San Francisco has turned me into a scrounger. I consistently watch the ground passing under my feet, as it often turns up fantastic treasures. My most recent finds were $5 in a Valencia St. gutter, a debateably real Chanel scarf and a copy of Deepak Chopra's Jesus. The $5 bought a Mission burrito, the scarf (which is fabulous, real or not) will be worked into my Pride wardrobe, and the book became my weekend reading material.
In Jesus, Chopra sets out to create a 'map of enlightenment' through a fictional account of Jesus' life during the "lost years" between age 12 and 30 that are not covered in the New Testament. He believes that Jesus was indeed a sacred savior, but that he was not innately divine- he had to discover this potential and special destiny, and learn to fulfill it. The story does not contradict anything that Jesus taught, it seeks to understand how he came to be who he was (and is) to the world.
The assumption that Jesus was innately divine- the one and only Son of God- I think is ostensibly intended to indicate his very special role in history. It is terribly alienating, though. Without allowing Jesus to be a man and a savior, it cuts out any possibility that we can reach the kind of union with God in life that he reached. To me, it seems like an awfully convenient way to avoid having to do the difficult transcendence work required to merge with the One. If we accept that we lack that sort of divinity, we can get away with a lot more nonsense.
Jesus called his disciples "the light of the world," the same way he referred to himself, and told them that they would do everything he could and more. Chopra believes that Jesus intended for his disciples (and all of us!) to reach our most Divine potential. And why not? If Jesus was indeed intended to save the world, wouldn't the best way to do that be to elevate the world's occupants to their Highest Selves? And so God gave us Jesus as a great teacher and so very many methods and pieces of wisdom to help us realize our own unique potential and special destinies. There's this beautiful quote from the nameless wise man in the book who Jesus goes to study with that sums this up well:
"To know God, you must become God," I explained. "People don't want to hear that. It upsets their fantasy that God sits far away above the clouds. But being God doesn't mean that you created the universe. God did that...When I say that you've become God, I mean that you know what you're made of."
My favorite mantra in Kundalini yoga is Ang Sang Wahe Guru, which basically means the same thing: 'God vibrates in every cell, in every limb of my body.' If you want to find God, look in the mirror. God created Jesus and he created you- we are all made of the same vibrating atomic carbon. Jesus was certainly exceptional, but it doesn't mean that we can't strive to such greatness. If boundless compassion and lovingkindness don't come naturally to you, practice! It makes perfect, right?
The salvation that Jesus brought wasn't necessarily just about washing away our sins, but about bringing us from darkness to light. His ultimate lesson was that not only are we IN the light but we ARE the light. We all have that flicker of God's love inside us- its strength and radiance depends on the person and how they are conducting their life, but it is there regardless. So I ask you, will you stoke this loving fire in your heart, letting it spill over and illuminate every corner of your life? Will you recognize what you are made of and live accordingly? Will you be "the light of the world"?
This is not always easy, but imagine the rewards of a life lived with love and light. Imagine being able to proudly stand behind every choice and word. Imagine having everyone you encounter walk away feeling better. Imagine the world if everyone lived this way. We can choose to perpetuate justice, peace and love. It starts with you and I, today, right now.
Ang Sang Wahe Guru!