Friday, April 02, 2010

Notes about Easter 2010

Easter is an excellent opportunity to spend a whole week sharing Gospel verses and lectures by Rudolf Steiner about Easter and Gospel topics. Well, as Tom Lehrer once put it in National Brotherhood Week, "It's only for a week so have no fear / be grateful that it doesn't last all year" -- except that in my case, there's never any guarantee that something I start off with won't last all year, year after year, if I feel like it.

The Mystery of Golgotha is the events between the Betrayal and the Ascension. It begins with Palm Sunday, when Christ rides into Jerusalem on a donkey as a doomed man after making public an ancient Temple Secret (therefore the death penalty) by openly initiating Lazarus, the author of the John Gospel and the Apocalypse. It's been explained to me that Christ rode an ass's colt, polos in the Greek, which would suggest that is was young and pure, unridden, in order to demonstrate that the I AM needs a pure astral to carry it at the beginning of its journey to the cross.

Rodeo-Jesus, Rambo-Jesus, Blasphemy And Global Censorship

I always have to keep a lid on my wild imagination if I can, because the notion of a young unridden beast gave me ideas or associations. Like how well Jesus would have done in a rodeo. Rodeo-Jesus, Cowboy-Jesus.

The picture doesn't show what I had in mind, because the horse is trying to throw Jesus off, with his halo flying away like a cowboy hat. It may look funny, but it's not what I meant. That's not how Christ calmed the storm at sea. He just said 'be quiet,' and the storm went quiet. So all he has to do with a beast is to tell it to stand still, and then to walk nicely when he's mounted it. Even the wildest, craziest bull would have gotten that message. It would never have tried to throw the Christ off its back. Christ would have been the master of the rodeo.

But here's something interesting -- and disquieting: Very soon, we may not be permitted to write stuff like this on the web or in the media in Europe. On the contrary, we may get fines and prison sentences for it. The UN has adopted a resolution on "religious defamation" -- in other words, a new blasphemy law of global reach.

Christ in a rodeo is positively religious defamation. So is a true picture of a Republican Christian prayer:

Their prayer (after worshipping the flag with 'One Nation Under God' and all that jazz...)
"Our Star Ship General which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy wrath. Thy bombs come . Thy will be done in Afghanistan, as it is in the United States. Give us this day our daily ammo. And forgive us our collateral damage, as we forgive our friendly fire. And lead us not into military and electorial defeat, but deliver us from potheads: For thine are the missiles, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."
Or as another wise man put it:
"We can do without butter, but, despite all our love of peace, not without arms. One cannot shoot with butter, but with guns." ( -- Joseph Goebbels)
We've all heard about the Christian prayer meetings they're having in the Capitol Basement and other such sinister places, like in the Pentagon. After they've first done their allegiance to the flag, they open a closet, take out this picture, and fall on their knees:

This is, of course, the Republican Jesus, the NRA-Jesus, Rambo-Jesus, who is coming back on a Star Ship Carrier to beam his elect onboard before proceeding with torturing unbelievers with napalm, cluster bombs, nukes, and vials of wrath -- to revenge himself for what they did to him and defend Israel and the American Way.

All of this is defaming religion, of course. A global blasphemy law is extremely serious. In absolutely no field is total freedom of expression more vital for the evolution of the Consciousness Soul in this Michaelic Age than in matters of spirituality and religion. And this includes the license, the right, to be offensive. What's next? A global law against defaming political ideologies? Religions and politics are already blended, which means that ridicule against political Islam or against the Religious Right in America will be criminal offenses.

Salman Rushdie, who got an Islamic death sentence on his neck, a Fatwa, for defaming religion, put it this way:
"What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist." ( -- Salman Rushdie)
Before I get back to some real treatment of The Mystery of Golgotha, let me explain what I mean about free speech. America has one treasure, one gem, one supreme gift that no other nation on earth has, and that's the First Amendment. Even Canada has criminal laws against extremist views, hate speech, just like Europe:

The creepy tyranny of Canada's hate speech laws
"For as long as I'll live, I'll never understand how people want to vest in the Government the power to criminalize particular viewpoints it dislikes, will never understand the view that it's better to try to suppress adverse beliefs than to air them, and will especially never understand people's failure to realize that endorsing this power will, one day, very likely result in their own views being criminalized when their political enemies (rather than allies) are empowered."
Glenn Greenwald is a lawyer and author who has worked as a constitutional and civil rights litigator, contributed to, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The American Conservative, The National Interest, and In These Times. He has also written three published books.

The view expressed in Greenwald's article for is hard to swallow for many Europeans, who feel that not only behavior, but also thoughts and expressions, should be controlled by the state, an attitude paradoxically found even among some self-proclaimed anarchists.

Personally, I fell in love with the American First Amendment, and also the ACLU (The American Civil Liberties Union), which has enjoyed unpopularity from the left and the right alike, when I learned about the following story:

Freedom For Speech We Hate. The title says it all. Chicago 1977. Jewish lawyers defended the rights of neo-Nazis to march with swastikas through a suburb populated by holocaust survivors with tatoos and everything, because a ban against their free speech could later be applied against anybody, against any message the authorities disapprove of.

That's where I stand on the issue of free speech. I may join in severe criticism of America on many levels, but absolutely not all, and never ever the First Amendment.

How Christ Got The Death Penalty

Well, back to some proper holiness and spiritual mysteries, because it's still Easter 2010. It goes without saying that anyone wishing to do so is free to blaspheme or ridicule or defame as they please. (That does not mean that I am obliged to publish such suff on any of my blogs or websites, which I edit as I please.)

Rudolf Steiner writes:
"It is easy to understand that the Jews could not let such an act go unpunished, any more than the Greeks could have refrained from punishing Aeschylus, had he betrayed the secrets of the Mysteries."
This is from a chapter in Rudolf Steiner's book Christianity as Mystical Fact and the Mysteries of Antiquity [Das Christentum als mystische Tatsache] (GA 8), first published in 1902. The chapter is titled The Miracle of the Raising of Lazarus, and the entire book is a must read for anyone who feels drawn to Christianity and yet held back by a perceived absence of rational foundation on the cognitive level.

I mentioned earlier that the authorship of the John Gospel as well as the Apocalypse is ascribed to Lazarus, who was revived by Christ after having been dead for 72 hours. That's why Rudolf Steiner often calls him Lazarus-John.

In the ancient Mysteries, the candidate for initiation was brought to the stage of complete physical death for three nights and days. For reasons of physical and metaphysical evolution of the human organism, this complete separation of physical body from life body -- the latter is commonly called "etheric body" in anthroposophy -- is no longer possible like it was millennia ago. When the candidate was revived, he had spent 72 hours in the spiritual world and learned a great deal that he could share with the others. This was a carefully guarded secret until Christ ended this secrecy by publicly initiating Lazarus in this manner. This was the act that sealed his own fate, the death penalty, because betrayal of the Mysteries had always been punishable by death. And then, by going through death himself and rising on the third day, after 72 hours, Christ performed the final mystery of all mysteries, which is why this deed of his is commonly called "The Mystery of Golgotha" in anthroposophy.

These ancient Temple Mysteries were common in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome and elsewhere, but the Egyptians had an additional agenda with regard to death. They embalmed the dead, preserving their physical bodies, thus enabling departed souls to see their former physical sheaths from the spiritual world, a practice that brought about the materialism we have been experiencing in the last centuries, especially since the 1840's.

(Incidentally, I've compared this type of initiation to Spock's resurrection in the third Star Trek movie, The Search For Spock, that follows his death in the second movie, The Wrath of Khan, in my article Star Trek And Anthroposophy.)
"When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword? And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him." ( -- Luke 22:49-51)
All the four Gospels describe many examples of how the Christ treated his adversaries. The Luke Gospel is especially moving because Luke was a physician and healer himself and therefore put special emphasis on the compassion of Christ, his healing and love and so on. It's the diametrically opposite of the ethos proposed by Pentagon-Jesus and his disciples of course.

So here's some more blasphemy for you. Exposing sick and distorted religious notions will be forbidden by the United Nations.

Passing The Cup

It's still Easter 2010, so let's move on to another point:
"And he went a little further , and fell on his face, and prayed , saying , O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will , but as thou wilt." ( -- Matt 26:39)
Rudolf Steiner's take on this is very interesting:
"The cup had not passed away from Him. He was destined to accomplish the deed in loneliness, a loneliness that was also of the soul. Certainly the world had the Mystery of Golgotha, but at the time it happened it had as yet no understanding of this event; and the most select and chosen disciples could not stay awake to that point."
(The Gospel of St. Mark, Lecture 9, GA 139)
Now we're getting a tiny glimpse of how much more advanced and mature the esoteric, or occult, reading of sacred scriptures are than the exoteric, sometimes even vulgar and primitive renderings. It is commonly believed that this was a point in time when Christ Jesus was most human because he trembled at the prospect of his cruel destiny. The Christ, however, who had taken possession of Jesus' body three years earlier at the baptism in Jordan, was none other than a Son God, an Elohim Sun-Dweller, who had already torn this human body apart from the inside through his fiery, overwhelming presence. To think for a moment that such a Cosmic Being would hesitate, fear, or regret his lofty mission because of the physical ordeal involved, is in reality naive as well as ignorant.

The problem was that the disciples did not manage to participate in The Mystery of Golgotha spiritually and mentally; they could not witness this event in real time but had to awaken afterwards to what had happened. They could not receive Christ's cup and share it with him. So the cup did not pass from him; he had to go through the entire Mystery in loneliness while no human being on Earth understood its significance.

Global Warming

And talking about Christ the Sun God, perhaps this explains global warming: He's got to be pretty hot, and he has united himself with the Earth through The Mystery of Golgotha. Secondly, every human being is destined to begin to shine from within sometime in the future, and the Earth will therefore evolve into a new sun, a new star. (I've been looking for a reference to this in An Occult Physiology by Rudolf Steiner, GA 128, but can't seem to find it, maybe somebody can help me out here.)

So the ice will melt and the oceans will rise, but after that, all the water will evaporate to gases and then catch fire, so we can create new worlds just like the Elohim created ours. I wonder what the greens would say about such a scenario ;)

It seems to me that I need to add a comment here, namely that this is a joke -- written, in fact, on April Fool's Day. Otherwise, green enthusiasts who also happen to be materialists, will take this the wrong way. It's not a joke that Christ is a Sun God who has united himself with the Earth; neither is it a joke that humans beings will begin to shine from within in the distant future and cause the Earth to evolve into a new sun, a new star. The joke is connecting this to present-day concerns about global warming. Maybe it's a bad joke, not very funny, but it's not meant seriously ok?

Death, Self-Sacrifice, And Rebirth
And now for something else:
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal." ( -- John 12:24-25)
Here we have a statement by Christ that goes against the very grain of orthodox, fundamentalistic Christian belief. The motive for such belief is usually extremely egoistical and self-centered, because it's based on the desire to continue to live after death, or to end up in a comfort zone (heaven) rather than a place of suffering (hell). The best remedy against such egoism, except becoming an atheist, would be to recognize pre-existence, to embrace Buddhism, because being born into this world because of karma or in order to grow to become a better human being, entails something selfless. (I mentioned some of this stuff in a previous blog article, The End of the World.)

But there's a lot more to this, and many people have been perplexed by the word "hate," like in the following:
"If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." ( -- Luke 14:26)
How are you supposed to hate your parents and yourself, and then love your neighbor as yourself? Well, forget "supposed to," such texts are not instructions in my view, not in our age of human independence and freedom. But it's fascinating stuff to explore and extract deeper meanings from.

If one wants to make sense of all this, it helps a great deal to read a lot more Steiner, to re-read all the lecture cycles about the four Gospels while also re-reading the Gospels themselves. Those ancient texts were written by initiates, and it takes a modern initiate to decipher them. It takes one to know one. Luke, for instance, was never physically present at any of the events he describes in his Gospel, and yet he calls himself one of the eyewitnesses (Luke 1:2), meaning clairvoyants capable of reading all the events through the Akasha after they had happened.

What having to hate oneself and one's parents and siblings in order to be a disciple of Christ is concerned, this has to do with the necessity to overcome the lower earthbound ego and everything connected with the "natural man" through blood and heritage if one is to become a "homeless soul" and be part of a spiritual brotherhood of man that is liberated from all bonds of nationality, race, tribe, family and so on. Because natural love as such (for its own sake) isn't true love, it's instinctual and animalistic. It's what we have in common with animals.

Easter And Buddhism
"What is truth?" ( -- Pilate to Christ, John 18:38)
This is deep. Pilate, that's us.

But Easter also has a Buddhist dimension:
"Shakyamuni had a great pupil, and whereas the other pupils grasped to a greater or lesser extent the all-embracing wisdom taught by the Buddha, Kashiapa — such was the name of the pupil — grasped it fully. He was one of those most deeply initiated into these teachings, one of the most significant followers of the Buddha."
(The Festivals and Their Meaning II Easter VII, Spiritual Bells of Easter, GA 109)

Long Friday

Basically, this blog article is just a collection of notes on the significance of the season, the Holy Week, and it looks like I'll get it on the web by so-called "Good Friday" (which is why I'm not getting into the Resurrection this time, except superficially in passing). I don't know why they call it that, because it's really the worst day of the week, when Christ suffered on the cross for nine hours before dying. I guess that's why it's also been called "Black Friday," which is more appropriate. Or "Long Friday" as it's called in Norway. A very long day indeed!

Anyway, there's an awful lot of symbolism involved here, like Christ the Lamb, for instance. We meet this lamb as one of the four Apocalyptic Beasts that represent the core of the Zodiac. In the old Hebrew Passover tradition, a lamb is slaughtered for Easter, and its blood used to be splashed over their entrances so that the various plagues and curses aimed at the Egyptians would pass them by untouched, thereby "Passover."

The Last Supper And Christ The Lamb

At the Last Supper, Christ says here, eat my body, and here, drink my blood. If he's the Lamb, one might have expected them to eat mutton (sheep-flesh) and drink sheep-blood (yack, no word for that). But their meal is nicely vegetarian, consisting of bread and wine. I'm pleased about that, because I don't think I could have been a Christian if Jesus and his disciples had been so disgustingly carnivorous.

Anyway, Christ also says he's the Good Shepherd and that his disciples and other followers are lambs or sheep. Wow, so the shepherd also has four legs and wool and isn't even a grown sheep but only a lamb, wow. And when he's on his way to the Crucifixion, it's compared to a lamb on its way to the slaughterhouse. If Christianity doesn't make a vegetarian of you, I don't know what it takes.

Well, the Christ Spirit united itself with the Earth through the Deed on Golgotha, so therefore all the fruits of the earth, including grain and bread, grapes and wine, are his body and his blood.

The Easter Bunny, the chickens, the eggs, and the Resurrection

I've been kind of ignorant about all this mess about eggs at Easter time, and chickens and what came first and what have you. And I've never understood the Easter Bunny, so I wikied both:
"The Easter Bunny as an Easter symbol bringing Easter eggs seems to have its origins in Alsace and the Upper Rhineland, both then in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, and southwestern Germany, where it was first recorded in a German publication in the early 1600s."

Hmmm... Southwestern Germany, that makes it almost anthroposophical I guess, although I'm not convinced, looks too much like a Walt Disney idea. But it's nice for kids, and the egg was a symbol of the rebirth of the earth in celebrations of spring and was adopted by early Christians as a symbol of the Resurrection of Christ, so this stuff may be less nonsensical than I thought it was. I just get this weird picture of some rabbit sitting at Christ's open grave, telling them he's out there somewhere collecting eggs or gone skiing, and Peter is wearing feathers because he chickened out by denying Christ three times before the cock crowed, so he had to team up with that rooster and lay Easter eggs for him or something.

Yes, I know this is blasphemous, but the UN hasn't made it a crime yet, but next Easter I may be prosecuted for writing something like this.

Final Note: An Easter Meditation

It's highly paradoxical, I think, that people who pride themselves on rational thinking and logic, and who claim that natural science alone can solve the most advanced philosophical and cosmic riddles, have such naive blind faith in chance, coincidence, and randomness. Here is an Easter Meditation exploring this topic.

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