THE JESUS OF THE GOSPELS
“Jesus said, ‘I have cast fire upon the world,
and see, I am guarding it until it blazes.’ GOSPEL OF THOMAS
Now let’s fast-forward a dozen years. My Zen teacher had at this point asked me to teach, and I began sharing the dharma—giving talks, having retreats, following the trajectory of a contemporary spiritual teacher. I have never felt like it was my aim as a teacher to spread Buddhism, and in fact my teacher didn’t even ask me to try to do that. What attracted me to spirituality at the very beginning-the question, “What is enlightenment?”-is what I’m primarily interested in as a teacher and what I’m there to awaken in the hearts and minds of the people who come to be with me.
In the course of my teaching, I discovered that whenever I talk about the Jesus story, it tends to resonate with people. That’s not surprising, because the Western mind has been dominated by Christianity for more than two thousand years, so whether you’re Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, or even atheist, you can’t help but be impacted by this story. This fact alone makes the story worthy of re-examining, and in doing so, we might find that the Jesus we’ve been told about is very different from the Jesus in the Gospels. That’s what I hope to investigate.
Reading the Good News
Like many people, my sense of who Jesus was was primarily informed by the prevailing culture. The Jesus that I knew was really the Jesus I saw on TV and in movies, the Jesus depicted from the pulpit, and later the Jesus that I found when I studied the mystics, which was a mystical Jesus. These were the faces of Jesus that I had gotten to know through the first thirty-five years of my life. It may look strange, but even through all my study of the Christian mystics. I had never actually sat down and read the four Gospels. I never really read through the biblical story of Jesus. And when I did, I was amazed, even stunned by what I found.
The Jesus that I found in the Gospels wasn’t like the Jesus that I had absorbed through my culture or even the Jesus brought to life by the mystics. What I found in the story was an incredibly revolutionary figure, someone who broke down barriers and lines of separation, whether in the culture at large, in the political arena, or in the religion that he was brought up in. When I read the Gospels, something in me deeply connected with Jesus the revolutionary mystic, the one who is actually courageous enough to move through life guided and inspired by the dynamic of his spiritual essence. Seeing Jesus through the lens of the spiritual revolutionary is powerfully transformative; if we can embody that spirit within ourselves, we can begin to break down the internal walls that separate ourselves from each other, from the world, and from our own divinity.
There are many lenses through which to view the Jesus story. Jesus the revolutionary is, I believe, one of the most powerful lenses for our contemporary spiritual culture. Our contemporary culture and religion needs an influx of new life. I think the churches in this country need to be revitalized; they need that challenging presence of Jesus that says, “it’s important that you realize the truth of your being. There are profound consequences to living in darkness.” As Jesus says in the Gospel of Thomas, “If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” [Gospel of Thomas 70].”
Resurrecting Jesus: Embodying the Spirit of a Revolutionary Mystic
Adyashanti, Sounds True, 2014, pp. 15-17
Embodying the Spirit of a Revolutionary Mystic
“The story of Jesus has not waned in its power to change lives. Yet today, even though the majority of us grew up in a culture suffused by the mythos of Jesus, many of us feel disconnected from the essence and vitality of his teachings. With Resurrecting Jesus, Adyashanti invites us to rediscover the life and teachings of Jesus as a direct path to what may be the most radical of transformations: spiritual awakening.
Jesus crossed all of the boundary lines that separated the people of his time because he viewed the world from the perspective of what unites us, not what divides us. In Resurrecting Jesus, Adyashanti asks us to consider the man known as Jesus as an exemplar of the realized state and a model of enlightened engagement with the world. He examines the story of Jesus from his birth to the Resurrection to reveal how the central events in Jesus’ life parallel the stages of awakening that we may be called to experience ourselves. Adyashanti then illuminates five central archetypes of the Jesus story—Peter, John, Mary Magdalene, Judas, and Pontius Pilate—and the key insights they hold about the way we may relate to the spiritual impulse within.
‘When the eternal and the human meet,’ writes Adyashanti, ‘that’s where love is born—not through escaping our humanity or trying to disappear into transcendence, but through finding that place where they come into union.’ Resurrecting Jesus is a book for realizing this union in your own life, from one moment to the next, with heart and mind wide open to the mystery that lives inside us all.”
Web (December 23, 2014)
Amazon.com Customer Reviews
Review of Resurrecting Jesus
By Gina Lake on April 8, 2014
“I really enjoyed this book. I listened to it on audiobook. As a teacher myself and lover of Jesus, I was fascinated to hear what Adyashanti, a truly wonderful and clear nondual teacher, had to say about Jesus and his life. Adyashanti beautifully and eloquently explained the metaphorical meaning of the Jesus story and how Jesus’s life symbolized the journey of awakening and enlightenment. Throughout the book, Adya deftly wove his understanding of Jesus’s teachings and the Jesus story with what Adya himself has been teaching these many years, tying the teachings of Christ with present-day nondual teachings, as only someone like Adya could do. I was impressed with Adya’s knowledge of the gospels and, most of all, with the love he has for Jesus and the Christian mystics. Adya’s own heart was very apparent in this book. If you are interested in this subject, you will not be disappointed. Adya was courageous in tackling this subject, but his interest in Jesus has obviously been lifelong and passionate enough to make him just the right instrument for it.”
A fresh, new look at Jesus, the revolutionary mystic
By Yana E. Murphy on May 17, 2014
“’Resurrecting Jesus’ is not, and may never be, sanctioned by the RC Church. It is, however, a deep look at ‘the Jesus story’ from an American (Californian!) Zen practitioner who is himself, by all indications, ‘awakened’.
Adyashanti describes the awakened state as something completely within reach for each of us. He sees Jesus as both human and divine (awakened) whose divinity took root during his baptism by John, the one who lived ‘on the fringe of society.’
What I found refreshing as the story itself is how Adyashanti weaves us into it, suggesting that ‘until we pour ourselves into the story, until we become the story in ourselves, in our blood, flesh, and bones, it doesn’t fully come alive.’ At the end, he looks at five main characters/archetypes, besides Jesus, who exemplify personalities and ‘the spiritual impulse’ that we can relate to: Peter, John, Judas, Pontius Pilate, and Mary Magdalene.
‘Life is this simple: we are living in a world
that is absolutely transparent and the divine
is shining through it all the time. This is not
just a nice story or a fable, it is true.’ Thomas Merton
The same is true for this book.”
I recommend to those who are seeking truth, not religious dogma. By Sally S. on July 22, 2014
“I found the book to be an awakening experience. I was brought up with religious dogma as the center of my life. I was continually questioning the teachings of the church and even as a child challenged the interpretations. I have read the bible from front to back more than once seeking truth. But it never aligned with my core being when I used the church’s interpretations. After reading Resurrecting Jesus and studying other religions I am free of the dogma and feel comfortable with my own understanding and belief in what this life is all about.”
Web (December 22, 2014)
“There is something new and startling in both his person and his teaching that defies the categories provided by the world and culture in which he lived.”