Resurrection, Eternal Life and Consciousness
“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” John 11:25-26 (RSV)
Resurrection unto eternal life is one of the strongest of the mystical roots of Christianity. The accepted belief is that Jesus died on the cross, was dead, and was resurrected back to bodily life, ascended up into heaven and eternal life. The evidence supporting this belief needs to be examined more closely.
The time of day when Jesus died is identified in Matthew 27:48, Mark 15:34, and Luke 23:44 as the ninth hour. By most reckoning this places the time at about 3:00 in the afternoon. In John 19:31, the Jews ask for the legs to be broken so the bodies will not be hung on the crosses on the Sabbath, which starts at sundown of that day. Breaking the legs removes any support of the body, placing severe strain on the chest, thus forcing suffocation and death within minutes. The other reason for breaking the legs is to alter the method of death from crucifixion to burial alive (the victim was removed from the cross and the legs were broken to prevent the victim from escaping). It is not stated when the breaking of the legs takes place, but we can assume that it is not early in the day for it takes place after the ninth hour. We suspect that this is a last minute thing, performed late in the day as sunset is approaching, around 6:00 PM.
Matthew 27:58 and Mark 15:42 identify the time that Joseph of Arimathea goes to Pilate, asking for the body of Jesus as evening, in other words at or near sundown. In Mark 15:44 Pilate summons a centurion to verify that Jesus is dead before releasing the body, confirmation of which comes in Mark 15:45. In John 19:33, as the soldiers are going about breaking the legs of the people on the crosses, they do not break the legs of Jesus under the assumption that he is already dead. Then in John 19:34 something astounding happens: a soldier takes a spear and pierces Jesus in the side, and at once there came out blood and water!
This remarkable piece of evidence passes without notice. Indeed, people today take no notice of it either, but it is the key to understanding the concept of resurrection. Let us delve, for a short time, into the world of forensics so we can understand the impact of this piece of evidence. Why do we bleed when we are cut? The basic reason is that we have a pressurized circulation system in our bodies. The heart pumps our blood through the body under pressure. When your blood pressure is checked, there is a high reading, and a lower reading, both of which are positive pressure readings.
So what happens when a body dies? First of all, the heart stops and the blood pressure drops to zero. Without the heart pumping, the blood stops circulating and gravity starts to take over. Blood settles to the lowest part of the body, and without the flow created by the heart, the blood gradually starts to congeal, or clot. In addition, the body goes into a state of shock where the pH of the blood turns very acid and the blood becomes sticky and thick. This is not an instantaneous thing; it takes some time for the blood to settle and congeal, which is how forensic investigators can tell if a body has been moved after it died. If a body is moved during this settling time, it produces more than one pattern of settled blood. If a person dies while being held upright, the blood settles into the legs, which become swollen and discolored; a condition called lividity.
If Jesus died around three in the afternoon, and the breaking of the legs was performed around six in the evening, then approximately three hours would have passed from the time of death before the piercing of his side with a spear. This means that his blood would have stopped circulating due to his heart stopping, and gravity would have drained the majority of his blood down into his legs. In three hours the blood would have congealed. The basic idea here is that dead bodies do not bleed, especially after about three hours. Now we can see why this particular piece of evidence is so remarkable, it indicates that Jesus was not dead when he was taken down from the cross. If Jesus was not dead, then the belief in a bodily resurrection is not correct either.
Obviously there was more going on than we have been privy to in the official version presented to us in church. So what evidence did we miss? The answer comes to us from Matthew 27:34 (RSV), “They offered him wine to drink, mingled with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it.” Some versions say spoiled wine, which we know as vinegar. So we now have a connection between the vinegar mixed with gall and the vinegar given to him on the cross. The question now becomes “What is gall?” and “What is it doing in the vinegar or the wine?”
Gall is another term for snake venom. Why would snake venom be mingled with vinegar, or wine? To understand this, we need to remember that Jesus and his close friends were members of the Great White Brotherhood, and as such were Theraputae; healers trained in the medical arts, the use of herbs and other concoctions. Snake venom, mixed with vinegar or wine forms a tincture with a number of uses. The first, in very weak doses, is a sedative, something that would have great practical value in helping a person deal with the extreme stress produced by crucifixion. The second, in a stronger dose would cause unconsciousness, but not death, and a third; in a strong dose would cause death, a sometimes attractive alternative to the three to four days of agony resulting in death upon the cross.
John 19:28-30 (RSV) completes the process “After this Jesus, knowing that it was now finished, said (to fulfill the scripture), ‘I thirst.’ A bowl full of vinegar stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, ‘It is finished’; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” Later, in John 19:34-35, (RSV), “But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness – his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth – that you also may believe.” This is the only neutral, third party certification of a fact in the whole process, making it the single most important piece of information in the crucifixion and resurrection story. Jesus was not dead, but alive.
After Jesus and the other two were taken down from the cross, more strange things happen. Nicodemus, a priest and member of the Sanhedrin, brings a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight (John 19:39 RSV). Aloes are a purgative and a healing herb, not an embalming agent. As Laurence Gardner points out in his book Bloodline of the Holy Grail pg. 92, “Extract of myrrh was a form of sedative commonly used in contemporary medical practice – but why such a vast quantity of aloes? The juice of aloes, as modern pharmacopoeias explain, is a strong and fast acting purgative – precisely what would have been needed by Simon to expel the poisonous ‘gall’ (venom) from Jesus’ body.” The Simon noted being Simon Zelotes, a Samaritan Magi and close associate of Jesus.
Paul summed up the situation well enough in Corinthians 15:13-18 (RSV), “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” So if not a bodily resurrection, what is all this talk of resurrection really about?
From the Gnostic teachings we learn that the resurrection applied only to the spirit, and not to the body. Paul also makes a distinction between a physical body and a spiritual body – noting that it is the spiritual body that is raised unto eternal life, not the physical body. In the Gnostic view, the spirit within an ordinary person is not alive but in a state of deep sleep or hibernation. This is also considered a state of death. This is the source of the idea that when a person dies, they sleep, or rest in peace until the resurrection of the spiritual body, but that sleeping state is going on now in most people, not just those who have died. The resurrection applies only to the spirit, and the process is one of awakening the spirit within and empowering the spirit, referred to as “raising up”, or raising the spirit up to a position of power and authority in our lives. Ascending up into heaven is raising the level of consciousness to the point of being compatible with the conscious level of God, becoming one with God, just as Jesus claimed had happened to him.
As long as our consciousness is attached to the ego, it is fastened to the world and not to God or Heaven. Jesus told us that what is born of Spirit is spirit, and what is born of flesh is flesh. Our spirit is born of Spirit (God), and our ego is born of our body (flesh). Only that which has descended from heaven, ascends back into heaven. Only the spirit, which comes from God, can ascend back into Heaven, the level of consciousness where God is (heaven is a state of consciousness – not a physical place). The body and the ego cannot go. The problem we face is that our consciousness is attached to our ego, and when our body dies, the ego loses its source of energy and existence; the body. As the energy of the ego diminishes and ceases to be, whatever consciousness is attached to the ego ceases to be as well.
The spirit has eternal life because it is made of the substance of God. We experience our salvation by attaching our consciousness to our spirit, not to the ego. By making this shift from ego to spirit, we anchor our consciousness to that which is permanent as opposed to our ego, which is temporary. This is how we experience eternal life – our consciousness never fades or goes away. We remain conscious from that point on.