Return to NHNE Miscellaneous Archive
"Where there is no vision,
The Utopian Vision
The Jesus of History
The Jesus of Psychics
The Utopian Vision
By David Sunfellow
The People Perish
Without vision, human beings not only cease to be human, they cease to be. The spiritual, mental, and emotional side of us needs a feeling of purpose, a sense of meaning, an ideal, a hope, a dream to nourish and pursue as surely as the physical side of us requires sunlight, air, water, and food. Our religions, our civilizations, all that distinguishes us from the other kingdoms of nature revolves around being able to conceive a vision and pursue it.
The search for a perfect vision -- a vision that can produce perfectly fulfilled individuals and civilizations -- has, without a doubt, been humanities greatest, most enduring search. Utopian visions of all kinds have swept over the earth many times. Some of these movements, like those ignited by Buddha, Lao Tsu, Confuscious, Abraham, Mohammed, and Jesus, have gathered millions of people and endured centuries of turbulent, often hostile changes. Other movements, like shooting stars, have flashed across the skies of our world and then vanished never to be heard from again. An objective observer watching humanity from afar might be astonished by the vast multitude of visions mankind has dreamed up over the ages. Such an observer might watch the frenzied devotion that gathered around each new movement and marvel at humanity's shocking tenacity for repeating, again and again, two essential mistakes: First, thinking that each new vision was the one that would finally answer all of humanity's questions and solve all of humanity's problems; and second, that others must be convinced that this new vision is the one true vision all humanity (or at least a certain "special" or "chosen" portion of humanity) needs to follow.
To many of us, especially those of us who are familiar with the history of our race, the two mistakes I refer to above are all too familiar -- and not just on some impersonal collective level. How many times have you and I made the same mistakes in our personal lives that our race has made collectively? How many times have we come up with a vision that we thought was utopian and attempted to coerce others into adopting it?
The need to have a vision is, again, a given. They are the tools by which we, as individuals and as a race, create our reality. But, alas, which one should we choose? Which one will help us create the most perfect reality possible?
There are millions of people that would argue, passionately, that the Moslem vision, the Hindu vision, the Buddhist vision, the Taoist vision, the Jewish vision, the Christian vision can help us find the eternal peace and happiness we so long for. Further, each of these movements has a champion, or series of champions, to present its case to the world: Krishna. Buddha. Lao Tsu. Moses. Mohammed. Jesus. Take your pick. Which one of these visions, and visionaries do you think can best lead you, and the rest of the world, to everlasting fulfillment?
Personally, I've chosen Jesus. Based on everything I have learned about the visions and visionaries I have mentioned (and others like them) Jesus, and his vision of love -- of loving, embracing, and empowering all people, of all faiths and walks of life -- are, for me, the most compelling. But more than simply being drawn by the thought of a world filled with people who truly love and respect one another, I have also been deeply inspired by the promise of overcoming the world in the same fashion he did if his vision is embraced.
To be honest, I would be drawn to Jesus' vision of love even if he didn't raise from the dead. But, without him proving the ultimate value of his vision by overcoming all the laws of this world, I would not regard him as I do. He would be removed from the lofty pedestal he now holds in my mind and I would feel a deep and abiding sadness -- despair even -- that his vision did not produce the glorious new being our present Biblical records indicate it did.
All of this has led me to one sobering question: Is Jesus who I, and the Bible, says He is? And this question has led to many discoveries -- about Jesus, myself, others, and the whole vision making process itself.
To begin with I have discovered that I don't really know very much about Jesus -- and I'm not alone. No one does! Although he seems to stand, as far as I can see, head and shoulders above all the other visionaries our race has yet produced (real and imagined), he still remains a mysterious and largely unknown personage. Who is he really and what did he really say and do? My vision of Jesus has been based on three pillars, all three of which have proven to be increasingly suspect over time.
My First Pillar:
The first pillar is the historical one: What history tells us about Jesus. The Biblical account of who Jesus was and what he said and did has been under ever-increasing scrutiny by modern scholarship. Many Biblical scholars, both the believing and unbelieving variety, are presently saying that as much as 50% (maybe even more) of the New Testament is filled with serious inaccuracies. According to them, Jesus, whoever he really was, and whatever he really said and did, is buried amid layers upon layers of fictitious events and/or real events that have been significantly doctored by those who passed his story down to us. And since the historians of Jesus' day barely mention him, biased and doctored Biblical accounts are still the best historical records we have to find out who Jesus really was.
On the positive side, most scholars agree that a man named Jesus (the Greek version of Yeshua, his real Hebrew name) did live and that many of the most loudly heralded events of his life -- his teaching, healing, rabble-rousing and crucifixion to name a few -- did indeed take place (See "The Jesus of History" section for more information). But nothing, mind you, is for certain, and some things, like his immaculate conception, birth, hell-fire speeches, end-time predictions, and resurrection are more questionable than others. Scholars themselves, who come from widely divergent perspectives, continue, to this day, to hotly debate every aspect of Jesus' legacy. And ongoing discoveries, gleaned from such places as The Shroud of Turin, The Dead Sea Scrolls, modern biblical scholarship and archeological digs, continue to give those interested a multitude of things to ponder and argue about.
My Second Pillar:
Psychics & Mystics
The second pillar in my Jesus foundation has been psychic and mystical sources. Although I have long understood that all such sources (even the most credible ones) can, and often are, in error about many things, I have recently been discovering just how much in error they can be. The Edgar Cayce Source, for instance, which has been a very important force in my life, has been under siege, for some time now, by archeological discoveries concerning the Great Pyramid and Egyptian culture. The Cayce Source, which is a tireless advocate of Jesus, appears to be wildly incorrect about when, how, and by whom the pyramids were built. What makes this so disturbing is the fact that these same readings (the ones that seem to be wrong about the pyramids and Egyptian culture) also present a comprehensive world view with Jesus at the center. Is the information in these readings about Jesus as wrong as the information about ancient Egypt?
Similarly, Cayce's view of Jesus, and the Essenes, seems to be increasingly inconsistent with modern scholarship. To the consternation of those of us who hoped the Cayce readings would provide a reliable picture of Jesus, the Cayce Source seems, instead, to have drawn largely on traditional Biblical accounts (which, I remind you, is an increasingly suspect source). Did Cayce's devotion and familiarity with the Bible (in particular, the "Thee" and "Thou" King James Version) find its way into his readings? Undoubtedly they did, causing Cayce's own subconscious beliefs and perspectives to get tangled up with whatever accurate pictures of Jesus he was able to access.
And what is true of Cayce, is also true of the other psychic and mystical Sources I am familiar with. None of them, as awe-inspiring as many of them are, are able to offer pictures of Jesus without the sensitive's own conditioning weaving its way into the story.
On the positive side, the psychic and mystical sources I have come to know, and to some degree trust, have helped me form a picture of Jesus that inspires me more than I can say. They have brought Jesus alive for me in ways Biblical accounts never have. And, to be fair, they have occasionally introduced and/or enlarged upon aspects of Jesus and his life before modern scholarship suspected or discovered them. (See "The Jesus of Psychics" section for more information.)
My Third Pillar:
My Own Inner Experiences
The third pillar of my Jesus foundation is my own inner one. The personal contact and relationship I feel I have with Jesus: The feelings I have; the dreams I've dreamt; the prayers I've sent to him that seem to have been answered. But, alas, I have learned that my/our inner experiences, like psychic sources, are HIGHLY conditioned by our personalities, our belief systems, our cultural conditioning, our physical, emotional, and mental health, and a multitude of other factors. Some deeper part of me (a higher part, a lower part, or, more likely, a combination of the two) could be generating all the things I feel about Jesus, as well as answering my prayers to him, because Jesus is the most powerful symbol in my particular psychology. The Jesus I feel I know may be no more than a projection of my own soul, or mind. My inner experience (or for that matter, the inner and outer experiences other people have of Jesus) hardly constitutes proof that Jesus is who I (and millions of others) have come to believe he is. For all I really, honestly know, he may not exist at all -- or, if he does exist, he may be nothing like what I presently believe him to be.
ALL Visions Are Shaky
So what is all this getting at? The process I have just outlined that I, personally, have been going through about Jesus, can be used on any vision. They are all surprisingly shaky!
That's right. ALL VISIONS ARE SURPRISINGLY SHAKY!
What do we really know about Krishna, Buddha, Lao Tsu, Abraham, Moses, Mohammed or any of the other great beings we have heard about? Are they real? Did they actually live in the earth like we do, or were they simply invented by someone? And if they did actually live, how accurate are the records we have of their words, deeds, and lives? How much of these stories are mythical and, therefore, untried, unproven, and unreliable when it comes to manifesting their particular vision in the world? How much of these stories actually took place and, by virtue of having manifested in this world, can be manifested again by us?
These are immensely important questions and the truth, however painful and disconcerting it may be, is that we simply don't know. Their stories, and visions, are a volatile mixture of truths and falsehoods, real events and myths, scribes who wrote things down as accurately as they humanly could (which isn't very comforting -- or reliable) and scribes who deliberately changed, or spun things in directions more to their own liking.
Although we may still choose to follow these ancient paths because something about them calls to us, anyone who has taken the time to carefully consider them would be exceedingly hard pressed to claim they are infallible. Likewise, they would find themselves with little ammunition to self-righteously attack another person's vision which may, in the end, turn out to be more sound than their own.
And what is true of ancient visions, and visionaries, is true of contemporary ones as well. Anyone who takes the time to look deeply into ANY of today's visions, or visionaries, will discover that they, too, are riddled with holes -- in spite of the fact that today's zealous followers, like the zealous followers of old, may go to great lengths to try and convince themselves, and others, to the contrary.
And inner experiences? God spoke to us? We were visited by angels? We dreamed a dream or saw a vision that chose us, or someone we know, to pass on some great vision to the world? Or maybe we are channeling a highly evolved being of some kind who has a new-and-improved, one-of-a-kind, never-before-in-the-history-of-the-world mission and message? Whatever truth there may be in the inner experiences we have, they are nothing to get too puffed up about. Like us, they will be riddled with holes. If we are honest with ourselves, and serious about real spiritual growth, our main challenge will be more a job of separating the wheat from the chaff rather than swallowing everything we receive with reckless abandon -- or, for that matter, passing it on to other gullible souls as God's newest revelation to mankind.
The Age of Information
So what is all this leading up to? Are we to abandon all visions and visionaries? Certainly not! As I have said repeatedly, we need visions. But I believe the time has finally come for many of us as individuals, and for a significant part of our race, to finally begin to exercise greater discernment, patience, and love: Discernment in carefully choosing the visions we spend our lives seeking to manifest; patience with ourselves, and others, as we slowly plod along sorting out that which is true and helpful from that which is not; and a deep and compassionate love for all our fellow pilgrims who are trying to find their way back Home, as best they can, through whatever vision(s) they are led.
In ages past it was, perhaps, necessary to narrow-mindedly and self-righteously cling to specific visions and pound them over the heads of others who felt differently. Now, however, a new wind is blowing. Indeed, the consciousness surrounding our entire planet is dramatically changing. Whereas in the past lies, deceptions, and falsehoods of all kinds could be hidden, "The Age of Information" (as some are presently calling this new age) is making good on its promise to leave no stone unturned.
As this new age makes its presence felt ever more strongly, its bright light will, no doubt, shine ever more clearly on all aspects of our civilization. Our religions, our sciences, our cultures, our relationships, every vision we presently hold will be stripped to its core: ages of accumulated sludge will be washed away leaving only that which empowers us all to reach our fullest potential. And we, as individuals, can expect no less. We can expect to be confronted with information, and experiences, that will shake us to our core as well.
In the end, I believe we will all be faced with two simple choices: ride the coming tidal wave by being as open as we can to new ideas, new visions, new, more holistic ways of thinking and acting, or fight the coming torrent and end up tumbling head over heels through all the misconceptions we have imprisoned ourselves in. Even now, as this new wind begins to blow through the earth, people all over the world are choosing which course of action they will follow. Many are making breakthroughs undreamed of by former generations, while others are desperately, violently even, clinging to old ways that no longer work.
The Emerging Utopian Vision
In the beginning of this article I spoke of humanity's endless search for the utopian vision. After ages upon ages of evolution, I believe that grandest of all visions is finally beginning to reveal itself on a global scale. As I see it, that ultimate vision is a vision of love, wholeness, and unity. It is a vision that has, from the very beginning, overshadowed all the other visions we, as individuals and as a race, have ever conceived of and pursued. Indeed, from my perspective, every vision that has ever appeared on the earth has sprang forth from this larger, all-encompassing vision. Similarly, however different the smaller visions have appeared on the surface, they have all been deeply connected underneath -- and their goal, like the larger vision that gave them birth, has been the same: to shape us into beings of unparalleled splendor.
If we look closely at our own lives, I believe we can see the process mimiced there: We begin our journey through life groping for something, anything, to give us that sense of meaning and purpose we, as humans, so desperately require. Like little children, we grab unto visions that reflect our limited growth and experience. These early visions meet our needs for a certain season, and then we grow out of them and pursue other, more mature visions. And so it goes age upon age, vision after vision, until we finally reach the point where we require a vision that recognizes and affirms the good in all visions and seeks to unite them into some kind of unified whole. When we have finally experienced and inegrated the essense of all visions and successfully wed them into some kind of magnificent whole, I believe a new being will emerge: I believe you and I, and our race as a whole, will burst into some kind of rapturously fulfilled Christ-Conscious Beings.
If this utopian vision is true, and if it is also true that it is finally beginning to make itself known and pull itself together after eons of fragmentation, I hope you and I can be some of the first ones to experience its rapturous fullfillment -- however far off in the future that final coming together may yet be.
And if, on the other hand, the utopian vision I have outlined is not true, or true only in some small measure, then I look forward to discovering, with you, whatever greater, more utopian vision is waiting in the wings...
The Jesus of History
"The following aspects of his life are relatively trustworthy: He had some relationship with John the Baptist (who certainly baptized him); began his public ministry in Capernaum; called men and women to follow him (including a special group of twelvee); performed healings (probably also exorcisms); was an itinerant preacher who proclaimed the nearness (even presence at times) of God's Kingdom; taught that God should be conceived of as a loving Father (Abba); may have had some messianic self-understanding; probably in some ways considered himself God's son; possibly faced without fear the premonition that he would be murdered (perhaps stoned), but, nevertheless, after an unknown period of public teaching in Galilee, moved southward to Jerusalem where he boldly and successfully demonstrated his disdain for the corruption in the Temple during a public confrontation with the priestly establishment; suffered through the betrayal of Judas and the denial of Peter; and eventually died ignominiously on a cross, outside the western wall of Jerusalem, in the spring of 30 C.E."
James H. Charlesworth, "Jesus Within Judaism," page 169
All We Know
"We are now in a position to make general statement about the life of Jesus. He was baptized by John the Baptist, and the beginning of his ministry was in some way linked with that of the Baptist. In his own ministry Jesus was above all the one who proclaimed the Kingdom of God and who challenged his hearers to respond to the reality he was proclaiming. The authority and effectiveness of Jesus as proclaimer of the Kingdom of God was reinforced by an apparently deserved reputation as an exorcist. In a world that believed in gods, in powers of good and evil, and in demons, he was able, in the name of God and his Kingdom, to help those who believed themselves to be possessed by demons.
"A fundamental concern of Jesus was to bring together in a unified group those who responded to his proclamation of the Kingdom of God, irrespective of their sex, previous background, or history. A central feature of the life of this group was eating together, sharing a common meal that celebrated their unity in the new relationship with God, which they enjoyed on the basis of their response to Jesus' proclamation of the Kingdom. In this concern for the unity of the group of those who responded to the proclamation, Jesus challenged the tendency of the Jewish community of his day to fragment itself and in the name of God to reject certain of its own members. This aroused a deep-rooted opposition to him, which reached a climax during a Passover celebration in Jerusalem when he was arrested, tried by the Jewish authorities on a charge of blasphemy and by the Romans on a charge of sedition, and crucified. During his lifetime he had chosen from among his followers a small group of disciples who had exhibited in their work in his name something of his power and authority.
"That, or something very like it, is all we can know; it is enough."
Norman Perrin, "The New Testament," pages 287-288
The Shroud of Turin
The Shroud has been housed in the Italian city of Turin since 1578. A source of controversy ever since its first recorded appearance in 14th century in France, renewed interest was generated in 1898 when the first photographs were made of the relic and the negatives revealed incredibly life-like details -- details which were remarkably consistent with Biblical accounts of Christ's crucifixion. Since then scientists from all over the world have studied the Shroud, using the most modern scientific equipment available, and attempted to discern its true origin. The following description comes from scientific research on The Shroud of Turin and a pathology report by Robert Bucklin, deputy coronor of Los Angeles and a member of The Shroud of Turin Research Team.
The man whose image appears on the burial cloth was a 5-foot-11-inch male Caucasian weighing about 178 pounds. The beard and hair style of the man indicate he was from Palestine and semitic features, sidelocks and unplatted pony tail, indicate Jewish ancestry.
The lesions are as follows: Beginning at the head, there are blood flows from numerous puncture wounds on the top and back of the scalp and forehead. The man has been beaten about the face. There is a swelling over one cheek, and he undoubtedly has a black eye. His nose tip is abraded, as would occur from a fall, and it appears that the nasal cartilage may have separated from the bone.
There is a wound in the left wrist, the right wrist is covered by the left hand. This is the typical lesion of a crucifixion. There is a stream of blood down both arms. Here and there, there are blood drips at an angle from the main blood flow in response to gravity. These angles represent the only ones that can occur from the only two positions which can be taken by a body during crucifixion.
There are 120 lesions, the shape of dumbbells, distributed over the back and running around the front of the body -- probably caused by a Roman whip called a flagrum whose thongs were tipped with bits of lead or bone. The victim was whipped from both sides by two men, one of whom was taller than the other. This is demonstrated by the angle of the blows. The man was whipped and executed in the nude -- which was the fate of criminals under Roman law.
There is a rough swelling of both shoulders, with abrasions indicating that something heavy and rough had been carried across the man's shoulders within hours of death.
On the right flank, a long, narrow blade of some type entered in an upward direction, pierced the diaphragm, penetrated the thoracic cavity through the lung into the heart. This happened after the man was already dead, because separate components of red blood cells and clear serum drained from the lesion. Later, after the body was laid out horizontally and face up on the cloth, blood dribbled out of the side wound and puddled along the small of the back.
There is an abrasion of one knee, most likely due to a fall; and finally, a spike had been driven through both feet, and blood had leaked from both wounds onto the cloth.
All evidence points to a scourged man who was crucified and died from cardiopulmonary failure.
As to how the image of the man appeared on the cloth, there is no known explanation.
Click here to read an in-depth report on The Shroud of Turin.
The Jesus of Psychics
Jesus, The Man
By David Sunfellow
Based on information from the psychic readings of Edgar Cayce, Ray Stanford, Paul Solomon, and Emmanuel
His eyes were steel blue and piercing, yet loving and kind. He was tall, and strong, powerfully built, yet graceful, and fluid, and agile -- like the wind and mountains. His hair was like David's -- the color of new wine -- golden brown, yellow red. It flowed over and curled about his shoulders. His beard parted in the center and had two peaks coming down from His chin. His fingers were long and tapered. His voice commanded attention and rang with authority. His face, and body, were nearly perfect -- so perfect, in fact, that one side could be folded upon the other and match.
He studied at home and abroad. He traveled to distant lands. He worked as a carpenter. He sang. He played the harp. He smiled often and laughed and joked. He was sociable. He was practical. He took time to play and relax. He retreated to the mountains. He applied spiritual laws to daily living and held more to the spirit of the law than to the letter.
He was loving. He was kind. He was gentle. He was mindful of loved ones and friends.
He wined and dined with the wealthy. He consorted with the poor and the down-trodden. He slept in the fields with the shepherds. He taught on the hillsides and in the temples. He walked by the seashore with the throngs. He went wherever he was invited and reached, touched, and healed others in their own plane of experience. He grew faint and weak. His heart ached. His body bled. He experienced all the weaknesses of the flesh. He commanded the wind, the storm, the elements, the thunder and lightning. He was the first soul to experience, and master EVERYTHING, in Heaven and in hell, in body, in mind, in spirit.
Perhaps the most obvious and significant difference between the human life and the life of the Master was that Jesus was never blind, nor deaf, to the simplest opportunities along the way -- and He never lost sight of His purpose: To make God fully manifest in man.
Whereas other prophets spoke through words, through prophecies, through admonitions, through knowledge, through great deeds, Jesus spoke through the human experience. He knew it was not in the thunder or lightning, not in the loudness of words or the magnitude of deeds, but in the little things -- the kind word, the gentle touch -- that brought God into the hearts and minds of men and women. Instead of seeking to illustrate metaphysical truths, or demonstrate healing ability, or explain the laws of God and life, or gain followers, Jesus was motivated first and foremost, by compassion. Above all, Jesus taught, and demonstrated, love.
Copyright 1991 By David Sunfellow
Return to NHNE Miscellaneous Archive