Jesus Christ : spirit of Jesus Christ : fisher of men
A book excerpt from the spiritandflesh.com religion and spirituality online library.
Heading back down the coast late that November, I had caught a ride on a black-cod fishing boat and we were soon running through the remnants of a hurricane and being thrashed about in thirty-foot seas. That was when I understood why Christ had often chosen fishermen as his disciples- because fishermen are inherently the brave, hearty, storm-tempered souls who every day plumb the hidden depths to gain sustenance for the masses, while at the same floating deftly upon the furious gale of life.
To be a fisherman on the wild west coast is to learn about life quickly via the path of hardship, loneliness, camaraderie, endurance, and faith. I have found no other occupation on earth in which I have met so many saints in the making.
The boat I was on was captained by a truly marvelous fellow, Doug, who had been orphaned from his wayward parents as a small child, and then divided from the rest of his siblings when they were sent to foster homes. He had seen every sort of tragedy and sorrow by the time he reached puberty, and to this day you can hear the tremor in his voice when he speaks of the injustices which he grew up with and witnessed as a young boy. Somehow, though, his spirit refused to be broken, and he matured with an understanding of how not to treat others. Which is to say, he had learned, as it were, the noble quality of respect. And that means he had the mature and humble ability to see life through another's eyes, to re-spectate existence from their standpoint, which is a rare and admirable characteristic in the self-centered culture of the west.
One of his crewmembers, Fred, who had worked for him driving trucks earlier in life, related to me a very telling story of Doug's character. Fred said that one day he was driving down a logging road he had been told not to go on because of its hazards, but went anyway to save time, disregarding Doug's directive, and ended up rolling the truck over on its side on a steep embankment. Not only was Fred ashamed, but he assumed he was out of a job and most likely in debt for a huge repair bill. He called up the boss and contritely told him of his offense and of the crash, expecting to get what was coming to him. Not from this Doug though. Oh, he was tough when he needed to be tough, but when someone came to him with sincerity and intent to make things right, he was as forgiving as God. I relate this short anecdote largely so as to share the first sentence which Doug said to Fred upon hearing of his error and accident. Doug, who had been through hell and had come out of it of his own accord, and was trying now to build up some heaven on earth, simply said: "If that's the worst thing that happens to me today, I'm gonna have a great day." Then he hired a front-end loader, drove it up to the site of the crash, and skillfully lifted the truck back upright. And that was that.
Doug's fishing crew was composed of a handful of hard-working, caring, brotherly tough guys. A true family of men who believed in their father, who believed in them, and therefore the collective spirit was as strong as a bundle of sticks bound unbreakably together. It was a true metaphor for Christ with his disciples, out on the infinite and lonely sea of the spirit, aiding and caring for one another, and not a Judas amongst them.
I sat out the storm in the lower galley, fighting off seasickness, and fell to admiring the love and endurance of these ten young men and their seasoned pilot.
To be far off shore in a howling tempest is to be on another planet, in a different solar system, and to learn to depend on no one but yourself and those who you call your mates. And that is to learn how to live as one.
The sea was so rough, and I was so green, that the fellows had apparently taken up a friendly bet regarding whether I would empty the contents of my stomach that night or not. One of the guys even went so far as to put the movie The Perfect Storm on the video in the galley, in a jocular attempt to push my limits and seal his victory. He told me that the fishing boat depicted in the movie had encountered the confluence of three separate weather fronts, which had created a chaos in the seas that was unheard of in the past. And then he told me that we were heading into a section of the open coast where the meteorologists had predicted four fronts were to converge within thirty-six hours, and that he and the others were hoping to quickly pull up all the fishing gear they had left out there a few days earlier, secure the catch, and then get the boat out of there before it hit. That was some unsettling news for me. So I sat there with one eye watching a raging storm on the television, and the other eye looking out the window at another tempest, while the waves crashed over the deck of the boat and the winds howled in both scenarios, and I was wondering if I had finally come to the epicenter of my existence, where fantasy and reality met, where the show and the audience merged together, and the Maker and Made became One.
If that was the case, I thought, then I'm going to make sure this show ends without tragedy, and, surely enough, we rode out that first storm, and the four incoming fronts serendipitously never manifested, and the next day the lads set to work hauling their gear and harvesting their catch, while I sat up on the top of the boat, watching sperm whales feed on the offal, as huge albatrosses circled all about, and tiny rainbows, off in the distance, came and went between the clouds and the horizon.
That trip on the fishing boat was a valuable lesson on the hardships met, and the labor required to be an offshore fisherman, or a fisher of men, as it were.
It takes me back to a vanguard meeting some years back, the fallout of which may account for much of which transpired within me, and perhaps was responsible for many of the experiences which I have been relating throughout this book.
While heading up to Alaska for my second summer of work, perhaps three years prior to that ride on the fishing boat, I met for the first time in my life a 'Christed' individual. At least this is what Tom, the crab fisherman, said humbly of himself, and I have no reason to doubt him. Tom was an incredibly soft and gentle, divorced father of three. He openly described the ordeals he had undergone over the past few years during his unexpected and unasked-for relentless chastening. He had lost everything dear to him: his wife and family, and the respect of those around him. At one point near the end of his trials he was sitting alone in his empty house and he could feel the Spirit enter and suddenly the walls of his house caught fire and he knew that he was being tested- the final test- and so he laid down on the floor and understood that he could not get up until he was told to go. Call this psychosis or faith, what you will, but he stayed in the house until the flames were all about and finally the Voice came and told him to leave, and he left. Soon afterward he was incarcerated in a mental hospital because he refused to lie about what had happened, and the authorities did not believe his story, suspecting him of arson, which is understandable, I suppose. Apparently there was one doctor in the asylum, however, who recognized Tom for who he truly was and had attempted to get him released, stating that he had undergone a spiritual transformation, but the ignoble medicine men in charge had not the eyes to see, and so kept him in bondage.
When I met Tom he was on the lamb, so to speak. He had been released on his own recognizance, as long as he would continue to take the mind-altering drugs prescribed for his 'condition', which he didn't, and so the hired guns were after him.
I spent only a day and a half with him but it was an eye-opening event, for he told me of many of the inward incidents which had happened to him along the way, most of which he had no clue nor understanding about, for he had grown up dyslectic and could hardly read. It was only after his crown-chakra had blown off, as he says, that he began struggling through books and texts to understand more of what was happening.
I say it was interesting, and most likely destined, for me to meet him, because from then on I had a living example of one who had been grabbed by God, beaten down, and then raised back up, and it was a meeting I was going to recall a while later, as the Spirit and I had our own wrestling match which I was destined to lose.
It was a number of months after this, after I had worked my summer in Sitka and come back down south. I was hiding away from the world for a month or so at a buddy's place in Victoria, while he was off somewhere else on the globe, and I had been making my rounds at the pubs, wandering around in blessed anonymity, and taking in the city's exemplar respect for fiddle music. And then one afternoon I found myself sitting on the couch in the living room in a bit of a reverie and daze- as I was habitually falling into about this time- and suddenly I heard a voice which said: "Give me an opening and I will come in." And at that moment I knew it was Christ's voice, the one who came before me, who conquered life and death, and who now roams about in the ether as a guide to all those who would choose to be free. Jesus the Christed one, the alpha male, and omega female.
I was around thirty-one years old at the time, just about the age in which Christ had begun his ministry. And though at that moment I had no clue how to create that necessary 'opening', I knew, at least, that I had to leave the world behind again so as to make it happen.
And so back I went again, back to the coast, to Flores Island, out from the ways of death and destruction, out again, alone again, to find some way to make that opening and let the Man come in. And I say that I had been out there for only a few days when, walking along the beach, I could suddenly sense another person with me, beside me, in me, all around me, I am not sure but I am sure that I was not alone and I am also sure that I have never been as alone since then as I had been previously in my life. Let the Pharisees, critics, and heathens have their say, but when you, of no talent nor ability of your own, find yourself walking with your hand in the hand of the man who rules the water, the other way of life is now done with forever.
Oh, perhaps life itself becomes no more cheery than before, no more easy, no more full of understanding, confidence, or peace, but one thing has changed forever- your days of walking this earth as the loneliest person alive are finished, and in another sense, they have only just begun. And that is no small thing.
I relate this now, near the end of the book, to give retrospect to the trials, failures, and successes I have documented throughout. Though I know not what parts of my life were altered by the Christ event, I know many must have been.
However, after that first opening it would be yet a long time before that new seed was to take root, grow up, and become large enough for the birds to come and nest within. It would be a long time before I realized how the spirit which lives in all things takes your soul over when you let it, and fertilizes the young shoot, and when it is grown and finally blossoms, it cuts you off at the roots and shows you how to fly.
It would be a slow and awkward period for me, as I learned to understand how the Body is spread all over the earth, incomplete and fragmented, and crying out for its missing members, and only those organs which have become living vehicles of the whole can move about and reconnect the amputated limbs. And no one knows but the master planner where that will be done, how long it will take, or what will be needed to stop the incessant bleeding.
And so I had to relinquish myself to the extent that I was capable back then, had to cut all ties which bound me to others, had to listen for the call, or receive the dream, and ...I had to follow. I had to follow not knowing why I was going where I was headed, but knowing that there was someone who did.
When this type of irregular and sublime event occurs, and the concomitant duties which follow befall you, others begin to wonder about your life, to question why you are going somewhere, or doing or not doing some such thing. And the biggest problem is that ...you have no answer.
My patented response was, "I'm following the spirit." But what that means to one whom is not following it I have no clue; I came to imagine that to them it meant- "I'm lost in a fantasy of make-believe and confusion and I can't get out." And yet when it came right down to it, and I'd speak with another about the essential aspects of this mysterious life we are granted, occasionally the tables would turn, and we would meet in that unencumbered place beyond only what can be seen.
I make no claims here for myself. I am only speaking my own truth, in my own voice, because I must; I am the only one who can say what I have seen, and yet I am not that one either, for the Self inhabits the self in all of us, and only when we abandon all sense of possession and accomplishment do we realize the one who does what is done.
To follow the call of the spirit is to lose and gain without choice, because you are no longer the chooser.
Jesus carried the Christ to earth, and left it for men to toss about like a hot potato which some will drop or throw to another instantly, and a few will hold on and carry as far as they can go.
It's as if you're handed a ball and you run with it, not because you know where the goal is, but because you're being chased, and because there's no one yet around to hand it off to, nor are there any fans, not even a referee. All you know is that you must carry it as far as you can before being caught and tackled. You're cornered at one moment, and then with a quick move you're out in the open and running free. You're tired, scared, and mad as hell. The field goes on and on and the game never finishes. Only you do.
In this we are all less like Jesus, and more like Simon of Cyrene- who carried the cross for a while, only to hand it back in the end. Yet the Christ may be invited into oneself, and is elevated in priority whenever a person, with absolute sincerity, acceptance, and courage, utters the divine fiat, "Thy will be done." Then the Christ is the one within who mercilessly takes all the rest away from you. Christ is the destroyer, the emancipator, the ruthless madman who comes after you until you're finished. Don't let them kid you in Church, Christ will knock you down, beat you senseless, take everything you have, and burn it in an inward bonfire. Your only hope at that point is to get away, which you never will. In fact, there is no hope, because Christ takes every hope away. You can only lie down, and stay down. You are finished.
Oh how I laugh now at the gentle Christ of our sleepy churchgoers. What a romantic heap of stool. The warm, cuddly Lamb of God- bah! What a ruse. Christ is like a wild and mad wolf at your heals. He is a murderer, and you are his victim. He will kill the lie inside of you with merciless love. Oh, the truth will set you free indeed, but first it must destroy you.
There is no soothing balm which comes to anoint your wounds in the night, but only the scalding flame itself, and you are the kindling. The chastening will not end but in your own death's death. Thus perhaps it is that this violence comes out of love, but let me tell you- it is violence, make no mistake about it.
When the Man comes for you, it is the most torturous blessing you might ever receive.
To be blessed is to be given what you have barely the ability to take. To be blessed is to be shown the way, and yet be afraid to follow. To be blessed is to rage against the merciful benevolence which sustains you, and to have bestowed upon you what you are not always grateful for accepting. To be blessed is to be humbled because you have what you did not ask for- the burden of a privilege you cannot imagine how to use.
To be baptized is to be shown who you are. To know who you are is to be who you are, and when you know who you are, even if the whole world were to rise up with judgment against you it would feel as if naught but a light breeze rustling through some distant trees. For after we have been baptized in water and spirit, and have carried our own cross and died between two thieves on the lonely mountain of the world's pain, that is when we are resurrected and brought back, and it is then that we will refuse to die again for others, and we will begin to live Life itself for the very first time.
To that end I say, while the dead are burying the dead, let the living exhume their lives.
When finally the chastening is complete, it is through the eyes that God meets God, and thus grows closer and closer to the remembrance of oneness. The soul now serves a greater plan than it can fathom, and so must stop asking "why? why must I leave? why must I stay? why must I lose and gain and lose again?" The Christ is a role in which the script is taken away from you, and you must wander from stage to stage, with no idea of what part you must play next, nor what you will have to say, nor when you will be finished and told to head on to another.
That is when life takes on a flowing foreignness to it, because what you do and where you go no longer belong to you, because that is your role- to have none. And therefore you are as if on-call, and ready to take on any role in the drama, if only to help see it through to its end. You become the non-existent middle ground between Heaven and Earth; the Ghost through which the Host prepares the banquet. For the Christ is ever crucified, rising at the center and zenith of our pyramidical consciousness, and thus dragging upward, as if attached to a giant sheet, the rest of the laboring cosmos.
Here we must toss aside all judgment. Here we forsake both good and bad, for, as it is said, God alone is good.[i] Whether a person serves their Christ self or their villain, they will still be a profane mix of good and bad, and only the mist of hubris will convince them otherwise.
Let no man or woman confuse themselves with their roles. There is no person who is Christ, there is only the Christ which one is given to wear like all other costumes until one is tired of it- tired of taking on other people's karma, other people's sin, and other people's lack of intent to straighten out their own bent lives- which is that station of the cross where Jesus had said "What have I to do with thee?", and his apathy finally set him free. For eventually even the Christ aspect of the individual, like all others, must die and be reabsorbed into the One- the microcosm must evaporate and rise into the macrocosm- if the person is to lose identity with the separate self, and become the impersonal Self. For absolute union with the All is impossible if the yogin or yogini maintains any thought of separative existence from the rest.[ii]
[i] All duality and contradiction stem out of the original division- right and wrong- which comes from eating the fruit of The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
The best way to rid oneself of this misperception is either to know that there is no right or wrong- that there only is- or to consider that everything is right and wrong at the same time. Thus the duality is enclosed in the One.
[ii] For other perspectives, I would refer the reader to Andrew Harvey's book, Son of Man, and Chokecherry Gall Eagle's book Beyond the Lodge of the Sun; these books describe each author's own account of the Christing.
(excerpted from In and Of: memoirs of a mystic journey, by Jack Haas)