“The most important Gospel you’ll ever read is the one that you write.” – Reverend Russell Heiland
Maybe it’s because Christmas is approaching or possibly because I’ve neglected this topic for too long — tip-toeing around the various masculine forms of spirituality — but today, I want to talk about Jesus.
What I don’t want to do is discuss his love life or his blood line. I don’t want to get into the metaphysics of the Trinity or the virgin birth, or his death and resurrection (we’ll save that for Easter), and I definitely don’t want to talk about original sin. That, we can leave checked at the door. Permanently.
I would, however, love to talk at length about what Jesus — this middle eastern man with a rebel spirit and pathological contempt for authority — was able to accomplish in his short life. But there’s one problem. And it’s a pretty big one. Jesus’ life may not have happened at all. At least, not the way we might think.
Did Jesus Exist?
There’s a curious 40-70 year span that occurs between Jesus’ death and the time that the apostles and their descendants were “inspired” to write the Gospels. That, combined with the fact that more than half of the Gospels weren’t even written by men alive during Jesus’ time, gives one cause for wonder. I, myself, wonder if I would trust the acquaintances of my friends (even if I considered them “disciples”) to correctly quote me two generations later about something as important as what I believed to be the “good news,” the living Word of God.
There’s also the ancient and familiar origins of the Jesus myth itself. The story of Jesus was not new to people at the time. In fact, Jesus’ life story has so many elements in common with other (and pre-existing) Mediterranean and Middle Eastern god-man hybrids — like the Persian story of Mithras (whose birth was attended by three shepherds), the Egyptian legend of Osiris (who was assassinated by conspirators, defeated death and returned to rule the afterlife), the Greek Dionysus (who celebrated a “last supper” with twelve trusted associates before his execution) and Zoroaster (also from Persia, who was “born of a virgin mother” and come to “crush the forces of evil”). Even the Hindu deity Krishna (thought to have lived anywhere from 3228 to 3rd Century BCE) is thought to be the inspiration for the Jesus myth (his father was a carpenter, his birth was marked by the appearance of a star, he healed the sick and the lame).
Any (or all) of these stories could prove to be the inspiration for the Jesus mythology, but not vice versa. In fact, St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE) wrote, “This, in our day, is the Christian religion, not as having been unknown in former times, but as having recently received that name.”
So, if Jesus’ life was simply a more effective re-telling of re-hashed pagan and Occident stories and legends, then why does he matter? And, if we could separate the mythology of Jesus — of which so much has been added to after his “death” — from the message or teachings of Jesus, what might distinguish him, philosophically, from the hordes of other virgin-born messiahs of the day?
3 Comments | tags: Agape, ahimsa, buddha, chakras, Charles Fillmore, Christ, Christianity, collective unconscious, consciousness, Dhammapada, Dionysus, faith, Gospels, healing, Jesus, Krishna, love, Lynne McTaggart, meditation, Mithras, Myrtle Fillmore, mythology, Osiris, quantum mechanics, religion, science, Tao Te Ching, The Field, Thomas Jefferson, Unity, Zoroaster | posted in Debate, New Mythology, Prayers and Affirmations
In researching and crafting our “statement of belief” as required by law, we came across 25 (or more) core principles or values that run uniformly through the world’s major religious teachings — as put forth by Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Mohammed, Shankara, Confucius and more.
At Integral Church, we believe wholeheartedly in things like religious literacy, religious pluralism, and the inclusion of all appropriate (what is true for you) wisdom traditions and spiritual practices.
So, it seemed fitting to present this list here, in a format that can be easily read, understood, shared and bookmarked.
15 Great Principles Shared by All Religions
- The Golden Rule / Law of Reciprocity – The cornerstone of religious understanding. “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.” – Christianity
- Honor Thy Father and Mother – Knowing them is the key to knowing ourselves. The day will come when we shall wish we had known them better.
- Speak the Truth – “Sincerity is the way of heaven, and to think how to be sincere is the way of a man.” – Confucius
- It’s More Blessed to Give than to Receive – Generosity, charity and kindness will open an individual to an unbounded reservoir of riches.
- Heaven is Within – “Even as the scent dwells within the flower, so God within thine own heart forever abides.” – Sikhism
- Love Thy Neighbor / Conquer With Love / All You Need is Love – Acts of faith, prayer and deep meditation provide us with the strength that allows love for our fellow man to become an abiding part of our lives. Love is a unifying force.
- Blessed Are the Peacemakers – When people live in the awareness that there is a close kinship between all individuals and nations, peace is the natural result.
- You Reap What You Sow – This is the great mystery of human life. Aware or unaware, all are ruled by this inevitable law of nature.
- Man Does Not Live by Bread Alone – The blessings of life are deeper than what can be appreciated by the senses.
- Do No Harm – If someone tries to hurt another, it means that she is perceiving that person as something separate and foreign from herself.
- Forgiveness – The most beautiful thing a man can do is to forgive wrong. – Judaism
- Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged – This principle is an expression of the underlying truth that mankind is one great family, and that we all spring from a common source.
- Be Slow to Anger – Anger clouds the mind in the very moments that clarity and objectivity are needed most. “He who holds back rising anger like a rolling chariot, him I call a real driver; others only hold the reins.” – Buddha
- There is But One God / God is Love – Nature, Being, The Absolute. Whatever name man chooses, there is but one God. All people and all things are of one essence.
- Follow the Spirit of the Scriptures, Not the Words – “Study the words, no doubt, but look behind them to the thought they indicate; And having found it, throw the words away, as chaff when you have sifted out the grain.” – Hinduism
All credit to Jeffrey Moses. For a full list, please visit http://www.onenessonline.com/
1. A great map of world religions.
2. Click below to enlarge.
28 Comments | tags: buddha, Buddhism, Christ, Christianity, Confucius, graphics, Hinduism, Jesus, Judaism, Krishna, maps, Mohammed, religion, Shankara, Taoism, values, world | posted in Interfaith, New Mythology, Prayers and Affirmations