With my new leadership program, The Divinity Template, I announce my return to “ministry” to help people realize their “divine identity” (divinity) and awaken to spiritual wholeness. I am not a Christian, but I am a minister, an anti-orthodox theologian to serve Christians (the definition of minister is “servant”) and all who seek psycho-spiritual fulfillment. My focus is no longer solely on religious trauma, but also on spiritual light and life (enlightenment) for all people who identify as religious. I will happily align with whatever light exists within the Bible and religions while denouncing their oppressions and falsehoods. This is an expansion of my perspective, not a religious conversion. (I am sure some people will want to interpret it the wrong way.) Here is my story of recent events that led to this new direction.
My story stretches back to the day I was born and my time spent ministering in Christianity, but recent epiphanies started coming together during an ayahuasca journey. I heard things like, “Welcome to God I AM-ness” and a symbolic idea of “God” as the creative potential of the self in relational connection to existence began to emerge. And parts of the Bible and Jesus opened to me in a new, radically re-interpreted way, understood through the lens of the divinity of the self. You might call this a psychedelic interpretation of scriptures, a psycho-spiritual hermeneutic. I was shaking with lightning currents of energy throughout my body and wrote in my journal for eight hours straight and for days after. Huge torrents of scriptures, ideas, and symbols kept flowing into my consciousness.
The ayahuasca helped my thinking, studies, and experiences come together. It was part of a much larger process. About a year ago, I started seeing “visions,” through psychedelics and apart from them, of symbols like the tree of life, angels, the eye of providence, and symbols of liberation. These were accompanied by writings and understanding about my work. More recently, I saw a giant sword falling from the sky, and a book with wings. To me, these represent “sword of spirit” and “words of truth.” After the ayahuasca journey, I understood these symbols as speaking to a new venture of “preaching” and utilizing Christian ideas again to speak to Christians.
Then I had a dream where I was back at my old church as a minister again, but as my present self. I had a meeting with the leadership to arrange my sermon. I knew I had left Christianity and the ministry, but it seemed like they were totally clueless, or they didn’t care. Then I was up on the pulpit, beginning my sermon. But I had nothing to say! (Anyone who knows me knows I never have nothing to say!) At first, I thought this dream represented an unconscious fear of going back to Christianity. But after my realizations, I understood it meant I had a message and would be speaking again in front of Christians, using the language in the Bible to speak spiritual truths to spiritually hungry people who happen to be Christians.
Then I began to intuitively craft Divinity Template Program, a program for spiritual and religious leaders to realize your divine identity, deepen spiritual wholeness, and lead with authority. It is a process designed to help you live into your own question of “What does it mean for me to be god?” day-by-day (“faith”) with the understanding that divinity is something to be found within, not outsourced to an outside authority. I remembered there is actually Christian theological term for this process: divinization. Many spiritual leaders are in a state of crisis and burnout, out of integrity with the modern world, not experiencing deep spiritual connection, sick of isolating from other spiritual traditions, suffering in psychologically toxic traditions, or lacking the “divine spark” of creative joy in their work. This program is a process of discovery, not a formula. There is no one-size-fits-all formula for spiritual development and healing because every person is a unique expression of divinity.
In my studies of psychology and reflection on my own journey, I began to realize the necessity of stages of transition when people expand their worldviews. In my process of transition, my stages were becoming a more moderate Christian, a progressive Christian, an atheist, and finally spiritual-not-religious. My stages of transformation do not necessarily reflect an ideal pattern. Some may choose to deepen their Christianity; others may land on a form of atheism or spirituality. I believe, however, that greater openness and integration of spiritual experiences and knowledge from multiple worldviews is important for human flourishing. Expansion is necessary for growth.
It is important to respect a person’s current location in their process, as a therapist does with her clients. Within their current stage, people can only hear certain kinds of language. Too much at once, or too drastically different, and they will reject it. Not only that, but much of their language and belief system may communicate truths that can be preserved or understood in a different light. When I was able to get some healing from my religious trauma and look more objectively at the religion, I realized there is much to be valued within religious traditions, and much to be learned from people who value them. But if worldview expansions are introduced without affirming anything about peoples’ current faith orientation, they will perceive the message as hostile.
My calling is to relate to all people as beautiful human expressions of “the divine,” not as religious or ideological others. I am to relate to the Church with the same empathy as a mother to her newborn child. I deconverted from Christianity because its oppressive and unscientific teachings psychologically traumatized me. I needed to distance from it to heal, but I also rejected it as entirely bad; a psychological defense mechanism known as splitting. My process of integration and healing has enabled me to also see light, and to speak light into the darkness of religious oppression through my “divine authority:” “Darkness was over the surface of the deep. Then god said, ‘Let there be light’” (Genesis 1:1-2).
When used to be religious, Christianity taught me to mix up my identity with my ideology, and to dehumanize people who “got it wrong.” Secular society teaches us to do the same thing. We group people under dehumanizing labels because of their beliefs. This is silly, because we are not our beliefs. The beliefs we hold have mostly to do with our culture and conditioning. Understanding this enables us to have empathy for those whose beliefs appall us. It’s so arbitrary to choose one set of beliefs over others and define people entirely by these when we all hold many beliefs, and we all find ourselves to be misinformed and ignorant (in hindsight) throughout our lives as we grow.
As a new kind of minister, I will be integrating my studies of religion, spirituality, psychology, and science in my teaching. I intend to craft my teachings in such a way that they can be applied to different worldviews (spiritual, religious, atheist); or at least adjusted by those who hold them to suit their own belief systems. My Master of Divinity degree and small theological library have been collecting dust for long enough. The “voice of the Bible” has come back online for me as it once was when I was formerly a minister (in a very different way). I must follow my artistic muse.
I expect some people who currently associate with me or read my writings to unfriend me or become angry, as they already have done because of my changes. How I wish that my old Christian family, my atheist friends, and I hope now my spiritual-not-religious friends, could see that what I am doing is serving “God” (or serving humanity), but I do not expect they will be able to receive it. What matters is not whether people like me, or even whether they change worldviews or religion. I believe the survival of the planet depends on a massive awakening to spirituality (human potential), and heartfelt experiential encounters with “truth” takes precedence over deconversion. Realization of the sacredness of the self in its connection to all life through the web of consciousness experiencing (“a relationship with God,” symbolically speaking) will help us to heal, evolve, and transform our broken world.
Andrew Jasko, M.Div., Psy.D. in progress, helps religious and spiritual leaders experience authentic spiritual connection and psychological wholeness through The Divinity Template Program. Andrew also offers coaching for individuals to heal from religious trauma. Are you a Christian or spiritual leader looking to increase your spiritual experiences, teach in integrity, and offer new vitality to your members? To inquire about The Divinity Template, a psycho-spiritual renewal coaching program, contact Andrew firstname.lastname@example.org.