Jesus—The Man

[Reprinted from THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, December 1959.]

In these days when all that is known of Jesus of Nazareth is what is taught in the various churches of the many Christian sects and is so fragmentary, it is well for us to look at this great man from the Theosophical point of view. If this short article makes but a few read again the Gospel story and The Acts of the Apostles, to relive with Paul his journeyings among the few who struggled to keep alive the "theosophic" teachings of that century, to sense the wonder of that day when Jesus sat on the Mount and delivered his great Sermon to the multitude, then one more link will have been made with the chain of leaders, workers and guides in the great work of helping Humanity.

H.P.B. predicted that

belief in the Bible literally, and in a carnalized Christ, will not last a quarter of a century longer. The Churches will have to part with their cherished dogmas, or the 20th century will witness the downfall and ruin of all Christendom, and with it, belief even in a Christos as pure Spirit. The very name has now become obnoxious and theological Christianity must die out, never to resurrect again in its present form. This, in itself, would be the happiest solution of all, were there no danger from the natural reaction which is sure to follow: crass materialism will be the consequence and the result of centuries of blind faith, unless the loss of old ideals is replaced by other ideals, unassailable, because universal, and built on the rock of eternal truths instead of the shifting sands of human fancy. Pure anthropomorphism of those ideals in the conceptions of our modern dogmatists....(The Esoteric Character of the Gospels, pp. 44-45)

But on the other hand she said that "the grand figure of the philosopher and moral reformer [Jesus] instead of growing paler will become with every century more pronounced and more clearly defined"; also that what the world needs is a less exalted but more faithful view of him. It is, therefore, interesting to study just what Theosophy has to say about the personality of this man whom it reveres as a grand philosopher and moral reformer. "The name Jesus," according to The Theosophical Glossary, "is rather a title of honour than a name—the true name of the Soter of Christianity being Emmanuel, or God with us (Matt., i, 23)."

When was he born? In the Glossary, under "Ebionites," we read that there is proof "that Iassou or Jeshu lived during the reign of Alexander Jannaeus [103-76 B.C.] at Lyd (or Lud)." According to the Talmudic Sepher Toldos Jeshu, he was the son of Joseph Pandira and was put to death at Lyd, also called Lydda. This man Iassou, who lived a century earlier than the era called Christian, we are further told, was the "adept ascetic around whom the legend of Christ was formed." We read in The Secret Doctrine (I, 577-78) that "genealogies and prophecies notwithstanding, Jesus the initiate (or Jehoshua)—the type from whom the 'historical' Jesus was copied—was not of pure Jewish blood."

According to the Gospel stories, Jesus was taken into Egypt when very young by his father and mother to escape the slaughter of the "Innocents" (infant boys). The correct interpretation of this "infant massacre" has been given in Isis Unveiled (II, 199-201). During the Herodian reign, Wise Men and Initiates, nicknamed the "Innocents" and the "Babes" on account of their holiness, were being persecuted. According to the Sepher Toldos Jeshu, Jesus, or Jehoshua, had been entrusted by Mary, his mother, to Rabbi Elhanan. Rabbi Jehoshua, who continued the boy's education after Elhanan, "initiated him in secret knowledge." When Alexander Jannaeus ordered the slaying of all Initiates, the Rabbi fled to Egypt, taking the boy with him.

Every tradition shows that Jesus was educated in Egypt and passed his infancy and youth with the Brotherhood of the Essenes and other mystic communities. The Essenes were the descendants of the Egyptian hierophants in whose country they had been settled for several centuries before they were converted to Buddhist monasticism by the missionaries of King Asoka, and amalgamated later with the earliest Christians. It was among them that Jesus was initiated into the Mysteries. Later, however, he preferred the "free and independent life of a wandering Nazaria," separating or "inazarenizing" himself from the Essenes and thus "becoming a travelling Therapeute, a Nazaria, a healer" (Isis Unveiled, II, 144), for he found himself disagreeing with the Essenes "on several questions of formal observance." (Ibid., II, 132)

There is food for thought in the word "Nazaraios," for we learn that "Jesus was called Nazaraios, in reference to his humble and mean external condition; 'for Nazaraios means separation, alienation from other men' " (Isis, II, 128). He is pictured as having long hair and it is recorded that

the nazars—or set apart—as we see in the Jewish Scriptures, had to cut their hair which they wore long, and which "no razor touched" at any other time, and sacrifice it on the altar of initiation.(Isis, II, 90)

They were a class of Chaeldan theurgists. The long white garment which Jesus is always represented as wearing was the dress adopted by the Nazarene Priests and the Pythagorean and Buddhist Essenes, as described by Josephus.

The oldest Nazarenes, who were the descendants of the scripture Nazars and whose last prominent leader was John the Baptist, though never very orthodox in the sight of the scribes and Pharisees of Jerusalem, were, nevertheless, respected and left unmolested. But the new sect to which the followers of Jesus evidently adhered became a thorn in the side of the scribes and Pharisees because they showed themselves "reformers and innovators."

H.P.B. remarks: "How little Jesus had impressed his personality upon his own century, is calculated to astound the inquirer" (Isis, II, 335), even though "the civilized portion of the Pagans who knew of Jesus honoured him as a philosopher, an adept whom they placed on the same level with Pythagoras and Apollonius" (Isis, II, 150). His mission was short: "...he died because he could not help it, and only when betrayed....When, finally he saw that his time had come, he succumbed to the inevitable" (Isis, II, 545). As for the manner of his death, the Talmudists say that he

was thrown in prison, and kept there forty days; then flogged as a seditious rebel; then stoned as a blasphemer in a place called Lud, and finally allowed to expire upon a cross. "All this," explains Levi, "because he revealed to the people the truths which they (the Pharisees) wished to bury for their own use. He had divined the occult theology of Israel, had compared it with the wisdom of Egypt, and found thereby the reason for a universal religious synthesis." (Isis, II, 202)

Regarding his character, we learn from a footnote in The Theosophist:

The position THEY [the Mahatmas] give to Jesus, as far as we know, is that of a great and pure man, a reformer who would fain have lived but who had to die for that which he regarded as the greatest birthright of man—absolute Liberty of conscience; of an adept who preached a universal Religion knowing of, and having no other "temple of God" but man himself; that of a noble Teacher of esoteric truths which he had no time given him to explain; that of an initiate who recognized no difference—save the moral one—between men; who rejected caste, and despised wealth; and who preferred death rather than to reveal the secrets of initiation. And who, finally, lived over a century before the year of our vulgar, so-called, Christian era. (Vol. IV, p. 261)

Two further quotations teach us more:

As an incarnated God there is no single record of him on this earth capable of withstanding the critical examination of science; as one of the greatest reformers, an inveterate enemy of every theological dogmatism, a persecutor of bigotry, a teacher of one of the most sublime codes of ethics, Jesus is one of the grandest and most clearly-defined figures on the panorama of human history. (Isis Unveiled, II, 150)

Tender and perfect in his nature, "the meek Judean philosopher" was a glorious example, for,

whether the Jesus of the New Testament ever lived or not, whether he existed as an historical personage, or was simply a lay figure around which the Bible allegories clustered—the Jesus of Nazareth of Matthew and John, is the ideal for every would-be sage and Western candidate Theosophist to follow. That such an one as he, was a "Son of God," is an undeniable as that he was neither the only "Son of God," nor the first one, nor even the last who closed the series of the "Sons of God," or the children of Divine Wisdom, on this earth. (Lucifer, I, 327)

What was his Mission? In Isis Unveiled we read:

There is quite enough in the four Gospels to show what was the secret and most fervent hope of Jesus; the hope in which he began to teach, and in which he died. In his immense and unselfish love for humanity, he considers it unjust to deprive the many of the results of the knowledge acquired by the few. This result he accordingly preaches—the unity of a spiritual God, whose temple is within each of us, and in whom we live as He lives in us—in spirit. (II, 561)

His motive was "to benefit humanity at large by producing a religious reform which should give it a religion of pure ethics; the true knowledge of God and nature having remained until then solely in the hands of the esoteric sects, and their adepts" (Isis, II, 133). This is brought out in the following extracts:

From that memorable day when he preached his Sermon on the Mount, an immeasurable void opened between his God and that other deity who fulminated his commands from that other mount—Sinai. The language of Jesus is unequivocal; it implies not only rebellion but defiance of the Mosaic "Lord God." "Ye have heard," he tells us, "that it hath been said, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. Ye have heard that it hath been said....Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you: Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." (Isis, II, 163)

This shows clearly that he "recognized no Jehova" (S.D., I, 578). His commandments were simple. When asked what a man should do to have eternal life, he replied: "Keep the commandments." When asked which ones, he answered:

Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Matt., xix, 16-19)

We can see, as Ammonius Saccas saw, that

the whole which Christ had in view was to reinstate and restore to its primitive integrity the wisdom of the ancients—to reduce within bounds the universally prevailing dominion of superstition...and to exterminate the various errors that had found their way into the different popular religions. (Isis, II, 249-50)

A comparison of his teachings with those of Pythagoras and of the Buddha shows the truth of H.P.B.'s statement that

1, all his sayings are in a Pythagorean spirit, when not verbatim repetitions; 2, his code of ethics is purely Buddhistic; 3, his mode of action and walk in life, Essenean; and 4, his mystical mode of expression, his parables, and his ways, those of an initiate, whether Grecian, Chaldean, or Magian. (Isis, II, 337)

Saddening but true is the following from Isis Unveiled:

Alas, alas! How little has the divine seed, scattered broadcast by the hand of the meek Judean philosopher, thrived or brought forth fruit. He, who himself had shunned hypocrisy, warned against public prayer, showing such contempt for any useless exhibition of the same, could he but cast his sorrowful glance on the earth, from the regions of eternal bliss, would see that this seed fell neither on sterile rock nor by the wayside. Nay, it took deep root in the most prolific soil; one enriched even to plethora with lies and human gore! (II, 303)

Perhaps these extracts will help us to see in the true light the "Prophet of Nazareth, by whose mouth the spirit of truth spake loudly to humanity." May the day hasten when the grand figure and ethics of this "philosopher and moral reformer...will reign supreme and universal"! We are told that this will only be "on that day when the whole of humanity recognizes but one father—the UNKNOWN ONE above—and one brother—the whole of mankind below." (Isis, II, 150-51)

How the Masters would if They could, save humanity! They have done all they can. The Message is here, and it is our only hope. Jesus said, "O Jerusalem, how I would have gathered thee under my wing as a hen doth her chickens, but ye would not." And Jerusalem was destroyed. We need not think there is not the same danger for us. There is nothing in our civilization that is enduring—of railroads, books, buildings—not a single relic would be left after a hundred years. So if there are those who have eyes to see, who have ears to hear and who can understand, let them work in season and out of season to put these ideas before their fellow men, that the ideas may spread and make others think.

—Robert Crosbie

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