"Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you." (John 13:10)
What does Jesus mean by 'clean'?Jesus using a metaphor. He is comparing being clean physically with being spiritually purified, as he replied to Peter's enthusiastic statement:
"Then, Lord, not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!" (John 13:9)This is confirmed as Jesus said: "And you are clean, though not every one of you."
The word "clean" is being translated from the Greek word καθαρός (katharos). This can mean "clean," but also "pure." According to the lexicon, it can mean "free from corrupt desire, from sin and guilt."
Thus, Jesus is pointing out that most of his students of his were purified. Apparently, except one. This, apparently, refers to Judas, confirms later in this conversation:
So Jesus is indicating that all those disciples who were with him and getting their feet washed by him were purified. The statement, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean," metaphorically indicates that he considered the disciples spiritually purified, and thus his washing their feet would be compared to maintaining an already purified state.
The first question this brings is that if some teachers are right that we can only be "saved" or "cleansed of our sins" - or purified - by Jesus' dying for our sins, how were Jesus' disciples purified before Jesus was crucified?
Some teachers go to the extent of saying that no one was saved prior to Jesus' dying for all of humanity. Some even claim that anyone who died before Jesus had to wait around for Jesus' crucifixion before they can be saved, which is supposedly why all the "prophets" were predicting Jesus' coming to save all of humanity. And now they say we have to wait again for Jesus to "come again."
This teaching makes no sense. They are claiming that those blessed ancient teachers such as Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Job, Samuel, Eli, David, Noah, Isaiah and so many others who directly communicated with God and served Him with love and devotion were not "saved"? That they too had to wait around for Jesus to die on the cross for their sins?
This nonsensical proposition was developed by institutional Roman Catholic teachers desiring to control the population through religion. They sought a doctrine that claimed the only way anyone could become spiritually purified, or "cleansed of their sins," or "saved" was through Jesus' crucifixion. (An amazing irony, given the Romans' involvement in Jesus' crucifixion.
This is despite the fact that many were saved and purified before Jesus as we see evidenced in the Books of the Old Testament. And Jesus purified and cleansed those around him long before he was crucified.
Isn't this a place of consequences?Everything we do that affects others physically or mentally has a consequence. These will produce a corresponding effect upon our future in order to teach us, good or bad, the results of our activities. This is for educational purposes. We are here to learn, and consequences allow the physical world a process for teaching us.
In other words, we learn about how to be more empathetic, by becoming more aware of how our actions affect others.
This is about learning to love. Empathy towards others is about loving others. When we love someone, we automatically empathize with them. The ability to love can also be gradually developed through empathy.
These lessons are part of the design of the physical world, created by the Supreme Designer, God. We might compare this to a very advanced video game. Just as a person can sit down at the computer and start up a video game, the spirit-person takes on a physical body in the physical world.
Just as a person might choose a suitable icon to play in the video game - and come to identify with that icon - the spirit-person begins to operate and identify with a temporary physical body in the material world based upon the lessons that need to be learned. And just as the video game is programmed with various rules of engagement, the physical world is also programmed with consequences.
Typically a video game will come with a series of challenges in the form of virtual opponents, virtual race tracks or whatever. We might have to fight or steer a car or whatever. As we play the game, we win points if we follow the rules and we play the game well. If we don't follow the rules, or don't play well, we lose points. Most video games come with a combination of winning points and gaining advantages. When we win points we also move up to a higher level. In other words, the way we play the game comes with consequences - good and bad.
The physical world is comparable. We accumulate advantages when we do things that help others, and this leads to positive consequences. But if we do things that hurt others, this leads to negative consequences, which typically reflect what we did. If we punch someone, we're likely to receive something reciprocal. If we steal from someone, we'll be put in jail (our freedom stolen from us). These are all negative consequences.
Does this describe 'eye for an eye'?Consequence learning is the notion of 'an eye for an eye.' But many have misinterpreted this to mean humans have to take violent responses to others' activities. As Jesus taught when a woman was about to be stoned to death, mercy is the greater position.
As this is applied to consequences, we can be merciful and render just and fair sentences.
In some cases, we are not responsible for rendering justice. For events outside the realm of crimes, the physical world is designed for automatic consequences. We don't have to enforce these, because the physical world is already programmed within its design to present consequences to each of our self-centered actions.
Sometimes, the consequences do not come so quickly. They may take a few years, or even a lifetime to come back to us. In other words, the activities of our current lifetime will produce consequences into our next physical lifetime - assuming we choose to remain engrossed in our physical identities.
Did Jesus teach this?This is why Jesus' disciples asked Jesus the following question when they came upon a person who was blind from birth:
His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" (John 9:2)If the man did not live a previous lifetime, how could he have sinned previous to being born blind? We know from this and other statements that Jesus indeed taught that the spiritual person can transmigrate from one body to the next.
This also gives us a clear understanding of the term "going to hell" - a term accepted by practically every organized religion. If a person dies, and the body is buried and decomposes, how could that person possibly "go to hell"?
The only way that person could "go to hell" after the body dies and decomposes is if the person is not the physical body. The person must be able to separate from the body at death in order to "go to hell."
Where do we think hell is?In some underground cave, full of fire with horned devils brandishing pitchforks? Have we found any of these yet in our drilling and excavations of the earth?
What about the suffering we see right here on this planet? What about the children born into starvation? What about women born into countries where armed men rape them, torture them and burn their villages? What about the people who are - and especially those from times past - born into slavery, to be whipped by cruel masters? (Slavery in different forms continues to this day.) Are these people not in hell?
And what about the rest of us? Are we in that great a place? Are we not also born into relative suffering, as we cry during birth, only to struggle with diseases, survival, and aging, to become crippled and then die in pain? Are we also not suffering - albeit not as bad as some others?
This physical world is hell. Hell is that place designed for those whose consciousness and previous activities are being reflected right back to us. In other words, our individual suffering has been caused by each of us. No one else is to blame.
Does God want us to suffer?So then we must answer that question that so many sane people ask when they try to relate a Supreme Being with the suffering evident in the physical world. They ask:
If God exists, then why is there so much suffering?
If God is a loving God, then why is there so much suffering?
These are both logical questions that most sectarian institutions have no reasonable answer to.
The first part of the answer goes back to the video game analogy. Just as the computer operator is not the video game icon that he or she is playing in the video game, we are not these physical bodies. Our physical bodies are like automobiles that we get in and drive. They are not us.
And just as the computer operator playing the video game can turn off the computer and walk away (or the car driver can step out of the car), we - the spiritual person - can each also leave our physical body and this physical world, and return home to the spiritual realm.
In other words, the suffering that we see is not happening to us or others. It is happening to these virtual machines called our physical bodies - which we, unfortunately, identify as ourselves.
This means that the suffering of the world is only taking place to these physical machines - not us. Our only suffering is due to our misidentification with them - and our being away from the Supreme Being.
This element - that we become engrossed in the identities of our physical body by virtue of our desires - is also part of the Supreme Being's design. Why?
The objective of the design of the virtual physical world programmed by the Supreme Being is to give us:
1) A place where we could virtually escape from God's presence
2) A place where we could seek out our own enjoyment
3) A place where we could pretend that we are the center, and the universe revolves around us
But at the same time, He also programmed the physical world with a rehabilitation (consequence) system to help us. Why? Because the Supreme Being loves us and knows that we will only be happy if we are with Him, being His playmate and caregiver in the spiritual realm. This is our true identity. So out of love, the Supreme Being programmed into the physical world:
1) A facility that allows us to re-learn the meaning of caring for others
2) A facility that allows us to re-learn what love is and what compassion is
3) A facility that teaches us about humility
4) A facility that shows us how alone we are without Him
5) A facility that pushes us to re-evaluate our decision to be away from Him
These traits; love, compassion, humility, and being connected and dependent upon the Supreme Being, are our lost natural traits. So He is simply trying to remind us - through this virtual medium - of who we really are, in hopes we will return to our natural position.
How does this relate to consequence learning?Let's compare this to the consequence learning system that good parents train their children with. If the child steals something, they get grounded and can't play with their toys for a period. If the child messes up something, they have to clean it up. What does this teach the child? To respect others' possessions and things. In other words, we can see what the parents are trying to teach by the consequences the child is given.
If we look around us at the various consequences of the physical world, we can see what is trying to be taught to us: Love, caring for others, respecting others, and so on.
And the state of our learning travels within our consciousness, as we travel from moment to moment, year to year, and lifetime to lifetime.
Some like to argue that there is no way the spiritual person could inhabit another physical body. Yet we are inhabiting multiple bodies even within this lifetime. The body we wore as a child is not the same body we are wearing as an adult. The entire body - every atom and molecule - is different. Even the molecules making up our genes have recycled. Therefore, we are changing bodies all the time. Science has determined that within five years, the body's molecules have been recycled.
What is the self?So what is the permanent 'thing' among our changing bodies? It is the self - the spiritual person that operates the body. When we look in the mirror we do not see our self. We see the physical body that our self operates. When we look at our childhood picture, we see the body our self operated before - which is now gone. Now our self is operating a physically different body.
But the pure spiritual self is not the only thing that travels through changing bodies. Our consciousness also travels with us. This consciousness covers the pure self with desires and consequences (the state of our learning), and it is this consciousness that determines the shape of our physical bodies.
It is like carrying around baggage. If we want to go to Detroit so that we can have fun on the town, we will travel there carrying a suitcase full of clothes suitable for going out on the town. If we didn't want to go out on the town, we wouldn't need those clothes. Now if we didn't work hard at our job, we couldn't afford to put nice clothes in the suitcase. We would put whatever clothes we could afford in there.
In the same way, our desires determine what kind of future body we will wear, limited by our past activities. The more we treat people with care and kindness, the fewer limitations our future bodies will have in satisfying our desires.
But whether our past activities have been good or bad, as long as we maintain self-centered desires, we will remain trapped within the confines of the physical world. Here we will remain in hell - experiencing virtual pleasures and pains to the degree of our desires and past activities.
In other words, hell is that place where we are disconnected - by our selfish desires - from God and our loving relationship with Him.
What is spiritual purification?Becoming spiritually purified has nothing to do with our wanting to be cleansed of our sins. The desire to be cleansed of our sins is still a self-centered desire, so it has nothing to do with spiritual purification.
A person becomes spiritually purified when their objective and mission is to please (do the will of) the Supreme Being.
In this condition, the person is cleansed of self-centered desires, because they have fallen in love with God, and they seek to please the one they love.
This change in consciousness has a completely purifying effect on our consciousness. It is like the person going to Detroit realizing they do not need to go. They won't need a suitcase. In the same way, if a person does not have self-centered desires, they don't need to carry around a self-centered consciousness and the prospect of future physical bodies. They can return home to the spiritual realm after this physical body is finished.
The reason Jesus indicated that his disciples were "clean" - or purified - is because they became part of his mission. His mission was to please the Supreme Being because He loved God. Because Jesus' students wanted to please Jesus as their teacher, they were hooked up with his mission - and thus lost the 'baggage' of self-centered goals. Even if they were not perfect in their love for God, as long as they were linked up with the mission of Jesus, their consciousness was cleansed.
Of course, a person can change, in either direction. The Supreme Being gives us the freedom at any moment to move closer to Him or away from Him. Thus, for those who are moving towards Him, most of us still need further preparation before our consciousness is perfected enough to return to the spiritual realm. This is a personal and often gradual process.
Challenges are put in front of us to test us, and we still face consequences for whatever activities we do with self-centered intent. These can serve to make us stronger, wiser, and more aware of who we are and what our ultimate position is - assuming we continue to desire to return to our relationship with the Supreme Being. As our love for Him grows, our self-centered desires burn away, and we become prepared to return home.
This is the core of Jesus' instructions, and why his most important one was:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-40)