(Introduction to my first book, titled ‘Truly I Tell You’, a compilation of Jesus quotes from the Bible and non-Biblical Christian Scriptures)
A few critical things to remind ourselves of before we dive into the world of the Nazarene master:
· This book is not about history.
Did Jesus exist or is he a myth? If he is a myth, who initiated the myth? What was the purpose? Was the purpose mind control / political control? Was the purpose colonization? Was it control of the trade routes passing through Middle East? If Jesus did exist and spoke the things he is said to have spoken, were his ideas deliberately written out of the Bible at some point in time (to whatever extent) and Paul’s ideas written in, hence making Paul the real originator of the present day Christianity? Was Paul a member of the Roman sponsored Herodian royal family (that was transplanted in Palestine by the Romans to look after Judea and its surrounding regions after the defeat and ouster of the Maccabees / Hasmonean Dynasty in 37BCE)?
These are only some of the controversial questions that arise when we talk of Jesus. All good questions and I have no interest in answering them. I leave it to better and more interested minds than mine. Christian scholarship, history and philosophy are not my cup of tea (except in passing).
Notwithstanding the above questions, there has been a mystical spiritual movement under Jesus’ name that I see as the ‘Jesus movement’. That is what I am fascinated by, what I want to understand and what I want to talk and write about. It has been one of the greatest spiritual movements in human history, which has inspired some to go beyond the historical, factual and orthodox religious ideas and debates and search for something not of this world. Those are the ones, and you can probably count them on your fingers, that have grasped the real message of Jesus, i.e., the attainment of our eternal / divine / universal self (call it God or by any other name) by letting go of our individual / personal self.
That message is what this book is about.
· Words are not the things they describe.
Especially when dealing with religion or spirituality, at best, words are like pointers or arrows, pointing in a certain direction and the seeker seeking a spiritual experience or understanding can gain nothing more from words than a vague sense of that direction.
Words are like the shadows of a reality that does not exist anymore. When we look at a star in the sky, that image may be reaching us after millions of years and there is always the possibility that today that star, which we are looking at, might not even exist anymore, in which case we are looking at the past disguised as the present.
Similarly, by the time we try to put a real life situation into words and communicate those words, reality has already moved on and what we are describing is just the past, even if recent or immediate past.
Two people continue to meet and talk like lovers or friends when, inside, the feelings of love or friendship which they once had have long gone. Parents continue to treat their grown up children like little kids. These are real life everyday examples of the past masquerading as the present.
Psychologically, the process is that the experience of some facts or inner or outer circumstances creates memory. Memory is used by the brain to create thought. This thought is then expressed in words. So, between experience and words are memories and thoughts. This process implies time. It takes time for an experience to become a memory and then a thought and then being expressed or communicated to another. Hence, there is always a time interval between an experience and the use of words to describe it. In that time interval, reality / life has moved on. Yet we cling to the thought, which relies upon the memory, which in turn is an imprint of the past.
One can try to touch the shadow of a thing, but that doesn’t mean that one has touched the thing itself. In the same way, we can try to read or listen to as many words as we want describing an experience, yet those words will not be the experience or the thing itself.
Words are also, in a way, like the cover of a book. A cover can only tell us so much about what is in the book. We will have to read the book to find out what is actually in it. Similarly, if we are on a spiritual path, if we are searching for god, if we want to have a deeper look at life or if we are trying to find out if life has any deeper meaning at all, we will have to dig to a much deeper place than that to which words can take us.
It will, therefore, always be difficult for a seeker to come upon reality merely by using words.
In my own experience, while words can help, it is only through silence and stillness (normally referred to as meditation) that one can access, understand and, if needed, communicate reality. In utter silence and stillness, time does not exist, which means past and future also do not exist. We come face to face with the present, i.e., with what is.
In the scriptures related to Jesus, we sometimes come across the narrative of Jesus withdrawing from the crowds to go to a solitary place and pray. And this is true of many other spiritual teachers too. The path of solitude and stillness was chosen by all great spiritual masters.
It is, therefore, suggested that while the words quoted in this book be read with full attention (and be read again and again, if needed), the reader (depending upon his / her purpose for reading the book) may also seek and find another deeper medium of understanding than words.
· There are multiple paths leading to the divine.
A number of great spiritual teachers have left us their experiences to learn from. For a seeker, it cannot be emphasized enough that any one of these great teachers (be it Jesus or Mohammad or Krishna or Buddha or Mahavira or Lao Tzu or Kabir or Mawlana Rumi or any other) can help us in reaching the door to greater understanding and enlightenment. And, for that matter, even without any of them, one can still start walking on the spiritual path and eventually attain a deep understanding of the self and the world.
· The purpose of this book is not to advocate any ‘right’ way to live life.
There is no right or wrong way to live. Nobody can judge another person to be right or wrong. Jesus said, “Do not judge others, otherwise you too will be judged”.
Life is an eternal play of universal forces, a river flowing by and we are a part of it. We need not try to judge or avoid other parts of the river. Just floating in the river and realizing ourselves as a part of it are enough. The river cannot be divided into ‘I’ and ‘you’ and ‘they’. The moment we so divide reality, we set up and then fall into the trap of judging ‘you’ and ‘they’. The ‘I’ automatically becomes the standard for judging ‘you’ and ‘they’ because the ‘I’ is always the center. This division and the judgments bring conflict, aggression and negativity, which result in more judgments and the process continues with a snowball effect.
Every way of living life has its own karma, its own consequences, which we will face immediately, not in the afterlife, but right here, in this very life, whether we realize it or not. As the physicists discovered in the physical world, to each action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. That is not just Newton’s third law of physics; it is also the spiritual law of karma. All actions have consequences.
Judging others implies that we think we know what is right and what is wrong. And the moment we start thinking that we know, we stop growing. We stop flowing in the river of life. We become a stagnant pool of stinking water. That’s what Jesus was trying to keep us from doing. His message was to drop the dead parts of ourselves and to become alive, to flow.
When we are alive, we grow every moment and we do not assume that we know everything. Hence, judgments do not arise. And there is greater acceptance of the world. This acceptance of the world is a movement towards wholeness of being. The Jesus movement, which was an extension of a much older Jewish mystical movement, was a movement toward wholeness of being. The same can be said for the sufi movement, the Buddhist movement, the Jain movement and many others.
· Entity attachment hinders spiritual growth.
None of the great spiritual masters encourage seekers to latch on to them or their words forever and none of them encouraged any sort of entity attachment.
Zen Buddhists have a saying, ‘If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him immediately’, meaning thereby that seekers should not cling to or rely upon the image and/or thought of the Buddha, as the image or thought will eventually become a hurdle in spiritual development, and that seekers should work on their own personal spiritual development.
In the Secret Book of James (not included in the Bible), Jesus, while urging his disciples to continue with their spiritual development without him, says, “why do you detain me when I am eager to go?” 
In the Bible in Matthew, Chapter 9, Jesus says, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”
Matthew (Chapter 14) mentions the famous miracle of Jesus walking on water at a lake (probably in Galilee, today’s northern Israel). The disciples are in a boat in the same lake and are looking at him. Peter asks Jesus, “Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water.” And Jesus says, “Come”. Peter gets out of the boat and walks on the water. But, then, fear overcomes him and he starts drowning. Jesus reaches out and catches him and says, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
This story from the Bible is often quoted in the context of faith to encourage people to have stronger faith. I take it more as a parable against entity attachment, i.e., Jesus or any teacher alone cannot do the job for us. He can create the circumstances for us, he can help us, he can give us the tools, but eventually we will have to walk the path ourselves.
In the scriptures we come across instances of Jesus getting frustrated and rebuking his disciples and other people for relying upon him to perform healing miracles and for their own lack of faith. He kept telling them that even with just a little faith, they could move mountains. He was trying to bring home the point that on the path, we are alone, without him and without any other teacher or any prophet. On the path we are tested and when we are tested we grow. Many of us fail to grasp this critical point. We cling to God or to the teacher, the prophet, the master or the buddha and pray to him and expect him to do everything. That does not work. The teacher walked his own path and he became a teacher only by walking the path. He cannot walk our path and, if we want to grow, he must not walk ours.
A swimming coach cannot do the swimming for us. He/she can teach us, but we will have to get into the water and learn to do the swimming ourselves. Imagine if the coach is doing the swimming for us, while we stand outside the pool. How much swimming are we going to learn? That is what is happening. Most of us never even take the first step on the path. We just stand on the edge and pray for everything to be done by someone else.
We need God or Jesus or the Buddha or the Bible or the Quran or the Gita when we are lost, when our mind is conditioned, when we are enslaved by the world of images and desires, when we are limited to our small, physical selves. The moment we get even a glimpse of this enslavement and conditioning, we are on the path to freedom and very soon, if we keep walking on the path and do not get distracted or discouraged, God and the gurus and the prophets and the scriptures and teachings will all appear inside us (they are already inside us, but we do not realize it) and when that happens we will not need to seek them outside or get attached to them. All becomes one. We arrive at our universal self.
Truly enlightened teachers, conscious of the spiritually debilitating effects of entity attachment, encouraged seekers to develop their own understanding and to find and start walking on their own paths.
Reality can never be experienced through the outside. It cannot be experienced through a ‘son of God’ or a prophet or a place of worship or a holy book. These things can help by showing us the direction, but we will have to keep walking, keep moving on. And the journey is inwards, not outside. It is a process of inward reviewing. It is what Jesus meant when he said, ‘repent’, the Greek word of which, Μετανοεῖτε (pronounced Metanoeite) also means to think differently or afterwards or to re-consider.
Jesus was telling us to stop looking outside and to start looking at ourselves again, to understand ourselves, to not be blind to ourselves.
If we see the statues of Buddha, we will find that most of them have their eyes closed. The closed eyes signify that a buddha (an enlightened one) has no further need to look outside. The search outside is over.
When we do not look at ourselves and are attached to things outside of ourselves (be it money or power or prestige or God or Jesus or the Bible or the Church), we lose the connection to reality.
All worship (be it material or spiritual) is of images, of the past, of the dead. And we are in the present. Our thoughts always relate to the past and/or the future, but we only exist in the present. This is a huge spiritual disconnect. We are always thinking of the past or the future while the eternal / the divine / the creator / the ‘Father’ (lets call it the Creator) and life itself are always in the present.
Our meeting with the Creator can only take place in the present. Any kind of attachment we develop with anything (including the Creator) will keep us chained to the past and it will make sure that our meeting with reality / with the present / with the Creator never takes place.
If we are worshipping the Creator, then it is a dead Creator. And we cannot meet someone who is dead.
Either we can continue worshipping that dead Creator or we can try to meet the living Creator. The choice is monumental and life-changing and it is ours to make. This is the choice that Jesus was trying to make us realize we have, a choice that each one of us has.
Historically, down the ages, it appears that very few have realized the existence of this choice and even fewer appear to have chosen a living Creator.
All orthodox religious traditions, after the passing away of their originators, started encouraging the worship of the dead, be it a God or a statue of Buddha or Mahavira or Krishna or a ‘book of God’ or something else. All these are dead things. To this day, their followers are worshipping the dead. Jesus, like all other enlightened masters, was advocating a different kind of experience, the experience of uniting with a living God. However, his message has gotten lost in the Christianity and the Church that developed later (which are both dead as of today) and this book is about re-discovering that original message.
· Truth and belief are matters of perception and perception is created by social conditioning.
Every individual in society is conditioned and develops his / her own perception and also his / her own ideas of truth based on that conditioning.
In the gospels, when the Roman Governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate, asked Jesus during the latter’s trial, “What is truth?”, both of them knew that Pilate’s question was rhetorical and both were probably philosophically smart enough to understand that there was no absolute or definitive answer to the question. Hence, both avoided saying anything further. Pilate, as we are told, left the room to go out and try to pacify the angry mobs demanding Jesus’ crucifixion and Jesus just stayed quiet.
For me, the gist of Jesus’ message is primarily about attaining wholeness, i.e., connecting with the whole universe, by observing and letting go of the social conditioning, which each individual undergoes in life. This conditioning creates the ego, the personality, the self-image, the dead part of us. In the Gospel of Thomas (Saying 28), Jesus says that people are intoxicated. The moment we take the first steps on the spiritual path, the conditioning / the ego / the intoxication starts subsiding and we start coming back to our senses and uncovering the living Creator which is hidden inside every one of us and which is our real self. There is suffering on the path, which is like a hangover from the intoxication of the previous night. That is the seeker’s / the disciple’s hangover, which must be endured.
The moment the ego subsides, the Creator emerges.
The great poet and writer, Rabindranath Tagore, in one of his beautiful short poems, writes about how he was sitting in his room one night, writing something in the light of a candle. When he was done and he snuffed out the candle, immediately the room was filled up with the light of the beautiful moon outside. Just the flame of a small candle was keeping Tagore ignorant of the immense beauty and light of the moon.
This is what happens in our lives too: the ‘I’ (the ego) hides the reality (the Creator) from view. Snuff out the ‘I’ and the Creator will emerge.
This is exactly what Jesus prescribed, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves, pick up their cross and follow me.”
We will have to deny ourselves, which means denying the ego, denying whatever we think constitutes us, whatever we think we have and whatever we want, all our desires, wishes, goals, achievements, fears, burdens, possessions and everything else that forms the ‘I’.
When the ‘I’ ceases to be, the Creator is.
To go deeper, when the ‘I’ ceases to be, everything else ceases to be, all words and concepts disappear. All materiality / spirituality, all good / evil, heaven / hell and all other polarities disappear. All becomes an undifferentiated, undivided, undefined One and we arrive at Jesus’ kingdom of heaven (or Lao Tzu’s tao, Buddha’s nirvana, Mahavira’ moksha, Guru Nanak’s such khand, Hermes’ alchemy / real healing or Rumi’s tawhid).
In Thomas 113, Jesus says, “— the Kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth and men do not see it.”
Osho used to say that spirituality is less about finding God and more about losing yourself, meaning that it is much easier to start at the smaller level than to start with God. We can start with ourselves. If we can start letting go of ourselves, what will happen? It is like peeling away the layers of an onion. If we keep peeling away, what is left of the onion at the end? Nothing. If we start peeling away at ourselves, what will be left at the end? The same nothing. In that nothingness, will we find God? Do it and find out.
Jesus wanted to give the seeker the tools for uncovering the Creator and to show the seeker how to reach the place where he or she becomes one with the Creator, i.e., the kingdom of heaven. For Jesus, this kingdom of heaven was not a physical place but a mental state / level of consciousness where all boundaries imposed by the ego disappear and the seeker becomes one with everything and everyone all around.
In Thomas 75, Jesus says: “There are many standing at the door, but it is the solitary who will enter the bridal chamber.” This ‘solitary’ is the state of being when we deny ourselves and accept the world to the extent that there is no ‘I’ and there is no world. There is just the undifferentiated whole, the One, The All . This undifferentiated whole is the ‘solitary’ who enters the kingdom of heaven. And, to go a step further, this solitary is the kingdom of heaven.
Finally, Jesus’ words will prove to be revolutionary and will set us on a path of losing and then re-discovering our ‘self’ if we can start with an empty cup, i.e., if we are willing to look at ourselves and the world anew, if we are willing to accept the possibility that we know nothing, if we are willing to learn and if we are willing to be ordinary (as the Zen masters said, be the rice cleaner, i.e., someone who is considered the lowest ranked in a Zen monastery).
In Luke (Chapter 14), Jesus says that when we are invited to a feast, we should take the lowest seat.
In Matthew 21, Jesus says, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone”.
Can we accept being ordinary? Can we embrace and endure rejection?
There will be excruciating pain, to say the least, since our whole life we have been telling ourselves, or others are telling us, that we are special, smart and beautiful and that we have to be the best. Our whole lives are spent in becoming important, famous, privileged, wealthy and VIP. We should have the biggest house, the most expensive car, the most beautiful clothes, the most exquisite food and so on and so forth. We shop for the best brands, we hunt for the most good looking spouse, we want perfect kids. And here is this illiterate, uneducated carpenter from the ancient Middle East who is inviting us to throw away everything and to take up the lowest possible position. No, it’s illogical, nonsensical and… unthinkable!
However, if we’re one of the very few lucky ones who do find their path and start walking, then the illogical, nonsensical and unthinkable will happen on its own; no struggle, no effort will be needed.
This path is not for the weak hearted. It is a path for the bravest and the most curious ones, who are not afraid to walk alone in the dark, off the beaten path, in order to discover their own reality, who are motivated enough to do it and who are not afraid to enter a place where everything they have, including their very life, will be taken away – only to be returned later a thousand times over and more. This is what happened to Jesus. He liked using parables for teaching and, interestingly, his own life itself is the best parable for seekers. It shows the stages in a seeker’s life: (1) physical birth (2) second birth, i.e., spiritual birth, when we start walking the path (3) suffering (4) death of the ego / the temporary self and (5) resurrection and eternal life, i.e., attaining our undying / eternal / universal self. This will happen to everyone on the path, as long as the seeker keeps walking. This is how Jesus became Christ. And this is how every one of us can become Christ (and not just a ‘Christian’) if we have the hunger and the thirst.
In this book, you will find the ‘Parable of the Sower, the Seed and the Soil’, which is from the Bible and is the story of a farmer who threw seeds in the field to grow some crop. The seeds that fell on the path or on rocky places or among the thorns did not grow. It was only the seeds that fell on good soil that grew and produced the crop. The seeds, no matter how good they might be, will not be enough on their own to produce a crop if good soil is not present. Jesus’ words, and the words of other great spiritual masters, are the seeds and we are the soil. If we are not open to reviewing ourselves and to change, if we are not open to silence and to stillness, then none of those words will bear any fruit.
 Referring to his ascension (after his resurrection and the re-union with his disciples)
 As Jesus said in John, Chapter 17 (Bible): “I pray also for those who believe through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity.”
 Strong’s Concordance
 The Bible, Book of John, Chapter 18, verse 38
 Southern part of the modern day Palestine
 For blasphemy (calling himself the son of God, thereby giving reason for Jews to file charges against him) and sedition (for using the expression ‘Kingdom’ of God, which, given that Judea and its surrounding regions at that time were under Roman rule, was interpreted as a political move against the Roman emperor).
 “I took my place in the midst of the world and I appeared to them in flesh. I found all of them intoxicated; I found none of them thirsty.”
 As per the Hermetists
 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat’. Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place’. Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”