Neil-Douglas Klotz is a teacher of world religion and a spiritual guide, aligned both with traditional Christianity and the Sufi tradition. He is known for writing about the Aramaic language which Jesus must have spoken, the language of his homeland, of ancient Semitic lands.
Klotz, in an interview with Tami Simon of Sounds True (NPR) talks about how his enthusiasm about this Aramaic perspective evolved. He says, “When I started this work, I thought, “Well, it’s just a matter of a few different words.” I mean, they are important different words, as I mentioned. But then I began to say that it is a whole cosmology. It’s a whole way of looking. It’s a different psychology. It’s a different way of looking at time. It’s a completely different way of looking at time.
“The ancient Semites tended to look at time really not as a separate past, present, and future, but more as a, what I sometimes now call, ‘caravan time.’ That is that the past is pulsing ahead of us. The present is here now with us in a community with which we’re traveling. And the future is coming along behind us. So it’s almost exactly the opposite of the way Western philosophy looks at it, which is, ‘We’re heading toward the future and the past is behind us and it will never affect us again.’
No, [ancient peoples of the place where Jesus grew up] looked at it almost the opposite way. We’re falling in the footsteps of our ancestors, and then as the Native Americans sometimes say, ‘There are those who come along behind us or after us, and those are our children and our children’s children. We have to really be careful and pay attention to what we’re leaving for them.
“So it’s a whole huge shift, and this idea that there is no “being” verb [in Aramaic] is one of the biggest ones. What evolved in Greek philosophy, on which is based our Western philosophy and doctrines, was that there is a separateness, even of God, for the individual a soul, something that can be saved or invested or lost. Jesus had a deeper idea of the spiritual life … more oneness, less separateness….” For more info, see the website: www.abwoon.com
For Reflection at Eastertide, some people enjoy the following, a kind of paraphrase, a meditative version of the Lord’s Prayer translated by Neil-Douglas-Klotz in his book Prayers of the Cosmos
O Birther! Father- Mother of the Cosmos
Focus your light within us – make it useful.
Create your reign of unity now-
through our fiery hearts and willing hands
Help us love beyond our ideals
and sprout acts of compassion for all creatures.
Animate the earth within us: we then
feel the Wisdom underneath supporting all.
Untangle the knots within
so that we can mend our hearts’ simple ties to each other.
Don’t let surface things delude us,
But free us from what holds us back from our true purpose.
Out of you, the astonishing fire,
Returning light and sound to the cosmos. Amen.