How religious esotericism is really just a form of lying

“Esoteric writing” can generally be defined as writing in which an author uses a word or words to mean one thing (namely, the “inner,” or “secretly intended,” or “esotericmeaning) in his own mind and perhaps also in the minds of close associates, while the general reading public, being unaware of the author’s secretly intended meaning, is left to assign a different meaning to that same word (namely, the “outer,” or “ordinary,” or “conventional,” or “surface,” or “exotericmeaning).  In other words, “esoteric communication,” or “esotericism,” is really just a fancy and euphemistic name for the practice of lying and deception.  Unfortunately, it is a practice that characterizes and provides the basis for all of the so-called “major world religions,” including Christianity.  And not only the “major” religions:  I am not aware of a single traditional religion anywhere in the world, including among all the so-called “shamanistic” or “primitive” religions, that does not or did not employ “secret languages” as a means by which to conceal knowledge from the “uninitiated” members of the religious community.

At the same time, I have also come to the conclusion that the authors of both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible were actually, at least to some extent, opposed to the practice of esotericism, and through their writings, were subtly and surreptitiously working against it.  That is to say—whether or not they were fully aware of it—they were providing later generations with means by which to help them slough off these oppressive systems of organized deception and deliberate confusion.  I think that the “subversiveness” to be found in the Bible must have been mostly the result of some sort of unconscious or non-conscious (or, if one prefers, “divinely providential”) process at work, in conjunction with a limited amount of conscious awareness by those authors of the problems associated with religious esotericism.  (Passages such as John 16:25 show that the authors of the Bible must have had at least some conscious awareness of the problematic nature of religious esotericism, and must have realized that the esotericist type of religious discourse was somehow defective and less than ideal—which would have presumably given rise to a hope that it might someday be replaced by a new type of religious discourse that would be more ideal.)

However, it is often very difficult if not impossible to determine exactly how much of the anti-esotericist “subversiveness” that one might discern in a particular passage from the Bible was consciously intended by the author, and exactly how much was unconsciously intended (and I do consider an “unconscious intention” to be a genuine kind of intention), since the two types of thinking can easily blend together.  And to make matters even more complicated, there is the additional question of whether non-human mental influences may have sometimes played a role in (quite deliberately) planting an “anti-esotericist message” in the Bible even in spite of the human authors’ complete unawareness of that message in a given instance (and this would again raise the question of possible “divine providence”); but that is a question I won’t pursue here.

Before going any further, let me give you an example of how the esotericist deception works by telling you a little story about myself:

I worked for forty years in West Virginia as a coal miner.  I now receive health benefits from the federal government because of the fact that I got black lung disease as a result of my job.

Now, by ordinary standards, what I just told you is a flat-out lie.  I have never worked as a coal miner.  I have never lived in West Virginia.  But an esotericist has a neat trick he can use to make a passage like that suddenly become “all true” in his own mind.  He simply puts invisible quotation marks around various words and then supplies each of those words or phrases with his own private, secret definitions.  Doing this serves basically the same function in his own mind as that served by a child crossing his fingers behind his back when he tells a lie.  Practitioners of this trickery will often give their secret definitions a euphemistic name, such as “the spiritual meaning.”  Now watch and begin to perceive the deep “spirituality” contained within my own little fib story:

I “worked” “for forty years” “in West Virginia” as a “coal miner.”  I now “receive health benefits” from the “federal government” because of the fact that I got “black lung disease” as a result of “my job.”

Continue reading “How religious esotericism is really just a form of lying”

The figure of Jesus seen as the “cut-off member” of the Jewish “body”

I ask you to be a bit patient as I go about helping you to see what appears to be an esoteric meaning contained in one of Jesus’s parables—a meaning which, if I am correct in believing that it was probably intended by the authors of the Gospels (whether consciously or unconsciously), would be quite remarkable.  I recommend that the first time you read the Bible passages quoted below, that you only read the text in red, and skip the bracketed material.  I also recommend that you not refer to the endnotes the first time you read the post.

The particular parable I have in mind can be found in Matthew 5:29-30, in which Jesus says,

And if your right eye causes you to be offended [or to stumble, or to offend, or to become indignant, or to be led into temptation, or to get stuck, or to get tripped up; more literally, to be ensnared: skandalizō], pluck it out [or pull it out, or lift it out, or take it out, or rescue it: ex-aireō][1] and cast [or send: ballō] (it) away from [apo] you.  For it is profitable [or advantageous: sympherō] for you that [hina] one [hen] of your members [melos] should perish [or be ruined, or be destroyed: apollymi, a word that appears to be derived from apo-lyō, which can mean “to cut loose, to detach, to cut off, to cut away”], and (the) whole [holos] (of) your body [sōma] not be cast [or sent: ballō] into Gehenna [or hell: geenna].[2]  And if your right hand[3] causes you to be offended [or to stumble: skandalizō], cut it off [ek-koptō] and cast [or send: ballō] (it) away from [apo] you.[4]  For it is profitable [sympherō] for you that [hina] one [hen] of your members [melos] should perish [apollymi], and (the) whole [holos] (of) your body [sōma] not go away [ap-erchomai] into Gehenna [or hell: geenna].[5]

Compare the quoted passage to John 11:47-53, which says,

So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together [syn-agō] the Council [or Sanhedrin: synedrion] and said, “What do we do (now)?  For this man does many signs.  If we let him go on in this way, everyone will believe [or be persuaded: pisteuō] unto him, and the Romans will come and will take away [or destroy: airō] from us both the (holy) place and the nation [or people: ethnos].”  But one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You understand nothing at all.  Nor are you considering that it is profitable [sympherō] for us that [hina] one [heis] man [anthrōpos] should perish [or die: apothnéskō] for the sake of the people [laos, not ethnos], and (the) whole [holos] (of) the nation [ethnos, not laos] not be destroyed [or perish, or be ruined, or be lost: apollymi].”  And he said this not of his own accord [more literally, “from himself”], but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was going to die [apothnéskō] for the sake of the nation [ethnos]—and not for the sake of the nation [ethnos] alone, but also so that he might gather together [syn-agō] into one the children of God who had been scattered [dia-skorpizō].[6]  So from that day (on) they made plans [or purposed: bouleuō] to put him to death [apothnéskō].

In other words:  One “member” of the “body” of the people would be made to “perish” in order to benefit the “whole.”

Continue reading “The figure of Jesus seen as the “cut-off member” of the Jewish “body””

Why did Jesus lie?

John 11:11-14 says,

(Jesus) said to (his disciples), “Our friend Lazarus is taking his rest [or, ‘has fallen asleep’: koimaō], but I go (to him) that I might awaken him [or, ‘bring him out of sleep’: ex-ypnizō, derived from hypnizō, which means ‘to put to sleep’ and is in turn derived from the word hypnos, meaning ‘sleep’].”  Therefore his disciples said to him, “Lord, if [ei] he is taking his rest [or, ‘has fallen asleep’: koimaō] [in other words, “If what you are telling us is in fact true”], he will be kept safe [or made safe, or saved, or rescued, or preserved: sōzō, related to the Greek word sōtér, meaning ‘savior’].”[1]  Now Jesus had spoken [ereō] about his death [thanatos], but it seemed [or appeared: dokeō, related to the word doxa, which can mean either “opinion” or “glory”][2] to them that he was speaking [or “meaning”: legō] about the rest [koimésis, derived from the word koimaō] of sleep [hypnos].  So then Jesus told them plainly [or openly, or forthrightly: parrésia], “Lazarus has died [apo-thnéskō, related to the word thanatos, meaning ‘death’].”

Carefully observe the Greek words being used, and notice how Jesus’s disciples initially took everything that he said at face value.[3]  The disciples’ supposedly incorrect “interpretation” of what Jesus said was essentially nothing other than a straightforward restatement of what Jesus had himself told them.  In other words, what Jesus “really meant” was something other than what he actually said.[4]

Continue reading “Why did Jesus lie?”

The “spirit of Jesus” viewed as a substitute for the “unclean spirit”

Let’s compare Mark 1:26 with Mark 15:37 and Luke 23:46.

The first of these passages, describing the exorcism of a demon from a man that was performed by Jesus, says,

And the unclean spirit [to pneuma to akatharton] convulsed (the man) [or “shook him,” or “tore him in pieces,” or “pulled him apart”: sparassō], and, crying out [or calling out: phōneō] with a loud voice [or “great voice,” or “loud speech,” or “loud language”: phōné megalé], came out [ex-erchomai] of him.

The next passage, Mark 15:37, describing Jesus’s death, says,

And Jesus let out [or yielded up: aphiémi] a loud cry [or “loud speech,” or “loud language”: phōné megalé] and expired [or, “breathed out his spirit,” or “expelled his spirit“: ek-pneō].

The same event of Jesus’s death is described in Luke 23:46:

And Jesus, crying out [or calling out, or summoning, or speaking (loudly), or speaking (clearly), or giving utterance: phōneō] with a loud voice [phōné megalé], said, “Father, into your hands I commit [or deposit, or entrust: para-tithémi] my spirit [pneuma]!”  And, having said this, he expired [or, “breathed out his spirit,” or “expelled his spirit“: ek-pneō].

A comparison of the passages suggests that the “spirit” (pneuma) of Jesus may have been understood to correspond to the “unclean spirit” (pneuma akathartos) that had been in the demon-possessed man; and also that the first passage, Mark 1:26, may have been meant to prefigure the Crucifixion passages—so that, perhaps, the “spirit” of Jesus was understood to have temporarily “taken on the role” of the “unclean spirit,” so to speak, or to have been temporarily “working undercover” under the guise of the “unclean spirit”—with the “unclean spirit” understood, at least in one sense, as a spirit of “mixed meanings,” as opposed to one of “pure meanings” or “single meanings.”  (The “hiddenness” or “concealment” of the “spirit of Jesus” or “Holy Spirit” is indicated, for example, by the use in Matthew 13:33 of the Greek word eg-kryptō, meaning “to hide, to conceal,” in reference to “leaven,” which I think was probably meant to signify the “Holy Spirit.”)

In other words, according to such an hypothesis, the “spirit” of Jesus would have been made to serve as a substitute for the “unclean spirit” so that it could eventually displace it with the occurrence of the symbolic “Crucifixion and Resurrection”; and if that is correct, then “the spirit of Jesus” would have been understood to function as something analogous to a “brood parasite” such as the cuckoo bird.  (However, I stress that much of this thinking, if it in fact existed at all, may have been taking place at an unconscious level of thought.)

The same connection between the idea of an “exorcism” of an “unclean spirit” and the “Crucifixion and Resurrection” can be found by comparing Mark 9:25-29 with the passage immediately following, Mark 9:30-32.  Notice that the events spoken of in the first passage seem to be prefiguring the events spoken of in the second, focusing especially on the use of the same Greek word an-istémi, meaning “to rise up, to raise up, to stand up, to resurrect,” in both Mark 9:27 and Mark 9:31.  (Also notice that Mark 9:32 indicates that even Jesus’s “disciples” did not understand what the symbolic “Crucifixion and Resurrection” signified—so we should not assume its true intended significance to be obvious.)

The “Crucifixion” might thus have been understood to have achieved a kind of large-scale “exorcism”—that is, the driving out of the “unclean spirit” or “impure spirit”—and, with that, the bringing into being of the “purity of speech” or “purity of language” associated with the “spirit of Jesus” or “Holy Spirit.”  In other words, the “Crucifixion” would have been symbolizing (consciously or unconsciously) the driving out of that “unclean spirit” which was the motive force behind religious esotericism as a whole and in general, as well as behind schizophrenia and psychosis—i.e., “lunacy” or “demon-possession”—as a whole and in general.

“Imprisonment” or “bondage” in the Bible understood as a metaphor signifying the inability to clearly communicate one’s meaning

(The following is modified version of a section found in Chapter 4 of Part I of my “Against the Lie” essay.  In order to appreciate its full significance, I recommend that all of the material—including the notes and the Bible passages that I link to—be read carefully.)

In his epistles, the apostle Paul repeatedly makes reference to “bonds,” or “chains,” or “fetters,” or “imprisonment.”  I believe he likely intended words such as these to be understood by the reader as metaphors, used for the purpose of reminding the reader that what he was writing should not be taken completely at face value.  Furthermore, there are striking similarities between the way of thinking that I believe is being expressed by Paul through the use of these metaphors in his writings (and that I believe is also expressed by other authors of the Bible when they use these same kinds of metaphors), and certain ways of thinking that have sometimes been observed in schizophrenic persons.

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