Some 44 years ago, something got me off my backside to seek what Life is really about. I do not mean so much by the usual meaning of the phrase but rather what Life itself is for, and what was my own true role in all that, minuscule being though I felt myself to be.
I am not going to go into detail here of the background of that situation, but a strange event occurred that triggered a period of profound inner experience that caused me to switch my attitude. It was a kind of being 'born again' experience, though the kind of questions raised then, at age 30, were a continuum of the kind of spiritual feeling and philosophical questions I was asking between the ages of 12 and 17.
So, over the last 44 years I came to study, through substantial reading, discussion and experience, all of the major religions. In terms of what effect that time and experience has had on my own life, then I profess myself to be a follower of no specific religion other than a Perennial Philosophy, also called the Eternal Way. I see no formalised religion as being greater than another in its potential, though (as I was brought up in a Bible-teaching country) the matter of Jesus has remained close to me.
For me, the nature of Jesus and His teachings have taken on a more expansive hue in the light of my broader understanding gained over all those years. And I have come to certain conclusions helped by other students and writers who have published their findings over the past 40 years or so, in the light of the Dead Sea Scrolls (1945) and the Nag Hammadi Library (1947 and 1954). However, the source of those conclusions is also linked to the works of the late John Michell, who published insightful books in the 1970s.about numbers, sacred geometry and their relationship to texts in the Bible. And also the work over several decades by the polymath Keith Critchlow.
My incursion into Islam over several years certainly caused me to view Christianity differently, and the book "Jesus Prophet of Islam" (its 1970s version and the updated 1990s version) was a great insight into how formal Christianity came about. Indeed, how the Bible was put together in the 4th century AD was a revelation to me 40 years ago.
My primary, more recent, academically-based and well-researched sources are:
- Elaine Pagels: The Gnostic Gospels (1979) and Beyond Belief (2004)
- Gordon Strachan: Jesus The Master Builder (1998)
- Holger Kirsten: Jesus Lived In India (1986)
- The Golden Age Project. (referred to in my previous post)
All I have done here is to list those sources that have had the most profound effect on me in relation to my study of Jesus, but I would emphasise that I don't necessarily agree with all the findings of those works. The great majority of that content does make sense to me, however, and have helped me to see the Bible in a different light.
There is much that they say that fits into my own experiential study, including the unitarian teachings of Sri Sathya Sai Baba and various Sufi and 'Hindu' masters, such as (but not only) Rumi and Yogananda, and the early Christian and theologian, Origen.
Before we go into the primary findings about Jesus and Christianity (I hesitate to call them 'My Findings') and their connection with ancient teachings, I would like to briefly mention a further waking-up that occurred to me in 1998. I was on a visit to Malaysia and found myself sitting at a tea-hut in the middle of the night with the stars twinkling brightly above us. I was sitting with 3 Malaysians, two of them being Hindu and the other Christian, and we were talking about religion when I was asked what I thought was the correct religion. My answer was: "The way of Jesus". I hardly believed I had said that as for years I had been concentrating on other spiritual traditions, but out it came. On reflection, I think that was the true start of my re-examination of Christianity and my return from what had been partly an ego trip into the study of other teachings.
The Primary Findings
The detailed findings are not going to form the body of this article. The detail of this topic may possibly be published separately at some future time, but I would just like to summarise here, for interest, what I believe to be the case and also to perhaps whet an appetite for the detailed document or book. Or, in the absence of that document, to whet a search for oneself.
The following findings are compatible with my experience and study of other spiritual traditions which has revealed that the Truth is stranger than fiction. I pray for your forgiveness if any error be found.
- That much of the Bible is not to be taken literally. However, there are key moral and spiritual teachings in the Bible that will lead to the core Truths. The truth of any religion lies in its experience, not its words.
- That the 4th-century Emporer Constantine formalised Christianity as Roman Catholicism and modified certain aspects to make it more palatable for Romans.
- That the Bible is a 4th-century construct that left out other significant manuscripts, perhaps with pure intention in order not to confuse, but including enough for those who wished to seek more.
- That early Christianity included the practice of vegetarianism and the belief in reincarnation, a tenet that was not expunged from Christianity until (again) the 4th century.
- That the Protestant movement of the late Middle Ages was a protest and realignment without the original Christian teachings being fully identified.
- That there are traditions that seriously suggest that Jesus visited England's west country, perhaps sometime between the ages of 12 and 29.
- That the first Christian church established in Europe was at Glastonbury, England, in 37AD.
- That there are traditions that seriously suggest that Jesus junior visited Glastonbury at that time or shortly after.
- That there are traditions that seriously suggest that St. Paul came to England and helped to found a monastery at Bangor on the River Dee which was referred to by the venerable St. Bede as having thousands of members.
- That the practitioners of early Christianity in England found sympathy/compatibility with the practices and beliefs of the Druids, who had strong links with spiritual traditions across Europe and the Middle East.
- That early British Christianity was suppressed by Rome in the early 7th century.
- That the later Glastonbury Abbey (built on the site of the original church) is in alignment with, and shares geometrical measurements with, Stonehenge - and also the Great Pyramid, which is seriously thought to be (by para-archaeologists) older than 10,000BC.
- That the Bible is suffused with words (in its ancient Hebrew and Greek forms) carefully selected and ordered according to a numerological system called gematria. A book called "The Bible Code", published in the 1990s, demonstrated that.
- That gematria is an ancient system of (officially) unknown origin but would appear to be incredibly ancient. Though it is usually referred to as part of a Pythagorean system, it seems to be very much older than that source, just as Pythagoras's famous Theorem was not originated by Pythagoras. Pythagoras is known to have studied at many spiritual sources in Europe, the Middle East and the East.
- That gematria is connected to sacred geometry, the underlying numerical system and basis for the natural order of sounds and shapes that pervade the universe.
- That the source of the practices of the Essenes (of Palestine) included the Pythagorean system as well as other ancient holy systems that formed a Perennial Philosophy. Almost beyond doubt, John the Baptist and Jesus were strongly connected to the Essenes. Many of the early Christians appear to have been Essenes.
- That Jesus primarily came to help mankind into a new sense of spiritual understanding and potential based on spiritual principles that are incorporated in the ideas of Perennial Philosophy (also called the Eternal Way) and which he (Jesus) studied, and revealed his mastery of, during his eastern travels between the ages of 12 and 29.
- That the ideas and practices of the Essenes evolved into various forms of Sufism and Batini (inner dimensions) after the coming of the religion of Islam and the teaching of Muhammed, who gave immense respect to Jesus. The Qur'an declares Jesus as one of the prophets of Islam. Note: Islam simply means "submission to the will of God", nothing else. A respected western commentator on Islam (W. Montgomery Watt) once wrote: "if Islam means 'submission to God' then I am a Muslim (one who submits to God's will)".
- The idea of the teachings of Jesus the Messiah being unrelated to, or even essentially of a higher nature than, all other spiritual ways must be viewed as anathema when it comes to viewing the teachings of Jesus. Inclusivity through the love of God and of our neighbour should be the paramount considerations in living our lives. Love conquers all.
It is interesting that the YMCA's symbol is the upturned triangle, representing balance in body, spirit and mind in order to create poise:
For more on the early British church click here.
Thank you for reading this.