Chapter VI

 Challenging Old Beliefs

To successfully forgive the antagonists found in our Shadows, we must challenge many old and firmly held beliefs. Heading the list of such beliefs is the idea that your life and how you live it is nobody’s business. This belief is reflected in the first murder story in our Judeo­Christian history. It is one our society feels rather comfortable with. Cain had just killed his brother Abel.When asked about his brother’s condition, his attempted brush­off was the ques­tion, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The unwelcomed answer was “YES.”

Our ego still asks this question. At first blush the response appears to be passably benevolent. But our soul knows that we are far more than our brother’s keeper. In time our Hebrew forebears were given a clearer vision of what it means to be truly human. They were called by Divine Authority to accountability to people beyond their lone Semitic tribe. The word of God they were given said, “The stranger shall be as one of your family and you shall love him as yourself.” That is a major shift in social con­sciousness. This call to moral accountability was not given to the Jews alone. It was global. What was heard from the lips of the prophets and judges of Israel in the 5th century B.C., occurred simultaneously around the world. This phe­nomenon is like a giant blip on the oscilloscope of history. 

In that same century the gauntlet of responsibility to act with compassion, and forgiveness was thrown down in India by Buddha, in China by Lao Tsu, in Greece by Socrates and in Persia by Zoroaster. The ethical question behind their teachings was “Am I my brother’s brother?” The answer given by each was a resounding “YES.”

The Global Moral Shift

Consider the implications of a major shift of conscious­ness occurring around the world simultaneously. It implies a connectedness, a universal networking that defies expla­nation. Unless. Unless those first photographs of the earth taken on the moon held the secret. There it is, floating in the black void of space. Its beauty is poetic. It radiates hues of blue, wisps of white and touches of beige. There are no boundaries, no racial profiles, no divisions. It is one world. And we know that what makes this small planet so priceless is the spirit of man. It is as though America’s founding fathers saw this cosmic picture from some inner space. They inscribed their vision in the familiar Latin motto, “E Pluribus Unum,” Out Of Many One. They were referring to America, a microcosm of the world with representatives of the nations of earth living as one people. We know that this grand vision remains, for the most part, unrealized. If we are to experience union out of many, we must ascribe to a higher principle than that we are our brother’s brother.

The Ultimate Question In Forgiveness Answered

Seventeen centuries before the birth of our nation, there was the birth of the man who raised the question of humankind’s role to its highest level. A humble carpenter both crafted it and lived it and, as a result, he became the most powerful and notable man in history. He formulated the question with the claim that he was every person. He said that whenever we helped another person for any reason we were helping him and when we neglected or hurt any­one, we were doing these things to him also. The question his words and actions evoked is, “Am I my brother?” The answer, unthinkable to our optically challenged ego, is “YES!”  This answer enraged many, confused more. 

Plato, the brightest star in the Socratic firmament, fore­warned that such would be the case. In his cave allegory, he described the human tragedy in terms totally fitted to our discussion of our world of Shadows. He said that we are like people imprisoned inside a cave, facing a back wall, chained and unable to turn around.  Behind us at its entrance is a fire and sunlight. Between those sources of light, objects manifesting reality (He called them the “logos” in Greek.) freely moved causing shadows to be cast on the back wall, the landscape of our limited perception.

Because we can’t see reality, only the shadows, we live under the illusion that the shadows are substance, that they are reality. Only truth can break our chains, said Plato. Unchained, one is free to go out of the cave and into the light. Only then can one see reality.  Having seen reality, he warns, should one ever re­enter the cave and tell its resi­dents what had been seen and experienced, would leave the cave dwellers confused and enraged. The messenger, he predicted, would be branded insane and worthy of death.

The Vision Outside Our Cave

This allegory does much to explain why Jesus met such resistance. Even his followers were troubled by his vision of indivisible personhood. He treated social misfits, drunk­ards, prostitutes, and hated Roman soldiers with reverence. He gave unimagined honor to women and children. He befriended the Samaritans whom his people despised, and he physically and spiritually embraced the untouchable lepers. His disciples witnessed his behavior with wonder and confusion. They had no idea what he meant when he told them should they in any way mistreat or neglect such people, or anyone, “you have done it unto me.”

They didn’t understand that he had walked out of the cave of their illusions. This problem plagues many who fol­low him today. It is pushing the idea of spirituality too far to say that we actually are our brother. That declaration is the most revolutionary and transforming expression of real­ity ever to enter the consciousness of man. He returned to our “cave” world as the first person to know that he was every person; he calls us to know the same thing. No peace is possible without this understanding. We must walk out of the cave of our illusions. The way out is forgiveness. 

Recently my wife and I walked the Freedom Trail in Boston. One stop was Faneuil Hall called “The Cradle of Liberty” where our nation’s first leaders met to discuss the establishment of our nation. Inside the hall we were led by our guide to the back wall behind the balcony. There he pointed to the painting, “The Battle of Breed Hill” (the orig­inal name of Bunker Hill) depicting a rather common theme with British Red Coats assaulting Colonial troops. Then our guide showed us what is most uncommon about it. All the soldiers, British and Colonial, have identical faces. This artistic license conveys the mentality we must embrace. It is a “revolutionary” picture historically and spiritually. Understood, it has the power to motivate forgiveness and bring inner peace.

If we can redefine everyone as an expression of One Life, then forgiveness becomes the logic behind what Jesus called the first and greatest Commandment. When he was asked what was the greatest commandment, or the consum­mate ethical principle, he ignored the Ten Commandments. He knew that they had served a worthy purpose. Those commandments comprised the moral playpen we needed in our spiritual infancy, but they would not lead one to the Self­awareness he represented and called us to embrace. When asked what is the great ethical lodestone that can lead us to our highest and best, he answered, “Love God with all your heart, soul and mind.” This, he affirmed, is the supreme rule of life and happiness. He then amended it with this concurrent principle,“You are to love your neighbor as yourself.” That is commonly believed to mean, as you love yourself, so you ought to love your neighbor. That is a great place to begin but that is not what he was saying. He was calling us to love our neighbor as an expression of Our Self. If we don’t let  our ego get in the way, we would be led to see that we are indivisibly One. The Great Shema of Israel, proclaimed every Friday night around the world, opens, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One....”  The Great Commandment points us to its logical implication: because God is One, we all are One in a transcendent Union.

Humanity As A Hologram

Some 21st Century light that depicts this union can be found in the hologram. Think of yourself as a living holo­gram. Scientists create a “virtual hologram,” since, as we shall see later, you and I are the actual hologram. They gen­erate light rays through a ruby crystal that travel in parallel streams rather than normal dispersing rays. Then, with split­ters and reflectors, they shine one beam on photographic film. This creates what is called interference patterns. These patterns look like the circular ripples a rain of pebbles makes when thrown onto the calm surface of a pond. The second beam shines on an object, projecting its image onto the same film. When light is projected through this film, a three dimensional, perfect facsimile of the original object appears.

  Each Of Us Contains The Whole

It is a metaphor of our condition. We can take the orig­inal holographic film with the picture of a person on it, and cut it into hundreds of pieces. When we shine light through any one of these pieces, a complete, three­dimen­sional image of the original person appears! Translated into our human experience this suggests where we lost the awareness of our neighbor as Ourself. First we were creat­ed, projected onto an experiential plane in the image of God, not in the image of an erect, evolved ape, with apolo­gies to the ape. Then in one descendent moment of mad­ness, we split that Adam, if you please. The explosion split us apart into billions of parts, and, to this day, the nuclear fall­out spreads the seeds of death everywhere.

Remember the affirmation, “I have a body, but I am not a body.” We must rethink our identification with the physi­cal body. As a part of a sacred hologram, we are a spirit in a body.  The simian body,  a collection of decaying flesh and bone in a plastic bag called “skin,” is not “the image of God.” That idea works well on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but that is visual poetry not reality. Our body is but a temporary vehicle for expressing who we really are. More correctly, we can make it such a vehicle if we abandon the illu­sion we dreamed up eons ago about living fragmented separate lives, shredded tiny pieces of a once holistic image of God.

The Light In Each Holographic Part

The Book of Genesis says that Adam fell into a deep sleep. It never says he awakened! In the nightmare that took shape as we drifted in this dark dream of separation, we took all the fragmented parts of our once unified Self and stuffed them into billions of plastic skin bags.  Eve, the orig­inal bag lady and her bag boy Adam, depict the pathetic result of trying to take our little piece of the whole and run into our world of Shadows. In the darkness made by this flight from Reality, look carefully and you can see Light shining through the most shredded, ugly person­piece. This Light shines through them from their Solar Source. The whole image is there, indistinct, because we insist on seeing others as separated pieces. To see the Light, and the faded Image it reveals, it is essential that you look beyond their “bag” behavior. This allows us to begin to see the “parts” as one. In his soul, Jesus brought all the pieces together. He saw all the pieces as part of himself and saw himself as part of all the pieces. The indescribable beauty of that one life, as he experienced union with everyone, haunts us if we are asleep and inspires us to love and forgiveness if we are waking up. 


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