“Whatever the faith, if the worshipper be but sincere, it should be respected in his presence. If we do not accept Jesus as God, we revere him as a man. Such a feeling honors him more than if we were to attribute to him the powers and personality of the Supreme, and credit him at the same time with having played a useless comedy with mankind, as, after all, his mission proves scarcely less than a complete failure.”
(H. P. Blavatsky, “Isis Unveiled” Vol. 2, p. 530)
~ * ~
It may be asked in what way Theosophy views Jesus. First of all, Theosophy maintains that the Jesus of popular Christianity never existed.
For one thing, if this were not the case then why is it that of all the writers, philosophers, historians, and commentators who lived at the time Jesus was supposedly doing all those many wondrous things in such wonderful ways before enthusiastic and increasing crowds of many thousands all over Palestine, none of them ever mentioned him in any way or even seem to have known or heard of him?
As H. P. Blavatsky wrote, “How little Jesus had impressed his personality upon his own century, is calculated to astound the inquirer. Renan shows that Philo, who died toward the year 50, and who was born many years earlier than Jesus, living all the while in Palestine while the “glad tidings” were being preached all over the country, according to the Gospels, had never heard of him! Josephus, the historian, who was born three or four years after the death of Jesus, mentions his execution in a short sentence, and even those few words were altered “by a Christian hand,” says the author of the Life of Jesus. . . . For nearly four centuries, the great historians nearly contemporary with Jesus had not taken the slightest notice either of his life or death. Christians wondered at such an unaccountable omission of what the Church considered the greatest events in the world’s history. Eusebius saved the battle of the day.” (“Isis Unveiled” Vol. 2, p. 335, 328)
This last sentence is in reference to the historian Josephus’ apparent reference to and glorification of Jesus. This is still used and referred to by some Christians today as proof of the reality and legitimacy of the Jesus preached by their Church and theology. But the fact is that this praise of the supposed “Saviour” was not in Josephus’ original works and only began to appear in the editions that followed his death. It was in fact Eusebius, one of the Church Fathers, who had the passage in question fraudulently interpolated into the text, in order to give credence to the claims of Christianity and to help the Christian cause.
“It will not be amiss to remind the reader that it is the same Eusebius who is charged with the interpolation of the famous paragraph concerning Jesus, which was so miraculously found, in his time, in the writings of Josephus, the sentence in question having till that time remained perfectly unknown.” (H. P. Blavatsky, “Isis Unveiled” Vol. 2, p. 327-328)
In her lengthy dialogue with the Abbé Roca, a French Canon of the Roman Catholic Church, HPB wrote the following:
“Jesus Christ, i.e., the Man-God of the Christians, copied from the Avatars of every country, from the Hindu Krishna as well as the Egyptian Horus, was never a historical person. He is a deified personification of the glorified type of the great Hierophants of the Temples, and his story, as told in the New Testament, is an allegory, assuredly containing profound esoteric truths, but still an allegory. It is interpreted by the help of the seven keys, similarly to the Pentateuch. . . . The legend of which I speak is founded, as I have demonstrated over and over again in my writings and my notes, on the existence of a personage called Jehoshua (from which Jesus has been made) born at Lud or Lydda about 120 years before the modern era. And if this fact is denied – to which I can hardly object – one must resign oneself to regard the hero of the drama of Calvary as a myth pure and simple. As a matter of fact, in spite of all the desperate research made during long centuries, if we set aside the testimony of the “Evangelists,” i.e., unknown men whose identity has never been established, and that of the Fathers of the Church, interested fanatics, neither history, nor profane tradition, neither official documents, nor the contemporaries of the soi-disant drama, are able to provide one single serious proof of the historical and real existence, not only of the Man-God but even of him called Jesus of Nazareth, from the year 1 to the year 33. All is darkness and silence. Philo Judaeus, born before the Christian Era, and dying quite some time after the year when, according to Renan, the hallucination of a hysterical woman, Mary of Magdala, gave a God to the world, made several journeys to Jerusalem during that interval of forty-odd years. He went there to write the history of the religious sects of his epoch in Palestine. No writer is more correct in his descriptions, more careful to omit nothing; no community, no fraternity, even the most insignificant, escaped him. Why then does he not speak of the Nazarites? Why does he not make the least allusion to the Apostles, to the divine Galilean, to the Crucifixion? The answer is easy. Because the biography of Jesus was invented after the first century, and no one in Jerusalem was better informed on the subject that Philo himself. We have but to read the quarrel of Irenaeus with the Gnostics in the 2nd century, to be certain of it. Ptolemaeus (180 A.D.), having remarked that Jesus preached one year according to the legend, and that he was too young to have been able to teach anything of importance, Irenaeus had a bad fit of indignation and testified that Jesus preached more than ten or even twenty years! Tradition alone, he said, speaks of ten years (Contra Haereses, lib. II, cap. 22, para. 4-5). Elsewhere, he makes Jesus die at the age of fifty years or more!! Now, if as early as the year 180, a Father of the Church had recourse to tradition, and if no one was sure of anything, and no great importance was attributed to the Gospels – to the Logia of which there were more than sixty – what place has history in all of this? Confusion, lies, deceit, and forgery, such is the ledger of the early centuries. Eusebius of Casearea, king of falsifiers, inserted the famous 16 lines referring to Jesus in a manuscript of Josephus, to get even with the Gnostics who denied that there ever had been a real personage named Jesus. Still more: he attributed to Josephus, a fanatic who died as he had lived, a stubborn Jew, the reflection that it is perhaps not correct to call him (Iasous) a man, because he was the Lord’s Anointed, i.e., the Messiah!!” (See “Theosophy: Some Rare Perspectives” p. 83-85)
Irenaeus, mentioned above, was one of the chief culprits responsible for the gigantic fraud which is known today as the Christian Church and the theology of the Christian religion or, as HPB puts it, “that stupendous compound of unintelligible dogmas enforced by Irenaeus, Tertullian, and others, which is now termed Christianity. . . . In the modern Jesus of the Christian Church, we find the ideal of the imaginative Irenaeus, not the adept of the Essenes, the obscure reformer from Galilee. . . . Irenaeus . . . set himself to invent a new religion, drawn from the depths of his imagination. . . . It is but the inveterate desire of the latter to connect Jesus in every possible way, even in the Haeresies, with the Highest God, that led him into so many falsifications. . . . The blunders of the Old Testament are as nothing to those of the gospels. Nothing shows better than these self-evident contradictions the system of pious fraud upon which the superstructure of the Messiahship rests. . . . The New Testament is noted for its mistranslations and transparent falsifications of texts. . . . Twitted and cornered at every step by his not less acute and learned adversaries, the Gnostics, he [i.e. Irenaeus] boldly shields himself behind blind faith, and in answer to their merciless logic falls upon imaginary tradition invented by himself. Reber wittily remarks: “As we read his misapplications of words and sentences, we would conclude that he was a lunatic if we did not know that he was something else.” (“Isis Unveiled” Vol. 2, p. 123, 33-34, 24, 177, 133, 326)
But back to the question of what Theosophy has to say about Jesus.
As stated above by HPB, the Christian myth or legend about Jesus is based “on the existence of a personage called Jehoshua (from which Jesus has been made) born at Lud or Lydda about 120 years before the modern era.” This was Yeshua ben Pandira, who is mentioned in the Sepher Toldoth Jeshu scripture of Judaism.
“All the commentators have agreed that a literal massacre of young children is nowhere mentioned in history; and that, moreover, an occurrence like that would have made such a bloody page in Roman annals that the record of it would have been preserved for us by every author of the day. Herod himself was subject to the Roman law; and undoubtedly he would have paid the penalty of such a monstrous crime, with his own life. But if, on the one hand, we have not the slightest trace of this fable in history, on the other, we find in the official complaints of the Synagogue abundant evidence of the persecution of the initiates. The Talmud also corroborates it.
“The Jewish version of the birth of Jesus is recorded in the Sepher-Toldos Jeshu in the following words:
“Mary having become the mother of a Son, named Jehosuah, and the boy growing up, she entrusted him to the care of the Rabbi Elhanan, and the child progressed in knowledge, for he was well gifted with spirit and understanding.
“Rabbi Jehosuah, son of Perachiah, continued the education of Jehosuah (Jesus) after Elhanan, and initiated him in the secret knowledge”; but the King, Janneus, having given orders to slay all the initiates, Jehosuah Ben Perachiah, fled to Alexandria, in Egypt, taking the boy with him.
“While in Alexandria, continues the story, they were received in the house of a rich and learned lady (personified Egypt). Young Jesus found her beautiful, notwithstanding “a defect in her eyes,” and declared so to his master. Upon hearing this, the latter became so angry that his pupil should find in the land of bondage anything good, that “he cursed him and drove the young man from his presence.” Then follow a series of adventures told in allegorical language, which show that Jesus supplemented his initiation in the Jewish Kabala with an additional acquisition of the secret wisdom of Egypt. When the persecution ceased, they both returned to Judea.” (HPB, “Isis Unveiled” Vol. 2, p. 200-201)
In the second of her series of three articles titled “The Esoteric Character of the Gospels,” HPB says, “Reference is made here to the Rabbinical tradition in the Babylonian Gemara, called Sepher Toldos Jeshu, about Jesus being the son of one named Pandira, and having lived a century earlier than the era called Christian, namely, during the reign of the Jewish king Alexander Jannaeus and his wife Salome, who reigned from the year 106 to 79 B.C. Accused by the Jews of having learned the magic art in Egypt, and of having stolen from the Holy of Holies the Incommunicable Name, Jehoshua (Jesus) was put to death by the Sanhedrin at Lud. He was stoned and then crucified on a tree, on the eve of Passover.”
She doesn’t say that the assertions of this tradition are necessarily entirely accurate in every single respect but, when informed that certain scholars consider it erroneous to say that Jesus or the spiritual Teacher on whom “Jesus” is based lived “a century earlier” than is commonly believed, she responded by maintaining:
“I say the scholars are either lying or talking nonsense. Our Masters affirm the statement. If the story of Jehoshua or Jesus Ben-Pandira is false, then the whole Talmud, the whole Jewish Canon is false. He was the disciple of Jehoshua Ben Perahiah, the fifth President of the Sanhedrin after Ezra who re-wrote the Bible. Compromised in the revolt of the Pharisees against Jannaeus in 105 B.C., he (Jehoshua Ben Parahiah) fled into Egypt carrying the young Jesus with him. This account is far truer than that of the New Testament which has no record in history.” (“Theosophy: Some Rare Perspectives” p. 47)
So, to sum up in three points the answer to the question of “What does Theosophy say about Jesus?” we may say that Theosophy maintains that –
(1) A spiritual Teacher did exist in that part of the world sometime around that time, some of whose teachings and activities bore some similarities to those later described in the Christian Gospels (which, let us remember, are reported to have not been written in anything resembling their present form and content until at least 300 A.D. at the very earliest and thus not by the four Apostles at all!).
(2) The Jesus of the Christian Church is largely just a fictitious, fantastical, and distorted copy of this actual individual, who may indeed have been named Jehoshua or Yeshua.
It is this real Teacher of whom HPB wrote that “Jesus the initiate (or Jehoshua) – the type from whom the “historical” Jesus was copied – was not of pure Jewish blood,” (“The Secret Doctrine” Vol. 1, p. 577-578) and “The personage (Jesus) so addressed – whenever he lived – was a great Initiate and a “Son of God”.” (“The Esoteric Character of the Gospels” article)
In her posthumously published article “The Mystery of Buddha” we also find a very interesting and important statement:
“The students of Esoteric Philosophy see in the Nazarene Sage a Bodhisattva with the spirit of Buddha Himself in Him.”
That is not a mere poetic or figurative expression of speech but apparently refers to an occult reality, for in a related article titled “Reincarnations” of Buddha” it is explained that Gautama Buddha, the highest of Nirmanakayas, was reincarnated approximately 50 years after Gautama’s death, as Adi Shankaracharya, in order to tie up some Karmic loose ends of Gautama, including his attempted reforms of Hinduism and Indian spirituality. More can be learnt about Shankaracharya – including the evidence for him actually living around 2,500 years ago, despite what most modern academics say – by clicking here.
But Shankaracharya chose to permanently leave his body by free will at age 32 and an Esoteric Commentary quoted by HPB in that article says, “At whatever age one puts off his outward body by free will, at that age will he be made to die in his next incarnation against his will.” Thus in the subsequent incarnation – suggested and implied but not directly stated to be as Jesus or Yeshua – he had to die “at thirty-two and a little over” due to this Karmic Law. As is well known, 33 is the age at which Jesus was crucified according to general Christian belief. The next incarnation, “fifty years subsequent to the death of this Adept, [was] in one whose name is given as Tiani-Tsang.” It is indicated that this name most likely stands for Apollonius of Tyana, which incarnation again involved the tying up of some Karmic loose ends or things that had been left undone:
“Born, as we are told, among the aristocracy, it is very likely that he [i.e. Apollonius] desired to finish the work undone in this particular direction by his predecessor, and sought to offer “peace on earth and good will” to all men, and not alone to the outcast and the criminal. Therefore he associated with the kings and mighty ones of the age.” (“Appollonius of Tyana” article)
One of the subsequent incarnations after that was as Tsong Kha-pa, the Tibetan Buddhist reformer and teacher, who is considered extremely important in Theosophy for various esoteric reasons that are unknown within Tibetan Buddhism itself. Those interested in exploring these matters further can find more in the article The Doctrine of Avatars and The Mystery of The Buddha. What has just been presented is a very simplified summary only.
So the final point that explains what Theosophy says about Jesus can be expressed as:
(3) The real and actual Jesus was a great Initiate, an Adept, an important member of that hidden esoteric Brotherhood which guides and watches over the spiritual evolution and advancement of humanity and his inner being was in fact the same being as the Buddha, although their mission and field of work was very different and served very different purposes.
Robert Crosbie, a pupil of H. P. Blavatsky and William Q. Judge, and the founder of the United Lodge of Theosophists, once wrote:
“You ask as to the nature and mission of the one called “Jesus.” There is reason to think that the mission of Jesus was a minor one, being in a falling cycle, and that it was not so much to disclose as to cover up the avenues to occult knowledge, so that the following times of the decadence of spirituality should not have dangerous weapons left for selfish, unprincipled and ignorant people to use; hence He accentuated ethics. This does not say that the being known as Jesus was inferior to the one known as Buddha. They might have been the same being, in reality. The statement is that the “missions” or efforts were of a different nature because of the different cycles and peoples.” (“The Friendly Philosopher” p. 201-202)
Relating to this, William Judge on p. 119-120 of “The Ocean of Theosophy” says, “Buddha is the last [i.e. in the sense of the latest, not the “last ever”] of the great Avatars and is in a larger cycle than is Jesus of the Jews, for the teachings of the latter are the same as those of Buddha and tinctured with what Buddha had taught to those who instructed Jesus.”
In reality, Jesus’ life, mission, and work were of very little importance or consequence to the world at large. And if that statement should inadvertently cause offence to some – which is never our intention – we have only to turn to the purported words of Jesus himself in the Gospels to see that he believed and taught that he was to be a Saviour only to the Israelites and not to the other races and peoples of the world.
“I have been sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” he is recorded as saying in Matthew 15:24. There are also numerous instances related in the Gospels where Gentiles (meaning non-Jewish people) approached Jesus to be healed, only for him to inform them that “I was not sent to the Gentiles but to the children of Israel. Is it right to take the children’s bread and give it to dogs?” The Gospels relate that he did often eventually consent to heal such individuals but only because of their relentlessness and refusal to leave him in peace until they had received the blessing they sought for.
As for the idea that Jesus was the “Messiah,” either for humanity at large or only for the Jewish people, Theosophy disagrees with such a notion. To quote from our article Kabbalah: The Mystical Side of Judaism:
“On that subject of the Meshiach or Messiah, H. P. Blavatsky in at least four places in the second volume of her first book “Isis Unveiled” (p. 328, 238, 256, 203) discredits the idea that Jesus was genuinely the Messiah that the Jewish scriptures had prophesied. She says there and elsewhere that Jesus came with a mission, a reforming mission, but she never once says that he was the Messiah promised to the Jews. That Messiah, she writes, has still not yet come, and that is because it actually refers to that future occurrence prophesied in so many religions, whether it be the Hindus’ coming of the Kalki Avatar, the Buddhists’ coming of the Buddha Maitreya, the Imam Mahdi of the Muslims, the expected Saoshyant (often rendered “Soshiosh” in Theosophical literature) of the Zoroastrians, or what Christians mistakenly call “the return” of Christ, and so on.
“And in her article “Lamas and Druzes” and elsewhere, HPB explains that this – which is not due to happen until the end of the Sixth Root Race, the next major vast epoch after our present one, many hundreds of thousands of years from now – will not take the form many expect, for it will not be the incarnation of one special individual but rather a collective incarnation into the whole of humanity of the one Divine Wisdom Itself.”
“The true teachings of Jesus were the teachings of Theosophy. Jesus taught the same things that Buddha taught some six hundred years before Him; He but repeated the same teachings to a smaller people, to the Jews, who were His mission, as He himself said. That mission spread to a people unprepared for knowledge, but prepared rather for all sorts of superstition and dogmas [i.e. in time, it spread out from its origins in the Middle East to the Western nations who distorted it into what now exists as the so-called “Christian” religion]. Jesus came in a lower cycle than that which brought Buddha. An age of mental and spiritual darkness was beginning, and instead of knowledge being given out, it had actually to be withdrawn from the ignorant class of Egos then existing.” (Robert Crosbie, “Answers to Questions on The Ocean of Theosophy” p. 192)
He was an Essene, as referred to in an earlier quote, although “As Jesus used oil and the Essenes never used aught but pure water, he cannot be called a strict Essene.” (HPB, “Isis Unveiled” Vol. 2, p. 133)
These closing passages from “Isis Unveiled” are not intended in any way to denigrate the work and teachings of Jesus, the Adept Yeshua ben Pandira, but rather to show that they were not at all unique but were UNIVERSAL. And for those, such as Theosophists, whose motto is “There is no Religion higher than Truth,” that is in fact the greatest compliment of all.
“Jesus taught the world nothing that had not been taught as earnestly before by other masters. He begins his sermon [i.e. on the Mount] with certain purely Buddhistic precepts that had found acceptance among the Essenes, and were generally practiced by the Orphikoi, and the Neo-platonists. There were the Philhellenes, who, like Apollonius, had devoted their lives to moral and physical purity, and who practiced asceticism. He tries to imbue the hearts of his audience with a scorn for worldly wealth; a fakir-like unconcern for the morrow; love for humanity, poverty, and chastity. He blesses the poor in spirit, the meek, the hungering and the thirsting after righteousness, the merciful and the peace-makers, and, Buddha-like, leaves but a poor chance for the proud castes to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Every word of his sermon is an echo of the essential principles of monastic Buddhism.”
“When they find that – 1, all his [i.e. Jesus’] sayings are in a Pythagorean spirit, when not verbatim repetitions; 2, his code of ethics is purely Buddhistic; 3, his mode of action and walk in life, Essenean; and 4, his mystical mode of expression, his parables, and his ways, those of an initiate, whether Grecian, Chaldean, or Magian (for the “Perfect,” who spoke the hidden wisdom, were of the same school of archaic learning the world over), it is difficult to escape from the logical conclusion that he belonged to that same body of initiates. It is a poor compliment paid to the Supreme, this forcing upon Him four gospels, in which, contradictory as they often are, there is not a single narrative, sentence, or peculiar expression, whose parallel may not be found in some older doctrine or philosophy. Surely, the Almighty – were it but to spare future generations their present perplexity – might have brought down with Him, at His first and only incarnation on earth, something original – something that would trace a distinct line of demarcation between Himself and the score or so of incarnate Pagan gods, who had been born of virgins, had all been saviours, and were either killed, or otherwise sacrificed themselves for humanity.” (HPB, “Isis Unveiled” Vol. 2, p. 552-553, 337)
This article may have raised more questions about various things. Please make use of the site search function (the magnifying glass symbol at the top of the page) and visit the Articles page to see the complete list of over 300 articles covering all aspects of Theosophy and the Theosophical Movement.
~ BlavatskyTheosophy.com ~