Deepak Chopra and The Third Jesus"Insecure people will hang on to traditional institutional religion. If people are free inside and willing to explore, they do not need it."- Deepak Chopra"
Deepak Chopra and The Third Jesus
By Shannon Alderman
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Deepak Chopra, former chief of staff at Boston Regional Medical Center and author of more than 50 books on topics ranging from spirituality to the mind body connection, spoke to a sold-out crowd at Unity North Atlanta Church about his latest book with a controversial title," The Third Jesus: The Christ We Cannot Ignore."In Chopra's tome, he suggests there's not one Jesus but three: a historical Jesus who lived more than 2,000 years ago with little supporting historical documentation to account for his life; a mythical and theological Jesus brought up by centuries of stories, sacraments and traditions to"fulfill the churches' agenda;"And a third Jesus, a more real one, a"cosmic Christ and spiritual guide whose teaching embraces all humanity"not just the church built in his name."By fusing Eastern thought, including terms like karma and meditation with interpretation of the New Testament Bible and the Gnostic Gospels, it's this third Jesus that piques Chopra's interest as he shares his views on how one can learn to connect with what he calls a more authentic Jesus"Who is an example of what a totally transformed person could be like."The Sunday Paper sat down with the author to discuss his recent book.
Q How have various Christian denominations responded to your book," The Third Jesus—The Christ We Cannot Ignore"
A Some very well. Extremely well if you look at some of the quotes from Christian theologians, but [recently] on the Catholicism.org Web site, there was an article calling me the antichrist and an enemy of the Christian church. So it is mixed.
In the book, you talk about the mask of hypocrisy that institutions and dogma have placed on Jesus. Churches do incredible good around the globe too. Surely, you don't see churches as all bad?
One of the advantages of institutions and churches is that they create communities of caring, of compassion, for humanitarian reasons. So, that is the good side of institutions. The bad side is the bureaucracy, the corruption, the power mongering, influence peddling and control that comes with it and the generation of fear because even religious institutions are like corporations except they deal with the human soul so there is much more control and it becomes fear based. So, there is a good side to it and a dark side to it.
So, then, the problem is not with the church, per se, but with people themselves?
Insecure people will hang on to traditional institutional religion. If people are free inside and willing to explore, they do not need it.
You are the head of the Chopra Center, a big institution. What's the difference between that and a church?
A It's not a big institution. I have given up my medical practice to my colleagues, and they own it. I spend 20 percent of my time over at the Chopra Center. I am mainly involved in a nonprofit called the Alliance for a New Humanity, which is very decentralized. There is no control. I spend my time mostly writing and speaking, and I travel by myself. No group.
In your book, you write," Jesus exists in our own awareness at the level of God consciousness."God consciousness. You use that term a lot. What is that?
God consciousness is when you can experience the spirit in other people and everything else that you behold. So, you are fully of the spirit within and fully aware of the spirit everywhere and that gives you an experience where the divine is not difficult to find but impossible to avoid. And you experience God everywhere which is God being omnipresent because he is everywhere.
You also ask the question," Can any authority however exalted, really inform us about what Jesus would have thought?"Isn't that what you are doing in this book? You are informing us of what Jesus thought by reinterpreting the New Testament?
I am not saying I am an authority in this book. I am sharing my point of view. It is up to you whether it resonates with you or not.
Why did you write this book?
Whenever I write, I am, at that moment, passionately exploring that subject, and I like to share it with other people in case they are interested. I don't have a specific mission because that reminds me of missionaries and I am not trying to convince anyone of anything. I write with the goal of sharing my point of view.
For a large portion of this book, you quote heavily from the New Testament Bible as well as the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas (of which no major Christian group accepts as canonical or authoritative). How well do you know the Bible?
Very well. I have been reading the Bible since I learned to read.
You have written more than 50 books on topics ranging from overcoming addiction to world peace and achieving affluence. You even have a cookbook. Why did this book take you 30 years to write?
Because I was trying to correlate what I know of the Bible with what I know from Eastern traditions and therefore it was more of a challenge. But I have read the Bible since I started to read. I know it better than most Christians.
I heard you on a religious radio channel on Sirius Radio the other day, and you said with perfect calm that you live in the present. How does one live in the present?
By being in the moment. By embracing uncertainty. By not being attached to an outcome and by being independent of the opinions of others. Just being yourself.
But in a culture obsessed with image and having things microwave-quick, how do we not attach ourselves to the outcome?
When a gardener puts a seed in the ground, does he dig it up every day to see how it is doing? Or does he wait for the right season? He lets it be. Jesus says"Do not worry about tomorrow. Look at the lilies in the field. They are more glorious than Solomon in all his glory."
Is it harder or more difficult for the 21st century soul to be quiet?
It is all conditioning. My six-year-old granddaughter can be still. You can become still, really still, and that is when you can eavesdrop on the mind of the universe.
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