He shall be called a Nazarene. ~ Matt 2:23
We have found this man to be the leader of the sect of Nazarenes ~ Acts.24:5
"The genuine followers of the perennial philosophy shall remain few, not because it requires great understanding, but because the following of that philosophy requires so great a moral courage and unflagging determination. The philosophy of mysticism, unlike some others, is not dependent upon intellect for confirmation, but upon experiment. It remains incomprehensible to all but those who are willing to carry out the experiment with their very lives." ~ Swami Abhayananda
Following his baptism by John, Jesus was inspired with a new delight in God, and a fervent desire to draw near to Him and to know Him within himself. And he felt a great need to be alone in order to focus all his mind on the Lord who had so bountifully graced him with vision and inward joy.
So he took himself into the solitude of the desert wilderness outside the city. Filled with certainty that God was drawing him to yet clearer vision, he swept away all concern for his own bodily welfare and went alone into the rocky wastelands, to pray and to seek the clear vision of God within himself.
During one star-filled night, deeply drawn into a silent prayer of longing, Jesus suddenly became awake to a clear, still awareness; his mind was lifted beyond itself into a pure, eternal, Consciousness. He knew himself to be one with the Mind of the universe.
In that exalted awareness, there was no longer a Jesus and his God, but a one, all-pervading, Reality which had no division in it at all. He had entered what he was later to call, "the kingdom of God," and knew himself as the one Being existing in all.
He knew the unsurpassably joyful truth that he was, and had always been, the one Existence that lives in every single form on this earth, animating them all as by a magic projection of Himself onto a universal screen. He was the eternal Soul of all, appearing as all, yet beyond all, unaffected by the play of all these infinite forms.
Gone were all illusions; gone was all suffering and confusion; he was eternally present, yet eternally free, eternally unchanging and untouched by the fortunes or misfortunes of the world.
By morning, Jesus had come back to his limited self, but the knowledge of his infinite and eternal Self still flooded his mind, and he bathed in the intoxicating afterglow of that knowledge. He had been released of every delusion, fear, and source of pain that man is subject to in this world.
'Had anyone else ever experienced such a state?' he wondered. The ancient prophets of Israel had said nothing of such an experience! Compared to what he had seen, the scriptures were like the babbling of children.
'Am I the only one to have known this incredible Truth?' he wondered; 'Dear God, am I the messenger, the Messiah, whom the people await?' Such were undoubtedly the thoughts that swirled through Jesus' mind on that day.
It is unlikely that a young laboring-class Palestinian of those times, raised and educated in the Jewish tradition, would have had a great deal of access to the small body of mystical lore then existing.
The books of the Jewish prophets bore little in the way of insightful testimonies of the mystical experience; and without some acquaintance with Vedantic, Buddhist, Platonic or Pythagorean doctrines, Jesus would have been ill-prepared for the startling revelation that came to him on that fateful night.
With no knowledge of those others before him who had experienced such an enlightenment and had known their eternal Identity, Jesus could scarcely avoid the conclusion that he was uniquely endowed, that he was indeed the one chosen to be the Messiah whose mission on earth had been prophesied for centuries in the holy literature of his people.
He had been shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was an embodiment of the Father, that his eternal Identity was the infinite Source of all existence.
'How shall I not speak of this saving knowledge?' he asked; 'How shall I not take on the role of.Messiah, and announce the Truth to everyone who will hear?'
Jesus remained in the wilderness for several days more, exulting in the knowledge and joy which flooded his mind, and praising God for His wondrous gift; and then he made his way back to the city of Jerusalem.
After refreshing himself, he went to the great temple of the city, and, climbing to the top of it by the stairs, he looked out over the housetops and the people moving in the streets with an awed, yet troubled, vision.
'I am all these objects and beings,' he thought;' yet I am forever beyond all appearances. Who will believe such a thing? I, myself, would not believe it if I had not experienced it for myself! Such knowledge came to me only through the grace of God -- so what can I think to teach to others?
Better if I were to end this life now, to cast myself from this parapet, and return at once to my eternal home.' But he realized that he had no choice; he had received a mandate, an assignment, to play out his role on this earth as a revealer of the truth to others. There was no way to turn away from this, his God-ordained destiny.
Soon after, Jesus began visiting his old comrades, and speaking to them of what he had realized in the wilderness. The radiance on his face and the certainty of his words had a profound effect upon them.
Some believed that, indeed, he might well be the Messiah; others only wondered at the strange delusion of the young carpenter from Nazareth whom they had known previously as a good, level-headed, young man.
And as Jesus went about teaching his friends and those he met, many, having heard of his holy transformation, came to see him out of curiosity; others, believing he had been graced by God, came to be blessed or cured of their illnesses.
And, in a short time, Jesus had become a notorious celebrity in the city; to some, an illumined teacher, to others, an inspired healer and prophet, and to some scornful onlookers, a pretentious scalliwag and nuisance. But Jesus continued to teach what he knew to be the truth, heedless of how others viewed him.
One day, after announcing that he would give a sermon on the nearby hill, called the Mound of Olives, he climbed to the top of that hill and spoke to the people who had gathered to hear him.
He explained, in his gentle but commanding way, of how he had experienci the kingdom of God, and of how they too could know that infinite realm:
"The kingdom of God is not far away in the heavens," he told them; "it's near, it is at hand, within your very selves. Those of you who truly long for Him, sorrow for Him, in the emptiness and poverty of your hearts, will surely be blessed with His vision.
The kingdom of God belongs to those who become as little children before God. Those who sorrow for Him will be comforted; those who thirst for Him, and purify their hearts for the beholding of Him, will have their thirst quenched and their hunger satisfied.
"The purification of the heart," he told them, "consists firstly in the heartfelt repentence for past wrongs done, and the determination to root out all unrighteousness, all deeds and thoughts which go counter to your love for all as embodiments of yourself.
When your heart has become pure, and your mind becomes utterly dependent upon and fully surrendered to Him, you will see God. If you understand that all men are God's own, you will not stir men against one another, but will make peace between men. Such peacemakers are the true sons of God.
"But do not thnk such a task is easy," he warned them; "there are many who will not understand, and they will persecute you. But endure; for those who are persecuted because of their devotion to truth, will yet enjoy the reward of heavenly joy. Be happy to endure the persecutions of men, for your reward is in the perfection of your soul, by which you will be drawn nearer and nearer to the realization of God."
And he explained to them that it was not his intention to alter the ancient Jewish faith, or the laws of Moses, but rather to bring them to their fulfillment, their culmination, in the direct realization of God.
It is not merely the letter of the law which is to be obeyed as a sort of imposed duty, he told them, but rather the laws are to be followed as a means of purifying the heart and the mind; for it is the mind and heart which must be purified in order to experience the kingdom of God.
Like the Buddha in far-off India, Jesus had been born into a religious tradition which taught only the preliminary stages of the religious life, and had lost sight of the ultimate purpose and goal of those practices.
It was because the purpose and reason of a pure life was forgotten or unknown, that so many of his people had begun to doubt the wisdom of the moral laws; for, without an understanding of their purpose and fulfillment, such laws male' little sense to men.
Without understanding the ultimate purpose of the remembrance of God, and the restraint of the mind and senses, who would undertake the struggle and hardship of a spiritual life?
"Prayer," said Jesus, "is not meant for the appproval of men, but for the ascent of the mind to the awareness of the presence of God. It is to Him and for Him alone that prayer is to be directed, for He is the goal and reward of prayer."
And he taught them the way to pray to God: "Regard Him as your beloved Father; remember Him every moment by singing His name in your heart; and when you pray to Him in solitude and silence, ask Him to open His kingdom to you. Say to Him:
- 'Our Father, who art beyond the earth and the heavens, holy is Thy name. Let me enter into Thy kingdom, if it be Thy will, for Thy will is done here on earth as well as in heaven. Grant us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our past sins, as we forgive those who have sinned against us. Lead us, not into temptation, but to freedom from all evil thoughts, so we may enter into Thy eternal kingdom and know Thy power and Thy glory.'
"If you truly love God," said Jesus, "your mind will be with God, and if you love the world, your mind will be with the world. Your mind cannot go in two directions at once, but goes singly to that which you most love."
And, remembering his own experience in the wilderness, he told them, "If a man truly loves God, and is filled with the divinely-inspired longing for Him, such a man need not concern himself about what he will eat or wear. If God draws him to the knowledge of Himself, no harm can come to him; he will not starve or go naked. Does not God know the needs of His own, and supply them with everything?
Seek first and foremost the kingdom of God, and all the rest will be taken care of. You need not-concern yourself to supply your future needs, for each day God will be near at hand to guide you and provide for you.
"It is our own minds we must be concerned with," said Jesus, "if we would know God. Of what use is it to look to correct others when what is needful is the correction of our own wayward minds!
It is only by the perfection of our own souls that we can come to the threshold of the kingdom of God. And if your desire for Him is sufficient, His door will be opened, and you will see Him face to face. Knock, and He will open His door to you; seek Him, and you will find.
"Yet do not imagine that it is an easy road to God. No; the path to Him is strait and narrow, difficult to tread. It is as narrow as the edge of a sword, and there are few who attain the goal. But I have known Him, and I can show you the way,
Not all of you who call yourselves my followers will reach His kingdom. but only those who truly follow the will of God within themselves. Not merely by pretending to follow a teacher's words can that vision be obtained, but only by those who sincerely strive to reach Him with all their hearts."
And when he had finished, the people listening to Jesus were astounded, for they could tell by what he said that he had truly attained to God, and that he spoke not merely from a learned knowledge, but with the authority of one who had actually experienced the Truth for himself.
Later, when Jesus was alone with a few of his most ardent disciples, he spoke to them more particularly of the nature of God and of man. "You have read in the Psalms," he said to them, "that man is the son of God; and it is true, we are born of God, and we are truly God in essence, and so we are His own.
When I say that I am the son of God, understand that what is meant is that I am of the Father and am in the Father. He is in me and I am in Him. Truly, I and the Father are one.
When you have realized the Truth, you too will know your oneness with God. Yet, as beings on earth, we are 'sons' of God, for all this world is born of that one eternal Father in whom we live and move and have our being.
"Some of you will understand, and make your way to the vision of God; others will not. My words I plant in your hearts as seeds; and if that seed is planted in fertile ground, it will spring up into life, but if it is planted in rocky soil, it will die without bearing fruit.
The vision of God is like a hidden treasure; some will renounce all other pursuits to find it, while others, though they hear of it, will not seek it, and will not find it."
And all of the disciples who heard his words vowed to nourish and cultivate them in their hearts.
From the book (a spiritual classic): History of Mysticism, by Swami Ahayananda.
For The Buddha, the ending of sorrow came about when he 'entered' into an inner state of Consciousness he called 'Nirvana.' Jesus attained Nirvana when he 'entered' what he called the 'kingdom of heaven.'
The path to enlightenment, Nirvana, or the Kingdom of Heaven spoken of in ancient times is nothing more, nor anything less than the realization of Truth, Love, and true Being. And, as Jesus. Buddha and others so often pointed out, this realm of Truth and Love is found within, which is to say, within you and within me.
Enlightened Masters of old used dissimilar languages, parables and metaphors to express the same cosmic reality. And without exception, they discovered this 'new' reality, which is true reality. by means of a radlical transformation in conscious awareness.
The Kingdom of Love and Peace is beyond thought and beyond time. When one with the One, we are transformed in Awareness into the cosmic realm from whence we came. This is the Truth of Zen. This is Nirvana. This is the Tao. This is Brahmic Splendor. This is Eternal Bliss. This is the Kingdom of Heaven -- the Pearl of great price. This is the Promised Land. This is Paradise.
From the book: The Christ is NOT a Person: The Evolution of Consciousness and the Destiny of Man by J.C. Tefft