Our spiritual guides take forms adjusted to our understanding. “I saw him in the way I was able to perceive him,” runs a line on this subject in the Gnostic Acts of Thomas. In the Western Mystery tradition, the term “contact picture” is used to describe a form a being from the larger reality make take, through a kind of mutual agreement with the perceiver, in order to be visible and comprehensible.
The form of the guide may be familiar and comforting, fitting traditional belief systems and culture patterns. Or it may be shocking and radically new, as if devised to tear through the carapace of received beliefs and carry us beyond our comfort zones.
In the midst of my spiritual crisis in the late 1980s, I found it entirely shocking to come upon a form of Jesus Christ in bright midday sunshine, near the old white oak. I thought I really had lost it at that point, especially since I rarely go to church and had wandered very far from the teachings of organized religion.
This Jesus figure appeared as a figure of solid light, wearing a crown of thorns. I interviewed him, ready to conclude that I was talking to a projection. I began by asking, “Why are you still wearing a crown of thorns?” The figure responded, mind to mind, “Because of all the evil that continues to be done in my name.” That gave me pause; it was quite unexpected, and carried a sense of truth.
Years later, walking a gritty downtown street with a Dominican sister, I had another vision of Jesus. I was again shocked to feel and see his presence. He gave me some good counsel. The best bit was his parting remark. “You don’t have to talk about me. Just regard me as the ace up your sleeve.” Now that, I remarked to my Dominican friend, is a Jesus I can relate to!
- adapted from The Boy Who Died and Came Back by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library. All rights reserved.