(An excerpt from Little Book of Thou, chapter eleven: Jesus Christ and the Hero Journey. The first two hero journeys mentioned prior to this portion are when he went to the temple to teach the elders and when he resisted the Devil’s temptations in the desert.)
I think the third hero journey of Jesus came with him introducing the planting culture ideas we talked about into a religious system more based on the hunting culture myths. Remember, the hunting culture myths led to religious systems based on duality. One of the troubling results of that thinking is a failure to see another group’s God as the same God as yours with simply a different name. So this pitted you against your neighbor, if your neighbor had a different God, but what does Jesus say? “Love thy neighbor.” Jesus also says, “I am the vine and you are the branches.” This to me sounds a lot like the planting culture idea of Earth as a manifestation of the transcendent energy out of which all life comes into being.
Joseph Campbell says, “If you think of us as having come out of the earth, rather than thrown in here from somewhere else, then we are the eyes of the earth, ours are the hands and ears of the earth.” We are the sense organs of the earth in this view. I love that thought and what Jesus says reminds me of that.
The fourth hero journey Jesus goes on is dying on the cross.
Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?
You’ll find lots of answers from many different readings. You’ll find answers from people in your life whose opinions you especially value. Feel free to mark this one clearly with a check mark for What Uncle Greg Thinks [ ]
As you know, I’ve spent my life reading and writing stories, so I tend to appreciate and get the most out of the text of the Bible in story terms. What I believe the crucifixion story is meant to do is teach us to let go of our ego attachment to this world and our bodies and return to the transcendent energy from which we came. Because we can’t relate to that mystery of being returning to it is a frightening prospect. Joseph Campbell puts it this way: “What am I? Am I the bulb which carries the light? Or am I the light of which the bulb is the carrier?” Our bodies carry a speck of the transcendent energy distinctly us. When our bodies die, that speck of transcendent energy distinctly us returns to that sphere beyond all human comprehension.
In the Bible, God came to Earth in human form, as Jesus. The way I interpret that is God so immersed himself in the role of Jesus as a human being that He no longer knew he was God, he was left to wonder. Then he had to believe he was God. He had to have faith. He had to choose to identify with the light instead of the bulb.
The crucifixion represented just how difficult accepting death as part of life can be, but Jesus showed us the way. He was crucified by people threatened by a new way, but he also contemplated escape when he spent the night in the garden before choosing to accept death as a necessary part of their being life. (Which reminds me of Eve’s choice to accept death as a necessary part of their being life, when she ate from the apple, also in a garden.)
Grandma Lynne reminded me of The Resurrection, where Jesus returned to life after death and visited some of the apostles. Interpreting this as a story, what that makes me think of is when Grandpa Gary first died I had numerous intense dreams about him that helped me grieve. This must have been an experience many people had, this intense visitation of recently deceased loved ones, and so that common experience went into the crucifixion story. Then Jesus ascended into heaven. But where is heaven? Heaven is a “place” transcendent of a physical location. Jesus also said, “The kingdom of the father is spread upon the earth and men do not see it.”
So Joseph Campbell is saying that it’s true that Jesus ascended to heaven, it’s true as a metaphor, and what it means is that Jesus ascended to heaven through the inward space. Divinity exists within each of us, and we can try to live with our awareness of that divinity within each other, which is the concept, I think, Jesus was sharing with us when he taught his message of peace to the world.