THEOSOPHY, Vol. 24, No. 8, June, 1936
(Pages 346-350; Size: 15K)
(Number 3 of a 29-part series)
(Part 2 of 2)

GREAT THEOSOPHISTS

JESUS, THE CHRIST

(Concluded)

JESUS had been driven out of Judea in his early youth because of his initiation into the secret wisdom of Israel. During his stay in Egypt he had augmented this knowledge through his initiation into the Egyptian Mysteries. This initiation had proved to him that the secret wisdom of the Jews and the Egyptians was identical. As Eliphas Lévi says: "He had divined the occult theology of Israel, compared it with the wisdom of Egypt, and found thereby the reason for a universal synthesis." But as Jesus' mission was particularly to the Jews, it became necessary for him to return to his native land as soon as possible, in order to carry on his chosen work.

Both the New Testament and the Sepher Toldos Jeshu agree that Jesus returned to Judea after his stay in Egypt. The Gospel of Matthew says that he remained in Egypt until after the death of Herod, so that the prophecy might be fulfilled: "Out of Egypt have I called my son." The Sepher Toldos Jeshu reports that he returned to Judea after King Janneus had ceased his persecution of the Initiates. But the Jews, knowing of his experiences, complained bitterly against him, declaring that he had discovered the secrets of their Temple and was profaning them by giving them out to the common people. Jesus, however, was not disturbed by these accusations, and so, according to the Gospel of Matthew:

He came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: He shall be called a Nazarene.
In those days a Nazarene meant something far more important than an inhabitant of the city of Nazareth. The word Nazar is an ancient one, and is found in many languages. The Nazars were the Magi, or Wise Men; their great prophets were initiated members of that Fraternity of Adepts known to every Theosophist, their doctrines re-statements of the ancient Wisdom-Religion. These Nazars lived in Judea long before the time of Moses. They had built the ancient city of Nazara, where they held their secret rites of initiation. In Jesus' time the name of the city had been changed to Nazareth, and it was evidently to this city that Jesus repaired. There he continued his study of the Chaldean Secret Doctrine, compared it with the wisdom of Egypt, found further proofs of their identity, and began his work of synthesis.

The synthetic quality of Jesus' teachings is apparent to every one who is acquainted with the different sources from which he drew his knowledge. One of those sources was the great stream of Pythagorean lore which had affected the occult schools for many centuries. Five hundred years before Jesus was born, Pythagoras had gone through experiences similar to those through which Jesus was then going. He had studied with the Brachmanes in India, had been initiated into the Chaldean Mysteries, and had spent twenty-two years in Egypt before returning to his native land to found his school. Pythagoras had left a strong impression upon every religious and philosophical movement that he contacted, and Jesus had come under this influence in several different places, principally among the Essenes. Therefore, as H. P. Blavatsky says: "All his sayings are in a Pythagorean spirit, when not verbatim repetitions." A few illustrations will prove the truth of this statement:

 From Sextus, the Pythagorean
  From the New Testament
"Possess not treasures, but those things which no one can take from you." 
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal." 
"It is better for a part of the body to be burnt than to continue so in another life." 
"And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off; it is better for thee to enter into life maimed than to go to hell."
"Use yourselves as the Temple of God." 
"Know ye not that ye are the Temple of God?"
"The greatest honor which can be paid to God is to know and imitate His perfection." 
"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect." 
 Jesus' true position as a Teacher and Savior of humanity can never be fully appreciated without an understanding of the doctrine of Avatars. An Avatar is one who through his own efforts continued for many ages has finally reached the place where reincarnation is no longer a Karmic necessity. He has gained the right to freedom from rebirth, but deliberately chooses to return to earth for the benefit of suffering humanity. As Krishna says in the Bhagavad-Gita:
I produce myself among creatures, O son of Bharata(1), whenever there is a decline of virtue and an insurrection of vice and injustice in the world; and thus I incarnate from age to age for the preservation of the just, the destruction of the wicked, and the establishment of righteousness.
The great Avatars appear in definite cycles, and each of the larger cycles includes and influences several smaller ones. The great cycles are those marked by the appearance of Rama, Krishna and Buddha in India, of Menes in Egypt and of Zoroaster in Persia. The Buddha was the last of the great Avatars, and the cycle in which Jesus appeared was one of the smaller ones within the great Buddha-cycle.

The legends surrounding the lives of all Avatars are similar. All of them have a symbolical meaning and should be so interpreted. As Jesus was an Avatar, it is natural that the legends with which we are all familiar should correspond in every way with those of his predecessors.

The mothers of Krishna, Buddha and Jesus are said to have been Virgins. "In the early years of the Kali-Yuga(2) shall be born the son of a Virgin," says the Vedanta. The Gospel of Matthew states: "Behold a Virgin shall conceive and bear a son."

Krishna descended from a royal family, Buddha was the son of a King, and Jesus is said to have come from the royal line of David. Krishna was brought up by shepherds, the first disciples of Buddha were shepherds, and Jesus was worshipped by shepherds at his birth and is called the "Good Shepherd."

Buddha and his cousin Ananda were born at the same time. The visit of Buddha's mother to the mother of Ananda and the mutual greeting of the unborn children is repeated in the Christian story of Mary and Elizabeth.

Krishna was persecuted by the wicked tyrant King Kansa who, hoping to destroy the new prophet, ordered the destruction of all the male children in his realm. According to the Gospels, the same thing happened in Jesus' day.

As a child, Buddha astonished his teachers with his great learning. It is said that Jesus discussed philosophy with the Jewish doctors, "and all that heard him were astonished at his learning."

Buddha went through the temptation of the world, the flesh and the devil as personified by Mara. The Gospel of Matthew records: "Again the Devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the earth, and the glory of them, and saith unto him; 'All these things will I give thee if thou wilt fall down and worship me.'"

Krishna, Buddha and Jesus were friends of the poor and humble. Each of them is said to have washed the feet of his disciples. All three are credited with miraculous cures.

Krishna is said to have died on a cross, nailed to it by an arrow. Buddha is represented in many temples as sitting under a cruciform tree, or with a cross on his breast. The crucifixion of Jesus is accepted by all Christians. After his death, Krishna is said to have ascended into Svarga, Buddha into Nirvana, and Jesus into Paradise.

These few legends alone are enough to prove that Jesus' life was not in any way unique. No orthodox Buddhist or Brahman would deny the Christian incarnation, for the very corner-stone of their religion is the fact of the periodical incarnations of the Deity. If the Christian world had understood the law of Cycles, and had realized Jesus' position in the Buddha-cycle, it would have seen that the mission of Jesus was to continue the work commenced by the Buddha, and to spread the same doctrines that the Buddha had taught many centuries before.

It was an easy matter for Jesus to acquaint himself with these doctrines. Three hundred years before his time Asoka, the great Indian King, had sent messengers to Asia Minor, Greece and Egypt carrying with them the doctrines of the Buddha. The Essenes, the Pythagoreans and the Nazarenes had recognized the practical and ethical import of this message, and had incorporated Buddhism into their own systems of thought. The Nazarenes of Jesus' day were Buddhists, as their own Scripture, the Codex Nazaraeus, informs us, and Jesus, in becoming a Nazarene, had automatically become a Buddhist:

Jesus is the founder of the sect of the new Nazars, and, as the words imply, a follower of the Buddhist doctrine. -- Codex Nazaraeus.
Jesus taught nothing that had not already been given out by the Buddha, as every student of Buddhism knows. His Sermon on the Mount begins with definitely Buddhistic precepts, and every word of this Sermon is simply an echo of monastic Buddhism. The Ten Commandments of the Buddha, found in an appendix to the Prâtimoksha Sûtra, are fully elaborated in the Gospel of Matthew. The writers of the four Gospels, (whoever they may have been) were well acquainted with the Buddhist stories, for these Gospels contain pages taken almost literally from Buddhist narratives. For example:
Whosoever, with a purely believing heart, offers nothing but a handful of water, or gives drink therewith to the poor and needy, this meritorious action will not be exhausted in many ages. --Buddhist Canon.

Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward. --Matthew x:42.

As Jesus came in the Buddha-cycle, the motive which prompted him to incarnate at that particular time must have been determined by the Buddha's own special work. The mission of the Buddha was to produce a religious reform based upon a system of pure ethics; the real mission of Jesus was identical.

At the time that the Buddha was born, the religion of his country had become narrow and dogmatic, and all real knowledge had been usurped by the priests. At the time of Jesus' birth, the same conditions were present in Judea. Both of these great Teachers determined to break down this spirit of dogmatism which was threatening to overthrow pure religion. They both saw the intolerance and hypocrisy of the priests, the futility of their senseless ceremonials and prayers, the outward show of piety that covered their lack of true spirituality. As the Buddha took up arms against the Brahmanical priests, so did Jesus declare war against the proud Pharisees and Saducees. Both of them were reformers. Both of them pointed to ethics as the only secure foundation upon which any true system of religion can be reared. The Buddha called himself Tathagata -- "he who follows in the footsteps of his predecessors." As Jesus followed in the footsteps of his great predecessor, he, too must be called Tathagata.

The study of Jesus' life, even in the fragmentary way that it has been presented, should give us a much broader view of the position occupied by this great Teacher than the one that is presented by the Church. It shows, for one thing, that Jesus was not a small provincial character with no particular education, but on the contrary was a man of profound learning, who had gathered his knowledge in some of the most powerful occult schools of the day. It shows, furthermore, that Jesus was not a narrow bigot whose knowledge was confined to the Hebrew Scriptures, but was a man fully acquainted with the philosophical systems of Egypt, Greece, Chaldea and the Far East. As he is known to have instituted reforms among all the different sects that he contacted, he no longer appears as the "meek and gentle Jesus" of the Sunday-school, but as a man of power and authority.


Next article:
Great Theosophists
Apollonius of Tyana


TWO (2) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:

COMPILER'S NOTE: I added these footnotes; they were not in the article. If any of them don't paint an accurate enough picture, or are incorrect, I hope the Editors of THEOSOPHY magazine will spot them and point the inaccuracies out to me, so that I can make the necessary corrections.

(1) "Bharata" is an ancient name of India.
Back to text.

(2) "Kali-Yuga" is the Dark Age or black cycle we are presently in, morally and ethically. It is the same idea as the Iron-Age period which is the lowest and most degraded one of the four known as the Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Iron Ages that we are more familiar with here in the West.
Back to text.
 


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