« AnteriorContinua »
regarded as absolute, independent forms of experience. By possessing, or rather by being possessed by, such absolute forms of emotion and thought, men became endowed with immortality. Such experiences were independent of race and nationality. The devotee of Dionysus and Isis and Mithra belonged not to the ethnic cult of the Greek, the Roman, the Hebrew, or any other state; they were members of a new empire, the Empire of the Spirit.
Now the life and the teaching and the death of Jesus of Nazareth made him preeminently the representative of this new Empire of the Spirit. The universal empire of moral and spiritual life, independent of race and nationality, whose founders were Jeremiah and Socrates, Zoroaster, and the priests of Isis and Mithra, and we can now add the names of Buddha and Confucius, this universal moral empire seemed to culminate in the life, the personality, the kingdom of righteousness, of the Nazarene. This new empire of the heart, the will, the conscience, which was the great moral achievement of the Greeks and the Romans and the Hebrews, and which was embodied in the mystery religions of Asia Minor and Persia and Egypt, seemed to be embodied in its fullness in the mind of Jesus of Nazareth. The inner universal moral conscience of the Mediterranean world was driven to find its representative in the Nazarene by the dramatic character of his death. This Jesus of Nazareth who was to have been the realization, the incarnation, of the new conscience, was done to death by the legal representatives, Roman and Jewish, of the old ethnic cultus, of the morality of the authoritative state and family
system. The new conscience went down in an inglorious defeat. Its standard-bearer had bled to death on
a shameful cross.
What was the mind of the Hebrew and the GrecoRoman world, trained to think in terms of the mystery religions, to make of the death of him who seemed to be the leader of this new inner moral empire? Even after the death of vegetation the worshiper of Osiris could see in the sprouting corn the awakening of a new life in nature. In all the mystery religions the worshiper by identifying himself with his god seemed to die but in reality achieved a new inner immortal life. Men everywhere believed that the life of nature which seemed to die in the winter would surely return in the spring. This was the meaning of the green trees, the sacred bulls, the sprouting grain, of the mystery religions. Was it possible that the life of him who so completely typified, who so fully incarnated, the newer inner moral kingdom which was so universally coming to consciousness in men's minds, was it possible that his life really came to an end on the cross? Had not the mystery religions taught the Mediterranean world to believe in, to actually identify itself with, the undying life of Adonis, of Osiris, of Mithra? Did not Jesus of Nazareth embody a more universal moral ideal than Osiris, or Dionysus, or Mithra? And had not his crucifixion on Golgotha raised him to a position of unique universality?
The New Testament and the Christian Church are the answer to this question. A world that was trained to believe in the undying life of Dionysus and Mithra and Osiris could not acquiesce in the brutal attempt
to annihilate the new moral kingdom through the crucifixion of its leader. The terrible spectacle on Golgotha so burnt itself into the imagination and the conscience of the world that the cross raised the teaching and the life of the Nazarene to a position of unconquerable power. The cross augmented the reality of the inner moral kingdom. As in the mystery religions the life of nature was actually reborn through its apparent death, the mind and spirit of the Galilean through his death on the cross was reborn in the minds of those who went with him in spirit to Golgotha. The crucified Jesus was reborn as the conquering Christ of a new moral empire. The sense of the inner life became an overpowering reality; Jesus the Christ became the indwelling, creative mind of a new order of life.
By identifying himself with Jesus on the cross the Christian died with the Galilean to the old order which had crucified him. By dying to the old order the Christian was reborn to a new universal inner kingdom. This representative character of the Nazarene constituted him the Christ, the leader of the new empire.
In baptism the Christian died through a mystical burial to the old order and arose to a new order of life. In the Lord's Supper the Christian symbolically appropriated the body and blood of the leader of this new inner universal kingdom.
The crimson badge of the cross became the mystic sign of membership in this society of the inner life. Is it any wonder that some sensitive Christians felt that they bore in their own bodies the stigmata, the
marks, of their crucified leader? Is it any surprise that some who were visually minded had recurrent visions of their beloved leader on his cross?
When the will goes over into objective ends there is no occasion for the development of an inner world to be set up in opposition to an objective social order. But when the mind is confronted with an unyielding environment, it is driven to develop defense mechanisms. It treats the resisting objective order as external, as but an outward expression of true morality. The new ideal because of inhibition and repression deepens, thickens, becomes internalized. In a religious consciousness this introverted will becomes a form of absolute spirit. It becomes identical with the divine will. This is the explanation of the Christ ideal. The spirit of Hebrew prophecy, enlightened by Greek philosophy, internalized itself as a defense against an unyielding pagan order. This was the only way in which the new ideal could make itself supreme over the old pagan régime. The Christ ideal is the historic symbol of this process in western civilization. Traditional theology has regarded this process as representing an objective, universal truth. To us it is a turning point in the development of the psychology of the race.
The deeper the emotion, the more internalized it becomes when it is thwarted. Monks and nuns do not become monks and nuns because they do not feel the power of sex. There has been a deepening of life and this new dimension of life does not get expressed in the traditional family. With this new deepening of life, sex can be willed only if it expresses this newer,
inner mind. But no such synthesis was ever dreamed of by the early Christian mind. Instead of a synthesis, therefore, the conflict of the newer conscience with the ethnic social objectives of family, property, and state, led to a disassociation of image, idea, attitude, from the objective ends of life. This is the explanation of the medieval dualism between chastity and sex, between poverty and property, between an inner empire of spirit and the world of the state.
In the modern revolutionary movement, men like Locke, Hobbes, Milton, and Rousseau used the fiction of an original state of nature in which men were free from the restraints of society. This fiction of a state of nature was an unconscious mechanism of defense which the modern revolutionary conscience used in its attack on autocratic political authority. This state of nature was the ideal of a type of mind obsessed with the desire for freedom. The state of nature was not an objective existence; it was real and dynamic because it met a psychological need. It was the result of an ethical compulsion. If this was true of the idea of the state of nature in modern revolutionary thought, a similar explanation would seem to hold of the idea of the inner life at the downfall of paganism. It was the psychological construction of a revolutionary type of thought. It was an inner wall of defense against the old ethnic order which refused to incorporate the newer intellectual and moral ideas of Plato and of Jesus.
A dualism of subject and object is the necessary accompaniment of conscious intelligence. But a dualism which treats the mind as an inner entity, a spiritual existence which is independent of the objects of the