Oct 082013

The Secret Teachings of Jesus

Hello, I’m Keith Campbell, independent priest of the Home Temple, and welcome to GodSmarts.
I’d like to start this episode with a joke. The full joke is very long, but in the interests of time I’m going to abbreviate. A man was wandering by a monastery on a high hill when he heard a very strange, beautiful noise. He was so intrigued by the noise that he climed all the way up the mountain, found the abbot and asked him what was making such an unusual noise. The abbot told him sternly, “i’m sorry, but I can’t tell you. You’re not a monk”. The man went on his way, but his mind was so obsessed about the source of the sound that he finally climed back up the mountain and asked what he had to do to become a monk. The abbot told him he had to travel the world, count all the grains of sand on the beaches and all the blades of grass in the fields.
So he wandered the world for many years, counting all the grains of sand and all the blades of grass. Finally, many years later, he returned to the monestary and was made a monk.He could hardly contain his excitement as he was finally lead to the secret door where the strange sound came from. What he saw there was absolutely amazing, but I’m afraid I can’t tell you about it. You’re not a monk.

Secrets have often been a part of religion. Last time we looked at the recently discovered Gospel of Thomas, and I explained why many scholars think it’s a very important look at the authentic teachings of Jesus. But the Gospel of Thomas says that some of Jesus teachings were secret. The very first verse says:

“These are the secret sayings which the living Jesus spoke and which Didymos Judas Thomas wrote down.” – Thomas 1

Did Jesus have secret teachings?

There is very good evidence that he did. Jesus would take his disciples aside to explain the secret meanings of his parables, that the public didn’t get to hear. “You have been given the opportunity to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven” Jesus says, “but they have not. (Matt 13:10-11, NET)̀

The Greek word used for secret here is “musterion”, which means “to shut the mouth”. It referred to the sort of secrets that the initiates of the mystery schools were taught. Jesus said that some of his teachings weren’t for the unspiritual.

“Do not give what is holy to dogs or throw your pearls before pigs” – Matthew 7:6 NET Jesus says.

When his disciples figured out who he was,
“…he instructed his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.
(Matt 16:20, NET)

When he was transfigured on the mountain with Peter, James and John,

“As they were coming down from the mountain, he gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. (Mark 9:9 NET)

But haven’t all these secrets been revealed to us in the Bible?

Probably not.

We’re told at the end of the gospel of John that There are many other things that Jesus did. If every one of them were written down, I suppose the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. (John 21:25, NET)

We’re told that,
“To the same apostles also, after his suffering, he presented himself alive with many convincing proofs. He was seen by them over a forty-day period and spoke about matters concerning the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3, NET)

But we don’t know a single word of what he said.

Paul told his readers that he couldn’t teach them the deepest spiritual truths.

“I could not speak to you as spiritual people, “ he says, “but instead as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready. In fact, you are still not ready, (1Cor 3:1-2, NET)

So Paul’s epistles only gave spiritual milk, not the solid meat of the mysteries, but as a “steward of the mysteries of God.’ (1Cor 4:1, NET) Paul only explained “… spiritual things to spiritual people. (1Cor 3:13 NET)

Many of the early leaders of the church mentioned these secret teachings. Origin said that just like the Greek mysteries, Christianity had it’s secrets.

“But that there should be certain doctrines, not made known to the multitude, which are (revealed) after the exoteric (outer) ones have been taught, is not a peculiarity of Christianity alone, but also of philosophic systems, in which certain truths are exoteric (outer) and others esoteric. (inner)” (Origin Contra Cesum: Book I Chap VII)

Basil also mentioned the Christian mysteries – the oral teaching passed on from the apostles saying that:

“the awful dignity of the mysteries is best preserved by silence. What the uninitiated are not even allowed to look at was hardly likely to be publicly paraded about in written documents.” (Basil of Cesaria: On the Holy Spirit, Book XXVII)

And Clement of Alexandria talked about

“ the gnosis (secret knowledge) itself is that which has descended by transmission to a few, having been imparted unwritten by the apostles.” (Clement of Alexandria: Stromata Book VI Chapter VII)

One of the most famous gnostic teachers, Valentinus, a man who nearly became bishop of Rome, claimed to have been taught the secret teachings of Jesus by a disciple who learned them directly from the apostle Paul.

We assume that Jesus purpose was to publicly proclaim his message to the world, and then to die on the cross and rise from the dead, leaving his clear message in the Bible for everyone to read. We assume that because this written message – the outward message, is all that modern Christianity has to offer. But from these clues, it appears that Jesus also had a deeper, spiritual message that was only passed on to a few of his most spiritual disciples, and by them to their own select disciples. This is the way that spiritual discipleship has worked through much of history. Many of the Rabbis of Jesus time had inner circles of disciples with whom they shared their deepest teachings.

So what are these secret teachings of Jesus? And how can we know what they are if they aren’t spelled out in the Bible?

Well I’d like to tell you. But you’re not a monk.

Until next time, I’m Keith Campbell for Godsmarts. See you soon.

Just kidding. Next time, we WILL try to see what clues we can discover about Jesus’ secret teaching.





Mar 132013

It gets harder every day to explain my spirituality to others. I am a follower of the Master Jesus, and an independent priest. But am I a Christian? Many would say no, because I have unorthodox beliefs.

C. S. Lewis argued, in Mere Christianity, that “Christian” should mean someone who claims to hold to the “Christian doctrine”. He was arguing against those who prefer to use “Christian” as a word meaning someone who is loving and charitable. Lewis would prefer us to say of a baptized scoundrel, “he’s a bad Christian” rather than “he’s not a Christian”.

But what, exactly, constitutes “Christian doctrine?” At one time, we could identify the earliest Christian creeds and doctrines and insist that a Christian must claim to believe them. But with the emergence of early Christian writings such as the Nag Hammadi texts, our view of what early Christianity looked like is changing. Early Christians were a much more diverse bunch than originally thought. From the very beginning, there existed apostolic groups with radically different notions of what Jesus message was.

I would tend to call myself a “gnostic” Christian, but this is misleading also. No Christian group actually called itself “gnostic”. This was a catch-all phrase for several groups that differed considerably with each other. There are a few common features of “gnosticism”, such as the emphasis on individual enlightenment, that are appealing. Then on the other hand are the strange cosmologies and a very negative attitude toward the material world.

“Mystical Christian”, “Esoteric Christian”, and “Hermetic Christian” are also possibilities, but seem to conjure up strange images in the modern mind.

So, what do you think is the best self-label for an “inner” Christian in the modern world?

Feb 232013

I was reading some fascinating material recently from a Christian hermeticist on the nature of demons and evil spirits which reinforces some observations I had made myself. I had written here earlier on the changing nature of “Satan” in the development of the bible. Only recently, however, did I notice an interesting distinction in the New Testament – a distinction that those who read the King James will entirely miss.

The New Testament speaks a lot about the devil and devils. In the King James, however, it uses “devil” to translate two entirely different Greek words. One is diabolos – Greek for “accuser”. This word is used as a parallel, in some of the synoptics, for “satanas”, a word from Caldean related to the Hebrew “satan” – meaning also “accuser” or “opponent”. In Luke, Jesus is tempted in the wilderness by “satanas”, and in Matthew, it’s the “diabolos”.

The other Greek word that the King James translates as “devil” is “daimonion”. This word is used in connection with an spirit who opporesses or posesses an individual – a demon. These demons are described as “pneuma poyneros” – a diseased, painful, or evil spirit.

In the Greek, devils and demons are two entirely different things, inspite of the King James translating both words “devil”. True devils are the accusers and opponents of the righteous. In the Old Testament, the opponent (the “satan”) was seen as a divine office, in the service of God. The satan of Job is one of the sons of God, the Bene Elohim, who enters the court of Heaven in something like the capacity of a district attorney. It is his job to bring charges against the faithful. Even God himself is described as acting in the capacity of a “satan” or opponent. In 1 Ch 21:1, “satan”, the opponent, provokes David to number Israel. In 2 Sa 24:1, we find that the “satan” was God himself.

As time progressed, Satan became more personified, and the traditions described him as being in rebellion against God. But still, the “satanas” and “diabolos” of the New Testament are bound by law. There is a “Geneva Convention” of sorts between the two sides, and the diabolos confine themseves to persecuting and tempting, NOT to direct posession. Resist the diabolos, we are told in James, and he must flee. The one possible exception is with Judas. Luke tells us that satan “entered into” him. John, however, states that the diabolos merely put the thought into Judas’ heart. So the “entering” here seems to be just a powerful temptation.

Daimonios, on the other hand, interfer directly with human freedom. They posess and control human beings. What my hermetic author suggests, and I believe makes perfect sense, is that these daimonios are generally what the esotericists call “elemental beings”. They are human creations of emotional energy, which live a semi-auotonomous life outside the conscious boundries of personality. To quote from my source:

“The “evil spirits” which deprive man of his freedom are not at all beings of the so-called “hierarchies of evil” or “fallen hierarchies”. Neither Satan, nor Belial, nor Lucifer, nor Mephistopheles have ever deprived anyone of his freedom. Temptation is their only weapon and this presupposes the freedom of he who is tempted. But possession by an “evil spirit” has nothing to do with temptation. It is invariably the same thing as with Frankenstein’s monster. One engenders an elemental being and one subsequently becomes the slave of one’s own creation. The “demons” or “evil spirits” of the New Testament are called today in psychotherapy “neuroses of obsession”, “neuroses of fear”, “fixed ideas”, etc. They have been discovered by contemporary psychiatrists and are recognized as real – i.e. as “parasitic psychic organisms” independent of the conscious human will and tending to subjugate it. But the devil is not there to no avail – although not in the sense of direct participation. He observes the law – which protects human freedom and is the inviolable convention between the hierarchies of “right” and those of “left” – and never violates it, as stands out in the example of the story of Job. One need not fear the devil, but rather the perverse tendencies on oneself! For these perverse human tendencies can deprive us of our freedom and enslave us. Worse still, they can avail themselves of our imagination and inventive faculties and lead us to creations which can become the scourge of mankind. The atomic bomb and the hydrogen bomb are flagrant examples of this.

Man with the possible perversity of his warped imagination is far more dangerous than the devil and his legions. For man is not bound by the convention concluded between heaven and hell; he can go beyond the limits of the law and engender arbitrarily malicious forces whose nature and action are beyond the framework of the law… such as being the Molechs and other “gods” of Canaa., Phoenicia, Carthage, ancient Mexico and other lands, which exacted human sacrifice. One has to guard against accusing the beings of the hierarchies of evil to their detriment of having played the role of Molechs, these being only creatures of the perverse collective human will and imagination. These are egregores, engendered by collective perversity, just as there exist the “demons” or “evil spirits” engendered by individuals.”

This has been my experience also. While “demons” can act very much as independent entities, they are also almost certainly human creations, and usually should not be handled in isolation from the humans who create them and give them strength.

Apr 282010

I’ve previously written about the founding bishop of my order, Lewis Keizer. He is, bar none, the most knowledgeable writer and teacher on esoteric subjects and the mystery traditions of anyone I’ve ever met. Bishop Keizer has dozens of books, courses and lectures available at his site, and presides over an independent order of priesthood and several initiatic organizations.

Now you have a unique opportunity to pick up an excellent electronic library of bishop Keizer’s books and presentations while sponsoring his worldwide tour of apostolic blessing. The bishop will be leaving in October/November of 2010 and circumnavigating the globe by boat for a year lecturing and bestowing his apostolic blessing on the world. To raise money for this voyage, he is offering a package of five of his  books, as well as dozens of video lectures and presentations in electronic form for a donation of $100 or as a CD for $150.

The titles of the books include The New Humanity: The forgotten Kabbalistic Teachings of Yeshua and the Evolution of Global Spirituality, The Kabbalistic Words of Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas: Recovering the Inner-Circle Teachings of Yeshua, Yeshua: The Unknown Jesus (Novel), The Wandering Bishops: Apostles of a New Spirituality, and The Authentic Jesus: A Guide to Aramaic Idioms, Recent Research, and the Original Message of Jesus Christ.

If any of this sounds like your cup of tea, or if you simply want to participate in a wonderful project to bless and raise the consciousness of the world, click on bishop Keizer’s donation page and sign up as a sponsor.

Feb 222010

astral Exploring the Fifth Dimension – Parallel Universes, Teleportation and Out-of-Body Travel,  by Dr. Bruce Goldberg . Today’s review is for a much more esoteric book than I usually include on the site, but I’m sure that there are quite a few readers who, like me, will be interested in it. I first heard Dr. Goldberg during a radio interview on the famous Coast-to-Coast program (formerly hosted by Art Bell, currently by George Noory). Goldberg spent hours telling stories of past-life regressions, teleportation, invisibility, parallel universes and the like. He seemed completely at home with all of this, and claimed to be able to teach this to anyone. My enthusiasm made sure that the book ended up under the tree at Christmas.

So how is it? Well, the stories are fascinating and reasonably well researched. Dr. Goldberg’s metaphysical view is well developed and corresponds closely with my own. His views on reincarnation, for example, are nuanced and sophisticated. He manages to squeeze a lot of explanation of higher planes and spiritual concepts into a relatively small book.

The heart of the book, however, are dialogues meant to assist you in exploring these phenomena for yourself. The dialogues are meant to be recorded, with music, and listened to in order to induce teleportaiton, out-of-body travel, visitation of parallel dimensions, etc. Dr. Goldberg is primarily a hypnotherapist, and uses hypnosis as a vehicle for this kind of metaphysical exploration. Reassuringly, he has used it on thousands of subjects with no danger or ill effects.

The catch is that preparing these kinds of dialogue tapes to listen to yourself is a bit of work. Dr. Goldberg probably hopes that this will induce you to buy his CD’s – available on his site: www.drbrucegoldberg.com, which have already done the work for you. But you have to give him credit – he does give you the dialogues so that you at least have the OPTION of doing it yourself, if you have more time than money and need to do your metaphysical exploration on the cheap.

Do these techniques work? Well to tell the truth, I haven’t had the chance to either order the CD’s or record the dialogues. But I see no reason why they wouldn’t. The method and theory is sound. It’s certainly worth a try. The metaphysical information contained in the book is easily worth the price.

Feb 182009

I had mentioned in one of my posts earlier the categories “mystic” and “esoteric”, and that there is a distinct difference between them. I ran into this distinction in a really excellent book by Richard Smoley titled “Inner Christianity“. Since the distinction is his I’d best let him clarify it:

Esotericism is characterized by an interest in these different levels of consciousness and being. Mysticism is not quite so concerned with these intermediate states; it focuses on reaching God in the most direct and immediate way. The mystic wants to reach his destination as quickly as possible; the esotericist wants to learn something about the landscape on the way. Moreover, mysticism tends more toward passivity: a quiet “waiting upon God” rather than active investigation.

I had mentioned that Eckhart Tolle, for example, is a mystic, whereas I think Ken Wilber is more of an esotericist. Myself, I’ve wandered back and forth as the mood strikes me. This distinction is similar to Ken Wilber’s distinction of “ascending” vs. “descending” spiritual currents. The “ascenders” focus on finding God in the absolute, infinite unity of being. They often disdain the physical manifestations. This group includes such folks as most gnostics, particularly Manicheans. Also in this category would be the Christian contemplatives and practitioners of Raja yoga.

The “descenders” on the other hand, celebrate God in the infinite variety of physical manifestation. Most forms of wicca, paganism and shamanism fall into this category, along with tantric yoga and “social” Christianity. The descenders often seem somewhat unconcerned with higher reality as a goal.

Both currents of spirituality are important, because God exist equally as the infinite one, and as the infinite many. Perhaps this makes esotericism a sort of compromise, because it seeks the divine unity while making plenty of interesting tours of the infinite many on the way up.

What can be frustrating about esotericism is that the “facts” of the esoteric tend to vary somewhat from teacher to teacher and from school to school. One of my favorite topics, for example, is angeology. But although nearly every religion and every esoteric school agrees that there ARE angels, and that they are important – none agree about exactly what they are, what their nature is, or their names, activities and heirarchy.

The trick seems to be to pick a system and stick with it, while realizing that all esoteric systems are somewhat arbitrary – vehicles for focusing the efforts of the student as he or she progresses on the spiritual path.

How about you? Are you a mystic or an esoteric?

Apr 202007

The Church of the Holy Archangels is an independent ministry in the process of affiliation with the Home Temple under the jurisdiction of Bishop Lewis Keizer. 

In form we are part of the Independent Catholic movement, with lines of authority from most if not all of the surviving branches of apostolic succession. We administer the sacraments to any who wish to receive them, without membership or doctrinal requirements and without charge.

We have no fixed body of dogma, but reverence the Master Jesus. We believe his gift to us consisted primarily in spiritual power and transformation, rather than a set of statements of belief.

Our understanding of the spiritual world is not bound by any one tradition, but is influenced by many traditions, including orthodox Christianity, Gnosticism, Vedantism and other Eastern philosophies, and the teaching of various Esoteric Schools.

Jul 262006

The conversation on the reality or unreality of “gods” interested me, and I wanted to add a few words by way of suggesting a particular metaphysical “model” for consideration.

MythMythAfter having been “around the block” a few times, I have come to the conclusion that many of the people who report seeing such diverse things as angels, demons, “gods”, monsters, aliens, faeries and other such things are actually having experiences that are, in some way “real”. Skeptics who are happy to write all such experiences off as pathological delusions will have no use for this model, and can stop reading right about now.

Many of us are willing to accept the reality of odd “sightings” that confirm our own worldview, but either reject everything else as delusional, or chalk it off to demonic impersonation, as Brandon did. One person may believe in angels but scoff at aliens. Another person may have the opposite viewpoint.

Let me suggest a more charitable model that can accommodate both. It comes from the general “New Age” framework of various esoteric teachings, but I don’t see anything in it that would prohibit a Christian, for example, from accepting it.

Let’s start with some observations from OBE (Out of Body Experience) or Astral Projection. People who experience this phenomena regularly noticed something long ago, and made note of it. The astral world can be shaped by human thought. If an astral projector find that he has need of a sword, for example, to fight off something bad, or wants a chair to sit in, it can be created with a simple act of will, and will exist in the astral world as long as this will is maintained.

Next, it was noticed that if something was created in the astral world REPEATEDLY, it began to take on a more permanent character. It would last longer with a smaller effort of will, or even remain in the astral dimension from one visit to the next. Mystics began to specifically create and reinforce things in the astral, such as temples. It was further noticed that this power of creation and maintenance was exponentially increased with the number of people concentrating on the task, and pouring their emotional and spiritual energy into it. A large number of people pouring a lot of energy into concentrating on some specific astral/spiritual thing, over the course of time, was found to have astonishing creative power.

Let’s suppose, for example, that thousands of people were to invest a great deal of psychic and spiritual energy into the notion of the god Zeus. Over the course of years, mystics would find themselves running into “Zeus” in their meditations, astral projections, etc. He would appear in more and more dreams. Given enough energy, he could even appear to people in altered (or in rare circumstances, even NORMAL) states of consciousness. He would even have considerable power during these appearances -power channeled into him by thousands of worshippers.

These powerful group thought-forms are called, in esoteric literature, “eggregors”. An eggregor, depending on its power (based on the number of people contributing their energy to it) can create strong influences and even physical manifestations. These manifestations can the various physical forms that make up the visual images of the eggregor. Let’s see how this might work:

Billions of people, over thousands of years, say trillions of prayers and devote enormous amounts of spiritual energy meditating on the Virgin Mary. This could build up an eggregor of astonishing power, causing, for example, the mass apparitions and solar phenomena observed at Fatima, Medujorge, etc.

Millions of people watching and reading science fiction spend countless hours thinking on the idea of extraterrestrials. This could build up an eggregor strong enough to cause sightings, altered states of consciousness perceived as “abductions”, etc.

People in nearly every religion have devoted great attention to the idea of angels. This might build up a strong enough eggregor to cause seemingly miraculous intervention by “supernatural” beings.

Voodoo and similar cults spend years of devotion and ritual directed toward a powerful pantheon of gods and similar forces. This creates a strong psychic eggregor which could be directed against particular individuals.

Let me back up and make a few disclaimer – I personally believe that there ARE angels, demons and probably a host of other types of supernatural beings that have a reality independent of human thought. Apparitions of Mary, angels, Jesus (or demons or aliens) MAY be exactly what they appear to be. Furthermore, not all eggregors are evil. Mass consciousness can be used for great benefit to help, heal and produce good works.

But consider the possibility that SOME “supernatural” occurrences may simply arise – not from God, and not from demons, but simply from natural human abilities to manipulate the spiritual world.

This model, it would seem to me, would explain a great deal.

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