Well, now the next question that arises in discussing the future of religion is whether Judaism and Christianity can in some way be saved? And this is a question with many aspects to it. It isn’t only a question of the reinterpretation of doctrines, what [the] Pope Paul, Pope John called aggiornomento, the updating of Christianity. The question of the institution. What are we going to do with the church buildings? What are we going to do with the organization? What about all these people employed as ministers? What function have they could they have in the future development of religion? If we agree to the idea that the gospel is no longer good news, but just a bore, is there any way in which this can. This whole thing can be salvaged? I’ve had myself different changing views about this. First of all, I would say that.
The function of a priest is to destroy the church, because the church, if we can I can restate this, you see in the classical terms of Christian theology. The church is the body of Christ.
What does that mean?
Well, if you go back to. Classical Christian theology. Here’s your idea.
What is Christ?
Christ is the incarnation. Of God, the son, the second person of the Trinity. The second person of the Trinity. Well, we have to go back and explain the Trinity.
You have to have a Trinity conception of God, if you think in a language based on sentences, whether a subject’s verbs and predicates, because the basic structure of the sentence. Is I love you. So I is one aspect of it. You is the country aspect of it. And love is the joining aspect. So if God is love, then I is the father. You is God the son, and love is God the Holy Spirit.
All the reasoning about the Trinity, why there was a doctrine of the Trinity goes back to that. And you see that all the thoughts that were moving in the minds of those early theologians, they didn’t understand this themselves. They didn’t realize that they were hooked on a three parts sentence and therefore had to think that way. But that’s why it emerged. And so if you, a wise theologian, you don’t knock down the doctrine of the Trinity.
You merely realize the obvious reasons why it arose. Because if God was only one. God could not be love, unless the object of God’s love were his creations, that if his creations were the objects of his love, then he could not be love without his creations. Therefore, God was not a self-supporting system. Therefore, they had to find out reasons for God being love in his own right. That meant the Trinity. And the that’s led to endless complications, which I will sidestep at the moment and go on with the main theme that Jesus of Nazareth was supposed to be the second person of the Trinity, God, as the object of his own love and of his own knowledge. Embracing and becoming finite, the finite state, the human state with the suffering, with the difficulties, with the limitations that all that involved.
And this is called in Greek theology. Kenosis, this K noses k e n o as I s it means self abandonment or self emptying.
Now, by virtue of that the whole physical universe is believed to be altered, insofar as the creator became the creature through the body, the physical body of Christ.
All physical bodies whatsoever are touched.
So that St. Paul uses the resurrection of Christ and he calls it the first fruits of those who slept. Christ rises from the dead. Overcomes death by accepting death.
And by this means then all the physical universe is in process of being changed into the body of Christ, that is to say, the union of creator and creature. And so, the church doesn’t mean buildings, it doesn’t mean clergymen, the church, the ecclesial meaning the assembly of those called together, the original idea of it is that this is the leaven. Like you put yeast into bread and eleven elevens the whole lump using Jesus’s own illustration. The church is the leaven, the organization.
Oh, let’s better say the organism through which the entire universe is in process of becoming converted into the divine.
You call this apotheosis, meaning the divine-ization of something.
And so when the original meaning behind the Christian mysteries is that when a person is baptized, he is joined to this leavening process, which is ultimately going to extend not simply to people, but to weeds and grubs and birds and stones. That ultimately, through the leavening influence of the church, the whole physical universe will be converted into Christ. Where the word Christ means. Not only the historical character Jesus of Nazareth, who is regarded as the beginning of the process, but where Christ means the created world and the divine world in perfect harmony and union. So here you see, is it is a fundamental notion of Christianity. That the world is in process of becoming the body of Christ.
So then the question, you see, that I posed at the beginning is that the priest of the Church of the institutional church will in fact further this process of becoming the body of Christ by destroying the institutional church.
Why? Because the institutional church. Has become a purely political power. What do you do? Let’s let’s take this problem in a very practical way where I speak from long experience. I have a friend, a good friend who is the. Rector, Vicar or whatever of the Episcopal Church here in Sausalito, and he’s a wise man. But what are his problems? He has an expensive plan that he has to maintain. Not only a church building, but a parish hall room, Martin. And he has to be sure that there are enough people in the community who annually pledge so much money to maintain this operation. And therefore, he is interested in upholding the building. And yet he knows in his own heart that that’s not the way things should work.
So then, I’ve often wanted to preach a sermon at the laying of the foundation stone of a church where the stone is ceremoniously laid. And I will take as my text from the Gospel of St. Matthew. If a man’s son ask him bread, will he give him a stone? The answer is yes. You will find again and again, that if you want to raise money for a project, you can far more easily raise money for the erection of a building.
And you can for the support of living people in their work as scholars or priests, physicians or psychiatrists or whatever it may be that they do, you can’t get money for people. You can get money for buildings.
And so, the priest then has to say we must destroy the church, burn the buildings down. Deny all the doctrines. Because the whole symbolism is that it was by the breaking of the body of Christ that the salvation of the world was delivered. When Jesus predicted his own death to his disciples, they were scandalized. They said, but it is written in the tradition that the Messiah is not subject to death. This is in the gospel of St. John, and Jesus replied, If a grain of corn does not fall into the ground and die, it remains lifeless and isolated. But if it dies, it brings forth much fruit. So therefore, it is only through letting go of the process of clinging to life, which is all our fixation on immortality, on preserving the valuable things, etc., this huge anxiety that we hold on.
So he was saying, let it go. So then when the priest celebrates mass, what happens? Was it easy to understand this? We have to go back to the very meaning of the mass in the civilization of the ancient Near East, the Mediterranean world.
The staple food was bread. From wheat. And the staple drink was wine. You didn’t, if you were in your right mind, drink water. Because it was polluted. And therefore, an alcoholic content in the water was a safeguard against infection.
So they had a way of making wine, not quite like our wine today. It was a very sick mixture. It was like concentrated port. And they served at table what is called a cratya in which we get our word crater, which was a shallow bowl like cup. And they poured wine into this and they mixed it with water.
And this was the staple drink as today children in Greece, in France always drink wine. They don’t consider it alcoholic luxury. They consider it food. So then, in this state of civilization, bread and wine were the staple food and drink. Now, bread is made from crushed wheat and wine is made from crushed grapes. So there’s an idea of sacrifice that the life of the wheat and the life of the grapes is sacrificed that we may live.
And therefore, Jesus identified himself with the sacrifice, with the universal process of biology, whereby all biological beings live in a mutual eating society, and we are only sustained by feeding on other forms of life. But he switched it. Instead of saying this is a situation in which we are predators and we clobber these other forms of life, and alas, you know, he put himself in the position of everything clobbered and said, I am all those creatures that you destroy and eat, therefore taking the bread.
This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. And then taking the cup. This is my blood of the New Testament. That is to say, the New Testament means relationship, really.
DRC key in Greek, the new dialog, the new interchange between man and reality.
And the New Testament is that it’s not that you clobber the world and feel terribly guilty because you’ve eaten fish and cows and wheat. But that I, God, gives myself to you through the wheat, through the grapes, through the cows, so the blood is shed for you for the remission of sins. In other words, please take this offering and don’t feel guilty about it anymore. Because the I, in the form of the victims, give myself to you voluntarily.
So then, the idea of the mass of Holy Communion or whatever you want to call it, is the breaking of the bread and the crushing of the grapes. That through the sacrificial act, this destroying act, life has given. Therefore, when a priest repeats the sacrifice and at the altar, he takes the bread in the form of the host and breaks it and pours out the blood, pours out the wine, all that becomes merely ridiculous symbolism.
If he is not also ready to break up the church. That means to knock down the idols, first of all. That is to say, the dogmas upon which people rely and lean suddenly discover the death of God, you see?
Suddenly discover the historical Jesus is something you can’t put your finger on. Maybe the resurrection didn’t happen. You know, there’s nothing to cling to, no miracles possible, perhaps. Break it up. And above all, break up the organization which is a political institution with enormous property holdings, generally exploiting the public.
Then on on those conditions, if the if the clergy, if the ministry were so to break up the church, the church would come to life. It would become a significant institution again, which it now is not.
So, the next thing is this. There is another aspect to the breaking up of the church. I spent some time this morning on going through the political analogy of the kingdom of God. God, as the big boss whom everyone must obey. Now, there are two themes in Christianity.
One of which is political and the other of which is organic. The political image is the kingdom of God. The organic image is the body of Christ. Or the symbolism of the vine. I am the vine and you are the branches. Indeed, one of the most extraordinary books in the Bible. That love poem called The Song of Songs has a theme of a love relationship between the creator and the creature in which all the imagery is vegetative as distinct from urbane. So a transformation of the church from the political urbane institution to the vegetative organic institution where the image of the government or the land no, not the government, let me say the order of the world changes from that of the palace, the city, the kingdom to that of the vine and the body, the organism.
This is the inner meaning of the incarnation of the union of God and man, while God and man are not truly united. Then order must be imposed from above. When God and man are truly united, in the spirit of the prophet Jeremiah, who said no more, shall every one teach his brother saying, no-God.
But they shall all know me, for I will write my law in their hearts.
And the law written in the heart, you see, is entirely different from the law imposed from above. The law written in the heart means what comes naturally.
Now, Jesus was a very clever guru. And in order to get people to have the law come naturally. He parroted the law imposed, and he did this in the gospel of Matthew, which is never read correctly.
You know how it begins with the Beatitudes.
And when he says blessed are the pure in art, in much higher ups, in Greek means happy, not blessed in the sort of unctuous sense of which that word as an English, it means happy.
My kairos are the pure. It doesn’t mean the people who don’t tell dirty jokes. Pure means clear, transparent. Hip, aware, not hung-up. Now, he then does a very strange thing.
He says. I have not come to destroy the nonprofit’s. Not to destroy, but to fulfill.
For I tell you, that not one ornamental serif or punctuation mark shall be taken away from the law until the end of the world. Therefore, you’ve got to obey all those forms.
The the scribes and the Pharisees pride themselves because they obey the law very thoroughly. But you must be more righteous than they are. Unless your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees. You will not be able to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
So to underline this and exemplified you have heard it said of all time. There are series now of crimes. One is to be angry with your brother. Another crime is to call him something that would correspond to our way of saying to a person, you bastard. Another way would correspond to our way of saying to someone, you’re a fool. Now, obviously, to be very angry is the major crime.
So what he does is he reverses the order of courts. We might say we have a magistrates court. Or let’s say we have the Marin County courts in San Rafael. We have the state of California Superior Courts in San Francisco and we have the federal courts leading up to the Supreme Court. Now what he does is a funny thing. He switches the order. The for the major crime, which is being really angry, he assigns you to the lowest court. For this, the minor crime, which is calling someone a fool, he assigns you to the major court, which is held fire Gana.
And then if you keep reading on in the Gospel, you know, everybody reads in the King James Bible, whoever says thou fool shall be in danger of hellfire. And because they instead of using quotation marks, it uses a capital letter for the beginning of what would ordinary be in quotes? People think the sayings are full means calling God a fool. It doesn’t mean that at all. It means if you read it in Greek. Myra in the vocative means fool thing to some your brother, fool, you shall be in danger of hellfire.
But later on in the same gospel, he addresses the whole crowd and uses the same expression in the plural. My right. You fools and blind, following blind guys.
You see. He doesn’t even obey his own precepts, so his precept must be taken, ironically. He’s a humorist here. He’s saying, you Pharisees, you you think you’re so great because you obey the law.
Now, look, I’m going to give you a law. And you obey that other words, it’s the technique of reductio ad absurdum because what does he do next?
He says you’ve heard it said of old time. That. You shall not commit adultery.
Ha-ha. Did I tell you that anybody who looks at a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery in his heart?
So all these pious fakes think, oh, we shouldn’t have lustful thoughts about women. That’s awful.
Who doesn’t have lustful thoughts about women? You don’t always have to act them out. So then he goes on in this joke. Therefore, if your eye offends you, you know, you. You looked at that girl and kind of thing, pluck it out.
Has a better view that you enter into the kingdom of heaven with one eye rather than I have to go into hell with two eyes.
You know, really, this these ministers, these theologians have absolutely no humor at all. Well, the whole thing is a joke.
So likewise, your adversary wants to take away your coat, give him your cloak also. You’re gonna be so he says, you know God. It’s absolute perfection. Makes his son to shine on the evil on the good and sends his reign on the dust and on the unjust. You do the same thing. Well, nobody can.
Can you love your enemies? Can you take no thought for the morrow? Can you be as carefree as the birds and the bees? Can you really sincerely love God and your neighbor with all your heart, with all your soul and all your mind? Who can?
Here’s the thing he’s doing. He challenges he throws this whole thing at you as a koan, pretending it’s a commandment. And everybody in Christianity has tried sincerely to obey these things, except that every minister gives up on that take no thought for the morrow. Britain says it’s not practical. Why? So the meaning of it is it is to. You shall love God. You shall love your neighbor. And no faking, please.
That is a fake. Come on. It’s a test. It’s a, it’s a reduction ad absurdum of the whole idea of law. Of enforced goodness, because one must obey out of fear of divine power.
Because if you obey out of the fear of divine power, your actions are not significantly moral. Their actions are significantly moral only if they are done out of love, and love would not be motivated by fear. How are we to love?
You can’t love. Possibly, not possibly why you while you still think you’re an ego.
Why you still think you’re separate from other people in the rest of the world. You can’t love it all. How then do you overcome being an ego? Why? Obviously you can only overcome it if you in some experimental way find out, that the ego is a delusion. So therefore, Jesus proposes as a way of finding out that your ego is an illusion, that you live up to these ideals.
Now, I can go on further. I don’t know if anybody reads the Bible anymore. Whether this means anything to you. St. Paul in the Epistle to the Romans has an argument which is very clever. He says that God did not give Moses the law with the expectation that it would be obeyed. Indeed, he says, I learned sin through the law. I had not known covetousness except the law had said thou shalt not covet.
Then he poses this funny problem. Shall we then sin that grace may abound. This is I don’t know, heaven forbid. Methe Cannito bias and now look. The reason why God gave the law was to convict us of sin. It was not in the expectation that the law would be obeyed, but only to show us how far short we fell of the Divine Life.
So, exactly the same reasoning this therefore applied to the precepts of Jesus. Not given in the expectation that they would be obeyed, but in the expectation that through trying to obey them, we would discover that we were in a mess of some kind. That we couldn’t obey them.
Well, why not? Why can’t you do it? Why can’t you love? Really, genuinely, completely. The answer is you are hung up. On the idea that you are. A separate ego. Cut off alone.
You really believe you’re that? So let’s test this ego out by trying to get it to do this and trying to get it to do that, all those things it’s supposed to be capable of doing. You discover that you’re not capable of doing them. And the reason you’re not capable of doing them is that you as a separate individual don’t exist.
You’re a hallucination in that sense, and that’s what has to be discovered. You can’t find that out by just telling people that itself. They won’t believe it.
You can only dissolve an illusion by getting people to act on it as if it were true and act on it consistently, persistently and thoroughly when it all falls apart. It doesn’t work.
So in this way, Jesus is using a guru technique…where like a Zen master gives a koan. What is the sound of one hand?
Who are you authentically and genuinely before your father and mother see you? Show me. In other words, act perfectly sincerely. Without any social conditioning, what your parents told you you were?
Nobody can do it. Why can’t they do it? Because there’s no authentic separate you.
When you find that out naturally, you know that what you really are is your one with the universe, like Jesus would say, I am the father are one. Before Abraham was I am. I am the way, the truth and the lie is what you really are.
Only then the whole Christian church managed to circumvent this and shut it up. It was too true to be good. And they said I only Jesus was the way, the truth and the life. Not you, baby. Not you. Not you.
But in a way, that’s put such a burden on Western man. And it’s taken just under two thousand years to see through it and the change is coming. Everybody is beginning to realize. What the whole trick was about. Jesus, you see, was an individual who got enlightened. Only he knew it was in the context of the Hebrew world, and he had the puzzle of how to express his state of consciousness in terms of his own time.
He couldn’t very well come out and say directly, I’ve just discovered that I’m the Lord God. Not in a context of Jewish theology. Because of the political imagery.
If he said in the context of Jewish theology, I am the Lord God, that would have been like saying you all should bow down and worship me. When some people, including many of his disciples, caught on that he was indeed the Lord God, that was their response. They bowed down and worshiped him when he tried to turn them off that, saying, why do you call me good? There is none. Good God.
And why he insistently prevented them from the political involvement, which was that if he was truly the son of God, which means simply son of means, that the nature of, why didn’t he lead the revolution against the Roman Empire? He threw all that aside as a temptation in exactly the same way as the Buddha threw aside all magical powers. And said don’t. That’s a sidetrack, that doesn’t lead to understanding.
When the Buddha was walking along a stream Monday, there was a yogi, who suddenly started walking across the water, because of his miraculous powers and the Buddha said to him, hey, hey, hey, come back. There’s a Ford just 50 yards up the river.
So in the same way, Jesus would not give signs of divine dominance to those who asked for them. But the church in later times, you see has put him on a pedestal, so that the whole doctrine is rendered ineffective. Just like that. And has tried and tried and tried and tried to insist that these commandments: You must love God. You must take no thought for the morrow. It’s tried equivalently at that to say these are commands, and you ought to feel terribly guilty because you don’t love God with all your heart. You do take thought for the morrow. You don’t really trust in God.
For 2000 years, it’s taken to realize that, maybe Jesus had a sense of humor. It was ironical. Was trying to get his students disciples to realize they were just as much incarnations of God as he was because he said. When? They Jews took up stones to stone him. This again in the gospel of St. John. They said many good works I have shown you. What do you do?
And they said, we don’t stone you for a good work, but for blasphemy, because you being a man, make yourself God. And he replied, Is it not written in your law, quote, I have said you are God’s. And he’s quoting the 83rd psalm, it says, you are gods and the children of the most high. But you shall die like men.
He said if, I say I am a son of God, which means son of in Hebrew or in Arabic, it means of the nature of when you say we say you’re a son of a bitch.
It means you’re, you’re bitchy.
So when they say Ebony killed, which means son of a dog, Ebony El Omar, son of a donkey or son of below the mean off the nature of so son of God means like son of a bitch. And in the opposite way, your divine.
It has nothing to do with paternity. It’s simply an expression.
So when he said, if I say I am a son of God. And then the King James translation, it’s all last up by going. I am the son of God, which is not in the original Greek. Simply, I am a son of God. So you, only you can’t realize this, that you’re a son of God while you’re still hooked up on the idea of legal righteousness, that you can, by the effort of your own separate conscious will do the divine act. You have to let go of yourself. You have to abandon that situation before you can be enthused. Transformed and inflamed with the divine spirit. So what he does throughout that whole Sermon on the Mount is to make a caricature of legal righteousness.
One of the funniest ways in which he did this was in the parable of the Pharisee and the publican. This is most ingenious. He tells a story, see of the Pharisee goes into the temple.
Go straight up to the front seat, stands up before the altar and says, Oh, God, I am not as other men are. I have paid my tithes regularly. I fulfill this obligation. I feel that that obligation and I’m feeling very good about it.
You know, just like the senior warden of the vestry in the Episcopal Church or a Knight of Columbus, then they says this publican, who a disreputable character creeps into the back of the synagogue, beats himself on the breast and says, God, be merciful to me as the.
I tell you that that man went down to his house justified rather than the Pharisee.
Now what happened? Everybody tries to imitate the public. Now the Pharisees creep into the back of the church, beat themselves on the dress and say, God, be merciful to me a sinner, because they think that’s the way to do it.
Now you see telling that story has an effect. It has taken away the possibility of being the genuine publican as distinct from the phony Pharisee, because now the moment you are trying to be genuine, you’re being phony.
And I don’t know. I’ve never seen anybody except, I think Roddick whose, whose writing on this showed me the idea who saw through what a subtle teacher Jesus was. But you have to read between the lines. You have to get the humor of it. You have to get all the plays that are going on in this. Because he is fully aware of the effect that his stories have on his audience.
Well, they didn’t know what to do with it. They just had to get rid of it.