Jesus the Buddha
Updated: Oct 7, 2022
The Franciscan Friar Richard Rohr says Christ was not Jesus's last name.
What does he mean by that? He is referring to the fact that the word Christ is a title. It is something that Jesus became, in the same way that Siddartha Gautama became the Buddha upon realization. The Gospels actually record the moment this was said to have happened in the life of Jesus.
"And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” - Matthew 3:16-17
I remember hearing this story in church every once in a while but I cannot recall a single preacher dwelling on it. Yet, if you stop for a second things start to stick out.
"Suddenly the heavens were opened to him".
If Jesus is as the popular church image portrays him to be, passages like this one make little sense. If he is God, shouldn't the heavens always be open to him? Why suddenly? What happened? Jesus had a classic awakening experience, similar to that which happened to Gautama. It was only after this experience that Jesus began preaching about the 'Kingdom of God' or 'Kingdom of Heaven'. This is the religion of Jesus. The good news about the Kingdom. Though the influence of the church, its founders, and the natural erosion of history, Christianity became the religion about Jesus, not the religion of Jesus.
The religion of Jesus belongs to a tradition of insights referred to by Aldous Huxley as the "Perennial Philosophy", which I would describe as the personal and experiential awareness of the unitive nature of reality.
"What in fact I am, if only the Manichee I think I am would allow me to know it, is the reconciliation of yes and no lived out in total acceptance and the blessed experience of Not-Two - Island, Aldous Huxley
"so that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity" - John 17: 22,23
When I began to let go of the assumptions I had inherited from the mainstream church's idea about Jesus's message, they became alive to me in a way they never had before. The simple exercise of reading the gospels while pretending that I had never heard or read anything else from the Bible or from church, gave me a brand new Jesus. One that was much more human, relatable, and yet transcendent and realized. This was not a Jesus I had to contort my mind into believing fantastical doctrinal beliefs about, but it was a Jesus I could follow into union with the ultimate nature of reality, or if you like the term, God.