Today we’re going to look at the true Biblical meaning of baptism, and were going to use a lot of scriptural stories to prove it that it doesn’t mean dunking your head under water. By the end of it all I’m fairly confident you’ll be a Biblical expert on the subject. This will be a two part series, using the New Testament for the first post and the Old Testament for the second post.
We’re going to begin with a very important but often overlooked verse by the writer of Hebrews. I remember some of my former pastors reading over this verse, but they never went into the details and it always bothered me. It should bother you too if you’re thinking something isn’t right with traditional Christian doctrine. I quote below:
“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundations of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment” (Hebrews 6:1-2).
I have put in blue some important words above which we’ll examine closely. But first reread that verse. What!? Whoever wrote Hebrews is telling us to leave behind doctrines like repentance and baptism! I’m not saying that he totally disregards them, but he phrases the verse as if it’s all baby stuff, and we need to move on to perfection, where the real liberation is!
Did you get that? What Christian doctrine teaches is the foundation of everything today, the writer of Hebrews says to leave it all behind! In other words, it’s only a precursor to the real thing. So what’s the deal here?
There are two things we need to understand. First, the Greek word for principles defines the context of what is really being said. The principles he is referring to are the literal understandings of these doctrines. The principle, or origin of the meaning of the doctrine of baptism is to cleanse. But what needs to be cleansed? Is is just the physical body, or does the writer of Hebrews understand that it is something more important that needs to be cleansed? Of course it is something more important. You only need common sense to understand that – It’s the mind that needs to be cleansed, not the fleshly body. How does literal water cleanse the spiritual (mind) part of us? It can’t! And it’s ridiculous to think that it could. When a person dunks his head under the water to fulfill the doctrine of baptism, they are simply doing the equivalent of taking a bath. In other words, let’s leave this literal principles of physical baptism and get to the real baptism! Going on to perfection is the act of going into a spiritual baptism, which leads to a renewed mind. We’ll get to how that’s accomplished in a moment.
The other thing I want you to understand here is that the writer of Hebrews is clearly a Gnostic, just as I am sure Paul was. Out of all my studies of Biblical, historical, and other philosophical texts there is an obvious reason why this is true. First of all, NO writer who believed in the traditional Christian interpretations we have been taught today would write the verse in Hebrews 6:1-2 UNLESS they were a Gnostic. That is because some Gnostic groups worshiped with two types of Christian: the babe, who followed literal doctrines, and the one who experienced gnosis, which understood the perfection, or higher spiritual meanings beyond the literal text. Gnostics often worshiped with babes because they would look for those babes who were ready for initiation into the higher mysteries, and when found, would begin teaching them the higher meanings of scripture.
Now that we have that cleared up, I am going to show you throughout scripture why the writer of Hebrews was able to write that verse in good conscience. What did the Gnostics understand about the body and soul? Namely that there were five levels of human consciousness within the fourfold nature of humanity.
- The physical body
- The emotional body
- The mental body (often divided into two parts, lower mental body and thought, and upper)
- The spiritual body (causal body, the true self)
This is also true of Greek philosophical and spiritual thought. Think about it. The New Testament was written in Greek by the way 🙂
Let’s break this down by Gaskell, who did extensive study and research on the subject. Once you understand the chart below, it will give you much insight to interpret Jesus’ miracles, and all the people he interacts with.
- Earth = The physical body, including the brain
- Water = The astral body, which is our emotions
- Air = The mental body, which represents our thoughts
- Fire = The upper mental plane, which the Holy Spirit (Fire) cleanses the mind
- The Good Mind = The highest state of consciousness, represented by pure light.
I’m about to walk you through scriptures that will show different levels of meditation based on the Greek understanding of human consciousness above. Although the scriptures may appear to be about water baptism, it is symbol for the baptism and cleansing of the mind.
Let’s begin with John the Baptist and Jesus. Matthew chapter 3 gives us the purpose of John the Baptist’s ministry. His job was to begin to fulfill, according to scripture, the first step in coming into righteousness. People were baptised by him in the Jordan River. Is this meant to be taken literally? Not at all. Let’s break down some symbols.
John the Baptist symbolizes the moral nature which is the forerunner of our higher spiritual nature, our Christ nature. In order to fulfill righteousness, John the Baptist (our moral nature), must come first. Therefore John represents the first stage we enter into to cleanse the mind, which happens in meditation. So it would be broken down as thus:
- Earth = The physical body, including the brain
- Water = The astral body, or where our emotions are processed
So as John the Baptist begins baptizing, this process symbolizes using our mind to enter into meditation on the second level, which is water, where our emotions are stabilized and healed. Remember that Paul also stated the Israelites were baptised in the Red Sea as they left Egypt. Did they get wet? No. They simply walked on dry ground, but Paul still says it was a baptism. Why? Because Egypt, which they left, signifies the lower mind. The lower mind and the desires thereof, when we indulge, always causes emotional trauma. Crossing of the Red Sea was the FIRST step into the meditation process where the Israelites needed to clear all that oppressed emotional junk from (Egypt) from their minds. There’s a little more to it than that, but I want you to see that the Israelites crossing the Red Sea is one big allegory explaining the first stage of baptism, which eventually goes to the fourth stage of fire. So the entire baptism experience is about entering within and being cleansed (our emotions) so that we have a renewed mind! The Christ mind!
Let’s look at another scripture and familiar story which might make more sense to you now. Remember Jesus walks out on the water towards the disciples on the lake?
“Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them walking on the lake…Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus” (Matthew 14: 25-30).
Dawn symbolizes the rising sun, the rising inner Christ. The sun / son is about to rise through the steps of meditation within you, first clearing out negative emotions. Peter symbolizes the natural man (always doubting and screwing up), who doubts when he sees the wind, and the boat is a symbol for the mind (causal body). The entire story illustrates again the second stage of meditation in water where the Christ takes away the lower emotions of fear etc. as the water (truth) begins to cleanse the astral / emotional nature. No one really walked on the water here. 🙂
Sidenote: Meditating is one way to begin to balance our emotions. This has been proven in many scientific studies. Specifically, it stimulates the glandular system and balances the survival aspect of our brain. In essence, it calms our emotions.
Now let’s go to the third step of meditation, symbolized by air.
- Earth = The physical body
- Water = The astral / emotional body
- Air = The mental / thought body
Paul gives us a good illustration of this in two places. One is where the saints will meet Jesus in the air.
“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
So here we have an example of the third level, according to Greek thought, of meditation, which is symbolized by air. This stage of meditation symbolizes touching the mental body and our thoughts, which control the emotions. Remember also that Jesus himself tells us to take NO THOUGHT for the morrow. In other words, in a deeper stage of meditation, we further cleanse the mind by removing the thoughts of the lower mind. In the East it is a common teaching that in deeper meditation we relish the gaps between our thoughts, where the essence of healing and touching the divine happens. If you’re having trouble understanding how this process works, don’t be alarmed. It has to do with chakras being cleared and the endocrine system becoming more balanced in the body. Healing thoughts and emotions are the result. But Paul is not talking about literally meeting the saints in the clouds. We could write an entire blog post on all the problems with this. For example, if this were literal, how could people on the other side of the earth even see Jesus coming in the clouds? It’s all symbolic of what happens in the stages of meditation.
Let’s look at another scripture that deals with the 3rd level of meditation and the air.
“I knew a man in Christ above 14 years ago (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth); such a one caught up to the 3rd heaven” (2 Cor. 12:2).
Notice how Paul said this man entered the 3rd heaven. I use to wonder what the 3rd heaven was. For example, what was the first and second heaven? Well now we have our answer. The 3rd heaven is the third level of meditation. In this deeper level of meditation, Paul says he didn’t know whether he was in his body or not. In other words, meditation can alter consciousness to the point of being out of the body. This Greek way of thinking shouldn’t come as a surprise. They believed that consciousness also left the body through our dreams. Some people claim astral projection works the same way.
So now let’s jump to the fourth level of meditation which is shown in the New Testament.
- Earth = The physical body
- Water = The Astral or emotional body
- Air = The mental body
- Fire = The upper mental plane (holy spirit touches this in Christian literature)
Let’s return to where John the Baptist is baptizing at the Jordan. Now remember before Jesus comes to him John said there would be one to come more worthy than he that would baptize with fire. When Jesus finally comes to be baptized, John replied, Lord I have need to be baptized by you! Jesus’ reply is very important.
“Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt. 3:15).
Why would Jesus, the Christ, need to be baptized in order to fulfill all righteousness? Is it just to fulfill a prophecy, or is there something more important to glean here?
Jesus himself says that he will be baptized because you can’t skip the second level of meditation and immediately go to the fourth. It’s a process that fulfills righteousness in all of us. The emotions must be cleansed, as well as the thoughts. And the order, according to Greek thought, must be followed.
Please remember that the ancient way of explaining things is not an exact science. When you enter into yourself, the kingdom within, and meditate, you don’t have to concentrate on reaching the stages in order. It will naturally take place, but the Gospels provide a sort of formula that is happening behind the scenes of your intellect and conscious mind.
We also have a good example of the fourth level of baptism or meditation happening in the books of Acts:
“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them cloven tongues as of fire, and it sat upon each of them” (Acts 2:1-2).
There are so many symbols here and in former verses that speak about what’s going on, but for the sake of the length of this blog post we are only going to touch on a few. First off, notice that they were all sitting (as in meditation). It is also known that they were in the “upper room” in the “house” or “temple.” Scholars have argued over where this actually took place, but they have missed it because whether it’s a house or the temple they both represent the physical human body, and the “upper room” is the brain, and more specifically, the upper mental plane. The fire symbology here represents the fourth level of meditation. What’s more, cloven tongues of fire that sat above each of their heads is the symbol for the serpent (cloven tongue). In the east kundalini is the same as the Holy Spirit, symbolized by a serpent. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent on the rod (spine), so must Jesus be lifted up and come as the inner Christ that baptises us with fire in meditation. It’s all a scriptural process. And yes, for those of you new to this blog, the Bible is full of Eastern concepts.
The culmination process ends in the “good mind” as the Greek philosophers explained it. The good mind is the mind who has reached the state of Nirvana and bliss, whose ego has been crucified and transformed. This is the marriage supper of the Christ, where the lower and higher mind are in union with one another.
As you can see, baptism has nothing to do with dunking your head in water. Physical water cleanses the physical body, but it cannot cleanse the mind. That can only be done by going within.
In the next post we’ll use Gaskell’s levels of meditation to show that the story of Noah’s flood shows the entire meditation process from beginning to end as the earth, or human body, goes through baptism.