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An Assertion of Woodstock as a New Sermon on the Mount. {Part 2 of 2}

At present, the only authoritative record of the Sermon on the Mount consists of three chapters in the book of Matthew.

There’s no record, as far as I’m aware, of what went on behind the scenes on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee when Jesus preached there. The Bible tells us that at the time, great multitudes were following Christ. I find myself wondering, how did the multitudes get on while encamped on the Mount of Beatitudes?

Did young families conduct and entertain themselves in ways similar to those at Woodstock? In an era before Porta Potties, how in the world did they use the bathroom? I wonder, were there oddballs among the crowds at Galilee, conspiracy theorists like those at Woodstock who swore The Man had seeded the clouds and created the storms?

We do know from the Bible that as the leader of the counterculture of his time, Jesus, like the hippies, brought tension to the status quo. It was an outraged Jesus, after all, who threw over the money-changers’ tables at the temple where they exploited the poor.

Christ was radical. He did not conform to what The Establishment or the indoctrinated masses at the time deemed tenable. To those who followed him though, he was a rock star. People wanted to be near him, to touch him. He was cool.

Christ was revolutionary. He used the sword as metaphor for the intensity of the change he brought. Mainstream Jews in Jesus’ time, much like Americans today, viewed life materially, even in their view of eternal life in heaven. In contemplating their coming savior, the Jews thought in material, political, even military terms.

Like Swami Satchidananda (at Woodstock), Christ spoke as a man not led by ego. He too told those who came to hear him: focus on the spiritual.

Still, the Jews had waited so long to be delivered out of bondage. They wanted revenge. They wanted an earthly kingdom of riches and military might. The Jews saw their savior as a conqueror who’d lead the charge in destroying their enemies — what was this timid nonsense about king of some spiritual realm?

But sharp as it was, Christ’s sword would never draw blood. It wasn’t meant to slice through flesh. It was meant to slice through self-delusion and hypocrisy. The Jews trembled. Jesus turned the law of the scribes and Pharisees on its head. He offered new interpretations of Old Testament law, which revealed the Pharisees’ corruption and set a whole new standard for the time.

The Sermon on the Mount begins with the Beatitudes. English Biblical scholar D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote, in Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, that the Sermon was “a great and grand and perfect elaboration of what our Lord called His ‘new commandment,’ — that we love one another even as He has loved us.”

I am not a biblical scholar. I confess I struggle with the Bible in general. In comparing the Sermon on the Mount to Woodstock, I can make no real academic assertions. So I’ve decided to take a more psychedelic approach.

I close my eyes…

… and breathe deep…

… and exhale…

… and see myself lying in a sunny, flower-filled meadow at high elevation (think The Sound of Music).

My vision expands to include the sky, and expands again, and again, until now I see the pretty blue top we all live on spinning through space, rotating at a speed of a thousand miles an hour as it orbits the sun at the alarmingly rapid speed of 67,000 mph! What wonderful miracles of physics keep us from flying off in all directions! From feeling perpetually dizzy!

My mind always wanders when I meditate. I breathe deep…

… and exhale… … and I’ve done it, I’ve channeled my inner flower child. When making their arguments, Christians have dispensationalism. My inner flower child and I would like to offer the Zodiac. Not in competition with religion, but because we just happen to think the two might be compatible.

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According to astrologers, every 25,000 years or so, the axis of our earthly top wobbles, just a bit (science also proves this). The Zodiac divides time into cycles of twelve 2000-year epochs (a full cycle being 24,000 years). It organizes the heavens into 12 corresponding constellations. Astrologically speaking, at the time when Christ arrived on the scene, the 2000-year Age of Aries was ending.

Christ arrived at the start of the Piscean Era, symbolized, like Christ, by the fish. The Piscean Era was characterized by hierarchy and severe patriarchal, slave-master power structures. British author Anne Baring writes that Jesus lived in a way “utterly different from the belief system and the brutal values which governed the world [at the time].”

Now let’s leave the time of Christ. Let’s fast forward 2000 years into the future, stopping at a monumental year in human history: 1969. We’re now transitioning out of the Piscean Era into the Age of Aquarius. Woodstock, originally, was billed as An Aquarian Exposition. Woodstock ushered in what will be, when fully realized, an era characterized by personal power, freedom, and peace.

Carl Jung said that society is “faced with the problem of the general moral backwardness of our species, which has failed to keep pace with our scientific, technical and social progress.” In other words, every now and again, we need to hear a new sermon. And hopefully one comes along.

Much has changed since Jesus was here (heck, much has changed since Jimi was here!). There are things, unfortunately, Jesus failed to mention. I suppose he had no need of mentioning them. Two millennia ago, men’s technologies were low; they didn’t have the power to destroy the entire planet as men do today.

The Bible doesn’t say much at all about environmental stewardship. To the contrary, it’s often quoted in justification of man’s domination and exploitation of the natural world.

What if Jesus had told us to never, ever stop loving Whale and Ocean and River and Tree, and to do everything in our power to protect them? What if he’d included Mother Earth in the sacred love commandments he gave? It’s time she was included. Society is faced with that Jungian problem once again. We’re in need of new discourse; a spiritual update.

In order to deal with the magnitude of what lies ahead, we may need to install a freak-out tent on every corner. But change is coming. There can be no escaping it. We are at a jumping-off point. Will we propel forward on the spiral of evolution, or regress and collapse?

Astrologers, as well as writer Anne Baring, describe the world as having passed through the Lunar and Solar Eras, and as now entering the Stellar Era. The citizens of Woodstock Nation called themselves flower children. Today’s conscious youth might be considered star children, kept grounded by their deep appreciation of the natural world and divinized by their sacred commitment to justice and peace.

I believe they, with support, will prove capable of amazing feats. But we’re all going to have to do our part. In many ways, the state of human existence is darker and more ominous than ever before. But in many ways, it’s brighter than ever too. We can pull through. The time is now. For each of us. To find our way back. To the Garden.

This is the second of a two-part excerpt from a forthcoming book, titled
“Getting Back to the Garden: An Assertion of Woodstock as a New Sermon on the Mount +Other Wild Notions”.
Read Part 1 here.

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Debra A. Copeland is an independent author, seeker, grandmother, Reiki healer and spiritual activist who, for the first time in her life, has ample hours to write, a life change which fills her with joy! She lives with her husband in the Virginia Piedmont, in a small house being overtaken by a large body of unfinished work, and looks forward to spending the rest of her life completing each project, spending quality time with loved ones (especially her grandchildren), and (out of concern for the future of all children) working for human and environmental justice and transformation. You could contact Debra via email.

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