"I believe that Jesus was not only real, but perhaps the most significant person in Western history," writes bestselling author Deepak Chopra in this amazing and thought-provoking book. He identifies three Jesuses: the historical man of flesh and blood who lived more than 2,000 years ago; the figure created by the church and its dogma and doctrines; and the radical mystical teacher who set out to transform the world. The last Jesus is "The Christ We Cannot Ignore" who lives in "our own awareness at the level of God-consciousness." Chopra sets out in this ambitious work to explain the implications of this third Jesus who exists beyond time and yet within each of us.
Jesus was very clear about the essentials of the spiritual life and they are in his teachings:
• Meditation Going within to contact the silent mind.
• Contemplation Reflecting on the truth.
• Revelation Receiving spiritual insight.
• Prayer Asking for higher guidance.
• Grace Taking God into one's heart.
• Love Participating in divine love.
• Faith Believing in a higher reality.
• Salvation Realizing that you have a place in higher reality.
• Unity Becoming one with God.
Chopra moves on in "Realizing What Jesus Said" to discuss various verses in the New Testament that reflect the wisdom of this seer, including know thyself, God values you, be humble, know where the heart is, be persistent on the path, and much more. In the most interesting of these passages is Chopra's treatment of Jesus' version of karma:
• Every action leads to a result.
• Good actions have good results, bad actions, bad results.
• Every action is seen and weighed. Nothing can be hidden or kept secret.
• If your actions are good, you will grow spiritually.
• As you grow, your thoughts and wishes will manifest in the material world. Karma operates faster and more consciously.
• God's intention is to make your actions turn out for the best. His ultimate concern is to bring you into the Kingdom, where the soul is freed from the law of Karma.
It is refreshing to see the idea of you will reap what you sow spelled out in this interpretation. It opens the door to more cross-fertilization between Christianity and other world religions. Chopra recognizes the contemporary relevance of Jesus' message:
"The real Jesus is as available today as he ever was, perhaps more so. Instead of relying on faith alone, we can go beyond worship to find a body of teachings consistent with the world's wisdom traditions, a corroboration in Christian terms that higher consciousness is real and open to all."
In the section on "Taking Jesus as Your Teacher," Chopra presents Jesus as the initiator of a new path of enlightenment that offers personal transformation. His 15 Steps to God-Consciousness include daily exercises based on verses from the New Testament, such as "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" or "ask and you will receive." These are followed by some stimulating meditations on keeping it simple, the process of spiritual growth, why we resist spirit, how the path opens, and the tradition of unity. Chopra ends with an essay "What Would Jesus Do," that salutes him as a person who valued courage, truth-telling, sympathy and tolerance, love and forgiveness.
The Third Jesus is another volume promoting an interspirituality for the twenty-first century that tears down the walls between East and West and reveals how all the world's religions encourage the practice of transformation.