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A NHNE Special Article:
The Path of Jesus
From Our NHNE Special Report:
Discernment & The Spiritual Path
By David Sunfellow
© Copyright 1995 By David Sunfellow
Published By NewHeavenNewEarth / firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Path of Jesus
By David Sunfellow
Based on [various psychic and mystical] sources and my own experience and research, I believe that Jesus was the first one of us to perfectly understand and fulfill God's plan for all of us. Because of this, I believe the spiritual path Jesus advocated is the clearest, most complete and most reliable path back to God ever given to humanity. If we are able to strip away centuries of Christian dogma, the path Jesus lived and taught is lean and mean; it contains some of the noblest truths ever given to man and, at the same time, is surprisingly free of the blind spots and imperfections that accompany most other spiritual paths. It is, in my opinion, the path that all other spiritual paths should be measured against.
Here, then, is a summary of the essential spiritual path that Jesus lived and taught as I presently understand it:
--Jesus advocated a path of inclusiveness. In the face of enormous cultural and religious pressure, he insisted on treating everyone (including women) as equals. Especially important (and especially troubling to those who knew Jesus) was Jesus' resolute determination to associate with people considered unclean. Since the Jewish culture of Jesus' time believed that their salvation depended on keeping themselves pure (which meant, in part, NOT associating with people who had sinned), Jesus' insistence on associating with the unclean and outcast elements of his culture was considered a grave threat to the salvation of the Jewish people. Some argue that this was the main reason Jesus was eventually killed.
--Jesus insisted that God was a kind, loving, ever-present and ever-forgiving Presence, even going so far as to refer to Him as "Abba" (meaning something akin to "Papa"). Jesus championed this loving view of God in a culture that traditionally viewed God with fear and trepidation, as a force to be appeased and sacrificed to rather than a force to be regarded as a loving, doting, forgiving father. This, too, was a grave threat to those in authority who relied on a jealous, vengeful, letter-of-the-law image of God to force people to adhere to the religious and moral standards of their day.
--Although Jesus acknowledged the customs and traditions of his day (and even went so far as to become a Rabbi), he insisted that the real needs of men and women must always come before religious forms and traditions. He healed on the Sabbath, prevented at least one woman from being stoned according to Mosaic Law, and repeatedly challenged, sometimes apparently with great fervor, the letter-of-the-law orientation of those in authority. He insisted that religious forms were provided to serve man, not enslave man; to help man draw closer to God, not become gods in and of themselves.
--Jesus insisted that God and the Holy Spirit were always present and accessible. Jesus also indicated that this spiritual presence would be more accessible after he left (possibly because his followers would be forced to form a more direct relationship because of his physical absence, and/or because his resurrected spirit would be able to add more firepower to the equation). This, too, may have been seen as a serious threat to those in authority who believed that they were God's spokespeople and ordinary men and women needed to go through them in order to be instructed by God.
--Jesus insisted that the most important thing a person could do to find God was to love God and others. Love, in particular love as expressed to fellow human beings, was the foundation of Jesus' work and teaching. At every turn, in every situation, with rich people and poor, with sick people and outcasts, with those who were in power and those who were not, Jesus actively expressed love, especially love in the form of compassion, forgiveness and reaching out to those who were in need.
--Except for love, and, possibly the Lord's Prayer and the breaking of bread and sharing of wine, Jesus gave no particular commandments, techniques, or spiritual practices for his followers to adhere to (and, as already indicated, he repeatedly insisted that no form, tradition or spiritual practice was more important than learning to love God and one another).
--Jesus taught and demonstrated that true spirituality is accomplished more by living in the world seeking to love other human beings than by withdrawing from the world and isolating oneself from the challenges that human relationships, and life in the world, often bring.
--While insisting that our primary focus should be on living in the world, Jesus also indicated, by his own example, that it was occasionally necessary to withdraw from the world in order to renew ourselves and our relationship with God.
--Jesus indicated that life in the world, seeking to follow the path he championed, would not be easy--it would require patience, sacrifice and a firm, steadfast spirit. He also indicated that he would actively help those who sought to follow him and that the time they spent on earth sincerely seeking God would be richly rewarded.
--Jesus insisted that this world, and everything in it, is transitory. Because of this, our time should be spent building and nourishing things that last, chiefly our relationship with God and other human beings, rather than accumulating earthly treasures that have no lasting value.
--Jesus saw that people were at different levels of development and counseled them accordingly. While he upheld basic standards of morality and called everyone to learn to love, Jesus was profoundly flexible, compassionate and forgiving. Rather than dogmatically insisting that everyone live up to specific standards and callings, such as selling everything and following him or eating a particular diet, Jesus asked different things of different people--and loved them all with equal fervor. In addition, he insisted that enemies should be loved and those who fall short should be forgiven as often as they fall.
--Jesus encouraged people to be self-responsible, to think for themselves, to do what they knew to be right, to follow the promptings of God, whether or not those around them, or the society at large, agreed with them.
--So far as we know, Jesus had nothing to do with creating any kind of formal church structure. Apart from selecting 12 disciples to help spread his teaching, Jesus' main emphasis appears to be on teaching his disciples how to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit rather than relying on formal structures or elaborate chains of command. Although formal structures and elaborate chains of command eventually came to dominate the Christian movement, the early days were guided more by spontaneous visions and direct encounters with the Holy Spirit and Jesus. Healings, and other types of miracles, were also more frequently demonstrated by the early followers of Jesus than by later followers.
Although many aspects of the life and teachings of Jesus can be found in other religious traditions, there is no other historical personage that more fully embodied them. Likewise, although virtually every culture on the planet has myths and legends about various supernatural personages, Jesus is one of only a handful of supernatural personages who left behind a verifiable historical legacy. In the words of Joseph Campbell, the famous authority on world mythology, what distinguishes Jesus from almost all the rest of god-like people the world has ever produced was that in the case of Jesus "the myth became real." He incarnated in the earth as a human being and backed up his radical teachings with equally dramatic demonstrations of power and authority that not only deeply affected the area and culture in which he was born, but profoundly changed the rest of the world as well.
This, of course, is my reading of the life of Jesus. Others may see other aspects of his life that I have overlooked and/or disagree either wholly or partly with the things I have listed.
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