Christ – The Path

A new miracle has been wrought, in our time, before our eyes. We now have pure vision, the Face of Christ.

Through the sincere, inspiring faith of German investigative reporter Paul Badde we can now be certain there is a burial cloth that was laid over the face of Jesus and reflects his transformation as the Risen Christ. The entire gripping tale is told in two books, The Face of God and The True Icon.

The face on the left is the veil of the Holy Face/Volto Santo hidden in plain sight for five hundred years in a church of the Capuchins at Manopello, in the Abruzzi region of central Italy. The face on the  right is the same image ‘superimposed’ over the Shroud of Turin. With a faith supreme Blandina Paschalis Schlomer, a Trappist nun, studied images of both cloths for years and made the startling composite without ever having seen either cloth.

Manipulos in Latin means ‘a handful of wheat.’ Bethlehem means ‘a handful of wheat’ in Hebrew.

                            May I see the face of Christ in all those I meet.

                            May all those I meet see Christ’s face in me.

The miracle of Jesus is not entirely in the parables, or healings, or even the Resurrection. The greater miracle is the survival of faith. This man, Jesus, transformed himself, then the world. The great miracle is the transmission of spiritual power to Mary Magdalene and the other apostles.

Hundreds of books are written yearly about this transformation. How did Jesus do it? How do we follow?

The Eastern Orthodox Hesychasm tradition has long relied on the simple Jesus prayer, from the heart, as a means to realize the inner Christ.

                          Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

Nowhere is this faith explained more clearly than the Russian classic, The Way of a Pilgrim. The genius within is revealed in its seeming simplicity. A nineteenth-century peasant, albeit with the ability to read and write, is challenged by a priest’s admonition during a sermon on Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians to “Pray constantly.” And pray tell, how does one do that, our friend wishes to know.

Turning to his Bible he finds the charge repeated In Ephesians 6:18, to pray in the Spirit on every possible occasion and in 1 Timothy 2:8, in every place to lift your hands reverently in prayer.

Our pilgrim begins his quest simply.He seeks out men of learning and spirit and requests guidance.

The course of this conversation brought us close to the hermitage. In order not to let this wise man go, and to quickly receive my heart’s desire, I hurried to ask him, “Please, be gracious, Reverend Father, and explain the meaning of ceaseless mental prayer to me and show me how I can learn to practice it. I can see that you are both well versed and experienced in this matter.”

The elder received my plea lovingly and invited me to visit him in his cell. “Come, stop by and I will give you a book of the holy Fathers from which, with the help of God, you can learn all about prayer and understand it clearly and in detail. When we entered his cell, the elder said, “The ceaseless Jesus Prayer is a continuous, uninterrupted call on the holy name of Jesus Christ with the lips, mind and heart: and in the awareness of his abiding presence it is a plea for His blessings in all undertakings, in all places, at all times, even in sleep. The words of the Prayer are: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!’

The book the elder gives the pilgrim is the Philokalia. Wikipedia explains, ” The Philokalia (Gk. φιλοκαλία, “love of the beautiful”) is “a collection of texts written between the 4th and 15th centuries by spiritual masters”[1] of the Eastern Orthodox hesychast tradition. They were originally written for the guidance and instruction of monks in “the practise of the contemplative life”.[2] The collection was compiled in the eighteenth-century by St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain and St. Makarios of Corinth.

Our earnest pilgrim stayed with the old man for a summer, reciting the prayer, twelve thousand repetitions a day, counting on his prayer beads, and tending the hermitage garden. Alas, before Fall set in, the old monk died and our friend was homeless again. His story continues as does his mastery of the Prayer’s mystery.

The trail picks up again in the twentieth century with our spiritual master,Thomas Merton. Fons Vitae (Fountain of Life) Publisher has a remarkable series on Thomas Merton dedicated to his inter-faith dialogues. MERTON & HESYCHASM – The Prayer of the Heart contains writings by and on Merton and the Christian prayer tradition. I probably had a copy of The Wisdom of the Desert before I read The Seven Storey Mountain.

Until recently, Western theologians were highly suspicous of Athonite Hesychasm and regarded it as perilous, even heretical. Deeper study and a wider acquaintance with non-Western forms of spirituality have made Hesychasm seem a little less outlandish. It is now no longer necessary to repeat the outraged platitudes of those who thought the Hesychasts were practicing self-hypnosis, or who believed that, at best, the monks of Athos were engaged in a kind of Western yoga.

The “Prayer of Jesus,” made known to Western readers by the “Tale of the Pilgrim,” surely one of the great classics of the literature of prayer, is now practiced not only by the characters in Salinger’s novels but even by some Western monks .”  Thomas Merton

Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer by Norris Chumley is a modern pilgrimage into the world of hesychia, Greek for silence — a resonant prayer which has prayed the Face of Christ into our presence through faith. There are photos and facts and tales which enrich our understanding of the deep tradition. Kyrie eleison, Lord have mercy, is drawn from Luke 18:10-14 where the tax collector stands in the back of the Temple in Jerusalem with downcast eyes saying, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” Thereby finding praise in the the words of Jesus and the eyes of God.

Images frame our vision. Medieval art represents the classic lineage of Christianity. No finer reproductions are available than those offered by the Spanish publisher Moleiro.

The epic scope and history of Christianity is brilliantly covered by Diarmaid Mac Culloch in CHRISTIANITY: The First Three Thousand Years. “Belief in the truth of the Resurrection story and in Jesus’ power to overcome death has made Christianity act over twenty centuries in the most heroic, joyful, beautiful and terrible  ways. And the fact that Christianity’s Jesus is the resurrected Christ makes a vital point about the misfit between the Jesus whose teachings we have excavated and the Church which came after him.It mattered much less to the first Christ-followers after the Resurrection what Jesus had said than what he did and was doing now, and who he was (or whom people thought him to be). And as he emerged in the first  Christian writings, they now thought him to be a Greek
Christos, not a Jewish Messiah-even though Greek-speakers beyond the Jewish milieu hardly understood what a Christos was, and quickly assumed that it was some sort of personal name. Historians might take comfort from the fact that nowhere in the New Testament is there a description of the Resurrection: it was beyond the capacity or the intention of the writers to describe it, and all they described were its effects. The New Testament is thus a literature with a blank at its center; yet this blank is  also its intense focus. The beginning of the long Christian conversation lies in the chorus  of assertions in the writings of the New Testament that after Jesus’ death his tomb was found empty. He repeatedly appeared to those who had known him, in ways which confused and contradicted the laws of physics: he showed witnesses that he could be touched and felt and could be watched eating grilled fish, but also he also appeared and disappeared regardless of doors or any other normal means of exit and entrance. Many who at first found such claims absurd when others made them are reported as having being convinced when they had the same experience. Luke’s Gospel ends with one of the most apparently naturalistic-sounding and circumstantial of theses encounters: a conversation between a stranger and two former disciples, Peter and Cleopas, on the road from Jerusalem to a village called Emmaus. It was only later, over a meal in Emmaus, that Peter and Cleopas recognized Jesus for who he was.”

Now, of course, thanks  to the modern Miracle at Manopello we have a deeper understanding of the Resurrection and its effects on the first Christians. Interesting that in the course of writing a one thousand page book published in 2009, Mr. MacCulloch did not uncover the Volto Santo.

As we seek the true Christ, Orthodoxy promises a timeless lineage. “Like untrained gardeners going into an overgrown garden, successors to the Reformers hacked about with machetes, slashing unknowingly through material that had been affirmed for the first thousand years: the sacraments, the honoring of Mary, the eucharistic Real Presence. Protestants were trying to rediscover the ancient Church, but instead they created a dancing array of sorcerer’s apprentice brooms, all trying to sweep one another clean.” FACING EAST A Pilgrims Journey into the Mysteries of Orthodoxyby Frederica Mathewes-Green.

Jesus – The Routes

The roots of Christ, no doubt, extended wide in the world of the ancients.

For uncounted millenniums, India has been the Spiritual light land of the earth. It is in India that the divine soul-science of yoga–union with God through direct personal communion with Him–has been preserved. That is why Jesus went to India as a youth, and why he returned to India and conferred with Babaji for the spiritual evolution of the world.” Paramahansa Yogananda The Second Coming of Christ.

There has been no higher spiritual authority in the last one hundred years than Yogananda. Yet, a mysterious unknown visionary agrees with Yoganada and lends his own inestimable voice to his.

Levi Dowling (1844-1911) began preaching at the age of sixteen. He served as a chaplain in the Union Army during the Civil War. For forty years he meditated on the Akashic Records and presented his visions from the life of Jesus in a remarkable book, The Acquarian Gospel of Christ.

His vision of Jesus’ journey to the Himalayas closely parallels the discoveries made by the Russian scholar Nicolai Notavitch at Hemis monastery in Ladakh in 1887. Jesus Lived in India by Holger Kersten covers much of the elements, while also wandering into the bulrushes with frivolous claims that Jesus survived the crucifixion. The fact remains that Jesus died on the cross. Then three days later he appeared to Mary Magdalene. Now his resurrected face on the Manopello cloth will revolutionize our world.

The Words of Christ

                                                          “She smiles, for though they had bound her, she cannot be a prisoner. Not that she is strong, or clever, but simply that she does not understand imprisonment.”  Thomas Merton – Hagia Sophia

Christ unveils the meaning of the Old Testament.” Drawing by Thomas Merton. Used with permission of the Merton Legacy Trust and the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University.”

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.  John 1:1

A wonderful blessing of living in this age of communication is the ever evolving sphere of light being shed on what Jesus said and how it reflects what he meant.

It is simply not possible to understand the message of Jesus without reading The Hidden GospelDecoding the Spiritual Message of the Aramaic Jesus by Neil Douglas-Klotz.

If we begin to understand holiness as the creation of space, we can reevaluate what is really holy in our lives.

To become holy in an Aramaic sense then means to create separate space for whatever becomes the pivot of our lives, the axis on which our world turns.

John 14:6 – “I am the way, the truth,and the life: No man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” This teaching has become the central stumbling block in our perception of Christ. Dr. Douglas-Klotz walks us through the Aramaic terms in the root text; “I am”, ena-ena; ” the way”, urha; ‘truth”, sherara; and “life”, hayye. By explaining the nuanced Middle Eastern-Aramaic layering of philosophy, philology and etymology the author presents a new rendering of this stanza, one more relevant to Christ and ourselves.

“The I AM is the path, the sense of right direction and the life force to travel it … No one comes into the rhythm with the breathing life of all, the sound and the atmosphere that crated the cosmos, except through the breathing, sound  and atmosphere, of another embodied “I” connected to the ultimate I AM.”

Om Ah Hung 001

These three seed syllables form the Christ root mantra: Om Ah Hung
(Sanskrit above, Tibetan below)

White Aum – the primordial sound. The seed sound of yogis and mystics. Pictured in the pineal gland, between the eyebrows. Red Ah – in the throat. Blue Hung – in the heart.

This is the essence of the living, transmitted message received by Jesus in the Himalayas that led to his evolvement into the Christ, and our visual reference is the Volto Santo in Manoplello.

Aum and Hung calligraphy by Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche, one of Tibet’s greatest teachers, a rare enlightened presence who selflessly shared his wisdom with several generations of Western students. Ah calligraphy by the first incarnate Tibetan teacher to live in the West, Chogyam Trungpa.

JESUS – Son of Man

SON OF MAN  by Andrew Harvey is the quintessential analysis of the interior path to Christ.

With a writer of Andrew Harvey’s caliber it is best to let his own words describe this work.

This immense meeting with the Christ, which has continued to grow within me, has not made me a ‘Christian’; there are no possible labels or dogmatic containers for the vast force of divine love that I experienced that Sunday and continue to experience, steadily and more and more intensely burning to the core of my body and trying to infuse everything I write or do. The Christ I know is beyond all religion, all dogma, all churches, especially perhaps the ones created in his name; he is nothing less than the love force at the heart of every human being, the love force that is at the heart of the Direct Path, the volcanic, all-transforming nuclear power of active divine human love that is waiting in everyone on earth to be released and expressed and lived and incarnated in every law and institution, in every creative and scientific and political activity. . . . in my most recent work, especially SON OF MAN: THE MYSTICAL PATH OF CHRIST, I have tried to do for the Christian mystical tradition what my work with Sogyal Rinpoche and Patrick Gaffney did for the Tibetan Buddhist in THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYING–to make available for seekers everywhere the transformatory passion and practices that stream from realization of the Christ.
THE DIRECT PATH

JESUS – The Vision

“At the time, the best way to describe it was to say that ‘a little radio switched on inside of me’, and I became aware of Christ speaking to me. (It wasn’t something I heard with my ears, but an inner voice, filling my awareness.”

I never knew what to make of that ‘little radio’; it didn’t fit our familiar division of people into ‘head’ and ‘heart’. But as I began to read the literature of Eastern Christianity, found they were familiar with this ‘little radio’. They even had a word for it: the nous. It’s a word that recurs throughout the Greek New Testament, but we don’t have a good equivalent in English. It gets translated ‘mind’, but it doesn’t mean the talkative mind, the one that cogitates and constructs theories. It is the receptive capacity of the intellect; we could call it ‘the understanding’ or ‘the comprehension’. The Eastern Church has always known that the nous can be trained to register, or perceive, the voice of God. That is where the Jesus Prayer comes in.”   THE JESUS PRAYER: The Ancient Desert Prayer That Tunes The Heart To God by Frederica Mathewes-Green.

Helena Kowalska was a Polish nun born in 1905.  Despite her modest upbringing she persuaded the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Warsaw to accept her as a lay sister provided she could pay for her habit. She accomplished this by working for a year as a house keeper. She became Maria Faustina. The name Faustina means the “fortunate or blessed one” and may have been a feminine form of the name of the Christian martyr Faustinus. On the night of February 22, 1931, Jesus appeared to her as the “King of Divine Mercy” wearing a white garment, with rays of white and red light emanating from near his heart. He told her, “Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: “Jesus, I trust in You”. I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and then throughout the world. I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish.”

It was three years before Faustina was able to find an artist to bring her vision to the world.

In her diary Faustina predicted that her work would be suppressed for some time, then accepted again. Two decades after her death the Divine Mercy devotion was banned by the Vatican, but was approved again in 1978 and she was declared the first saint of the 21st century in April 2000.

Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

Marians of the Immaculate Coception based in Stockbridge, Massachusetts are keepers of Faustina’s vision. They offer a wealth of resources to experience Divine Mercy.

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy CD is a wonderful resource for use at home or in the car. It opens with I AM A VOICE, a spiritual hymn and continues with a long continous reading of the Chaplet set to music.

The novel, PURE VISION: The Magdalene Revelation, is just that a vision. Peace will come to Earth when we acknowledge a world peace capital, the natural site of this capital is Jerusalem. To accomplish this women from around the world will rise with one voice and say ENOUGH – NO MORE.

The second vision is that Jesus’  teachings were directed toward and understood first by women. Mary Magdalene was the Apostola apostolorum – apostle to the apostles.

The third vision is the realization that Jesus journeyed to the Himalayas and there received the sacred transmissions which transformed him into the Christ. A path we may all follow today, with clear markers, a journey into our own inner spirituality.

PURE VISION was written with my wife, Angelina Perri Birney. We were inspired by our own life experiences. I was born in Caracas, Venezuela and lived there until I was ten. My family then moved to Tripoli, Libya for five years. I was deeply moved by Libya and her people and have been inspired to find ways to bridge Christian and Muslim culture. Angelina grew up in Queens and has traveled extensively throughout India, Nepal and Tibet. She studied Vajrayana Buddhism for many years under some of Tibet’s great yogic masters. PerriBirney.com

“The secret of the Mysteries became manifest in Christianity.” Rudolf Steiner

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