Universality of the Revelation
We understand the revelation of God in Jesus to be a universal, or catholic, expression of the Godhead. Many early spiritual leaders understood the catholic aspects of the revelation very well, especially those who understood that within the revelation was spiritual truth that would expose anyone who used that same revelation abusively.
Human beings often have a limited understanding of the slippery nature of the ego. The ego has the ability to seek out those things that confirm its own prejudices, and it seeks out those things that protect the false self, the part of the being that sees itself as the source of what is good and true. The ego would like there to be a set of rules, such that if they are followed, when failure comes, the blame can be placed outside of the person. The ego would like to fix on things and prevent change so that the ego does not have to give up control. The more easily the external world functions—as though it were governed by rules—the less work the ego has to do to remain in control of the being and the world created by the ego and mind together.
It is the justification the ego uses to protect itself, to maintain its position and power, that leads to the abuse of the catholic expression of the revelation of God in Jesus. The ego is not comfortable with process as a model of the ideal, rather the mind seeks the objectified perfection found in images and concepts, images and concepts that cannot and will not produce the fruit of truth and love. Love adjusts and adapts to the focus of that which it loves. The adaption is necessary because that which is loved is changed by love; it does not remain static. The mutual adaptation of mutual love is a fundamental law of the universe.
Understand the consequence of loving an object or loving that which is not worthy of the highest form of love. We have the paradox of the changing and unchanging. Love and truth flow from God, and this fact will not change, but this flow is a process. The expression of the love, and the reception of the love, transform the lover and the beloved. What does it mean to love someone or something that cannot return love? The lover and the beloved move in relation to each other such that both have both roles. The human loves the love and truth of God; God loves the human. The human loves that within which expresses God’s love, and God loves the love and truth returned from the human. God adapts to the expanded expression of love and truth in the human, and the human is transformed by the love and truth that is expressed by God. The expression and reception become so rapid that the fabric of the universe hums with the vibration of the exchange. The vibration of love and the quality of the vibration express the unity and oneness found in the relationship between the human being and God.
This mutual exchange, at its highest level, results in the loss of egoic identity. The ego, sensing its illusory hold on consciousness slipping away, grasps at its own perception rather than letting the higher consciousness fill the being. This grasp stops the process and projects the illusion of duality. Drunk with the illusion of power, the ego confuses the early product of the process with the end product. The fruit of love and truth is prematurely plucked from the source that gives life. The universal revelation, the universal process halts and the limited consciousness, the limited understanding, because it resembles in some ways the truth, becomes like an idol. It has been objectified and ultimately, controlled by the ego, projects illusion that is accepted as truth.
Only those who are filled with self-importance, those who seek power and control, would place themselves between another human being and God’s love. Worse yet are those who believe that they are the mediators of God’s love on earth. God’s love cannot be controlled, managed, or withheld by human beings. This is also a universal law. God’s love may be expressed by a human being, but no human being owns, controls, manages, or mediates God’s love. The essence of God is expressed by Jesus when he speaks to the woman at the well:
Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard, “Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples than John”—although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized—he left Judea and started back to Galilee. But he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.
A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” (John 4:7-15)
The water—physically as well as spiritually—represents the life of God because God has given the gift of life. Jesus invites the woman to a mutual expression of giving life, and in her giving she would receive “living” water. Jesus makes the distinction between the physical and the spiritual, and he is speaking to her higher consciousness so that she might recognize the higher spiritual form of water, the higher spiritual gift of life. Once she realizes this gift, she wishes to receive the gift. She is yet to understand fully why Jesus asked her to give to him water; Jesus has broken cultural convention by asking her. Though she is a descendant of Jacob, she considers herself first to be Samaritan and calls Jesus a Jew. She knows he has come from the area of the southern tribes of Israel.
Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.” (John 4:16-26)
Jesus must express to her higher truth, but he begins with a factual understanding of her condition and her relationships. She is unable to see outside of the social and cultural conditions of her life, she still sees the barriers between people and she perceives a barrier to understanding God. Jesus breaks down the barrier to God, inviting her to understand God as present and the need to see God in the context of the spirit and the truth. Again, Jesus invites her to see the mutual process: God seeks those who worship him. Worship is the giving of value, loving what is truly valuable. As for those who place value and love in God, God seeks them and all who recognize the reality of truth and love found in proper relationship to God.
Again, the woman tries to shift the coming of the Messiah, the coming of this higher understanding to another place and time. She knows that greater things will be revealed, but she still only sees them in the context of her present life. Jesus knows this same truth and spirit is present and that he is expressing that truth, he is witness to that truth, and he says, in effect, I am speaking that truth to you now. The truth—not the facts—of everything you hope for is embodied in me; it is present standing before you.
Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” Then the woman left her water-jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” They left the city and were on their way to him. (John 4:27-30)
As often happens, the love and truth of God are so great that human consciousness is not able to hold what is so powerful so easily. She forgets to return with the water, but then invites everyone to return with her. She is compelled by the power of what she has heard even though, at that moment, she does not fully understand what is leading her.
Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest?’ But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” (John 4:31-38)
Jesus continues to teach the disciples that they must see the world and him differently. What is food to Jesus? It is more than the physical, it is also spiritual, just like the water that he spoke to the woman about. His life comes from that spiritual abundance found in God. And again, he is trying to help them to see time in a different way. What is important can be found in the present moment. Nothing more is required. Then he tells them more about the qualities of love and truth: you receive from God even when you did not sow love and truth from God. You are sustained by God even when you reap what your own labor did not produce. Your labor might result in creating a harvest which you will not see or reap. The labor of all spiritual teachers is a benefit to all sentient beings whether they labor or not.
Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there for two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.” (John 4:39-42)
Those who wrote the Gospel of John, like many others, confuse what is less important with the greater truths being shown to them by Jesus. They insist on writing about him rather than writing about the spiritual direction he is giving. They confuse the message and the messenger. They believe they are doing good, but they exalt Jesus in ways that get in the way of the truth he brought to them by focusing on old prophetic traditions that place false limits on God’s true presence. In this way the writers of the Gospel are similar to the woman at the well.
Misapplication of God's Intention
As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work.” (John 9:1-4)
The law as it is written in Leviticus represents an incomplete revelation, and the faulty application of that same incomplete revelation is the source of this question for Jesus. God does not burden children with the sins of the parents. The context of this question also seeks explanation for a condition that exists at birth, not for a condition that exists as a result of the actions of the parents in this life. The burden was accepted by the soul as a condition for entering this world, and as such, Jesus is correct in explaining this condition as the opportunity for the power of God to be revealed to the blind person as well as to others around him who learn to see with new eyes.
There is truth in understanding that the parents may cause difficulty for the children, but in these situations the children eventually see that their personal karma matches the conditions under which they conceded the wrong authority to the actions and words of the parents. Every child has within the ability to overcome the mistakes of the parents, especially those mistakes made with the good intentions of the parents. One must also understand that suffering exists for multiple reasons and suffering can move one toward enlightenment, just as suffering moved the Buddha toward illumination. God does not choose suffering for any individual. As difficult as it is to understand, human beings choose suffering out of ignorance, pride, selfishness, and often inflict this unconsciously onto others. The child that bears suffering for unjust reasons will reap future benefits.
Further evidence of the misapplication of God’s universal laws is exposed by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew.
But he said to them, “Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.” (Matthew 19:11-12)
Just as there was misunderstanding of the cause of birth defects there was misunderstanding of how God understood or valued flawed human beings. Those with physical defects, blemishes, or those who were disfigured in some way were understood by religious authorities to be unclean by God. In their pride they believed that they could judge what was perfect and acceptable to God, giving God what they believed to be the best sacrifice, but as we know and understand, God required only justice, kindness, and mercy. (A close reading of Matthew 23 reveals an admonishment for those who would misapply God’s intention.)
Jesus understood the implications of this and that is why he chose to express all manner in which a human being might find difficulty— through birth, through choice, through the actions or influence of others. Jesus is expressing the understanding that any circumstance does not matter. What looks like a blemish or imperfection to human beings is always acceptable to God. Other cultures and groups have long understood this: an imperfection or injury, rather than being a weakness, often leads to a strength that is highly valuable. It is the broken, damaged, or discarded person or item that eventually takes on special value, value that can save or redeem those who may have physical perfection but interior weakness and diminished capacity. Those who have overcome imperfection—physical, emotional, or mental—learn the sources of self-esteem and power, and recognize the manner in which these strengths can come to the aid of everyone. These human beings—those that are blemished—recognize the greater gifts and seldom confuse superficial gifts with true gifts of the spirit, gifts given by God.
And after getting into a boat he crossed the water and came to his own town. And just then some people were carrying a paralyzed man lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” Then some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk?’ But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Stand up, take your bed and go to your home.” And he stood up and went to his home. When the crowds saw it, they were filled with awe, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to human beings.
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax-collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax-collectors and sinners?” But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.” (Matthew 9:1-13)