Martha and Mary: A spiritual Lesson about Love and Duty

by Joshua Tilghman on March 13, 2016

Jesus in the house of Mary and MarthaI remember the first time I read the brief allegory of Jesus in the house of Martha and Mary. I was a little confused. Why would Jesus indirectly rebuke Martha when she asked for help? As the story goes, Martha invites Jesus inside her home. During the course of the evening, Martha is running around trying to get prepared for the evening meal. She gets frustrated because Mary isn’t helping. Instead, Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to his words. So Martha, at her wits end, runs to Jesus and complains.

Luke 10:40-42 states:

“But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, doth thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou are careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:40-42).

If this story were literal, Martha would have every right to ask Mary for help. And Jesus certainly wouldn’t have replied that Martha was unnecessarily “troubled” about many things; someone had to make preparations for the meal or no one would have eaten!

Traditionally, this story has been interpreted to mean that Martha was too concerned with worldly duties, whereas Mary took the time for spiritual pursuits. Mary was listening at the feet of the savior, and would not be bothered by worldly cares that are not as significant or as important as receiving the word of life. There is definitely truth in that interpretation. We all have to take the time to get before God in prayer and meditation. We should all yearn for spiritual meat and inspiration from God.

But there is much more to this allegory, and if we stop at this traditional interpretation, we are missing a spiritual truth that the master of the higher emotions has learned to demonstrate in his or her day to day life.

Martha and Mary symbolize a contrast between the lower and higher emotions. Between duty and love. Martha serves out of duty, but Mary receives “that good part” because she is getting her inspiration in life directly from the source of truth itself—Jesus, who is symbolic of the higher self, which we are evolving to manifest.

Jesus symbolically represents the door to life. A life of peace, tranquility, and contentment. Our attitudes must be put into check, and we must learn to view life from the proper perspective if we are to also live this deeply fulfilling life. It wasn’t the fact that Martha was too concerned with preparing a meal when she should have been at the feet of Jesus alongside Mary. It was the fact that she had the wrong attitude. She was complaining. She demanded help from Jesus and she wanted Mary to alleviate her burden. Jesus rebukes her because the story is showing us that when we are like Mary, we will always receive “that good part,” which is a unique inspiration for living, and the development of the higher emotions which are the forerunner to birthing the Christ within us.

Day to day duties require much from us. The average middle class person has to go to work, pay the bills, fulfill family functions, make repairs on the house, and mow the lawn. We have to cook, clean, and fold clothes, do the dishes, straighten out the garage, and walk the dog. Some of us have kids to take to the doctor or afterschool activities. The list goes on.

Amidst these daily duties, we must also find the time to pray and meditate. Read whatever scriptures give us spiritual insight and inspiration. And we must not forget that we also need time to socialize or simply sit on the couch in front of a good novel or favorite television show. Finding time is sometimes hard. Like Martha, we can easily become frustrated and demand help from God. I certainly know that my wife and I have been a Martha.

From a literal standpoint, it would seem that Mary was just allowed to sit and enjoy Jesus’ teaching without worrying about anything else, and Jesus blessed her for it. But we must understand the way that allegories work. This story isn’t really about balancing duty and spiritual pursuit properly so much as it is about how to operate through it, all of it, with the higher emotions.

I remember reading about a Jewish woman who shared how she had learned to turn every duty in life into a spiritual endeavor. Even an act as simple as sweeping the floor was sacred to her. She had learned to find peace and contentment in the moment, fully aware of whatever it was that she was doing. She learned not to live in the past or the future, but for each divine moment of the conscious experience. This woman drew her inspiration, like Mary, from the source of truth itself. The present moment is all there is, and this Jewish woman, like Mary, always symbolically sits at the feet of Jesus.

The master of him or herself learns to do this. They do not live for the weekend. They do not live in the great memories of the past, and hate what they are doing now. Whatever it is that you have chosen, we must learn to see the moment as a conscious experience that is sacred.

I have struggled with this. Work has become busier and complicated this year, with more expectations placed on my shoulders. I have caught myself feeling beyond stressed, and there is never an easy way out of the situation of constant interruptions and enormous burdens, while trying to perform to a high degree of productive teaching. Gone are the days when a teacher taught and the child had enough discipline to sit and listen and then do the required work. In many classrooms, the demands and expectations on teachers are unrealistic if certain test scores are to be met. And there is no easy solution to the problem. I can only do so much without the proper support. So what can I do about it?

When I catch myself and remember to just stop and breathe, and become consciously aware of the present moment, I also realize that I am the biggest source of my own frustration. It is not really the situation that contains the biggest problem, but rather my attitude towards the situation. The reality is that in those most frustrating moments, the problems that I think I am having suddenly begin to fade away when I become consciously aware and interactive with the moment, instead of being somewhere else. There is a certain feeling that inspiration is being drawn from a higher source, and thoughts and feelings begin to go from negative to positive. When I can live in the present moment, consciously attentive to what’s happening at that very moment, life suddenly takes on new meaning and I am no longer, like Martha, demanding that an immediate fix be applied to the situation.

In closing, ask yourself which person are you going to be as you go throughout your future days: Martha or Mary? Remember, the higher emotions are manifested through drawing our inspiration from the indwelling divine spirit we all have access to. Martha acted from duty, but Mary from Love. Mary will receive “the good part, which “shall not be taken away” because she is receiving her inspiration for life directly from the Jesus (the higher self). Living consciously aware of the present moment enables access to this divine inspiration.

Blessings.

Obi Nwabuko March 13, 2016 at 4:20 pm

Great insight Joshua! I’m very blessed for reading this today. I’ve always loved the spiritual revelation in this Martha/Mary scene. But you brought another dimension to it, that exposed some of areas of mine own personal challenges when manifesting the Christ from a moment to moment basis. I tend to “live” in the future a lot and miss out on the moment to moment present divine experience. Learning even to balance daily duties with spiritual mediation and contemplation. I am finding it difficult in this modern world. I tend to be more recluse only so I can experience the presence of the inner Christ. but I must realize that love is best manifested through relationships. Anyhow, I am working on living in that Nowness of God or “Is”ness of God which is expressed through ” Living consciously aware of the present moment enables access to this divine inspiration” as you stated. Keep up the good work! Thanks again for sharing…
Peace and blessings,
Obi

Joshua Tilghman March 14, 2016 at 9:10 pm

Obi, life can get very challenging. But we are imbued with the natural ability and conscious depth to overcome it. Thanks for your comment.

Dangerous Christian March 13, 2016 at 8:42 pm

This is what happens when you’ve been raise literal all these years, then you get a hit of the esoteric: you lose your mind!

Josh, great explanation of the Mary/Martha story. Especially how you tie this into modern-day living which so many of us experience. Thanks for reminding us to put the spiritual back into our day-to-day.

Peace!

Joshua Tilghman March 14, 2016 at 9:08 pm

Dangerous Christian,

You have put it succinctly. I remember loosing my mind for a bit when the esoteric truths were staring me right in the face, but my ego would not let go of tradition. It took a little bit of courage to realize that we are born with an innate curiosity to explore further. Blessings.

Jeff Stone March 14, 2016 at 3:04 am

You teach. No wonder I’ve found such a kindred spirit in you. I mean that half-jokingly since I taught for so long and now I’m pursuing writing more seriously. People with different perspectives have normally been the ones to teach me about myself and the world, but in this case you have a similar perspective—albeit much more profoundly developed in certain matters. Like you, I struggled with the “prison of religion” (even while gaining some meaningful insights from it). While I’m grateful for the role religion has often played in the development of civilized societies, it’s failed to move me like certain other experiences—some of which have been difficult to comprehend. People forget religion is a tool vulnerable to human foibles, intentions, applications, and interpretations—just like any other tool. Thank you for providing clarity not only on some spiritual issues but also on some of my personal experiences.

Best regards as you strive for that unity for which Christ so fervently prayed,

Jeff

Joshua Tilghman March 14, 2016 at 8:58 pm

Jeff,

Well said, my friend. I agree religion has it’s place. I was once a traditional Christian that believed the entire Bible was literal, but there was always a sense that something was wrong. I devoted my life to it, but the holes quickly surfaced. That being said, I still have a great respect from where I came from, because without the experience I would be the person I am today. Being in the traditional church allowed me to learn the Bible in and out in on many fronts, although I know there is still a long way to tread. Blessings.

Paul March 14, 2016 at 4:49 am

Josh, this very short article is one of the most powerful I have read, and I need to turn this over and over in my mind. Sometimes you think you’re on track, and then you get jolted back to the reality that there is still soooo much to learn, and soooo much transformation still to be had. You have awakened me from my slumber and helped me to realize that my own attitudes leave much to be desired. Much thanks for this.

Joshua Tilghman March 14, 2016 at 8:37 pm

Paul, that comment means a lot from someone who has a good grasp of looking beyond the literal interpretation. Blessings, my friend.

Christine Hoeflich March 14, 2016 at 6:25 pm

Hi Joshua,

I love, love, love this article! Yes, I too have understood the Mary / Martha story in the lower perspective sense. But viewing the lesson in the higher perspective gives it much more meaning! When you connect with spirit / the higher self you receive insights that help de-stress the moment, and in turn you have more peace. It’s really that simple.

I also know that if we consider all the horrible things that have happened to human beings in the history of this planet from the perspective of the lower self, it’s a wonder any of us elected to incarnate here at all. Or to keep going here. But there’s a higher perspective way to view even the horrible things, and this view is about to reach even the mainstream in the near future–that is my hope, anyway: The massive awakening. And it’s people like you who are helping make it happen.

I am preparing to return to blogging soon, to write about how to connect to this higher perspective. I’ve been missing it and I am looking forward to it.

Best to you,

Christine Hoeflich
The Great Shift in Consciousness

Joshua Tilghman March 14, 2016 at 7:43 pm

Thanks, Christine. It’s true, we have come here to experience and learn through that, and the sufferings bring the greatest growth. I am still undecided about whether we truly choose to come back here, though. I lean towards thinking it is automatic, but I am still working this out. At any rate, I am looking forward to reading your writing again. Many blessings.

anny March 15, 2016 at 5:34 am

Hi Josh,
A great article in which I recognize a lot. I never looked at this story yet from an esoteric viewpoint but I immediately recognize myself in Martha as well. Complaining, I am watching, and catching myself at it, daily, even if I do not always do it out loud anymore.
I do not see Martha as duty though, for myself that is, I recognize her mostly as worry, which was the word that immediately came to mind.

And then of course I look at the names and how I have learned to interpret them.

The name Mary is of course Miriam which can be interpreted as ‘yom’, a day or period, or ‘yam’, a sea, of ‘mar’, bitterness. Mary is the soul that has been willing to endure and process a long period of bitterness or to drink a sea of bitter water in order to give birth to the Christ Consciousness.

Martha we have not yet met in this context but when I look at her name I recognize it as the name Tamar in reverse. Tamar can be read as 400 mar, or the bitterness of the 400 (slavery and addiction but also the cross). ‘Tamar’ however also means ‘date’, and when you ‘eat’, that is absorb and digest a date, you will notice that it is sweet.

We met both Tamar and Mary in the list of generations that brought forth the Christ in my article The Generation of the Christ of December 21, 2013.

In this case Martha is a reversed version of this name or principle.

I gave another example of such a reversion in my articles and comments from time to time in the words ‘er’, meaning awake, and ‘ra’, meaning evil. Both are written with the exact same characters, ‘ayin’ and ‘resh’, 70 and 200. ‘Ra’, as bad or evil, forms part of the name of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and as such forms the dark and descending side of the tree. The only thing we have to do however is to reverse the position of the characters, to look to the other side, in order to obtain the word ‘er’, which means awake. This reversion and the other side of the tree are of course the ascending side which leads to total conscious awareness.

The same applies to the name Martha. As such the meaning of this reversed name is still the bitterness of the slavery and the cross, but without the hidden meaning of the sweetness of the date. However, as soon as Martha turns around, stops complaining and worrying, she becomes Tamar again and ‘eats’, digests what is worrying her, then she will also become a symbol for birthing the Christ again and the two sisters will no longer symbolize a duality of higher and lower anymore but Oneness and Unity in Love again.

Love,

Anny

Joshua Tilghman March 20, 2016 at 11:59 am

Anny, some great observations here. I would consider duty and worry within the same category of the lower emotions though, therefore considering the overall theme in both our understandings of the story as the same. I especially see this as true with your last comments about how Martha becomes Tamar when she turns her attitude around, and instead of them representing the higher and lower emotions, they become one in unity and love. This is the meat of Christ’s reply to Martha, and what he sought to convey in the message to readers, when he states Mary has received the “good part.”

Thanks for your comment.

James March 15, 2016 at 2:52 pm

Greetings Joshua, Josh your web site is one of few I encourage people to check out. Thanks so much for your dedication, Love and concern for all of man kind and their spiritual well being. As you have so well stated the duality of the soul-mind is in a constant battle in our daily affairs and is part of the process to maturity we must face. It seems most Christians do not realize just because the EGO has been crucified it has not been annihilated and because of that the Spirit with in constantly groans eagerly awaiting the full transformation of the inward body. Rom 8;22-23 Josh neural science says man has 3 brains which goes from thinking to doing to being, a concept that goes along with your latest post and which has helped me personally to deal with the problem of renewing the mind. please watch a 17 min. video on you tube called three brains -thinking to doing to being by Joe Dispenza. Josh maybe the main question we need to be asking is this, are we lower 3 dimensional beings having a higher spiritual experience or are we higher 5th dimensional beings living a 3 dim. reality in the present moment and need to remember we have been RE-MEMBERED to our creator by his loving grace. It is when we know who we are and the power that comes with that knowledge our world will change starting with in then extend out ward to change the planet back to yes a very good place, may it be so. Thanks again for sharing your inspirational understanding and the wisdom that come with it. James

Joshua Tilghman March 20, 2016 at 11:50 am

James, Thanks for your comment. And wow, I loved the video by Joe Dispenza! I knew about the three brains, but I didn’t know the level that they work together to create a new state of being. Everyone would benefit from watching the video, and I have put a direct link to it in this comment in case anyone else is interested for quick access: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8l2nvTv9_Xw

Thanks, James, awesome! I am going to check out his other material as well. Your question is also an interesting one. I have will have to think about this some, especially after watching the video.

Raymond Phelan March 15, 2016 at 4:29 pm

Josh,

Thank you for another great scripture interpretation. Yet again you have brought mature understanding into play particularly to those who may be reading certain scriptures literally with little soul benefit ensuing.

Similar to the Mary/ Martha scripture is “The Prodigal Son”: the one who was complaining to the Master about lavishing such attention on the returned one. And the Master said to the complaining one: “but you were always with me, what’s mine is yours…” In other words, although the complaining one was always with God, he/she was not consciously aware in God-Consciousness.

The essential nature of each person – and everything in creation – consists of the Primordial life force, which in essence is God nature. But, whereas God does not suffer, man, due to his/her disconnect at individual level from the Primordial energy, and through faulty understanding of inner transcendental Reality, does. Man suffers to the extent that he/she has forgotten their Primordial nature by way of personal neglect powered by Martha syndrome and conditioned mindsets thus leading to thwarted evolution.

Because of this disconnect, many live a form of “belief IN belief” rather than belief the authentic state of our Being or the nature of the Higher Self — which state is accessed through directly experiencing our innate Primordial status. With this in mind, there’s no need of falling prey to conditioned suffering through spiritual ignorance and faulty understanding. The solution, as it has always been, is at hand now. Coming upon our innately present happiness, simply involves alignment with the Primordial silence of the soul or, contact with the Primordial Reality beyond fables which alone saves from personal mental anguish — or suffering.

It reminds me of the woman stranded on the side of a sheer cliff with the raging ocean below. She cried out to God in prayer to save her. Miraclessly, a Helicopter arrived on the scene with a drop ladder and shouted for her to climb up the ladder. She shouted back “no thank you, I’m waiting on God to save me!” Some literal scriptures can leave us clutching to this blind faith mind-set.

Coming upon the non suffering realm requires the creation of a calm space within, a gap in our incessant thought patterns – a daily period free from thought digestion, even thoughts of God!

The secret of neutralizing the Martha-ego syndrome — thereby escaping the pull of the lower nature on our not as yet mature Higher-self realm — is of course learning to take life one frame at a time, one moment at a time, thus the mind gains mastery in this area by not allowing the whole newsreel of relative life splurge through our awareness undisciplined, causing untold stress and needlessly worry.

While the present moment, as you say, Josh, is indeed the gateway to Higher soul awareness, another practical interpretation of the present moment is, Presence experiencing. This expression enables us take responsibility in making the present moment REAL and not simply a reference remark to an intangible state, like the woman waiting for God to arrive in a space ship or something — for God works through us, not to us.

We first need to acknowledge the present moment as an active tangible dynamic — and not a static state — and practice entering into this divine realm thereby meeting our own indwelling Christ first hand experientially. It’s vital that we take an activate part in our own Christ-realization. Here the difference between intellectual belief assimilation only and direct Presence experiencing is as stark as walking through life blindfolded or not – with memory referencing of conditioning our only supply of guidance. If we don’t practice Presence awareness then we’re choosing the latter scenario – living our bliss unconsciously, or settling for story-fulfilment rather than [the] Reality behind it.

A good daily practice is to take at least two walks where we engage total mind awareness or singularity of intellect – that is, watching our racing thoughts. On these 15/20 min walks, using the senses only, we simply see what we see, hear what we hear etc, but without THINKING ABOUT what we hear and see. In other words, if a thought of some unpaid bill enters our mind or a recent disagreement at work or in a relationship, or phone call we’re dreading making, then we simply drop the temptation to engage these inner conflict thoughts – we steadfastly refuse to click the link, instead, we immediately seek the gap between those thoughts and allow our awareness entertain only what is passing through the senses without judgement or opinion. This practice alone brings great mental relief, inner congruency and spiritual awareness — not to mention inner peace. It allows our inner Christ or Primordial nature rise effortlessly as experiential wellbeing – think Resurrection. In harnessing the Primordial universal energy we unshackle the mind from the Martha or Phariseesaical mind mode – the prison we tend to keep our Higher-self captured in, as did biblical Peter.

Similar to watching the gap between thoughts, when reading become aware of the space between the words, between the letters – listen for the silence therein and connect with this in our hearts simultaneously as we read. Also, when in Nature, watch for the space between the leaves on the trees or clouds in the sky. This pays great spiritual dividends in consciousness development and in forming the Christ Consciousness consciously, and in awakening from the corroding Martha mode.

Blessings, Josh, to you and all your readers.

Raymond

Joshua Tilghman March 20, 2016 at 11:20 am

Raymond, thank you for going into detail to explain actively experiencing the present moment. I like your idea of walking for 15 to 20 minutes while experience the present with our senses only, and suspending any kind of judgement on the thoughts that race through our head. As you said, this is how we connect with the gaps between thoughts where, as you say, the primordial self shines through and brings healing. Your comment gives readers here a lot to think about and then a method to actively engage what is referred to as the “inner” Christ.

Robert March 26, 2016 at 2:14 pm

Josh,

Very insightful. I have to admit that the esoteric explanation you present helps to explain the meaning of this passage more clearly to those who embrace the esoteric. This is perhaps one of the most important situations we all face on a daily bases, how to fulfill the spiritual while living out the natural. As you have noted, we have a tendency to gravitate back and forth from one to the other instead of living them out on a moment-to-moment basis in an integrated fashion, so that both support each other. We are born physically in the natural and learn modes of adapting that have no spiritual roots. When we start to develop spiritually, we gravitate back to the natural habits unless we keep renewing our spiritual. Learning to examine ourselves on a moment-by-moment basis, we can observe where we are getting tangled up in the natural like Martha. Mediation and mindfulness are among various reflective practices that can help us to observe this better. Martha’s household skills are necessary, but Martha’s natural reactions to obstacles limit her to frustration and fear, instead of spiritual insight and faith, in much that same way that the disciples were limited when they encountered a storm when crossing the Sea Of Galilee and panicked.

Where my approach differs from the esoteric one presented here, in that I understand the meaning of the parable about Mary and Martha intuitively and by putting it into context with other scriptures, without having to invoke an esoteric theology that contradicts the scriptures (about Jesus being “symbolic” of the higher self, which we are evolving to manifest, and that we have always had the spark of this potential regardless of whether we believe in Jesus, and that Jesus is symbolic and not historical). My objection to this form of esoteric theology is that it champions the sufficiency of the self by eventually elevating the status of self, through its own evolution, to supreme divinity. This esoteric theology that is based on evolution of the self is a form of Eastern Mysticism, not Christianity, even though it tries to use bible scriptures to justify itself.

In the short term, our difference may seem like just semantics. Both our approaches lead us to trying to be more spiritually focused every moment, less panicky, less complaining. Reading your presentation encourages me to do this. But in the long term, it leads away from the Christian message of salvation through Jesus Christ, and a personal relationship with a Savior, which is central to the bible.

Robert March 29, 2016 at 12:58 pm

Josh,

In rereading your post and others comments, I noticed another issue that I have some questions about. The post and comments were well written and thoughtful, and it is clear that people felt benefited by the post. Within that context there seems to be an emphasis on defining spiritual fulfillment as obtaining “peace, tranquility, bliss”, although there is also some mention of having to endure suffering to reach that goal, which is also referred to as “Christ Consciousness”. My concern is that these characteristics describing fulfillment may be based too much on physical sensation which, ironically, satisfies the eqo, even though it is sought after by people with the intention of crucifying the ego. I can obtain sensations of peace, tranquility, and bliss to some extent using medication, and meditation and mindfulness also produce these sensations. However, Christ’s life and character as described in the bible involve a lot more depth and breadth than peace, tranquility, and bliss. They involve pouring out to others while being faced with ridicule, rejection, and punishment, counting it all joy for the sake of the Kingdom of God. They involve following the Father’s will, no matter what. They involve emanating faith, hope, and love in all circumstances. They involve believing in a promise of eternal life. They involve deliverance from the sinful nature and its consequences by trusting in Jesus, not our own works. Eternal life must be a lot more than peace, tranquility, and bliss. This is why I am not confident that following the path to obtain what you define as “Christ Consciousness” is the path that Christ defined, even though the path you follow may provide some benefits for you.

Joshua Tilghman April 5, 2016 at 2:16 pm

Robert,

But the main point is that certain stages of advanced consciousness, as taught through the esoteric interpretation, go beyond physical sensation. In fact, many sages teach against getting caught up in these sensations and taking them for true enlightenment. Even in the teachings of Samadhi, people who have been through the process teach that often times momentary bliss is the stage that people stop at, and therefore sacrifice a deeper contentment for. Contentment, as Paul spoke about it, is not necessarily continual bliss. It is also grounded in a greater reality that we still have to continue in even in duality.

Robert March 30, 2016 at 6:34 pm

Josh,

This may be helpful to you and some of the readers. Psychologists have been exploring meditation and mindfulness for more than a decade. Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is used to reduce stress, treat depression and treat other disorders. These therapists describe the “being” mode of thinking that is developed by meditating and then suspending judgment while observing ourselves interacting with the environment. This is in contrast to the “doing mode” in which we are focused and driven to accomplishing a task, and much less aware of ourselves and anything else not related to the task. This fits in well to the Martha versus Mary situation discussed in this post, in which Martha is in a “doing mode” trying to get all the household work done and meals prepared, while Mary is in a “being mode” sitting at the feet of the Master. When encountering an obstacle to doing something because it causes frustration or depression, there is great benefit in going into “being mode” to learn more about ourselves in the situation which will be useful when we go back into doing mode and plan a better way to accomplish the task. Take for example a guy who wants to ask a girl out for the first time, but is uncomfortable and hesitant to do so. In “being mode” he can discover things about himself and the situation, that he is afraid of rejection, or he is feeling unworthy of her or afraid he is unlikeable , and he can put these fears and feelings into perspective, or that they are not reality-based; and he can then proceed to ask her out having dealt with these subconscious obstacles.

Thus we can function more effectively by using a combination of “being” and “doing”. We do this when we stop to take a few deep breaths to collect ourselves before dealing with something difficult.

Modern psychologists have been able to use a non-theological approach to meditation and mindfulness for helping patients become more aware of self-defeating thought patterns and taking steps to overcome them.

I can understand that a theological approach can be very supportive in accomplishing the same goal. The theology can be very captivating and easy to catch on to. It provides extra motivation and confidence in applying the theology. It has the power of a belief, and not just a self-help technique.

But I also understand that since the benefits can be found outside of theology such as in MBCT, then it can probably work with quite a number of philosophies and theologies. Eastern Mysticism already incorporates meditation and mindfulness, and so it is a natural, ready-made vehicle for applying it. However, it is not the only religious vehicle for applying it. It just happened to be the one that was around first and easy to get started with. And others have paved a way to use it by starting esoteric movements and writing books which are then used as references.

However, there is a big, big problem when you try to make a Christian sounding version of the Eastern Mystical theology because … sooner or later they do not mix unless you take the Christ of the bible out of it and substitute a pseud0-spiritualized distortion which denies the foundations of true Christianity, and teaches others to follow the same path.

Added to this, those who engage in it are benefited by it and used to it. It may have helped them over the years. They are hooked on believing it is the truth. This makes it difficult to see things any other way. The “undo” button is grayed out.

There is another way to see things though, that enables a person to benefit just as well from meditation and mindfulness in the context of foundational Christian beliefs. Martha and Mary to not have to give up believing in the Messiah that saves them from sin and promises eternal life to those who stick with that belief.

Jesus was speaking to all 12 disciples when he said “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you” (John 15:15 KJV). Jesus made everything known to them then, all of them, including Thomas, even Judas. He spilled everything there was to know out to them then, all of them, then It did not include hidden esoteric interpretations to a select few that secretly contradicted his own statements, while the others were left in the dark. This is the true Christ, the Christ that Eastern Mysticism must make non-existent for it to fit itself into the bible scriptures.

Joshua Tilghman April 5, 2016 at 2:11 pm

Robert,

Thank you for continually being a sounding board for all of us to think about and consider. You always come with a balanced and sometimes scientific approach that reminds us that a literal interpretation first has to be understood before we can go any further. However, even in the scripture you mention, there has to be a higher symbolic interpretation. After Christ revealed all truth received from the father, we can both admit that this truth didn’t always take hold, especially when we view the life of Peter. Peter represents the ego, and so we can see his life played out as a symbolic crucifying of this ego just in the context of the scripture as a whole. Truthfully, holding on to the literal interpretation only brings problems when the individual develops certain fundamentalist beliefs that cut them off from reality. I have nothing against one holding to the more traditional belief unless it develops into a fundamentalist attitude that negates the deeper issues of life. You seem to have a good balance with both, as proved through many of your comments. But for some the more traditional belief system takes them to extremes which hinders their overall spiritual growth. Blessings my friend.

Robert April 5, 2016 at 3:54 pm

Josh,

Thank you for your thoughtful comments to my comments. I share the aversion you have for many kinds of fundamentalism when it makes people commit themselves to defending minor principles that are often legalistic (the letter rather than the spirit), narrower than the bible intended, or distorted, and they lose sight of God’s broader and deeper message to each one of us and in the bible scriptures.

Where I differ is limiting the broadness of interpretation when it directly or indirectly undermines the revelation of a Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the unique Son of God, through which individuals are saved by belief in him, as described directly and clearly in the bible scriptures, a theme that unites both old and new testaments, and is pervasive throughout both. I value finding insight through novel interpretations of scripture so long as they do not invalidate the revelation I described.

My problem with the some of esoteric interpretations that you present is that those particular ones are part of a set of esoteric arguments that have some appeal at first, when I step back and look at them as a whole, seem purposely and systematically aimed at accomplishing the invalidation I described. It seems to me that if the forces of darkness wanted to lure people away from believing in Jesus Christ, or doubting their belief, this would be a very subtle and crafty way to do it. The scriptures even warn us about the spirit of the anti-Christ that denies the literal death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And I have seen the esoteric interpretations of those scriptures warning us, which change the direct meaning to make the warning mean something else. And that esoteric interpretation also has an momentary appeal.

But there are way too many instances of changing the direct meaning of scripture, each one attempting to invalidate Jesus Christ by making him to be a metaphor instead of a Messiah.

When I see the big picture like this, the appeal of each instance begins to diminish and become more like a hidden deception than a hidden revelation for the better.

Many of these instances have their origin in the ideas of Joseph Campbell, one man who was best known for his literature about comparative religions and mythology, and who was not a theologian or a prophet.

Granted there are useful and valid metaphorical interpretations of scripture that enhance or shed light on the direct meaning, but not when they consistently invalidate the direct meaning and the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Jesus claims to be the Messiah, not the Metaphor.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: