The significance of Jesus’ studies in India and Tibet for us today
If we take Jesus’ sojourn in India and Tibet as a conceivable basis for our view on Christianity, the question arises: what is its significance for us today? In my opinion in means in the first place that Christianity should at once lay off its attitude of claiming exclusive rights to enlightenment and redemption through Jesus Christ only.In India/Tibet Jesus–as Issa–perfected his knowledge about the universal Oneness and the dreamlike state of the world we live in. He became an enlightened one or a realised soul. Going back to the roots of this ancient knowledge and to the tradition of Oneness would be sound advice for us today. The ancient knowledge is still available as living knowledge in–sometimes remote–centres of learning in India and in the Himalayas. If Christians could be persuaded to accept the unity and universality of the religious traditions it would have a great healing effect on both the religious and spiritual traditions in the world at large. There is a growing awareness that each religion has its own raison d’être and has its own role to play within the context of its tradition and following. This awareness could be easily intensified and Christians in particular have an important function to play since their tradition is based on universal love and mutual respect. There are many roads to the Kingdom within and the function of the various religions is to suit the tastes of those who adhere to the one or the other. Conversion and missionary activities should be transformed into operations of charity and compassion without any strings attached. It is almost a universal rule that we should respect and honour our parents and the elders. If Christianity is based on the ancient tradition of advaita vedânta it is high time to acknowledge this and come to terms with that tradition as the source of the Christian message. Paying our respects to and honour the ancient masters would benefit all of us. Much research should be undertaken to re-inspire the Christian message and to work for unity rather that division.
What if Jesus really went to India and studied there for 18 years? The information about his sojourn in India for almost 18 years is already convincing on the basis of circumstantial evidence: there are too many parallels to be found in his sayings and in those of Krishna and the Buddha. Moreover, many of his ‘I am’ sayings in St John’s gospel are completely in line with the advaita tradition of the Upanishads. It seems that his saying: I and the Father are one has been taken directly from one of the four great sayings of the Vedânta tradition: ayamâtma brahma (this personal self is absolute and universal). The silence of the New Testament on his whereabouts during those 18 years (between the age of twelve and thirty) is in a way surprising. Unless another source of information comes up, the content of the Tibetan manuscript of the Gospel of Issa combined with the information from living Indian masters in the oral tradition provide serious and in a way conclusive evidence of Jesus’ studies and sojourn in India and in Nepal/Tibet. In the light of the positive evidence as available anyone denying Jesus’ study in India should come up with sufficient proof to the contrary. Just saying that ‘it is not written in the Bible’ is no more than a negative remark that doesn’t prove anything.
It is really sad to note that through dogmas and by exerting all kinds of–sometimes illegal–pressure the church has been able to maintain a strange concoction of manipulated information. It almost seems as if the church would like to picture Jesus as a loser who became a winner thanks to the incessant efforts of the church to polish up his image and clean it of any worldly weaknesses. It seems highly unlikely for a man who in every possible way gave proof of being the master of any situation. It is really sad that this manipulative attitude of the established churches is still around us and that the doors of the Vatican Library, a storehouse of precious manuscripts and information, remains closed to the objective researcher. The same would apply to the valuable libraries in the East within the scope of the Orthodox churches. There is an almost cynical co-operation between the Eastern and Western Christian established churches on this sensitive issue of not revealing the true sources of information and hiding behind dogma.
The fact is that in today´s world the figure of Jesus Christ is hardly appealing to the new generations of young people. In a way one should already be happy if young people ask if Jesus Christ refers perhaps to the star role in the Jesus Christ Superstar musical of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Jesus Christ was certainly a ‘superstar’ but in an entirely different context. Pontius Pilate had the same predicament since he refused to understand that the very example of true kingship is being Master of the three worlds (physical, subtle and causal). Jesus was such a true master which has been a very rare event in Western history. Only Socrates seems to come anywhere near to him. Pontius Pilate is a exponent of the modern politician and of modern government with its thirst for power and holding on to it in the conviction that the there is nothing beyond the physical world. Only the physical world is true, as most people would confirm even today. For Pontius Pilate Jesus was just another pretender-king for the throne of Israel and was, therefore, guilty of high treason against the Roman occupying forces. There is precious little new in the world we live in today in comparison with two thousand years ago. We still hang on with all our power to our bodily existence in a physical world even when we know that bodies just come and go and are enlivened by consciousness and the life force of the universe. We rather reverse the picture and try to prove that our mental and spiritual activities emanate from the interaction of hormones in the body and in the brain. It is totally contrary to reason.
The message of Jesus Christ was to alleviate the suffering of the people and to teach them to focus on the transcendental reality of the world within rather than on the utterly relative existence of the physical world. Those who took his message to heart found a completely new point of view and gradually learnt to place their trust and fate in divine grace and accepting physical circumstances as an effect of inner causes whether they originate in this life or in previous lives. Hence the all-importance of inner purification as symbolised by the sacraments of baptism and of confession. Most of this, however, seems to have been forgotten nowadays. The young people of today now enter into a world that is hopelessly divided between the monopolistic claims of some of the major religions and the utterly hedonistic lifestyle of a cosmopolitan mob. It is almost predictable that during the next decades the religious factor will be further on the wane. Mother nature seems to be far away in the huge city-conglomerates and its 24/7 economy.
On a more practical level the implications of Jesus’ education in India would be that Jesus’ example could and should be followed by Christian scholars and scribes and any other committed seekers, eager to follow the road to the kingdom that is within. The truth is that the ancient Indian–Vedic–tradition is very old and has been handed down to us from generation to generation first by means of the oral tradition and as from about 1500 BC by means of the written word. It is sad to notice the Western preoccupation with written evidence as against the traditional evidence of the spoken word. In his dialogue Phaedrus Plato gives the Myth of Theuth or ‘Thoth’ where he warns against the weaknesses and dire consequences of the written word. He says: the fact is that this invention will produce forgetfulness in the souls of those who have learned it because they will not need to exercise their memories, being able to rely on what is written, using the stimulus of external marks that are alien to themselves, rather than, from within, their own unaided powers to call things to mind. It seems that his warning has gone unheeded in the West for the last 2400 years
What if Jesus did indeed receive his higher education in India/Tibet? In the first place Christianity should learn to respect the true source of its monotheistic tradition. If we go back to the patriarch Abraham who came from the city of Ur (near present day Basra in Iraq) we find that he was the first one to adopt the absolute formless Oneness as the divine source of creation. There is little doubt that he only resounded the Vedic message which had come to him from across the Arabian sea. Having paid tribute to the ancient masters of the ancient tradition it is now time to bring back to unity the three great religious traditions of Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity. Together with the Jewish tradition and Islam they go back to the same source: the ancient tradition as it is still alive here and there in the mountain ranges of the Himalayas or in small centres tucked away in corners of the world unseen by the public eye. This ancient knowledge incorporates a fully developed system of universal unity which is so much lacking in the Christian tradition where even Jesus’ own words are far from certain. It is not without meaning that so many monasteries in the West have taken to eastern philosophy to fill in the knowledge gap of how to practice what in the Eastern Orthodox church is called deification. Neither is it without meaning that Christian mysticism and the ‘mystic union’ with God of the ardent seeker is so close to the yogic practices of the East. The search to merge in the reality of Oneness is on. It will end only when it meets the most suitable and satisfying set of values and practices which allow no further overflow of desires or enquiries. That certainly will be the religion of the Self which is One and Absolute, always and everywhere and beyond the scope of the established church and religions. In this age of globalisation only universal values will give satisfaction and not the limited values of separate entities. The established churches and religions in East and West would be well advised to seek this universal unity and support the search for the truth within.
In the earlier stages of spiritual education character-building comes into the picture. It is directed at an honest and disciplined life and based on the earnest desire for truth. The desire for truth is like a river, such as the river Ganges. She starts somewhere with a small beginning facing the high mountains of the Himalayas. They hold her up but she fills the gaps and flows over them intertwining around the mountain ranges and finally she finds her way into the ocean where she belongs. Like the ocean, one day truth will be found. No attraction, howsoever lofty, no obstacle howsoever deep could stop a spirit if the search for truth is honest and true. Spirit will find the truth one day. Honest and spiritually developed souls are those who do exactly as they say and say exactly as they feel with universal emotions and not just personal. Leading a disciplined and measured life based on honesty and the desire for truth will deny nothing needful and will provide nothing that is unnecessary. That should evolve a religion of the Self, of the oneness between I and the Father. It is universal. This is the example that Jesus left to us to consider and to follow: to become, like him, universal and a Son or child of God.
Paul van Oyen has done extensive research into the “Lost Years” of Jesus, and has done a translation of Nicholas Notivitch’s Unknown Life of Christ. His work can be found at his Dutch website, The Gospel of Issa.