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August 4, 2010

 
 

6. Mystical Christianity

     "Jesus reveals the existence of this Central Point in His mustard seed parable.  ...  He is referring to the smallest of all things--the infinitesimally-small Center Point."   (Francis, 1998, pp. 14-5)

 
       Mainstream Christian churches and evangelical groups emphasize the worship of Christ as an external historic personage, and as a living being who overcame death.  In contrast, a central mystical Christian teaching is that "the kingdom of heaven is within," and attaining Christ Consciousness involves a process of the mystical awakening of the heart.  This teaching is suggested in both the Old the New Testament and numerous Christian writings, hymms and church doctrine, but is generally not understood in its significance as a principle of psychology-a science of the soul. 
     .In the New Testament, the heart is depicted as an organ of thinking, reasoning and feeling, with the potential for harbouring evil or loving thoughts and feelings. Christ knew and perceived in spirit what was within peoples’ hearts: 

But when Jesus perceived their thought, 

he answering said unto them:
“What think ye evil in your hearts?”
Matthew 9, 4

Jesus perceived in his spirit 
that they so reasoned within themselves, 
he said unto them, “Why reason ye these things
in your hearts?”
– Mark 2,8 -

O generation of vipers, how can ye,
being evil, speak good things? 
For out of the abundance of the heart
the mouth speaketh.A good man out of the good
treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: 
and an evil man out of the evil treasure
bringeth forth evil things.
Matthew 12, 34-5

     Christ was a reader of hearts, intuitively knowing and feeling what was within the hearts of the disbelievers, the hypocrites and scribes. Although scientists consider telepathy a mind-to-mind process, spiritual teachings regard emotional, intuitive and spiritual knowledge as being related to the dynamics of the heart. Christian teachings also describe the heart as a deeper level of mind, related to the life of the soul, to Christ and to God.
     The heart can be controlled by Satan and egoistic self-will, or it can be surrendered to the Lord, and spiritual or divine love:
 

For where your treasure is,
there will your heart be also.
Luke 12, 34

The sower soweth the word. 
And these are they by the wayside, where the word is sown;
but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh
away the word that was sown in their hearts.
Mark 4, 14-5

This people honoureth me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me.
Mark 7,6 

For the people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing,
and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see 
with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, 
and should be converted, and I should heal them.
Matthew 13, 15

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Matthew 5, 8

     Christ’s message entails the healing and awakening of the heart, in order that we might know and love God. The sower sows the word in their hearts, so that we might come to "understand."  The deepest desire of the heart is to know God, but our hearts are far from the Lord, and instead filled with innumerable personal desires and ill feelings.
     The verse from Mark 4, 15 suggests that the 'word' was sown in their hearts.  The following image depicts the Word, the Hebrew four letter name of God, as sown within the Heart.  Further, it depicts the Christos principle within a human being, surrounding the heart with the word 'Christus.'   (The illustration is from Manly Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages.)


 
    Saint John Eudes, a mystical Christian of the fifteenth century, explains that the heart has varied meanings in sacred scripture. In The Admirable Heart of Mary, the Saint elaborates upon these mysteries:
The word “heart,” first of all, signifies the material and corporeal heart which beats within our breast, the noblest part of the human body. It is the principle of life, the first organ to begin to live and the last to be stilled in death; it is the seat of love, hatred, joy, sadness, fear and every passion of the soul. ...The word “heart” [also] expresses the free will of the superior and rational part of the soul, the queen of the other faculties, the root of good and evil, and the mother of virtue and vice. ... We must also understand by the word “heart” that highest part of the soul which theologians call the point of the spirit ... .The word “heart” can also signify the Holy Spirit, the veritable Heart of the Father and the Son, Whom They desire to give us for our own mind and heart.“And I will give you a new heart, and put a new spirit within you.” ... Jesus, who is the heart of His Father, and the Holy Ghost, who is the heart of the Father and the Son, were given to Mary to be the soul of her soul and the heart of her heart. (1680, pp. 8- 10)
Thus, within Christian mysticism and scripture, the Heart is a sacred space. St. Eudes distinguishes three major hearts within the individual: firstly, the heart of flesh, the mechanical pump which empowers and enlivens the body; secondly, the spiritual heart related to the higher faculties of the soul and spirit; and lastly, the divine heart, "the point of the spirit," the interior most source of consciousness within the mystical dimensions of the heart.
     In the Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ (Levi,1907) similarly elaborates upon the mysteries of the heart in verses attributed to Christ.  Levi was an American preacher who maintained that these verses were read from the Akashic records–a realm retaining cosmic or universal memory–in which all of human history and experience is recorded. Some verses of the Aquarian Gospel are very close to the standard New Testament, while others recount more of Christ’s esoteric teachings:
God’s meeting place with man is in the heart, and in a still small voice he speaks; and he who hears is still.   26, 7
And Jesus said, This kingdom is not far away, but man with mortal eyes can see it not; it is within the heart. 29, 19
I tell you, nay; we all are kin, each one a part of the great human heart.  51,17
The greatest mystery of all times is the way that Christ lives in the heart.  59,10
Give unto Caesar what belongs to him; give unto God the treasures of your heart.  73, 28
The hour has come when men must worship God within the temple of the heart; for God is not within Jerusalem, nor in your holy mount in any way that he is not in every heart. 81, 26 
The light of life cannot shine through the murky veil that you have drawn about your hearts.  You do not know the Christ and if the Christ be not within the heart there is no light. 135, 13/14
The light of life  is obscured by the murky veils of the heart–that is by the impurities of false ego, selfishness and ignorance. Christ is within the heart and this is the human meeting place with God: --the inner temple of the Lord of life.
     Early sects of the Gnostic Christians taught that to know oneself at the deepest level was simultaneously to know God, or the Father, as the source of the divine, spiritual and soul life within oneself. This is evident when one examines the Gospels of the Nag Hammadi Library–manuscripts discovered in Egypt in 1945–which provide a rich source of esoteric Christian teachings. In the Gospel of Truth, Christ encourages the disciples to gain the light which is within themselves, instead of living in outer darkness; and to “proclaim the things that are in the heart of the Father in order to teach those who will receive teaching.”  The roots of the Self are within the heart of the Father, and within the pleroma:
"... you ... of interior knowledge ... Say, then, from the heart that you are the perfect day and in you dwells the light that does not fail. ... They are the ones who appear in truth since they exist in true and eternal life and speak of the light which is perfect and filled with the seed of the Father, and which is in his heart and in the pleroma, while his Spirit rejoices in it and glorifies the one in whom it existed .... (Robinson,1981, p. 44 & 49)
Those of “interior knowledge” have realized their spiritual nature and know of the perfect light within the heart. The “seeds of the Father,” the perfect light of the heart, are  within the “pleroma,” the divine mother. The term pleroma, like that of the divine plenum, refers to the fullness of things, or the infinite potential latent within God.  The “point of the spirit” exists within the sacred space of the Pleroma–that is, within the mystical depths of the heart, and the underlying plenum.  The conjunction of the spiritual Father and the heart space of the Divine Mother is the marriage of the divine/spiritual and material principles, the heaven and earth with a human being. 
     In the Gnostic gospel of The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles, the disciple explains that “the physicians of this world heal what belongs to the world. The physicians of the soul, however, heal the heart.” (Robinson, 1981, p. 170) Mystical Christian literature depicts the heart as the bridal chamber, wherein the soul is healed and then wedded to the Lord, or the individual might attain Christ.Consciousness. 
 
"The inner process of entering the Center Point of the soul is like threading the eye of the needle.  Jesus also referred to this as "entering the Kingdom of God." It requires steadiness of attention and acute perception.  ... in our discussion of soul anatomy, the Centre Point of the soul is surrounded by a small shell forming what mystics call the "cave of the heart."  (Francis, 1998, p. 46)
     Christian mystic John Francis, author of The Mystic Way of Radiant Love: Alchemy for a New Creation, (Heart Blossom Books, Los Altos, California, 1998) writes,  "My mission is to help uncover the forgotten, deep heart teachings of Jesus."   Francis explains that "the mystical parables and sayings of Jesus have either been ignored or given superficial intepretations that miss their original deeper, intent."  (p. 6)  Francis provides a valuable perspective on the anatomy of the soul as suggested by an esoteric interpretation of  key Christian scriptures. 

     Christ states, "the Kingdom of God is within you,"  (Luke 17:21) and further, that "the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed."  Francis explains that the "mustard seed" is an ancient metaphor for the Center Point of the soul.    Francis writes:

Mystics down through the ages have dived deeply into the soul and have made a common discovery.  The soul has a Center a sacred point of contact where the human and the Divine meet in sublime communion. ... Furthermore, mystics through the ages have described God as a circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.  If we think of ordinary human awareness as the circumference of a circle then its center is a point. ... Saint Francis de Sales referred to the Center as the "fine point of the soul."  Father Louis Massignon of France called the spiritual Center of the soul "Le point vierge"--the virgin point. ... Father Merton in turn wrote of the little "'point' or virgin eye by which we know Him! (Christ). 
     Jesus reveals the existence of this Central Point in His mustard seed parable. " ...  He is referring to the smallest of all things--the infinitesimally-small Center Point."   (pp. 14-5)
Even the word meditation translated from the Latin "mediari,"  literally means "being returned to the center."
     Francis draws upon other sacred verses to illustrate: "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hid in a field," which leads the man to 'sell all that he had to attain it.' (Matthew 13:44)  This is a priceless thing within a large expanse of space, and Francis suggests that similarly we "must go beneath the surface of our field of awareness to discover the soul's buried treasure." 
     In the next verses of Matthew, the kingdom of heaven is compared to 'a pearl of great price' and the mechant similarly sells off everything he has to attain this pearl. Christ then compares the Kingdom of heaven to 'leaven,' as the living substance,  which is 'hid in three measures of meal,' suggesting that the life principles is mixed into the three modes of nature- the mental, emotional and physical lives of human beings, and hidden there.

 
     Francis then quotes Matthew 6:22, Luke 11:34: "The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light."  Francis notes that Jesus did not say the plural "eyes" because this eye is not in the usual mode "as a perceptual receptor" but rather it is "a point source of light." (p. 16)  St John of the Cross thus wrote: "With no other light or guide, Than the one which burns in my heart,"  in the Ascent of Mount Carmel. Francis notes that other saints have similarly referred to "this interior star," --as "the star of love," the star "that nourishes and heals" and "expands." 
     Francis concludes: 
"... the mustard seed," the "one pearl," the "single eye," and the "star" in the heart are all metaphors that can be used to represent the Center Point of the soul.  Each one reveals a different attribute of this wondrous point."  (p. 17)

The I-existence originates from a point source, and then as a seed of the Father within the cave of the heart.  The significance of the esoteric teaching is hidden within the parables, and Church literature. 
     Even the word meditation refers to finding one' centre, within such a single I, the magical 'star' nature, and being able to experience the light and love of God within oneself.  The Kingdom of God is within you, Christ states, so perhaps we might wonder where, and what is the significance of this within our lives. 
      Christ states in the parables, that "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God."  (Matthew 19, Mark 10, or Luke 18)  Francis interpretes this passage: 
The innermost anatomy of the soul can be compared to a needle's eye
because the Center Point is enclosed in what could be called a shell
which creates an exceedingly small and deeply interior sacred hollow. (emphasis added, p. 17)
Francis explains that "this holy sanctuary" of the heart is referred to metaphorically as a "cave," and that the mystical path is one of "entering the Cave of the Heart." 
     Christian mystics describe varied 'shells' or 'layers' which surround the divine spark, such that "the inner spark of the soul is trapped in these concentric shells."  Meister Eckhart thus wrote: "A man has many skins in himself covering the depths of his heart." and Teilhard de Chardin spoke of the "incandescence of the inward layers of being."
     Francis writes:
... parables speak of the shell that encloses the inner eye of the soul.
... the "three measures of flour" that hide the leaven suggest that this shell
has multiple layers. Moving inward toward the Center we must pass
through the physical, then the emotional and finally through the mental layer
of being before entering the silent cave of the heart. (p. 21)
"The inner process of entering the Center Point of the soul is like threading the eye of a needle."  (p. 46)   It is passing through and transcending these veils, sheaths, layers or bodies, which serve to bind the soul, like the rich man, to the external phenomena of life. 
 

     Francis also provides some interesting comments on the "Inner Tree of Life."  He writes: 

    In the Book of Genesis ... by eating of the Tree of Life humans can live forever.  ... this Tree is a metaphor for an inner structure within the soul. This inner tree is "rooted and grounded in Love" (Ephesians 3:17)  this is also expressed by Jesus in the parable of the greatest tree in the garden which grows from the tiniest seed. ...
    When we allow the Center Point to expand in meditation, God's Grace flows into the soul mysteriously like "living water" and vitalizes the tree of life and it grows so that its branches reach upward to the heavens.  This tree then becomes a living "Jacob's Ladder."
    The roots and branches of this inner tree can be likened to the subtle nervous system of the soul.  It is represented as the seven-candled menorah which is the ancient symbol of Judaism.  These seven candles have deep mystical significance .... (pp. 26-7)
According to esoteric Judaism and Kabbalah, the Tree of Life is indeed a metaphor for the inner structure of the soul.  Our roots are from above, or within heaven, and we are embodied below within seven worlds, with a central Point at the heart of being, with a vacated Space surrounded by shells or veils or knots, as described within the mystical literature. Mystical Christianity certainly supports the essential teachings of the heart doctrine. 
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