Podcast: An Introduction to the Gnostic Gospel of Mary Magdalene
Mary Understood the Teachings of Jesus Better Than Anyone Else
Mary Magdalene is the ultimate example of a female apostle (spiritual teacher and leader) in early Christianity. But Mary as well as her Gospel have long-since been neglected and forgotten. As it says in the Gospel of Mary: "You did not see me nor did you know me. You mistook the garment I wore for my true self. And you did not recognize me." Today, we commemorate the return of the Gospel According to Mary Magdalene, and her visions of the Resurrected Christ.
In Gnostic scriptures such as the Gospel of Mary, unenlightened human existence is portrayed as a kind of night of the living dead, souls living in a world of sleep caught up in dreams of illusion, trapped in spiritual ignorance somewhere in time, limited to only a couple of dimensions, tethered to material existence seemingly unable to become aware of anything more. One of my favorite passages from Mary is when a liberated soul exclaims: "I was set loose from a world and from the chain of forgetfulness that exists in time!"
For the mystic-soul there is no need to construct outward temples made of wood and stone, as the human body itself is already the ideal temple of the Spirit. I’m sure this "Kingdom of God is within you" message of the Gnostic or mystical gospels is one of the reasons why they were not politically useful to some spiritual bureaucrats in antiquity and were banned. Mary's contemplative view of the teachings of Christ is in harmony with the wisdom of countless saints, mystics and masters, that the focus is "within", not elsewhere in the outer world of the five senses, the kingdoms of this world. Thus, contemplative meditation for mystics serves as a kind of heavenly "portal" or "doorway" to the Divine:
"I left the world with the aid of another world; a design was erased, by virtue of a higher design. Henceforth I travel toward Repose, where time rests in the Eternity of Time; I go now into Silence.’ Having said all this, Mary became silent, for it was in silence that the Teacher spoke to her.'" (The Gospel of Mary Magdalene)
IMAGE: The early Jesus movement (the Hebrew Christians or Ebionites) seem to have reinterpreted these images used around the Mediterranean world for the sun god and moon goddess, adopting them, transforming them into the earliest icons of their own faith: the sun of god Christ and his companion Mary of Magdala, surrounded by the Twelve Apostles (related to the twelve signs of the zodiac).
Spiritual Awakening Radio (and Sant Mat Satsang Podcasts) with James Bean, heard on various community, public radio stations and the web, explores the world of spirituality, comparative religion, world scriptures and other books, East and West, God, meditation, out-of-body or near-death experiences (inner space), the vegan diet and other ahimsa ethics -- education for a more peaceful planet.