Direct Knowing

If we think of Jesus as a wayshower, we need to define the way he showed. We find the best insight on a personal statement of his mission in the Gospel of John. As he stood before Pilate, he said, “For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice.”[1] In terms of getting an understanding of how Jesus thought of himself and his ministry, these two statements are crucial. His use of the word truth is key to his response. When Pilate asked what he meant by the word, Jesus did not answer. Here we have an exchange between a career politician and a mystic. To the politician, truth is whatever narrative currently needs to be pushed to gain political advantage. To the mystic, truth is the changeless nature of reality. It would have been futile for Jesus to try to explain truth as he used the word.  

To bear witness to the truth, as the mystic understands it, is to base one’s life on God as a living presence, to see one’s soul as an expression of this presence, and to know without question that there can never be any separation between God and the soul. The people who had come to know this truth through their own personal experience, would understand what Jesus taught. They would hear his voice. The same is true today. The mainstream Christian theologian will insist the truth Jesus was referring to is more or less that collection of beliefs summarized in a document like the Nicene Creed. Mysticism, however, is not about a list of beliefs that one must subscribe to. It is about knowing from direct experience the nature of underlying reality.

A simple way to illustrate this difference is to imagine looking out a window and seeing sunlight spilling over the landscape. Mainstream religion looks out a window, sees the bright sunshine, and creates a set of beliefs around what the sunshine must be like. In contrast, the mystic steps outside and has direct exposure to the sunlight. Their understanding is not based on a set of beliefs but is grounded in direct knowing.

When Jesus said that knowing the truth will make us free, he was saying the direct exposure to the presence of God not only sets us free from all speculation about God’s nature, it also elevates our inner experience to a place above mental and emotional turmoil sparked by negative appearances. When we go within to our inner room, that secret place of the most high, we experience first-hand exposure to God. We shift from believing there is a God to knowing God directly.

[1] John 18:37

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