POSTCARD #180: Chiang Mai: For most people in the Christian world, the Christmas festival has jingle-bells, santaclausisms and the Jesus Teachings are embedded in this but that’s okay. Somehow the essence of it got assimilated in the warmth of our Christmas-shopping and why not, it’s all-inclusive isn’t it? For a reason that seems odd and perplexing to us, somehow the two go together; spending money and generosity means exercising the purchasing muscle… and it feels like there should be more to it than that but we’re not willing to say there’s anything wrong with it because we’re all in some way compromised. A tacit approval of consumerist behavior integrated into our lives. The essential part of our spiritual Truth got shifted out of the way and consumerism came along in its place.
The Truth of the Jesus Teaching can be applied today of course in the same way as it has been for centuries. What’s missing is the gnosis (knowledge) part of the teaching. The instructions on seeing the constructed nature of appearances and the stepping-through the illusion of our world to discover the non-duality between God and ourselves:
‘His disciples said to him, “When will the kingdom come?” <Jesus said, > “It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying ‘here it is’ or ‘there it is.’ Rather, the kingdom of the father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it (113).”’ [Nag Hammadi Manuscripts].
The Jesus Teaching is immersed in a oneness of spiritual teaching all of which say something happened, in a particular geographical location. An event (or events) took place, somewhere in the region stretching from Israel and the Mediterranean through to North India, a distance of about 3000 miles. There was an ancient highway there, a road not unlike the East/West route in the early days of the expansion by American pioneers – except of course along the way, there were already communities and townships, and here and there a populated place hundreds of years old or more. This road, formed through the necessity of trading, had become part of what was called the Old Silk Road trading route stretching all the way from the Pacific side of China to the Mediterranean Sea.
We can quite accurately imagine the people living there then – some of them traveling on the Road as a livelihood because it had always been there. Facilities were set up alongside for travelers, rooms and all kinds of industries and businesses were connected with it. There’d be talk about politics, marriages, births, deaths and there was the Mystery, whatever name it was called in one place and different in another.
Others would discern the truth, discuss and explain aspects of it and an understanding of the Mystery evolved; refined learning, study and excellent teachers instructing students: it’s not about worshipping someone else doing it on your behalf, the Truth is within, you can do it by yourself. This Truth, though, was thought to be subversive by the power structures, and in that sense there’s no difference between then and now.
It is interesting that all the world’s religions arose here in this same region: the three Abrahamic religions: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and those related. Also the Brahamanic religions Hinduism, Buddhism, Advaita Vedanta and those related. We could quite reasonably propose that something took place here long ago that changed the world – maybe more than one event, enlightenment had become possible. All sorts of discoveries happened in the vicinity of this route… as long as the width of America coast to coast – the impact of it spread everywhere and all through time.