Jesus Christ was essentially a man of the East, and His teachings are imbued with oriental mysticism. It is even speculated that He spent many of His early years – on which the Gospels are silent – in India, the land of the Magis or the wise men of the East, as it was commonly known then, and learnt a lot from the Yogins and the Buddhist monks, in His travels from place to place. He perhaps even started His teachings right in India and may have had a foretaste of persecution from the Brahminical order and the so-called high class social circles for His catholicity of vision, for He did not believe in class barriers and preached the equality of man.1
His contribution to the religious thought of the world may be seen in the emphasis He laid on the need for Universal Love, and the Kingdom of God within man; the two cardinal principles known to the ancients long before, but forgotten and ignored in practice.
Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the Prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
St Matthew 5:17
Let us examine some of the pertinent saying which reveal that Jesus was conversant with the ancient religious thought and practised the Path of the Masters of the Audible Life Current, saying which are often ignored or misconstrued by those studying His teachings today:
The Light of the body is the eye; if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of Light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the Light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness.
St Matthew: 6:22-23
St Luke 11:34
Obviously, the eye refers to the Single Eye and the words if thine eye be single, mean concentrated awareness within at the centre between and at the back of the eyes. Again, the words if thine eye be evil refer to a state of mental dispersion without, as opposed to concentration within, and the result will certainly be darkness – darkness born of ignorance about the True and Real Values of life, for this is the greatest ill of the soul.
St Luke then sounds a note of warning when He says:
Take heed therefore, that the Light which is within thee be not darkness.
St Luke 11:35
What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in Light; and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.
St Matthew 10:27
Here are the words of advice from Jesus to His elect, the chosen few, viz., to carry to the people openly, in Light, the significance of what they heard in darkness, that is in secret meditation, and to tell of the Divine Melody that they heard in the ear by means of transcendental hearing.
Again, about the science of the soul:
But hearing, ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive.
St Matthew 13:14
The idea conveyed is of the esoteric nature of the Spiritual Science which can be experienced in the depths of the soul in the human laboratory of the body, and cannot be understood on the intellectual level or the level of the senses.
St Matthew then goes on to explain the matter:
For verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen Them; and to hear those things which ye hear; and have not heard them.
St Matthew 13:17
St Luke 10:24
In clear and unambiguous words, we have a reference to the Inner Spiritual Experience, a realisation of the Kingdom of Light and Harmony, which a Real Master like Jesus could make manifest to His disciples.
Like other seers, Jesus gave a mystical experience to His sincere disciples. To the multitude, He always talked in parables, like those of the mustard seed, the fig tree, the ten virgins, etc., with which the Gospels abound.
In a picturesque parable, He explains the sowing of the Word in the hearts of the people, and tells us
[…] that the Word sown by the wayside is generally stolen by Satan from the heart; that the Word sown on stony ground takes no roots, endureth for a while and is washed away by the afflictions and persecutions for the Word’s sake; that the Word sown among thorns is choked by worldly cares, deceitfulness and lusts of the flesh, and finally, the Word sown on good ground, […] such as those who hear the Word and receive, brings forth fruit.
St Mark 4:14-20
The Path that Jesus taught is one of self-abnegation and of rising above body-consciousness, a process which is tantamount to the experience of death-in-life.
Then Jesus said unto His disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosever will save his life shall lose it; and whosever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
St Matthew 16:24-26
It means one has to sacrifice the outer man, consisting of the flesh and the carnal mind, for the sake of the Inner Man or soul. In other words, he has to exchange the life of the senses for the life of the spirit. Again, the Love of God is to be made a ruling passion in life:
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
St Matthew 22:37
St Mark goes further and adds,
and with all thy strength.
St Mark 12:30
This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
St Matthew 22:37-40
St Mark 12:30-31
St Luke 10:27
The principle of Love is still further amplified as follows:
Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you.
St Matthew 5:44
And why all this ? – in order to gain perfection in the likeness of God:
Be ye therefore perfect as your Father Which is in heaven is perfect.
St Matthew 5:48
In St Luke, Chapter Three, we are told that the Word of God came to John son of Zacharias in the wilderness, and John while preaching the wondering crowd,
I indeed baptise you with water; but one mightier than I cometh […] He shall baptise you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.
St Luke 3:2-3,16
We have to mark carefully the words baptise by the Holy Ghost and fire, for one refers to the heavenly music, the Holy Word, and the other is symbolic of the heavenly Light, and these are the twin principles of Sound and Light, the primal manifestations of Godhead, or God’s Power behind the entire creation.
The Way to the Kingdom of God can be opened unto him who knows how to ask for it, how to seek it out and how to knock at the gate. In these three simple words, St Matthew in Chapter 7 and St Luke in Chapter 11 have summed up what the aspirant has to do. Unfortunately, we do not yet know where the gate to be knocked at lies.
Guru Nanak also emphatically declares:
O ye blind, ye know not the gate.
About this gate, St Matthew tells us:
Enter ye in at the strait gate […] Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
St Matthew 7:13-14
It is essentially a Path of conversion, for no one can enter into the Kingdom of God unless he is converted and becomes as a little child (St Matthew 18:3), i.e., leaves off his vanities, becomes meek, pure, simple and innocent like a little child.
St Luke elaborates on this theme in Chapter 18:15-17, for when the disciples rebuked them that had brought infants along, Jesus called them unto Him and said,
Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such (like-minded) is the Kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child shell in no wise enter therein.
In St John, Chapter One, we come to an elaborate exposition of the teachings of Christ.
He begins His gospel with the memorable words, the intrinsic significance of which few have cared to grasp:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.
In Him was life; and the life was the Light of men. And the Light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not […] That was the True Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
He was in the world and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not […]
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us […]
In the above statement of St John, there cannot be any doubts about the nature of the Word. It is clearly the Light and life of the world, the Creative Life-Principle in which we live, move, and have our being. It is the Spirit of God, the very essence of the soul but now lost in the mighty swirl of the world and all that is worldly. It is only the contact with the Spirit that shows the way back to God and thus is the True Religion.
This contact is termed variously as the second birth, the resurrection, or the coming into life again.
Addressing Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews, Jesus said:
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God […]
Mark the word see.
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God […]
Mark the word enter.
Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born again.
St John 3:3,5,7
Jesus compares the one born of the spirit with the wind which
bloweth where it listeth, for thou hearest the sound there of, but canst not tell where it cometh, and whither it goeth.
St John 3:8
Elsewhere, He speaks of the Holy Word as the
the water that springs up into
St John 4:10,14
Jesus speaks of Himself as the
Bread of life,
living bread come down from heaven;
and asks His disciples to eat
the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, for without these, ye have no life in you.
St John 6:53
These in brief are the essential teachings of Christ, the Master Christian, but not of institutional Christianity.
Most of the Christian doctrines were formulated not by Jesus but by St Paul, Who turned Christ into the sacrificial lamb to atone for the sins of the world, and around this central idea, as borrowed from Judaism and the cults flourishing around the Mediterranean at that time, there has grown a mass of ritual and ceremony.
The tenets of Christ remain as excellent moral precepts and doubtlessly point the way to the Inner Realisation, for they now lack the living impulse and the pulsating touch of the teacher, Who having completed the job assigned to Him in His own time, cannot now initiate and lead the people and make Truth real to them by bringing them face to face with Reality.
Of all the mystical teaching of Christ, we now find but the symbolic lighting of candles in the churches and the ceremonial ringing of the big bell at the time of service. Few, if any, know the real significance behind these rituals, which are the outward representations of the twin principles of Light and Sound, or the primordial manifestation of the Godhead, responsible for all that exists in the Universe, seen and unseen.
Some of the great church dignitaries, when asked, say that the bell is pulled simply to call men to the prayer, and that to speak of God as the Father of Lights (James 1:17), is but a figurative form of speech to denote His Greatest Gifts – of the lights of reason and intellect.
With hardly any experience of the Inner Truth, they take the words literally and try to explain things theoretically.
Jesus Himself in no ambiguous words declared:
I am the Light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the Light of life.
St John 8:12
To speak of oneself as the Light of Life can have no reference to the light of the sun, even though the solar light may in the physical world be a source of life-giving energy.
In St Matthew 13:14, Jesus goes on to clarify the position and warns against literal interpretation of His words, when He draws the distinction between hearing and understanding and between seeing and perception.
It is only the awakened souls the Masters of Truth, in living touch with the Reality, Who hold the key to the Kingdom of the Spirit and can draw forth an individual, now completely lost in the life of the senses, and rediscover for him the great heritage of All-life and All-light, for then it is said that,
The eyes of the blind shall be opened and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and then the tongue of the dumb sing; for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.
How few of us really comprehend and appreciate the Inner Significance of the words of Jesus.
We are content only with the ethical side of His teachings, which of course was a necessary accompaniment to the Spiritual. The ethical tenets have been widely propagated and have even been assiduously kept alive, for they mark a great advance indeed in the moral scales of human values since the days of Moses. But by themselves, they fail to account for declarations like those about the Day of Judgment, or Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, or God is Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. If such sayings were to be taken in their literal sense, it would be to reduce them to reduce them to meaninglessness. The Day of Judgment has failed to come, in spite of the prophecy of its proximity, and either Christ was speaking in ignorance or we have failed to comprehend His real meaning. There is behind whatever He said always an Inner Meaning that is clear to those who had the same mystic experiences, but baffle those who attempt to interpret it in terms of intellect or even intuition. Not having direct Inner Perception – not to be confounded with philosophic speculation or intuitive insight –, we attempt to interpret the significance of the teaching left to us in terms of our own limited experience.
What was meant as a metaphor we take as literal, and the supersentient descriptions we reduce to metaphors.
We easily forget that when Jesus said that He was the Light of the world, the Son of God, and One Who would not leave or forsake His disciples even unto the ends of the world, He spoke not in His mortal capacity, but like all other Great Masters, as One Who had merged with the Word and become one with It. Forgetting this, instead of following Him on the Spiritual Path He showed, we think of Him as a scapegoat for bearing our sins and as means of evading the Inner Spiritual Challenge.
Footnote: 1) Nicholas Notovich, 'The Unknown Life of Christ,' Chicago: Indo-American Book Co., 1894.