Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Third Jesus- Book Review

Deepak Chopra, while not a Christian is someone who admires the teachings of Jesus. In his book The Third Jesus, Deepak Chopra tries to help Christians and others rediscover Jesus from a different perspective than many Christians see Him. The title "The Third Jesus" is a reference to the fact that we don't truly know the real Jesus. The historical Jesus, the man who lived in Israel over 2,000 years ago is lost to us. All we have is a few short books about His life. He was born, then we have one incident around the age of 12 and suddenly He was 30. We have a few short stories of a two or three year period and those stories were written as far after His death as World War II is from current times. The second Jesus is the Mystical Three-In-One Christ. He's the result of thousands of years of theology and construction by the church. The second Jesus cannot be embraced without first embracing all of this theology. Chopra finds these two Jesus tragic because he believes they steal something precious, the Jesus who taught His followers to reach God-consciousness. According to Chopra, Jesus' teachings weren't about "salvation" in the by-and-by but about reaching full human potential in the here and now. Chopra believes the early church found Jesus' teachings so radical and impossible to live by that they essentially abandoned the hope and turned Him into the second Jesus.

After explaining his premise, Chopra moves on talk about where and what the Kingdom of God is and Jesus' view of it. The next part of the book takes the sayings of Jesus and interprets them through the lens of what Buddhists call "enlightenment". Chopra takes sayings, stories and parables of Jesus and shows us what he thinks Jesus meant by them, how Jesus used them to teach people to reach enlightenment in this world, not the next. The last part of the book, "Taking Jesus As Your Teacher", I found to be the best. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, Jesus gave us a lot of the what in the teachings we have from Him. But, we have very little of the how. Chopra gives spiritual exercises you can do to follow the teachings of Jesus. Jesus didn't write anything down. Outside of the Lord's Prayer, we have very little form of how to pray, or contemplate or meditate from Jesus Himself. I have often complained that Christianity doesn't give us enough of the "how" to follow the path and Buddhism does a much better job. But, what I am realizing is that the Buddha didn't give a lot of detail on how to do things either. We get too attached to forms. But, most of us need some guidance as to how to get started at least.

Overall, I found the book to be very good. Not really earth shattering after having read stuff about Jesus by Marcus Borg and Thich Nhat Hanh. But, I did enjoy looking at Jesus' teachings again through a different set of lenses. Each time I look at them from a different perspective, I pick up something.
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Anonymous said...

Learn at least some history. "Palestine" didn't exist until the Romans renamed Yehudah (Judea) in 135 C.E.

If you presume to discuss historical Ribi Yehoshua at least learn what you're trying to talk about. You'll find the most complete compilation of historical documentation of historical Pharisee Ribi Yehoshua at www.netzarim.co.il (see especially the History Museum pages).

Don said...

This book is on my short list. Thanks for the review. I had read about the descriptions of the three Jesus' in another article. I like the way Chopra writes. I look forward to this one.

okiedragon said...

I left Christianity when I was 30 and for 5 years I was a fanatic athiest. That 5 years allowed me to let that evil God die in my mind and soul. I did not beleive I would ever believe in God again but I found a book called The Urantia Book. I read the first and last paper in the Jesus papers - 700 pages written of the entire life of Jesus, he death, his travels, his education. No, this is not some gnostic version with Jesus getting married or even having a love affair. This is a man who loved humanity and loved his family and loved living and died at the hands of those who beleived him to be a heretic. This book gave me back the concept of God's love and an example to live by thru Jesus's life. When you read of his faith, his compassion, his joy and kindness, you become envious of him - this book made me want to be more like him. I still no longer call myself a Christian - the teaching of hell damnation stings like pure salt. I am Jesusonian - I believe in the God that Jesus prayed too. I highly recommend this book to your readership - it contains to me all of Jesus.

Brian said...

I've heard about this Urantia book a few times. I'll have to check it out.

I didn't do the atheist phase. But, I can certainly understand why people would.