ON THE TRAIL OF THE WILD MESSIAH: A Followup to the Simeon Toko Story
Can it be said that there are individual beings, who act as something like nerve centers for the hopes and fears and potentials of humanity? Could there come from these an individual with a soul so expansive, so filled with the energy and knowledge of the ages, that his words unite all the souls of all the individuals of the planet with Himself?
Many people will reply "yes" with an exclamation point, and perhaps slap a pamphlet in your hand complete with picture and Wise Sayings attributed to Him.
There are quite a few of Him. Last February (2000) a book came into my hands seriously in need of rewriting. It purported to tell the story of one Simeon Toko, whom many Africans believe was Christ returned. I decided to do what independent research I could do on the matter, write an article about it, send it across the internet, and see what happened. At this writing, two or three months after the publication of the article in Nexus Magazine, I am still receiving phone calls and e-mails about it. Here follow a few reader reactions to my "African Avatars and the Secret of Fatima" story, Nexus magazine, August/September 2001 (and now here on my blog):
A woman left this message on my answering machine (30 September, 2001): "I'd like to talk to you... I think a few years back coming back from a trip down south, I saw... in the clouds... a silhouette in the clouds... at first I thought it should be a Egyptian face, but it didn't look like that... just now I was reading the article in Nexus... [the face in the clouds] looked just like Simeon Toko... it would be nice to talk to you..."
Others who had read the Nexus article had called me from around the globe: scholars and merchants and people from ordinary walks of life; the excitement in most of the voices was unconcealed. All felt a strangely compelling interest in the strange story I'd written, which, just as strangely, Nexus had accepted for publication. After reading the Nexus article, a medical doctor in Arizona dreamed that Simeon Toko had spirited him off to Angola -- for this, he decided to take a trip to Angola to visit the sites shown him in the dream; a housewife in Michigan dreamed an epic dream of a tall, homely black man (my article didn't mention that Simeon Toko was exceptionally tall); an Australian couple remembered awaking a couple years ago to see a tall, homely-looking black man standing and looking at them in the middle of the night; a Protestant Minister from Canada saw Simeon Toko standing in his back yard, and now wondered if he hadn't gone crazy;
A fragile 83 year old woman, voice as twittery as a bird's, came to my little apartment to discuss this article. She sat down gingerly on the swivel chair I offered her, and explained to me that there are 9 Christs on our planet at any given time, and Simeon Toko is one of them.
Then she explained that higher beings from the planet Venus were sending rays to enlighten the nervous systems of all who were open to this remote-controlled therapy. She learned this in a class she was taking.
She then asked me to put my two hands together and hold my fingers forward. Sure enough, as she suspected, my index fingers are identically curved. This means that I am one of the Elect of God, one of the 144,000. I believe Pastor Melo, the main author of the book, had told me the same, in one of his first letters to me. Then the old darling showed me a nasty scar which had healed on her left upper arm. She explained that the CIA had loosened the pinions of her porch roof last year, and it fell in while she was standing under it.
She assured me that the CIA and the FBI both are out to destroy all religion; they'd rough up an 83-year-old woman to achieve those ends. They know who the Elect are and where they live. They tried to get her -- but us Elect are meaner than any mere collapsing roof.
I don't know if I like being one of the Elect. Obviously, it's an important enough position to get CIA men crawling around in your woodwork, but the reward -- getting to bow up and down day and night for all eternity before a big faceless Light (capital "L") -- doesn't sound much better than the punishment for unrepentant sinning, which is to swim around screaming aimlessly in a huge lake of fire with everybody else, also for all eternity. So describeth the book of Revelation.
Another woman, a government worker, came dressed properly and speaking rationally, to tell me that she had heard Pastor Melo speak in Himmel Park, here in Tucson, Arizona, the previous Sunday at the end of August. She decided that Simeon Toko indeed must be Christ -- or more properly, "Christed." One of the Ascended Masters has revealed Himself to the world at large, for divine purposes. She did not wish to join the Tokoist church.
Dear Readers will forgive me if I have this wrong; I understood her to mean that one is Christed with Divine powers, to raise the consciousness of all the peoples of the earth -- or at least be available telepathically from some exalted hiding place for those who believe it so.
Of the dozens of letters I received about the article, only a single one was negative. A South African man warned me that these people were nothing but communists who practiced witchcraft, up to trickery. His letter seemed as crazy as any of those willing to "believe," having merely read a story.
While he was here staying with me, Pastor Melo told me one of Simeon Toko's sayings: "Everybody I attract is crazy. I'm crazy, you're crazy -- but everyone else is even crazier." Perhaps a thousand years from now, the Tio Toko Tabernacle Choir -- the greatest choir ever assembled by man -- will ring out with combined voices of the most majestic singers mankind has ever heard. The Holy Spirit will be upon them, just as it was on that July night in 1949. They will resound, echoing from the Vaults of Heaven in Holy Jubilation:
I am Crazy!
You are Crazy!
And Everyone else is Even Crazier!
Pastor Melo tells me that Simeon Toko in his lifetime had a profound sense of humor. Toko insisted that no one call him "Papa" or "Father." He said that the world had had enough papas and fathers and daddies, so if they had to give him any such title, to call him "Tio" -- "Uncle," in Portuguese.
Tio said he will be returning; in historical terms, he should be returning pretty soon. He mercifully made his wife mute before he died, Pastor Melo says, and said that she would speak again to indicate when he had returned. His wife is now past age seventy. Simeon Toko left a wife and two daughters.
There, Where Eagles Gather
A young Angolan Tokoist named Avelino told me that he was present to hear Tio give his farewell speech, a week before his death, in 1984. Some thousands were present, listening intently. He said that Simeon Toko pulled out a handkerchief from his pocket and told the crowd to do the same. He said "when a sparrow is about to leave a branch, he gives it a little shake to say goodbye and thank it for its support." Holding out his handkerchief, he said "I will now shake my branch like the sparrow. I would like you all to shake your handkerchiefs with me." The crowd did that, and a week later, Tio died.
The newspapers announced that Simeon Toko, 66, died of heart failure. His body remains undecayed and intact, they say, in the fashion of Paramahansa Yogananda and other holy men, high on a Mountain in Angola.
Unless Ye See Signs and Wonders, Ye Shall Not Believe
Come on. Somebody REALLY got chopped to pieces and pulled himself back together, four different times? Got slaughtered by unbelievers, then came back to life? Well, Tio himself was fond of saying "what's happened before will happen again."
Next thing you'll try to tell me is that this already happened two thousand years ago. The "Christed" Jesus of Nazareth was insulted and beaten and tortured, nailed to a cross, poked through the chest with an iron rod, dumped in a heap in a tomb, and then rose from the dead and 40 days later flew up into the sky and disappeared. That's quite a story. Is it possible? By strange coincidence, I happened to beat my dog to death not too long ago -- even though I knew it had done nothing wrong. I was jealous of its gentle wisdom and supernatural powers. This morning I noticed it had dug its way out of the compost heap and was flying around the yard. I've been ignoring it, since I'm sure it's only trying to make me feel guilty. If I give in, I fear that next, it will want money.
Maybe a dog that brought itself back to life doesn't need any money. Still, experience shows his appointed representatives may want quite a lot of it. (Note: this sardonicism is, of course, entirely fictitious. The author is very fond of dogs and does not even advocate hitting one, even when it poops in the house. Plus, if Christ Himself can't take a joke, we're doomed beyond all recognition.)
The rather dubious scholar Acharya S -- her entire education is a Bachelor's degree from some Pennsylvania University -- has thoroughly detailed in a book called THE CHRIST CONSPIRACY that before Simeon Toko, and before Jesus Christ, civilization had long been paved with stories of god-humans Who died, came back to life, and offered eternal life to believers through their graces.
If mankind as a species were less literal-minded, this would not be scandalous news entertained solely by pseudointellectual wanna-be elitists. Most people with a little ancient history in their reading can name a few of these human-gods. Dionysus and Mithra and Osiris and Hercules and Persephone come to mind. People believed that these were human beings, whatever else they were, who were killed and returned to life. Were they all fakes?
Acharya S homes in on the story of the Egyptian God-Man Horus, the Son of Man, born of Ra. He was called "KRST," or "Christ" in modern english. Some uncertain long time before Jesus, Horus was born of a virgin of a royal house; he had a token earthly father named Joseph (in Egyptian, "Seb"); he confounded the elders with his wisdom as a boy; Horus raised Lazarus ("El-Azarus") from the dead, multiplied loaves and fishes for the multitudes, preached 8 Beatitudes from a Mount, was crucified, died, and was buried.
Horus also putatively rose again in 3 days, and after a bit, took his seat at the right hand of Ra, from there to judge the living and the dead. Forever and ever, amen.
"Amen" isn't even a Christian word. Nor is it Latin or Greek or Hebrew. It's the name of the chief Egyptian god, Ammon or Amon or Amun; all Christians living and dead have unwittingly been giving lip service to the Egyptian God of Getting Things Done for two thousand years now. Amen or Ammon was known also in the ancient world as the planet Jupiter. The ancients, obviously, saw that planet in ways we now can not.
The idea that the dead can return to life is not new to us through operating-table accidents of the past century. The Egyptians left instructions on how to bring them back; they also provided tips on how to fend off an entire armada, just by dreaming it away (Budge, EGYPTIAN MAGIC).
Acharya S and those of her school -- which may go back in history as far as the myths do -- dismiss the entire thing as a raft of delusion floating on a sea of fabrication already several thousand years deep. I wrote to inform her that once again, in our time, stories were spreading from obscure parts of the world (as was Jerusalem) of men performing great miracles, speaking memorable epigrams, and physically returning from the dead before the eyes of witnesses. She did not respond to my inquiry. Well screw you too.
Simeon Toko willed an ocean-going ship into a port, witnessed by the some-thousand passengers on it. The captain had refused to stop in that port, so "Tio" simply made it sail there by itself. Most of those passengers must still be alive, and some must be willing to testify about it. But who's asking? Why not? Acharya S -- whose real name sounds like Murgatroyd MacGillicuddy or something -- might dismiss this as "a myth."
The problem is that word "myth." A myth is a thing that never happened. Facts exist, myths do not. Case closed. Think no further, for that way lies the imagination.
In dismissing the significance of the imagination and the cast it puts on reality, scientists throw out their own baby with the bathwater. Many scientific disciplines have similarly misty origins. Chemistry, as we learn in elementary school, originated with alchemy, with its incantations, magic, and intent to transform elements -- not so much water into wine as lead into gold. Cyclotrons have finally done this trick, if not very well. For another instance, Isaac Newton believed that gravity came from God. We bolstered his belief and studies with a patchwork of revisions. But nobody knows what gravity "is." If they did, they'd be tinkering with it successfully. Tesla speculated that the truth of gravity was to be found in the Vedas.
"...by way of ratiocination, it may seem strange to some. But testimony bears great weight, and casts the balance." -- Samuel Johnson, on Religion
As with Christianity, evolutionary theory began with testimony, not proof. Darwin looked at rock pigeons and fossils and testified loudly to the "truth" that they were related by accidental descendancy, no differently than his celebrity bible-beating father testified to the Crucifixion. "Darwinism" captured the imaginations of millions in a surprisingly short time, and re-set the course of science and society. Since then, science has spent a great part of its history seeking proofs for Darwin's ideas and garnering funds and political influence. Is that not what unfolded from the claimed events described in the New Testament? The only difference in the final analysis may be in funny hats.
Acharya S points out, fairly enough, that the Christ myth by whatever name center around healing. This is how the story of Simeon Toko began, with the healing and raising from the dead of hundreds, if not thousands of people, by his claimed prophet, Simon Kimbangu, in 1921 (Pastor Melo said that Kimbangu wrote in a private letter to his sister that "when you see a young man from northern Angola doing as I did, you will know he is the one.")
With this in mind, and with this risen Son of Man named Simeon Toko in mind, I asked Pastor Melo -- who had been designated Simeon Toko's "special messenger" -- to do me a favor.
Beth was a beautiful young woman who lived in Ohio. She suffered from a serious brain ailment that kept her in almost constant pain. She said she was a Christian believer. Therefore, I asked Pastor Melo if he would sign a copy of the book I had to send her, and would he pray for her, to see if this would help her pain, or help her with some kind of healing.
Very kindly, he agreed. Pastor Melo asked for a few moments alone, to pray for Beth and consider what to write to her, on the inspiration and power of Tio. I stepped outside into the yard, under the evening sky. Without intending so, I glimpsed Pastor Melo praying in my lighted room, through the window. His eyes were turned upward. His face had the greatest expression of sincerity. It was a beautiful sight to see: a man so totally engrossed in his prayer, as solid and unmoving as a desert mountain. Quickly, I turned away to leave him entirely to his privacy, wondering if Beth wasn't effecting a full healing at that very moment, somewhere in Ohio.
Finally, Pastor Melo inscribed the book for her, using a quote from Isaiah, and let me know he was finished. I sent the book off to Beth.
Weeks went by and I hadn't heard from her. I sent her an e-mail asking how she was. Perhaps she had effected such a cure that she'd scampered off to live a normal twenty-one year-old's life. Maybe she forgot all about me and Pastor Melo and Simeon Toko. Shortly I got a reply:
"I am so sorry for my absence. I have broken my leg and ankle so badly I won't be on it for 4-6 months if I am lucky. So needless to say I haven't had a chance to read anything but the inscriptions my mother and I have both absolutely loved. I am having the worst evening I have had in ages and just want the hell out of my house but don't have the freedom to go anywhere at all for the next 4 months."No change in the brain ailment, either. Not good news.Note: some time after this article was published, I learned from Beth's mother that Beth had died.
Wars and Rumors of War
The philosophical motives of science and religion involve the same questions: who are we, what is life, and where does it all come from? These are wearying questions in some time periods, and highly energizing in others. They become most important when life and happiness seem most impossible.
In Angola, where 250,000 Tokoists were claimed to have gathered in Luanda last July (2001) in celebration of Simeon Toko's 1949 convocation of the Holy Spirit, war continues. The atrocities Simeon Toko's supernatural story symbolizes continue. At this writing, the United States government is bombing a defenseless Afghanistan with its high tech air force in a "crusade" against presumed Islamic terrorists -- and whatever innocent civilians happen to be in the way. Even so, America's Angolan Ambassador, Christopher Dell, claims that the decades old Angolan conflict "is making increasingly less sense."
Diamonds and oil make Angola potentially the richest country in Africa. Angola supplies 13% of U.S. imported oil, says some statistic I found. An estimated $1 million in rough diamonds are smuggled out of Angola every day to help support the slaughter, which has indiscriminately killed at least .5 million and displaced over 4 million poverty-stricken people since 1975. Despite this behavior, the Luandan government and official Angolan editorials seem to hope for American planes to come bomb their own rebels, compounding the agony.
So, for many, life and happiness seem impossible in present day Angola. Churches remain deeply involved in this conflict. Bishop Francisco de Mata Mourisca, the head of the Angolan Catholic peace movement, sees great contradictions in the warring factions claiming to wish peace (The Daily Trust [Abuja] October 1, 2001). Catholic Bishops are being awarded prestigious peace prizes for their efforts. Elsewhere, a Catholic monk named Brother Juno of Jesus wrote a story, published in June 2001 (http://www.crc-internet.org/june1.htm).
In it the good monk characterized African Christians as "baptized negroes," and warned that the rest were "pagans," given to "laziness and ferocity." He wrote that a missionary named Father Lazzaro de Sacerdo had been martyred savagely by Tokoists. "Filled with fury and under the influence of alcohol," they tied this Catholic missionary to a stake and danced around him with machetes, cutting him into little chunks in a display of wanton godlessness.
Brother Juno claims that the true third secret of Fatima refers to the the alleged dismemberment of a saintly Catholic missionary by drunken "baptized negroes" who had turned to communism and Simeon Toko.
As we know, the Tokoists contend the true Third Secret of Fatima refers to the return of Christ, whom they say is Simeon Toko. The Church Toko founded is called The Church of Jesus Christ in the World. Members aren't allowed to drink or smoke or engage in extramarital sex. Polygamy is also forbidden. They are pacifists, and certainly aren't communists, as Toko himself did not approve of the "godlessness" of communism. The Tokoists' main activity is to set up church choirs to sing inspired hymns, as Tio did in 1949.
(Pastor Melo brought me a recording of his own small tabernacle choir. They sing quite beautifully. Some of the songs were written by Toko himself, and others came to various members spontaneously through "inspiration of the Holy Spirit." All of them are songs of praise of Jesus Christ, or chronicles of the saga of Simeon Toko.) The Tokoists hope, if eagerly, that the Pope (John Paul) will at last reveal the true Third Secret of Fatima, and they prophesy that Lucia dos Santos will not die until the true secret is finally revealed. As Lucy is now 95, we may not have long to wait to see the efficacy of this prophecy. As another rumor has it that Lucy died in 1994 anyhow, we may not see any efficacy after all. (Note: Lucy apparently re-died in 2005)
Between the peace-prize gathering Catholic Bishops, the horrendous tale by their own brother Juno of Jesus, and the Tokoists I have met personally, something isn't quite right here.
Contradictory religious beliefs are a factor in the war of "less and less sense" in Angola. Although it's currently called a 26-year war, it's so that the spate of mass murders have been going on since the famous prophet Simon Kimbangu was condemned to death by a Catholic priest, heading a military tribunal, in 1921.
The Catholic Church is a "respected social force" in Angola, meaning it got to outlaw all the other religions. It is the dominant religion in a country where religion is subject to government approval. Perusing almanacs, one finds that Angola is claimed to be as high as ninety-seven percent Catholic. This figure is put down to about 70 percent in other almanacs. The Kimbanguist Christian church, which was finally approved by the government after members agreed to stop their un-Vaticanly celebrations of dancing and singing according to inspirations from the Holy Spirit, is said to number at about 7 million.
It is difficult to determine how many Tokoists there are. As one Nexus correspondent who had lived in Angola 20 years wrote, "there could be lots of them and the police would be keeping it a secret." One scholar put the number at about fifteen thousand, another at a quarter-million, and Tokoists themselves count the Kimbanguists as their own, seven or eight million. That's quite a lot of quibbling.
What could compel the psychological and political influence of the Vatican away so well as the bonafide return of Christ Himself? "Give me back my heart," Simeon Toko-Christ demanded of the European doctors, who cut it out of his chest with the excuse of "exploratory surgery," goes the story.
True or false, Simeon Toko's life and stories represent the tribulations of Africa at the hands of Western culture and economics.
I'm Crazy, You're Crazy, Everyone Else is Crazier
I asked three psychologists what they thought of all this. One, a specialist in teen drug abuse in Vermont, copped out with a "good for them!" The next, from Berkeley, California, snubbed the whole idea, writing "I couldn't care less if Jesus Christ were walking the planet today. It is the Christ that lives in your heart that matters." A native European, he opined that the claims of persecution of poverty-struck oppressed African natives were "self-serving."
Dr. Jan Merta is a multi-talented Canadian psychologist who has been investigating various paranormal phenomena for many years. He called me at home owing to the Nexus article. He is of the opinion that an extraordinary claims call for an extraordinary proof. He was rather hoping for that when he called. He too suspects something is up in the Messiah game.
I asked Dr. Merta if there is such a thing as mass schizophrenia. It is more or less common amateur's knowledge that an individual who has, for example, been grossly mistreated in childhood, can develop multiple or "split" personalities; some schizophrenic "alter-egos" can seem to be of the order of a superhero -- representing, perhaps, the sense of personal power that was beaten out of the child by cruel and overly strict parents. Merta replied:
"So far all the evidence presented seems to be hearsay. Given the fact that supposedly multitudes of people saw Simeon Toko's manifestations, and since thousands must be still living, sworn testimonials from a large number of first-hand witnesses would go far in supporting these extraordinary claims. However, certain types of mass hysteria, or on an individual basis in some cases, even schizophrenia could not be ruled out. For me, for now, the case is in the open."
What is most easily verified is that for generations years, the peoples of central Africa have been battered by persecutions from all kinds from foreign influences, as well as among themselves.
I proposed a scenario to Dr. Merta which I had learned from the books by Jane Roberts, usually referred to as the Seth material. This excerpt is from THE WAY TOWARD HEALTH:
"One of the most rare and extraordinary developments that can occur in schizophrenic behavior is the construction of a seeming superbeing of remarkable power -- one who is able to convince other people of his divinity.
"Most such instances historically have involved males, who claim to have the powers of clairvoyance, prophecy, and omnipotence. Obviously, then, the affected individual was thought to be speaking for God when he gave orders or directives. We are dealing with "god-making" or "religionmaking" -- whichever you prefer.
"In almost all such instances, discipline is taught to believers through the inducement of fear. Put very loosely, the dogma says that you must love God or he will destroy you. The most unbelievable aspects of such dogma should, it seems, make them very easy to see through. In many cases, however, the more preposterous the legends or dogmas, the more acceptable they become. In some strange fashion followers believe such stories to be true because they are not true. The inceptions of almost all religions have been involved one way or another with these schizophrenic episodes." (THE WAY TOWARD HEALTH, p. 306, copyright 1997, Robert F. Butts, Amber-Allen Publishing)
Whether Horus, Mithra, Krishna, Christ, or Simeon Toko existed (we do have pics and film footage of Tio. I've got a video. Here's a pic: bit.ly/10o8u0R ), they were men around whom legends grew. They appeared during times of tremendous social and political stress, built into their legends.
Christianity still spreads fear with the threat of eternal punishment even for seemingly small misdeeds. Devout Catholics are still held up to the "ideal" of martyrdom ("All Christians must undergo a degree of martyrdom," writes Brother Juno de Jesus). Tokoist vates -- the church prophets, speaking for Tio -- have warned of deadly supernatural consequences to its erring members, but that's another story, for another time. And yeah, somebody went to jail and somebody had a heart attack and somebody else died during this editorial adventure.
Few who study it would deny that the times are ripe for a Messiah. There seem to be many candidates, from the small-time religious psychotic Jim Jones, to the rafts of Hindu gurus from India, to the mysterious Maitreya of theosophical foretelling, said to be now living in secret in London.
Simeon Toko is the first among this raft of candidates to stand up to fairly meticulous interpretations of biblical prophecy. Even the famous "like lightning from east to west" line, thought to mean that Christ appears somehow in a perpetual abstract, is covered by the Tokoists: the appearance of the Virgin at Fatima was preceded by lightning, flashing east to west every time. She was announcing his birth, which in fact occurred 9 months after her initial appearance. Who is he, really?
Historically, there is no doubt that there have been many Christs -- that is, great speakers around whom legends and civilizations have formed, with vast schools and fashions of thinking and expression. Do they "appear" only when mankind begins to go dangerously crazy? When men become most prone to forcing each other into ideologies? When the subjective value of "meaning" itself is overriden by rule of law and seeming practical necessity?
What has subjective meaning in life can not be entirely detailed in any holy book of any size. We learn from history that Christs or Messiahs or Avatars, despite their once-and-for-all "eternal" messages, do grow old and die, in a spiritual sense, as their words and the stories of their dramas no longer capture the imaginations of the peoples they intended to unite.
No one who has the unqualified experience of it can deny the existence of telepathy, or of spontaneous bodily healing, or of seemingly miraculous "coincidences" of events which seemed to solve otherwise unsolvable problems. The empirical methods of science are of little use in "proving" such events; the more "scientismists" poo-poo it, the more the credibility of institutional science erodes. The more religious institutions rely on materialistic scientific data for its rationalizations, and sheer social motivation for its activities, the more it, too, erodes. People simply move away from it.
The universe each individual perceives does not originate in microscopes or telescopes or imaginings based on dried-out dogma. There is always a forced quality to the expressions of those who attempt to believe "the Truth," at the expense of the spontaneous sense of individual being. Yet mankind seems to have an inherent penchant to believe things in common, while at the same time experiencing a subjective sense of individual uniqueness to each moment.
Perhaps, then, a hero appears periodically on demand for all, who seems to contain in full form the same potentials a human being senses within himself to whatever degree, with no other accoutrement than his own flesh through which these potentials may play. In any case, this story is far from over.
(PS the final part of this lonesome spiritual fugue can still be found on Katina Hesselink's site: http://www.katinkahesselink.net/his/messiah3.html