Healing, “Dying to Self and Rising with Christ”
Posted on 20 June 2018, 8:28
St Paul’s “Dying to Self and risiing with Christ” are words that can come “trippingly on the tongue” in the words of Hamlet. But how many of us actually do this?
As for myself, involved in all those conversations with the long deceased, Stephen the Martyr in the 1970’s, I am acutely aware of how many “little deaths” that need to come yet, before I can be said to have died to self, and risen with Christ.
That said, it is good to think more deeply about what is involved in such a “dying to self.”
What initially propelled us into considering this issue were questions about healing.
This is how the conversation developed:
Stephen: When we talk of healing and the power that we send out, Think not that the power is what grows within the physical but that the power comes from what is truly us, then comes in to be diverted or redirected with love as the projector.
Love is the best motive force that the physical can use to transport these powers.
Where then, you might ask, do I find me?
Come back along the line through each of these bodies until the time arrives when you cast them off.
Comments: We are back in our previous blog on Shedding the Skin of the Snake. The trouble with pictures and metaphors is that they are not to be taken literally. There is no actual visible snake, and no skins are actually shed as we grow spiritually. And likewise, there are no actual “bodies” that are shed. “Bodies” and “skins” are a kind of poetry.. of better still, “parables.” I remember in Sunday School, that the definition of parable was “An earthly story with an heavenly meaning.”
With the story of the Prodigal Son, for example, Jesus doesn’t have in mind an historical person, being welcomed back by an actual farmer, and he doesn’t have some historical older brother in mind either. He is telling the same old story, that when we come back to the acknowledgement that our basic self has its home in the God of love, In all, through all, and above all, we are transformed into the world of Love.
The picture of “dying to self and rising with Christ” can be put alongside the picture of shedding the skins of the snake, or the picture of shedding “bodies” as we become more part of this universal God of love.
What happens when we have “shed the bodies or skins?
St Paul paints the picture of us as the Body of Christ, each of us having a different function, one of us being an eye, or a nose, and so on, in an indivisible body.
When Jesus says “I am the vine, you are the branches” is painting a similar picture.
The upshot of such thinking is that we cannot talk of the realm of Spirit in the language of the market place, where all is weighed and measured. Poetry has to be used, because Spirit is love, relationship, creativity.
Every time a different parable is told, a different feeling is aroused. Relation and love is felt in a new way. Each time a musical composition is played.
Stephen continues. You must first then start with that body which each of us now wears.
In our consciousness, know that this is a projection that is made for your use, not you for its use.
And the same with each body.
Recognize the limitations of that.
Do not say to yourself, “If I understand more, I could give out power” when you [are] think[ing] of yourself as your body.
For the power is indeed truly yours if you with your consciousness would reach back to where each projection of yourself has come from.
For here begins the [im]pulse that moves not only the physical but also all others.
For I found myself when I lost all of these bodies. It was not a fruitless or frivolous message that our Lord gave us,
“If you would follow me to where I am, you must give up all this that you treasure, for the treasures that you have here in the body, with which now you listen to these words, are but treasures of the moment and cannot bring you more than a passing pleasure.
But if you would have the power and the light of love that is yours, come away in your consciousness back to who you are.”
And He did tell us how we must do this: He said, “While you are furthest away from yourselves, and you possess what you feel and touch and taste, practise this giving of all you have and of all you hold dear.
For these are your chains, these are the things that hold you from yourselves.
They are the experiences that you enjoy, the loves that you feel are yours, and also your pleasant memories.”
These things that are taught are not just nice things that it would be pleasant to do.
They are useless, uselessly done, if we do them so that others may recognize that we are good, for we have changed one set of possessions for another ... we have changed wealth for the admiration of another, or the imagined admiration.
If we give love so that it may be returned to us, better that we had not given that love, for we have exchanged part of our reflection for another part that we wish to grow as ourselves; until often we end in an experience of giving up what we hold dear of ourselves, so that we might receive the love of another, only to find that what we receive was not worth the exchange of what we had already, but we are left still with love that was never given, but only returned to us unsatisfied.
When we give these things, we give that they might be taken, for we want not their return.
We use them as vehicles of us, that each time we send out these vehicles we are drawn back to ourselves, beyond the pull of our imagined gravity that holds us to these things: the [im]pulse of greed, the [im]pulse of possessiveness, the [im]pulse of coveting, that pushes along discomfort.
Michael Cocks edits the journal, The Ground of Faith.
Afterlife Teaching From Stephen the Martyr by Michael Cocks is published by White Crow Books and available from Amazon and other bookstores.