The Passion of the Christ
Mel Gibson´s The Passion of the Christ has become one of the most controversial films ever made, and it is already a blockbuster of cinematography. Its defenders passionately regard it as one of the most moving and influential pieces of religious art ever created. But its detractors argue with comparable vehemence that the violence and gore it contains, its alleged anti-Semitism, a particular take on the Christian message, and a lack of historical and biblical accuracy, make it nothing than a kind of political propaganda (the latter will not be a subject in this file, since I think the critique is misplaced). Father Thomas Rosica praised it as one of the great masterpieces of religious art, but the secular humanist Paul Kurtz thinks of it as a political weapon in the hands of the religious right. Film critics are divided in their judgment, giving the film anywhere from no stars to five stars. Regardless of what one thinks of the film, however, its impact both personal and social is beyond question. Discussions about it are frequently heard everywhere, and not too long ago the news reported that a Christian minister had died of a heart attack while seeing the film in Brazil, so moved was he (interesting that is was from a heart attack). The Passion of the Christ deeply stirs people.
Who is right and who is wrong? Good question. But perhaps more important than the question are the reasons behind it. Many other works of popular culture raise important issues and produce controversy. Movies like The Matrix or The Lord of the Rings pose interesting quandaries about good and evil, the nature of reality, the ultimate end of humanity, time and morality, happiness, and free will and determinism, for example. Unlike many of these works, however, The Passion goes beyond a theoretical interest and well into the heart of many people´s deeply treasured beliefs and values. Although other films may raise similar issues to those posed by this movie, Gibson´s work puts them in a religious and social context that gives them particular significance. Audiences who see the movie cannot help but be disturbed and challenged by a message that concerns the very roots of their faith and the understanding of the world around them. The significance of Jesus himself, the tragic story of his life, and the subsequent history of Christianity touch deeper cords than a science-fiction story like The Matrix or a fantasy like The Lord of the Rings. After all, there has not been any other person with greater impact than Jesus in the history of the world. People have died for the Christian message and people have died because they have rejected it, so we are not talking here about a light matter. The Passion challenges both Christians and non-Christians to look again at the story of Christ´s trial, conviction, and crucifixion, as seen from the perspective presented in the movie.
A work as powerful as this film provides an unusual opportunity to raise and address some of the most fundamental philosophical questions concerning the human predicament in a context in which the general public can relate to them. Philosophy began on controversy and thrives on controversy, so it was to be expected that it would take up some of the challenges posed by The Passion of the Christ. For example: did Christ have to suffer violently? Obviously Gibson not only thought so, but believed it was necessary to portray the violence in the film, which brings us to the issue of how comprehensible such violence is to us and in terms of what concepts it can become intelligible. This leads us to the notion of atonement. Does the depth of human sin require the kind of suffering that is portrayed as having endured in The Passion? If so, what does this tell us about humanity, sin, and Christianity? Does such suffering make sense, both as atonement and cinematically? Does The Passion distort the whole person of Christ by concentrating on the gore and violence? And does this emphasis contribute to the value of the film as a work of art?
In the opening scenes in the Garden of Gethsemane, when finding his Apostles sleeping, Christ notes disapprovingly: “You could not watch even one hour with me.” Gibson intends the same rebuke, I take it, for those members of the Christian public at large who might also be tempted to turn away in order to avoid confronting the intensity of Jesus´s suffering. Like the movie Avatar The Passion understates the importance of seeing the movie and the level and graphic intensity of the violence and suffering it depicts. The movie itself draws the audience in as active participants (see my pop culture file Avatar).
One of the central lessons is that the true followers of Christ must remain true to his suffering by refusing to turn away from it or reason it away. Too reflective a response prevents some from being moved by or “taking to the heart” the event.
Gibson situates his depiction in a dark, gloomy, nearly barren world, and has presented us with a vision that doesn´t allow us to avoid the horror and irrationality of Christ´s torment. As Gibson noted in an interview:
I think we have gotten too used to seeing pretty crosses on the wall, and we forget what really happened…But when you finally see it and understand what he went through, it makes you feel not only compassion, but also a debt. You want to repay him for the enormity of his sacrifice. You want to love him in return.
What Gibson here says is extremely important, since the fact of seeing the movie touches your heart in an extreme way. The movie becomes an exercise in heartmeditation, in Tonglen (see the supporting exercise The Heartmeditation in my book Meditation as an Art of Life – a Basic Reader).
It is worth reflecting, in this connection, on the remarkable phenomenon of how so many viewers of The Passion of the Christ have been affected in their personal lives. There are numerous accounts of persons seeking forgiveness for various wrongs, restoring marriages and other relationships, and even confessing crimes. Some of these stories have been told in a television documentary called “Miracles of the Passion.” Jody Eldred, the executive producer of this program, visited websites where such stories were reported and found over 70,000 such accounts of lives who were touched by the film. This is an interesting piece of data from the information age confirming that genuine faith in the atonement is a morally transforming reality, not an alternative to moral transformation.
But still, we also live in an age, where the teachings of how to avoid suffering and negativity are at their top. An example of a Christian re-interpretation, which wants us to turn away from Christ´s suffering (“You could not watch even one hour with me”), is the American New Thought movement, and one of its basic texts: A Course in Miracles [ACIM]. The enormous popularity of this book tells something about how much people will clutch at straws in their attempt to avoid facing the fact of suffering. The Passion of the Christ comes in a time where precisely these teachings gather enormous popularity all over the world.
A Course in Miracles is the name of a book, allegedly dictated by Jesus to Helen Schucman (1909-1981), a research psychologist. As the critical thinker Robert Carroll says: “ACIM is Christianity improved: Jesus wants less suffering, sacrifice, separation, and sacrament. He also wants more love and forgiveness.”
ACIM as a thought-system can be categorized alongside the teachings of the "New Thought" cluster of quasi-Christian church groups founded in the late 19th century descending down to today (including Unity School of Christianity, Church of Religious Science, Church of Divine Science, et al.). ACIM itself is not organized centrally into a religion or a church but functions more like a movement.
The popularity of Schucman´s book gives testament to the attractiveness of New Thought´s revisionist biography of Jesus as wanting more love and forgiveness (positivity), and less suffering and sacrifice (negativity). In looking at the suffering in the world the Course says that this world cannot be created by a God. Heaven awaits us all and there is no hell; that is: the prompting to deny and ignore suffering and negativity. This is probably the best trick an Antichrist could impose in us: that hell and evil don´t exist. An example of the paradoxical nature of the Devil´s game, which I have investigated in my book Lucifer Morningstar – a Philosophical Love Story.
Indeed, A Course in Miracles is the ulmitative example of the 666 Conspiracy, since it deals explicit with a direct turning the teachings of Christ upside down. The book is also called The Third Testament.
In the movie Christ, like Judas, sees the people surrounding him as demons – a fact Gibson brings home to us by frequently placing Satan himself in the midst of the jeering, tormenting crowds. It calls to mind something of the unsettled hybrid creatures found in hellish landscapes by Hieronymus Bosch, the fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Dutch artist. It is no coincidence that the cover images of my books A Dictionary of Thought Distortions, and The Matrix Conspiracy, part 1 and 2, all is by Hieronymus Bosch. The cover image to my book Dream Yoga is called Christ Carrying the Cross and is a painting attributed to a follower of Hieronymus Bosch. The work depicts Jesus carrying the cross above a dark background, surrounded by numerous heads, most of which are characterized with grotesque faces.
The most disturbing in the movie scene is showing Satan gliding through the crowds that are witnessing his scourging, clutching a deformed child in his arms. The child´s smile is juxtaposed with the leering soldiers, communicating the not so subtle message that most of mankind have allowed themselves to become children of Satan rather than their Father in Heaven. Given the way the world looks even to Christ himself, it is no surprise that he “embraces his cross,” as one of the thieves crucified with him observes.
The Christian terminology employed in A Course in Miracle is thoroughly redefined to resemble New Thought teachings. Thereby it also contains all the problems of the positive psychology of New Thought; that is: it fails to understand the meaning of suffering (Suffering as an Entrance Into the Source), which both is the acceptance of one´s own sin, the awakening of compassion, and divine forgiveness.
Interesting enough ACIM has been asked to comment on especially this movie. Below I quote the dialogue in full. Important! Be aware that the “Jesus quotes” is coming from the alleged “Jesus” which Schucman claimed to be channeling (the answer comes as A[CIM]):
Questions concerning the movie "The Passion Of The Christ"
Q #563: We have received several questions recently about the movie, "The Passion of the Christ," and the subject of the crucifixion and A Course in Miracles. We will address all of the questions in a single answer.
i. The movie, "The Passion of the Christ," has gotten a lot of attention. Could you discuss the Course’s view of the crucifixion and how it differs from the view held by traditional Christians?
ii. Mel Gibson's picture, "The Passion of the Christ," has created quite a stir. How does the Course speak to the movie’s theme that Jesus came to prove God’s love. Did he have to die for that proof or is that just a convenient sleight of hand the Christian church has developed to perpetuate a belief in guilt and separation?
iii. Based on the teachings of the Course, how would you assess the Mel Gibson movie, "The Passion of the Christ"?
iv. A question about the crucifixion that I have had on my mind for a long time: Why did Jesus choose the crucifixion as a teaching device? In T.6.I.9:1, we read: "I elected, for your sake and mine, to demonstrate that the most outrageous assault, as judged by the ego, does not matter" -- meaning Jesus staged his own crucifixion.
Then I read in the Excerpt Series "Jesus: Manifestation of the Holy Spirit", Part VIII on http://www.facim.org/excerpts/s4e8.htm: "For Jesus, his crucifixion served a purpose of love. For most of us, being crucified would not serve a purpose of love. But we cannot judge by the form. The form of what happened to Jesus at the end of his life was not loving or safe -- it was murderous. But because there was a thought of love in his mind -- and only a thought of love -- his crucifixion was an act of love from his point of view, although not from the point of view of someone who did not share his thought system."
As hardly anyone who attended the crucifixion -- or later heard about it -- was/is without an ego, it seems they could see the incident but as a catastrophe. For who wants to live a loving life to be caught and killed like Jesus? How could Jesus expect people not to judge the crucifixion by the form when in everyday life we judge but by form? Therefore it almost seems to me, the crucifixion could cause nothing but fear and bewilderment and also about the fact that a holy man would let so many people see his crucifixion and so few his reappearance after his "death" and his ensuing ascension. I know I am wrong somehow but have a feeling that my reasoning is quite logical. Please help me sort this out. Thanks.
A [CIM]: Setting aside for a moment the issue of whether the crucifixion is indeed an historical fact, we can see very clearly one of the basic differences between the Course and traditional Christianity by contrasting their views of the meaning and significance of the crucifixion. Christianity -- and much of the world -- asserts that selfless love is demonstrated through sacrifice, and that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13). And since, according to Christian theology, Jesus, totally sinless and innocent and undeserving of any condemnation, laid down his life for all his brothers and sisters -- so long as they are willing to accept his sacrifice on their behalf -- the crucifixion becomes the greatest demonstration of love that the world has ever seen. Supporting this line of thinking, the recent movie emphasizes how great Jesus’ suffering and pain and humiliation on our account must have been, as further demonstration of how much he and his Father must love us. His Father’s Love is demonstrated in His willingness to offer up His only Son that our sins might be forgiven. Generally, there is little questioning of the premise behind this belief, that God the Father is the One Who set the conditions that demand such a sacrifice of His only Son -- that our sins could be so heinous that God could only be appeased by the Perfect Sacrifice of His Perfect Son.
The Course, on the other hand, asserts, "Sacrifice is so essential to your thought system that salvation apart from sacrifice means nothing to you. Your confusion of sacrifice and love is so profound that you cannot conceive of love without sacrifice. And it is this that you must look upon; sacrifice is attack, not love" (T.15.X.5:7,8,9).
The contrast is almost startling. Earlier, in the section "Atonement without Sacrifice," Jesus explains, "Sacrifice is a notion totally unknown to God. It arises solely from fear, and frightened people can be vicious. Sacrificing in any way is a violation of my injunction that you should be merciful even as your Father in Heaven is merciful" (T.3.I.4:1,2,3).
So what of the selfless love that is willing to sacrifice the self? This is one of the ego’s cleverest ploys, for its "selfless love" glorifies the self that has been sacrificed and destroyed through death. The Course, in contrast, teaches that genuine selfless love comes, not from the denial of the self - - which very conveniently makes the false self real -- but from the denial of the belief in the self, which is a statement of the Course’s Atonement principle, that the separation never happened. And this kind of selflessness the ego cannot tolerate.
The issue of the historical nature of the crucifixion ends up being a red herring from the Course’s perspective. What is important to recognize is that the story has been an important part of the ego myth that perpetuates our belief in sin, guilt and fear. Jesus in the Course simply provides an alternative way of looking at the grim story that we have for so many, many eons accepted as true -- that our guilt is real and God demands sacrifice. He offers us a "wholly benign" "positive interpretation of the crucifixion that is wholly devoid of fear" (T.6.I.1:5). His death has nothing to do with atoning for sins, it is merely an "extreme example" (T.6.I.2:1) of the basic Course teaching that persecution is not real and no one can be a victim -- turning the traditional Christian interpretation completely upside down! We can only believe in persecution and assault if we equate ourselves with the body -- which Jesus makes clear he did not (T.6.I.4).
So, even if within the dream there had been a physical crucifixion, it would have been a part of our dream, not Jesus’ dream, since he knew he was not the figure in the dream that everyone else saw him as. The scripting of the events that seemed to play out in the world would come from the collective ego, but the alternative interpretation of the meaning of those events would come from the mind joined with the Holy Spirit, which Jesus represents. The events themselves are only ever neutral symbols, which can represent either the projections of guilt of the ego or the extensions of love of the Holy Spirit. And that is the only choice Jesus is trying to teach us about the crucifixion. Which interpretation we choose will determine whether we continue to see ourselves as crucified symbols of our brothers’ guilt, or gentle reminders of their innocence as well as our own (T.27.I).
With this strongly Western idealist metaphysics and reductionism, ACIM denies as "unreal" obvious empirical-level experiences such as physical laws, sickness, tragedy, death, personal weakness ("sinfulness"), etc.
What ACIM, as well as New Age as such, do, is to place enlightenment in the subject, what would end in metaphysical solipsism, the terrible result of a total metaphysical subjectivism. You could term it "Black Enlightenment." I will return to that precisely that was what happened to Schucman in the end of her life.
First to the problems ACIM is creating. In the following are two central ACIM claims:
“Fear is the opposite of Love.”
This is the core claim of ACIM. It’s also in my view misguided. In what follows, I want to explore why I believe that claim to be false, as well as what relationship, if any, fear and love should have to each other.
As already said: the claim is based on idealism, a view I don´t agree with. Fear is certainly not a bad dream. Anybody who have experienced fear, and maybe even panic anxiety, knows that if anything is real, it is this. It’s no illusion. Just think about someone who is in anxiety, and then someone else claims: ”Well, you´re just living in an illusion.” Besides that you have been marked as a victim of anxiety, you are now also marked by two other victimizing things: a victim of illusion, and a victim who is in opposition to love.
But fear is simply an aspect of human existence as a sensory, emotive, incarnate being. Realize this and the neat and tidy metaphysical system of strict separation between love and fear begins to blur and break down.
The Course chooses to deny its reality and try to route around it. It therefore does not undo fear so much as skips over it.
“The ego is literally a fear based thought.”
No it’s not. The ego is literally not at all a fear based thought. Here the Pain-body comes in (I will go further into this below). The ego is what it feels like to be a bodily human organism. The ego is the feeling of being an individual homo sapien. The ego is the feeling of being a bodily human self-conscious organism (organism, matter, is what ACIM thinks is an illusion).
The human body is a feeling mechanism. The human organism feels and senses moment to moment. It feels and senses the environment, other beings, and its own internal state(s). Sensation is how your nervous system feels. Emotions are how your heart feels. Thought is how your brain feels. And the ego is how the bodymind as a total, single organism feels; that is: the pain-body (see my article The Emotional Pain-body and Why Psychotherapy Can´t Heal It).
We have already looked at the question of the revisionist version of the crucifixion. In Chapter 3 of A Course in Miracles Schucman directly denied the crucifixion. That is strange since the crucifixion is expressly stated in all the four books of the gospels.
A Course in Miracles states:
“T-3.I.1. A further point must be perfectly clear before any residual fear still associated with miracles can disappear. 2 The crucifixion did not establish the Atonement; the resurrection did. 3 Many sincere Christians have misunderstood this. 4 No one who is free of the belief in scarcity could possibly make this mistake. 5 If the crucifixion is seen from an upside-down point of view, it does appear as if God permitted and even encouraged one of His Sons to suffer because he was good. 6 This particularly unfortunate interpretation, which arose out of projection, has led many people to be bitterly afraid of God. 7 Such anti-religious concepts enter into many religions. 8 Yet the real Christian should pause and ask, "How could this be?" 9 Is it likely that God Himself would be capable of the kind of thinking which His Own words have clearly stated is unworthy of His Son?”
In Western Christian theology, atonement describes how human beings can be reconciled to God through Christ's sacrificial suffering and death. Atonement refers to the forgiving or pardoning of sin in general and original sin in particular through the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, enabling the reconciliation between God and his creation.
This is actually fully in line with all spiritual traditions, though the crucifixion is the most extreme example of it. In Christianity they talk about The Way of the Cross. Christian mystics have always known, that suffering can work advancing on a spiritual transformation-practice. This is because that suffering can be so unbearable, that you finally do not feel up to make resistance against it anymore. But this surrender exactly leads you into the Now. Paradoxically enough it is your resistance against the suffering, which upholds the suffering, while the surrendering of resistance neutralizes the suffering.
All inner resistance is experienced as negativity in some kind. All negativity is resistance. Negativity goes from irritation or impatience to violent anger, from bad mood or sulky reluctance to suicidal despair. Sometimes the resistance activates the pain-body, and in such cases even a small situation can create negativity, for example anger, depression or deep sorrow.
Resistance is created by the inner thinker (the Ego), which through evaluations compares the Now with earlier, and hopes, desires or fears something else, whereby the Now (the suffering) is being made into a problem. And through negativity the inner thinker then tries to manipulate reality and get what it wants. That´s the central misunderstanding in positive thinking. But the inner evaluating ego, which the pain-body is constructed around, is connected with the more dangerous dephts of the collective images in time, which also are a kind of dark, ancient inertia, which opposes any change of the ego. That is also the reason why you, through therapy, can´t heal Man from the ground.
In order to heal Man from the ground you need to go into a spiritual practice, you need to watch more than only one hour. It is only within the religions and their spiritual traditions they have knowledge and names for the more dark sides of the collectice time. The West has very precisely called this factor the original sin. The East has called it negative karma (see my article The Value of Having a Religion in a Spiritual Practice).
But because the resurrection is something metaphysical or supernatural, something above the natural (above matter), ACIM can claim that this fits much better into its “dream” concept of matter, and therefore the whole of nature, as illusion.
In this way we see how the whole passion is denied as having any point at all. The whole tormented body of Christ is an illusion, a dream.
A Course in Miracles sums up:
“There is no life outside of Heaven. Where God created life, there life must be. In any state apart from Heaven life is illusion. At best it seems like life; at worst, like death. (T-23.II.19:all)”
In other words what you and I experience here is nothing but illusion. Living and dying, are just good and bad dreams.
Among other teachings of the Course we learn that “Real life is only Mind, but the body is a lifeless illusion and God did not make the body.”
“The body neither lives nor dies, because it cannot contain you who are life. …God did not make the body, because it is destructible, and therefore not of the Kingdom. (T-6.V.A.1:all) & (T-6.V.A.2:1)
So who made the body then?
Even if we believe in this absurdity, there is nothing new in it. It is the Berkeleyan idealism from beginning to end. According to Berkeley's principal metaphysical position “nothing, including material objects, exists apart from perception; external objects are ultimately collections of ideas and sensations.”
On the subject of illusion Schucman writes:
"Once an individual has been caught in the world of perception he is caught in a dream. He cannot escape without help, because everything his senses show him merely witnesses to the reality of the dream" (A Course In Miracles: What Is It?, p. 7).
The question arises: if the world is just a dream and everything is just an illusion, what should we do to wake up?
Kenneth Wapnick, one of the key players of A Course in Miracles explains:
"If we now attempt to follow the Holy Spirit's thinking [that is: ACIM´s thinking], and we want to prove that the world is not real and that the sin of separation never happened, all that is needed is to prove that sin has no effect […] If we could prove that the cause had no effect then the cause can no longer exist. If something is not a cause it is not real, because everything that is real must be a cause and thus have an effect. If we remove the effect we are also eliminating the cause.”
The absurdity of these statements is self-evident. Wapnick is not suggesting to remove the sin but to pretend that sin has no effect. So if one is a victim of a crime all he has to do is to pretend that the crime never happened and therefore he cannot be harmed by it. What if the victim is dead? What if the victim loses a limb, an eye or becomes wheelchair bound? What about the survivors of the dead victim? Should they just pretend that the crime has never happened and their loved one is among them? Could they?
But Wapnick doesn´t bother to go into such considerations, and continues:
"Now, if the greatest effect of sin in this world is death, demonstrating that death is an illusion simultaneously demonstrates that there is no sin.”
Schucman is dead. Is that our illusion or is it hers? Could we tell a mother who has lost a child, oh don’t cry you are just having an illusion? (that´s what another New Thought disciple Byron Katie is doing in her “therapeutic” work – I will return to that).
Schucman herself makes startling statements such as:
"There is no need for help to enter Heaven for you have never left. But there is need for help beyond yourself as you are circumscribed by false beliefs of your identity, which God alone established in reality.” (C-5.1:1-3).
According to the above, Man is still in heaven. It is simply the illusion of sin and death that have caused false senses of reality. Therefore all these wars, crimes, calamities, pains and sufferings are figments of our imagination and are not real.
A Course in Miracles also teaches that evil does not exist [that´s a good idea for the Antichrist at least]. It is an illusion that must be overcome by right thinking.
"Innocence is wisdom because it is unaware of evil, and evil does not exist." [T33/38]
According to the Course pain and suffering are illusory. They are only in the imagination of the person who is suffering.
“YOU are the dreamer of the world. You, singularly and individually (but not personally as a separate entity, as that "you" is illusory), are dreaming the entire universe of pain and suffering, sickness and death."
Is that true? If we stop “dreaming” about terrorism, wars or the natural disasters do they go away? What this explanation in fact are claiming, is that you are responsible for all the evil things going on in your world because you are dreaming them. So all you have to do is stop dreaming and your world will become a paradise. Looks like according to this doctrine each one of us is the writer and the director of this universe. A universe that exists nowhere but in our own minds. All we have to do is to change our dreams and the world will change accordingly.
The more we read the Course in Miracles the more we realize that it is a course in absurdity, in brainwashing, in fantasies and in self-deceptions. But the absurdity does not end there.
A Course in Miracles states:
"4. No one is punished for sins, and the Sons of God are not sinners. 5. Any concept of punishment involves the projection of blame, and reinforces the idea that blame is justified. " [T-6.I.16]
This is absurd. In Christianity sin means transgression of a divine law. Those who transgress are sinners. And if there is a divine justice the sinners and non-sinners cannot be treated both equally. Hitler cannot sit next to Gandhi and enjoy the same privileges or the divine Justice becomes meaningless. If we survive our deaths, as A Course in Miracles states, would it be just if a criminal is not blamed for his crimes? Are we humans not responsible for our actions? In all ethical point of views, Christian or not, such statements are absurd.
Another disturbing deduction of this philosophy is that it, as the whole of the New Thought movement, is implanting the victimization culture in us. It is blaming the victim put in system. No wonder Freud is so appreciated. The problem in this is lying in all the talk about that you should stop blaming. The paradox in this is that it is self-refuting. The demand is itself a blame. And when constantly talking to people about that they should stop blaming, they themselves are blaming all the time. This kind of nonsense comes from psychotherapy, which has become the new religion in popular culture.
The most honest book I have read on the ugly truth of psychotherapy is a book called Against Therapy by Jeffrey Masson. In this ground-breaking and highly controversial book Masson attacks the very foundations of modern psychotherapy from Freud to Jung, Fritz Perls to Carl Rogers. With passion and clarity, Against Therapy addresses the profession´s core weaknesses, contending that, since therapy´s aim is to change people, and this is achieved according to the therapist´s own notions and prejudices (subjectivism), the psychological process is necessarily corrupt, and can justify the use of brainwashing, beating and torture. It is horrendous reading. In a nutshell it is the same argumentation I myself put forward towards the Matrix Conspiracy´s two methods: psychotherapy and coaching. See my books The Matrix Conspiracy 1-2.
Since “Sons of God are not sinners” and pain and suffering are only illusions, a rapist is not guilty but his victim is. He is not to be blamed because as the son of God he can't commit sin, but she is guilty for imagining all that pain and suffering. The pain is not caused by the aggressor but is the cause of the separation of the victim from God. It boggles the mind to think that otherwise intelligent people would let themselves be fooled by this much asininity. As mentioned: Byron Katie is blaming the victim in any sentence she makes. Her whole therapeutic method “The Work” is blaming the victim put in system (see my article A Critique of Byron Katie and Her Therapeutic Technique The Work, and the updates in the Matrix Dictionary entry on Byron Katie).
I believe Schucman was genuinely channeling some subtle-plane entity who was very much in love with pompous-sounding New Thought material. I also believe the entity was a demon, or even the Antichrist himself, considering the ingenuity of the book. In other words: I believe we are talking about a very special case of the type of spiritual crisis called Possession State.
Even Wapnick himself said that "if the Bible were considered literally true, then (from a Biblical literalist's viewpoint) the Course would have to be viewed as demonically inspired". Though a friend of Schucman, Thetford, and Wapnik, Catholic priest Benedict Groeschel has criticized ACIM and the related organizations. Finding some elements of ACIM to be what he called "severe and potentially dangerous distortions of Christian theology", he wrote that it is "a good example of a false revelation" and that it has "become a spiritual menace to many”. The evangelical editor Elliot Miller says that Christian terminology employed in ACIM is "thoroughly redefined" to resemble New Age teachings. Other Christian critics say that ACIM is "intensely anti-Biblical" and incompatible with Christianity, blurring the distinction between creator and created and forcefully supporting the occult and New Age worldview.
It is worth hearing the views of the Franciscan Catholic priest Benedict Groeschel, CFR, steeped in studies of the paranormal, and a former student of Schucman at Columbia University (20 years her junior) and subsequently a close friend of Schucman in her last dozen years of life (he introduced her to Ken Wapnick and gave a eulogy at her funeral). Groeschel heard Helen tell him many times, "I hate that damn book," meaning the ACIM, and she repeatedly disavowed its teachings and the cult that formed around it. He finally surmised that ACIM might have been sourced in a diabolical entity, for, as he wrote, "This woman who had written so eloquently [in ACIM] that suffering really did not exist, spent the last two years of her life in the blackest psychotic depression I have ever witnessed," full of rage (See Groeschel, A Still, Small Voice: A Practical Guide on Reported Revelations, Ignatius Press, 1993, p. 79.)
Seen from a spiritual perspective, this instinctive survival strategi (the Ego) appears as a resistance, an invincible inertia: original sin, negative karma. You can´t, by therapeutic strategies, free the consciousness for its attachment to this inertia (this is what ACIM thinks). You can therefore not dissolve or dilute or convert the original sin through therapy. Only the intervention of the Source (God, Christ, the enlightened consciousness) can basically help Man with a transcendence of the negative karma of the original sin. But in order to, that a human being should be able to receive this help from the Source (gift of grace), then this requires an eminently precise and profound preparation. And as part of this preparation serve the spiritual practice. Again: watch and watch and watch, more than one hour.
Returning negative feelings can therefore very well contain a message from the Source, in the same way as an illness does: a message about, that there is something you have to change. But every outside change is superficial and temporary, unless it is coming from a change in your consciousness. And what that concerns, it can only mean one thing, namely to start a spiritual practice.
When you have achieved a certain degree of spiritual training, you no longer need the negativity to tell you what you need in your lifesituation. But as long as there is negativity, or illness, then use it as a signal, which reminds you to begin a spiritual practice, or, if you already are practicing, to deepen it.
If you have a serious illness, then use it to become enlightened. All ”bad” which happens in your life – use it to become enlightened. Surrender to the existential facts, surrender to the Now (see the supporting exercise The Change of Suffering into Enlightenment in my book Meditation as an Art of Life – a basic reader, and the article Suffering as an Entrance to the Source in my book Dream Yoga).
Finally both Tibetan Buddhism and Christian mysticism are similar in training yourself in using your personal suffering to increase your love and compassion – which means: where you mentally receive and give. You use your own suffering in a way, where you receive others´ suffering in your heart. Here you let it dissolve in the light of compassion, whereon you give the compassion on to these others. This practice works healing, both on yourself and on others. See the supporting exercise The Heartmeditation (the Tibetan spiritual practice of Tonglen) in my book Meditation as an Art of Life – a basic reader. Also see The Matrix Dictionary entry Supporting Exercises for updates. Here I in details explains how positive thinking is just about the opposite of Tonglen.
The Passion of the Christ is an exercise in Tonglen, therefore the importance of seeing the movie.
So, when you in this way do your part of the work, then you will discover that the enlightened consciousness (God, Christ, Buddha), already have cleansed the negative karma and taken on, and forgiven, the original sin. All enlightened teachers of this Earth (Rumi, Krishna, Francis of Assisi, Rabia, Meera, Yeshe Tsogyel, Teresa of Avila) are doing the same: they take on the original sin and are purifying it for us. And that is precisely what the above-mentioned heartmeditation is all about. The two processes mutually fertilize each other.
The atonement of Jesus Christ is the most extreme example of this mankind has been a direct witness to. And showing this in all it´s brutal frankness is precisely the brilliance of Mel Gibson´s The Passion of the Christ. It is a perfect visual and artistic answer to a popular culture which does everything in order to avoid suffering and negativity. People was shocked over the movie, but it also did something in their hearts.
The Christ as Victor View, sometimes also called the “Dramatic View,” is, appropriately enough, portrayed in dramatic fashion in Gibson´s film. The opening scene with Satan in the garden is only the first of several eerie scenes where the devil and other demonic figures play prominent roles. With striking artistic flair, Gibson foreshadows Satan´s defeat when a serpent crawls out of his garment and slithers up to Christ as he kneels on the ground in prayer. After showing his resolve to do his Father´s will, however difficult, Christ emphatically crushes the serpent´s head with is heel, recalling the first prophecy of redemption in Genesis 3:15.
Satan´s sinister presence is also evident when Christ is being scourged and crucified. He mills around in the watching crowd, and in one scene, holds a monster child who smiles maliciously. This hints at the notion of Christ as ransom since Satan appears to take pleasure in Christ´s suffering and death, perhaps believing that will be the end of him. But Christ´s ultimate victory is not merely in his perfect obedience (the continued spiritual practice), vital as that is, but in his resurrection. Although the resurrection is depicted only briefly in the film, it is crucial to the atonement since death was the original penalty for sin. Only when the power of death is broken can the power of sin be broken. Christ´s resurrection demonstrated that in overcoming death, he had also decisively defeated sin and freed us from its power over us. This is foreshadowed when Satan is shown to be frustrated and enraged immediately after the death of Christ, perhaps indicating his awareness that he had not defeated Christ after all.
Another significant scene depicting Christ as the triumphant victor occurs in the brief allusion to the Jewish Passover meal, a meal that celebrated God´s action to liberate the Jews from their bondage to Egypt. During the meal, a child asks the traditional question: “Why is this night different from other nights?” The answer given is that “we were slaves, but we are slaves no longer.” In the film this is alluded to when Mary, the mother of Jesus, is shown suddenly waking up on the night Christ was arrested. She asks Mary Magdalena why this night is different, and Mary Magdelena answers that they are slaves no longer. This clearly suggests that just as God, through Moses, delivered his children from slavery to Pharaoh, so now through Christ he is breaking the bonds of slavery to sin and Satan, a more desperate form of bondage to an even more ruthless oppressive.
The Passion of the Christ recognizes the disclosive dimension of religious faith through a pervasive emphasis on perception. In what is, to me, the pivotal scene of the whole movie, Christ, falling while carrying the cross, looks up to Mary (intertwined with scenes of Jesus falling as a child, and Mary coming and picking him up, embracing him) and says: “see, mother, I make all things new,” which is a line drawn, not from the gospels, but from the Book of Revelation (Revelation 21: 5-6). The challenge for the Christian is precisely to learn to see all things new, to see how Christ´s suffering must change our experience of the world. Christian “knowledge” consists in this changed experience, it is knowing how to see the world, and to respond to people and events in the world, in the light of God.
Watch the scene on YouTube:
The New Thought Movement and the Law of Attraction
The Emotional Painbody and Why Psychotherapy Can´t Heal It
Suffering as an Entrance to the Source
The Value of Having a Religion in a Spiritual Practice
Related in The Matrix Dictionary:
A Course in Miracles (ACIM)
Related Pop culture Files
The Pop Culture Files