36. When The Helper Comes (16)

“These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them. “And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you. “But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’  But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you. “A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father.” Then some of His disciples said among themselves, “What is this that He says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’; and, ‘because I go to the Father’?” They said therefore, “What is this that He says, ‘A little while’? We do not know what He is saying.” Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, “Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’? Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you. “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. “These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but I will tell you plainly about the Father.  In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God. I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.” His disciples said to Him, “See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech!  Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:1-33)

There are many ways that people throughout history have engaged with the Text and had personal revelations offered to them, personal in the sense that it speaks to their own experiences. But the Text is most often presented in such a way that it is telling a story, as a historical account; or as that which has happened to people in the past; or as prophetical promises; or as that which are yet to happen to people in the future. In this way it appears like a recollection of someone else’s experiences and memories, or of someone observing a series of unfolding events and visions.  As we read and listen to what arises in our thoughts and feelings, the mind can easily be pulled into seeing it as descriptions of other people in far off lands and distant times, rather than as something that might be applicable to the present… to now… to me, to you.

We forget that what is before us is a spiritual text and therefore it must be somehow offering us information about spiritual things – about the life of the spirit. It’s offering us things that aren’t tangible to the life of the body and the world, but alternatively provides an experience of the inner life; of the mind, of our thoughts and feelings. Although ironically there is often a tipping point. When the descriptions that are steeped in the life of the world and its senses – that is in person, space, time and matter – reach a point where what is being described is ridiculous in the framework of the material world, then we shake our heads as if awakened and say, “Well of course this is speaking about something else than what is literally written”. It becomes obvious in that moment. Dreams in particular have that awakening aspect to them because they are often in defiance of what we call logic and reason from a material perspective. And likewise for those texts that have mythological elements to them, or the sublime witness accounts of prophets, or recordings of the extra-ordinary that constitutes miracles.

The Text, read literally, is also full of contradictions which can lead to confusion and cloudiness when we try to reconcile them.  On the surface it is a Text that speaks of a loving God and then a hating God, a forgiving God and then a punishing God; a Text that speaks of morals and ideals but then seemingly seems to condone the exact opposite of what it preaches. In one place it will say one thing and then in another suggest the reader move in the reverse direction.

We have a variety of options in how we respond to these contradictions.

We can simply persist in struggling to obey it literally, twisting ourselves as the Text asks us to act in one way but then asks us the opposite elsewhere. Or we can follow the line of thought that says, “Yes, it isn’t meant to be read literally but there are mysteries of faith that just cannot be explained”. So, we put aside the questions that arise in the contradictions or the parts that don’t make sense, and instead focus on being moved emotionally by what we read.   However, questions will still be sitting there, and we will be living a faith that is lacking in a true understanding of why we are following what we are following: being led by an affection for truth but not really understanding how it is true for us personally.  

If we can remind ourselves that if the Text is to be acknowledged as a spiritual Text – given to support the life of the spirit – then it must be of a psychological spiritual nature and therefore describing the developmental processes that open our perception to more interior things. With this as our framework, then the possibility for something new and fresh to be seen in the Text is given birth.

The Text then becomes similar to an allegory, fairytale or mythology because it contains an inner meaning and message but different – because, it’s outer story is founded on actual historical accounts and events. These inner messages are about the life of the spirit, about the psychological processes that occur as the mind is transformed when new ideas and new ways of thinking about the self and the Divine, the Lord, are received.  These are things like changes in: the structures of our thinking, the beliefs that we live from, what we hold to be true and false, what we judge to be good and evil, what we believe ‘love’ to be, what we love and where our affections direct our attention. All this belongs to the states of consciousness that constitutes the spiritual dimensions of our life.

The authors of fairytales and myths understood this concept of an outer story with an inner message. They knew that they were speaking and writing in figurative language with the purpose that it might convey a deeper meaning of personal processes, of self-awareness, and of our relationship to Divine forces. They were not, therefore, concerned about whether it made sense from a time and space perspective, nor obeyed the laws of matter, but only that it was able to carry the illustrations of the psychological processes of the spirit.  The language of the body and the world thus becoming the servant to the message of the spirit. And this is even more true for Sacred Scripture where every sentence and word exists so that it might express what is of the spirit.

This spirit is the Helper, the Spirit of truth, that is spoken of in the reading from the Gospel of John where Jesus explains this:

But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. (15:26)

It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. (16:7)

When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.  He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you. (16:13-15)

Jesus comes from the Father, the source of all that is true spirit. He was born into this world to be the light in the darkness. This light thus offering the ability to see the darkness by the contrast of what the light alternatively looks like. Although He is born into this world He also tells us that He is not of this world, and must return to the Father from which He came forth.

I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father. (16:28)

This is a theme that is expressed throughout the whole of the Gospel of John, and Jesus constantly reminds us that He will need to leave eventually and that the Helper or Holy Spirit will arrive after this occurs. He appears, though, in other places to speak in contradictions about His presence with us. He says:

“A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father.” (16:16)

He can see that this confuses the disciples and so then goes on to acknowledge their difficulty in letting Him go, and uses the illustration of a woman in childbirth forgetting all the pain and hard work once the delight of the new born child’s arrival is experienced. The states of the struggle then seem to fall away – not erased but more to the side and not what is in the centre of her focus anymore.

Can you see then that the person of Jesus here is an illustration of the very thing we have been talking about? That the ideas of the Logos, the Word, are first born into things of the body and the world when we read the Text as an account of people in spaces and times engaging with objects and matter? Can you see that Jesus being born into the world and made living in the flesh is an illustration of the Word being made living in time, space, person and matter? That His eventual removal from the world, and subsequent resurrection and assent into heaven, acts as the leading example of how our mind, when it is reading the Text, must be elevated in its thinking – out of the senses of the world and into what is of the spirit. The things of the spirit are communicated to us if we consider the Text as a vessel to illustrate psychological processes; and the Spirit of truth or Helper comes once the literal idea of the Text is set aside and is elevated into a deeper meaning.  Can you see that the Text then is resurrected as an old way of viewing dies, to make way for the birth of a new relationship with it, and consequently, a new relationship with the Lord our Father?

Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father, in My name He will give you.

Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but I will tell you plainly about the Father. (16:15-25)

The transcendence of what is time, space, person and matter into what is of the spirit brings the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (the Helper), into a oneness; the Text or Logos as the Son communicating what is of the Father, if we have ears to hear and eyes to see the Holy Spirit.

So how do we proceed from here, now that we have begun the process of scattering/reforming what we have formerly understood?

Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. (16:32)

Working in the space of the Text is working in an environment that is safe. It isn’t confronting in the sense of having to attend to other people and the states that they bring up for us in our internal responses. There is just us and the book, the written Text before us.  It’s a place in which we may first work with the idea of asking such questions as: How is what is being described illustrating psychological processes of my personal experiences of the Lord, and my resistances to what He offers me? What is this conveying about the nature of Divine function and operation in my life? But to truly experience the Helper, the Holy Spirit of the Text, we need to go out and test these questions and their answers in our own life. To apply them to our everyday situations and circumstances. For it is only when we see how asking these questions offers us a new way of thinking and feeling and responding to our life, that the holiness of the spirit of the Text shines through, and we are then able to acknowledge its origin as Divine and so experience the Oneness of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

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