The Fundamental Core of Jesus’ Teachings

The fundamental core of Jesus’ teachings is centered on the mystical experience. Peeling back the theological layers that surround him, we begin to sense that he was not more advanced in capacity, but it appears he had a fuller awareness than most of our place in the cosmic context.  He did not present himself as an example, but taught through parable and action the true estate of the individual, the capacity to live in conscious union with God.

I find it most helpful to not read into a writer like John, or any writer, what I want him to say. We let John speak for himself. We allow him to treat Jesus as the only begotten son of God. We do not argue that he obviously presents the man Jesus as the one and only way to truth. Understand that at the basis of each Gospel, we find the author’s unambiguous definition of Jesus and his earthly mission. Around this core definition is built the narrative that supports this ideal.

Would Jesus agree with their portrayal? Would he have regarded himself in the same way they do? Again, we cannot know what was in the mind of Jesus. But we can recognize the fingerprint of the mystic, thus separating John’s thinking from universal truth. So we have a body of universal principles fashioned around a character we know as Jesus. This characterization is intended to amplify the portrayal of the man.

Is this what Jesus looked like?

This is not unlike the common renditions of Jesus presented by artists through the centuries. There is a common look that we recognize as Jesus. Yet we have absolutely no idea what he looked like. Attempts have been made to present him as he actually may have looked, but some find these repugnant. Even as we read the gospel accounts, do we not envision this long-haired, bearded, fair skinned European-looking figure speaking with a fine English accent?   

Continuing with the theme of my previous book, The Complete Soul, the soul of Jesus was no more advanced than yours or mine. The soul does not evolve. It is our awareness of the soul that advances. All people are capable of having a firsthand experience with God. This capacity does not represent an evolutionary gain, for we gather by several of Jesus’ statements, that even the birds of the air were in possession of it. Only the human being, with our capacity to imagine, can block this awareness. But our ability to recover it is never lost. Our return to divine awareness is an evolution of values, a mental journey from the circumference of our life to the center of our spiritual connection with God. The more this is understood and experienced, the greater its value becomes.  

Jesus explained the relationship all people have with God: “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me … he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father.”[1] 

Let’s look at this line: He who believes in me… Remove the word “in” and it gives the statement an entirely new meaning. He who believes me. An effective teacher does not call attention to him or herself. They seek to enhance the understanding of their students. In this instance, Jesus is not saying, “Look at me. I’m special. Believe in me.” He would be saying, “Understand that what is true of me is true of all people. Believe in yourself. We dwell in the Father and the Father dwells in us. If you believe that what I say is true, then you will do the kinds of things I do, and even greater things, because you’re drawing from a spiritual resource that is far greater than your own intellect.”

This point is made clear in the Gospel of Matthew: “And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.[2]

It’s not, my Father. It’s our Father, our divine Source. This concept of oneness with God is the very foundation of mysticism. Conscious unity with God is the sole objective of the mystic. From here, each person then lives out his or her individual expression of life as prompted by their inner guidance.

I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord.[3]

This passage seems to envision a universal awakening, with each individual tapping in to their own indwelling Father. Every living being is in the Father and the Father is in every living being.  This is the principle of omnipresence, the rock upon which we are to build our house of consciousness.  

This mystical thread is the cornerstone that goes largely unnoticed if not completely rejected by both the average Christian and by the builders and supporters of mainstream Christian theology. Many of Jesus’ sayings refer to the kingdom of God, for example. He indicates this kingdom is spiritual in nature, “is not coming with signs to be observed.[4] Like the breeze that stirs the leaves, one sees its effect while the cause remains unseen. As exemplified in his encounter with the Pharisee, Nicodemus, only those who have been born of the Spirit, which occurs through meditative receptivity, will understand the meaning behind this otherwise enigmatic discourse. It is clear that Nicodemus did not understand what Jesus was talking about.

Jesus was not being intentionally evasive. He was speaking of a spiritual dimension that the intellectually grounded, academically disciplined and certainly the physicalist is not likely to grasp. Then as now, many seek God through a blind faith bolstered by the intellectual stimulation of books, religious teachers and religious scholars who help them navigate the theological maze. But few actually move into the deeper experience of knowing God directly, as Jeremiah anticipates, and reach their own conclusions by accepting the validity of their own experience.

Jesus was one who found God and those who have had even a glimpse into this deeper reality will resonate with ideas born from this experiential foundation. They have the eyes to see and the ears to hear. Can we not hear him contrasting the intuitive and intellectual approaches with spiritual understanding as narrow and wide gates?

Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”[5]

Those who have become practiced in the art of meditation know well the initial difficulty of stilling the mind and redirecting the focus on the innermost sanctuary of their spiritual core. Perhaps most will never get past this phase and will likely fall back on the easier, wide gate of intellectual study and dependence on religious instruction and authority. The destruction this leads to is not an eternity in Hell, but an emptiness that dogs us throughout our day. Something essential to our sense of wholeness is missing. Though we try to fill it in many ways, there is no substitute. It is the narrow gate of direct revelation that completes the circuit between the human head and the beating heart of God.

I have come to understand the so-called kingdom of heaven, not as a thing that will one day come but, as the Gospel of Thomas states, a deeper level of reality that is … spread out upon the earth and men do not see it.[6] I have also come to believe that Jesus saw things differently from the way these early writers imagined. Because we don’t have any written works from Jesus himself, we’re left with the task of examining the closest records we have. But in doing so, we’re faced with the problem that Jesus himself raised:   

You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” [7]

If we take this saying at face value, the scriptures mentioned here could not possibly have included the New Testament. The earliest known writings were Paul’s letters, which began appearing around 53 A.D., some twenty years after the death of Jesus.

The “me” he referred to, however, suggests something different, an aspect of his identity that drew its power from a greater source. It appears that he was attempting to make clear that in order to understand him, one must take their eyes off the man and focus instead on the information the man was receiving.

I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. If I bear witness to myself, my testimony is not true; there is another who bears witness to me, and I know that the testimony which he bears to me is true.”[8] 

This reference to “another who bears witness to me” holds the key we are looking for. Jesus is drawing his teachings, not from his own personality or religious upbringing, or even from a divinely unique pedigree. He draws it from a living source that transcends both of these.

Before we turn our attention to this source he is referring to, let’s consider what it means to bear witness. The phrase is an idiom intended to show that something exists or is true. Jesus is saying that something greater than his own personality is affirming the truth of its existence. What is this something? He referred to it as the Father. As we’ve already seen, this is a term he understood, not only as his source, but as the source of every person. “… for you have one Father, who is in heaven.”

It is important that we abandon the image of the Father as the proverbial old man in the sky. The Father is Being itself, the ever-expanding, living energy out of which all things spring. Jesus asserts that this pure Being, this creative life force, bears witness to the truth of its existence. We open the door to this divine energy in deliberate periods of introspective focus, when the senses are quieted and our still active attention is turned within. Jesus explained it this way:

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.[9]

Think of this room as the innermost part of your being that opens to your universal Source. The reward of this Father who sees in secret comes through flashes of insight. But be aware that these may not come in your quiet moments. You may be engaged in a completely different activity in the busiest part of your day when you’re suddenly moved by a feeling of deep gratitude, compassion, even awe. You could be talking to a customer, driving, or walking through the supermarket and you suddenly sense a larger context. This may seem curious to you because your circumstances don’t necessarily warrant such feelings. You weren’t even thinking of the Presence, and yet here it is, fleeting perhaps, a mere brush, but real nonetheless.

This is why we should not become discouraged when nothing seems to happen in our quiet times. The intuitive portal is indeed being opened. It is the intellect that looks for specific results that it does not find. Let the Divine reveal itself to you on its own terms, in quiet and unexpected ways.

[1] John 14:11, 12 [2] Matthew 23:9, [3] Jeremiah 31:33-34, [4] Luke 17:20, [5] Matthew 7:13-14, [6] #113, [7] John 5:39-40, [8] John 5:30-32, [9] Matthew 6:6