Herein we refer to the words of progressive German researcher and theologian Holger Kersten, which he initially wrote in 1983 in the primary version of his book Jesus Lived in India. His Unknown Life before and after the Crucifixion and updated in later versions of the book. Generally speaking, no special clarifications or interpretations are needed, for the author speaks straight to the point. He has supported his words with numerous facts discovered in his research and journalistic activities, and we hope to refer to some of these facts in subsequent articles as well.
“Do not think I am spinning yarns:
Get up and prove things otherwise!
All ecclesiastical history
Is a mishmash of error and coercion.”
(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
Introduction to the book Jesus Lived in India. His Unknown Life before and after the Crucifixion by Holger Kersten
Freiburg im Breisgau (1984), Berlin (2010)
The ascendancy of science and technology over the past three centuries has been accompanied by a rapid secularization of our (Western) world and a consequent simultaneous recession in religious faith. The glorification of materialist rationalism and the endeavour to explain away every facet of human existence has inexorably led to successive serious depletions in spiritual, religious and emotional life, and finally even to a loss of faith in humanity. Not the least significant among the causes of the widening gulf between religion and science – between belief and knowledge – has been the behaviour of the long-established Churches. For fear of losing their eminence in secular spheres, they asserted authority where they had absolutely none: in the field of empirical knowledge. This merely emphasized a need for greater differentiation between authorities.
The resultant schism between scientific thinking and religious belief has presented every thinking person with an apparently unresolvable dilemma. Spiritual sentiments have become increasingly restricted as the ranks of those who publicly doubt the veracity of Christ’s message have grown in number, and as Christian doctrine has turned more and more into a matter of debate. Even core tenets anchored in ecclesiastical tradition – such as the nature of God, of Christ, of the Church and of divine revelation – have become mere topics for enthusiastic discussion among theologians and laymen alike.
When the most central and fundamental teachings of a Christian Church are no longer accepted as the absolute truth, even among that Church’s own hierarchy and administrators, the demise of that Church is undeniably at hand. The message of the empty pews is quite clear. The irrational and incomprehensible in the old religion leads to a paradox in the so-called Christian West: in Germany alone 160,000 Protestants and 120,000 Catholics left the church in 2009. In 2007, only 25 million belonged to the German Protestant Church and even thirty years ago, there were 5 million more. The same period saw a reduction of 4 million Catholic believers. Currently in Germany barely 26 million people are committed to the Pope. The number of people without any confession is about as high. At the same time, however, we realize a growing interest in spirituality and curiosity about new forms of religion.
Social scientists in Germany have found that one in three of the 20 million without any confession nevertheless are religious, and that one in four of the 60 million German adults create their own mixture from various spiritual ideas. The scientists call this “believing without belonging”. The sociologist Ulrich Beck says, “We are currently experiencing a transition from religion to religiosity.” Thus, there are millions of seekers, but they rarely find solace in the established religions.
Yet what is today called Christianity is in any case not so much the Word of Christ but something else: Paulinism – for the doctrine as we now know it rests in all its main points not on the message of Jesus, but on the totally different teaching of Paul. Modern Christianity only developed when Paulinism was promulgated as the state religion.
Manfred Mezger cites the Swiss Protestant theologian Emil Brunner on the subject: “Emil Brunner has called the Church a misunderstanding. From a call, a doctrine was constructed; from free communion, a legal corporation; from a free association, a hierarchical machine. You might say that it became, in all of its elements and in its overall disposition, the exact opposite of what was intended.”
A person appears in a time of darkness, bringing a message full of hope, a message of love and goodness – and what do people do with it? They turn it into documentation, discussion, contention and commercialism! Would Jesus really have wished for everything that later happened in his name? Hardly. During his life in Palestine Jesus actually made his disaffection with (Jewish) Church officialdom quite evident, distancing himself from the Church’s laws and scriptural authorities, its insistence on preserving verbal niceties with conflicting interpretations as required, its convoluted hierarchy, and the associated cultic worship and idolatry.
Jesus sought to create an immediate link between God and humankind, not to set up bureaucratic channels to go through.
But Jesus’ voice no longer reaches us in so naturally direct a fashion. Access to his teachings is gained only through the mediumship of a privileged hierarchy. Jesus has been managed, monopolized, codified. Wherever the true and living faith disappeared, to be replaced by narrow-minded and rigidly dogmatic beliefs, the love of one’s neighbour and the tolerance which Jesus taught have been replaced by self-righteous fanaticism. Strife over exactly what is defined as the “right” faith has left a wide swathe of misery, contention and bloodshed across the time-lines of the Christian Churches. The controversy has raged from the days of the apostles right up until our own times, and continues still to constitute the most problematical obstacle to reconciliation between the various Christian denominations.
The Protestant theologian Heinz Zahrnt wrote: “I have suffered a profound trauma in my career as a theologian. I feel defiled, humiliated, insulted and put to shame – but not by atheists, those who deny God, mockers or doubters who, although godless, are often very humane – no, by the dogmatists: by those who live by the letter of the teachings, thinking that that gives them the only true view of God. I have been wounded at my very heart, in the one thing that has kept me alive despite my grief: my belief in God…”
Inasmuch as religious is part of the process of growing up in modern society, it is most often relegated to the category of the irrational, and can then be regarded as unprovable, and so, unreal. Logical thought and action appear along to determine reality. The transcendental gradually diminishes in importance because it is never personally experienced. And the main reason for this is a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of God. The Divinity is not remote from us at some mystically infinite distance, but inside each one of us. It should inspire us to lead our lives in harmony with the Infinite – to recognize our short existence on Earth as a part of the eternal Whole.
For centuries, Western thought has viewed the individual falsely as a being separate from God. In the “enlightened” 20-21 centuries, modern Western thought seems less certain than ever about possible answers to the most ancient human questions about God and the meaning of life. All over the world, new spiritual centres have sprung up, attempting to give answers to these questions – questions which the rigidly held precepts of Church officialdom cannot answer. A kind of ecumenical world religion of the future is in ascendance. It is moving towards self-realization, towards a search for Enlightenment, towards a mystical and consummate vision of the cosmic context of one’s individual existence, and all this by means of contemplation, self-knowledge and meditation.
The most forceful impetus for promoting such an internalization of religion has always come, and continues to come, from the East, primarily from India. Western Man must now reorient himself in the most literal sense of the word – turn towards the eastern dawn. The Orient is the origin and source of our experience of the inner realm.
We should not expect belief in God to be finally eradicated, nor should we fear spiritual and moral decay. Indeed, we can hope for germination of the seed of the Spirit, a flowering of the inner life. No gradual but complete elimination of religious faith awaits us. One the contrary, a blossoming of spiritual consciousness is at hand, and this not just for the chosen few but for all in the all-embracing ecumenism of world religions. Moreover, the goal is not in the transient world of superficial appearances, but represents a grand spiritual awakening, a turning to transcendental values, the true way of “deliverance from evil”.
Through Knowledge (of Truth)
All evils are washed away.
The true Enlightened One stands firm,
Scattering the clouds of delusion
Like the sun shining in a cloudless sky.
Prepared by Dmitry L. (Minsk, Belarus)