In my imagination, Jesus is a white guy with a hipster beard dressed in a toga and sandals. This is the case because that it what I was taught as a child. As an adult, I have come to realize that there is no way that Jesus, a middle easterner, was even a little bit white.
I like to think about all of the things that I don’t know. Unfortunately, that is not the case for so many as evidenced by the fact that the world is, as I type this, tearing itself apart over endless disagreements of absolute truth.
And because this is Jesus’ birthday month, (also not true. He was probably born in a milder season than winter, what with shepherds in the fields and what not, but let’s not fight) I’m reading The Yoga of Jesus, by Paramahansa Yogananda.
Here, I found an idea that was completely in conflict with my well established Lutheran concept of the life of Jesus; the idea that Jesus was a yogi.
There is a very strong tradition in India, authoritatively known amongst high metaphysicians in tales well told and written in ancient manuscripts, that the wise men of the East who made their way to the infant Jesus in Bethlehem were, in fact, great sages of India. Not only did the Indian masters come to Jesus, but he reciprocated their visit. (The Yoga of Jesus, Paramahansa Yogananda, p. 11)
Okay, so I’ll admit that I have never ever wondered who the three wise men were. You know the Christmas carol, “We Three Kings.” That’s what I have been working with for 40 years.
And not only that, Yogananda posits that Jesus went to study with these three wise men in his early adulthood.
During the unaccounted for years of Jesus’ life–the scriptures remains silent about him from approximately age 14 to 30–he journeyed to India, probably traveling the well-established trade route that linked the Mediterranean with China and India. (The Yoga of Jesus, Paramahansa Yogananda, p. 11)
All the New Testament has to say about this time in Jesus’ life is that he “increased in wisdom and years, and in divine and human favor” (Luke 2:52). How can it be that there was nothing noteworthy about Jesus for 16 years of his life? This is JESUS we are talking about! Where was he? What was he doing? Why doesn’t the bible have anything to say about it?
“At this time his great desire was to achieve full realization of godhead and learn religion at the feet of those who have attained perfection through meditation.” (Journey into Kashmir and Tibet, Cf. Swami Abhedananda’s translation of this verse from the Tibetan)
Yoganada writes of records found in a Tibetan monastery that tell of a Saint Issa from Israel “in whom was manifest the soul of the universe”; who from the age of fourteen to twenty-eight was in India and regions of the Himalayas among the saints, monks, and pundits; who preached his message through that area and then returned to teach in his native land, where he was treated vilely, condemned, and put to death. (The Yoga of Jesus, Paramahansa Yogananda, p. 13)
I really want to believe that this is true, that Jesus was a savior and a guru of the east and the west. There are other theories about the 3 wise men and what Jesus was up to as he was coming of age, but in the end, it doesn’t really matter and we can’t ever know with absolute certainty. And so Yogananda offers us this advice:
Become identified with Universal Love, expressed in service to all, both materially and spiritually; then you …can say in your soul that we are all one band, all sons of God!
This article originally published on www.groundingup.com.