I'd like to start with a passage from A Course In Miracles.
"[Awe] is not appropriate for miracles because a state of awe is worshipful, implying that one of a lesser order stands before his Creator. ... The miracle is therefore a sign of love among equals. Equals should not be in awe of one another because awe implies inequality. It is therefore an inappropriate reaction to me. (Jesus)" (T-1.II.3.2-6)
We have a clear statement here. We should not be in awe of Jesus because we are inherently equal.
"An 'elder brother' is entitled to respect for his greater experience, and obedience for his greater wisdom. He is also entitled to love because he is a brother, and to devotion if he is devoted. It is only my devotion that entitles me to yours. There is nothing about me that you cannot attain." (T-1.II.3.7-10)
Not only are we equal to Jesus, there is nothing about him that we can not attain as well. Jesus is no different than us. He is as human as we are human. This doesn't mean that he is any less divine. He is as divine as we all are which is totally divine. We bring the human and the divine together. We bring earth to Heaven so they cease to exist as separate states.
"'Heaven and earth shall pass away' means that they will not continue to exist as separate states." (T-1.III.2.1)
It's important to remember this function. It's important to have a human Jesus – a human, but no less divine Jesus.
Two questions I'd like to engage us in are, "How comfortable are we, personally, with the concept of a human Jesus? How comfortable do we believe the world is with a human Jesus?"
In the Spring of 2003, author Dan Brown released a book named The DaVinci Code. It has recently been made into a major motion picture with the same name. The main character, Robert Langdon, had also been the main character in a previous Dan Brown book named Angels And Demons which had done moderately well, but certainly nothing like the publishing phenomena that the The DaVinci Code has become. By March 2006 The DaVinci Code had sold over 44 million copies. That's a staggering number and that was several months ago. Book sales always increase when a movie is released so I would assume that by now, July 2006, the book has probably hit the 50 million mark. It's impossible to conceptualize that many books – 50,000,000.
A year and a half after it was released, the book's publisher Doubleday declared it, "... the best selling adult novel of all time within a one-year period." It's a record making, historic book. Why? Why this book and why might this be important to us as ACIM students?
The movie did not get great reviews. It got mediocre reviews. However, many millions of people have seen it and I'm sure the movie's producers have made back their investment and then some. World wide ticket sales should be good and the DVD video sales is bound to be huge as well. Most of the people who I know who have seen the movie say they liked it. I liked it. It is a thinking man's movie; it was a thinking man's book. Possibly that is why the critical response was not good. There's a lot of talking in the movie. There is action and suspense as well, but it's a heady experience and long, at about two and one half hours. I did not read the book but I am told the movie follows the book very – religiously. This is appropriate since it revolves around overtly religious themes.
It's about a secret society named "The Priory of Sion." "The Knights Templar" are a division of the Priory which defends it and takes a more active role in it's quests. The Priory is a group of highly spiritual and religious people who are in pursuit of the Holy Grail. They worship the Holy Grail and they have access to secret information about it. Hopefully, by reading the book, or watching the movie, we too will find out what these secrets are. These religious secrets are protected by the group and actively by it's Knights. There are also Grand Masters of this society. The story postulates that some very significant, historic persons have been Grand Masters of the Priory of Sion including Sir Isaac Newton and Leonardo DaVinci. These Grand Masters, being at the top of the societies hierarchy, knew all the secrets. Leonardo DaVinci plays an important role in the plot because in his paintings he put many symbolic messages which related to these Priory of Sion secrets. There is a code in his art, hence the title, The DaVinci Code. Wise and knowledgeable people might be able to crack this code and find out the greatest religious secrets of the ages. Is the protagonist, Robert Langdon wise enough?
There is another secret sect in the movie. Their name is "Opus Dei." This is a sect of high Catholic priests, bishops and cardinals. They are operating outside the mainstream, independently, and not under the control of the Vatican. Yet, they are very powerful, have vast financial resources, very radical and quite ruthless and violent if need be. They believe it is their job to defend the sanctity of the established Catholic Church and they will do so by any means. They will do the things that the Vatican won't do which includes murder. They see that it is their sacred charge – to make sure that the secrets the Prior of Sion is guarding never get out to the public, because if these things did become known it is believed that it would destroy the Catholic Church and possibly all of Christianity. Oh, what could these powerful secrets be?
Why was this book so popular?
Stephen Prothero is an author and scholar on religion and spirituality in America. He serves as the chairman of the religion department at Boston University. He said, "The DaVinci Code participates in the 'religion-bad, spirituality-good' model in America ... it provides a way to be spiritual while tapping into your suspicions about the Church." This is a common theme in our culture today. We can be spiritual, even holy, but religion is something to be wary of.
Lynn Garrett is the religion editor for Publisher's Weekly. She wrote, "People may not be reading the Bible, but they want to read about the Bible – Americans are a religious people, but they're suspicious of institutional religion, which, given our history, is not surprising." The DaVinci Code allows us to explore some profound spiritual ideas and it plays to our suspicions of organized religions and the problems they seem to cause.
The author, Dan Brown, was very clever to make the Opus Dei antagonists not the Vatican itself so as not to directly offend Catholics. He is also clever because he places the story in front of the backdrop of many historic, religious facts.
Jesus was not considered divine, not thought of as the only Son of God, until the year 325 when the Nicene Council was convened by the emperor Constantine. It was this council's charge to decide what Christianity was going to stand for and believe from that time on. It was their job to formalize the doctrine.
In 325 Christianity had been slowly growing for three centuries. However it was not the major religion of the time. There was still the official state religion of the Roman Empire, which we now call a Pagan religion. The Jewish faith was also wide spread. There was a lot of conflict between the Pagans and the Christians. This was the era where Christians were sometimes fed to the lions in the arena. I have read that the number of Christians actually fed to lions was quite small. It was not a common thing but it has been remembered and immortalized in many movies so we have a distorted, disproportionate view of how often it occurred. The more common experience was Christians, Pagans and the still present Jews coexisted in Roman society.
The story is, a few years before Emperor Constantine convened his famous council he had been on the eve of a great battle. On this eve he had a dream of Jesus and the cross. It is important to note that Constantine was not a Christian. He was a Roman and a Pagan. He interpreted his dream vision as a need to call upon Jesus in order to be victorious in battle. He therefore had all his soldiers paint crosses on their shields before they went into battle. The cross was, of course, the Christian symbol even then. The soldiers complied. They then went into battle and were victorious. Constantine decided that since Christianity had won him the battle, Christianity should be the new state religion although he did not convert himself till much later in his life. Emperor Constantine made Christianity the state religion and this was a big boost for Christianity. However, Christianity, at this time, was a diverse and chaotic practice. So, several years later, he gathered Christian leaders from all over to come together for the Nicene Council so they could decide just what this new religion was. If it was going to be the State religion, it needed to be organized. What did it mean to be a Christian? What would be the accepted books to be included in the Bible? What teachings would be embraced and included? What teachings would be let go of and excluded?
Usually, we new-age, spiritual people think of this as a bad thing because Christianity was institutionalized. Remember, we think spirituality is good and religion bad. In truth, it's hard to know whether it was good or bad. If they had not done this, Christianity may not have become the major world religion that it is today. Let us not loose sight of the fact that Christianity became a major world religion most likely, because of the decisions this council made in 325.
One thing the council came up with was "The Nicene Creed." We sometimes call this "The Apostles Creed." This is the prayer, the statement of belief, which Christians everywhere recite. As we will see, the Nicene Council was firming up what it meant to be a Christian. I think it's interesting to look at the Nicene Creed and compare it to ACIM.
Let look at the first stanza.
"We believe in one God, The Father, the Almighty, Maker of Heaven and earth, Of all that is, seen and unseen."
Right off the bat we have a problem because ACIM says God didn't make the earth. We made the earth. We made this world so right from the beginning ACIM disagrees with the Nicene Creed. Let us look at the second stanza.
"We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, The only Son of God, ..."
Once again we have a major difference. ACIM teaches that Jesus was not the only Son of God. We are all the equal Sons of God. However, what we may not know is that this was a controversial idea even in the day of Constantine. There were a lot of Christians who believed that Jesus was human. The Gnostics believed that Jesus was human. He was a human who realized great powers but a human just the same as all of us. Therefore, all he did must be potential in us. The Gnostics did not believe that Jesus was the only Son of God. The Council saw an importance in making Jesus a figure who was greater than us and not our equal. However, it must have been controversial because in the next few lines of the Creed they drive the point home. I'll repeat the first two lines again. Read them in context of the next few lines and see how much they overstate the point.
"We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, The only Son of God, Eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, True God from true God, Begotten, not made, Of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made."
I get the sense they were making sure there was no question and no loophole. They repeat and repeat the same idea. Must be it needed repeating. They were considering Jesus to be God, very God and very different than we were. I believe they drove it home because it was not a universally accepted idea of Christianity yet and they wanted it to be. The non-human divinity of Jesus was not a prominent Christian idea until after the Council of Nicaea in 325. This council was probably both good and bad for Christianity. It gave a teachable organized structure to the new religion, however, it was very antithetical to how the Gnostics viewed things and probably led to the marginalization, and then the disappearance, of Gnosticism as anything but an interesting historical development. The Gnostics viewed the life of Jesus as a mythological story that would drive them within to get their own revelations. They weren't looking to the story of Jesus to produce the revelations. They looked for the revelations within.
I did some personal research. The Gnostics were not actually how Dan Brown wrote of them in The DaVinci Code. Religious writer Dr. James Hitchcock writing for Beliefnet stated, "The Gnostics did not accept the Incarnation of Jesus and treated doctrinal orthodoxy as being too literal-minded. The gospels were not to be taken at face value but as stories with hidden symbolic meanings. – Thus it was possible to write new 'gospels,' since the Gnostics were not bound by what may or may not have happened while Jesus was on earth. Mary Magdalene could become Jesus' intimate, and the New Testament could be dismissed as essentially false. ... modern people like Dan Brown, who treat the Gnostic gospels as history, miss the point – to the Gnostics themselves it was irrelevant what actually happened when Jesus was on earth, if he ever was."
The Gnostics were not concerned with the past. They were not basing their faith in the past. They were concerned with the present moment. Obviously there was the Jesus story. The story may have been useful, but if it didn't bring about a personal revelation in the present moment it was useless. The DaVinci Code portrays the Gnostics as very concerned with the actual truth of Jesus' life, but the Gnostics would not have been that concerned with Jesus' physical life. ACIM is not that concerned with Jesus' actual life. That may seem odd since Jesus is supposed to be writing it. ACIM is not interested in a myth about something that may have happened 2000 years ago. ACIM is interested in the present moment and in our current relationships with all our brothers and sisters. Can we forget the past and extend love? Can we truly forgive? That's all.
Let us continue on with the Nicene Creed.
"For us and for our salvation He came down from heaven: By the power of the Holy Spirit He became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, And was made man."
The Nicene Creed was what established that Mary was a virgin. Joseph and Mary didn't have sex and Jesus had an unworldly way of coming into this realm. See the consistency. Jesus wasn't a human being. He was a different, divine being born without the "original sin" of sexual intercourse. The idea of virgin birth wasn't a new religious idea. It was prominent in the religion of Egypt with the story of Isis (also called the "Virgin Mother") and her offspring Horus (the Sun God). Non-sexual births are in many others religions . Classic Greek and Roman mythology has it's share of non-sexual reproductions. Athena burst fully grown from Zeus' head!
The image of mother Isis with baby Horus on her lap looks very much like images we now see of Mary and Jesus. These early Christians took these ideas from other religions which, remember, were thought of as competition to this new state religion. By adopting popular ideas from other religions your religion is positioned better in the religious market place. Having a virgin birth in your origin mythology was a desirable thing. Egypt and the Egyptian culture were very close by and might easily have been seen as direct competition for the hearts and minds of the people. The state, and thus the state religion, must win the hearts and minds of the people. To a people who might be intrigued by Isis and Horus they were offered a similar image and story, Mary and Jesus.
ACIM doesn't directly confront the idea of virgin birth, but it certainly doesn't support it. It is merely irrelevant. It isn't concerned with it at all. The idea that a person could be born in some way other than through sexual activity just seems a strange and archaic thought. It is well established that most institutionalized religions in general, and Christianity in specific, have made sex into a very problematic and negative thing. Here's a good example of how it developed – needing to have a virgin birth in your foundational mythology because regular sexual birth conception would be to common and not compete well with other religions.
Another provocative thing about the Priory of Sion and the Knights Templar is the sect had sacred, sexual rituals which included ritualistic copulation. You get short glimpses of these rites. They appear to be strange, orchestrated, orgiastic ceremonies. You don't get to see much of them but they figure prominently into the plot. The glimpses reminded me of the orgy that Tom Cruise witnessed in the Stanley Kubrick film Eyes Wide Shut. We know that there are sacred sexual rituals going on because the Priory of Sion saw the sacred union of the male and the female as part of the religion itself. Again, Dan Brown is clever. He found a way to put in a little sex. It always helps sales.
Let's remember that institutionalized religions have made sex a bad thing. They frequently make women into a lesser being as well. The female is degraded and demeaned in many religions. A major theme in The DaVinci Code is that the sacred feminine is actually what the Holy Grail is. The Holy Grail isn't a cup or a chalice that was at the Last Supper. The sacred vessel is actually Mary Magdalene because she carried the blood of Jesus. As Jesus' wife, or physical sexual companion, she carried his blood line. The story says that Mary Magdalene was pregnant by Jesus at the time he was crucified and that there are now descendants of Jesus. This is what the Prior of Sion is working so hard to protect. Mary Magdalene and Jesus being sexual is supposed to be a big revelation. However, I've read that in esoterica for many years. I've found that in many different books. We sold a book here for years named A Spiritual Sex Manual which was a revelation from Jesus to a woman who was supposed to be the reincarnation of Mary Magdalene. The book went into graphic detail about their sexual relationship. The book is unfortunately out of print. It was a sex manual, channeled from Jesus to a reincarnation of Mary Magdalene talking about the sexual liaisons they had 2000 years ago. It was great book. It had wonderful insights of how to bring spirituality into your sexual expression. It was a sacred way of uniting spiritually and sexually.
The DaVinci Code is about embracing the sacred feminine and embracing sacred sexuality. It is implied that severe problems exist in the organized church because it has denied the sacred feminine and the sacredness of sexuality.
Why is this important? Why is it important to have a human Jesus? Why is it important for the feminine, and sex itself, to be thought of as sacred? Why is it important that this movie and this book are in our culture? Remember what I wrote at the beginning of the article, 50 million people have bought this book and many more millions of people will see this movie. These, many millions are connecting to the idea of a human Jesus, an idea which ACIM also supports.
Here is a Jesus who was sexual, a Jesus who had a family, a Jesus who was born from a man and a woman having intercourse. 50 million people are embracing the idea that the feminine is very important and that to marginalize the feminine leads to a sick society. The sacred feminine and the sacred masculine must come together sexually and merge their energies is a sacred act. Sexuality is nothing to be feared or to be repelled from. It is not something we need to severely regulate and control. The success of this book shows us we, as a society, are ready for these ideas. People need and want a human Jesus. It's very important to have a human Jesus. If we don't have a human Jesus we'll never identify with him. If we have a human Jesus, then what Jesus did, we all can do because it is only then that he becomes no different than us. If we are ever to be the healers, forgivers and saviors of the world we have to get rid of the separation we have with Jesus. Having a human Jesus is the way this is done.
"'No man cometh unto the Father but by me' does not mean that I am in any way separate or different from you except in time, and time does not really exist." (T-1.II.4.1)
All through out ACIM, in places too numerous to list, Jesus is telling us that he is no different than we are. He is human and divine. We are human and divine. To the book, and to the movie's credit, for all the humanizing it does of Jesus it never knocks him off the divine pedestal either. It doesn't make him any less. It actually makes him more to be divine and human together. Then it challenges us to be divine and human together as well.
I know when I see something out in the world and I receive a recognition that it reminds me of something true – I like it. I embrace it. I get excited about it. I think this is what happened with The DaVinci Code. People saw in it something that they knew, deep down inside of them, was true. They saw, "Wow, Jesus really was human! Wow, Jesus didn't make sex bad! Wow, the feminine is part of the holy trinity and it all does works together! The feminine is the Holy Grail that provides life, salvation and transcendence."
There is a frequent conversation that the consciousness of the world is in a terribly, unevolved state. However, as I frequently write about, I see things very differently. 50 million people saw something and connected with it and they wanted to share and reinforce it. I think this phenomena shows that people are much more attuned and connected than we tend to give them credit. There is a movement a foot and it gets stronger and stronger all the time. How comfortable are we with the idea of a human Jesus? We're probably a lot more comfortable with it than we casually give ourselves credit for being. How comfortable is the world with this idea? Obviously, it's 50 million people comfortable with it and that's a lot of people. I do not think the world is the dark and unenlightened place that some people would want us to think it is. I think more and more people are waking up and we see this everywhere. Consider seeing The DaVinci Code and see it with the ACIM perspective in your mind. Maybe you'll agree that there is transformation and growth going on in the planet which is mirrored in so many ways. See in mirrored in Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code.
Love, Rev. Tony♥
c/o Community Miracles Center
2269 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
This article appeared in the August 14, 2006 (No. 16) issue of CMC Ezine. CMC Ezine is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.