Discussion of Jesus
Transcript of YouTube video
Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.
The topic for today is Jesus and I thought I would divide this into two parts so that we have a second video which will discuss Part II. The first part will talk about who Jesus is not and the second part will then consider who Jesus is. I'd like to start by referring to a passage that comes near the end of the section, "Bringing Fantasy to Truth," the first section, Chapter 17 in the text. That's where Jesus says that one cannot understand truth from the perspective of fantasy. And I think we could substitute the word "Jesus" for truth and say that one cannot understand Jesus from the perspective of fantasy or illusion.
And in our context today, the fantasy or the illusion is that the body is real, the world is real, and that what seems to go on in the world of time and space is true, and it is impossible to understand the phenomenon of Jesus from the perspective of looking at him through the lens of the body and the seeming reality of the world. Indeed, that's what the gospel writers did. When they came to write about this phenomenal appearance of this person that the world has called Jesus, they could do so only from...looking at him through their own lens which is the lens not only of the seeming reality of the body, but the lens of their specialness, their belief that sin is real, that sin required atonement, and therefore this resplendent being of light, which is I think how we could characterize the nature of Jesus, was then seen through a very shadowy lens which clearly would distort who he was, and what he was, and certainly what his message was. So that we could look at Jesus and say that anything that is talked about from the point of view of history, which is also part of the illusion since the Course teaches us that linear time is unreal and so there is no past, anything that talks about Jesus, for example, the Jesus of A Course in Miracles through the lens of history, through the lens of what certain writers wrote about him over 2000 years ago, that should not be taken as true at all.
There's a meditation in Lesson 189 in which Jesus is asking us to look at God, look at the world, we could extrapolate and say look at him, without all the concepts that we have believed, that we're asked to come to him with an empty mind, with empty arms. In fact, at the end of that passage it says forget this world, forget this course, and come with empty arms unto your God. Well, we should also forget this world, forget this course, and come with empty arms unto Jesus and not try to see him or understand him through the eyes of the past. Whether it's our personal past in terms of how we have been taught about Jesus, whether we've been brought up Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, or atheist, let alone through the other past of 2100 years, but to try to approach him freshly. If we do not do that, then our perceptions of him and any kind of theologies or Christology's that we adopt to try to explain him, will be very severely distorted by our understanding of sin, making sin real, believing in the reality of the body, believing the reality of specialness that there are certain special people who are to be especially distinguished from everyone else, and we will lose sight of who Jesus is which, again, would be the subject of the next video. So in summary we could say that since we cannot understand Jesus from the perspective of illusion, that we should not even try, that we should rather seek to know him from inside of our selves which means following the basic dynamic of the Course's teaching that we bring illusions to the truth, that we should first look at all the illusions we have about Jesus, both from within our personal life as well as the life of society, Western civilization. Look at those, bring those to the truth of the present, who Jesus is for us right now. This would help undo all these distortions and then free us to truly know Jesus for who he is.
This is Part II of the discussion of Jesus. The first one discussed who Jesus was not. I made the point that it's impossible to understand the phenomenon of Jesus whether we're looking at someone who appeared on earth 2100 years ago or someone who exists in our minds, as long as we look at him through the lens of our own egos. Once we're able to set this aside and bring our illusions about him to the truth, then we're free and our hearts and minds are open to begin to explore who Jesus truly is.
He says in the teachers manual that the name of Jesus Christ is but a symbol, but it's a symbol of a love that is not of this world. Perhaps the best way to understand that from a personal point of view is that Jesus is a symbol of the Love of God as it is reflected in our right minds, therefore he's a symbol. His name is a symbol. The individual identity of the man that we call Jesus is a symbol.
Indeed, everything in this illusory world is a symbol and either we are a symbol of the wrong-minded system of separation, guilt, and specialness or we're a symbol of the right-minded thought system of forgiveness, peace, and love. Jesus then, in the Western world certainly, is our most important symbol of this love. As is also said in the teachers manual...in "The Clarification of Terms" actually..."Some bitter idols have been made of him who would only be brother to the world." But setting these aside for now, what he is to us is this right-minded symbol of who we are. As long as we believe that we are separated from our source, we need a symbol who represents that source for us and Jesus, for most of us, is that symbol. He's the symbol of the greatest teacher that has existed. He's the symbol of what we aspire to become.
In Helen's lovely poem, "A Jesus Prayer," we are told that we should identify with him as "A Child, a Man and then a Spirit" and that we should grow up to become like him. He is, once again, whom we aspire to be. When we think of hearing his voice or experiencing his presence, it is really our own healed voice and our own healed presence or healed mind that we are experiencing. But as long as we experience ourselves as separate, then we need a symbol that also appears to us as separate but who reminds us that in truth we are all one. This is also explained in the section called "The Link to Truth" which begins Chapter 25 in the text where the end of it specifically speaks about how the Trinity is an illusion: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not separate. And within the so-called second person of the Trinity, the Son of God, Jesus is no different from us, as he tells us at the beginning of the text, and that he is not separate from us. But, once again, since we all experience ourselves as being separated and differentiated among each other, we need a symbol that reflects to us this essential unity of God's Son and the Oneness of this unity with God, "a Oneness joined as One," as it were. So that when we speak to Jesus, when we pray to Jesus, when we ask Jesus for help, we are really seeking to join with a part of us that we have dissociated from and, in fact from our ego's point of view, a part of us that we wish never existed. And so going to Jesus for help is really going to ourselves. He represents the right-minded choice to forgive, to choose a miracle instead of a grievance, to choose love instead of fear, to choose to see shared interests instead of separate interests. When we speak of our love for him, it is really speaking of our love for the Self that we believe we have denied, that we believe we have thrown away, and that we believe that we will never access again. If we do not understand Jesus to be this symbol, then we will never move away from the whole Santa Claus idea that we are a little child and Jesus is our older brother who is always there for us to give us what we want. Indeed, he wants us to begin as a child totally dependent on his love and his wisdom, but only so that we would grow up to become like him, recognize we are a mind that can choose between the wrong and the right mind and choose correctly, and finally awaken from the dream and realize that our Identity is spirit as is Jesus' at which point, of course, there is no Jesus. There is no individual identity. There is only God's one Son. So that we need the symbol of Jesus to help lead us to the point when we could recognize that there is no Jesus at all, there is only the Love of God.