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The Third Jesus: The Christ We Cannot Ignoreby Deepak Chopra
Synopses & Reviews
Redeeming the Redeemer
Jesus is in trouble. When people worship him today--or even speak his name--the object of their devotion is unlikely to be who they think he is. A mythical Jesus has grown up over time. He has served to divide peoples and nations. He has led to destructive wars in the name of religious fantasies. The legacy of love found in the New Testament has been tainted with the worst sort of intolerance and prejudice that would have appalled Jesus in life. Most troubling of all, his teachings have been hijacked by people who hate in the name of love.
Sometimes I feel this social pressure to return to my faith, a lapsed Catholic told me recently, but I'm too bitter. Can I love a religion that calls gays sinners but hides pedophiles in its clergy? Yesterday while I was driving to work, I heard a rock song that went, 'Jesus walked on water when he should have surfed, ' and you know what? I burst out laughing. I would never have done that when I was younger. Now I feel only the smallest twinge of guilt.
No matter where you look, a cloud of confusion hangs over the message of Jesus. To cut through it we have to be specific about who we mean when we refer to Jesus. One Jesus is historical, and we know next to nothing about him. Another Jesus is the one appropriated by Christianity. He was created by the Church to fulfill its agenda. The third Jesus, the one this book is about, is as yet so unknown that even the most devout Christians don't suspect that he exists. Yet he is the Christ we cannot--and must not--ignore.
The first Jesus was a rabbi who wandered the shores of northern Galilee many centuries ago. This Jesus still feels close enough to touch. He appears in our mind's eye dressed in homespun but haloed in glory. He was kind, serene, peaceful, loving, and yet he was the keeper of deep mysteries.
This historical Jesus has been lost, however, swept away by history. He still lingers like a ghost, a projection of all the ideal qualities we wish for in ourselves but so painfully lack. Why couldn't there be one person who was perfectly loving, perfectly compassionate, and perfectly humble? There can be if we call him Jesus and remove him to a time thousands of years in the past. (If you live in the East, his name might be Buddha, but the man is equally mythical and equally a projection of our own lack.)
The first Jesus is less than consistent, as a closer reading of the gospels will show. If Jesus was perfectly peaceful, why did he declare, Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword? (Matthew 10:34) If he was perfectly loving, why did he say, Throw out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth? (Matthew 25:30) (Sometimes the translation is even harsher, and Jesus commands the worthless slave to be consigned to hell.) If Jesus was humble, why did he claim to rule the earth beyond the power of any king? At the very least, the living Jesus was a man of baffling contradictions.
And yet the more contradictions we unearth, the less mythical this Jesus becomes. The flesh-and-blood man who is lost to history must have been extraordinarily human. To be divine, one must be rich in every human quality first. As one famous Indian spiritual teacher once said, The measure of enlightenment is how comfort
The best-selling author of How to Know God sheds new light on the New Testament and the message of Jesus as he looks at three different views of Jesus Christ--the historical Jesus, a mythical figure created by the church to represent years of church teaching and theology, and the mystical, radical teacher who taught his followers how to change the world. 150,000 first printing.
Who is Jesus Christ?
In The Third Jesus, bestselling author and spiritual leader Deepak Chopra provides an answer to this question that is both a challenge to current systems of belief and a fresh perspective on what Jesus can teach us all, regardless of our religious background. There is not one Jesus, Chopra writes, but three.
First, there is the historical Jesus, the man who lived more than two thousand years ago and whose teachings are the foundation of Christian theology and thought. Next there is Jesus the Son of God, who has come to embody an institutional religion with specific dogma, a priesthood, and devout believers. And finally, there is the third Jesus, the cosmic Christ, the spiritual guide whose teaching embraces all humanity, not just the church built in his name. He speaks to the individual who wants to find God as a personal experience, to attain what some might call grace, or God-consciousness, or enlightenment.
When we take Jesus literally, we are faced with the impossible. How can we truly “love thy neighbor as thyself”? But when we see the exhortations of Jesus as invitations to join him on a higher spiritual plane, his words suddenly make sense.
Ultimately, Chopra argues, Christianity needs to overcome its tendency to be exclusionary and refocus on being a religion of personal insight and spiritual growth. In this way Jesus can be seen for the universal teacher he truly is–someone whose teachings of compassion, tolerance, and understanding can embrace and be embraced by all of us.
About the Author
DEEPAK CHOPRA is the author of more than fifty books translated into over thirty-five languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers in both the fiction and non-fiction categories. Chopra’s Wellness Radio
airs weekly on Sirius Satellite Stars, Channel 102, which focuses on the areas of success, love, sexuality and relationships, well-being, and spirituality. He is founder and president of the Alliance for a New Humanity. Time magazine heralds Deepak Chopra as one of the top one hundred heroes and icons of the century and credits him as “the poet-prophet of alternative medicine.”
Table of Contents
The third Jesus — The Gospel of enlightenment — Taking Jesus as your teacher.
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