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The Last Supper ~ J.G. Bennett
I said I would give a lecture on the Last Supper, because Mr. Gurdjieff had told me to give such a lecture, and I said I would give it to those people who had tried themselves as well as they could to understand this event. As it turns out very few people, perhaps four or five, have made anything like a serious study of this question, and so I had the alternative either of not giving the lecture at all, or of giving it to those people who at least showed that they wanted to understand something about it, and I decided that I should go ahead and do it, but this has made it very much more difficult for me, because it means that I have to spend a great deal of time before I can come to this question in clearing the ground, which I did not want to have to do.
Unfortunately, nearly of you who have studied this have studied it only in terms of the narrative of the gospels, or you have connected it in your minds with the Sacraments of the Christian Church, but in reality the event is not at all as it is described in the Gospels, and has only a quite indirect connection with the Sacraments of the Christian Church.
First of all, it is necessary to try to arrive at the real situation that existed in Jerusalem at that time, but in order to do that we have first of all to clear away two very big obstacles, the first obstacle is the whole of the legend that has been created by the Christian churches, and the whole of the Christian dogma, almost without any exceptions at all from the earliest times. The Christian dogma came very late indeed, not from any direct teaching of Jesus, but very much of it came from the time when Greek philosophy began to take possession of this very powerful force that had appeared in the world, and when people thought it necessary to bring about some kind of fusion of what seemed to then to be the power of this new force and the power of Greek philosophy with its prestige in the then inhabited world. This resulted in the re-arrangement of many of the actually correctly recorded facts and in the invention of a whole lot of the things which have no connection at all with what really I happened.
Then there was the still worse effect of the problem, which the growing Christian church had set itself of capturing the Roman Empire. To do this it had to make the most tremendous compromises. It had to eliminate everything from its records as far as it could that would be offensive to the Roman Emperors and the Roman officials. Without this the records could not have circulated in the empire at all, and then, thirdly, there was a process that began during the fifth century when already the Christian Church was established as the official religion of the Roman Empire and gained power, and then began the systematic extirpation of all records which disagreed with the legend that the Church was in course of constructing. First the Emperor Constantine and afterwards the Emperors Theodosius and Ventinian issued edicts which gave power to the officials acting on behalf of the Church to ban everything that was opposed to what they considered right Christian doctrine, and as a result of this it is very difficult indeed now to recover any evidence whatever about the origins of Christianity which do not come from such Christian sources and that do not come from Christian sources that have been very deliberately tampered with in the interests of a particular dogmatic structure that was being built up and a particular legend that was then being created. The whole of the manuscripts that remain to us from that time show the actual signs, actual direct evidence of erasures, obliterations, alterations and so on. About that there can he no doubt at all. It is suite certain that the old manuscripts were tampered with, and not only are the records that reach us carefully arranged but the most important records of all were deliberately destroyed. I think there is no reason to doubt at all that the trial of Jesus took place under the procedure of ordinary Roman law, and in accordance with the absolutely fixed rule of the Roman government a report of this had to be sent to the Emperor. The earliest Christian writers, and Tertullian specifically, says that Pilate send a report of the trial to the Emperor and there is every reason to suppose that this report, like all the reports of all important political trials was retained in the archives. Much less important trials, such as the trials of the Christian martyrs were carefully recorded and the procedure was described in detail and afterwards copies were obtained, and we often have records of how copies of these records were obtained, and it is quite impossible to doubt that any event as important politically as this from the point of view of the Roman administration should not have seen record. I am not talking about any other aspect now. There must have been a record, and it is very probable that a good deal of this record can be reconstructed because these records, which existed at Rome, were used by historians for the purpose of writing their histories, and particularly by the historian who wrote both the "War of the Jews" and the "Antiquities of the Jews", Josephus, whose histories and whose records were preserved for a special reason, and that is that they were quoted at an early stage as supporting, as being a non-Christian testimony to the evidence of the Gospels, and they have very frequently been quoted for this purpose because he gave an account of the governorship of Pilate. I think it is not possible to doubt that when he wrote these records he was in fact making use of something which existed at that time in the imperial archives and which was afterwards destroyed. There is another reason for that. Christian writers in the first two or three centuries, I forget exactly at what date, became very much concerned over the publication. I think it was under the Emperor Maximilian, of either this record itself or something connected with it. I don’t know what it is because it is destroyed and not a single copy has reached us, but there were writers who denounced this as a forgery because it was so offensive to the then beliefs of the Christians of that time.
I say all this because it is important that we should understand why it is that we have so few non-Christian accounts of the origin of Christianity. You know that because of this it has even been said that the reason is that there was never such a person, no such person as Jesus Christ ever lived - that he was entirely a legend invented at a certain stage by the Church for the purpose of giving a focus to certain of its doctrines. I think that this is a very, very nonsensical idea in any case, but it was put forward mainly at a time when a very little existed. Then as result of research into the extant manuscripts, Syrian, Slavonic, Armenian manuscripts of various kinds and some of the recovered papyri in Egypt, and also when there had not been any adequate study of the rabbinical records of the Jews -all of which have in them quite sufficient completely independent testimony today to show that Jesus did in fact live and he was not a legend created afterwards by the disciples and the Church as some people have suggested. The Church had to fight against a completely different picture of Jesus. The Roman historian, Tacitus, depicts Him simply as a bandit, a robber who had with him 300 people and ravished the country and was finely captured d crucified. That hind, of attitude towards these evidences was one thing against which the church had to fight, and because of the fame and universal distribution of the writings of Tacitus, this could not just be picked up and destroyed, but the other records which were destroyed were very likely very much of that sort of character.
Now, about the Trial of Jesus, it is first of all necessary for us (to) understand that the record, which exists in the Gospels, could by no means correspond to reality. It is quite impossible that a Roman governor could have proceeded in the way in which Pilate is described as proceeding, either in his relations with the Jews or in the whole conduct of the trial. Even if He were regarded as o malefactor caught in the act of raising an insurrection at Jerusalem He could not have been tried in that way, and certainly it is quite out of the question to suppose that these acts of Pilate were performed under pressure from the Jewish High Priests - it is obvious that all this was twisted to give, to make the story acceptable to the Romans and to fix the blame on to the Jews and not to the Romans.
In order to understand all this it is necessary first of all to know something about the general situation there. You have to remember that for generations the Jews had been one of the most turbulent and troublesome peoples of all those that were brought under the rule of the Roman Empire. They were constantly raising insurrections and these insurrections were always led by Messiahs who were announced as coming to release the Jews because of the old teachings, in Deuteronomy and so on, that they should not accept a foreign rule and because of the writings of the various profits. Some time about 26 or 28 A.D. there was a change in Rome.
The old emperor was beginning to lose his authority and his power was passing into the hands of another man, and, about at that time Pilate was sent to Jerusalem, and on arrival in Jerusalem - and about this I think there was important evidence, he committed a very great practical blunder. He brought the Roman standards right into the very sacred precincts of the Jewish Temple, a thing his predecessors had always been very careful to avoid, at a tine when the Jewish Kings were tolerated by the Roman Empire. This undoubtedly caused a riot, fully described by Jospehus, and this riot certainly brought on a very repressive and harsh policy from Pilate about the Jews. About this I am going to read you a passage, which is descriptive of this. It is from a book about the trial Jesus of Nazareth by a Professor of Law. It was written some time ago.
Quote: “The striking thing.... showing his hand.”
The main point about this is that it is necessary for us to recognise, to think quite clearly first of all that the quite independent testimony that can have no bias in the matter shows that the governorship of Pilate was a very harsh one, and secondly that what we know, and we know a very great deal, about the general procedure of Roman government in those days, makes it impossible that such an event as this rising of the Jews and so on that took place in Jerusalem should not has been reported. All other events of the same kind were very fully reported and the reports remained afterwards and accounts of them continued to be available in the important archives. You have to remember that one of the most clearly authenticated pieces of evidence about these events was that superscription of Pilate’s above the cross "Jesus, the King of the Jews,” and if He were really crucified as the King of the Jews, this must have been for the Romans a very serious piece of evidence which must have been reported.
If you see it clearly, and I cannot now adequately go through the enormous amount of reading which would be required to make it quite clear to you - that is one reason why I say your not having done this work your selves was the reason why I have had to spend so much time before I can come close to the subject matter - in the trial of Jesus the Gospel narrative is quite impossible and does not correspond to the facts. It is impossible that Pilate should have had friendly leanings towards Jesus, and be overweighed by the views of the Jews in what he did. We have in Jospehus an account which I think has quite undoubtedly been tampered with later, of the Governorship of Pilate. I am going to read you a reconstruction of this matter which is by someone who approaches it in a very different way, from a very different standpoint and certainly not from a Christian standpoint. It is not by any means an accurately made reconstruction but it is important and valuable because it is the result of very scholarly and valuable investigations and gives you some sort of picture. This is the account of Flavius Josephus - the account of Pilate’s governorship.
Quote: “And after that.…. were quieted.”
Now one of the first things that we have to understand in trying to bring ourselves back to these particular events is this general state of turmoil, and. the extreme tension that existed between the Romans and the Jews at that time, which also continued long afterwards and finally resulted in the defeat of the Jews and the destruction of Jerusalem and in this very serious trouble of A. D. 70 the whole of the Jewish people were scattered and dispersed all over the world and all their holy places were destroyed. So that period of about a hundred years was a very turbulent period a. d this was one of the very most turbulent times at the beginning of the Governorship of Pilate with his very repressive and harsh policy. People have taken these undoubted facts into their minds and have used them to try to get o fresh interpretation of the Gospel narrative, that is they have tried to sea whether the role of the Messiah, either voluntarily or involnnterily, taken upon Himself by Jesus, but they do not give themselves any account of the events that really occurred. One of the things that is clear and this is particularly striking in the Gospel narrative, alone, without going outside that, is that Jesus Himself was quite unmistakably without any exact knowledge as to the events which were about to occur. On two occasions he was expecting some great event to occur, at one time when he sent out the seventy and another time when he sent out the twelve. He was quite clear, if the record is to be taken at all as an accurate one, and where there is no reason to suppose it has been tampered with. He says before you come back, you won’t have gone through the cities of Judea before the Son of man shall be come, and throughout he was speaking of the end of the world. In this eschatological conception of the attitude of Jesus and His own followers towards his immediate rule is something taken as one of the main lines of interpretation of the whole Gospel story, and it is a very natural one because it clearly corresponds to the beliefs of the early Christians, in the Acts, in the early authentic epistles of St. Pau1, that they expected the time to be very, short, and that soon the end of the world would come. This is one of the very important things we have take into account in making any sort of interpretation, because here is something which cannot have been record in the interests of any particular dogma or been inserted to avoid any susceptibilities. The situation here on the contrary is one of the great enigmas - the accuracy of Jesus Christ’s own forecast of the events, which were about to come to pass. This lack of knowledge and foresight about events people have tried to see, mostly in the last hundred years or so in another form. The have tried to face these un-doubted facts as they appear in the Gospel Story, and to do that they say it was the end of the world indeed, but only in the sense of the end of the old world and the beginning of the new- world, and he realised and intended His own passion should be the end of the old world and the beginning of a new, and that on the whole, that I suppose represents the general modern Christian point of view for those who realise that it is not possible to maintain the older legends that existed before. About that particular point I want to read you something written by a man who is not this time in any sense anti-Christian, but one who is more than perhaps any one in the world today giving his time and trying to live like a Christian. In his book “The Quest of the Historical Jesus,” this man, Albert Schweitzer, writes something which is important for us and especially for those who have not specially studied this thing, to take into their minds. He writes about what he calls the false victory of Christianity, the victory of Christianity over the world, as distinct from the early teachings of Jesus that the world was something to withdraw from, because it was soon to come to an end and anyone who exhausted himself with this world that was coming to an end would have no chance of participation in the world which was to come, but gradually the Christian church’s have had to this end of the world, this eschatological conception by which the early Christians lived and have had to produce other doctrines in the last hundred years or so.
This is Schweizer's QUEST OF THE HISTORICAL JESUS, and everyone who knows the life of Schweizer knows that this is not the writing of a man who is not penetrated through and through by the love (life) of Jesus, but at the same time, is penetrated through and through with horror at what the Church and theologians have made. But Schweizer himself stops short at what i called the Eschatological interpretation, and we have now to try to penetrate more deeply. By eschatological interpretation, I mean this - the doctrine, the teaching that Jesus was convinced that the end of the world was coming and that he was convinced that it would come at this time of general tribulation, which in one sense was ushered in by Pilate with these persecutions and this abomination of desolation in the Holy of to Holies, which according to the prophets was to be one of the signs of the end of the world. Many Jews, when Pilate brought the Standards into the temple precincts, regarded it as the abomination of desolation. At first he was expecting the end of the world to come quickly, and afterwards, seeing that it had not come according to his expectations, began to transform his own understanding into the realisation that he was to suffer for the elect, and that with his suffering there should come about the redemption of the elect, and the beginning of a new world.
There are many things in this kind of interpretation, which do not make sense at all. Amongst others, it does not make sense at all of the Last Supper, and, as almost everyone who has written about this, it leaves quite incomprehensible the story of Judas as it is described in the Gospels. It also implies a very strange lack of understanding on the part of Jesus. Because neither did the end of the world come as he first expected, when the 70 were sent out, nor did it come afterwards. So we have to try to come to some other understanding.
One thing that I have to stop here a little bit again to give you some of the general knowledge about all this situation which people should have who attempt to study it seriously. The question arises where and how did Jesus prepare himself for his mission? This question is obviously avoided in the Gospels, except that it is attributed to a period of self-preparation with the fasting in the desert, but there is one very interesting thing, and that is that, whereas, in the descriptions given by other writers of the life of Jesus at this time, there were three main sects described, the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Essenes, the Essenes are never referred to in the Gospels at all, and even some people who have not troubled to study and verify and read these sources, from those who got the feeling of them, have thought this was invented and there was no such sect. The fact is that both the Jewish philosopher, Philo, who was trying to harmonize Greek and Jewish thinking, and Josephus, from whom I have already quoted, and other writers, refer to the three sects. Probably the idea that they were philosophical schools came mainly from Philo, who was anxious to prove that the Jews had their own philosophical systems which could be put in parallel with the philosophical systems of the Greeks. I must read you something about this, so that you will have the picture. First of all, I am going to read from the Antiquities of the Jews, from Josephus. This is the book that he wrote that was a collection of all the old history of the Jews, and which he wrote for the Roman Court for which he was Historian. The description in Philo, he says the Essenes reside in villages.…. I shall not attempt to read the whole of this description. He says you would not discover among them. There are descriptions of their lives also in the Jewish War - Josephus himself, if I remember rightly, claims to have gone and spent some time among them. He says, “There is also another order of Essenes...
I read you this mainly to show you that for those who wrote about Jewish life and customs of that time, the Essenes were a very real and important part of Jewish life and yet, as I said, they were not once mentioned in the Gospels. Never once is Jesus shown as having spoken about the Essenes or having praised or condemned any of their views as he did both about the Pharisees and the Sadducees. It is quite probable that the reason for this is that he himself was brought up in this community. There is also evidence that the Essenes had particularly old traditions. In this book from which I was going to read you some extracts, this book is written by a Freemason, and is a very deeply studied book called Secret Sects of Syria and the Lebanon, in which he has a special chapter on the Essenes and discusses the various theories about their origins.
One very widely held theory is that they cane from Jewish priests who were expelled from Egypt about 500 years before the time of Christ and that they also had close contact with the Buddhist missionaries who came from the East, and there are certain evidences in some of their teachings that this was so. But one very important thing about it is that they did not follow the custom of animal sacrifice. Now there is no doubt at all that Jesus condemned the custom of animal sacrifice - he quoted many times the saying, "I will have mercy and not sacrifice," apart from the account of what happened when the temple was taken and the condemnation of this particular practice of animal sacrifice, and one interesting and important point that has been noticed by several people was that although the Last Supper was actually connected with the feast of the Passover, there was evidently no sacrifice of the Pascal Lamb, but only bread and wine were taken. This significant absence of this sacrifice together with many other things shows that he must have taught the wickedness of animal sacrifice, and that in that he corresponds very much to the attitude of the Essenes, as against the attitude of both the Pharisees and Sadducees, both of whom accepted it, and of the priests who profited by the practice of animal sacrifice which was on a very big and terrible- scale at that time, and was a very bad feature of life. I am only mentioning this point as one piece of evidence of the probability that in his teaching he took up and developed ideas which belong to the Essene sect and in other respects all the records of his hostility to the Pharisee and Sadducees gives support to this. There is, of course, the tradition that John the Baptist was himself connected with this sect, and that he was in some way the High Priest of the dissidents who had remained outside rather than submit to the Roman domination.
Now if you follow this point, you will see that we begin to have a certain picture, and that is that the actual practical teaching of Jesus about life was not the same as it became later in the Church. It is true that the Church never developed and used the sacrifice of animals to the extent to which it had existed among the Jews, but there was not this same clear condemnation of it as one finds if one senses the whole of the teaching of the Gospels where there is no reason that it should be altered, especially if one relates it to this abhorrence of animal sacrifice which existed among the Essenes. There was equally among the Essenes, as you will have seen from the passages I have read an abhorrence of war and the feeling that anything connected with war or anything which could possibly contribute to war should be avoided by all means. This, of course, makes the great difficulty and is one of the keys to our understanding of the whole of these events. What we have recorded in the Gospels of Jesus' teaching clearly shows that he shared and taught this same abhorrence of violence, and of killing and even of resistence to evil, which was one of the main things about the Essenes. So that rather than be involved in any kind of resistance, they withdraw and lived in the desert beyond Jordan to a great extent, or in remote villages where they were out of touch. They did not on the whole withdraw entirely from Roman rule, but lived in villages and paid their taxes and so on. Now we come to the really difficult question. What did Jesus mean when he spoke about the end of the world? This is usually interpreted as meaning that he expected a physical change in the sense of a revelation obvious to all men, of a complete change in the whole cosmic situation, after which there would be no further possibility of doubting the Messianic teaching, the Messianic call. But if you have understood something about the old traditions which existed in Babylon, for example about the Flood, and which were preserved even in the Hebrew scriptures, and about the disappearance of Atlantis which had also been in the old Babylonian, as well as the strange tradition which somehow reached Plato and particularly the tradition connected with the moon, that is, the appearance of the moon having caused this great disruption and modification of the earth's surface without the destruction of all living things, you will understand that what was expected was a great calamity of this kind. That certain combination of astronomical factors enabled it to be predicted that something or other, some kind of cosmic catastrophe was threatened, just as the same thing existed before the flood and before the disappearance of Atlantis. This would certainly have been known to the Essenes if they belonged either to the old Egyptian or, as is more likely, to a tradition which went right back to Babylon, to the old Babylon. And they might have known something of the calculations, which showed that such an event was imminent, and that it was necessary to prepare for it. Now it is commonly supposed, the common tradition is that Jesus was a relatively young man at the time of his death, though in one of the Gospels there is “Thou art not yet fifty years old” and there is the evidence in this story of Josephus and so on that is almost certainly reconstructed from the reports of Pilate to the Emperor on the trial that he was not so old, the age that was given is obviously to fit in with certain prophecies as to the age of certain other significant figures in Jewish history. So if we try now to begin to reconstruct in our minds, from now on I am going to draw very largely from what Mr. Gurdjieff teaches on this subject. Up to now, I have only been concerned to give you material which any one of you could have easily found for yourself if you had taken the trouble to do the necessary reading, so it means that 1 hour has been occupied in giving you material which any one of you could very easily have obtained and studied.
First, you have to remember what is the meaning of this teaching about a Sacred Individual incarnated from above. At once in this we go against an ordinary rational or natural explanation, which would make Jesus only an ordinary man in the sense, as far as his nature was concerned, but great in the sense of his powers. So that at once we begin by going against the natural, and we begin with the supernatural view here. But this does not mean that because Jesus was a Sacred Individual, by that he was either omniscient or not in the process of self-perfection like all other individuals, but that he had consciousness of a mission, consciousness of a task imposed on him from Above. And a reason differing from ordinary human reason, but using the material of our ordinary human experience.
therefore, required to obtain the material with which he could decide upon the manor in which his Messiah shall be fulfilled by going to such sources as already possessed the ancient and authentic tradition and in this case particularly the Essenes. That either he or they or together learned and realised that a world catastrophe was threatened and they interpreted this world catastrophe in the same way as earlier catastrophes, such as the flood, the disappearance of Atlantis, and the great winds, and so on, and looked upon it as a matter of vital urgency to prepare people as quickly as possible so that after this catastrophe there should be a renewal of human life, of the higher possibilities, and that he decided, as the foundation of his teaching, to show people how to work on what Mr. Gurdjieff calls the sacred Impulse of Love. And this is one reason why the abstaining from animal sacrifice and the abstaining from violence in every form were among the fundamental things that were taught. But he was in an environment that was as for as possible from corresponding to his teaching. There was bitter hatred between the Romans and the Jews - bitter on both sides.
The next thing we have to think about is the question of the miracles of Jesus. It is usual in these present days to put aside the question of miracles and either to find natural interpretations of them or to place them only as legends of the kind that surround every great person of antiquity after his death but you have noticed no doubt in the reading from Josephus that he is spoken of as a wonder worker or sorcerer. All non-Christian writers speak of him as a wonder worker and even when they speak disparagingly of him, they use the word wonder worker, which is evildoer or sorcerer. There is always this record that we have from non-Christian just as much as from Christian sources, that he was a wonder worker. Now, of course, there are different kinds of miracles but many things, which today pass as not possible, as outside the power of man, or outside the natural forces, the natural processes and therefore to be dismissed out of hand, are by no means impossible. There is ample evidence that there are paranormal phenomena but this is by no means all. There are powers of being, there are powers of knowing, there are powers of influencing external objects, all of which can belong to beings who have reached a certain stage of development, so that here in the interpretation that I am trying to give you now, we go quite away from the ordinary modern view which treats miracles as something inconvenient and awkward to explain but on the contrary I would say that this is as well attested as anything that we can know about the life of Jesus. That he did in fact perform miracles and very largely miracles of healing or miracles of mercy and these in connection with the very centre and core of his teaching of "mercy” and not sacrifice.
Therefore, inevitably he began to attract attention of people who began to ask themselves “who is he”. For a long time past Messiahs had been arising, leading the Jews in fruitless insurrections against the Romans. Not long before another Jesus had led another insurrection and been crucified by the Romans - about 50 years before. There was the constant expectation of someone who should arise and become the World King. There was the interpretation the Jews gave of their own Law Books, and this is where there is confusion between the doctrine of the Messiah and the doctrine of the end of the world, which Jesus in fact was teaching, that a cosmic catastrophe was imminent, but it was very natural that teaching this and showing by his wonder working that he was no ordinary being that people should be associating him with the Messiah that they were expecting as the future World King. He was very much concerned with the possibility of converting this minor as it appeared of the constant heartless massacres of the Jews by the Romans as compared with the immense importance of preparing for this great event. It has been said and probably rightly that when the Gospel record talks of the sending out the Seventy he sent them further afield because it was traditional that there were seventy nations surrounding the Jews and that he was preparing rather as we have in Mr. Gurdjieff’s' writings, the preparation before the fall of Atlantis, preparing to have centres in all civilised communities so that there might be something which might survive. In the peculiar compression of time, which has been given to the Gospel narrative, all this has been represented as happening in on improbably short period of time. There was probably much more time than this but it became clear that the times were not as had been calculated and that at the same time Jesus was preparing to make the centre of his teaching in Jerusalem.
And then these very serious events began to happen. Many of the Galileans who had come with him were very much enraged that his teaching about the wickedness of animal sacrifice should be so disregarded in the Temple. They and many Zealots, who were determined opponents of the Romans at all costs but on purely political grounds, undoubtedly raised a serious insurrection at time. There are evidences even in the Gospels about Barrabas being taken in a recent insurrection. The Romans probably did not have at that time a garrison in the Temple. Pilate had seen the result of pressing too hard and therefore there were only the Jewish guards. The temple was largely occupied (?). But then the Romans struck and there was great bloodshed and great dangers and those two strange verses, that have obviously come out of their place, in an earlier chapter in Luke that some authorities, and I think rightly, connect with this insurrection of this Passover.
“There were present at that season… (Luke 13: 1-4) …above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem." These verses are quite out of place where they appear but they would be quite in place if we suppose Jesus was on the Mount of Olives and people were coming and warning him of these events. The Tower of Siloan in the corner of the city, by which David had taken...? and which archaeological evidence shows had been destroyed and, no doubt, before the sack of Jerusalem, in AD. 70. No doubt people were coming to him and telling him about these terrible events so entirely contrary to all Jesus’ teaching about non-violence and then it became clear that this great cosmic tragedy which was than about to happen was that he himself and his disciples would be destroyed before certain absolutely necessary things had been done.
These people, not sufficiently trained, not sufficiently taught, had gone to Jerusalem with the enthusiasm and particularly the teaching against animal sacrifice, had had become involved in an open war with the Romans and he, of necessity, would be identified as leader of them.
Then the decision had taken. Work of preparation, which should have taken many years, had to be done very quickly. That in to say, such a force had to be concentrated that the future of this teaching would be able to penetrate into history. You must understand that up to this point there was nothing whatever which could have resulted in any permanence. There were many Messiahs who had lived, who had sacrificed themselves, teaching very often and sometimes just merely political characters who had been taken by the Romans and some beheaded and some crucified. There were very great teachings in the world associated with people whose lives were entirely admirable and whose deaths were such examples and who might have transformed the life man such as Socrates and out of none of these had cone this power.
We must now look clearly on the chief point of all. Something has happened in the last two thousand years in the history of the world which up to the point where I am speaking about now there is no possible reason. Even wonder workers; even Miracle workers were not uncommon.Great teachers, teachers of great ethical doctrines existed and had great prestige in the world. There had been great sacrifices. Men had been killed and cruelly killed. So none of these things are sufficient to account for what subsequently happened. What had to happen was such a concentration of energy that it would be able to penetrate through a very big period of inertia before it could begin to develop of itself. Had nothing been done at that moment, everything would have been lost. Everything Jesus had taught, everything he had done would have been lost and lost among the records. He might have been crucified, he might have been beheaded and the record would have existed and remained in the Archives of the Roman Emperor. But nothing else, nothing would have come of it. Because those who were surrounding him were not sufficiently prepared to make this concentration of energy. And then a certain thing was done - this central act. Very strange and extraordinary act in the middle of all the turmoil and all the bloodshed which was going on in Jerusalem at that time.
They withdrew to a special place and performed a certain ceremony or carried out a certain act, by means of which something, which is by all ordinary laws impossible, was to be made possible; that is the reappearance after death of the dead person, not merely in the inner experience of people because such thing could happen, but to enable them to have independent contact with his reason not merely what can happen - a fresh contact with an already existing experience, but quite a new experience which had not previously entered into any consciousness. This is the culminating point by which alone the necessary force could be accumulated. You see here again to go away from the ordinary interpretation which somehow attenuates or even entirely denied the resurrection as a fact, it is not possible to conceive that this teaching should have had the power that it afterwards did if the resurrection had not actually occurred. Whatever attitude one may have to the teaching of Christ – positive or negative or anything else – that alone is sufficient to establish that something that had the power of the resurrection did in fact occur. But there again the Gospel narrative is incomplete in every way. First of all, it does not say, and probably those who knew never divulged, what was the actual purpose of what was done at the Last Supper. Nor did they say what was undoubtedly the case that only those who participated in this act together with a few other people, chiefly women, who also by an analogous process had also established the same contact with him, these people alone could participate in the resurrection, could have this experience of his bodily reappearance.
Now the closest disciple of Jesus and the one, which best understood the whole of this situation and who had been concerned from the start in the teaching of the Essenes was Judas. In him he had the greatest confidence and only Judas was able to be absent form this particular act and therefore only Judas could undertake the supremely important task of preventing this act from being interrupted. It is an act which is attended with very great danger for all those who take parting it, and if interrupted, all could be lost forever. And so Judas took upon himself the responsibility of ensuring that this act should not be interrupted. And this meant that it was necessary for him to assure the Roman spies who were at that time watching the place where Jesus and the disciples were, that it would be possible to arrest Jesus and to prevent them from looking for him in this particular place where this act was being performed and he decoyed them and took them away so that they looked for him elsewhere. Afterwards when there was a great bitterness of all those who had expected from Jesus that he would in fact be the Messiah, in fact be the king of
Page, (7F) missing?
………afterwards was itself incomplete but at least the greatest horror of all, the greatest tragedy, the greatest disaster of all, had been averted, that this might have been lost entirely to the world. So in that sense we owe the greatest thanks to Judas of all those followers of Jesus because he made it possible for mankind for the last two thousand years to have the power of this teaching. And after that, all who in turn were able to become the recipients and transmitters of this power.
Now I think I must read you the passage from Mr. Gurdjieff’s own book. “It will be very useful for your reason”, this is Beelzebub speaking to his grandson “Hassein, “……data for the capacity of genuine being pondering.” (Page 738) (two pages turned over) “It is necessary to explain to you about a certain fact (Page 739) ………. thirty worthless pieces of silver.” (Page 742)
The main purpose about which I was speaking this evening was to help you to think about this after having taken away two of the veils which stand between us and this event. The first event in the whole veil drawn by the Greek, Roman and later inventions about Jesus Christ, and, secondly, the great misunderstanding about what he taught about the end of the world, eschatological doctrine which people are now tending to think of which existed in the early church. It was realized that there was to be a great cosmic catastrophe and they continued to expect it even after it had already occurred. But the great work had been done and this is proved by results that a very impossible thing could happen that out of a situation that had no special power such a power was created and this power is created by three events. First the work of the Last Supper, secondly the death of Jesus and thirdly his reappearance in bodily form among those who were prepared in this way. Because those who subsequently worked with him under these conditions were transformed in a way that very rarely occurs among ordinary human beings.
They were transformed in respect of inner power and this inner power afterwards gave rise to this whole series of events. Unfortunately, all this was incomplete, so that misunderstanding immediately began to enter. And because the necessary knowledge was not available and not fully assimilated all kinds of human artificial inventions came in. In spite of the interference of these human inventions, this inner power of this great cosmic event has been able to refresh mankind for two thousand years.