Christianity, like Buddhism, is a world religion, not an ethnic one. We do not automatically become Christian simply because our parents are Christian. Hinduism and Judaism are ethnic religions. To be a Jew, for instance, one has to be born of a Jewish mother.
Being born into a religion, according to Jesus, is not enough to ensure salvation. When Jesus said that we have to be born again, he was saying that we have to leave the second womb of our religious and mythological support matrix. All religions are second wombs, whose purpose is to prepare us for a life of spiritual realization, not religious or ethnic identity.
As a type of philosophical inquiry, metaphysics assumes that there are universal truths, such as goodness and virtue, which are imbedded in the fabric of reality. The word metaphysical means beyond the physical, referring to that which lies behind the apparent thing—its underlying principle. Metaphysical interpretations go much further than religious interpretations, because they go beyond location, ethnicity, and time.
The phoenix does not simply reconstitute itself, as when someone puts his or her life back together. Rather, the phoenix is the spirit of the life’s original intention, which is liberated once its imprisoning structure has been destroyed. The spirit behind the original intention has been encrusted with the very form it created to serve that intention. Once the form has been burned away, the spirit of the original intention is liberated, and the Phoenix is free to build a new form, one that will better serve that which it is seeking to accomplish.
Rising out of one’s own ashes is a spiritual act. It is spontaneous and authentic. But when we act out of pre-existing circumstances, our action is dead. By dead, I mean unconscious,in the sense that it is machine-like. We act predictably, in a manner pre-dictated by others. A living action, however, comes from Spirit—not from our cultural conditioning, not from a sense of what is right to do, not even from what we are capable of conceiving. Rather, the living action comes from nowhere. It has no predicate, no pre-existing assumptions, and no basis. It comes from “out of the blue.” This is the true creative act, which depends for its success upon unknowability—the extension of Spirit into the unknown. Everything else is mere replication, which is crystallization.
Western philosophy calls this the “Unmanifest,” but this is usually misunderstood as nothingness, not action proceeding out of nothingness. Big difference. Jesus describes someone acting out of Spirit as being “like the wind,” the origin and destination of which are unknown. He uses action words, because he is the incarnation of Spirit, which is the activity of God. The key here is spontaneity, which is an aspect of Being. It cannot be understood by the mind, nor can it be described in words. It’s what makes the universe want to get out of bed in the morning. It is the motivator of all action, but it itself is action-less. When we let go to its impulse and take our cues to act from it instead of from the world “out there,” our actions will be “born of a virgin,” and the fruits of our actions will save us.
A leap of faith
That which is revealed (Phoenix) after the imprisoning structure is destroyed is a living thing—not an object, not an idea or philosophy. It’s not even predictable (because it is living), so the new life has no ties to the old, no patterns by which to act. Paradoxically, however, it will fulfill the old, because, though imprisoned, it was the animating spirit of its former life. The old form was brought into being by the spirit of the intention and was a reflection of that spirit. But it’s important to remember that it was only one possible form and not the only form possible. The spirit is always greater than the vehicle it generates, and it is free to generate another when the first one is no longer useful. The first one, however, must first be destroyed before another can be created. The doorway between the two conditions is known as the Abyss, which is crossed by a “leap of faith”, because one cannot see what one is stepping onto.
Jesus’ life and mission did not merely stand on the shoulders of the traditions of his day. They held elements entirely new and foreign to those traditions. His message was truly a new covenant, not merely a revitalization or reformation of the old. It was strictly a top-down affair, which is not a popular concept in today’s “grassroots” mentality (the ego doesn’t like to be told what to do). One metaphysics teacher put it thus: Jesus reincarnated from the future.
Metaphysically speaking, our actions are driven by forces within the subconscious mind, which were put there by our conscious thinking. They are “born” in the regular way: the female (subconscious) is impregnated by the male (conscious) and gives birth to manifested action, or, as Ovid said, “Habit becomes character.” In this way, our thoughts are out-pictured in our activity.
This does not translate into ontological language, because Being does not occur by process—it simply is. The Virgin Birth ontologically, then, is a state of being that is process-less—it doesn’t come from anything. To live in the virgin birth state (which is not Nevada, I can assure you), we cannot act from pre-existing assumptions, ideas, philosophies, beliefs, or cultural conditionings—nor can we think that way. We do not borrow our ideas from anyone, and we do not derive our vitality from an external source. The world “out there” is for us a dead world, a world of ashes from which we rise. We are in the world but not of it, which is to say that we are not a “product” of our environment, but rather the animating force within our environment. And the impetus, the input, for that force comes from a “place” that is super- to the world. It comes from above, from the sky or heavens, as it were—the abode of birds, such as the dove and the Phoenix.
Which interpretation is correct?
It is not necessary for us to regard the Biblical story of the Virgin Birth as a non-event. Neither is it necessary to choose between a literal and metaphysical reading of the birth of Jesus. From an ontological perspective, from the standpoint of being, the two renditions are entirely compatible. The important thing is, as the 17th Century German philosopher-priest Angelus Silesius said, “Of what use, O Gabriel, thy message to Marie, if thou canst not also say the same thing to me?” Unless the Christ is born of a virgin in us, the Cave of the Nativity is just so much religious propaganda designed to validate Church doctrine. We do not destroy the story, however, by understanding its deeper meaning.
Having the experience
Whether parthenogenesis (asexual reproduction) is possible in humans is a scientific question, even if we approach it from the spiritual standpoint. Spiritually, we can ask if one can cause pregnancy by speaking the Word, or if a female initiate of high degree, as Mary is reported to have been, can self-induce pregnancy. The theological assertion that God Himself, through miraculous means, fathered Jesus is too general and non-specific to be of real use to us. It relies heavily on assumptions of faith (as does most theology), regarding the natural world as different and separate from the Causal Plane, which is scientifically implausible. Philosophically, we could say that the story of Jesus’ birth reinforces the idea that our physical bodies are vehicles for our soul, that our origin is divine, and that who we are is not a mere product of biochemistry. But all of these notions are themselves meaningless, unless we can actually have the experience that they point to. They are all interpretations of an event that must take place in us, if we are to know God. Our physical body is the “world” into which the savior is born; the Cave of the Nativity is the center of our being.
Mary and the life force
Mary’s acquiescence to Gabriel’s proclamation is our own willingness to receive the Word—not the written word of the Bible (or any other sacred text) but the divine impulse, that which fuels our spiritual/physical evolution—”the force that through the green fuse drives the flower…” of Dylan Thomas. If we look at it in this way, the Virgin Birth story tells us emphatically that the Life Force is anything but blind, that life is imbued with intelligence and motivated by love. Rather than make Jesus look good and the rest of us bad, the Virgin Birth points up our inherent divinity—all of us, not just Jesus. We can no longer say, “I’m only human” and use that as an excuse to ignore the higher part of our nature. By insisting that the Virgin Birth is strictly an external event, we hold the experience at arm’s length, and thereby avoid having to surrender to the Indwelling Spirit’s urge to open our eyes to the world of God.