Jesus and mythic consciousness

The beginning of the end of the Christian religion occurred during the Enlightenment period, a sweeping cultural, philosophical, political and scientific movement from the late 1600s through the early 1800s in which reason and science supplanted superstition and divine revelation as the primary means for arriving at truth.  The Judeo-Christian God of the Middle Ages, a God who lived and moved among the people, working in mysterious ways and through supernatural intervention, was evicted from the earth and relegated to a Deistic place in the heavens or to the distant realm of ideals. In the 200 years that followed, more and more people in the West renounced belief in this God.  By the twentieth century, the death of God was imminent.  Many even doubted that any kind of foundational truth existed.

*

Today, billions still cling to a distant sky God, but such belief is a futile attempt to keep alive a God who cannot exist in an enlightened, scientific world.  With each generation, science shovels one more spade of dirt onto the grave of the sky God.  Those who still believe make up an increasingly fundamentalist and anti-intellectual movement of religionists whose days are numbered.  The sky God is dead.  Not even the most charismatic or manipulative of religious leaders can resuscitate God.

*

Atheists, the killers of God, thought they had exterminated God, but they had merely renamed him.  They renamed him Reason.  Reason is merely God all grown up.  The atheists failed to see this.  Reason, it turns out, was just as pernicious, if not more so, than the God they claimed to have killed.

*

The world without a Sky God has not been a pleasant place for humans or creatures of any kind.  Reason, the new god of the atheists, has ruled over a horrific period of history since the death of the original sky God.  The atheistic twentieth century introduced human misery on an unimaginable scale.  Two world wars, widespread poverty and hunger, totalitarianism, soulless industrialization and urbanization, ecological destruction and a numb yet queasy alienation of humans from each other and from the natural world.  We strive to find meaning in the misery, but in our every action and conversation we are aware that we are all victims in waiting of a nuclear holocaust that could occur at any moment.    If life with a sky God gave us inquisitions, religious wars, and colonialism, life void of a sky God and replaced by Reason has only magnified the misery and fear.

*

In previous centuries, we could blame God for the misery when things went wrong.  “Why would God allow such evil?”  Having rejected the existence of a sky God, we have no one upon whom we can cast blame for our condition.  We must look to ourselves.  We must look to what we have created, what we have made of the world, what we have done to the world, what we have done to each other.

*

First, we have unfinished business.  We must slay Reason, the last of the gods.  Reason has taught us to think as binary thinkers.  Heaven/earth, good/bad, us/them, natural/unnatural.  Reason is out there somewhere, in the mind, in a realm of ideals, and his purpose is to delineate, mark off, set apart, make holy.  We think we have killed God.  We just renamed him.  Reason is his new name.  Science is his religion.  The State is his church.  Civilization is his heaven on earth.  It is a nasty religion, nastier than anything given to us by the Jews, Christians or Muslims.

*

From where did this god Reason arise? The god Reason is the creation of rational consciousness.  Rational consciousness developed as we stepped outside of nature, where we had dwelt with an unconscious awareness.    Having developed Reason, we now knew that we knew.  We started thinking about thinking.  In becoming expert thinkers, we lost the ability to be aware.  Over time, it became more and more difficult to remain aware and alive in a bifurcated realm of contrived consciousness, dead thinking.  We forgot how to be aware.  We gave away aliveness, the kind of aliveness that tingles in your bones when walking alone in the dark along a fencerow (Awareness and wary share the same root).  We took on a dead thinking that replaced enthused wariness with dark suspicion, sensate caution with numbing fear, love with hate.

*

We developed instrumental reason through our experience of agriculture, a project of planning, planting, measuring and taxing a crop.  We had to think and think real hard in order to survive.  Thinking became our means of survival.  Awareness was no longer necessary to life in a demarcated world of row crops and storehouses.  In separating wheat from chaff, we separated joy from life.  We created scarcity where there once was abundance.

*

The beauty of the pre-agricultural, Paleolithic mind was that it was aware but not thinking, always thinking.  We were naturally aware (wary, cautious), in the moment.  In contrast, this incessant thinking created the construct of the Other, an objective Other that was other than ourselves.  This Other was an observation, a consideration, so it did not exist in the moment.  Thus, is existed only in the past or future.  We learned to think in terms of regret for the past and a nervousness about the future.  A neuroticism grew out of our construction of the Other and our loss of the present.

*

God and Reason are retainers for the Other.  Our thinking minds brought Reason and God into mental existence, but we did not know what to do with them.  We created this huge, mental construct called the Other.  It was so overwhelming and unsettling that we made it a God and worshipped it.  We later tamed it and called it Reason.  It nearly destroyed us, and may destroy us yet.  We killed God, to our credit.  Let Reason be our next target.

*

The task before us now is how to become aware again after having experienced Reason, dead thinking, God.  How do we learn how to un-think, un-plan, un-harvest, un-reason, to un-God?  How do we become wary and alive again?  We were told to work out our salvation (salve, healing) with fear and trembling, but how?  The whirling dervishes, the trembling Quakers, and the weeping mystics all shake with a sense of awareness, a feeling of wholeness, of oneness, of unity.  They claim to be enthused (en theos, in God).  Likewise, the prehistoric man and woman walked in complete awareness.  They were enthused unawares.  True awareness is being enthused and not aware of it.  God within.  This is why it was always taught that deification must be preceded by and accompanied with deep humility.  We can only “become like God” by dying to the pride of the expert thinker.  Dying to ourselves is really dying to our confidence and trust in Reason and the sky-God, who was merely the juvenile version of Reason.

*

Trembling and shaking function as a sort of spiritual nomadism.  Awareness only happens as we move about and flow within a natural world that is itself always moving and in flux.  Learning to move in harmony and concert with the rhythms of nature, we will lose ourselves in the rhythm and become aware again.  We must return to the spiritual and the physical fencerows, where the brown thrasher scatters decaying leaves in search of grubs, where the hawk eyes the brown thrasher from the oak tree above.  In the fencerow we leave behind fear and hate and relearn awareness and love.  In contrast, the sedentary do not tremble.  They grow constipated, fat, burdened, encumbered and proud.  The feral ones move.

*

Max Oeschlaeger asserts that Yahwism (the religion of the Hebrews) was a transitional religion from Paleolithic spirituality to a full-blown sky God religion.  Within the transitional Hebrew scriptures he says there is both a praise and a suspicion of civilization.  The mighty ziggurats, pyramids and temples of the Middle Eastern gods cast their shadows upon a people who still have a memory of the Garden and long for its freedom and abundance.  He writes, “we detect lingering reverberations of the Paleolithic mind, especially as revealed in the symbolic significance of shepherd and wilderness for the Hebrews…Yahwism nevertheless sounds the death knell of mythic consciousness and the rise of historic consciousness as the dominating sensibility in the West.”

*

Jesus of Nazareth stands out as a powerful voice in the Hebrew tradition, calling people back to “mythic consciousness,” a prehistoric awareness experienced by our Paleolithic ancestors.  This mythic consciousness is a kingdom within that instrumental reasoning, the civilization mindset, has suppressed and beat into submission.  Jesus calls each of us to undertake a deliberate process of reentering mythic consciousness, to lose ourselves so that we might find ourselves alive in the original.  He calls us to die to the civilization mind with all of its psychological and material trappings and be reborn as a child in natural awareness.

*

The path to mythic consciousness is that place where wilderness rubs up against civilization, what the Hebrews called midbar.  Midbar, according to Robert Barry Leal, is the most common Hebrew word for wilderness, principally referring to the foothills of the south of Palestine, and area that was not exploited for agricultural purposes.  Midbar is a point of transition.  It is a geographical setting between land used for agricultural purposes and genuine desert, between civilization and the wild.  In this sense, midbar was perceived as an extension of the settlement but not an integral part of it.  We might call this a fencerow, a place not quite civilized, not quite wild.  It is a feral place where one can begin to reabsorb the mythic consciousness.

*

Jesus begins in the wilderness.  He first meets John in the wilderness.  John tells Jesus that he is still in the old mindset; he is still listening to an old narrative.  John says to him, “Repent!”  The Greek for repentance is metanoia, which means “a change of mind” or “to go beyond your mind.”  The English word “repentance” is a poor translation of the Greek metanoia.  Repentance is related to punishment, penury, penitentiary and pain.  Metanoia is about freeing the mind, not punishing it!  Jesus undergoes baptism as a sign of his being washed of the old thinking and his commitment to a new mind, a return to mythic consciousness.

*

The spirit of mythic consciousness compels him to go to the wilderness.  The call to the wilderness is irresistible once the mind has been cleansed of the old thinking.

Share

About Feral Jesus

Disciple of the undomesticated, liberating feral Jesus

2 comments:

  1. Love your work!! I have been on a similar path and find great comfort in your writings. Lately I’ve been thinking about how the knowledge of good and evil has caused so much suffering. When I try and share this I’m looked upon as someone who has lost their mind so I keep quiet and aware.
    Keep up the good work!!

    1. Hi, Dave. Your point about suffering as the result of knowledge of good and evil is so important, I think, especially in a world that values information above so much us, and, even worse, information as power. Data. Analytics. Archives. Census. They all serve the same purpose, to catalogue and then analyze what is good and bad, and what is good and bad is determined by those in authority who will manipulate the information. I am hoping to do an overview of the trajectory of Jesus of Nazareth’s way from Mark 1 to demonstrate a path for escaping this trap. After you pull back the layers of 2000 years of religious, political and cultural interpretation, I think it is a very anarchist way, similar to Daoist philosophy, one that sees so much of the world as an artificial, authoritarian construct. Underneath it all is a a path, I believe, that is worth following. How we navigate that path in our world is what is exciting to explore. I think there is healing and freedom and health in the path. Take care.

Comments are closed.