We often hear about “The Golden Rule” of Jesus, but have you heard of The Platinum Rule? The Golden Rule says “we should do unto others as we would want done unto us.” But some scholars are wondering if that was authentic. They question the accuracy of this verse on multiple merits, but even just logical thinkers can see the moral limitations in the golden version of the rule, and are questioning whether an even higher standard was actually set?
For many of us, when we started to think for ourselves instead of conforming to the tribe, we lost some friendships, and even family relationships, that we thought were rock solid. Being authentic / educated / diverse is worth it though. In fact, it’s mandatory to the survival of the world. If our “friends” would prefer we remain ignorant and closed off to help them remain comfortable then they are not true friends.
With so much going on in the world I’ve noticed lately that so many of us are worn out, worried, and anxious about the future. And while that is perfectly understandable given the circumstances, I think for some of us a little boost is needed to take on 2017 with everything we’ve got. In order to do that, we need to center in again on our peace and strength. We can’t help others and fight the good fight if we are depleted and defeated ourselves.
We hear the words of Jesus cited often, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” We might call that a very early way to say “be in the Now.” But how’s a person to do that?
Point one is to manage that little thought cloud that follows us everywhere. As most of us already know from experience, when we have idle time on our hands, we often spend some of that time worrying about things – and that worry can be the greatest thief of our joy and peace in life. It can just wear us out… And also render us pretty ineffective.
Think about it. How many times have you had time on your hands to think (in the shower, driving, in bed before falling asleep, meditating) and find much of that time being spent worrying about the regrets of the past and fears of the future? Our inherent human nature is to be worrisome; hence why so many of us do everything we can throughout the day to stay plugged in to a distraction (TV, Ipod, phone calls, facebook, reading, work, texting, going out, and uhm… blogging, etc…).
There is an old saying by Lao Tzu which goes:
One of the reoccurring comments we get back about Jesism has to do with the mythic Jesus. Friends will respond and say they like Jesism, but their Christianity is not contingent on whether the historical Jesus existed or not. They will often expound that even if Jesus was completely made up, i.e., mythical, they find their peace and hope in the story of Jesus, and the Christ in their hearts. Sometimes they think this differs from the tenants of Jesism in a one vs. the other type of dichotomy. And since it is very important to us here at Jesism to be clear about this point, we’ve taken a recent comment from our facebook page that was very well articulated and offered a response to each question inline in red. In this response, the author offered a question and answer to his question to state his position. To which we commented below each one. Your comments are also welcome.
Question: Do I believe in Jesus? I believe in the mythical Jesus. That is, the story of Jesus and his alleged teachings has brought me inner peace and joy. Whether or not the story is historical has no bearing on my experience of the Christ within.
Response from Jesism: That is perfectly harmonious with Jesism. In the preamble to The 9 Guidelines of Jesism, we state “Like Buddhism, Jesism has a range of supporters, from dogmatic to non-dogmatic, and from those focused on a historical figure to those who view the enduring message within a mythical context, or “cosmic Christ” as some say.” In other words, by referring to Jesus it doesn’t mean we are specifically taking it all at historical or mythical value, which will bring us to the response in the next question. Portraits of the cosmic Christ as offered by Meister Eckhart and adapted by folks such as Fr. Richard Rohr and Rev. Matthew Fox are very valuable to most Jesists.
Q: But do I think the story isn’t historically accurate? The beautiful thing is that it doesn’t matter, because I enjoy the peace and joy either way. The historicity of the story may be somewhat congruent with my experience, but it is not necessary for me to know for sure. I experience the risen Christ within my heart when I follow the teachings of Jesus, and that is all the evidence I need.
Response from Jesism: We agree. We believe that Jesus was indeed based on a historical figure named Yeshua of Nazareth, who lived and died around Jerusalem during the Roman occupation. And we believe that some of his sayings, as recorded in the gospels, are likely accurate, even if not captured verbatim. We also believe that many of the stories around him were never meant to be taken literally, but instead to be used as literal devices to capture the importance of Yeshua, which was a common method in cultures of oral tradition. In ancient cultures, stories had to be memorable to be passed down, and we believe the readers wouldn’t have ever cared to literalize much of the gospels, but instead to focus on their message.
Q: But if the story isn’t accurate, why did Jesus die? I didn’t say the story isn’t accurate. I said it doesn’t affect my spirituality because my spiritual foundation is a universal foundation independent of the veracity or probability of historical events. It is possible to be a follower of Jesus and an agnostic regarding the details at the same time.
Response from Jesism: We agree 100%
Q: Further, how could anyone possibly say that Jesus died for nothing, when his teachings have helped so many. One might also claim that Martin Luther King Jr. died for nothing as well, but it would be a lie.
Response from Jesism: Again, we agree 100%
Q: But don’t you have to have faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus to experience the Holy Spirit? I believe in merely the mythology of the cross and that brings me overflowing peace and joy. I feel guiltless and clean by understanding the principle of the cross. The principle of dedicating one’s life to doing what is right. The principle of forgiveness and reconciliation. I need not invoke a vengeful God that could be pacified only by a human sacrifice to experience the psychological and emotional benefits of Christianity.
Response from Jesism: We say bravo! Well said!
The season of Advent is a time for each of us to ask ourselves, “What do I believe?” How would I word a “creed” that speaks to my heart without making my spirit cringe?
My personal statement of “Christian” principles would be something like this:
The past couple of years has seen me shift my religious beliefs quite a bit, and the recent events surrounding the American Presidential election has prompted me to step away from the Christian label to define my spirituality. I have felt challenged to put some words to my spirituality. Not sure how useful this exercise has been, since definitions always fall short when trying to speak of Great Mystery, but I post this here in hopes to see if this resonates with any, or if anything I’ve said should be amended.
I feel fairly safe in identifying myself as an Apophatic Mystic Panentheist. Why?
Growing up, I was always told that the Bible was the inerrant Word of God. What is meant by this is that it is without error or fault in all of its teaching (see The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy). Without even getting into what is considered “correct” canon—as that is not even agreed upon—if something in Scripture says “God said,” then that means “God said.” And if something says “God did,” then that means “God did.” So, for instance, in Numbers 25, when the writer says that God said to Moses, “Take all the chiefs of the people, and impale them in the sun,” then that means this conversation happened just as it is written. God literally, at one point in history, commanded murder so that his anger can be assuaged. And then, when Phinehas does just as God commanded, he is given a peace covenant.