Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

– New Testament, John 14:6

I saw an article by Carl McColman where he talks about this quote.

Very simplified, he makes the point that if we understand this literally, we can take it to mean that only Christians can find the kingdom of heaven. And if we understand it more broadly and symbolically, we can take it as: No one comes to the Father except through love.

I wanted to explore this a bit further.


Why do we see this phrasing in the New Testament when it so easily can be misunderstood and taken too literally?

If this is what a historical Jesus said, he may have seen himself as a symbol of love or awakening, or he knew that some of his disciples did and would understand.

If the phrasing is mainly from whoever wrote it, they may have misunderstood, or they saw Jesus as a symbol and knew that some who later read it would get it.

It’s also possible, as Tim Freke and Peter Gandy point out in the Jesus Mysteries, that there was no historical Jesus and that he from the onset was a symbol for love and awakening. To me, this is what makes the most sense considering the unusual phrasing in this verse from the New Testament. If the original author and readers knew that Jesus was a symbol more than a man of flesh and blood, there is no reason why they would phrase it in any other way. It’s the most clear and direct way of saying it.


(5) Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

(6) Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (7) If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

(8) Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

(9) Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (10) Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. (11a) Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; (11b) or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 

– New Testament, John 14:5-11

(5) Thomas doesn’t know what Jesus knows or realizes, or speaks on behalf of others who don’t.

(6) Jesus speaks about himself as a symbol – of love, capacity for the world, oneness. Of what we all are whether we notice or not.

(7) In that sense, if you know Christ you know the Father. It seems that Jesus knows that Thomas gets it.

(8) Philip does not get it. He still differentiates between Jesus and the Father. He ses Jesus as a man, and the Father as Spirit.

(9) Jesus uses a bit of tough love with Philip. After such a long time, Philip still doesn’t get what it is about, or he doesn’t get it sufficiently to recognize Christ as a symbol of awakening and what we all are, and that this is what Jesus refers to.

(10) When we find what we are, we find that as a human being, we are within the kingdom of heaven (Big Mind). To others, looking at us as a human being, the kingdom of heaven appears to be within us. Also, as love and capacity for the world, we can say that the kingdom of heaven is within us.

(11a) Again, as a human being, Jesus is within love, oneness, and capacity for the world. For others, the kingdom of heaven appears to be within him since he recognizes it and lives from it. And to himself, as love, oneness, and capacity for the world, the kingdom of heaven is within him.

(11b) If you haven’t found this for yourself, you can at least get a sense of what’s going on by looking at how Jesus is when he lives from this recognition.

I chose to use the term “kingdom of heaven” here instead of “Father” since it seems a bit more neutral and they both refer to the same. At the same time, I like “Father” since it refers to our true nature as the “ground” of all our experiences and the awakeness it happens within and as.

I usually see Jesus as referring to the man and Christ as pointing to what we are – love, oneness, capacity for the world. In these verses of the New Testament, it seems that the two may be combined.


Each of us can find what we are: Capacity for the world, and what our field of experience happens within and as.

When we do, many of the quotes from the great spiritual traditions of the world make immediate sense. We get it immediately and recognize it from our own noticing and experience.

And if we don’t notice what we are, or don’t have a memory of noticing in the past, then we may try to figure these quotes out mainly through thinking. And even if people discuss these quotes from a more direct noticing, it will tend to look like philosophizing.

How can we find what we are? The simplest and most direct way is through some guided noticing or inquiry, for instance the Headless experiments or the Big Mind process. Living from this is another matter, and often requires a lot more work and support from other approaches like more in-depth inquiry, heart-centered practices, body-centered practices, ethical pointers and guidelines, and emotional healing work.

In the world and not of it

What does it mean to be in the world but not of it?

This is a phrase inspired by some verses in the New Testament and it’s not a direct quote.

What we find when we notice what we are

Still, it fits very well with what we discover when we notice what we are.

We may take ourselves to most fundamentally be this human self, but if we look, we may find something else.

We may find that to ourselves, we are capacity for the world, and what all our experiences – including of this human self and the wider world – happens within and as.

As a human being we are in the world. And as what we are we are not of it, rather the world as it appears to us happens within and as what we are.

Some distinctions

There are three distinct things going on here.

In a conventional sense, and to others, we are a human being in the world. This is not wrong, it’s just not our most fundamental nature.

To us, this human being and the world happens within and as what we are, so we are all of it and also not fundamentally any of it.

And as what we are, we are not in the the world but what it all happens within and as.

When we find this for ourselves, we may see that all three are valid and part of what we notice and live from and as.

Direct noticing vs abstract philosophizing

As mentioned in a recent post, this can seem abstract, a philosophy, and perhaps a fantasy if we haven’t found this for ourselves. And when we do, it’s very clear and immediate, although it’s a bit difficult to put it cleanly into words.

Made in the image of God

In the Abrahamic religions, we find the idea that we are made in the image of God.

What does it mean?

It can mean that…. To ourselves, we are awake emptiness full of the world. Our true nature is this awake no-thing full of our experiences, and that may well be the true nature of existence as a whole. If so, we are made in the image of God. We are what God is. We are made of the same.

We can also look at it from the other side: we make God in our own image.

If we take ourselves as ultimately an object in the world, then we tend to imagine God as the same. God is a being as we are a being, just a different kind of being. And if we find ourselves as capacity, as awake no-thing full of the world, then it’s easy to imagine God – existence as a whole – as that.

Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven

it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God

– New Testament, Matthew 19:24

We can interpret these pointers in a myriad of ways, and when we do, we usually make them fit our existing views on life and reality.

I do that too. I tend to take this one as complementing this pointer:

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

– New Testament, Matthew 18:3

If we are rich in deep-seated assumptions and beliefs about what we are, it’s not easy to enter the metaphorical kingdom of God. We need to find the place in us that’s receptive and innocent as a little child to enter that kingdom.

What is the kingdom of God?

For me, it’s noticing that all is the divine, and that what’s seeing and hearing and sensing here is the divine.

Said another way, it’s to find ourselves as capacity for the world. My world happens within and as what I am. My true nature is this awake space full of the world.

How do we enter it?

To notice what we are, we need to temporarily set aside our assumptions of what we are, find receptivity and innocence, and be honest with ourselves about what we find. We need to become like a child. We need to set aside the riches we have in our world of ideas and assumptions.

How do we become like a child?

It can seem almost impossible to do this. How do I set aside my assumptions about what I am and reality?

For me, one answer is practical pointers, and the best ones I have found so far are the Big Mind process and Headless experiments. These can help us become like a child and notice what we are.

It’s very helpful to be guided by someone familiar with the terrain and skilled in using the pointers. This is helpful in the beginning and also at times later on in the process to help clarify and look more closely.

These practical pointers are like training wheels helping us notice what’s already here.

The kingdom of heaven makes us like children

Entering the kingdom in this way also tends to make us like children.

Of course, we still have whatever maturity, development, experiences, and skills we as adults have.

At the same time, the kingdom of heaven invites us to be childlike.

It opens us up to live more from receptivity, curiosity, awe, and a heart open to the world.

The tree of knowledge of good and evil

And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Genesis 2:16-17

Traditional myths tell us something about ourselves, and myths from religion are no different.

In a non-dual context, there is a pretty straightforward way of looking at this.

Before thought, and before taking thought as telling us something that’s fundamentally real and true, there is no knowledge of good and evil. Everything just is.

With thought, and specifically taking thought as telling us truth and reality, there is suddenly knowledge of good and evil. Thoughts tell us what’s good and evil. And what falls into each category depends on our culture, parents, subgroups, and to some extent personal history and preferences.

And that’s how we throw ourselves out from the garden of Eden. Suddenly, we are not innocent anymore. We know what’s good and evil, we judge others by it, and we judge ourselves by it.

Why a tree with fruit? Perhaps because beliefs, including beliefs about good and evil, are a bit like eating something juicy. And these thoughts do grow and branch out just like a tree. We may start with something simple, and from there comes a lot of complexity.

And how do we return to the Garden of Eden and our age of innocence? We cannot return to what was. But we can examine how our mind creates its own experience of good and evil, and there are ways to dismantle it. We can have the same thoughts without so much of a charge on them, and without them appearing to tell us something inherently real about the world. The thoughts can be allowed to be thoughts, and we can relate to them more consciously. We can be more discerning in how we relate to them.

That’s another form of Eden and one that’s a bit more mature.

Myths mirror ourselves, and in this case, they may mirror the shift to believing thoughts, and specifically thoughts about values and good and bad. It threw us out of Eden, but the good news is that we can dismantle the process and find a more mature Eden.

The story of Eden

I have enjoyed watching this mini-series about some of the stories in the Bible, or the Old Testament.

It highlights what’s already quite obvious: The Bible is written by humans, have gone through a great deal of revisions, and each one by people with a very specific agenda. And even those who say they wish to take the Bible literally, interpret and add a great deal to it. For instance, nowhere in the Bible does it say that the snake represents the devil.

It makes a good deal of sense to interpret the Bible from what we know about the culture and times when the different sections were written, and also use archaeology to inform these interpretations. This shows us how the stories may have been perceived and understood at the time they were written, and how they were changed and reinterpreted by later generations with their own agendas.

At the same time, I find it very interesting to look at the traditional (within the last few hundred years) interpretations and understandings of these stories. They too say something about us. They resonate with us, often at a quite deep level, and especially those of us who grew up and live in an Abrahamic culture. The Eden story may well be about the Temple in Jerusalem, and originally had nothing to do with the devil or the first people on Earth. It may well have gained it’s current meaning partly because it was later placed in Genesis, and then interpreted in that context. And at the same time, this later understanding of the Eden story says something about us. It’s archetypal. It resonates.

One of the many ways to explore this is in an earlier post on this blog.

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Thrown out of paradise

 And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”  So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.  After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
– Genesis 3:22-24

Adam and Eve ate the apple, gained knowledge of good and evil, and were thrown out of paradise.

For me, an image (a memory, a flashback?) has come up since childhood from before incarnation. It was all love and a deep sense of contentment and home, and it was conveyed to me that it was time for me to incarnate again. I experienced it as being thrown out of paradise.

And, of course, I do it to myself. I believe thoughts, block awareness of love, and this is experienced as being thrown out of paradise.

The story from genesis reflects this quite accurately. There is a thought of good and evil, it’s taken as true, this blocks awareness of love, and I am – in my own experience – thrown out of paradise.

Healing and finding clarity is all about this for me now: Finding those parts of me, those situations, where I threw myself out of paradise, where I blocked my awareness of love. Find love there again, see it’s already love, was already love – feel it, allow it to sink in. And note and inquire into my thoughts at the time, the ones I took as true and which blocked my awareness of love at the time.

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Prodigal son

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

– Luke 15:11-32

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The Book of Job

I have written about The Book of Job before, and thought I would briefly revisit the topic.

Job is going through what’s typical of a classic dark night of the soul: Loss of what matters to him, illness, disturbing inner experiences, a sense of being abandoned by “God and man”.

This brings up shadow material, wounds and so on – so it can be seen, felt and loved. (Or “owned” and “integrated” in more modern language.)

And it brings up identifications and beliefs as invitation for questioning and inquiry.

So in a very real sense, what happens is a form of love (and it may or may not be experienced that way as it happens).

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But when Moses rose higher and became more perfect, he saw God in the darkness

Moses’ vision of God began with light (Exod. 19.18); afterwards God spoke to him in a cloud (Exod. 20.21). But when Moses rose higher and became more perfect, he saw God in the darkness (Exod. 24.15-18).

— Gregory of Nyssa, Commentary on the Song of Songs, quoted in An Anthology of Christian Mysticism edited by Harvey D. Egan. Via Anamchara – The Website of Unknowing.

This is a beautiful quote. What does it mean?

He saw God in the darkness.

Moses may have found refuge in unknowing, recognizing that no story can touch God or reality, perhaps even finding what he is as the Ground prior to any form. When we realize we don’t know, we are metaphorically in the dark.

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The Story of Job and more

Here are some stories from the Bible and the New Testament that have come up for me lately….

The story of Job

Job is purified of shoulds. His stories of what should be and what is, clash. He is humbled. His views are invited – in the strongest possible way – to be more aligned with reality.

Life happens, and it is not always aligned with our personal preferences. We can either throw a tantrum and blame the world, God, others, fate or ourselves. Or we can take a closer look at our fixed views, recognize what happens when we hold onto views not aligned with reality (stress, blame, resentment), and find what’s more true for us. We can (a) replace these stories with other stories more aligned with reality, and (b) softening our hold on these stories in general. We can find more trust in reality and truth. And we can find more comfort in not knowing, using stories as guides for ourselves and yet recognize that they are just stories. Reality is the boss. Through his experiences, Job matures from being blindly caught up in beliefs to recognizing stories more as stories.

Said another way, Job’s individual will (beliefs) is worn off, and he finds himself more receptive to God’s will (reality).

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Cherry-picking from the Bible

I cherry-pick from the Bible as everyone else, but am at least honest about it. I take the parts I find interesting, and interpret them in a way that makes sense to me and supports my current worldview.

Here is a quote from a discussion I came across on Facebook:

I will re-iterate the fact that my point is very simple- I disagree. I do not wish to be “right” I wish to follow only he who created all of us. Now less of my words & more of his; Jesus the Son of God our maker & creator ofheaven & earth. “I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” John 8:12-30 “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion & every evil thing are there.” James 3:16 “I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore keep my statues and judgements, which if man does, he shall live by them; I am the Lord. You shall not lie with a man as with a woman. (Speaking to Moses) It is an abomination. It is perversion. Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you.” Leviticus 18:17 Lastly, God most certainly is love. Through His forever-trustworthy words, God will keep for you His promise for the days when you can’t see where you’re going. You can stake everything on this promise: Isaiah 42:16 – “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.”

And here is some additional advice from that wise book:

All who curse their father or mother must be put to death. They are guilty of a capital offense. (Leviticus 20:9 NLT)

If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife, both the man and the woman must be put to death. (Leviticus 20:10 NLT)

If a man lies in sexual intercourse with a woman during her menstrual period, both of them shall be cut off from their people, because they have laid bare the flowing fountain of her blood. (Leviticus 20:18NAB)

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My grace is sufficient for you

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
2 Corinthians, 12:9

This is another beautiful pointer from the New Testament.

When I recognize my weakness, through and through, there is receptivity for God’s grace. Said another way, when I am less full of myself, there is more room for God.

I can recognize my weakness in innumerable ways. My human self is dependent on support from people close to me, society, ecosystems, the earth as a whole, the solar system and the unviverse as a whole. Without all of this, no human self. Even what I tend to take credit for – such as skills, insights, choices and actions – are gifts, given to me through experience, culture, biology, ancestors, the earth, the universe. I try to control my life and circumstances, but can only do it to a very limited extent. My days are numbered, and I can die this very moment. I aim at following precepts and guidelines, and fail miserably. I aim at living from what I really am, and fail miserably. There is no end to the weakness of this human self.

And I can also recognize my weakness as a doer and observer. When I explore the doer and observer, I find that they are only images. And also that the doer takes credit for shifts, insights, choices and actions after they have happened. This is the real, 100%, weakness of what I take myself to be.

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Do not rebel like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you

But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.”

Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe.

And he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat.

Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.

Ezekiel 2:8 – 3:2

Bible verses can of course be interpreted to (appear to) support just about any point. For me, reading these verses in isolation, I see a beautiful description of what happens when we “eat” our lament and mourning and woe.

I start out rebellious. I argue against reality. I resist experience. I want things to be different from what they are. (According to my story of it.)

I am invited to eat my lament and mourning and woe. (Meet it. Be with it. Feel it. Welcome it.)

And when I do, I find – to my surprise – that it tastes as sweet as honey in my mouth.

I find that it is not what it appeared to be when I resisted it. It appeared horrifying as long as I resisted meeting, feeling and welcoming it. But when I do, there is a sweetness, comfort, receptivity and nurturing fullness there.