Transfiguration: Exposing the Phantom of Reality

I am sure all of you have heard in the news that Apple launched the Apple Vision Pro, their first VR, AR, MR (Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality) headset. It’s all over the news, so I wonder how many of you have bought it. I think it’s overpriced, so I am staying with Meta Quest 3. I’ve been using Meta Quest since version 1 when it was called Oculus Quest.

If you wonder, “What’s the big deal about it? Isn’t it just another gaming device?” No longer! The big deal is these devices are ushering us into the future of the metaverse. Soon, you can transport or transfigure yourselves between the metaverse and the universe. For the first time, these headsets are produced as productivity tools and will replace your cell phones, computers, eyeglasses, hearing aids, and more.

In other words, soon, we will live, work, move, and have our being with these glasses. They are still big for now, but they are making them as small as a pair of glasses. Most importantly, these devices can serve as an excellent metaphor for today’s subject: “Transfiguration.” If you don’t believe in transfiguration or resurrection or wonder what it is like, you will seriously consider it after this message.

For productivity, you can put on the headset and create a breathtakingly beautiful working environment. You can set up your office on the moon, at the North Pole, or under the Caribbean Sea, surrounded by tropical fish, giant sharks, and colorful sea creatures outside your office windows, above your glass ceiling, and under your glass floor. Can you imagine what it would be like to work in an office like that?

With Meta Quest 3, you get three resizable virtual monitors to work on, significantly boosting your productivity if you know how to use them.

If you are into entertainment, you can watch movies on an immersive screen, like being in the iMax theater, without the trouble of driving there and finding parking. If you like traveling, the National Geographic app lets you explore exotic places as if you are realistically on-site without spending thousands of dollars and an arduous journey to get to those places.

You can also play sports like golf, table tennis, bowling, basketball, you name it. You can even have fitness coaches without leaving your home. You can turn any space you have into a gym.

It’s no longer just the traditional VR environment. What makes it different now is it’s getting incredibly realistic. What you see in the metaverse can be much more beautiful than this universe. Some users say they don’t want to return to real life after being there. Others say they get confused between whether the virtual life is real or the real life is virtual. I agree with them. Sometimes, I prefer to live in the metaverse and feel reluctant to return to the universe.

Now, I have a serious question for you. Have you ever wondered if our present life here is virtual or real? What if it is virtual? Let’s say we come from the real world somewhere, and we are born into this virtual world as babies, live for about a hundred years, and return to the real world we came from.

If you could grasp that life is a phantom of reality, it would completely change how you live, how you relate with people, and how you handle the difficulties and sufferings of life because everything is a phantom. All the grudges, grievances, and guilts on earth are vanity. As King Solomon said,

“Vanity of vanities … vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” (Ec 1:2).

This book is part of the wisdom literature. King Solomon wrote this when he was old. Wisdom is to capture someone’s lifetime lessons and build on them without reinventing the wheel. Instead of working until we are old to find out, why don’t we learn from the wisdom of the ages? If all is vanity, how would you live your life?

About 2,400 years ago, my favorite philosopher Zhuangzi woke up from a dream and told his students, “I just dreamed I was a butterfly. Realistically, I flew joyfully and peacefully among flowers and trees. When I woke up, however, I couldn’t tell whether I was a butterfly dreaming about being a human or a human dreaming about being a butterfly.”

With this story, Zhuangzi taught people that this life is unreal. He allegorized that we are butterflies dreaming of being humans. Our life on earth is just a dream. Our reality is in the spiritual realm. We can call it Pneumaverse—Pneuma means Spirit or Breath in Greek. Our physical life on earth is a phantom. It’s an illusion. Can you grasp it? Pierre Teilhard de Chardin famously said,

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.
We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
~Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

I have discussed this with many people, but most couldn’t imagine another reality outside this physical world. For them, it’s more like wishful thinking.

Do our bodies really exist? If you study a little quantum physics, you know our body is composed of waves, not matters. We know our bodies are composed of cells. Cells are composed of atoms. But when we open an atom, we find an empty space with waves of protons, neutrons, and electrons dancing in it. There’s nothing in there except these waves of energy. In short, we don’t exist!

We are bodies of energy sustained by breath or spirit. The moment our breath leaves us, we cool down and dry up.

Since this life is a phantom, all the anxieties, bickerings, grudges, strife, and wars are meaningless. All the complaints about “me, me, me, how about me” are pointless because “me” doesn’t exist. Like the wise King Solomon said, “All is vanity.”

When you realize all is vanity, resurrection or transfiguration becomes significantly conceivable because it gives us a glimpse of eternity, the Penumaverse, which is called the kingdom of God. Long ago, Jesus gave Peter, James, and John a peek into that reality on Mount Tabor. The question is, can we also have a similar experience?

So, today, we will explore what reality is like through Jesus’ transfiguration event to better understand our life on earth as the phantom of reality so that we know how to handle life meaningfully and live a joyful, happy, carefree, and stress-free life until we return to eternity. Let’s begin.

[Hi, in case we haven’t met yet, I am Sam Stone, the Lightkeeper—you are the light of the world, and I am the keeper! (No pun intended). It’s my calling to help you shine your brightest so that God is glorified in you and you are satisfied in God.]

The Scripture lesson for today, the Transfiguration Sunday, is from the Gospel According to Mark 9:2-9. [Listen to the Word of the Lord!]

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3 and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. 4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

5 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” 8 Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

9 As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. (Mk 9:2–9).

[Blessed are those who delight in God’s word. Thanks be to God!]

Jesus gave Peter, James, and John a glimpse of eternity on Mount Tabor. Even though the passage is short, the message is rich. First, we can see eternity is beautiful,

“And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.” (Mk 9:2b-3).

Mark describes how clean and dazzlingly white Jesus’ clothes were. It reveals why some disciples couldn’t recognize Jesus after the resurrection. He must look like a new person, unlike an average human being at a glance, but the same person at a closer look.

I grew up in a third-world country and have seen friends and relatives who left for a first-world like America. When they return after some years, they look very different. They were the same person but looked like someone from another world—cleaner, healthier, and savvier, to say the least. What Peter, James, and John saw would be much more pronounced because they were really from another world.

This event also shows that transfiguration can happen instantly. Since our spirit is like a wave, it can form the body as immediately as turning on a light switch. Using the metaverse as an analogy, we can see others as soon as they switch on their avatars.

It also explains the possibility of the line in the Apostle Creed, “We believe the resurrection of the body.” I heard some Christians were against cremation because they worry they might not resurrect without a complete body. Our body is not composed of dead body parts but transfigured from the spirit.

As long as the spirit is there, the body can appear just like turning on the lights—just like the metaverse is composed only of light pixels. Elijah and Moses, who died over a thousand years ago and whose bones must have become dust, showed up because their spirits existed.

“And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus.” (Mk 9:4).

This scene is different from Hollywood’s depiction of heaven as a boring place. Mark’s depiction makes heaven much more meaningful. He says they were talking as if they had a meeting. He didn’t mention what they discussed, but Luke’s version gives us clues.

They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. (Lk 9:31).

They were discussing Jesus’ departure as if they had a departure committee meeting. That means you have work to do on the other side of eternity, just like Moses and Elijah, who died long ago, still had work to do. You don’t just float in heaven doing nothing. That’s boring! God’s creation continues to extend and expand. God will assign us to some committees to be stewards of the creation. Metaphorically, of course.

The word “departure” also shows there’s a destination when we leave this life. We leave this universe and enter the Pneumaverse called the kingdom of God.

It says Jesus’ departure was an accomplishment. He came on earth to accomplish the work of salvation. His departure through crucifixion appears the most painful from the human perspective. But he showed us that all human strivings and sufferings are vanity when we realize there’s a significantly better life on the other side. He showed us through his resurrection. Peter, James, and John had a preview of it at the Transfiguration.

Even though this life is vanity, we are not here for vanity. We have a task to accomplish. Jesus gave us the Great Commission to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God. Many people are suffering because they think this life is all there is. If they know the eternal kingdom of God, they won’t cling to this fallen world. They will learn to let go and let God. That’s what we need to accomplish before our departure.

Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” (Mk 9:5).

Peter wanted to set up three pagodas there. It was human nature to idolatry. If you visit anywhere around the world, you will see many stupas, pagodas, monuments, and nitches made to idolize saints and heroes. It seems, for a moment of fear, Peter forgot the second of the Ten Commandments, which says,

“You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. (Ex 20:4).

The idols are the human way to eternalize something we admire. Fear makes us seek idols. The next verse says,

He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. (Mk 9:6).

Understandably, they were terrified. I might be the same if I were there. In fear, Peter spits out the human desire to perpetuate the scene, just like we like to take photos and capture videos to perpetuate the moment. Since Moses and Elijah still live, there is no reason to memorialize them. Man-made structures will all fall apart sooner or later. Peter’s ignorance might have triggered God’s concern.

Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” (Mk 9:7).

When we don’t know how to act and what to say, listen to God’s beloved Son. Do what he tells us to do. His burden is light, and his yoke is easy. We have nothing to fear. For us, we must read the scriptures to listen to him.

As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. (Mk 9:9).

What they saw was a summit meeting. Jesus told them not to leak what they saw. “Hey, Pete, don’t post this on WikiLeaks” until after the resurrection. Until then, people would not understand and could misinterpret reality if they leaked the information too soon. The subsequent records show that even these three disciples didn’t understand what they saw until after the resurrection.

Later, Peter wrote in his epistle about this event:

“For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty.” (2 Pe 1:16).

They were eyewitnesses of reality, the kingdom of God, the Pneumavers. For those of us on this side of the resurrection, we are blessed with records of eyewitnesses. Following that verse, Peter also reveals how to get a glimpse of eternity by reading the scriptures with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Transfiguration reveals to us that we live in a phantom of reality. If you keep this in mind, life becomes much easier, knowing we will one day depart from here when we accomplish our purpose.

Whenever life weighs you down, remember you are only a visitor in this temporal phantom of reality. You belong to the real reality, the Pneumavers, the eternal kingdom of God. Let’s see through this life and live wise.

That’s it for today. I hope you find this message illuminating as much as I enjoy receiving it from the Head Office. Until we meet again, keep your light shining brighter and broader, and harvest the fruit of profound freedom, purpose, and happiness.


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