The sense of being an ‘I’.
Posted on 14 January 2017, 15:23
If readers go to Amazon.com they will find lengthy reviews agreeing that the Stephen in my book is the historical Stephen, a Greek speaking Jew, who was the first Christian to be martyred, and die for his faith. After the death of Jesus, the twelve apostles employed him as a kind of social worker amongst other Greek speaking Christians. He did not stay in that role but preached to spread the Gospel. Many scholars think that both Jesus and Stephen had belonged to the Nazarene sect of the Essenes, and that Stephen’s teaching would be close to that of the historical Jesus. Interestingly it is also close to the teachings of modern Franciscan Catholics, which it seems is espoused by the present Pope Francis. Stephan can differ in the way he puts things, but the general message is much the same.
With regard to the nature of the “I”, let me share this conversation we had with Stephen, as recorded in my book Afterlife teachings from Stephen the Martyr. It is section 127.
Olive: We were wondering whether you would talk on what we term “I”, and whether you give us a sense of “I” and of personality?
Stephen: There is still confusion in your mind as to which is the created, and which is the Creator. Of which “I” did you wish me to speak?
Olive: You call yourself “I, Stephen,” and I call myself “I, Olive.”
Stephen: When I refer to Stephen as “I”, I speak generally of the personality and the ego, and the understanding that was the experience of Stephen. But (regarding) the “I” which we all have in common ... Let us use the term as you have been using, the “spiritual I”. These two “I’s” are not one and the same, for the “physical I” is the one that records experiences. It has been said even in this night that the physical I is in each person is diﬀerent, and that the spiritual I is all one. Let me try to make this more clear. You have spoken recently of your incarnations: we have said often before that now Olive is Olive, no more and no less. This Olive that we speak of is the physical I of Olive, quite unique for she is but one. But we talk now about what she has in common with the other lives and experiences, and this is where the confusion lies. Olive herself may have some characteristics in common with those of a previous life, a previous incarnation, but physically, as a physical I, the two lives are as separate as two trees in diﬀerent countries. And this is a good example, for they are both like trees. They both grow from the same soil, they are both nourished by the same thing. Yet one must bear the fruit that is suitable for that land and for that time in which it grows; the other the fruit that is suitable for its environment and time. Now, because of this conscious and physical separation of the truth, each I of the physical of these trees will be and is separate. The tree does stand alone, not self-suﬃcient but alone. Each is one consciousness. In that consciousness the experiences that each of these separate trees undergoes, cause a reaction from these trees. Whereas the leaves, when the cold weather comes, will fall. If suﬃcient rain falls upon the ground, then the tree will blossom and give its fruit. All of these are reactions to experience. If there is insuﬃcient rain, and when nourishment is not taken by the roots, then the tree will change its form, become no longer a tree, but another element that will experience in its particular way. So it is with the physical I. The physical I is emotionally involved with its experiences and reacts in a way that can be beneﬁcial by being content, or non-beneﬁcial, by losing that contentment. Therefore we need the guidance and the help of the spiritual I, which does not itself have experiences, for it is. It [the Spiritual I] cannot react one against another for it is one. The experiences of the physical I are important to what is spiritual. If we wish, and we can become conscious, we can sometimes thank the emotional experience that would be the spiritual I. When I speak as Stephen, I speak as a physical I that understands and can often see from the point of view of the spiritual. And often whilst using the spiritual point of view, I have no understanding of happiness or unhappiness, contentment or discontent. [I observe without judgment]
We hear and often have spoken of the time that just is, which is neither good nor bad, sad nor happy in relationship to all that is physical. [We ﬁnd sadness and happiness, good and bad, only] in relationship to our own point of view, the physical I that is. Whereas the spiritual I does not have a point of view, it simply is. When we can reconcile the point of view of the physical to the spiritual, then we will not have much diﬃculty either living as an incarnate being, or not living as an incarnate being, for both would be the same. [The spiritual I is] not negative but neutral, because the spiritual I does not react, for it is the creator of experiences, rather than being the experiences. Therefore Stephen is no more or no less than you are. [Thinking physically of] Stephen, I am but that tree in a far country that you have become conscious of.
In the spiritual I, I am you. So you see that the various experiences and understandings that you have had in recent hours and days can but conﬁrm this. I will leave you to discuss and talk. God bless you.
Section 127 seemed to me to be a good place to begin, to discuss the gist of Stephen’s teaching.
The starting point is that we are inseparable participants in an indivisible whole which is God, which is Universal Spirit (or Mind). This whole consists of what we think we know, but contains what we cannot imagine or even conceive. As inseparable participants, we can rightly think of ourselves as children of God, and God as our parent.
We had 200 conversations with Stephen because it takes much research much experience to get closer to the truth about things. While it is true that at one extreme we can truly talk of an “I” that we can all speak as organs of experience for the One. When we think from that point of view we are all each other. At the other extreme we have the everyday light of day “I” when I say “I am going to the supermarket”. In between are several other levels of “I” involving emotions, psychic gifts, and the abilities we have when we have laid down our physical bodies for ever.
An ever-accelerating production of books give us insight into what goes on in this oneness-separateness, where the timeless-spaceless dimension interacts with the physical, with Near Death Experiences and a multitude of other phenomena making their contributions.
There are differing and perhaps contradictory concepts of God to be found in the Christian Bible, but many of us will be familiar with the story of Moses and the Burning Bush.
In the narrative, an angel of the Lord is described as appearing in the bush,[ and God is subsequently described as calling out from it to Moses, who had been grazing Jethro’s flocks there. When Moses starts to approach, God tells Moses to take off his sandals first, due to the place being holy ground, and Moses hides his face. God says “I AM THAT I AM” . God here presents himself as beyond definition. It is close to describing the universal “I” that we can all speak.
In John’s gospel Jesus may be thinking and feeling on similar lines. The English translation has Jesus saying, I am the way, the truth and the life. But the original Greek could be translated as “I am Destiny, I am Truth, I am Life.” I think that is reasonable to think this because Jesus also prays (John 17:20) “I am not asking on behalf of them alone, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, as you, Father, are in me, and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me. 22 I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.” Such a prayer seem entirely consonant with Stephen’s teaching about the universal “I” that we can all legitimately speak, and the private “I”.
At another time we asked Stephen about the motives of the person who assassinated Kennedy. “To find out, I must become the assassin,” he replied. By virtue of the fact that we can all claim the same universal “I” we potentially have access to the experience of the universe.
In the afterlife we can find out about each other by temporarily “becoming” other person.
I had this experience twice in two disturbing dreams. A close relative had suddenly died. Some time later I had an unforgettable dream in which I was him, longing to be back with his wife and family, and discovering that I didn’t need to walk, but rather by an act of will I could propel myself floating over the landscape. In a second such dream I was receiving counselling helping to adjust myself to my new life without a physical body. After a while I seemed satisfied, and jumped down on to firmer ground. It took waking reflection, to understand what I had just experienced.
Michael Cocks edits the journal, 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.