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Realms of Wondrous Gifts
By:RWG Reader

MIRACLES IN THE LIFE OF JESUS

Extract from the ebook Realms of Wondrous Gifts:
Psychic, Mediumistic and Miraculous Powers in the Great Mystical and Wisdom Traditions

By Santoshan (Stephen Wollaston)
With conversations with Glyn Edwards

Revised Smashwords ebook edition, 2012
Available in most ebook formats (incl. Amazon Kindle)
Words: 34,500 approx
ISBN: 9781465766717
RRP: $4.99 (USD)
Category: Spirituality / World Religions / Psychic Phenomena

Within the Christian tradition numerous miracles can be traced back to Jesus and the Old Testament. There is a tendency for some to think of Jesus as either a mystic or a medium with great healing abilities. But we must remember that for the majority of Christians, Jesus is neither of these, as he is looked upon more through the eyes of John’s Gospel, St. Paul and the resolution made by the First Council of Nicaea in 325 CE as God. Some Hindus also believe this as they consider Jesus to be an avatar (a Divine incarnation). This belief may sit uncomfortably with some. But if we are to live harmoniously in pluralistic societies with people holding different beliefs, there needs to be an acceptance of difference where we agree to disagree and respect others’ paths to growth and seek out common ground where we can share the deeper mysteries and practices of an authentic spirituality.

Much is popularly known about the miracles of Jesus, such as curing those who were blind, sick or lame, bringing Lazarus back to life, calming a storm, walking on water and turning water into wine. His miracles were seen by his followers to be signs that he was the expected Messiah and that God’s new kingdom was about to come. However, for some Christians his miracles are not looked upon for authenticating his status, as according to Matthew’s Gospel Jesus refused to perform them for that purpose (12:38-39). Yet John’s Gospel mentions Jesus performing seven signs that show him to be the one who has come from heaven to provide eternal life. But it is perhaps the way in which he is said to have both entered and left the world that are thought to be the most miraculous events in his life.

Jesus’ virgin birth is told differently in two of the four canonical Gospels. It is also told differently in the Muslim Qur’an, which credits the infant Jesus with the ability to speak. It seems extraordinary that what is seen to be an important event by many Christians is not mentioned in Mark’s or John’s Gospel (there are only ambiguous passages about the Word being made flesh at the beginning of John’s Gospel and a scant reference to Jesus’ mother in Mark 6:3, of which neither mention anything about a virgin birth) and raises questions as to whether it was something that was added to Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospel in an attempt to give more weight to Jesus’ importance. There has also been some research into Jesus’ human birth being deliberately played down as there were some who wanted to see him as solely Divine. In Bart D. Ehrman’s Jesus Interrupted he mentions how the writer of Matthew’s Gospel is drawing on a prophetic saying by the Hebrew prophet Isaiah about a ‘young woman’ conceiving (alma in Hebrew), which Ehrman points out, “came to be rendered into the Greek word for ‘virgin’ (parthenos), and that is the form of the [the translation of the Hebrew] Bible that Matthew read.”

Not all Christians believe in the virgin birth of course and accept that the retelling of a holy man’s life can become more embellished and elaborated upon over the years. Many important figures in the past, such as Alexander the Great and the Buddha, were also credited with virgin births. Interestingly the Gospel of Thomas and the contents of the speculated lost Q Gospel focus more on Jesus’ teachings rather than on his life and deeds. The Episcopalian priest, Cynthia Bourgeault, has also written about Jesus as a great wisdom teacher.

The account of Jesus’ resurrection is a different matter and is recorded in all of the four canonical Gospels, but each gives a different account of what actually happened. In Chapter 28 of Matthew’s Gospel it describes how Mary Magdalene and the “other Mary” find Jesus’ tomb empty and how an angel tells them that Jesus has risen, after which they meet Jesus on their way to tell the disciples what had just happened. Or perhaps we should say ‘other disciples’ if we accept the view of the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, which sees her as one of the main and most important disciples with secret teachings of Jesus and fitting the role of an apostle herself.

The oldest of the canonical Gospels is now thought to be Mark’s Gospel, of which the original ended at Chapter 16, Verse 8 (Verses 9-20 were added later). Mark describes how Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James and Salome, find the tomb empty and meet a young man in white who informs them that Jesus has risen.

In Chapter 24 of Luke’s Gospel, Cleopas and another disciple are the first to be mentioned as seeing Jesus, and there are several women, including Mary Magdalene, who go to the tomb, find it empty and are met there by two men wearing shining clothes, who ask them why they are, “looking for the living amongst the dead.” In Chapter 20 of John’s Gospel, only Mary Magdalene is said to have gone to the tomb and found it empty. After this she tells Simon Peter and the disciple Jesus loved, who then make their way to the tomb to see for themselves. It is only once they have gone home that Mary Magdalene then sees two angels in white, who ask her why she is crying and then sees Jesus, who tells her not to hold onto to him as he has not yet returned to his Father.

The contradictions in the four Gospel accounts obviously make us wonder just how much of them are reliable. But we have to remember they cannot be read as historical documents, written in the same way contemporary historians would write about events today (although some Christians try to use them this way). They are testaments of faith. In addition to this, the term ‘resurrection’ is symbolic language and can mean different things to different people. The finding of the empty tomb and Mary Magdalene’s involvement as a chief witness are the only consistent elements. In analysis, the question has to be asked as to whether an empty tomb implies that Jesus’ physical body was actually resurrected or not. (Interestingly there are stories of Tibetan yogis and lamas whose bodies are said to have disappeared on their death.) But the fact that women are featured so heavily in the Gospel accounts adds validity to them, as prejudice towards women in Jesus’ time shows they were not usually looked upon as reliable witnesses. Therefore if someone was to fabricate a story of this kind during that period and wanted to convince others about its credibility, he or she would not have included women as central eye-witnesses, especially someone with Mary Magdalene’s implied shadowy past.

We are never told exactly what it is Mary had done, but Luke’s Gospel tells us that seven demons were cast out of her (8:2). She is however one of Jesus’ closest and most devoted followers. The idea of her being a prostitute is now accepted as a later interpretation of the Gospel texts, which was done deliberately to underplay the important role of women in the early Jesus movement. Many now consider the historical Jesus to have been an early feminist because of his inclusive attitude towards women. The Greek translation of Romans also has Paul describing Andronicus and Junia as the foremost among the apostles (16:7). Junia is a female name which seems to have been deliberately translated into the male name Junius in many English translations.

Jesus’ famous saying, “I and the Father are One” (John 10:30), is his most fascinating statement. For some Christians it is thought to confirm his special Divine status (in Elaine Pagels’ Beyond Belief she mentions that in the Jewish tradition in Biblical times the titles ‘son of God’ and ‘Messiah’, which are connected to Jesus and have come to imply his unique Divinity, would have designated someone who was Israel’s human king). For others the saying is seen as being no different to the insights of various mystics who realized in the deepest depth of their being there is a supreme sacred oneness that connects us with all things. This corresponds more with the teachings in the Gospel of Thomas, which encourage us to realize that the kingdom of God is both within and all around us. Interestingly some texts, such as the Thomas Gospel, are sometimes referred to as ‘apocryphal.’ Although this word has come to imply an unreliable source of reference, it has its roots in the Greek language and actually means hidden or secret. Implying that the teachings are meant to be understood more esoterically.

Jesus’ transfiguration, where it is said his face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as light (Matt. 17:2) or a flash of lightening (Luke 9:28) has become a popular episode in his life for some Spiritualists to identify with. There are indeed some parts of the event that are comparable to Spiritualistic types of physical phenomena, such as the materialisation of the deceased Moses and Elijah (Matt. 17:3 and Luke 9:30) and a discarnate voice that spoke to Peter, James and John (Matt. 17:5). The mention of a bright cloud that enveloped them (Matt. 17:2) was speculated by James F Malcolm to possibly be ectoplasm. But as so little information is given about this cloud, we cannot really say what it was or why it was there.

Another episode in the life of Jesus shows him having the ability to foretell his own death, which can be seen in Matthew’s Gospel where he tells his disciples he will be handed over to be crucified (26:5). Controversially the Gnostic Gospel of Judas has raised some questions about whether Jesus planned his own death or not, though the idea of martyrdom is not advocated in the text. Ideas held by many Christians about Jesus’ crucifixion and death being an act of atonement or bringing about salvation for humanity, which draw on passages in Mark’s and John’s Gospel, has some similarities with a practice found in yogic traditions where a guru may voluntarily take on the karma of a disciple or community in order to advance their spiritual evolvement.

BOOK DESCRITION

As well as an insightful introduction and four in-depth and illuminating chapters by the author, ‘Realms of Wondrous Gifts’ includes two extensive conversations with the internationally renowned UK medium, Glyn Edwards, on the Powers, Spirituality and their profound implications.

REVIEWS AND ENDORSEMENTS

A real gem of a book … Highly recommended.
– PSYCHIC WORLD.

A breath of fresh air.
– SPIRIT GUIDES WEBSITE.

Wonderful, inspirational teaching from both Santoshan and Glyn Edwards.
– JANET MULLINEUX, Smashwords review.

Thought-provoking, with in-depth research by Santoshan and shared personal experience from Glyn Edwards, ‘Realms of Wondrous Gifts’ draws upon ancient and modern teachings from various wisdom traditions and important sources. It is a book that will be of tremendous help to all who wish to deepen their understanding of the powers and the wider implications of spirituality.
– SWAMI DHARMANANDA SARASWATI, author and yoga master.

Written with both clarity and insight, this is a rare and enriching book, which integrates the wisdom of many spiritual traditions. Whilst illuminating the need now more than ever before to explore interspirituality, our universal commonality and deeper spiritual nature, it shows the way forward for embracing the Whole.
– EILEEN DAVIES, international medium and spiritual teacher.

“A nice blend of the scientific, philosophical, Christian and spiritual views that make it a must read...”
– MYSTIC LIVING TODAY.

ABOUT SANTOSHAN (STEPHEN WOLLASTON)

Stephen is a Council member of GreenSpirit, a member of their editorial and publishing team and the designer of GreenSpirit Magazine. He was given the name Santoshan (meaning contentment) by an English swami who trained at the Bihar School of Yoga, and has a creative background as a spiritual writer, graphic designer, artist and musician. He was the bass guitarist of one of London’s first punk rock bands, The Wasps, and is both an author and co-author of several acclaimed books on spiritual matters, including 'Spirituality Unveiled: Awakening to Creative Life' (Earth Books 2011) and 'The House of Wisdom: Yoga Spirituality of the East and West' (Mantra Books 2007). He holds a degree in religious studies and a post graduate certificate in religious education from King’s College London and studied psychosynthesis psychology. He also helped to establish The Gordon Higginson Fellowship (www.ghf-web.com) and coauthored two popular development manuals (‘The Spirit World in Plain English’ and ‘Spirit Gems’) with the renowned UK medium and former Benedictine monk, Glyn Edwards. See Spiritualist resources pages for more articles and books by Santoshan.

ABOUT GLYN EDWARDS

Glyn is internationally recognized as one of the UK’s greatest mediums and teachers of spiritual and psychic science. At sixteen he joined a Benedictine community. He later became a protégée of the renowned medium, Gordon Higginson, and cofounded The Gordon Higginson Fellowship (www.ghf-web.com). He is a certificate holder of The Spiritualists’ National Union, has been a regular and highly popular senior course tutor at the esteemed Arthur Findlay College for over three decades and has run workshops and demonstrated his mediumship throughout the world for over 40 years. He has coauthored acclaimed books on mediumship, recorded various teaching CDs and was given the name Devadasa (meaning servant of God) by the UK yoga master, Swami Dharmananda Saraswati Maharaj. He is particularly known for the quality of his teaching and his ability to demonstrate his mediumship almost effortlessly in front of large audiences. An anthology of his wisdom was released in 2012, entitled ‘The Potential of Mediumship: A Collection of Essential Teachings and Exercises ’. See Spiritualist resources pages for more articles and books by Glyn.