Tuesday 5 November 2019

Not all Christians want to follow Jesus

It is my impression that there are plenty of Christians through the entire history of the faith who do not want to follow Jesus to the resurrected (embodied) life everlasting he promised; but want instead to live a spirit life outside of time and space: they want some version of Nirvana.

They do not want a body - because bodies are dynamic, differentiated and localised, and represent a point-of-view; instead they want to be homogeneous, everywhere, and to see everything, all the time, equally, from everywhere without change. For them, anything other (or less) than this is incomplete, because personal.

Such people are motivated by a strong aversion to the human condition (past, present and in any possible future) mortality, to this corruptible, illusory and intinsically flawed world; in their hearts they regard this our life and earth as a mistake; something it would be better not to have been.

Their 'Heaven' is not this life raised to divinity; but something qualitatively-other than this life - hence the tendency to express what is Good in terms of denials and negatives; what it is not.

For such people, the ideal state is an eternal present moment; their ideal is perfection - which means no change; their idea of love is an unvarying state of absolute and complete and undivided being - which means no change.

They want happiness to be absolute and unalloyed; they want nothing of desire, variation, striving, or sorrow- because these are incomplete, and finite states.

They want an end to consciousness, self-awareness, to their own separation from divinity - they want to cease being a person - an 'ego', cease being aware that they ever were a person - to be assimilated back to divinity - without a residue to memory or hope, but instead an eternal bliss-full now.

Such people want nothing more than peace*; in the sense of absolute silence, stillness, cessation... 

What such people want is always expressed either negatively or as infinites and abstractions. They emphasise that mystery is the highest understanding, because their Heaven is everything Good all at once - there can be nothing to want, nothing unsatisfied.

The difficulty is this group who don't really want what Jesus offers, but something else, have probably included plenty of the most famous, prestigious, influential Christians: great theologians, contemplatives, saints, theologians.

I suspect that this misunderstanding, this projection of what such people want onto what Jesus actually offered, is a source of sadness but not surprise to Jesus himself. I think he will be disappointed but not angry - because this is just the kind of thing that people do, and in a sense can't help doing. 

What Jesus truly offered was simple, and can be known by anybody, anywhere at any time - by direct intuitive revelation meeting the desire of a true self. It can - and shall - be known (or at least offered for knowing) to every human spirit after death.

Only at that point will the people I describe realise that they never did want what Jesus came to bring us - but wanted something qualitatively different. They will find out that they never were followers of Christ, because they do not want to go where Christ went. Their hope does not need Jesus. 

I don't seriously doubt that God will give them what they want (if they continue to want it, when given the chance to understand accurately) - but it will not be the Heavenly Life Everlasting that Jesus made possible.

Their fate will be individually-tailored, but of the same kind ('Nirvana') as is sought more straightforwardly by the Eastern deistic and theistic religions.

That Heavenly destination and life will be for other people, who do want it; and who will therefore literally follow Jesus through death, through transformation and resurrection, to reach Heaven.

*When people wish for the dead that they will Rest in Peace - and mean by it the modern understanding of 'peace' - then perhaps they do not really want what Jesus was offering.


Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

I think this one possible meaning of "in my Father's house are many mansions" -- many possible afterlife destinations, not just a one-size-fits-all Heaven. In the end, everyone gets whatever it is that they truly want, and not everyone wants what Jesus wanted.

Andrew said...

I think most of the people you describe here are conditioned by their life experiences, often very early childhood for which they have little or no memory of and certainly had no control over, to feel an overwhelming aversion to the change and dynamism of life because of the intense feelings of anxiety and fear they engender. So they end up longing deeply for a peace that they've only experienced in rarer moments of stability and predictability. Their souls never properly developed or became distorted or damaged. We have free will but much of our life and the choices we make are conditioned by things outside our control. (But which we likely agreed to in pre-mortal life in order to achieve our personal destiny in God).

The restored soul will see and experience things differently than before. We read about this is in various accounts of people's trips to Heaven and their descriptions of the River of Living Water that moves throughout the various levels of Heaven. How new arrivals spend much time soaking in it, some much more than others and some completely on their own not wanting to interact with others, as it washes away the scars of life that we carry with us and only after this process is completed are they willing (and able) to move into the higher levels in God.

-Andrew E.

seriouslypleasedropit said...

Don't tempt me!

Lucinda said...

A lot of the trouble is in being overly worried about appearances, wanting higher status than merited. Equality ideology is supposed to make things better, but actually it tends to create more misery as people get an inflated idea about deserving everything everyone else has, which translates theologically into an equality Heaven, which is just as miserable-making. So people want to escape the world of dynamics and distinctions but really the solution is to challenge the vanity, dishonesty, and pride-to be grateful.

Faculty X said...

The idea of being a spirit rather than a body seems a lot better on the surface.

A long-term lucid dream would be a good ideal for heaven, where the body can change form or become a point of awareness that can move through space and time.

I gather you disagree with the description in Mathew of Jesus saying we become in the resurrection like angels who don't marry. That's a reasonably inspiring vision.

Being in a body may or may not be like the angels, who are embodied in some way but not really like we are here on Earth.

Many spiritually inclined people throughout history have found life repugnant instinctively. Are they remembering existence before being in a body?

It's not clear instinctively why being in a body after the resurrection is somehow better than being a spirit. Perhaps temporarily it would be good to know the body can be well compared to the stay on Earth.

It would be nice to think the body can continue to become finer and lighter in the Afterlife, becoming more like an angel or a spirit and move back and forth.

Bruce Charlton said...

@FX - "A long-term lucid dream would be a good ideal for heaven, where the body can change form or become a point of awareness that can move through space and time."

That strikes me as a very good comparison, which I hadn't thought of.

wrt Matthew - The fact is that I regard a great deal of Matthew's Gospel as wrong - not just randomly-mistakenly wrong (as some of it is, presumably due to the process of collecting memoirs), but systematically distorted with an extraneous and pre-existant agenda.

I certainly do not think we are compelled to marry in Heaven! But it is vital that we be able to marry because only by that means can Men become fully divine and able to procreate spiritual children, as our Heavenly Parents did with us.

God's 'aim' is that some Men (by no means necessarily all Men - but according to their innate natures as well as their choices) may be raised to full divinity, and become full co-creators, so that Creation be richly social and loving, developing and expanding.

"Many spiritually inclined people throughout history have found life repugnant instinctively. Are they remembering existence before being in a body? "

Yes, I believe that is one reason.

"why being in a body after the resurrection is somehow better than being a spirit." - it is superior in an analogous way to that of waking life over dreams; a greater freedom and agency; therefore greater creativity. God is embodied as Heavenly Parents. Jesus became incarnated (in part) so that he could become fully divine.

David Balfour said...

Intuitively, I feel that your conception of the various post-mortal possibilities seems to fit with the assumption of a loving heavenly father. However, it is, as I am sure you would agree, is a very unorthodox perspective, quite unlike the traditional Christian teaching of a much more binary choice: heaven through the narrow gate and following Jesus or the damnation of gnashing teeth and eternal torment for anyone who doesn't. Are there any particular biblical scriptural passages which you see as supporting your quite distinct non-traditional interpretation? I know you are very much influenced by thinkers like Arkle and Steiner and Mormonism, but I am seeking any new/old testament scripture to contemplate in relation to these ideas.

I remember my previous conversations with Mormon missionaries and their description of the plan for salvation, including the degrees of glory, as immediately resonating with my inner sense of truth. It were as if, I had been reminded about something which I had always known deep down was the way things are, but had forgotten.

Wrt your other point,I feels as though we are in a difficult position in mortality until our intuitions are awakened by a series of key encounter with the divine, the opportunity for which may not be recognized or dismissed. It is rather like being an amnesiac who is shown an old photo of a loving family scene and instantly recalls loved ones and deep, rewarding friendships once cherished. But before that key moment, there was not enough to be certain it was real; it was a fleeting mirage, a yearning denied. Under such circumstances, the psyche asks for consolation to dull the possibility of its truest desires being in vain,and so that is why I think people sometimes turn to a blissful nirvana, to an end of earthly suffering, and because the hoped for alternative seems 'too good to be true' and is therefore dismissed as a fantasy. At least that is why I was an aspirational Buddhist and took solace in that, before I realized that Christianity was offering so much more, and what my heart actually seemed to be yearning for. But then, it could all just be a childish fantasy to aim for heaven and not a more 'realistic' Nirvana. It took me a long time to move past that.

Bruce Charlton said...

@David - The way I arrived at this is, of course, unique to my situation. the bottom line, as always, is intuition.

If you want scriptual confirmation of all elements of the above, you won't fin it in a single source. The basis framework is Mormon theology - so I needed to seek personal revelation that this was valid. Other elements came from Arkle, which I needed to do the same about - to reflect deeply over sufficient time until I could feel an inner resonance that was robust.

In Biblical terms, this is a consequence of my reading the Fourth Gospel with the assumption that it was the primary source on Jesus's teachings - https://lazaruswrites.blogspot.com/ - and this creates a clear and simple understanding of what Jesus did and why; and dispenses with much of the apparent contradictions you mention above - narrow gate, damnation, judgment etc.

The Fourth Gospel is all about people making a positive choice about an offer - not about threats concerning what would happen otherwise. And following Jesus is clearly shown to be about following a shepherd; not about following rules or laws. And there is nothing about setting-up a new priest-led church on the lines of the old one - instead Jesus's followers are a loving extended family.

So the Fourth Gospel gives space for the above interpretation, is compatible with it - although it does not positively mention anything on this topic.

As for seeking certainty - it cannot be found anywhere; nor is Nirvana any more or less fantastic than a Heaven of earthly familial relationships raised to divine quality. These aspects are just not relevant, and should be set aside.