What Might Jesus Have Meant by Saying “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life?”
I was asked a question on how one can reconcile Jesus’ apparent statements that he was the only way to God with everything else that the galactics and ascended masters are saying. A supplementary question was how I regarded Jesus. What follows are just my views, not “the truth.” (I don’t know the truth, though knowing it is all that motivates me.)
Jesus, in my view, is deserving of all praise and respect as an avatar or “descent of God into form.” He is not an ascender like you and me, but a descender. He embodies the energy of God in ways that you and I do not. Most specifically he is able to forgive sin.
In my view, he said he was an avatar when he taught that “Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.” (1) In my view, this is a statement that only an avatar can make.
Besides that, Sri Ramakrishna declared him to be an avatar. And perhaps you’d enjoy reading that passage:
Now, Shivanath Shastri told Sri Ramakrishna: “Sir, one of my Christian friends has come to see you. Having heard of you from me, he was very eager to meet you.”
On hearing this Sri Ramakrishna bowed his head to the ground and said: “I bow again and again at the feet of Jesus Christ.”
Surprised at such an utterance, Rev. Sannyal said: “How is it, sir, that you bow at the feet of Christ? What do you think of Him?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Why, I look upon him as an Avatara.”
Rev. Sannyal: “Incarnation of God! Will you kindly explain what you mean by it? Is he one like Krishna and the others?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Yes, exactly like that. An incarnation like our Rama and Krishna. Don’t you know there is a passage in the Bhagavata where it is said that the incarnations of Vishnu or the Supreme Being are innumerable?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Just take the case of the ocean. It is a wide and almost infinite expanse of water. But owing to special causes, in special parts of this wide sea, the water becomes congealed into ice. When reduced to ice it can be easily manipulated and applied to special uses.
“An incarnation is something like that. Like that infinite expanse of water, there is the Infinite Power, immanent in matter and mind, but for some special purposes, in special regions, a portion of that Infinite Power, as it were, assumes a tangible shape in history, that is what you call a great man.
“But he is, properly speaking, a local manifestation of the all-pervading Divine Power [i.e., Shakti or the Holy Spirit]; in other words, an incarnation of God. The greatness of great men is essentially the manifestation of Divine Energy.” (2)
A few other examples of avatars include Buddha, Shankara, Rama, Krishna, and Sri Ramakrishna himself.
But Jesus spoke metaphorically, in the language of what some people call the “Biblical code.” (3)
When he said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” in my opinion, he did not mean “I Jesus.” He meant “the I,” “the Self”, the Soul or the Spirit, which is one with God, which IS God.
Knowing the “I,” or the “I am” as some prefer to call it, is indeed, as I understand it, the only way to God. We cannot know God unless and until we know the Self because the Self is God. (4) That’s what is meant when Jesus said that the Kingdom of Heaven is within. The Self is within. Knowing the Self is knowing God.
In my view, God set up life so that He (She or It) could only be known by an individual knowing him or herself.
Knowing the Self is knowing the truth. Knowing the truth frees us from having to be reborn into physical life at the Third Dimension. We ascend to the Fifth Dimension, free of one level of physicality, to use the language of the 2012 scenario.
Thus knowing the “I” is truly the way, the truth, and the life.
The “I” or “Self” is the treasure buried in the field, the pearl of great price, the mustard seed that grows into a great tree, the measure of meal that leavens the whole loaf. The “I” or “Self” is the Christ, the Son of God, the messiah, the savior, the prince of peace.
Hindus call the “I” the Atman or Brahman (the Father) within the individual. Nothing Jesus said does not fit in with what Krishna or Buddha said. We just have to understand the context in which he was speaking.
But Christians have taken this statement and interpreted it as meaning that Jesus of Nazareth is the only way to God. I don’t think Jesus ever meant it that way or he would not have said “Ye shall do greater than I.” If he is the only way, how could we do greater than he?
So I believe that one has to divest oneself of an exclusivist, narrow interpretation of Jesus’s words for his teachings to be wide-open and unrestrictive. Once one does, what Jesus says lines up with what all the major spiritual teachers have said.
I myself am (nominally) Jewish but I love Jesus more than many Christians I know. His words are endlessly profound once they are released from the narrow interpretive limits that have been imposed on them for centuries. I have never ceased to thrill reading the Gospels. I live my life by a few sentences contained in the Sermon on the Mount, beginning with “Take no thought for the morrow, what ye shall eat and what ye shall wear.” I never stop enjoying talking about Jesus.
Make that one alteration in Jesus’s teachings and they line up with those of Sri Krishna, Lao-Tzu, Buddha, Rumi, etc. Make that one alteration and the basis of religious wars falls away.
Matthew Ward has said that many fundamentalists will have difficulty letting go of narrow views like Jesus being the only way to God. They will choose to leave this life instead.
“When the truth about religious dogmas emerges, many will choose at soul level to leave; later they will embody in a third-density world where their beliefs can remain intact until once again the truth emerges about religions’ false teachings, and they will have another opportunity to open their minds and accept that truth.” (5)
What a shame when only a single adjustment might remove the difficulty and increase the range and embrace of Jesus’ teachings by an order of magnitude.
(1) Jesus in John 8:23.
(2) Paramahansa Ramakrishna in First Meetings with Sri Ramakrishna, 106-7.
(3) See “The Biblical Code,” at https://sbeckow.wordpress.com/spiritual-essays/the-biblical-code/.
(4) Other sages have said:
“To attain enlightenment without seeing your nature is impossible.” (Bodhidharma in Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma, 9.)
“Strain every nerve in every possible way to know and experience yourself as you really are. It will not be long, I suspect, before you have a real knowledge and experience of God as he is. Not as he is in himself, of course, for that is impossible for any save God; and not as you will in Heaven, both in body and soul. But as much as is now possible for a humble soul in a mortal body to know and experience him … and as much as he will permit.” (Anon., Cloud of Unknowing, 71.)
“My Me is God, nor do I recognize any other Me except my God Himself.” (St Catherine of Genoa in Perennial Philosophy, 11.)
“Knowledge of self is the key to knowledge of God, according to the saying: ‘He who knows himself knows God.'” (Al-Ghazzali, Alchemy of Happiness, 19.)
“To know God is not an easy matter, until one becomes a knower of one’s self.” (Ibn Arabi, Kernel of the Kernel, 3.)
“Atman [i.e., the Self] cannot be realized through this mind; Atman is realized through Atman alone. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, 802.)
“Without first knowing yourself, how can you know that which is true? Illusion is inevitable without self-knowledge.” (Krishnamurti, Commentaries on Living, Vol. 1, 20.)
(5) Matthew’s Message, Jan. 11, 2010, at http://www.matthewbooks.com/mattsmessage.htm .