THE REAL JESUS STORY
Who was the real Jesus? In this article, I’m going to tell you what the real, deeper meaning of the Biblical story of Jesus is. But first, let me take a few moments to tell you what it is NOT ... just for clarification.
The Jesus story is not the literal, historical account of a God-man who walked the hills of Galilee some 2,000 years ago. That idea, amazingly enough, is still being peddled by Christian groups who just can’t seem to find their way out of the Dark Ages even with the Light of Truth. If one has any knowledge at all of modern Biblical scholarship you know that the traditional claims made of the Jesus story are simply unbelievable as historical literal events. The gospels are filled with internal contradictions, historical and geographical errors, and mythical elements found in numerous older religious myths, among other problems. So we can safely rule out this historical view.
The Jesus story is also not a childlike fable that people 2,000 years ago were ignorant enough to believe. This seems to be the view of some atheists who don’t want to give religion any credit for anything positive at all. They believe there is no Ultimate Reality of any kind, nothing exists except the physical world, and the stuff religion is talking about is a complete fantasy. In fairness, they can clearly see that organized religious dogma is man-made nonsense, and they jump to the conclusion that all spiritual experiences must be nonsense too. They don’t realize that these two components of religion are completely separate and have nothing to do with each other. I also suspect that most of these atheists have never had any kind of a transcendental/mystical/spiritual experience themselves - personally, and so cannot conceive of any such spiritual or mystical event. They throw it out with the dogma, not realizing they just pitched the baby out the window.
The two views expressed above are equal and opposite extremes, and neither understands what the original point of the Jesus story was. So what was it then? Well, first of all, all ancient religious myths are allegories. They are not childish fairytales, but deep, profound spiritual allegories expressing truths about human existence, Ultimate Reality, etc. They use metaphorical language because when one experiences Ultimate Reality directly, is is impossible to describe it literally in human language. The only option, if you’re going to speak about it at all, is to use symbolic language. We do this even today when trying to describe things that seem to have no corresponding words to do it justice.
Secondly, it seems clear that original Christianity was mystical. Whether called Gnostic or by another name, they were mystics. They put great value on a personal, direct experience with Ultimate Reality (often called “God/Source Energy”), and were far less interested in organization, dogma, and all the other trappings the so-called “orthodox” version of Christianity would later become obsessed with. And these mystical Christians wrote multi-layered, spiritual allegories. They hid Truths under the surface layers of myth for those worthy of finding them. They always considered Jesus an allegorical figure, not a literal human who ever lived on earth. As an example of just how complex these allegories could be, there are countless books available explaining in-depth the Gnostic and Kabbalah Inner Mysteries that will give you countless "ah-ha" moments.
The main message of the Jesus story is no different than that found in numerous spiritual traditions all over the globe and throughout ancient human history. It’s found thousands of years prior to Christianity in the Advaita Vedanta philosophical school of Hinduism. It’s the very heart and core of Buddhism. It’s in Taoism. It’s the whole point of the mystical factions of numerous religions including Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It’s the great secret of the pagan Mystery Religions. It’s discovered repeatedly in our day by countless people who have deep spiritual experiences – people like Eckhart Tolle, Ken Wilber, and Neale Donald Walsch, to name a few.
The ancient Mystery Religions had separate teachings called the Outer Mysteries (exoteric - for the masses) and Inner Mysteries (esoteric - for initiates). New converts were allowed into the Outer but not the Inner. Once they reached a certain level of spiritual development, they were finally allowed into the Inner Mysteries and underwent an initiation where the great secret was revealed to them. It took years to complete the initiation process. It appears they didn’t just tell them what it was, but they actually experienced it themselves. They attained Gnosis (knowing) through first-hand personal experience. Until then, they had only been told the God-man allegory as if it was a literal, historical account. They only knew the surface-level meaning. But during the initiation, they had a mystical experience of Ultimate Reality. Only then did they realize, and likely to their shock, what the God-man story was REALLY about. As the story of Paul on the road to Damascus attempts to present to the reader.
The bottom line is this. Original Christianity was a Jewish-Gnostic version of the Mystery Religions – a syncretism of Hellenistic religion and myth with Judaism (as all the Mystery Religions combined Hellenistic and Egyptian elements with their own culture’s religion). The Jesus story, like all the God-man myths of the Mysteries, was a profound allegory about YOU. It is OURstory, not HIStory.
Jesus is an Everyman figure who represents ALL human beings in these allegorical tales. It is telling the Truth about Who WE Are. Like Jesus in the allegory, we are all Ultimate Reality (God/Source) in human form. Paul was quoted as saying we are the body of Christ. We are the One Consciousness that has been called by many terms – the Whole, the Source, the All, the One Being, Brahman, God, Source, Almighty, and many others. We are “God manifest in flesh”. The whole point is to awaken to this knowledge and realize What we are through direct mystical experience with Source Energy personally. This spiritual awakening has numerous terms in spiritual traditions, including Enlightenment in Buddhism. It is illumination, ascension, higher consciousness, higher Self, superconsciousness ... God in us.
The ancient Greeks were well aware of this profound realization. At the Oracle of Delphi, the highest oracle in the land, they inscribed two words above the entrance. It simply read “Know Thyself”. As above, so below. The universes is multidimensional as are we. Life projects from the inside out. We are the center of the universe projecting on the screen of Life.
Just a thought ...
~Justin Taylor, ORDM., OCP., DM.