If, as we are suggesting here, the Bible is, at least in part, the story of God’s reach for Self-Consciousness (or perhaps more accurately, the story of God’s Creation of Self-Consciousness), and if the process began at The Fall with the making and putting to sleep of Adam who we have said, is — or was — simply God Himself intentionally shorn of His Awareness of What Was Going On, then for the book to be complete it should include an ending to the story which both accomplishes God’s Purpose (that is, the One become Conscious of Being Itself, or Self-Realized), and restores order to the Universe (the apparently sundered parts returned to unity and the sleeper awakened into re-cognition of Identity in or as God); further, this should all be introduced to us in such a way that we as readers will know that what is about to unfold is not just one more chapter but indeed the story’s culmination, and that we have reached the conclusion of the lesson. After all, any story that begins as this one does in Genesis with a giveaway line like “In the beginning …” that might just as well have been “Once upon a time …”, must in all fairness come equipped with an appropriate and sufficient ending similarly flagged to the reader’s attention.
And, in fact, it is so. The first four books of the New Testament, the so-called Gospels, which relate the life and teachings of Jesus, fulfill that very function. One of them, the Book of John, even opens with the familiar words “In the beginning” which cannot help but instantly recall the reader’s mind to the very first words of this extraordinary textbook, effectively bridging over all the business in between, all the creation, destruction, idolatry, rivalries, romances (licit and otherwise), famines, pestilence, warfare, petitioning, poems, songs, platitudes, and assorted other lessons in truth that fill the intervening pages. All of that, of course, is essential to the story, primarily because, if we read it to learn, it serves to remind us over and over again that this is not intended to be simply a course in Middle Eastern history, and neither is it designed to be merely a testimonial to God’s life and times; rather, it is a story about us, about you and me, the book’s readers and students and, ultimately, its protagonists. Indeed, if you and I do not see ourselves in this book and recognize the whole of it as a call to us to understand what we are, how we got here, and what we must do now, then we have not been listening to the teacher. We may get all the questions on the test right about who begat whom and which prophet predicted what when, but we will have understood nothing. Thus, by his choice of opening words, the narrator in John reminds us that this has all been one continuing story, a story about our beginning and therefore wholly about us, and now, a story to which he is about to relate the inevitable, happy ending.
Likewise, the book of Luke offers us a similar reminder of what is going on in the Gospels. Here, the technique employed is a lengthy, itemized genealogy tracing Jesus’s line of descent from Joseph through the great patriarchs of the story to the beginning and Adam. As we wade through that list of names (surely most readers simply skip over it, but to do so is to miss its purpose and therefore its intended effect on us) we cannot help but recall the people, events, and experiences encountered over the preceding hundreds of pages, and the changes which relating to them has wrought upon us and our perception of ourselves. (To be sure, biblical scholars may insist that the function of Luke’s opening is otherwise, but it nonetheless fits perfectly into our enterprise here.) So, once again, although by a different technique, the story is neatly and nicely tied together, the bridge from opening to close joined, and we are pointedly reminded what is really going on here. “Do you remember my telling you about Adam,” the storyteller in Luke asks us in effect, “and how he became Seth who became Enos who became Cainan … and so on? Well, now, through all those generations Adam becomes Jesus, and here’s what he did then.”
Surely this is one of the most exciting parts of the story. It is, as the Anglo-Saxon word for Gospel actually translates, the good news. After all the turmoil and confusion reported in the so-called Old Testament, the seemingly endless struggles mankind endured in the execution of The Fall’s “life sentence”, the dust is seen to settle, and there emerges one, the One, triumphant. Finally, lest we still fail to understand what is about to unfold, and do not recognize the appearance on the scene of Jesus for the climactic conclusion which it is, the character John the Baptist is introduced into the story specifically to awaken us and alert our attention to the coming events with an appropriate fanfare and flourish. “Prepare ye the way,” the Baptist (perhaps one who washes away the veils of sleep with water?) exhorts us with all the confidence and authority of a circus ringmaster, “for there comes after me one who will truly dazzle your minds and delight your hearts! Yes, dear friends, it is now my great honor and cosmic privilege to present to you on this stage live and in person …”
But before we bring him on, let us retrace our steps briefly, and recall a query we posed a couple of chapters ago. Remember, we asked, how might a character in one of your dreams react if he were to come across in your dreamscape (his reality) a book (say, like this one) daring to suggest to him that his world is only another’s dream (that is, your dream) and that he and his life in all its aspects are nothing more than a creation of your imagination (or, we might say, an image of you). Reading that, would this character, we wondered, seek to awaken you, knowing that if he were to be successful in doing so he would inevitably extinguish himself; or instead would he simply carry on his life as before, continuing to act out his role in your dream as it continued to unfold in your imagination.
Of course, as you may have undoubtedly already suspected and perhaps even concluded, the question may be moot, for if this fellow is truly and only a character in your dream, then he has no “free will”; rather, he is, like a character in a play, limited to the actions and activities prescribed for his role by you, the playwright, or, in this instance, the dreamer. It is your imagination or creative power (your will, even if being exercised in sleep) that determines everything about him. This character in your dream is living, we might say, a “determined” life, or, if you like, a pre-determined life; that is, a life determined or shaped not by any decisions or choices he makes, even though it may seem so to him, but by the script written by the dream machine which is you. Again, all the decisions and actions he takes are determined by you in your mind, not his, as part of the scenario of your dream, which is his life.
So, to get back to the question whether or not he would choose to awaken you upon stumbling across this book in your dream, the answer may be that as a character in your dream, he could not choose to do so unless you, the sleeper, had chosen that he do so and then willed that choice to unfold appropriately in or as your dream. Indeed, he could not even have “stumbled” across the book in the sense of by accident or unexpectedly unless you have chosen to dream that he would do so. The book would have appeared to him in the dream because you dreamed it! Once again, then, the answer to our question seems to be that upon reading this book the character in your dream would awaken you if you wanted him to do so (and therefore dreamed accordingly), and conversely he would not if you did not. But more to the point, and here we may seem to be splitting hairs although the distinction is important, the character in your dream would not read and act upon the book (that is, seek to awaken you from your sleep) unless somewhere within you, you had determined that you were ready to be awakened, or, rather, to awaken, and that whatever function your sleep was intended to serve had been served. Remember, we said earlier that dreams, or at least most dreams, are a representation of the dreamer. They are not so much like scripts written by the sleeper and then acted out on the stage of our minds, scripts in which the sleeper may or may not play a part as he chooses, as they are in their entirety expressions or images of the dreamer. In a word, our dreams are our portraits, however impressionist or abstract, of our selves. So the character in your dream then will read and act upon the book not because you want him to do so, but because you want to do so. Ready to awaken ourselves from sleep, we the sleeper will dream about a character ready to awaken a sleeper from sleep. Ready to leave the world of dreams and illusions, we the sleeper will dream about a character ready to give up his life in a dreamscape. Ready to give up the duality between sleeper and dreamer and to be instead the single, awake, alive, unified entity that we are, we dream about one who is ready to die.
Thus, God-as-Adam, when the function of his long sleep is accomplished, is ready to awaken, and so he dreams of one who awakens. He dreams of Jesus. God-as-Adam, having rendered Himself unconscious in Eden and remained ever since asleep and dreaming, now having lived a thousand and more pages as very nearly every conceivable character under the sun, endured countless battles, slaughtered ruthless enemies, suffered innumerable defeats, enjoyed myriad victories, reaped bountiful harvests and cursed endless famines, throughout it all begetting without interruption, finally achieves as Jesus what He set out to accomplish in the beginning: Self-Awareness. Jesus is the culmination of the process. All the events and emotions reported on the preceding thousand pages were not isolated incidents or statistics, but part of one whole, the human drama from the beginning in Genesis to the end in the Gospels, by which self-consciousness, and from there Self-Consciousness, is created. Jesus, then, is the character in the dream who discovers not only who he is and therefore who we are (characters in a dream, characters inhabiting not a real world but a dreamscape), but also the implications of that discovery.
Let’s recall our friends from the preceding chapter, the so-called mental patients whom we observed in their role playing therapy. Remember, we said there that once they solve “the character’s problem”, they must be reminded that their own, true identity is not the role they are playing but another, and therefore, for the resolution of the character’s problem to be felt in their own lives, it must be transferred to themselves. Just so, Jesus is the dream character who realizes, first, that he is a dream character, and, second, that any sense of identity he has discovered for himself in the dream reality somehow belongs not to him, but to another, to the dreamer. “If this is a dream, and I am a character in it,” Jesus reasons, “there must be a dreamer, and given the nature of dreams, on the one hand I must not really exist as I seem to myself, and on the other somehow I and the dreamer must be one”. Or, in the language of our role playing therapy model, Jesus is the role or the character who realize that there is another (the patient) who is acting as or pretending to be him (the character), and that therefore not only does his identity and his reality come from that other, but that is somehow his identity and his reality.
In an attempt to illustrate this phenomenon again using the imagery of the theater, Shakespeare’s character Hamlet has and can have no reality of his own, because he cannot exist without our (the author’s, the actor’s, the audience’s) life. You and I give to Hamlet all the life, and therefore all the identity, he will ever have. But, and here we return to the premise of God’s Plan at Eden, we can learn from Hamlet. We can apply his reactions and his experiences to our lives, and thereby strengthen, alter, or whatever our own sense of ourselves. But, all the while, we must keep clearly in mind that it is we-being-Hamlet who is teaching we-being-us. Hamlet is really no more than a projection of our own identity onto a fictional character (for our own amusement or edification). Just so, we are no more than a projection of God’s Identity into a dreamscape (for the purposes of The Conspiracy). So, to continue (to be sure, this reasoning gets complicated, even convoluted, but it is worth the effort), God-the-Dreamer draws from Jesus-the-dream-character’s discovery of his own identity in the dreamscape and transfers it to Himself. “Because Jesus, one of the characters I am playing in My dream, has come to know who he is, and to know that he knows,” God says to Himself, “because of who Jesus is (again, Me in My dream), then, by transference, I Know Who I Am”. Thus is the therapy completed. The patient has acted out the role, resolved his problem as the role, and transferred the solution to himself. The conspiracy is accomplished. Or, in the words of the book of John, “It is finished”.
Now, it is essential to remember that the moment God awakens Himself from sleep (the conspiracy completed, there is no longer any need to dream), the dreamscape and the dream characters that inhabit it somehow cease to exist. After all, when you and I awaken each morning, that is what happens to our dreams and the characters which inhabit them. Where do they go? Back to their source, of course, which is us. And where did Jesus say he was going? Back to the Source. But not as Jesus, anymore than the characters in our dreams return to us in the morning as themselves. They simply resort to being what they always were, the stuff of our mind. Likewise Jesus and the rest of us. As characters in God’s Dream, we eventually return to the Source, but not as ourselves exactly, more as The Stuff of His Mind (whatever precisely that might mean).
I fully realize that the foregoing does not even remotely resemble the traditional portrait of Jesus (or of the Gospels, not to mention of the Bible itself) that most of us have gown up with, and I appreciate the discomfiture which it may generate. Even thinking such things not so many years ago would have earned some of us a hard whack on the knuckles with a long, wooden ruler (or, not so many years before that, a burning at the stake). But the inescapable fact is that a close, careful reading of the Gospels leaves one hard put not to acknowledge at least that this is a conceivable interpretation of the events and lessons reported therein. Indeed, in this new light, however painful it may be to our eyes, much of what previously seemed unlikely or unbelievable, or simply undecipherable, looms clear.
Perhaps most revealing, and most revealed in this new light, is the manner in which Jesus refers to and addresses God. He does not speak of him as “the Lord God”, which you may remember from an earlier chapter we suggested might be the representation in the dreamscape of the authority aspect of God the One, but as the Father, the One Who created him, Who is the Creator of us all (”our father”). From Jesus’s remarks, it is quite clear that as he sees Him, the Father is not simply another aspect of the dreamscape, but instead somehow beyond it while still immediately at hand. Also, his relationship with Him is different, very different, from the relationship we have seen before between others in the dreamscape and the Lord God. Heretofore, it had always been the function of the Lord God to shed sun and sweet rain and healthy flocks on us and our friends, and to dump hailstones and locusts and disfiguring diseases upon everyone else. Thus, the Lord God’s role was clearly within the definition of the dreamscape, as some kind of “Super Cop cum Maximum Medic”. But there is none of that from Jesus. Indeed, for example, when his disciples suggest to him that a firestorm from heaven might serve some of his enemies right, Jesus is appalled, responding in effect that they, his disciples, have thoroughly failed to grasp what he, Jesus, was all about. One has the distinct sense from that exchange that their suggestion was deemed inappropriate not because of its nature but because of his. In other words, had Jesus been focused on the dreamscape, as were his disciples, he would likely have agreed with their suggestion, and called upon the Lord God accordingly. But Jesus had seen beyond the dream, and was no longer interested in dreamscape solutions to dreamscape problems. Stop thinking in dream terms, Jesus seems to be urging his disciples and through them us, and we will see that none of us has enemies, for nothing is as it seems in the dream. Here, as in other Gospels passages, it is apparent that some of the disciples considered Jesus to be simply another of Super Cop’s deputies, someone sent from above to avenge their side at the express expense of others. Nonetheless, Jesus insisted throughout that his mission was from the Source, not from the god of the few who resides within the dreamscape as a character of the dreamscape, but from the God Who alone is God, the God of All There Is, the God Who Is All There Is.
Likewise, throughout the Gospels, at the heart of Jesus’s teachings seems to be the idea that our “problem” is not that we have been bad boys and girls and therefore to make it up we must offer gifts and make promises and so on (as had always been good enough before, if not very effective), but that, quite simply, we do not understand who or what we are, and that until we do we can never “do right”. And it is painfully clear that Jesus is not speaking here of atoms and molecules and wave length theory; he is speaking conceptually. “You have got it all wrong,” he insists, over and over again. “Not just the details, but the whole thing. You have got to undertake to see yourselves and your reality totally differently than the way you do now. There is no other way.”
And because of the enormity of the task he sets before us, Jesus argues repeatedly that it is not something that can be undertaken half-heartedly. We are not talking about hiring a couple of carpenters and a painter to effect a bit of remodeling. We are being urged to tear down the entire building of our belief structure and start over. Or, again, at one point Jesus observes to a crowd that soon wherever they look for him, they will not find him, for where he is, where he lives in Truth, they cannot come. (Notice that Jesus uses the present tense in speaking of himself in this passage; not where he will be, but where he is, because, of course, regardless of how much traveling may seem to take place in a dream, or how much time may appear to transpire, the dreamer is always here and now, just as the audience at a theater is not subject to the passage of time or shifts in geography which may be played out on the stage. “Before Abraham was, I am.”)
Predictably, Jesus’s listeners are totally confused by the remark, and in John’s report of this incident, one can almost see them reaching for their maps in search of his hiding place. But of course he is not speaking of anywhere on their maps, for he does not live there anymore. In a way, it is like a parent coming home to find the children all over everything playing cowboys and indians (or whatever it is kids play these days). “Howdy, ma’am,” a six year old on a broom horse offers, “you’d best take cover behind this here turned over wagon, as we’re expecting an attack from them varmints any minute now.” The turned over wagon, of course, is a brand new coffee table, now upside down against the couch, and “them varmints” are none other than the neighbor’s twins, now upstairs in the bedroom, putting on war paint at the make-up table! Two different worlds seemingly occupying the same space and time. But the key difference is that, while the children, overwhelmed by their imagination, can see only one of the realities, the wild west, you the parent can see both, for you have been where they are (you too were young once, after all, and played the same games). So, you can speak to them from the “real world” in real world terms (”Don’t forget you’ve all got homework to do”), and in their world terms (”Heap good war dance, varmit”), and you can even mix the two (”Put a scratch on that coffee table, cowboy, and it’s boot hill for you!”), all the while never losing track yourself of precisely who you are, who the children are, and where all of this is actually happening. Just so Jesus.
Similarly, Jesus diverges from the teachings of some of his predecessors in the Bible by seeming to insist that the Promised Land (now called the Kingdom of Heaven) does not reside in the dreamscape, but somewhere indescribable (at least, in dreamscape terms), somewhere within, somewhere beyond, somewhere that can only be alluded to and that cannot be perceived by these eyes, but only by “eyes that see”. But now you and I can begin to understand what Jesus means. The Kingdom of Heaven to which Jesus refers is Reality, and that is, by definition, on the “other side” of the dream, where the Dreamer Lives, and thoroughly inaccessible to dream characters. After all, assuming you were offered the opportunity to do so, how would you explain yourself and where you live to a character in one of your dreams? Perhaps more or less just as Jesus did. You might say that your home is nowhere to be found in the dream, that you are in fact the source of the dream, that the dream character is in a way you, too, and finally that there is no way for a dream character to come to where you are except by ceasing to exist in the dream. “You must die to the dream if you would awaken to My Reality,” you might observe. Or, who dies in the dream, will be born again in the dream; but who dies to the dream, will be Born Again as the awakened Dreamer! Everything and everywhere in the dream, you might continue, is subject to the rules of the dream, and therefore is unpredictable, often threatening, and always temporary. To be in control of your life, you might urge, you must abandon the dream and go to the source of your life, the dreamer. Thus, the “promised land” was in the dreamscape, and therefore never really could deliver as advertised, because everywhere in the dreamscape is part of the dream. The Kingdom of Heaven, on the other hand, is outside of or transcends the dreamscape, and therefore can deliver on all of the promises which the promised land promised. (Tangentially, we might note here that one can easily imagine how unwelcome that message was to those in society who were doing well enough for themselves just as things were. It was bad enough having to put up with the hair-shirts and ascetics who wandered about seeking to rock the boat, but this one wanted to turn the boat right over. Is it any surprise that their reaction was quick and to the point: he’s got to go. What is surprising is that they convinced so many of us.)
Even some of the miracles performed by Jesus confirm, or can be interpreted to confirm, this rather unorthodox view of the Gospel teaching. Let us consider specifically the raising of Lazarus from the dead, for surely of all the miracles that was the big one. This is an event that has always seemed suspect to me. Why did Jesus choose to raise only this one person from the dead? Why did he not proceed immediately from Lazarus’s erstwhile tomb to the nearest cemetery and there raise everyone beneath every stone, and then go on to the next cemetery, and after that to the next? Why was Lazarus so favored? Because, we are told, Lazarus was the one whom Jesus loved. But clearly that is no explanation, for everywhere else we are told that Jesus loved absolutely and indiscriminately, that indeed those characteristics were the hallmark of his love, the love we are implored even by him to emulate, as opposed to our love, which is specific, particular, and conditional. You and I, were we so empowered, might choose to raise from the dead only our best friends (and perhaps a few others, provided the price was right), but that does not sound like behavior consistent with the portrait of Jesus which the New Testament paints for us. To my reading, it is quite clear that the Lazarus story is about something other than doing a friend a favor. Otherwise, was Jesus not going to have to return to that place, when eighty or whatever years later, Lazarus simply died again? And, besides, if after death we go to heaven, or at least the good go to heaven, and surely Jesus’s “best friend” must have been good, what kind of a favor is it to bring him back here?
It seems to me that the Lazarus event offers us two lessons, both really aspects of the same thing. First, what Jesus wants us to understand from the incident is that physical death, the inescapable, irreversible worst as we perceive the world, is meaningless. “This is all a dream,” Jesus seems to be telling us, “and just as in dreams elephants can fly, so can dead people come alive. And the way to effect that is to know that it is a dream, and to know the dreamer, to know that you and the dreamer are one, for then you can control the dream any way you like. But to do that, you must keep your focus always on the truth, because the moment you allow yourself to become distracted, to believe again in the illusion of the dreamscape, you will become again a part of it.”
Thus, Jesus urges us, seek ye first (and only) the Kingdom, and the rest will follow; for once you know the true nature of reality, everything changes. (Drawing again from our earlier image, once the children “return” from their old west outpost to the living room, where of course they were all along, they no longer ride the broomsticks, hide behind the coffee table, or fear an ambush from their siblings.) Similarly, Jesus tells us elsewhere, call no man on earth your father, because to do so is to acknowledge yourself as a child of the dream, and the price of that is to be subject to the vagaries of the dream. Instead, recognize only the Father (with a capital F) as your father, for then you will know yourself to be apart from and beyond the dream, and you will be free. Recall the disciple who, for just a moment, walked on water but then sank; he succeeded so long as he kept firmly in mind his identity with the Dreamer, but the instant he permitted himself to be distracted (by the wind and the waves, or the stuff of the dreamscape), he thought himself once again a character in the dream and therefore subject to its laws, and he got drenched.
So, Lazarus rose from physical death because he believed that what Jesus said was True. Again, it is, as Jesus insists repeatedly, enough to believe (although nothing less will do), precisely because once we believe, once we know, that the dream is a dream, nothing else is needed; no potions, no magic formulas, no special postures are required when we know the Truth.
The other lesson I cannot escape hearing in the Lazarus story may be, as I suggested earlier, the same thing said differently: Lazarus, like Jesus before him, was ready to awaken from the dream. Like his teacher, Lazarus had listened and learned and trusted; he had taken Jesus’s teaching to heart, and made it his own, made it himself. He had become what he had been taught. And thus Lazarus’s death reported in the Bible is not physical, but beyond the physical. Having awakened himself, Jesus was now about to awaken another, Lazarus. Fully aware of this transcendental aspect of the event, one of the disciples says, “Let us also go, that we may die with him,” an unlikely comment if what is being talked about is physical death, but not the least surprising from an aspiring spiritual seeker who knows which death is being spoken of. But apparently that one was not fully ready, not yet ripe for the harvest as was Lazarus. This interpretation explains too why others might have come to the conclusion that Jesus loved Lazarus particularly. It was not the person Lazarus whom Jesus had singled out (although it might have so appeared to those who did not fully understand what was going on) but the event of his awakening. That surely Jesus loved particularly!
There is an event in the New Testament commonly referred to as the Last Supper which takes on an entirely new meaning in the light we here have shed on the Gospels. Indeed, like the Garden of Eden story, this passage has always seemed to me a likely candidate for our “What’s wrong with this picture?” game. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the event, I am speaking here of the Passover meal that Jesus shared with his disciples at which he announced to the assembled twelve that one of them would betray him, immediately after which words he — and this is the most disturbing part — turned to that one, who was Judas, and very nearly pushed him out the door, fairly commanding him to get on with it. “What you are going to do,” Jesus says to Judas, “do quickly.”
No matter how often I read those verses, nor in which translation or version, that short, painfully tense and indescribably intimate moment between Jesus and Judas — (the other twelve, bless their hearts, blissfully ignorant of the drama unfolding before their eyes) — never fails to fill me, first, with awe, and then with doubts, incessantly nagging doubts. Awe because this is clearly an event of cosmic, even archetypical proportions, and doubts because it just does not parse, at least not as it was ever explained to me.
Consider it this way. Suppose, as an admittedly absurd parallel, that in your own school district, the most sensitive, dedicated, compassionate, perceptive, insightful, and forgiving teacher were knowingly to permit, even to encourage, one of her hand-picked, most advanced and promising tutorial students to cut classes, plagiarize on a written assignment, and cheat on the mid-term exams, all the while intending not only to alert the authorities to the offenses, but also to help devise suitable punishment. Imagine further that when reports of this incident are published, rather than demanding the teacher’s license and scalp, the school board and the student body and the citizenry at large join as one in praising the teacher’s action and condemning the student, not just until the end of the current semester, but for all time! Unthinkable, isn’t it? But there it is, plain as day, in the Gospels. Unless we have misunderstood the story.
But if the Last Supper is not about a teacher who suspects a student may be getting himself into trouble and apparently encourages him to do so, then what is it about? Fortunately, the passage itself contains some clues to an alternative interpretation. When Jesus announces to the twelve that one of them is about to betray him, the Bible tells us that they look about the room uncertainly, wondering what Jesus meant. Most are apparently afraid to press the teacher on the subject, so they convince one of their number, described in the passage as the one “whom Jesus loved” — (a strange phrase for all the same reasons mentioned earlier in connection with the Lazarus event, unless this is a “codeword” intended to tell us that this disciple in question was Lazarus) — to ask Jesus to reveal the identity of the betrayer. Jesus replies, “It is he to whom I shall give this morsel when I have dipped it”. So, Jesus dips the morsel, hands it to Judas, and then, in the timeless line quoted here earlier, Jesus tell Judas to get on with what he has to do, which Judas promptly does. Clear enough, right? Well, apparently not for the other eleven, because, having witnessed this unmistakable fingering of Judas as the culprit, they continue mumbling among themselves that they did not understand what Jesus meant, or where Judas might have gone, or generally what was going on.
Parenthetically, we might note here that this is certainly not the first instance in which the disciples demonstrate that either they had acquired little understanding of what Jesus was telling them or they did not listen attentively to him. Indeed, one wonders sometimes if they were speaking the same language as he — which of course they were not. His was the language of Reality beyond the dream, theirs was the language of the dreamscape, and only he knew both and when he was using which. But fortunately you and I have the opportunity to analyze the transcripts carefully to discover what might really have been said and intended in that fateful discussion.
First, we observe that at least one translation uses the more specific word bread, or piece of bread, in place of the rather generic “morsel”. Also, we note that at another point during the dinner table conversation, Jesus made what was to become one of his most revered, and perhaps most debated, announcements, to wit, with a piece of bread in his hand, “This is my body”. Now, if we will put the two remarks together, the one about the morsel, the other about the bread (and surely Jesus was wise enough to anticipate, even possibly intend, that eventually we would do so), we might reasonably conclude that what Jesus wanted those of us with, as he might have put it, ears to hear, to understand was that he was giving to Judas his (Jesus’s) body. Thus, he may be saying, “This bread is my body, and I give it to my trusted disciple, Judas” — Remember, it had been Judas who, we are told, was the group’s treasurer, an appointment of great trust, and certainly one not lightly made — “and I instruct him, Go and do what you must do, and do it quickly!”
And what is it that Jesus has Judas do? To give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s! Jesus knows that his dream character identity as “Jesus, the carpenter’s son from Nazareth” must die if he is to reclaim and arise as his Identity in Truth, which is Christ, Who is God-as-Adam the Dreamer in the process of awakening, and so he surrenders that dreamscape identity to Caesar, king of the dreamscape, in exchange for his Real Identity from or in God, King of Reality. And lest there should remain any doubt in our minds that we are onto Jesus’s real meaning here, he announces, as soon as Judas has left the room, “Now is the Son glorified!” Not ten pages ago, not ten pages ahead, but now! This event, this exchange between Jesus and Judas is the event, the glorifying event. If you have not been paying attention before, he seems to be exhorting us, please pay attention now, for if you can understand this, you have understood it all. And conversely, misunderstand this and we have misunderstood it all.
Thus, these extraordinary scenes are not about who was the teacher’s favorite and who was the fink. Here, in a few lines, Jesus presents to us the very heart, the crux, of his teaching. And we nearly missed it altogether. Why? Clearly because, to a great degree, the event was reported to us by men who, bless their well-intentioned hearts, did not fully understand what they were witnessing, and so they told the story in the only terms they did understand, their own. What they saw was their beloved teacher handed over to die, and so that is the way they told it. But the death they witnessed was a dreamscape death (With dreamscape eyes, what else could they see?), an event which Jesus had already indicated by the Lazarus affair was both meaningless and irrelevant, and most assuredly not the Death to the dream which Jesus intended for himself and for all of us. But, again, having failed to grasp that distinction, those who wrote the Gospels could not but fail to report it. Happily (if we are anywhere near correct), Jesus anticipated that, and accordingly spoke with words that would for all time carry within them the clues to their real meaning. (Concerning the Sacrament of Communion, which evolved from the Biblical report of the Last Supper, please see the Editor’s Note below.)
And so, just as The Fall in the Garden of Eden was no fall, neither was the betrayal at the Last Supper a betrayal. Judas did what Jesus wanted him to do; he freed Jesus to be Christ. Judas released Jesus, while it had been the others who pleaded with him in effect to limit himself to the confines of the dream, even at one point, so specifically and directly as to prompt Jesus to snap at the poor fellow, and then again, after the crucifixion, in an extraordinary example of how little the disciples understood, a couple of them admitted to having hoped that Jesus might have been the one “to redeem Israel,” presumably by overthrowing the Romans, which dream-event had been quite evidently the farthest thing from Jesus’s mind.
Coincidentally, in the process of releasing Jesus, Judas may very well have freed himself. For if Judas truly did understand and absorb the teachings of Jesus, and had applied the consequent new awareness to the dream character “Jesus of Nazareth”, then he must have applied it to himself as well, to the dream character “Judas Iscariot”, for clearly what is seen to be true of one character in a dreamscape must be acknowledged to be true of all characters in a dreamscape. So, by releasing the identity of Jesus, the dream character, Judas may very well have released the identity of Judas, the dream character as well. And the dream-event suicide of Judas may be a report of his death to the dream and awakening to the reality beyond. The lingering message of this event may be that each of us must do the same. But none of the others present was going to tell it to us that way, because for those to whom this incident was seen to be a crime, and an horrendous crime at that, there had to be a villain.
Finally, we note that, at the crucifixion, a voice from the cross speaks to Mary and says in effect: “You stand there in tears, convinced you are witnessing my death. I am not who you think I am. I am not your son, and you are not my mother. The one you seek is gone, returned to the Mind of the Dreamer, Which I Am. If you wish a son, then choose the dream character standing beside you. You may be his mother, if you like, but not Mine; and he may be your son, but not I. I am neither father nor son, mother nor daughter, for where I Am, there is only The One, and I Am That.” Hearing that speech, and believing it to have been delivered by Jesus, we assume we are witnessing a good son providing for his mother’s old age. But now, after all that you and I have discovered, I hear it differently. Now, as I hear it, the speaker was not Jesus but Christ, not a dream character but the Dreamer Himself speaking into the dream, and speaking not just to the woman Mary, but to the entire cast of the dream, including you and me, all of us who think we are fathers or mothers, sons or daughters, husbands or wives, children of the dream. “Choose now, dear friends, while you hear My Voice, which it is you wish to be, yourself or The Self, for whichever it is, there you will live.”
And so, clearly, Jesus was, or is, a savior. The question is, from what? And the answer to that is, where do we think we are? What is it we think we need to be saved from? In these pages, you and I seem to have discovered that our situation is not so much threatening as it is illusory. That is, we are not felons condemned to life in the flesh, but rather aspects or images of God experiencing life in the flesh in order to experience life. Inescapably, that knowledge frees us. A dream character that knows it is a dream character, that knows the nature and purpose of the dream, that knows it shares its identity with, and even somehow as, the dreamer, and that therefore knows that its life is somehow its own creation, is free. “You will know the Truth,” he said, “and the Truth will make you free.” And it does.
Editor’s Note: The following paragraph about the sacrament of communion is excerpted from our response to a letter written to us by a visitor to The Zoo Fence: “As regards the sacrament of communion specifically, for us that biblical event (see Matthew 26:26) is about a Teacher explaining that His Identity (and ultimately ours, as well) is the One, and that what you and we perceive as the manifested universe (our lives) is in Reality nothing more or less than That, the Very One Itself. So, he says to us, ‘this bread is my body’ and ‘this wine is my blood’. In other words, ‘I AM the world’, and we can partake in a conscious relationship with Him, with the Infinite One, whenever we wish to do so, simply by addressing our lives, the world, and its things in that manner. Thus, when we eat bread, the Teacher says to us, recognize that it is the One, the Very Self. Likewise, when we drink wine. But, at TZF, we do not think Jesus or any other Teacher meant for us to stop there. Rather, we believe, and our experience confirms, that they would have us do the same when we eat cabbage, split firewood, honk a car horn, type on a computer keyboard, answer the telephone, pat a pet, curse a thief, smell a rose. I AM THAT means I am that, with no exceptions, in every direction. So, we consider our lives to be a Sacrament, and every activity, inner or outer, imagined or real, past, present, or future, good or bad, happy or unhappy, tall or short, fat or skinny, to be Sacred Communion. For us, This Is My Body, This Is My Blood is one of the most powerful spiritual Teachings ever uttered.” [Return to text]
When love has carried us above all things … we receive in peace the Incomprehensible Light, enfolding us and penetrating us. What is this Light, if it be not a contemplation of the Infinite, and an intuition of Eternity? We behold that which we are, and we are that which we behold; because our being, without losing anything of its own personality, is united with the Divine Truth.
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