All Storytelling Is a Poetic and Propagandistic Art
All Storytelling Is a Poetic and Propagandistic Art
ADI DA SAMRAJ: There is, in the “New Testament” Gospels, a core story-line about the person called “Jesus”. That story sits beneath and within all the overlays of institutional propaganda and institutionally self-serving “interpretation”. In other words, there is a story (or a kind of biography, including a collection of basic teachings) that seems to represent a core-tradition upon which the institutional writers of the “New Testament” Gospels were building their inventions of new religion. At the core of the stories about Jesus is a core tradition that precedes (or is the basis for) all the Gospel writings of the “New Testament” (all of which were written even many years after the lifetime of Jesus)….
The “New Testament” (as it is commonly presented in myriad translations and renderings) mostly contains the institutionalizing and non-Spiritual tradition of “official” Christianity. Nonetheless, the “New Testament” stories convey a thread of teaching-truths from the ancient world on the subjects of moral (or first three stages of life), devotional (or beginning fourth stage of life), and Spiritual (or mature fourth stage of life and fully fifth stage of life) matters.
No actual individual who lived in Jesus’ lifetime can be said to have communicated Jesus’ doings and sayings, as Porphyry did about Plotinus (whom he knew), or as Motovilov did about Saint Seraphim (whose direct and personal Spiritual Transmission he experienced).
Baba Muktananda (Who was one of My own Spiritual Teachers) wrote first-person accounts about His Spiritual Teacher, Bhagavan Nityananda (Who was also one of My Spiritual Teachers). Baba Muktananda knew Bhagavan Nityananda personally, and directly experienced His Spiritual Transmission, as well as His teaching. At the same time, however, it must be said that Baba Muktananda’s writings about Bhagavan Nityananda convey not only facts about Bhagavan Nityananda but also many myths about Bhagavan Nityananda.
In the Indian tradition, it is common practice for people to tell (or even invent) stories about their own Masters that, characteristically, use (or repeat, and embellish, and revise) stories already commonly told, within the existing tradition, about “great persons” (or Saints, Yogis, and Spiritual figures within the Indian tradition altogether). Whatever that previous tradition already contained, people also “re-told” it about Bhagavan Nityananda.
By doing so, they were, in accordance with the traditional understanding, acquiring “merit” – simply by repeating great things about their own Master. Such is the rule of “merit” in the traditional setting of India – and the same rule (or license) existed within the tradition in which the “New Testament” Gospels were made (or invented). Indeed, traditional stories about Spiritual Masters (including Jesus of Galilee) are rightly understood only when thus understood.
All “storytelling” is a poetic and fictionizing and propagandistic art. All “storytelling” is literature and theatre-not “news reporting” or any kind of effort to rigorously account for “facts”. (Indeed, perhaps because this difference is self-evident to virtually everyone, even “news reporters” characteristically refer to their supposedly “factual” reports as “stories”.)
Traditionally, whether through lore, or mythology, or imaginative storytelling, historical (or, otherwise, entirely fictional) personages are “artistically concretized” – for the purpose of establishing and propagandistically promoting the “authority” of exoteric religious (as well as all other cultural, social, and political) institutions. That process tends to produce accretions of a kind that are no longer what could be called “historical” in nature, except in so far as they represent the “history” of the institution itself.
For example, such a process can be seen exemplified in the earlier part of the twentieth century, in the institutionally-promoted stories about Shirdi Sai Baba–the stories about whom very quickly reached into the domain of super-myth, on the basis of very little reliable history. Because Shirdi Sai Baba lived within the last one hundred years, some historical reality for the stories must be granted. Yet, his life is far enough back in time that (through the “concretizing” process of storytelling) the reports and legends about him have been transformed into pure myth.
Narasimha Swami, who lived in the company of Ramana Maharshi for a while, wrote a biography of the Maharshi – and, afterwards, Narasimha Swami went on to become an ardent devotee of the then no-longer-living Sai Baba of Shirdi. Narasimha Swami compiled much of the early myth-making literature about Shirdi Sai Baba on which people have expanded since. The literature about Shirdi Sai Baba is a useful example, therefore, of the process whereby myth-of-“God” stories develop within the popular context of traditional Deity-oriented devotionalism in India.
A large portion of the stories about Shirdi Sai Baba are no longer about that historical person – although there does exist some underlying Historical and reliable biographical information, including a record ) of some of his sayings, and so forth, that has provided an underying substratum, upon which the myth-making has proceeded, given to this day.
Broadly public and merely popular religious institutions are, by nature and by necessity, businesses – and they must, like all businesses, function competitively in the “marketplace” of the common world. Therefore, in order to defend and define themelves, popular religious institutions (which must pander to the broadest kind of mass public) tend to develop literature and methods that are based upon a strategic alteration in the subject of their propaganda – an alteration that transforms the subject into a popularly sellable myth.
It must be understood that the “New Testament” Gospels convey, not “history”, but a summary of ancient (and not at all exclusively, or, otherwise, originally, “Christian”) teachings about moral, devotional, and (at least in a cryptic manner) Spiritual matters and that they do so in an anciently accepted literary form, by inventing a (thus) fictional story about a particular person and his teachings and doings. And, technically, such intentionally fictional propaganda – literature is, in general, made without merely telling “lies” about that particular person and his teachings and doings (even though the stories that are told are not, in actual or historical fact, true).
Apart from the institutional and speculative effects that appear in the language of the “New Testament” Gospels, Jesus himself is not represented therein as an institutional functionary (or religious “official”). Whether as the myth, the fictional legend, or the real historical Jesus, the central character of the “New Testament” Gospels is not (in the context of his storied lifetime) portrayed as an “institutional” figure. The “Jesus” of the “New Testament” Gospels always intentionally stands outside the Jewish “official” religion of his own time – just as he also inherently stands outside the Christian “official” religion of the present time. Jesus was (apparently) a Jew, by birth, and (thus) he lived within the context of Judaism during the Roman occupation of his country. In that sense, Jesus is represented as an historical figure in the “New Testament” Gospels.
In the “New Testament” Gospel stories, Jesus sets himself apart from Greco-Roman cultural ideas, and apart from the institutional culture of Judaism. Therefore, Jesus of Galilee can, himself, be seen to be simply a great teacher, associated with traditions, but standing apart from them, within the sphere of his own Spiritual understanding – not merely within the context of his thinking, but within the super-normal Condition of his Spiritual Realization and the experientially-based process of his Spiritual demonstration – The Spiritually-based Blessing-powers and visions and teachings of the “outsider” Jesus, as well as the apparent Spiritual Transmission from his Guru, John the Baptist, are among the basics of the core story of the Jesus of the “New Testament” Gospels.
Jesus himself (even as he is shown in the “New Testament” Gospels) stood outside institutionalization, yet (paradoxically) he became the most institutionalized and the most mythologized human being in history. Consequently, there are countless versions of “Jesus of Galilee” in everybody’s thinking (and in everybody’s talk). However (at least as the story goes), Jesus himself was, in his lifetime, a non-institutional figure who, in fact, differentiated himself from the larger public institution, and from the larger public world-including not only the Greco-Roman world, and the Hellenistic world, but also the temple world, or the “official” world of Judaism.
Jesus simply and repetitively preached a moral, devotional, and (ultimately) Spiritual message, using the terms and modes of the daily language that was associated with the cultural environment in which he lived and into which he was (according to tradition) born.
The teaching reported in the “New Testament” Gospels is the expression of an independent Spiritual Master – as is generally the case with Spiritual Masters in all traditions. True Spiritual Masters may themselves become institutionalized within a cultural (or cultic) setting, and they may even live and speak within the context of some kind of institutional (or cultic) framework – yet, they truly and inherenty stand apart from, and transcend, the institutional or cultic context. True Spiritual Masters (or authentic Spiritual Zealizers) always (inherently, actually, and truly) speak and funcion freely.
Jesus of Galilee (as the principal figure of the “New Testament” Gospels) should be understood to be a Spiritual Master of the fifth stage degree. He stood apart from institutions and the institutionalization of his function. He was a simple itinerant, a wanderer. He spoke very critically of many things, and was, essentially, simply blessing people – with his healing Blessing, his teaching Blessing, and (in the case of those who were sufficiently prepared) his Spiritual Blessing.
There is a tradition that suggests Jesus Transmitted his Spiritual ‘lessing privately’, to an “inner circle” of those of his followers who were most prepared to receive the (fifth stage) esoteric Instruction and the Spiritual Transmission that would enable them to participate in Divine Communion through the internally upturned psycho-physical process of Spiritual development and Spiritual Ascent. There is “Ascension” language in the Gospels (and in the early part of the Book of Acts) that should (rightly) be regarded to be “concretization” – metaphors for the “inner-circle” teaching and the Spiritually Baptizing work of Jesus.
Reflected in the metaphors of the stories of Jesus of Galilee is the tradition of both exoteric (or outer, or public) teachings and esoteric (or inner, hidden, and, therefore, secret) teachings or teachings relative to the domain of the public beginner as well as teachings relative to the “inner-circle” domain of the mature devotee (or the esoteric domain of the directly Spiritual teachings and of the direct Spiritual Transmission-work).
Many scholars say that numerous stories in the “New Testament” Gospels are not part of the “original” tradition (or real biography”) of Jesus – such as, for instance, the story of Nicodemus, who came to Jesus by night, and to whom Jesus said, “You must be born again, in Spirit.” Whether that visit actually happened does not make any difference. That story and others like it are a fundamental part of what is conveyed through the total body of stories about the lifetime of Jesus and his work and his doings and sayings.
The Nicodemus story is an important communication, because it clearly indicates that the message of Jesus is a Spiritually-based message, and that Jesus was a Spiritual worker, a Spirit-Transmitter, whose teaching is about Spiritual transformation, a conversion of life, a fundamental purification of the life, such that the life can, thereafter, be turned (and Spiritually conveyed) to What is Above. Such turning does not occur by a physical act of going up into the sky, but by subtle (internal psycho-physical) Ascent, by means of the esoteric Spiritual process, into the inner space which is sometimes metaphorically called the “sky of mind”.
Clearly, the esotericism of Spiritual Ascent is a fundamental substructure that underlies the “New Testament” tradition. The “official” Christian tradition that was built upon the substructure that is Spiritual esotericism strategically suppresses certain elements (specifically, those known as “gnostic”), and it, otherwise, “concretizes” (or converts into a physical event) even such things as the “Ascension” of Jesus (which, in fact, is a reference to Jesus’ own life-practice of upward Spiritual absorption, and, also, a reference to his “inner-circle” teachings about that same process otherwise referred to via cryptic references to the “secrets of the Kingdom of God”).
The newly emerging institutional (or “official” and public) Christian tradition did all of this in order to prevent the “Ascension” from being viewed as merely speculative and “mystical” and “gnostic”-and, thus, to prevent the story of Jesus’ fictional “Ascension” from conveying a “too-Spiritual” (and, necessarily, esoteric, or non-public) teaching.
The entire purpose of the “official” tradition of Christianity is to bring masses of ordinary people into the sphere of the public (or exoteric) Christian institution, and (otherwise) to command them relative to their public, social, and intimate life-activity. Essentially, the message of the “official” tradition of Christianity is a social morality, teaching that is conveyed through lore, myth, legend, and poetically expansive religious language that is intended to command the lives of people, and entirely in order to enforce their `right behavior”. Thus, from a Spiritual perspective, the institutionalizing effect of the “official” message in the entire “New Testament” is rather reductionist in its orientation.
Nevertheless, one can still discern the evidence that, at the origin of the “official” message of the “New Testament”, is a fourth to fifth stage Spiritual Realizer (or, at least, a fourth-to-fifth stage esoteric Spiritual teaching or teaching-school). Whether historical or not, such is the kind of “Jesus” who, by means of storied doings and sayings, is at the heart of the “New Testament” Gospels.
Avatar Adi Da Samraj
“Up? Beyond the Beginner’s Spiritual Way of Saint Jesus”
© 2011 ASA