Jesus Calms the Storm: The Inner Christ Arises

by Joshua Tilghman on July 25, 2016

Christ calming the Storm at SeaWhat is the esoteric meaning of Jesus calming the storm at sea with the disciples? The answer is a very positive message, but you’ll probably never hear it in mainstream Christian teachings. In a nutshell, it deals with what Paul calls, the “Christ in you, your hope of glory.” But what does this mean? We can come to understand what Paul means through the allegory of Jesus calming the storm.

Let’s jump right into our scripture, Matthew 8:23-24, which states:

“And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.”

As I often do, I have bolded key terms in the text. Notice how Matthew states Jesus was asleep. Let’s clear the air of why this story cannot be literal so we can understand the higher spiritual revelation.

There is a HUGE storm, a great tempest. The boat (most likely a small fishing vessel), is being covered by the waves so high the disciples are afraid it is going to sink. In fact, the text says they are crashing over the boat! This boat would have been tossed about quite fiercely, but yet, Jesus is asleep. Yes, it’s Jesus, but he was supposed to be fully human, correct? No man would be sleeping through that kind of ordeal. It just doesn’t make any sense literally. But as the Christ within us, as Paul states, our hope of glory, arises within the self, it all begins to make perfect sense. The fact that Jesus is sleeping in the allegory indicates that this is the natural state for all mankind before our hope of glory arises.

According to Gaskell:

A great tempest is a symbol of the surgings of the astro-mental nature. Also of winds of doctrine implying ignorance, which prevent the appearance of truth from within.” This doesn’t just mean religious doctrine, but doctrine in many forms. The astro-mental nature is a mediaeval term used to explain the part of human nature of lower emotions, existing between the physical and mental plane. According to E. Underhill, in her work, Mysticism, he states:

“Included in the subconscious region of an average healthy person are all those automatic activities by which the life of the body is carried on: all those “uncivilized” instincts and vices, those remains of the ancestral savage which education has forced out of the stream of consciousness…”

In other words, we all carry subconscious impulses which manifest as strong desires and passions that reside and make up the lower nature of man, or the first Adam. The development of the moral nature helps to curb these desires and passions, which, if left unchecked, creates chaos and depravity in the social structure of mankind. We can call them vices because they bring out the worst in us when we follow them without moral compass and direction.

Also, notice that word “within” according to Gaskell’s definition. The Christ is asleep in us until he arises, and most of humanity is ignorant of this truth. We too often look to follow the doctrines of men and look on the outside for the truth that is already simply a potential within us. That potential is realized through steady growth of the soul through the varied experiences that life gives to us. First comes the development of the moral nature, which is part of civilized education and why the Law of Moses was needed. Then comes the law of love, or the Christ within that enables the individual to exhibit the highest ideals which a man can exhibit. Again, love!

Ship is another important symbol, especially when it is being tossed on a sea. Again, it is a symbol of the lower mental aspect of the soul. The sea is always a symbol of the astral plane. Since this is where our desires and passions come from, we have an allegory which is explaining the state of our thoughts when subject to our base instincts and desires. It’s like a ship being tossed around on the sea! Our minds are subject to the whims of life just as the ship is subject to the winds of an angry ocean, or our emotions. These cumulatively are part of the lower mental nature which has to arise by the transmutation of the disciples, or certain qualities of our soul. Consider out next scripture to prove this point:

“And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us. We perish…Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.” (Matthew 8:25-26).

Our astral or lower mental qualities can only be calmed by the Christ within. The great calm the scripture is referring to speaks to the peace that passes all understanding when true self-consciousness develops in the individual. The disciples themselves are simply the avenues and qualities of the soul. They are dedicated to the Christ within and that’s why they go to him in the storm. They are higher disciplined qualities that are ready to receive the teachings and influence of the higher nature, the Christ that is simply the potential of the higher nature that we all have access to when the time for proper development is ripe. When we become disciplined in the moral nature, we are ready to move on the law of divine love written in the heart and receive the benefits of the higher nature.

So what is this inner Christ?

In summary, it is the Divine Life which proceeds from the Absolute. It is the unveiling of the illusory nature of reality, and the revealing of the truth of ultimate reality. It cannot be explained with mere words, but must be experienced! No man can truly tell you what it is or isn’t, at least not in concepts or words that can be truly comprehended by the mind. Just as no one could explain the smell of a rose. Someone has to experience it to truly comprehend what it is. Gaskell gives a great definition which gives us a little intellectual glimpse into its possibilities:

“Christ is in everything. The forms or sheaths—the outward expressions of potential Spirit—are as the borders of his garment, which he shall cast forth when their purpose is effected, and afterwards he shall reveal his full form and stature to himself, for there is not another beside him. The All is no other than the One. We are rooted and centered in Him. In his sight, or upon the highest level, we, as spiritual egos, are within the outer as he is; but in our lower consciousness we see things not as they are in reality, but illusively, and wo we only behold the diversity and separateness which give rise to our misconceptions of the inner and real significance of our Individuality and of its ultimate re-absorption into the Infinite.”

So what can we learn from the allegory of Matthew 8:23-27? We must look to the hope of glory, the Christ within to receive and experience ultimate reality. This reality is one of unity and love for not only mankind, but all of nature. We are simply ships tossed on the sea until this happens. But we can look to the rich text of Matthew to keep the hope of the glory that is found within us.

Let the Dead Bury the Dead

I would like to back up and look at one more scripture in which Matthew emphasizes before Jesus calms the storm. Matthew 8:21-22 states:

“And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, follow me, and let the dead bury the dead.”

What is meant by this strange saying of Jesus? Surely it is okay to bury our dead parents and give them the proper ceremony that we all deserve when something tragic like this happens, right? Of course. Again, the scripture is not meant to be literal here. Just as Jesus said you must hate your mother and father in order to follow him is not meant to be taken literal. It’s a spiritual truth.

Remember, Matthew 8:21-22 precedes Jesus calming the storm. It is referring to mankind who is not yet aware of the potential of the Christ within. The dead signify ignorance and the burying of the old ego. In other words, let the ego-filled be where they are. Follow me, the higher nature, and then you will be on the correct path.

The scriptures always connect in ways to give us larger spiritual truths. I greatly admire its authors.

In closing, I would like to mention a new podcast series that Paul Young and I are developing on his YouTube channel. Our first podcast discusses the allegorical nature of the scripture. You can find it below:

It should be the first video at the top of Paul’s channel (video #9).

If you enjoy it, please spread it around and don’t forget to return for other podcasts we’ll be putting together every other week on the same address.


{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul July 25, 2016 at 7:25 pm

Great article, Josh. You capture the essence of this very powerful allegorical passage. Great job!



Robherta A McGregor July 25, 2016 at 8:37 pm

EvelynUnderhill was a Woman Mystic in the 19th to 20th Century. She was a novelist, writer, mystic, and wrote on Christian mysticism and spirituality.
Her works are wonderfully inspirational…


Joshua Tilghman July 26, 2016 at 11:38 am


Again, thanks for the additional resource. I just realized I put “him” instead of “her.” Thanks for the correction also.


Robherta A McGregor July 25, 2016 at 8:44 pm

You may like to read Barbara Thiering on this matter – her books are a clear and concise study of the Dead Sea Scrolls as well as the Scriptures. The particular book I am encouraging you to read is The Book that Jesus Wrote: St John’s Gospel. Thiering explains what the Gnostics, the Essenes knew about ‘sea’, ‘earth’, ‘to go out’ and so on and so forth.


Joshua Tilghman July 26, 2016 at 11:35 am

Thank you for the resource, Robherta!


Laurens July 26, 2016 at 1:53 am

Is enlightenment a state of mind that has left the astral plane and entered the mental plane?


Joshua Tilghman July 26, 2016 at 11:34 am


Intelligent question. No, actually its not about that. We all have a physical, astral, mental, and causual bodies. We will always have that as long as we are alive physically. It’s about transmuting the lower ego by feeding the spiritual ego. It takes a crucifixion of the lower ego. But it doesn’t truly kill it, it allows for the divine marriage talked about in scripture where our lower egos become unified with the higher, or spiritual ego. Then we become whole again. The word salvation means “complete” in the New Testament. You can see this by checking Strong’s Concordance of Greek and Hebrew. Thanks, Laurens.


Robert July 26, 2016 at 12:03 pm


Another insightful blog. I am starting to get it. The importance of the emergence of the law of love within an individual that is connected to union with the All, an experience and process in an individual that is so highly personalized that it cannot be adequately communicated with words, like the smell of a rose. The individual has potential for it, but must awaken from sleep (unawareness or illusionary awareness) as Christ arose in the ship to quell the tempest. The tempest is the experience of fear, helplessness, and turmoil (being tossed around) in our lower nature when it is not being mastered from the emergence within of the law of love (higher nature).

I am glad you mentioned the importance of the development of the moral nature (civil law, like the law of Moses) as a prerequisite to the law of love. I think this can occur by first becoming familiar with scripture at the lowest level (mixture of historical/literal and allegorical), before looking deeper into them.


Joshua Tilghman July 27, 2016 at 11:56 am

Very true, Robert. Exactly, you got it! The scripture has a very logical order for this process! The law of Moses helps curb our appetites and desires, ut the law of love is above it, and it takes a transformation of the ego to arrive.


Robert July 26, 2016 at 12:41 pm


I have a question about backsliding. I think at first we may see a glimpse of the higher law of love, but we can live in between periods of being back in the tossed ship, dominated by the lower instincts and mindsets. The revelation of the higher law can sometimes occur during altered states induced by meditation, yoga, channelling, etc. This gives us some awareness of it and hope in it. But then we get back into life’s routines and lose momentum. Or we can slip by “giving in” to a pet weakness. We can bounce in and out of higher consciousness. I am guessing this is very common. So I am wondering if you have any advice for establishing more day to day consistency. Also, there is the problem with cleaning up the mess from slip ups, dealing with the consequences, feelings of disappointment in oneself, guilt and lowering of confidence.


Joshua Tilghman July 27, 2016 at 12:03 pm


Good point. That is why I began to have a problem with the traditional Christian message, and in my next post I plan to revisit your questions within the topic of reincarnation, which gives us the answers traditional Christianity lacks to solve this dilemma.

Life is about the ebb and flow higher development through our experiences. Kind of like the tide. In the bigger picture, this is the purpose for involution of spirit into matter and then its simultaneous evolution through it.

As to answer your question, I think daily reflection helps. This is one way to get to know one’s self. We evaluate the situations and choices we have made that have caused us to do certain things. But we have to be honest with ourselves, which is the hard part. Often we are so subjective with ourselves that we subconsciously deny the true reasons things turned out the way they did. That’s why things like deep meditation help us. It clears the subjectivity because we aren’t trying to figure out something, we simply observe it and when the emotions subside the truth of the situation begins to appear to us and intuition begins to kick in and we see the larger picture.


anny July 28, 2016 at 1:40 am


You describe this very well and indeed you are not alone in this. Everone is going through this one way or another until we have reached the next stage of the process. Because a process it is. It all belongs to the phase of gaining conscious awareness. Conscious awareness without labelling anything good or bad. It is about experience most of all, which is why we descended into this world in the first place.

There is no judgment. God = Love, Unconditional Love, which means we are always loved no matter what happens. We are a part of God, having descended into this world in order to have all sorts of experiences for the purpose of gaining conscious awareness. The experiences themselves are only part of a game, remember? And so are their consequences. We should learn from them but never judge them. Nor judge anybody else’s deeds or experiences. We fall down, we stand up. It is all part of the game called life. Slowly, slowly we become aware of what we are doing and how it affects others. Then we have the possibility to make new choices with other options. Change direction if you feel you need to but never judge what came before. It taught you something and it probably taught the other party something as well. It is awareness gained, even if it is something we are not proud of. Backsliding once in a while is part of the process too.

Josh describes this process very well too as the tides of the sea. In a way we should go with the flow, as it is of no use to struggle against it, but when we let it carry us out while observing it as calmly as possible, then it should in time bring us back safely to the shore.
Trying to canalize these forces by our will does not work, I am afraid.

Well, that was just following one analogy. It has given me some food for thought as well as I never looked at it from this side.

Anyway, Robert, do not worry. We are all in this together and as long as we love and do not judge each other we will all be fine in the end.


anny July 26, 2016 at 1:04 pm

Hi Josh,

A great article with a lot of depth. I want to concentrate on this text: “And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.”

I looked up this text in my Hebrew New Testament and once again I became more convinced that Hebrew might have been the original language of the gospels.

Jesus I see as symbol of the incarnating spirit here.

In Hebrew it said: “And he descended into a boat … Descended, that is the verb with the root ‘rd’ that stands for the descending side of the involution. It is the verb of incarnating that in no other language is used, not even in the Greek NT that I could finally check because Robert provided me with a link to the text of a Greek NT. Only the Hebrew text clearly shows what is the meaning.

And then the word ship or boat. That is ‘oniah’, 1-50-10-5. in Hebrew. 1-50-10 is ‘ani’, which means ‘I’, or ego in Latin. The I Am that incarnates changes temporarily into an ego while sleeping during the incarnation. The 5 as you may remember often stands for the female ending of a word, or the longing to return to the oneness of the beginning and as such the ego will finally wake up again, awakened by the storms of life.

The sea of course is water and as such symbolizes also ego and emotions. Of course this ego gets greatly disturbed by these stormy emotions.

Sea in Hebrew is ‘jam’, which also can be read as ‘jom’, day or period and as such can be interpreted as a time of great unrest and tribulation in this context. As such maybe it can even be interpreted as the total incarnation of mankind in a broader view.

Of course this is exactly the same interpretation as you give but seen from another side which can be seen as confirmation.



Joshua Tilghman July 27, 2016 at 11:54 am

Great comment Anny and I love how you describe Christ as the incarnating spirit into the ego, symbolized by the ship. The ego is developed in the lower mental nature. Makes perfect sense.


Christine Hoeflich July 27, 2016 at 9:30 pm

Hi Joshua,

I agree how you say that the enlightened state is “the divine marriage talked about in scripture where our lower egos become unified with the higher, or spiritual ego.”

I remember how the Counsel of Light put it: You have the input from your senses, and you have the input from the higher levels (inner guidance, spirit guides, dreams, etc.), and the third level is born through the mixing and the marriage of the two levels. Which is your soul expressing itself in the world. This blog post reminds me of that. Thanks for another incredible one!



Christine Hoeflich July 28, 2016 at 10:19 am

I want to explain it a bit clearer:

Here’s how the Counsel of Light put it: You have the input that comes from your senses, your conscious mind (the first level), and you have the input that comes from the spiritual realm (inner guidance, spirit guides, dreams, etc., which is the second level), and then the third level is born through the mixing and marriage of the other two levels, i.e. when you act in the world taking into account the input from those two levels. Which is your soul expressing itself in the world.

This blog post reminds me of that.


winn July 28, 2016 at 9:34 pm

super timing… thank you! i’m living outside the states right now but still feel the storm there as it rages….
i just had a nice thought to post a picture of hillary and trump with the caption “let the dead bury the dead.” 😉


Andrew Cort August 1, 2016 at 10:51 am

Excellent piece. Very glad to have found your site, and insights. Bookmarking, and posting on FB.


Joshua Tilghman August 1, 2016 at 1:49 pm

Thanks, Andrew! Your book sounds pretty good as well. You should share it as a resource here in the comment section for anyone interested.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: