I’m being completely serious in making a post today in appreciation of Jesus, and I’d like to share the things I appreciate about him and his teachings. Probably sounds weird coming from an ex-Catholic school practicing occultist, but hang in there with me.

(**Spirituality/religion are intensely personal things, and it’s not my intention to dictate what is true/false about the universe beyond my personal belief in what is true/false. If you have a differing perspective, please feel free to share, but I’m not going to argue in the comments about who’s right and who’s wrong. This is a vulnerable subject to discuss so everyone please be kind.**)

Coming out of 12 years of Catholic school, for the majority of my adult life it was difficult to strip away the culture of guilt, shame, repression, fear, and subjective morality from the wisdom of Jesus’s teachings. Part of why so many witches and pagans get away from Christianity is that it feels like there’s a home for our differences in the occult, a tolerance and laissez-faire that Christianity lacks, and so the idea of Christian mystics or new age spiritualists devoted to Jesus seemed a contradiction in terms. I don’t know if you’ve been looking around at politics lately but Christianity isn’t super cool or nice to people right now. Christianity preaches a strict moral code so obsolete and arbitrary that it will come up with all kinds of backwards rationalizations to continue justifying it no matter how much it no longer serves people or maybe never did; Christianity kills the spirit of the law by practicing the letter of it and hurts those it’s meant to console. It attempts to control the populace by making vague promises (and threats) about the afterlife in exchange for immediate and unquestioning compliance.

But about two years ago on my foray into the world of spiritual seeking, I started to get an understanding of heaven and hell – not because of anything I’d read or been taught, but because through ceremonial journeywork, I experienced them. You can believe me or disbelieve me, and I can’t prove it to you, but my experience is that I saw both. And with an understanding of heaven and hell, and of spirit (God), I started to feel like I finally understood what Jesus was talking about all those years. And then I started to really appreciate his teachings, and to see how they’d been corrupted by the humans who teach them. (I know, I’m one girl saying I grok Jesus better than the Church because I meditated. Fine, I’m crazy. Take it or leave it.)

Here’s what’s been presented to me:

When Jesus preached about heaven and hell, he wasn’t talking about reward/punishment resulting from right/wrong. The experience of heaven vs hell is that of being in joy vs being in pain. Do we die and go to heaven and become angels? Well, sort of, if you consider the idea of your disembodied soul (the unexplainable 21 grams that your body loses on the moment of death) an angel, passing into the astral, where it arrives in heaven (a state of joy/oneness) or hell (a state of pain/separation). The idea of God is what spiritualists like Abraham Hicks refer to as Source – the energy from which all creation arises. It’s the collective soul from which we are all born and into which we all return. This is what it means when we say God created the universe, and also what it means when we say that God is in each of us – of course God is in each of us, everything that exists came from Source, because Source is by definition the energy of everything that exists. By that we also understand unity consciousness, or Oneness – the idea that we are all part of the same being, which is God.

“If you sin, you’re going to hell” therefore is understood as “Wow, hurting other people means you must really be out of alignment, so you’re suffering.” “Find God and you will be saved” means “Come back into your knowing that we are all part of the same thing and therefore able to be at peace.”

Grant Morrison talks about this in his Disinformation lecture (start at 6:55): “Every single one of us here is the same thing. There’s no distinction. But we don’t understand what we are. If you’ve got a 2-dimensional field, a flat plane, and you stick your hand through it you’ve got one hand, but if there’s 2-dimensional entities living on it, they will see four circles [the cross-sections of your fingers]. Four distinctly different circles, but no, it’s the one hand. Every single one of us in here is the same fucker.” And so our bodies are simply 3-dimensional cross-sections of Source through 4-dimensional spacetime. This is what we mean when we say that separation is an illusion, and that all time is happening at once.

So when Jesus says “love thy neighbor as thyself,” he’s saying that you and your neighbor are the same creature. All teachings of lovingkindness arise from understanding that in the wisdom of unity consciousness, acts of cruelty and violence are self-sabotage. Stop hitting yourself.

When Jesus tells the parable of the return of the Prodigal Son (the story of a father equally loving the son who stayed working at home and the son who went out partying his inheritance away), what Jesus was trying to say was that even if you’ve fucked up your entire life to this point because you were in pain, you can still drop your baggage that keeps you out of alignment and experience peace at any time – the Father welcomes you home and throws you a party. You can choose to be happy at any time.

When Jesus tells the story of the lazy workers in the vineyards who got paid just as much for working a few hours at the end of the day as the workers who’d been working since sunrise, what he meant was that it’s never too late to decide to be happy. You can choose to be at peace, which means your soul will go to heaven (that is, you will be in a state of joy), and you will be just as happy as the people who chose happiness long before you did. In fact, the fact that we can choose to be happy NOW if we understand God (unity consciousness) is what he means when he says that the Kingdom of Heaven is upon us.

And when Jesus says that it’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, what he means is that it’s really hard to find the self-acceptance you need for true peace and love when you’re valuing yourself based on the superficial accomplishments (wealth, status, attractiveness) that will get you acclaim within the Matrix. It’s not that rich people CAN’T be happy, it’s that the competitiveness that makes us accumulate material wealth as a way to feel superior to others is a symptom of a belief in separation, in not being at Oneness. This is also the takeaway of the updated live action version of Beauty & the Beast, that you can’t have emotional intimacy if you’re measuring your worth by the validation of other people who are only seeing you for your superficial characteristics of wealth, attractiveness, and power, and you can’t experience true love if you think you’ll only be worthy of it by dressing up and going to expensive parties. It’s also the (terribly articulated) takeaway of that article about the guy who won’t date hot women anymore. The dude may talk like his head’s up his ass but give him some credit, he finally understood one of the teachings of Jesus. The Matrix is not where we source our happiness.

I would say that Christianity gives too much credit to Jesus the human man by making him into a deity, but what’s more accurate is that we do ourselves a disservice by thinking that deities are all that separate from us. Jesus was an evolved teacher, an old soul, in a human body. He performed miracles because he understood how to work magick, and he understood how to work magick because he understood spirit (God) and saw past the limitations of human fallibility. And then his soul ascended into heaven where he rejoined God, like we all do eventually. I consider Jesus an Ascended Master, like the Buddha or Kuan Yin, whose teachings are suspiciously similar.

It’s easy to see how modern religion takes a philosophy that was designed to bring us all peace, happiness, self-acceptance, and love of fellow man and twists it into a vehicle by which they can bait us into mindless obedience with the promise of a reward that was always our birthright. I mean, these are humans we’re talking about – of course they’re going to take a good thing and use it to accrue power when they don’t understand it, because they’re humans, and the point of being human is to have a brief life-long adventure in a free will universe where you get to do dumb shit if you want. The agenda of the modern Church is an attempt to sell you a bridge you already own. You don’t have to abide by a strict moral code that someone else decided on for you, you just have to get right with yourself, to get into alignment so that you can be happy and therefore love and serve your fellow humans from a full cup. Be happy and be nice. That’s it. That’s heaven. Heaven is here, and heaven is after.

So today, I’m appreciating Jesus for everything he tried to teach us as humans, which so many of us have vastly misunderstood because words and metaphors fall so short when we’re trying to describe the unseen. As Joseph Campbell says, “How teach again, however, what has been taught correctly and incorrectly learned a thousand times, throughout the millenniums of mankind’s prudent folly? That is the hero’s ultimate difficult task. …How communicate to people who resist on the exclusive evidence of their senses the message of the all-generating void?” That was Jesus’s job, and I guess I’ve made it mine too.

So, that’s what I got. Hope you got something out of it. Happy Jesus Appreciation Day.