The Bible Beyond Belief

For if this book is a joke it is a joke against me. I am the man who with the utmost daring discovered what had been discovered before. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

I didn’t even pick up the Bible until I was forty. Like many families in 1970s South Jersey, mine found itself riding out the anti-establishment wave of counter culture, and by 1975, when it would have been my turn to go through the motions and take communion, I just said no to it. The Bible had the smell of church on it, and reeked of all the reactionary stupidity that I saw unleashed by the cultural revolutions of the 1960s and 1970s. The Bible was worse than irrelevant – it was the enemy.

After the twin instructions of punk rock and graduate school – teachings for which I am forever grateful – my antipathy to Christianity hardened into a hatred.  The Bible was all that was wrong on this cosmic rock 93 million miles from a middle aged star. It was the Conquest. It was homophobia. It was patriarchy and its desperate need for control that, yes, begat this fine mess we find ourselves in.

But a funny thing happened on the way back from the Upper Amazon: While I went to Peru as a scholar in order to research Ayahuasca, the admixture of plants  the writers William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg wrote about in their Yage Letters, I came back, to my utter astonishment, something other than secular. In the Oneness catalyzed by the Icaros sung by my teacher Norma Panduro,  in astonished  dialogue with the plant teacher I would begin calling “mamahuasca”, I experienced an irreversible otherness that opened my eyes to the unity of all things. In this unity, so far from home, I could hardly avoid the divine. In the chattering rain forest frenzy of shamanic experience, far from the incensed church of my South Jersey childhood, I found not only the healing gifts of Norma, but that from which she manifests: ” I am.”

The giggling aliens had tried to prepare me for it, but probably nothing, or rather  only everything, could. Under the the violet glow of a closed eye vision, these 0live eyed cartoon Greys asked me, over and over, if I was ready. “This is something big!”, they promised, giggling. One of them even wore sunglasses. Perhaps I should have known to shield my eyes.

But, like the unsuspecting Arjuna in Chapter 11 of the Bhagavad Gita, I was apparently asking for it, and what to my wondering eyes should appear, but the animated vision of the unfolding of the Big Bang into the present, with a soundtrack of nothing but “I am” resounding in my ears. All that Is, is, in one undivided moment.

It would be years before I even realized I was now on a spiritual quest.  But the healing that ensued and the experience of Oneness would not, could not, fade, and before long I found myself opening all of the books of all the traditions in search of integration and  resonance, and you can still hear me slapping myself in the forehead after I opened the Bible.

With the help of Swami Prabhavananda’s The Sermon on the Mount According to Vedanta, it clicked. Without the experience of Oneness, the Bible, in all of its translations, looks like a dualist text. God is there and we are here.  We are well East of Eden, whirling lost in a meaningless Cosmos.  But with the memory of the entirety of the Big Bang compressed into the sonic earful of  the “I am”, what we might call the “Code of Oneness” began to pop out from the pages of the so called “Old” and “New” Testaments. If one explores the within, we discover, eventually, that it is mobiused with the without. Oneness.  It is this hardly secret and never hidden code that I will be sharing in the best way I can on this blog and in the book that is emerging from it, The Bible Beyond Belief:  DIY Oneness and the End of Religion. I’m looking forward to the journey! “Are you ready? Are you ready? This is something big!”

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7 responses to “The Bible Beyond Belief

  1. This may seem a bit outside the immediate topic, but please stay with me for a moment.

    Let’s take Oneness as established Fact (capitalized, as Merrell Wolff sometimes expressed it).

    Or let’s just shrug aside our old conditioning and refer to God (or the nondual God if you must – Brad Warner, iconoclastic Zen American-Buddhist, recently suggested let’s stop pretending we’re comfortable with “nirvana” and “satori” and “kensho” and “enlightenment” and instead, let’s use a word which expresses utter mystery and which sends us into paroxysms of rebellion and anger – “God”).

    Well, if God IS, then at the very least, we’re going to have to rethink physics, evolutionary biology and neuroscience from the ground up. We’ve already (well, if we’re even the least bit open-minded and free from dogmatic modernist prejudice) established things like telepathy, psychokinesis, etc. And Crick and Harris and Dawkins and the rest go absolutely bananas when you hint at the successful psi research.

    Jim Carpenter comes along with his “First Sight” theory and tells us that ALL perception begins with psi; that the brain couldn’t possibly work the way neuroscientists (at least, physicalist ones) tell us, and that (I’m adding in a little Bergson here) the (so-called material) brain tunes into a holographic field, interpreting interference waves and thus comes up with an “image” which in no way points to some dead, purely physical world.

    So if God IS, and we always see and know by First Sight, well, then the physical world can’t possibly be what we “conceive” it to be (as Zen master Steve Hagen tells us) and evolution can’t possibly work in a solely Darwinian manner.

    Shall we be really dangerous and say that the hidden Light, that hidden treasure that Allah has told us he was and that wanted to be known, that light which is the Light of the World, the Kingdom within, it’s very “desire” to be known is what we look at in our modernist compulsively objective manner and call meaningless, purposeless evolution.

    And the “brain” – who has ever seen a piece of matter? We are like King Midas – everything we “touch” turns to “matter.” Let go of Matter and speak of Shakti, the Divine play of Brahman, as Siva and Shakti, as Mother and Father if you prefer, or as lover and Beloved as the Sufis say – that orgasmic dance which is birthing the entire unfathomable ineffable infinite Reality we call “universe” at every moment again and again and again and again.

    So are we ready for a First Person Science – or perhaps, a no-person Infinite Science, or would it be too frightening because it requires leaving all behind (as Jesus said, “leave all and Follow Me” – but who wants to do that?)

    donsalmon7@gmail.com

  2. Thanks for the great reply, Don! The ost powerful bit is on “who has ever seen a piece of matter” – I agree and am astounded that somehow matter is taken as a given while consciousness is, at best, forgotten. And resonating with B. Allan’s Wallace’s Contemplative Science, Darwin’s Pharmacy is starts out as First Person Science, and ends up as No-Person Science. Send me your email address to mobius@psu.edu, and I’ll happily send you a copy.

    stillness and dialogue,
    mobiused1

    • well I should say in public that I can’t take credit for that wonderful King Midas reference – it was Nick Herbert, a wonderful writer on physics – doesn’t go quite as far as Wallace but some intriguing stuff. Always love your posts and looking forward to more.

  3. I created another wordpress.com persona to see if would make it easier to comment on your posts.

    So, the bible and especially the KJV is something of a project, even for a professional rhetorician. A white whale. A toothbreaker.

    But. it is one of the great persuaders of our age of steel and antediluvian carbon. Someone’s gotta do it. Better you then me.

    So far I can’t tell what your angle is – one one, one one, yes, mono and unified and nondual. The appearance of the One Lords, long ago, and the transformation from place gods to pole GOD, from spring to rock.

    El, Elohim, Elah, Eloah, Ehiyeh – I knew you. Now, there is no god but god.

    ————————————————————

    The unity experiences are funny things. I’ve seen them set up what seem, over time, to be intolerable tensions in people. Complexity, human behaviors, especially large group human behaviors, the unity pendulum, the nearness and farness of god, and all those giggling aliens in sunglasses.

    So, when people say, “It’s all one”, these days I tend to say, “Sure, but keep looking.”.

    • S’nock!

      Not a tooth breaker but a “for truth’s saker” this be. The book emerges out of the experience of teaching the Intro to the Bible as Literature, where I found a widespread hunger to actually engage the KJV in exegesis. And when we do, the practice of exegesis actually induces the experiences of Oneness necessary to interpreting and integrating the teachings, which are beyond belief. A Valentinian gnostic called PKD, not cryptically acrostic, as well as Advaita Vedanta are crucial to the framework, but so too is Black Sabbath, presweetened breakfast cereals, Edgar Allen Poe, and Thomas Jefferson, to name a few.

      The angle is not so much the “appearance of the One Lords”, but the false appearance of the multiple, which most certainly seem to set up intolerable tensions in people. Maybe you could say more about the tensions created by nonduality, because my experience has been precisely the opposite. Indeed, the very notion of a “people”, predicated on separation creates a false unity in response to the apparent multiplicity. Example: Ours is still an age of population thinking, while we all necessarily and unavoidably unfold experientially as singular individuals. The power of probabilities means that we are continually treated as a population( and I have never met one anymore than I have met a piece of matter) – as on an actuarial table by an insurance company – even as we never really are one. Thus our time is out of joint: we have next to no resources for learning to abide our status, each of us, as “strangers in a strange land”: Unique novel instances of the 13.7 billion year unfolding of consciousness manifesting into cosmos to explore itself. This is the local scale of Oneness fractally replicated on the global scale of Oneness. Atman = Brahman as rendered by Mandelbrot. The Kingdom of Heaven is within you. As above, so below. The inside is the outside. Mobiused.

      So it’s not so much “It’s all one!” ( b/c there is no set of things called the “all”) as it’s “Oneness Is”. As yins no doubt know, Pausing on a moment of synchronicity and dwelling in it indicates this experience as well as can be expected, but, strictly speaking, ( and to paraphrase Don’s comment above about “No Person Science”), Who’s having it?

      And yes, as Ramakrishna always advised, when exploring the fractal infinity of consciousness exploring itself, it is well to “keep going!”. After all, “Enlightenment is capable of endless enlargement!”
      http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2012/07/bg-260-enlightenment-is-capable-of-endless-enlargement/

      thanking, and in hopes of path crossing soon.

      mobiused1

      • “One” = an infinite unity, not a numerical one (and if you say “unity”, wash your mouth out – oops, originally wrote ‘wash yourself out”! with soap)

        “Enlightenment is capable of endless enlargement”

        Sri Aurobindo used to say that the Integral Yoga (“Purna Advaita’) that he developed BEGAN where most yogas end. That is, (so-called) nirvana, enlightenment, mukti, liberation, god-realization, salvation – whatever, is the place you get to in order to begin practicing Integral Yoga. And since “you’re” not there, it’s simply a recognition that “She” (the Mahashakti, Divine Energy, Holy Spirit) was doing it all along – and will keep doing it as long as “you” stay out of the way

        (But as long as there’s even a hint of a “you”, ‘you’ still have to make an effort. You’re not allowed to say “She’s doing it” while you’re being a ….. I won’t say it:>)))

        it’s impossible – I’ve found – to rationally figure out the line between effort and grace. it all depends on your perspective, whether it’s “your” effort or God is doing it all.

        Perspective. It’s like story of the tortoise and the snail. Two tortoises were crossing the road and ran into each other. A head-on collision was reported and the police were called. Looking around for witnesses, one of the officers spotted the snail and asked him what happened. “I don’t know!” the snail responded. “It all went by too fast for me.”

  4. Thanks, Don. Very helpful, especially the recognition that in your experience it’s impossible to figure out the line between effort and grace. In my experience it feels like the effort is grace, and hence effortless, so I’ll leave it at that.

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