisions about what is true, but all fear is a fear of the unknown. Once you understand what influences your decisions, you can quickly learn to consciously make the best possible decisions.

Fear and love

What causes you to accept a certain idea? There are two forces that influence your decisions about what is true, namely fear and love. When you take the outer approach, your decisions are based on fear. You are afraid that you cannot know truth on your own, so you allow an outer authority to tell you what to believe. You are afraid of making a mistake, so you want someone else to decide for you, but that is still making a decision.

When your decisions are based on fear, you are reluctant to open your mind to any ideas that seem to go beyond your existing belief system. Therefore, you tend to cling to your existing beliefs as if it was a matter of life and death. How can you escape the clutches of fear?

When you bring light into a room, the darkness disappears. When you bring love into your mind, the fear disappears. You might have heard the expression that “perfect love casts out all fear,” but where can this perfect love come from? What if it comes from a higher part of your own being?

A central theme on this website is that your mind, or being, has several levels, or layers. Some psychologists embrace this idea and talk about a lower mind that is the seat of the negative aspects of human nature, such as fear, and a higher mind that is the seat of the positive qualities, such as love. What if you have a higher part of your own being which is capable of telling you what is true?

If you were brought up in a traditional religious culture, this idea might be new to you, but was it new to the religious leader who inspired your culture?

Let the higher mind be in you

Is it possible that some of the religious leaders of the past were very familiar with the concept of a higher, more spiritual part of our beings? As an example, let us take a look at Jesus.

Jesus said, “He that believes on me, the works that I do shall he do also.” Saint Paul admonished people to “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” Have you ever considered what these statements truly mean?

How could you possibly do the works of Jesus? How can you let Jesus’ mind be in you? Incidentally, what kind of mind was Paul talking about?

What if a part of Jesus’ mission (not his entire mission, but part of it) was to demonstrate a path that all people have the potential to follow? This path leads to a higher state of consciousness in which you have moved out of fear and embraced a higher spiritual understanding based on love. You have literally allowed a higher mind to be in you, as that higher mind was in Jesus.

If you look at the mission of Jesus, you might realize that he delivered a supreme example of a person who is applying the inner approach to spirituality. He did not claim to have outer authority, such as the scribes and the temple priests. Instead, he claimed that he received his teachings from a source inside himself.

In fact, Jesus was constantly opposed by those who took the outer approach to religion. They refused to let go of their existing beliefs, and therefore they rejected the higher understanding offered by Jesus. Would you reject a higher understanding coming from inside yourself? Why not open your heart and let that mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus? What do you have to lose but your fears? What do you have to gain but perfect love?

If you did not grow up in a Christian culture, do not despair. This website will demonstrate that virtually every religion contained teachings about the inner approach to religion and the possibility to attain a higher state of consciousness.

 

Copyright © 2009 by Kim Michaels

How can we grasp the true meaning of Jesus’ message?

By Kim Michaels

There is a tendency among Christians to see Jesus as being very remote, very far away. Some see him as a historical figure, and since mainstream Christianity says he stopped talking to us 2,000 years ago, it seems as if Jesus has no specific message for our time. Thus, many Christians seem to feel we have to interpret the scriptures that were given back then without any direct input from Jesus. Jesus was very involved with human affairs back then, but today we are on our own.

Other Christians seem content with the view that Jesus is far away, for it allows them to interpret his teachings as they see fit. If you look at the amazing variety of Christian churches, you will see that some churches focus on specific aspects of Jesus’ message and have inflated the importance of one aspect to the point where it dominates their view of Jesus. For example, some churches have created an image of Jesus as a hellfire and brimstone preacher, whereas others portray him as a soft-spoken teacher who loved and included everybody. It is easy to find other interpretations that are mutually exclusive.

One can also look at the ongoing battle between mainstream Christians and atheists or scientific materialists, a battle that has been renewed in recent years by a string of books that attack Christianity and all religion based on a materialistic interpretation of science. What drives this battle is  that both sides are using the reasoning mind to argue their case. Yet this battle has been going on for centuries and there is no end in sight. People on each side are using the rational mind to convince themselves that they are right and their opponents are wrong.

What we see is the reality that people can argue for just about any interpretation of Jesus in a way that seems convincing—to them. Since some of the views are mutually exclusive, one might reason that they cannot all be right, but how can we determine which are true to Jesus’ original message and which are not? How can we avoid becoming stuck in the intellectual argumentation that has been going on for centuries without providing any clear consensus? Once again, we face a choice:

  • Are you satisfied with the arguments presented by a particular church? Are you content with basing your view of Jesus on particular interpretations of scripture or on intellectual arguments and reasoning?
  • Are you ready to look for a better way, a new approach to determining the inner meaning of Jesus’ teachings?

Is there such a better way? Well, because Jesus is so often seen as being remote, it is easy to forget that he was a very wise teacher. He no doubt saw many of the same conditions at his time that we see today, namely different religious groups arguing based on the same scripture without finding any middle ground. Thus, it would not have been difficult for Jesus to foresee that the movement he started could indeed become split into many competing factions, arguing endlessly over this or that point in scripture. In the scriptures we find examples of how Jesus’ own disciples were arguing amongst themselves even while Jesus was still with them (Mark 9:34). Was it hard to predict that this could potentially become much worse one Jesus left?

Is it possible that Jesus foresaw what has happened to Christianity today? Is it possible that he gave us a tool for avoiding confusion by coming to a deeper understanding of his hidden message? If you have grown up in a mainstream Christian church, you might never have heard about such a unifying tool, for the simple reason that you were presented with your church’s doctrines as being infallible. You might have experienced that when you had questions that could not be explained by the official doctrines, you were discouraged from asking them in church. Yet let us take a look at a couple of Jesus’ own statements:

16. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

17. Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. (John 14)

25. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.

26. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14)

These are momentous statements that have the potential to take us beyond confusion and conflict. What Jesus is actually promising us here is a tool for knowing the fullness of his teachings, even the teachings that he had to hide from the public at the time. Why is this so significant?

We have seen that many Christians feel Jesus is very remote and that he hasn’t spoken to us for 2,000 years. Yet in these statements Jesus is promising to talk to us through the Comforter, who shall “abide with us forever.” Thus, we must reason that this Comforter is available to us today—if we will only make use of it. Denying this Comforter is denying that Jesus made the promise or that he has the power to fulfill it.

Furthermore, this Comforter can take us far beyond intellectual reasoning and literal interpretations of scripture. It can “teach us all things” and help us remember and understand everything Jesus wants to tell us. This would presumably apply to the inner teachings that he gave only to his close disciples, meaning that we have the potential to become direct disciples of Jesus, even today.

We now see that if we are willing to make use of this gift, there is no reason for us to feel that we have been deserted by Jesus, that Jesus is a remote being or that Jesus has nothing to say to us in today’s age. The Comforter can – according to Jesus’ own statement – tell us everything we need to know about how to understand and apply Jesus’ inner teachings in this modern age.

We also see that this has the potential to help us overcome all conflict among Christians from various churches. There might still be different churches that focus on different aspects of Jesus’ vast message, yet if they all have the Comforter, there would presumably be mutual understanding and respect. There would be the recognition that Jesus’ true message is universal, meaning that it can be applied in different ways but that it is still the same message, thus promoting a deeper sense of unity among all people who see themselves as followers of Christ.

Is there any reason to put limitations on how far this Comforter can take us in terms of understanding Jesus’ message? Not according to Jesus, who said the Comforter can teach us “all things.” So we now face another choice:

  • Will you reject the Comforter and cling to a traditional interpretation of the scriptures, refusing to go beyond the “safe” boundaries defined by a particular church?
  • Will you be willing to take part of an exploration of what exactly this Comforter is and how we can make use of it to enrich our lives in the modern world?

In the rest of this book, we will explore what the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, can tell us about the hidden messages of Christ and how they apply to our situation as spiritual people in the modern world.

 

 

Copyright © 2009 Kim Michaels

Was Jesus a Biblical literalist?

By Kim Michaels

Obviously, we have to some degree answered this question already, because we have seen that Jesus was constantly attacked by the scribes and Pharisees. They were the religious fundamentalists of the time, and they obviously would not have attacked Jesus if he had not gone beyond their literal interpretations of the scriptures. Yet let us probe a bit deeper.

Imagine that at Jesus’ time there had been a group of people who said to Jesus: “Sorry Jesus, but we can’t accept your claim to be the Messiah. The Torah is clearly the infallible word of God, and thus it is complete and can tell us everything we need to know about God for all eternity. It simply isn’t possible that God would send you to tell us something that goes beyond what God has already told us in the Torah. Therefore, you must be a fraud. Have a nice day!”

If you see Jesus as the Son of God, as the Messiah or even if you see him as a genuine spiritual teacher, you would think such a claim to be ridiculous. Obviously, these people had turned the Torah into a closed box, and they were essentially saying to God that he could no longer talk to humankind and give us a progressive revelation of spiritual truth.

Yet now consider that many modern Christians actually believe the Bible in its present form is the infallible word of God and can tell us everything we need to know about life. They say that Jesus came to bring the final revelation, and thus God’s revelation to humankind stopped 2,000 years ago.

Even though society has changed so dramatically that it almost defies comprehension, God still does not have anything new to say to us. Even though modern people face a vastly different situation than people at Jesus’ time – and therefore have different spiritual needs – God has nothing new to offer us. Thus, we are left to interpret the existing scriptures. Yet we are not allowed to interpret these scriptures based on the expanded knowledge we have today. No, we are supposed to interpret them literally. Yet what exactly does that mean?

Here is the dictionary’s definition of the word literal:

1. in accordance with, involving, or being the primary or strict meaning of the word or words; not figurative or metaphorical: the literal meaning of a word.

2. following the words of the original very closely and exactly.

3. true to fact; not exaggerated; actual or factual: a literal description of conditions.

That seems clear enough, but here is the definition of interpretation:

1. the act of interpreting; elucidation; explication: The writer’s work needs interpretation.

2. an explanation of the meaning of another’s artistic or creative work; an elucidation: an interpretation of a poem.

Do you see that the word “literal” and the word “interpretation” are – literally – incompatible? Literal means that you do not go beyond the obvious meaning of the words, whereas interpretation means that you explain a hidden meaning. Thus, it makes no sense to talk about a literal interpretation. You can be literal about the Bible and you can interpret the Bible, but you cannot interpret the Bible literally—at least not if you want to be consistent.

Is this just a play on words? Well, consider the quote mentioned earlier:

But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples. (Mark 4:34)

Jesus is clearly teaching the multitudes in parables, but what is a parable? Here is the dictionary’s definition:

1. a short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson.

2. a statement or comment that conveys a meaning indirectly by the use of comparison, analogy, or the like.

A parable is a story that seeks to convey a point indirectly—meaning that a parable is not meant to be interpreted literally. If you interpret a parable literally, you will miss the point. Consider the following parable:

2. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

3. And he spake this parable unto them, saying,

4. What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

5. And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

6. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. (Luke, 15)

If you insist on interpreting this parable literally, you must reason that Jesus is talking only about shepherds and sheep. Thus, those of us who don’t own a flock of sheep should ignore this parable. A literal interpretation will not allow you to say that Jesus is talking about sinners as the lost sheep. Yet that is clearly Jesus’ intention, as revealed in the following verse:

7. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Another obvious example is the following:

31. Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:

32. Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. (Matthew 13)

Obviously, Jesus did not mean to say that the kingdom of God is like a seed or that its purpose is to provide a nesting place for the birds. Thus, how could one possibly understand the deeper meaning through a literal interpretation? It seems clear that Jesus’ disciples were not content with a literal interpretation:

Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. (Matthew 15:15)

It also seems clear that Jesus did not want his disciples to settle for a literal interpretation; he wanted them to find a deeper understanding:

15. Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable.

16. And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? (Matthew 15)

Another example is Jesus’ long parable about the sower (starting in Matthew 13:3) whose seeds fall on different types of ground. Jesus goes on to explain the parable (Matthew 13:18), and his explanation goes far beyond what one could have gleaned from a literal interpretation of the actual parable. Yet why does Jesus even use parables, why not simply give people a direct explanation of his point?

10. And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?

11. He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.

12. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.

13. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

14. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:

15. For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. (Matthew 13)

Now compare this to what we have seen earlier, namely that Jesus challenged the scribes and Pharisees because they took a literal approach to interpreting the scriptures. Doesn’t it seem plausible that Jesus is deliberately using parables because so many people are trapped in the outer, literal approach to religion? He is using parables as a form of koan that is designed to confound the intellect, the linear mind that wants to interpret everything literally? In other words, Jesus is using parables that  must be interpreted as a tool to force people to go beyond a literal interpretation.

Is it not obvious that Jesus wanted his own disciples to go beyond a literal approach to spirituality? Is it not obvious that Jesus was not a Biblical literalist, as demonstrated by the fact that the scribes and Pharisees sought to use a literal interpretation of the scriptures to get Jesus to incriminate himself? Is it not obvious that you simply cannot understand the fullness of Jesus’ message if you insist on taking a literal approach? In fact, by doing so you will place yourself in the same frame of mind as the people who rejected Jesus and had him condemned to death. Once again, we see the choice:

  • Are you satisfied with a literal interpretation of the Bible? Will you allow Biblical literalists to inflate your fear and get you to close your mind to a deeper understanding of the fullness of Jesus’ message?
  • Do you want more? Do you want a richer understanding of what Jesus was really trying to tell us? Do you want to be one of the people about whom Jesus said: “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven?”

We now see that in order to understand Jesus’ parables, we have to go beyond a literal interpretation. And if we want to grasp the deeper truth that he taught to his disciples, we have to go way beyond a literal interpretation. Yet how can we find a deeper interpretation that is valid? How can we interpret Jesus’ teachings in such a way that we hear what Jesus wants us to hear and not what we want to hear?

 

 

Copyright © 2009 Kim Michaels

How did Jesus teach?

By Kim Michaels

 

We have seen that Jesus did not approve of the approach to knowledge taken by the scribes and Pharisees. Thus, he could not have been teaching the same way they did—by passing on factual, intellectual knowledge, which to the scribes and Pharisees meant their fixed interpretation of the scriptures. This is underscored by the following remark:

And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes. (Mark 1:22)

The scribes were constantly quoting scripture and their own tradition, much like today’s scientists quote other scientists. Thus, they were basing their teaching on a specific – outer, linear, intellectual, literal – interpretation of the existing scriptures. Jesus obviously used scripture, but he was also willing to go beyond and speak from a higher authority, an authority that is beyond the outer scriptures.

In fact, one might say that Jesus always sought to help people see beyond a literal interpretation of the scriptures, so they could see a deeper meaning. Here is but one example:

15. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. 

16. And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. 

17. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 

18. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 

19. To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 

20. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 

21. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. 

How did Jesus want his students to approach scripture? We can find an important clue in the following remark, where he is – again – speaking to the scribes and Pharisees:

 7. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,

 8. This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

 9. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. (Matthew, 15)

What is Jesus actually saying here? The scribes and Pharisees were very knowledgeable of the law and the scriptures. So when they taught, they were constantly referring to the scriptures, using passages to defend their interpretations—or give them an aura of authority. Yet Jesus is saying that this mouthing of scripture quotes is not what he is looking for in his disciples. 

Jesus does not want his students to draw nigh unto him with their mouth or honor him with their lips. He wants something more profound—he wants them to draw near to him in their hearts. What does this mean? Take a look at this passage:

 17. Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?

 18. But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.

 19. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:

 20. These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man. (Matthew 15)

Jesus is not satisfied with those who can recite the scriptures based on intellectual knowledge alone. He wants a deeper internalization that changes your “heart,” which we in today’s world might describe as a transformation of your state of consciousness. Anyone can learn how to recite a religious scripture, but that is not the same as truly understanding it and allowing it to transform one’s outlook on life. 

To illustrate the difference, consider a dishonest politician who knows how to say what people want to hear, but who is ready to compromises his or her promises whenever it is expedient. Then consider the many people throughout history who have not been willing to compromise their principles. Some have been willing to die for their principles, as was Jesus himself. The reason is that the principles had become part of these people’s sense of identity, and it was unthinkable for them to degrade their sense of self in order to gain a temporary advantage.

***

When Jesus taught, he did not seek to pass on merely intellectual knowledge, not even an intellectual understanding of the law of God. He wanted people to go beyond intellectual knowledge and attain a deeper understanding. What are the conditions for attaining this?

The first one is the willingness to look beyond one’s current view of the world, one’s mental box. To understand why this is important, consider that many modern Christians seem to believe that if they had been around 2,000 years ago, they would have instantly recognized Jesus. Many have been brought up to picture Jesus as a man with neatly trimmed beard, clean clothing and a halo around his head, making him instantly recognizable. Yet consider the fact that most people at the time did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah. In other words, Jesus wasn’t mainstream, and in today’s vernacular, the leaders of mainstream religions would probably have labeled him a dangerous New Age cult leader.

Jesus had no recognition from the authorities, so in order to accept Jesus, one had to be willing to look beyond the mental box defined by mainstream religion. People who based their approach to religion on outer authority, and an intellectual interpretation of scripture, would have rejected Jesus. In order to be an early follower of Jesus, you simply could not be mainstream—you had to take an unorthodox approach to religion. Since a substantial portion of today’s Christians take the “outer” approach to religion, it is valid to ask how many of them would have rejected Jesus?

How did the early followers of Jesus recognize him as being different from the many other self-styled preachers who were roaming the hills and villages of ancient Israel? Again, many Christians see Jesus as the only preacher of his time, but in reality he was one among many. His early followers could not have recognized him through the intellect, so they must have been willing to follow their hearts. They must have sensed an inner resonance with his teachings or his Presence.

Again, this points to a choice. Today, Christianity has become mainstream and it has created a particular view of Jesus and his teachings, a particular mental box. Those who cling to that box obviously cannot discover an understanding of Jesus’ message that is beyond what is defined by the box. So in order to find such a deeper understanding, one has to be willing to look beyond the borders of one’s current mental box. Perhaps this is indeed one of the main purposes for why the Christ appears on Earth—to give people the opportunity to look beyond their mental boxes, and to challenge them to do so?

We see many examples in the scriptures of how Jesus deliberately challenged the mental box of the religious authorities by either doing something that was defined as unacceptable or by challenging their interpretations of the scriptures. Several have already been quoted, but here is one more: 

6. Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. 

7. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. 

11. How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? 

12. Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. (Matthew 16)

So how did Jesus teach? He challenged people to think beyond their traditional mental boxes, yet this could not be accomplished through intellectual analysis. Jesus was after a deeper experience, which can be better understood today than at his own time. 

We now know that after Jesus’ time, a distinct form of Buddhism developed, called Zen. One of the primary goals of Zen teachers is precisely to give the student an experience of reaching beyond his or her mental box. The goal is to produce what we today call an intuitive experience, a breakthrough experience or an Aha experience. This is an experience that is beyond the linear form of thinking characteristic of the intellect. It is more spherical and focused on the big picture. It is focused on seeing the forest rather than a few individual trees.

We also have a greater knowledge of human physiology, so we know that our brains have two halves. The left side of the brain is the seat of intellectual or linear thinking, whereas the right brain is associated with intuitive, non-linear thinking. It seems clear that Jesus was a forerunner for the Zen masters and already taught by seeking to give his students intuitive experiences. 

Zen masters are known to use koans, which are short, seemingly contradictory statements that are designed to confound the intellect and thus open the student’s mind to an intuitive experience. Yet Jesus was a master at using such statements, long before Zen Buddhism emerged. 

Consider how he neutralized an angry crowd that was ready to stone a woman caught in adultery. He did this by making one short statement: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7). Yet there are numerous examples of “Jesus Koans,” and here is just one:

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. (Matthew 16:25)

How can the intellect possibly resolve the seeming contradiction that you have to lose something in order to find it? This leads to the recognition that Jesus taught primarily for the purpose of producing intuitive experiences. Such experiences help you internalize a concept, which is more profound than understanding it intellectually. Thus, it leads to a total transformation of consciousness.

As some modern psychologists have proven, one can have a good intellectual understanding of psychology without being able to control one’s own behavior. Yet as other psychologists have proven, when one intuitively understands how the psyche works, one can indeed achieve a more harmonious state of mind. It seems clear that Jesus wanted to produce an internalization that did not simply lead to a change in outer behavior but a foundational change in people’s state of mind. Again, the choice is clear: 

  • Are you satisfied with having outer, intellectual knowledge about Jesus based on mainstream interpretations of scripture? 
  • Or do you want more? If so, are you willing to reach for an inner experience? Why do you think Jesus so often talked about those who have eyes to see and ears to hear?

 

 

Copyright © 2009 Kim Michaels

What kind of teacher was Jesus?

By Kim Michaels

There is no shortage of opinions about who Jesus was and why he came to Earth. Yet as we have seen, part of his purpose was to teach, to give us the truth that will set us free.

Already, this demonstrates why it is no straightforward matter to decode the hidden message of Christ. For what does it really mean to teach? Surely, we have a greater knowledge today than people had 2,000 years ago, and this gives us an opportunity to uncover a deeper meaning behind Jesus’ message. Yet we cannot uncover the hidden meaning if we uncritically impose modern concepts upon Jesus’ words. We need to be alert to the possibility that the way we define words and concepts today might actually obscure the hidden meaning in Jesus’ teachings.

In this modern age, most people have been brought up with a specific concept of what teaching is and how it should be done. It is often seen as a highly intellectual activity, where a teacher is passing on knowledge to a group of students. Teaching often means passing on factual knowledge, information that applies to practical aspects of life or a specific field of academic study. The modern definition of teaching seems based on the paradigm that the student’s mind is a container, and the teacher’s role is to pour factual information into that container, until it is sufficiently full for the student to pass an exam and perform specific tasks in the world. The basic assumption seems to be that factual information can teach us everything we need to know.

Yet did Jesus teach like today’s college professors or did he have a very different definition of teaching? Did Jesus aim to pour factual knowledge into the container of the student’s mind? Or did he perhaps aim to expand the container beyond what most people  – even today – think is possible? Did Jesus aim to fill people’s minds with finite knowledge, or did he seek to open their minds to something infinite?

Let us look at the historical situation in which Jesus appeared. Israel had a well-established teaching tradition, namely the religious establishment, mentioned in the New Testament as scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, the Sanhedrin and the lawyers. Although these people clearly taught in a religious context, their approach to teaching was quite similar to the approach found in many modern institutions of learning. The religious teachers based their teaching on the Torah (what Christians know as the Old Testament), and they had defined very specific interpretations of it. This is quite similar to how modern teachers have a specific curriculum, often defined by a central authority.

Certainly, the information taught by ancient institutions was different from what is taught in modern universities, but the method is largely the same. The learning institution fulfills its goal by giving people concrete information. The ancient teachers passed on what they defined as factual knowledge to their students—they taught according to a pre-defined curriculum. Thus, they took the approach that a person’s mind is a container that needs to be filled with the right kind of knowledge.

Since Jesus came to teach, one might expect that he should have fit into the existing teaching environment, even that he would have been welcomed by its members. In reality, Jesus was in constant conflict with the established teachers. They obviously saw him as a threat to their power over the people—even such a severe a threat that it needed to be eliminated by all means available. And Jesus didn’t go out of his way to ingratiate himself to the establishment. Here is just two among many examples of how he challenged the establishment:

But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. (Matthew 23:13)

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. (Matthew 23:27)

One might conclude from this that Jesus did not approve of the teaching methods used by the educational establishment of his time. Yet what exactly was Jesus’ main objection? Let us look at another quote:

Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered. (Luke 11:52)

Here is a clear sign of a hidden message in Jesus’ words, for what is this mysterious “key of knowledge?” Is it simply specific, factual knowledge—perhaps a secret formula for salvation? Or could it be an approach to knowledge that empowers you to go beyond outer, factual knowledge and gain a deeper understanding of the spiritual side of life?

It seems clear that Jesus wanted his followers to have this key of knowledge—otherwise, why blame the lawyers for having removed it? In coming chapters we will explore what the key of knowledge might be, but let us first take a closer look at Jesus’ approach to knowledge.

Jesus is clearly saying that the key of knowledge is needed in order to enter into something, but what might that something be? What is the real source of the conflict between Jesus and the scribes and Pharisees? Jesus is repeatedly declaring that the scribes and Pharisees are hypocrites because they present themselves as the shepherds of the people, but according to Jesus they are not living up to their responsibility. To understand this, let us take a look at one of Jesus’ most amazing statements, but let us first consider the context in which it was given.

The society of Jesus’ time had a very rigid view of life. The goal of life was to be saved, which meant gaining access to the kingdom of God. The scribes and Pharisees were firmly convinced that they had already secured their access to the kingdom and that they were qualified to tell everyone else how to get there. They based this on their knowledge of the outer law and their zeal in following all of the outer rules defined by their interpretation of the scriptures. Most people at the time thought only righteous people gained access to the kingdom, and many were convinced that they were righteous—based on the outer definition of righteousness established by the religious leaders. Thus, many people probably felt greatly provoked when Jesus said:

For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:20)

This would be equivalent to the reaction that modern protestants would have if Luther was proven to be a fraud. Or imagine the reaction from scientists if it was definitively proven that Darwin was wrong when developing the theory of evolution.

Yet the deeper message in Jesus’ words is that one cannot enter the kingdom of heaven by taking the same approach as the scribes and Pharisees. Since the lawyers were a specialized group of Pharisees, this would include taking the same approach to knowledge as the lawyers.

Thus, the “key of knowledge” that the lawyers had taken away was a specific approach to acquiring knowledge. When one adopts this hidden approach, one can enter the kingdom of God; when one does not, one cannot enter. And this approach to knowledge clearly is not the outer, factual, intellectual approach taken by the lawyers.

It is something deeper, something that those who take the outer approach to knowledge are refusing to use. Yet such people are not content with keeping themselves outside the kingdom—according to Jesus they are also seeking to keep everyone else from finding and applying the key of knowledge. This leads to one of the choices that spring from the Presence of Christ in this world:

  • Will you cling to your present approach to religion and spirituality, even cling to your present image of Christ?
  • Or are you willing to look beyond your current mental box and reach for the key of knowledge?

As one more reason to adopt the inner approach, consider the following remark:

But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples. (Mark 4:34)

This statement makes it clear that Jesus taught at two distinct levels. He had a general teaching that was aimed at the multitudes, and it was expressed in parables. He then had a more sophisticated teaching that was aimed at those who were more advanced, more spiritually mature. This is similar to how many spiritual teachers throughout the ages have taught, and even in modern education we have different levels of teaching in elementary school, high school and college.

Is it possible that at Jesus’ time most people were not able to grasp the fullness of his message, which is why his public teachings were veiled in parables? Is it possible that we now have a deeper understanding of life and that this makes it possible for many more people to grasp the fullness of Jesus’ message? Again we see a choice:

  • Are you satisfied with mainstream Christianity, which is based on the public teachings, the teaching in parables?
  • Or are you willing to read between the lines in order to decode the hidden message reserved for the true disciples of Christ? Would you like to become a direct disciple of Christ?

 

 

Copyright © 2009 Kim Michaels

Did Jesus want people to follow him out of fear?

By Kim Michaels

If one takes a look down the long corridors of history, it is difficult to deny that there has always been a clear element of fear in religion. Even in today’s rational age, there are many Christians whose initial reaction to the title and premise of this book will be based on fear. They have been brought up in an environment dominated by the belief that only the people who believe in a particular interpretation of the Bible – as defined by their church – will go to heaven, and that all others will go to hell. Thus, their gut reaction to this book will be a fear that letting their minds wander beyond the safe boundaries defined by their church might open them up to ideas that will lead them straight to hell.

In today’s world we have a far greater knowledge of human psychology than what was available at Jesus’ time. Thus, we know that the primary effect of fear is a form of mental and emotional paralysis. Fear tends to make people cling to what is familiar, to what seems safe. The practical effect is that people tend to stay in the religion in which they were brought up and never go beyond its safe boundaries. Which inevitably leads us to question how Jesus ever gathered any followers? In other words, if all people at the time had taken the same fear-based approach to religion as we see in many modern Christians, how did the early Christian movement ever get off the ground?

The situation is obvious. In today’s age, Christianity is clearly a mainstream religion with elaborate cathedrals, intricate rituals and clearly defined doctrines. Yet at Jesus’ time, there was none of that—only a man wandering the dusty roads of ancient Israel with no recognition from any authority figure or institution.

The people Jesus encountered were mostly Jews, and they had been brought up with much the same approach to religion as seen in many Christians today. They thought that if they followed all the prescripts of the Jewish religion – the mainstream religion in their homeland – they were guaranteed to be saved. Yet if they strayed beyond it, they were guaranteed to go to hell. Thus, following an unorthodox preacher, such as Jesus, carried the ultimate penalty.

This leads to an inescapable conclusion. If all of the people Jesus encountered had been paralyzed by the fear-based approach to religion, then Jesus would have gathered no followers and Christianity would have died in infancy. End of story.

Since that clearly did not happen, we can conclude that there were at least some people who were willing to let Jesus take them beyond the “safe” boundaries of the mainstream religion of his time. In order to follow Jesus, one had to be willing to boldly go where no Jew had gone before. Thus, in order to find a deeper understanding of Jesus’ teachings than what is offered by mainstream Christianity today, one has to be willing to boldly go where few Christians have gone before. Yet in order to do this, one must find a personal balance between two opposing forces in human psychology.

Consider how people lived in previous times, such as in the stone age. Then consider how people live in the modern Western world and acknowledge the incredible difference. What is the one factor that can explain this immense progress, what is the main difference between modern people and stone-age people? It is that modern people know so much more than people did in the past. Thus, the one factor that drives human progress is an expansion of knowledge.

Yet we have just seen that one of the most powerful forces in human psychology is fear, which causes people to close their minds to new knowledge. So how could this incredible expansion of knowledge have taken place? The answer must be that there is another force in human psychology, a force that does not simply counterbalance fear but can actually – to use Jesus’ own words – make us free from fear. Take another look at this quote:

31. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

32. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John, 8)

It seems clear from this quote alone that Jesus wanted to give his followers a truth that could expand their knowledge and set them free from fear. Why is this important? Because modern psychology has clearly shown that fear is based on a lack of knowledge. You fear the unknown, meaning that when you have full knowledge, you often see that your fear is irrational, which makes it dissipate.

We now see that fear can become a closed mental box, a kind of psychological or spiritual catch-22. You fear something because you have a lack of knowledge, but the fear has the paralyzing effect of making you afraid to look for knowledge beyond what you already know. So once the fear has entered your psyche, it prevents you from finding the knowledge that can set you free from the fear—the fear feeds on itself. Consider how children fear the dark, but as they get older, their rational minds can see that there is nothing to fear in the dark, and the fear dissipates. Consider how medieval people feared many things that we today consider non-existent and thus no longer fear.

Yet how do people overcome fear? They must be willing to look at it, to confront their fears and seek a greater knowledge that empowers them to see the irrationality of the fear. As an American president said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself!”

It now seems clear that Jesus wanted his followers to expand their personal knowledge and even be part of the ongoing quest to expand the total knowledge of humankind. Yet what does it take to overcome the fear of looking at your fear? It takes a force in the human psyche that is the anti-thesis of fear, a force that extinguishes fear—as turning on the light extinguishes the darkness in a room. The Bible has an incredibly beautiful description of this force:

16. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

17. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

18. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

19. We love him, because he first loved us. (1John, Chapter 4)

Consider the deeper meaning of these words, “perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” They are in complete alignment with many modern psychologists, who also say that love is the anti-thesis of fear. In fact, some even say that we have two basic emotions, namely love and fear. Jesus himself seems to have been well aware of this, for he often told his followers not to fear. Here is one obvious example:

Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32)

Many modern Christians have grown up in a church that is heavily focused on the potential for “burning forever in hell.” Such a church is based on an image of God as an angry being in the sky who is constantly watching us for the slightest transgression. In other words, such a religion is using fear as the primary factor for motivating people to obey the religious rules and believe in the doctrines.

Yet is this angry God the same God as the one portrayed by Jesus in the above quote? How could an angry God take “good pleasure” in giving us his kingdom? Some modern Christian churches portray a God who seems eager to see us go to Hell, whereas Jesus portrays a God who is eager to see us inherit his kingdom.

What determines which God you accept? Could it be the balance between fear and love in your psyche? If people have more fear and less love, the image of an angry God seems more attractive to them. Yet once people begin to overcome fear, they tend see God as a loving God. Obviously, we must conclude that Jesus himself had overcome all fear, so one might reason that his view of God is the higher one. Take a look at another statement:

If ye love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15)

Many Christians have heard or read this statement without considering the stunning implications of it. Consider that Jesus appeared in an environment that was also highly focused on the fear of going to hell. The leaders of the Jewish religion were as skilled as some modern Christian preachers in “encouraging” their followers to obey them by playing on the fear of burning in hell. Jesus clearly set himself apart from the religious establishment by taking an approach that is not based on fear.

Consider what Jesus did not say. He did not say, “If you fear me, keep my commandments.” So it seems clear that Jesus did not seek to motivate his followers through fear. He did not want people to follow him out of fear; he wanted them to raise their motivation to one based on love. It seems clear that Jesus was not seeking to appeal to the people who were dominated by fear. Just imagine how easily he could have used the fear of hell and judgment to attract followers. Instead, Jesus seems to have sought out the people who had started to overcome fear and move into love.

Did Jesus perhaps understand that people who were still trapped in fear would cling to the Jewish religion and thus close their minds to his message? Did he realize that only those who had tilted the fear-love balance toward love would be open to his new teachings? Consider how often Jesus told his disciples not to have fear:

And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. (Matthew 8:26)

Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. (Matthew 10:26)

Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:31)

But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole. (Luke 8:50)

Isn’t it clear that Jesus did not want his followers to be motivated by fear but that he wanted them to be “made perfect in love?” Based on the concepts we have looked at in this chapter, one might conclude that religious people can be divided into three groups:

  • Those who are dominated by fear.
  • Those who are free of fear and dominated by love.
  • Those who have started to move out of fear but have not yet been “made perfect in love.”

It is not the intention of this book to criticize anyone. People have a right to adopt any approach to religion they choose. Nevertheless, it is predictable that those who are still dominated by fear probably will not be open to this book, and those who are set free in love have little need of this book. Thus, the book’s primary audience is those who are somewhere in between.

The reaction people have to this book will likely be determined by the balance between love and fear in their psyches. It might thus be helpful to consider that fear paralyzes us only to the extent that we are afraid to take a look at what we fear. The only key to overcoming fear is to open our minds to greater knowledge, for it is only the truth that will set us free from fear.

Consider monitoring your responses to the ideas in this book by evaluating whether your response is based on love or fear. If you discover a response based on fear, then consider that the only way to escape fear is through an expansion of knowledge. You must love the truth more than the limited view of reality that has created your present fear. You must love the truth so much that you will no longer allow your fear to prevent you from finding that truth.

The entire purpose of this book is to present an expanded understanding of Jesus’ teachings. Thus, if you allow your fears to cause you to stop reading, you will cut off any chance of attaining the knowledge that can set you free from fear. Whereas if you keep reading, you might just find the key ideas that will help you see the irrationality of your present fears, thus empowering you to move beyond them.

Remember that at Jesus’ own time only those who had more love than fear could follow Jesus. Today, only those who have more love than fear can follow the way toward a deeper understanding of Jesus’ teachings.

Based on this discussion, we can draw another important conclusion. Some modern Christian churches seem to say that Jesus was primarily interested in saving us, which is portrayed as a state we enter after this world. Yet we have now seen that Jesus clearly wanted to give people the truth that can set them free from fear. This leads to two observations:

  • Perhaps Jesus was not only interested in what happens to us after this world, since he clearly wanted to change people’s state of mind while they are still in this world?
  • Perhaps changing our state of mind – from fear to love – is one of the conditions we must fulfill in order to qualify for the salvation Jesus came to offer us?

The overall conclusion is that part of Jesus’ purpose for coming to Earth was to give us truth, to teach us. So we will now move on to consider what kind of teacher Jesus was. But let us first clarify the choice presented by this chapter:

  • Will you respond to this book with fear and close your mind to anything beyond the “safe” doctrines of your existing belief system?
  • Will you respond with love and open your mind to a deeper understanding that can “cast out” all of your fears?

 

Copyright © 2009 Kim Michaels

What is Christ?

By Kim Michaels

One possible definition is that Christ is a principle or Presence that faces us with the necessity to make a choice.

  • Do we reject Christ and stay where we are comfortable?
  • Do we accept Christ and allow Christ’s Presence to take us higher, even to take us beyond where we thought it possible for us to go?

When we read the scriptures, it is clear that Jesus had an uncanny ability to force people to accept or reject him. Some people revered him as the coming Messiah, while others denounced him as a tool of the devil. If one takes a look at our own time, one can see that this ability has not diminished after 20 centuries. Some people see Jesus as the only son of God, while others deny that he existed at all. Some spend a lifetime seeking to convert everyone to Christianity, while others spend a lifetime seeking to destroy people’s faith in Christianity. In between we find a wide range of reactions, which demonstrates that when people actually take a look at Christ, it is difficult to remain indifferent.

It is as if Jesus still has a mysterious Presence in the world, a Presence that confronts people with the necessity to accept Christ or to deny Christ. Yet what does it mean to accept Christ? Is it simply a matter of joining an outer organization, or did Jesus himself have a far more profound and multi-facetted understanding of what he wanted from his disciples?

Throughout history, many people have attempted to define who Christ is and what he stands for, but based on the fact that – after 20 centuries – there is still no consensus in sight, one must conclude that this is no straightforward matter. It seems as if Christ has another uncanny ability, namely an unwillingness to be defined, a resistance toward being put into any man-made mental boxes. Thus, we have already arrived at one example of how Christ forces us to make a choice:

  • Will you take the approach that it is easy to define Christ? You can do this by accepting a particular church and its doctrines, but you can also do it by accepting a secular or scientific view that denounces the historicity of Jesus or the validity of his teachings (and all religion).
  • Will you open your mind to the realization that it is no simple matter to define Christ? Are you willing to search for a deeper understanding of Jesus’ message than what you have now? Will you consider that perhaps it is not even possible to define Christ because Christ is like a stream – a stream of consciousness – that is meant to flow continually? You can dam up the stream, but the inevitable result is that the water becomes stale, and you cut yourself off from the River of Life.

The net effect of the first approach is that you accept a particular image of Christ as complete and infallible, and thus you inevitably close your mind to anything beyond that view. When you take the second approach, you open your mind to new ideas about Christ, meaning your life becomes an ongoing process of increasing your understanding—a journey of discovery. The first approach will prevent you from going beyond the image of Christ you have now, whereas the second approach opens the possibility that you might discover ideas that will help you live a richer and more complete life—what Jesus talked about when he said:

I am come that all might have life and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)

This statement is a typical example of the choice between a simple or a more nuanced interpretation. For Jesus was clearly talking to the living, so why did he say that he had come to give life to those who were already alive—at least physically? Did Jesus have a deeper definition of what it means to be truly alive? More on this later in the book.

This book is not an attempt to create a new mental box, put Christ into it and then argue that this box is better than all of the other boxes out there. It is an attempt to probe the mysteries, the enigma, that the Presence of Christ presented – and is still presenting – to the world. It is an attempt to look beyond traditional mental boxes and reach for the ever-flowing stream of consciousness that Jesus called “Life.” And it will not seek to force any final or infallible conclusion upon the reader.

***

How do we even begin to probe the deeper mysteries of Christ?

Consider the fact that 500 years ago most people in the so-called civilized world believed the Earth was flat and that it was the center of a very small universe. These beliefs formed a mental box that served as people’s foundation for how they looked at everything, including themselves, God and the world. Obviously, we know today that medieval people based their world view on erroneous beliefs, so we can see how this limited them in many ways.

Now consider that we today also have a mental box that forms a filter for how we look at everything. Surely, we have a much greater knowledge about many aspects of life than people had 500 years ago, but has this simply created another mental box? And although the box is clearly larger,  does it still limit our understanding of God, the world and our relationship with both?

Is it possible that Jesus came to set us free from all man-made mental boxes and give us a higher truth:

31. If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

32. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Is it possible that Jesus offers us a way to escape all limiting beliefs and instead find a higher world view, one that is not based on human opinions but is based on a recognition of what is real and what is unreal? Is it possible that Jesus left us a trail of clues hidden in hid own words, a trail that leads us to the truth he came to impart to us?

This book is based on the premise that there are deeper mysteries to be unlocked – or decoded – by looking beyond a traditional interpretation of Jesus’ words. The basic premise is that humankind’s knowledge has been expanded tremendously since Jesus’ words were spoken—and that this gives us an opportunity to find a deeper meaning than what could be uncovered in the past. After all, Jesus himself said:

I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. (John 16:12)

Did Jesus recognize that because of humankind’s limited knowledge, the people of his own time could not understand the fullness of his message? Did he foresee that there would come a time when knowledge had advanced to the point where people could unlock the deeper understanding? And did he possibly encode hidden messages in his words, messages that are meant to cross the span of centuries and unlock a higher understanding in the minds of today’s people?

This, then, is our quest: To decode the timeless messages hidden in the words of Christ. To investigate whether Jesus has a message that is relevant and useful for today’s spiritual people. A message that could not be decoded in previous ages, but is now has the potential to open the minds of those who are willing to see Christ as the ever-flowing stream of consciousness.

Again, let it be made clear that it is not the purpose of this book to create a closed mental box. This book will not seek to get all readers to agree with a particular view of Christ but will leave many things open to individual interpretations. Yet given the incredible variety of beliefs about Jesus that are present in the world, it is obvious that it simply is not possible to write a book that will be acceptable to everyone. Jesus is clearly one of the most controversial topics in the modern world.

In recognition of the diversity in people’s existing beliefs about Jesus – and out of respect for the reader’s right to determine his or her personal viewpoint – this book will take an upfront approach. Instead of seeking to gradually draw people into the book’s viewpoints, it will be very open about the choices upon which the book is based. That way, the reader can quickly determine if he or she agrees with the premises of the book and make a decision about whether to stop reading or go on.

Let it be made clear then that this book is based on the decision to seek for a deeper understanding of Christ than what is offered by mainstream Christian churches. Thus, the entire purpose of the book is to probe beyond the mental boxes defined by mainstream Christianity. It is easy to predict that for some readers this approach will elicit mixed reactions, namely reactions with a clear ingredient of fear. Thus, we see that the book must start with an open discussion about the role of fear in religion.

 

 

Copyright © 2009 Kim Michaels

How did Jesus teach his disciples?

Was Jesus a conventional, mainstream or orthodox spiritual teacher? Clearly not, since the conventional, mainstream and orthodox people of his time persecuted, condemned and crucified him. So does it make sense that we can understand the fullness of Jesus’ message by taking a conventional, mainstream or orthodox approach today?

Jesus himself told us to approach the mysteries of Spirit with the open mind of a child, and he said: “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” Is it possible that Jesus encoded hidden messages in his words, messages that can be decoded today because of the advancement in human knowledge?

The articles in this section will take you on a journey into the hidden mysteries of Christ, mysteries that have been covered over by the patina of history and by dogmatism. Yet these mysteries can be uncovered by using the “secret” tools given by Jesus and by using modern knowledge from such diverse fields as quantum physics and psychology.

Note that these articles were the beginning chapters of a book that has not been finished.

 

What is Christ? 

 

Did Jesus want people to follow him out of fear?

 

What kind of teacher was Jesus?

 

How did Jesus teach?

 

Was Jesus a Biblical literalist?

 

How can we grasp the true meaning of Jesus’ message?