Book Blog: The Jesus Mysteries

Jesus Mysteries

The subject of this book blog is ‘The Jesus Mysteries,’ by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy. Subtitled ‘Was the Original Jesus a Pagan God?’ the answer is an overwhelming and incontrovertible ‘YES!’

The myth of a dying and resurrecting ‘Godman’ is one that can be traced back to the very dawn of humanity. Shamans would undergo a mystical experience in which they would be spiritually killed and then reborn, opening them up to higher planes of consciousness, which they would use to heal and educate their tribes.

But this myth did not disappear, only to be rediscovered 2000 years ago – it was present in just about every religion in the ancient world: mystery religions that would tell myths to the public, but only reveal the truths they encoded to the initiated.

The Godmen who prefigured Jesus, and from whom his entirely fictitious biography was cobbled together, are too numerous to list, but here are the names of just a few:

  • Dionysus
  • Osiris
  • Attis
  • Adonis
  • Mithras
  • Serapis
  • Pythagoras
  • Socrates
  • Tammuz

Jesus Christ was not an historical figure – rather, he was (and still is) a spiritual principle. He embodies the spiritual death we must all undergo, killing our lower selves, so that we can become unified with The One. None of the Pagans who worshiped the gods listed above believed them to have been historically real. They understood that they were just useful myths, symbolizing the spiritual transformation of man into immortal, all equally interchangeable.

But how was it that these great spiritual truths got corrupted into dogmatic history? The authors suggest that as Jews of the Diaspora become more intermingled with the pagan cultures in which they found themselves, they sought to make Judaism into its own mystery religion, whilst still remaining faithful to their extant scriptures. So they fabricated a Messiah, based on a reworking of Joshua from The Old Testament, to become their own Judaized godman. These original Gnostics and Essenes preached a truly mystical and spiritual version of Christianity, based on personal experience and transformation, instead of blind faith and dogmatic fervor. They were in existence centuries before Christ was even claimed to have been born.

So, if Christianity was just a recontextualization of an ancient pagan myth, why did it come to vilify paganism so thoroughly? As Christianity became corrupt, and spirituality got perverted into an inflexible, and watered-down history, it inherited the intolerance of the evil old god of The Old Testament. To the citizens of the ancient world, it was obvious that Christianity was just a re-working of pagan myths. The only way Materialist Christians could succeed was by destroying every last pagan culture and religion they had stolen their ideas from, so that their claims did truly seem to be authentic. It’s very easy to corner the market when you’ve killed the competition. And once Constantine made Christianity the state religion (without actually embracing Christianity himself,) and the emperors that proceeded him followed suit, it became easier and easier to make this happen.

And thus, The Dark Ages were born, as all the learning, philosophy, science, and attainments of the ancient world were condemned as heresy, and destroyed. Science isn’t something we invented in the last few centuries – it is something we have rediscovered from the past – a revived gift left to us by our supposedly ‘primitive’ and ‘devil-worshiping’ ancestors. It is hard not to read of the widespread destruction and intolerance authorized by the Roman Church and not feel utter horror and indignation at the righteous lies that are still being bequeathed to us. Every time I hear of the destruction of the Library of Alexandria, I want to weep. And all in the name of a made-up man who openly preached compassion, tolerance, and universal love.

Just imagine how history might have played out if Gnostic Christianity and Paganism had carried on living harmoniously side by side, without being corrupted into a literal account by the Roman Church. Untold amounts of death could have been prevented; the mysteries of the past could have been preserved; the Jews would have been spared millennia of persecution and The Holocaust; Spiritualism may well have trumped over materialism; and people may have recognized that they themselves are Christ, and not been killed as blasphemers for coming to that realization.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to know the Truth about our past.

May all beings recognize the Christ within.

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Book Blog: ‘Road To Heaven’ by Bill Porter

Bill POrter

ROAD TO HEAVEN: ENCOUNTERS WITH CHINESE HERMITS

China’s history has long been feted with legends of mysterious recluses and hermits, living in the remote mountains of The Middle Kingdom’s fairy-tale landscapes. These recluses have traditionally been Taoist non-conformists, who have removed themselves from the inequalities and dust of the world, to pursue The Way, and cultivate spiritual immortality. Occasionally, these hermits have appeared from their seclusion to offer wisdom and political advice. But since the persecution of Buddhists and Taoist by Communists during The Cultural Revolution, it was believed that this institution had largely been destroyed.

But was that really the case?

Driven on by rumors and uncertain testimony, Bill Porter – (translator of many esteemed Chinese Poets and Buddhist/Taoist sutras)  – travels into the mysterious sacred mountains of China, hoping to meet some modern-day hermits, who are keeping this tradition alive.

Along the way, he meets myriad Zen and Taoist hermits, living in remote and inaccessible locations; and passes such sacred locations as the observatory tower commemorating the place where Lao Tzu penned The ‘Tao Te Ching’ before disappearing into the West on his ox. He meets  monks and nuns with whom he discusses nothingness and the uneasiness of spiritual practice within modern China, whilst dispersing the accounts of his journey with tales from Chinese history, mythology, and mystical exegesis.

In one amusing account, Bill visits a Taoist temple, where he jokes that his rather wizened looking photographer is at least 700 hundred years old. Given that Taoists take such matters as immortality and longevity seriously, he did feel quite guilty when he had to confide to them that he was not even a-hundred.

And yet, even in spite of the fruits of his search, I can’t help but feel that their must be myriads of  Taoist sages of high attainment, living in locations so remote, no ordinary mortal could possibly access them, untouched by the ravages of time, or the catastrophe of The Cultural Revolution.

An inspiring and exciting read, I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in Taoism, Zen, or Chinese History and Mythology.

Book Blog:’The Story of Tibet’ by Thomas Laird

Tibet

The Story of Tibet: Conversations With The Dalai Lama by Thomas Laird is a history book with a difference. Though I love learning about history, I find most historians difficult to cope with. With their obsession with dates, factuality, and the arrogance with which they dismiss all mystical beliefs, they are very well-versed in arousing my disinterest. In my opinion, history is not just comprised of ‘facts’ – (an ugly, ridiculous, humiliation of a word) – but of popular belief, folklore, mythology, and philosophy. It is incumbent on the historian to get into the mindset of the people they are historicizing – not to engage in supercilious ‘Aren’t we better now that we have electricity and Bingo’type ignorance.

But, as this history is compiled largely from dialogues with The Dalai Lama, we get an altogether different type of history. Being a Buddhist and a man of wisdom, His Holiness is very quick to assert that every historical event can be witnessed from two perspectives – ‘the mundane’, which deals with the facts and figures capable of being perceived by everyone; – and ‘the special’ in which an extra dimension is added,  and the actions of history begin to take on a more spiritual and esoteric tenor.

Through these dialogues, we are taken from the earliest mythic beginnings of the Tibetan peoples, who were believed to be the progeny of a monkey and a black demon, infused with the spirit of Chenrizi. We learn about the difficult life of the poet and sorcerer Milarepa, who was treated very badly by his tutor to atone for bad karma; and of The “Great” Fifth Dalai who was responsible for initiating the Tibetan empire and bringing the Buddha Dharma into Tibet. All the way up to the present day of China’s illegal occupation of Tibet.

The push and pull between the author and The Dalai Lama in the book enables a positive outcome. Thomas Laird’s willingness to challenge His Holiness enables us to see a deeper and more human side of this spiritual hero than we have been hitherto granted; and The Dalai Lama’s wisdom and compassion rub off on Thomas, which enables him to present this great history in a much broader and multi-dimensional fashion. Underlying all this is the reminder of what this history proves on a political level: that there is no historical justification for Tibet’s occupation by China, and that the state of independence it has long held should swiftly be returned to it.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants an insight into this great country, as well as a look into the heart and soul of the great man so emblematic of it. Reading this book was very inspiring to me, and only spurred me on in the pursuit of my Buddhist studies and practice. May it do the same for you.

 

Book Blog: ‘The Journey Through Wales’ by Gerald of Wales

Journey Through Wales

Gerald of Wales was an archdeacon, historian and scholar during the 12th and 13th Centuries of Medieval Britain. His classic ‘Journey Through Wales,’ written for the Archbishop of Canterbury, narrates their Journey through the length and breadth of Wales on a Mission of conversion to The Cross.

However, Gerald is not so much interested in presenting a systematic history of Wales, or on preaching the Word of God, as he is in entertaining the reader. In an idiosyncratic manner that is completely at odds with the dry, ostensibly ‘factual’ histories of today, Gerald bombards the reader with story after story – some personally experienced, others the stuff of legend – that all contribute towards creating a colorful, wild, rambunctious, and idyllic picture of Wales as it existed at that time. I particularly enjoyed his description of living a quiet, monastic life in the unspoiled Brecons, happily embracing poverty, and rejoicing in simplicity. And something of the tangential rambunctiousness of it made me think of those two wild Chinese classics ‘The Chuang Tzu’ and ‘The Classic of Mountains and Seas.’

Keen to show off his erudition at every turn, Gerald inserts appropriate quotes from Roman and Greek poets whenever he can, whilst regaling the wildest of stories. He recounts one lurid tale about a man – presumably impregnated by a demon – who spent 3 years – 3 years! – giving birth to a calf. Gerald doesn’t explain the logistics of it, or why the man didn’t beg to be killed during his bovine nativity, but it certainly gives the reader some discomfited pause for thought, as we imagine what it would be like to give birth to a cow.

He tells stories of men and women eaten up by a plague of frogs; ‘miracles’ in which people become inexplicably glued to monastic architecture; and a magical rock in North Wales, which, no matter how far it is carried from it resting place – even on a sea voyage – it will always return to exactly the same place the next day.

My favorite story of all, perhaps, is about a soothsayer, whom Gerald knew personally, who was renowned for his accuracy in predicting the future and reading people’s minds, thanks to his ability to converse with demons. But he had not always exhibited such psychic prowess. He had once been a humble country man, who was very much in love with a beautiful local lady. Though they were both enamored of one another, they were never able to consummate their union, until finally the right opportunity struck, and they lay with one another, ‘tasting of eachother’s delights.’

But, all was not as fortuitous as it seemed, for, when the man re-opened his eyes to look at his love, he discovered that she was a hideous monster, completely covered with hair – I imagine, looking something like the 12th Century equivalent of Chewbacca. The sight caused him to lose his senses, and he remained in a state of madness for three years. When he finally returned to a state of normalcy, he found he was able to see and speak freely with demons and spirits, whose comings and goings were visible everywhere, and interfering with humanity on every possible footing.

Gerald’s love of the lurid makes reading every page a delight, and I heartily recommend it to anyone interested in a much more personal and amusing insight into our ancient past.

Book Blog: ‘Out of Egypt’ by Ahmed Osman

OUt of Egypt

 

The first book to be featured in my book blog is ‘Out of Egypt: The Roots of Christianity Revealed’ by Ahmed Osman. In this book, the author questions the historicity of many of the most prominent Jewish Prophets in The Old Testament of The Bible, and suggests that they may have actually been Egyptian Pharaohs and Politicians. Drawing on both scriptural and historical evidence, the argument he puts forward is both exciting and fascinating.

Joseph and his mistranslated multi-colored coat may have actually been a powerful minister called ‘Yuya.’ Egyptian officials typically took the name of their patron god as their last name. But there is no ‘Ya’ in the Egyptian pantheon, and nor can the name be spelled properly using Egyptian hieroglyphs, causing the author to suggest that Yuya was a foreigner (like the Biblical Jospeh) and that ‘Ya’ was a contraction of Yahweh or Jehovah. His life mirrors that of Joseph, and, beside the Pharaoh, his authority was second to none.

King David is associated with Thutmosis III; Amenhotep III is believed to be the historical King Solomon. Most interesting to my mind, however, was the equation of Moses with the radical pharaoh Akhenaten. The similarities between them are overwhelming. In famously pantheistic Egypt (as all religions were at the time), Akhenaten had the audacity to suggest that there was only one true god – the Solar Deity Aten. Such was his conviction in this, that he banned worship of all other gods and had their temples, artifacts, and mention in scripture destroyed. Sound familiar? This did not earn him any popularity, and he was forced to go into exile and eventually abdicate, just as Moses was forced to flee Egypt after murdering a slave-trader. Most interesting of all was the suggestion that the holy name of god ‘Adonai’ featured in The Old Testament, was actually a Hebraic corruption of the name of Akhenaten’s God, Aten. Other similarities include Akhenaten’s disbelief in the afterlife, and the belief that all that was dark was evil – a corruption of earlier religions, that had been much more balanced in this regard.

Of course, all of this is quite removed from the history Christianity has presented of itself; so Osman delineates the sequence of events, and the purposeful distortion of history, that led to the manufacturing of Christianity as we know it today.

Christianity originally stemmed from two main groups – The Essenes and The Gnostics – who, themselves, stemmed from Ancient Mystery Religions such as The Therapeutae, dating all the way back to the practice of shamanism.

As one of the few people who have read the Gnostic Gospels – (a corpus of early Christian literature, most of which pre-dated, or served as highly-censored source material of The New Testament) – discovered in Nag Hammadi in 1945, I can say that the beliefs of the early Christians bear little or no relation to how Christianity has been understood or practiced throughout the last twenty centuries. Their beliefs are a lot more aligned with those of Eastern philosophies such as Taoism, Buddhism, or Hinduism, as well as Platonism and Pythagoreanism; and, indeed, if you were to place these scriptures alongside, say, The Upanishads or the Tao Te Ching, you would find many overwhelming parallels.

The Gnostics believed in reincarnation, practiced meditation, as well as secret initiation rites that would bear a lot of resemblance to Buddhist and Hindu Tantra. Christ is not once spoken of as contemporary historical figure; rather, he is treated as a spiritual principle, representing a state of purified being and consciousness. Interestingly, both these groups, and their Egyptian forebears, would wear aprons during these rites, which, of course, is still a practice carried on in Freemasonry today.

But the enlightened beliefs of the Gnostics were seen as a threat Roman imperial forces. The fact that they were without hierarchy, practiced sexual equality, and believed that one’s understanding of god was a personal, internal experience, and not something that could be mediated by a priest, meant that they could not be controlled or manipulated – something that was anathema to the oppressive Roman State.

Rather than destroy these religious groups, who were fearless and resistant, Rome sought to create its own ‘Official’ State-Approved version of Christianity – a hierarchical, corrupt patriarchy, who would denounce as a heretic anyone who preached a mystical relationship with Christ, or who questioned the historicity of The New Testament. Thus, a religion that was designed to liberate people, was deliberately transformed into a religion to control and enslave, initiating The Dark Ages, and causing an untold amount of deaths and suffering.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in religious history, or who favor a revisionist approach to the stories of The Bible.