The Third Jesus: The Christ We Cannot Ignore
By Deepak Chopra
(Harmony Books ) $28.00
Believe it or not — and those skeptical of doctor, author and spirituality guru Deepak Chopra will not — this is an eminently sensible book. Of the many portraits of Jesus available to us (as revolutionary, as sacrificial lamb, as Messiah), Chopra prefers Jesus as a mystic in perfect union with God.
Chopra comes to this conclusion as an outsider already familiar with the enlightenment of the Buddha and the Vedic sages. For him, Jesus simply fits into the long and multi-faithed tradition of wisdom literature that agrees upon a vision of compassion. And Chopra does a thoroughly competent job of describing Jesus.
Perhaps that’s because growing up in India, the now 61-year-old heard Christian prayers at Catholic school, Vedic chants at home and happily celebrated Muslim or Parsi festivals with his friends. It was a utopian childhood undercut by the hundreds of thousands of Hindus and Muslims who suffered and died in the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947.
No surprise, then, that Chopra intensely dislikes right wing theology in any religion. And while some Christians may have trouble with his assertion that Jesus is not uniquely the way to God, most United Church members will find it neither threatening nor earth-shaking.
There are reasons to read this book though. For one thing, it’s fun. His discussion about the “rational” search for the “real” Jesus, for instance, is punctuated with zingers. “There is no way to sort out which part of the [Gospel] story is factual,” he says. “Physics knows everything about water except how to walk on it.” Similarly, the scandals of “an evangelical preacher who has been hiding secret sins” can teach us all that “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw Scripture.”
Most valuable, though, is Chopra’s practical approach to achieving “God-consciousness” through Jesus’ teachings. A series of meditations, exercises, lists and descriptions comprises the last and most rewarding third of the book. However we may feel about Chopra’s frequent Oprah appearances, Christians of any stripe would benefit from his expert guidance on the inward journey.
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