GOD IN THE MIRROR: EVIL, SIN, AND SALVATION

By Marcia Montenegro (page 3 of 4)

Christ, Illusions, and the Way Out

Despite the fact these philosophies redefine or deny sin, there is still an acknowledgement of a problem since obviously life is not stress-free, and entails suffering and pain, though it might be illusory. Even if the problem is that sin is an illusion, there is the issue of what to do about this. Not surprisingly for the view that man is basically divine that part of the solution is to realize one's inner divinity in order to combat and conquer the illusion of being separate from God. One's own holiness becomes one's own salvation [A Course in Miracles Workbook for Students, 60].

Other answers lie in realizing that what we perceive as evil is illusion; this realization can begin to free us [Mendez, 150-151]. This echoes the Gnostic teachings that one must break through the bonds of ignorance, arriving at the knowledge that he is a spiritual man and is divine, and that the material world is not his true home [Rudolph, 113-115]. Spiritual progress comes also through reincarnation, the process of the soul being born again after death in another body. As we go through each reincarnation, we learn lessons and are "meeting self," so that we can grow from our experiences [Mary Ann Woodward, "Karma ? Our Jot and Tittle," in The Edgar Cayce Reader, Hugh Lynn Cayce, ed., (NY: Warner Books and The Association for Research and Enlightenment, Inc., 1969), 109-110, 113].

Sometimes Christ becomes part of the solution, but not because He paid a penalty for sin. The Atonement, Christ's death on the cross, is redefined as a way to cancel errors man could not correct, and when one is "restored" to his original state of realizing his guiltlessness, he attains Heaven and becomes part of this Atonement [A Course in Miracles, 8-9, 281]. Christ becomes an allegorical figure, or an example of someone who broke through illusion and realized his divinity, as we all can do. Yogananda's guru, Sri Yukteswar, taught that Jesus was "the Christ or Divine Consciousness in man" [Yogananda, 335]. This divine consciousness was lost when Adam and Eve had sexual experience, thus falling into delusion, and must be regained. Jesus was not the only Son of God, but rather someone who taught that by dissolving our ego and awakening to our oneness with a Christ Consciousness, we can return to our divine consciousness [Yogananda, 198-199]. When Jesus stated in John 14:6 that he was the way, the truth, and the life, and the only way to God, he actually meant that no one can regain their unity with the "Absolute" until he has first activated the Christ Consciousness within, as Jesus did [Yogananda, 198]. The method for this awakening to Christ Consciousness is through reincarnation [Yogananda, 199].

Christ is defined in metaphysical terms that tend to depersonalize him. He is "the ultimate outward expression of the three attributes of Life: Consciousness, Intelligence and Love, in their highest essences" [Mendez, 107]. By meditating on the Metaphysical Christ, one can be re-formed into a pattern of perfection [Mendez, 108]. Christ is not just the New Testament Jesus, but is also the Cosmic Christ, "alive in each one of us," who incarnates every 2,000 years as a perfect Being [Mendez, 108]. Christ is the "true self" [Fox, 65]. In these teachings, Christ becomes merely a depersonalized tool to effect the realization of our inner divinity.

In some cases, sin itself is equated with what is seen as the patriarchal church and male-dominated society, and Jesus is an awakener who came to remind man that God is maternal, and that we have suppressed the "goddess in every person" [Fox, 31, 139, 146]. This was Jesus' mission as well when he was on earth, and his crucifixion was the result of his "frontal assault on patriarchy" [Fox, 31]. Matthew Fox claims that to unite the First Century historical Jesus with the Cosmic Christ will make Christianity "whole," though Jesus had to pay a price for incarnating the Cosmic Christ [Fox, 7, 133].

Fox's Cosmic Christ dwells in every person and in all creatures with a purpose to change us so that we live fuller, richer lives, including having a "deep ecumenism and interaction among all religions of the planet" [Fox, 7-8]. A major sin has been man's war on creation, which Jesus came to heal [Fox, 13-17, 93, 143-149]. Aside from awakening us to the goddess within, to our war on Mother Earth, and to our connection with all humanity, Jesus also came to awaken us to our own divinity, to be "other Christs" ourselves [Fox, 118, 121, 138, 139].

The historical Jesus and Christ are separate beings in the beliefs of the Unity School of Christianity, and the symbolic meaning of these two beings overshadows any historical significance. The historical Jesus represents the "I in man" and the self [Metaphysical Bible Dictionary, 345]. Christ is the divine "I AM" identity that Jesus was able to realize, thus demonstrating this possibility to man [Metaphysical Bible Dictionary, 150, 345]. Indeed, Christ is the "real self" of all men, and embodies the "divine ideas" of "intelligence, life, love, substance, and strength" [Metaphysical Bible Dictionary, 150, 345]. By looking within, all men can realize this inner Christ, which is the "higher self" of man, and thus see that the material world has put them under the "material law" rather than the spiritual realm to which man truly belongs [Metaphysical Bible Dictionary, 150]. This realization, it is claimed, induces a new process that transmutes man's inner self and raises his vibratory energies to higher levels, which will allow him to conquer death [Metaphysical Bible Dictionary, 347]. A Gnostic duality between the material and spiritual is strongly present in Unity's thinking, which can be easily seen in these beliefs where the spiritual dominates and clashes with the material. A purification of the self from the worldly and material in order to attain a higher spiritual status, as well as an ability to rule the passions, was required in Gnostic tradition [Rudolph, 117].

The crucifixion of Christ represents the end of the "human consciousness of a perishable body," a necessary event for awakening to the spiritual I AM consciousness, represented by the angel at Jesus' tomb, who was, in fact, the resurrected Jesus [Metaphysical Bible Dictionary, 348, 349]. The salvation in this worldview is to conquer ignorance and sin through "understanding and righteousness." Jesus demonstrated this victory by what many call his Ascension, but which, according to Unity, actually was his entrance into the spiritual realms, a feat accomplished through "refining, spiritualizing, and raising both soul and body to higher degrees of power." In this way, we gain the kingdom of heaven, which is a state of consciousness [Metaphysical Bible Dictionary, 349, 266].

A more unusual Christ is explained by the channeled Seth: Jesus was actually three personalities, incarnating two of them at the same time, John the Baptist, Jesus the Christ, and Paul [Roberts, Seth Speaks, 370, 391]. All three were clairvoyant and skilled in visions, telepathy, and psychic healing [Roberts, 390-391]. The Christ will come again, but not to reward the righteous or punish evildoers, but rather to set Christianity, which will be "in shambles," aright, and to initiate a "new system of thought" [Roberts, 371]. This future Christ will also affect what we know about the historical Jesus [Roberts, 379].

Christ can also be redefined as a principle of love. Thus, if sin is lack of love, then we are redeemed by a return to love. Williamson puts it explicitly when she claims that Christ is "a psychological term" that "refers to the common thread of divine love that is the core and essence of every human mind" [Williamson, 29]. Therefore, redemption, or "the way out of sin or fear," which are seen as equal, is "through opening the mind to love" [Williamson, 21].

James Redfield asserts that man's spiritual evolvement involves realizing that all is energy, and that we have a connection with all people and with the universe. Becoming connected and tapping into this energy is proposed as the true way of being "saved" [Redfield, 235, 236]. One of the characters contends that the New Testament is the story of people "being filled with some kind of energy that transformed them" [Redfield, 236]. As man evolves, his vibration level becomes higher until he dematerializes. Christ was an example of this, which is why he was able to walk on water and seemingly ascend to heaven, although actually he "was the first to cross over" to the other world from which we came, and the first "to expand the physical world into the spiritual" [Redfield, 241].

The Jesus of Walsch's writings was crucified to show man he had the same power to create his own reality, and that man's own way to heaven is Self-realization [Walsch, CWG, 52]. Man cannot "not be saved;" there is no hell, and there is no heaven for heaven is realizing you are already there [CWG, 98, 115; Walsch, CWGFT, 140, 142, 264, 281]. In order for man to free himself from the false teachings of sin and hell, God advises that one should read Walsch's first book "over and over again," until he understands every word in the book [Walsch, CWG, 120; this is interesting in light of the fact that the same God also tells Walsch early on that words are mere noise and truth cannot be found in them (p. 3)]. Interestingly, the God of this book claims authorship for the landmark New Age book, A Course in Miracles, which teaches many similar ideas [Walsch, CWG, 90]. In Walsch's book for teens, God tells teens that man, as a Divine Being, will eventually "meld" with God for a time, then go out to be reborn again; this will happen over and over for eternity [Walsch, CWGFT, 260, 261, 281, 296].

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