Monday, January 26, 2009

notes towards a paper on Jesus (part two)

"if jesus taught reincarnation then it stands to reason that he should have clearly taught the rabbi’s that the torah was woefully insufficient as a text document concerning metaphysics."

 The more orthodox version of Jesus holds that we will be reborn in heaven and / or reincarnated the flesh at the end of the world.

Messianic Jews do not believe that. For them Jesus was a redeemer, who taught Orthodox Judaism. The doctrine of successive rebirths over time is not orthodox, but some believe that this may have been an idea that was circulating at the time. Certainly when Father Origen later made case for this, he felt that it was in accord with Pythagoras and Plato.

The Biblical Jesus does say "You must be reborn." to Nicodemus, and taken with the rest of the teaching, I find it plausible that the Jesus did teach something about successive reincarnation to some of his followers. He does clearly teach different messages to the disciples from what he says to his flock as a whole.

Why do you assert that the Torah is inadequate? Clearly it is not so for millions of Jews. Additionally they have the Talmud Which is more like commentary, including Mishnah which is mostly about law (as far as I can tell I claim no expertise here.) Oh Yeah, there's also the Kabballah, which is usually not taught to young or immature people. Lots of metaphysical knowledge there.

My own feeling is that metaphysics are particularly useless when it comes getting on with life ... life tends to be rather short and we need a way to make it beautiful and worthwhile. Having a set of core values and practical guide lines for how to live makes life not just easier but possible...

Apart from "The Anointed," non-divine, version of Jesus, there is "In principio erat Verbum" at the beginning of John.   Probably written around 90 AD not later than 125 AD
This is very metaphysical, and for many (non traditional interpreters,) this passage draws from Greek philosophy where the "word" is equated with an ideal rational governing principle. This concept of God is very abstract, and distinct from the idea of God as an old man with a white beard an also different from the Gods as Embodied natural elements found in the Rig-Vedas.
There is a later ontology of Shiva creating the world through the utterance of Om. The Seven Musical Notes of the scale are said to emerge from this one Syllable, and in other accounts, the syllables of the Sanskrit alphabet are said to emerge.
 The Kabbalah does have a rather complex metaphysics describing the creation of the world through the generation of numbers and letters.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us .?.?." (John 1:1-3, 14)

It would be over simplifying to say that the Greek Logos, the Kaballah and the ontogenesis of  the world through the Shiva's drum all had a common origin. A student of Karl Jung would be quick to point out an 'archetype' in the collective consciousness, which had something to do with our ability to describe the world through language.
The differences between these "systems," their history and the role they play in their respective cultures,-- the differences are too numerous to ignore. For me If I study these metaphysics to long without some teacher to ground me and keep me on course, I start to loose my ability to discriminate, make decisions and function. When I did first study Kaballa and Tarot, in my early twenties, I had experienced "God" Through the fellowship of worship as a young Christian. I'd also had a kind of ecstatic awareness of divine presence just as a child walking in the woods. Some of the ministers I knew acknowledged this, but showed me how to keep this secret private relationship free from words concepts and the judgment of others. I also did some work with a 'Dance' company which introduced me to a level of body awareness and social interaction which I had never experienced before. All these prior religious and spriritual experiences prepared me in different ways for The kind of intellectual melt down I felt. I could literaly use up my whole life trying to describe what I saw, but there would be no real point. It was a spiritual crisis, and I could have benefited from having a teacher who knew the way.

One of the other overlays on Jesus is the imprint of Roman Emperor worship. Julius Caesar was the first  Emperor and the Roman Senate officially elevated him to the status of deity two years after his assassination.  The phenomenon of "god-kings' is hardly unique to Rome. It is interesting that Caesar had A close relationship with Cleopatra, considering Egypt's history of divine kings.
I speculate somewhat when I suggest that the apotheosis of Caesar may have 'evolved' from primitive ancestor worship. It is not unusual to find elevated and idealized ancestors playing a spiritual role in tribal cultures. In a preliterate society, a strong leader or a good hunter, can easily transform into a powerful legendary figure. Of course "worship" doeas not always mean that ancestors are elevated to the status of gods. A modern version could be as simple as praying for your grandmother, or laying flowers on a grave at Easter.   
 I think there is some consensus that early forms of ancestor worship are based on a basic fear that the dead would come back and interfere with the affairs of the living. So rituals range from offerings and appeasement, to some kind of banishment.

The role of martyr ....

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