Radical Christ – The Only Commandment


“Love God and Love your neighbour” is for Jews and Christians the Greatest Commandment.
This Video Explores the Radical New Ethic proposed by Erich Neumann in his Book Depth Psychology and the New Ethic. (1990)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erich_Neumann_(psychologist)

Using ancient Rabinnic Midrash methods in Hebrew Translations Neumann came up with an amazing insight into what neighbour can also be translated to mean.
In a world where the old laws and religions no longer inform and modify our behavior there is a need for a New Ethic.
No longer a dualistic and shadow projection onto an external enemy -which justifies: wars, genocide, racism and self-righteousness.
The new ethic invites us to love our own inner evil and enemy and thereby heal and save the world by saving ourselves.

Please like and subscribe this video to help get it out there.

Thank you!

Below is a podcast version of the video.

Radical Christ – Saviours and Scapegoats

Early on in the narrative of Jesus’ ministry, the crowd want to make him King.

Both occasions are after he has miraculously fed them (John 6:12-15) and extravagantly made wine from water. (John 2:23-25).
In a publicist’s nightmare, on both occasions Jesus withdraws from the projection and idolization, “because he knew what was in people’s hearts”.

What was it that Jesus knew?

Carl Jung in his work Aion, has helped us understand the psychology of projection which I unpack in this video.

Understanding how we project our own gold out of the shadows of the unconscious can help us understand (if not desist), from falling in love, worshiping the wrong objects, and even from falling prey to scapegoating others when they don’t meet our unrealistic expectations of them.

We cannot blame the devil, nor make Jesus responsible for our salvation.

As the poet Mary Oliver says, “You are the only person you can save.”

Also available on podcast. The diagram isn’t (grin)


A Radical Christ 10- Miracles: Signs, Wonders, Power

In this episode we continue to explore the public ministry of Jesus as part of his whole life which left us an orienting map for our own journey.
What we regard as the miracles of Jesus life were not intended to be the extraordinary and illogical events we have come to believe miracles to be.
Instead these moments were the symptoms of an integrated and inclusive life that empowered ordinary people with wonder at their own being and belonging in the world.

Radical Christ 9 The Wilderness-Ravenous Hunger and Test

Last episode we explored the wonderful Baptism of Jesus, the dove, the voice, “You are my agapeitos” (beloved child).

Why, Jesus could have been the proto Trust (fund) Kid!

How then does the same Spirit, (can you still see the dove?) “offer him up” to the Wilderness where the Devil and the Ravens rule?

This episode explores how our Wilderness times are essential counterpoints to our Baptimal blessing moments. One without the other leads to rampant, inflated egos behind picket fences, or conversely to despairing dark depressions when we recognise we can’t be love and light all the time.

Thanks to Stephen Jenkinson for some of the insights used in this talk. You can listen to his work here https://orphanwisdom.com/listen-stranger-days/

A Radical Christ- 6 – Phase One – Incarnation vs Excarnation

In the sixth talk on “A Radical Christ”, Peter examines the Incarnation of Jesus and how this symbolises the return of divinity to indwelling humankind.
From the dawn of consciousness humans have projected their consciousness outwards further and further from access. A kind of EX-carnation.

Less and less embodied and more and more intellectual and philosophical.
In the Incarnation, the process comes full circle as the divine returns to the consciousness that is the reality of all Life here and now.

You can also listen on Spotify below

The Radical Christ 4- Pivotal Life Stages for Jesus and for Us

In this fourth video of the Radical Christ Series Peter maps the Life Stages that Jesus, with every hero in mythology, and our lives follow. Myth is understood as an “Absolutely True Story that probably never happened”
Jesus as the proto-typical (arche-typal) human life has in the stages of his life the experience and the cure for every human condition.
The key lies in being able to connect where we are in our life stage, with the corresponding stage in Jesus’ life.

You can contact Peter by emailing peterwoods.pe@gmail.com

The Radical Christ 1 – Gnowing NOT Believing

In a joint venture with Dharmagiri Sacred Mountain Retreat and in the face of rabid fundamentalism and tired Christian ritual, Peter is launching a series titled “The Radical Christ”. Just under a year ago whist on a visit to Dharmagiri, Thanissara “downloaded” an insight during her morning practice which she wrote on a notelet and presented to me at breakfast. “PW” she said, “This is your next work”. The note read simply, “The Radical Christ”. There was an immediate resonance with Thanissara’s words. They made sense at all levels I have spent most my life speaking about Jesus in one way or another, and though I no longer preach, (over 1500 sermons done, many on this blog still getting hits late on Saturday nights): I do love Jesus. Not in the way that most angry fundamentalist Christians say they do, but in a way I would like to unpack in this series.

This offering is the product of my acceptance of Thanissara’s shamanic ancestral download (I am a Jungian and an African after all), and some months of reading and dalliance with video production software.

In these conversations we will explore a new understanding of Jesus the Christ.
Using the insights of philosophy, culture and psychology we will dig into the archetypal significance of a God-Person interconnection that could lead to global engagement and human transcendence at this time of ecological crisis.

“The Lullaby Gospel” John 6:56-69 Ordinary 21B

John 6:56-69

Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.” Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

One of the great religious thinkers of our time is Don Cuppitt. The Professor Emeritus of Cambridge University makes a telling point when he states, that “All of the world’s religions take place within the realm of human conversation”. The implication of this is that any thought that religion dropped from heaven or anywhere else, as a gift to humans, is simply a nonsense. We humans created religion as a product of our consideration and contemplation of how reality works in our Universe. This of course does not imply that the process was always conscious. Much of our ordering and explaining of the world is unconscious. That is why we have dreams.

However, if we can grasp this truth, that religious thought is a human process, then many things become clear.

With reference to this Sunday’s gospel, the one thing that clarifies itself is why so many of Jesus’ followers gave up on him when he offered them a teaching that directly confronted the ego’s role in religion. If you have been following The Listening Hermit for the past few weeks you will have read that when Jesus identified himself as the bread of life that could not be earned by the sweat of human effort, he immediately put the egoic investment in religious achievement in question. If Jesus is the bread of life, we are nothing more than the 5000 plus hungry pilgrims on the hillside, or the lost wanderers in the Sinai desert.

Yet if we hold that religion is a human process, and humans are largely defined by ego demands, it follows that religion in current practice will also be consumer indulgent. Isn’t the whole science of Church Growth and Congregational Management founded on ensuring that people have a good experience and thus drop the maximum amount of cash in response?

In Jesus day it was no different. Cash may not have been as dominant an idol as in our day but the human pleasure principle (If it feels good do it) was. When the crowd realised that Jesus was demanding profound inner transformation and not merely offering customer service, they lost interest.

I wonder if we, who are the communicators of the Gospel and the line managers of the church, can be honest enough to admit that we seldom proclaim without an eye on the balance sheet?

If this true, then we have failed to proclaim the words of eternal life and have been largely busy with proclaiming the words of eternal comfort and indulgence.

The irony with this approach is at some point when the ego is inevitably challenged, there will be many who stop following. In South Africa it happened in the 1980’s as preachers in white churches started naming Apartheid as the sin that it always had been. The exodus from such challenging preaching into comfortable charis-mania was huge. I used to call such people “Tutu Refugees” as they tried to disown and disavow the courageous actions of the diminutive Archbishop.

“Words of eternal life” are of course hard to define, and challenging preaching can be as much of an ego trip for masochistic martyrs as the comfortable gospel.

I suppose at the end of the day, the soul will know what is life giving bread and what is candy floss.
The bottom line seems to be that true transforming discipleship is always an activity pursued by minorities.

And behold there came a great…SMILE! – Mark 4:35-41 Ordinary 12B

Mark 4:35-41

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Storms are a phenomena of nature and not just on our planet.

Let’s be grateful we don’t live on Jupiter where the winds can reach 360 kilometres per hour(225 mph)! To put that in perspective, consider that we measure wind on earth according to the Beaufort scale.  On this scale 0 is calm and the maximum of 12 is a Hurricane gusting at more than 118km/h(74 mph). Jupiter’s winds are more than double that force.

The strongest wind gust ever in South Africa occurred ironically at “Beaufort” West (Western Cape) on 16 May 1984 and measured 186 km/h.

Storms are part of nature.

We don’t like nor choose them. We whinge about the wind, yet were it not for the wind the rains would not come.

That great Islamic navigator of the spirit Rumi, said, “..smiles come best from those who weep. Lightning, then the rain-laughter.

Storms of the heart are similar.

In the gospel story of Jesus stilling the storm, there are two interesting phrases.  The first describes the storm as being ανεμου μεγαλη- great wind or more literally, great animation.

The disciples are deeply disturbed by this storm that animates their fear.

Jesus then stills the storm and the state after the storm is described by the second phrase , γαληνη μεγαλη – usually translated great calm, but it can also be read as great smile. When I think about the inner storms of spirit, I like the alternative translation.  Smiling after the storm has blown over, no matter the damage, is for me a sign of trust.

I can imagine Jesus smiling as he settled down in the boat.

Here is Rumi again,  “I do not know who lives here in my chest, or why the smile comes. I am not myself, more the bare green knob of a rose that lost every leaf and petal to the morning wind.”

According to a classic text attributed to Japanese Soto Zen Master Keizan Jokin (1268-1325), The Transmission of the Light (Denkoroku), one day the Buddha silently raised a lotus blossom and blinked his eyes. At this, Mahakasyapa smiled. The Buddha said, “I have the treasury of the eye of truth, the ineffable mind of Nirvana. These I entrust to Kasyapa.”

Zen practitioners have for centuries contemplated what it was that made Mahakasyapa smile when he saw the flower twirl in the Buddha’s hand.  They know it was the moment of enlightenment.  It is for them the prototypical koan. What was it it?

Perhaps he saw what Rumi saw.

When the storm has stripped us and we have passed our fear of drowning in the chaos.  When all prettiness has been stripped away and only the naked rosehip is left, we who understand Spirit will still smile.

The smile of Mahakasyapa, of Jesus, of Rumi.

The smile born from wonder at the mystery of Spirit.

Sorry, got to go.

The wind is coming up.

So one last line from Rumi.

When your love contracts in anger, the atmosphere itself feels threatening. But when you’re expansive, no matter what the weather, you’re in an open, windy field with friends.