Lost Christianity - Jacob Needleman

ana

The Living Force
I've just have finished reading the book.

The general feeling that it left in me is repentance, repentance and a kind of peace at the same time for having found truth, a truth that deeply touches me and made me restore the faith I've been losing lately.

I'll be reading it again.

I thank you Laura for your patience and love.
 

Laura

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It's one of those books that you really can't quote much of to someone who hasn't read the whole book. That's because of the way he builds his case one step at a time. But certainly, after enough forum members have read it, it can be discussed more deeply.

The funny thing is, it seems that the Cs and all that has followed is exactly along the line of what Needleman (and others of a very "Christian" bent) have been looking for, but would they recognize that? Somehow, I don't think so because of context.

I did make some notes in my copy that I may share here with page references.
 

ana

The Living Force
Laura said:
It's one of those books that you really can't quote much of to someone who hasn't read the whole book. That's because of the way he builds his case one step at a time. But certainly, after enough forum members have read it, it can be discussed more deeply.

Oh, great!
 

Gawan

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Well, through recommending and mentioning the book in different topics, I ordered it yesterday, to deal with some of my own issues in a better way. That means emotional thinking for example.

I'm looking forward for this discussion here.
 

Laura

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I'll make a few notes here.

On pages 50 and 51, Needleman quotes the schizoidal rant of Jean Daniélou, a Roman Catholic Cardinal (and Jesuit, by the way). Needleman is quoting this guy not because he approves of what he says, but as a foil to his following discussion. Daniélou writes:

Daniélou said:
But the fact remains that this assumes that man is able to reach God by his own powers. Christianity must categorically deny this, for two reasons. The first it the reality of original sin. This consists in a separation between man and God, which man cannot abolish by himself...

"Original Sin" is a complete fraud. When one has sufficient data about ancient cultures and religions, cosmic catastrophe factors and how those affected humankind, one realizes that the idea of "Original Sin" was a complete fraud probably made up by psychopaths during some catastrophe so as to take advantage of the situation and gain control over people who were frightened, disoriented, and otherwise vulnerable. We can see a clear example of how this can be done in the 9-11 event. A shocking event, driven home over and over again to put people in a state of shock, and their minds can be easily taken over and made to believe anything.

Well, imagine a planet getting slammed by a rain of comets exploding in the atmosphere, raining down fire, volcanoes going off, torrential rains and floods, and you have people in the exact same shocked and awed condition. And psychopaths know our psychology very well... thus the name of the invasion of Iraq: "Shock and Awe." It was a dead giveaway to the psychopathy of the group that made the plan.

Okay, next, Daniélou writes:

Daniélou said:
...the first doctrine of the Christian faith is the doctrine of the Creator-God, that is, the radical distinction between God and man.

Again, the source of such an idea is pathological: psychopathy and schizoidal psychopathy.

Daniélou said:
...For Christianity, the saved are those who believe, regardless of their level of interior life.

A doctrine designed to mask and protect psychopaths.

Daniélou said:
Thus compared with Christianity, the pagan religions seem out of date and distorted.

That is just jaw-dropping. But that's pathology for you. Because, certainly, Danielou's "Christianity" is psychopathic.

Daniélou said:
{quoting Pius XII} "The Church has never treated the doctrines of the pagans with contempt and disdain; rather, she has freed them from all error, then completed them and crowned them with Christian Wisdom."

This formula admirably sums up the attitude of Christianity. It does not treat the religious values of the pagan religions with disdain. But it first purifies them from all error, that is, it destroys the corruption - especially idolatry...

Again, Jaw dropping! It also reveals Pius XII as pathological.

Needleman rightly mentions the fact that no one can read this summation of the core of modern Christianity without a strong reaction, either positive or negative.

Well, mine was decidedly negative. I had just finished reading several books where scholars had painstakingly gathered every scrap of information about different ancient cultures to try to get some full sense of their historical records, and again and again it was noted how the Catholic Church (and later, the Protestant Church), came along and just wantonly destroyed and vandalized the heritage of humanity in the name of their dead-man-on-a-stick religion.

Sheesh!

So, these are my first notations in the book and it had nothing to do with what Needleman was saying at all!

Notice that Wikipedia tells us the following about Daniélou:

His unexpected death in 1974, in the home of a prostitute, was very diversely interpreted. He died on the stairs of a brothel that he was visiting. It turned out he was bringing her money to pay for the bail of her lover. Thanks to a group including Henri Marrou, his reputation was cleared.[1]

Yeah, right. And 19 incompetent Arab wannabe terrorists pulled off 9-11.
 

Mr. Premise

The Living Force
I can't wait to get ahold of this book! It should arrive from Amazon today or tomorrow.

Needleman wrote a book on the Gurdjieff work, too, which makes it more intriguing.
 

RyanX

The Living Force
Laura said:
His unexpected death in 1974, in the home of a prostitute, was very diversely interpreted. He died on the stairs of a brothel that he was visiting. It turned out he was bringing her money to pay for the bail of her lover. Thanks to a group including Henri Marrou, his reputation was cleared.[1]

Yeah, right. And 19 incompetent Arab wannabe terrorists pulled off 9-11.

:rotfl:

This sounds like an excellent book, btw. I've added it my Wish List. It sounds like I might get more out of Lost Christianity after I read more of the recommended 4th Way book though?

I wish I could read in my sleep... there's never enough time during the day :)
 

thevenusian

Dagobah Resident
I am about halfway through this wonderful book. For me, at least, it simplifies and clarifies what I have read of Ouspensky, Gurdjieff and Mouravieff. In fact, I look forward to going back to the Gnosis series after this. Father Sylvan has opened the door to that material a little further for me. Its hard to say whether these lightbulbs would be going off in quite the same way if I was completely unfamiliar with any of the practice or understanding of these ideas, but the way Needleman presents his story makes the points quite clearly. Thank you, Laura, for recommending this book. It is an inspiration to keep on keeping on with the difficult work.
 

Odyssey

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I just got this book yesterday and I'm making my way through it. So far, Needleman touches on a lot of work related concepts. I can identify with his quest for finding aspects of Christianity that produces results in people not just emotional feel-goodery. The FOTCM seems to fit the bill in this case. :)

Good reading. I figured after you mentioned this title at least four times, Laura :P, that this was something special that we should all be reading.
 

annp

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Laura said:
Daniélou said:
But the fact remains that this assumes that man is able to reach God by his own powers. Christianity must categorically deny this, for two reasons. The first it the reality of original sin. This consists in a separation between man and God, which man cannot abolish by himself...

"Original Sin" is a complete fraud. When one has sufficient data about ancient cultures and religions, cosmic catastrophe factors and how those affected humankind, one realizes that the idea of "Original Sin" was a complete fraud probably made up by psychopaths during some catastrophe so as to take advantage of the situation and gain control over people who were frightened, disoriented, and otherwise vulnerable.

I was reading those pages today during lunch - It almost made me lose my appetite. When Needleman said people generally have strong reactions - I thought what an understatement!!

Then I began to laugh because I was reminded of one of the early lectures of Stuart Wilde - who used to be quite funny before he became really strange. At any rate, he related that he decided Original Sin was really just an "original idea" thought up by the priesthood to get folks to bring goats to the temple to feed them. The idea was to tell people they had this original sin and needed to absolve themselves by bringing things to the temple. I remember laughing so hard at the time, and it finally did away with my lingering uneasiness. I am embarrassed to admit to being bothered by that concept well into young adulthood - but being raised in a seriously Catholic family...well it was not easy to wake up!

When I think of the nonsense that I believed - and that many people still do - it just stuns me. :( And i have family members among those :scared:
 

Gimpy

The Living Force
Ordered this one today....and the dead-man-on-a-stick quote got a belly laugh out of me. Thank you!
 

Buddy

The Living Force
Although I'm willing to wait until more people have read the book before we discuss it, there is something I need to mention now to make sure I'm on the right track. Something that has made an impact on my Work concerns the ideas between pages 155 to 165. The issue is presented as 'Attention of the Heart' and on pg 162 as 'Attention as Prayer'.

I'm still assimilating it all, but since reading this, I've noticed that my self-observation has been effected, possibly even having taken on an added dimension or depth. I want to make sure this is a good thing, or find out if I have somehow got lost in some fantasy or time-wasting subjectivity.

According to what Needleman wrote about Father Sylvan's view of St. Simeone's presentation of the three methods of attention, a person needs to always have "the Question" on his mind, in a sense. I'm assuming the Question is related to "Who am I, Where am I, Do I even exist?" in terms of a soul, or the authentic self, even if it seems there isn't one at the moment. This is what I have started searching for and asking in myself every moment as I observe myself and interact with others. This is like having attention on the "quietness within movement", or "looking within an area that is deeper than any word or concept can penetrate" for an evidence of an actual 'me' and for the 'soul' in others - the only thing that can matter.


"Having stated that this third kind of attention, the attention of the heart, is the primary aim of spiritual work, and then, having reiterated that everything else in one's inner and outer life must be subordinate to this aim, and having explained certain specific methods that may lead to error (omitted in the Russian and English versions), St. Simeon then writes:

"Keep your mind there (in the heart), trying by every possible means to find where the heart is, in order that, having found it, your mind should constantly abide there. Wrestling thus, the mind will find the place of the heart."

The narrative continues with the observation that we don't know the place of the heart, and that it is something we must find and not even assume is there, and that this is a point that is missing in all the Christian (mystical) literature. We falsely assume that we can find this place, or that we are already there. This third method of attention, then, is meant to lead us to the center of our being; it does not start from the heart; it leads to the heart.


"...the mind should be in the heart. It should guard the heart while it prays, revolve, remaining always within, and thence, from the depths of the heart, offer up prayers to god. (Everything is in this: work in this way until you are given to taste the lord). When the mind, there, within the heart, at last tastes and sees that the Lord is good, and delights therin (the labor is ours, but this tasting is in the act of grace in a humble heart), then it will no longer wish to leave this place in the heart...and will always look inwardly into the depths of the heart and will remain revolving there, repulsing all thoughts sown by the devil. (This is the third method of attention and prayer, practiced as it should be).


This is what has had the biggest impact on me so far. Of course, I understand to replace 'Devil' with the ego or false personality/attachments, etc., and 'God' with Divine Cosmic Mind, or Holy Spirit.

After having read the book (and I want to go back through it), I came away with a feeling of this same searching that is explained in the third method of attention. I felt like I had begun to look for the "heart", or "soul" in myself, others, the environment - all simultaneously - both inside and outside myself (and there is some doubt as to exactly where the dividing line is). I seemed to have started responding differently, and the best way I can describe it is the way Laura put it back when she remarked to a couple of forum members to stop doing the boy-girl thing; instead, try and see each other as souls. I understood the idea at the time, but that understanding was intellectual. Now, I seem to be feeling it. It seems it is now making more of a visceral impact, making it much easier to divide what I am perceiving at each moment, into what seems really important and what is not, along with the sense that this needs much practice.

In a nutshell, I think all the above, this searching for the soul as described in the third method of attention and within those ten or so pages, is another way of thinking about the singular 'I' one is wanting to fuse?

I think that this is just a different way of talking about what we already understand as the normal, daily Work. It's just being presented from a traditional christian perspective. Is that right? If so, I am surprised that this way of talking about the Work has had the impact on me that it has. Of course, it has been awhile since my first exposure and approach to this Work and my initial reactions were all intellectual and ego-based; so a lot of 'dumping' had to be done just to get me into a more receptive frame of mind - to prepare me, so to speak, to understand the Work properly. Does that make sense? If so, no time spent in this preparation was wasted, osit, it was just a necessary prerequisite in my case.

Reading this book has been time well spent (invested) and I hope everyone here gets a chance to read it too. :)
 
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go2

Dagobah Resident
I have been reading Lost Christianity and experiencing the Fourth Way as what has been lost in Christianity. It makes so much sense. The essential step of "observing and cleaning the lower centers" before the "higher center connection" can occur is the lost or stolen key. I understand the tragedy of all that suffering which could "add to being", being used to deceive and enslave humanity. No wonder Rome made Christianity a State religion. They had to destroy the power of Christianity for Truth and Liberation, to preserve the status quo of Empire.

The language is the language of Christianity. I know that I could not see the deeper meanings without the Work of the Fourth Way. Now I have a small inkling of what has been lost and the years of despair and waste that have been my life. I feel "gratitude" in the last few days, as if a part of myself which had been lost, has been found. I may be lapsing into subjectivity, but I feel despair giving way to hope as more parts of the puzzle slip into place.

Jacob Needleman—Lost Christianity said:
It was a disaster for Christianity, according to Father Sylvan, when it adopted the notion that the soul of man already exists in finished form within human nature. This assumption about the given existence of the soul led to our identification of ordinary kinds of thoughts, emotions and sensations with the soul, the higher part of ourselves, and hence to the futile and mistake effort to perfect our being by perfecting our thoughts, emotions or sensations, i.e. the futile effort of thought to alter emotion or vice versa. The Christian teaching, as Father Sylvan presents it, says on the contrary that these psychological functions are incapable of altering each other. Change, transformation, can come only through the action of an objectively higher force: the Spirit. And this Spirit cannot find channels of action unless there exists something in man that can receive it and pass it on to all the parts of himself.

But the power to alter the structure of human life, inwardly as well as outwardly, does not reside in a partial function of the psyche, Only that function which can be in actual relationship, actual contact, with all the parts of the self has the possibility of altering the self, or of serving as the channel for the force that can alter the whole of the self. That function Father Sylvan identifies as the power of gathered attention, the power of the soul.

When man is in question, he is actually in between the higher and the lower in himself. This state of in-betweenness is unaccustomed to the mind and the emotions, and is always experienced at first as painful or unpleasant. In this connection, however, Father Sylvan several times cites a saying that is actually of Sufi origin:

When the heart weeps for what it has lost,
The Spirit laughs for what it has found.


Thus the revolutionary nature of this teaching has a positive as well as a negative side. The hope it offers is as extraordinary as the just-mentioned indictment of the whole movement of human history in relation to the search for “happiness.” In brief, and to put the matter in as simple a form as possible, the whole of the Christian tradition, according to Father Sylvan, need “only one or two adjustments.” He writes:

Let everything go on exactly as it now goes on. May no one in the name of God begin to reform anything. Let even one or two people begin by recognizing in their hearts that Truth is the sustained consciousness of Error. In this way, the Holy Ghost appears within the individual. May even one or two people understand what takes place within a man in the state of Questioning. There is knowledge and force to support this aim. This knowledge and force is Christianity of another level. Seek for what is possible within yourselves and what is not possible will be added to you.
 
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