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Jesus and his Religion – Alan Watts

The real Gospel of Jesus Christ and his disciples, the reason for their martyrdom, is no hidden secret, despite it’s history of being brutally suppressed by dictators. The Gospel survives in several places in the Bible, yet to this day many people identifying as Christians are anti-Christian in a fundamental way. Below is the audio and selected transcript excerpts from a speech by Alan Watts (1915-1973) detailing this issue.

(Full speech here.)

“I am a son of God,” well there’s the whole thing in a nutshell. If you read the King James Bible, you will see in italics, in front of the words “son of God,” the “son of God.” Most people think the italics are for emphasis. They’re not. The italics indicate words interpolated by the translators. You will not find that in the Greek. In the Greek it says, a son of God.

It seems to me here perfectly plain. That Jesus has got it in the back of his mind that this isn’t something peculiar to himself. So when he says, “I am the Way, no Man comes to the Father but by me.” This “I am” this “Me” is the divine in us.

We are sons of, or, “of the nature” of God, manifestations of the divine. This discovery is the gospel. That is the Good News. But this has been perpetually repressed throughout the history of Western religion.

All Western religions have taken the form of celestial monarchies, and therefore have discouraged democracy in the kingdom of heaven. Because you see, they have a religion which is militant. Which is not the religion of Jesus, which was the realization of divine son-ship, but the religion about Jesus, which pedestalizes him, and which says only this man, of all the sons of women was divine, and you had better recognize it!

So it becomes a freak religion, just as it has made a freak of Jesus among natural man. It claims uniqueness, not realizing, that what it does teach would be far more credible if it were truly Catholic. That is to say, re-stated again, the truths which have been known from time immemorial. Which have appeared in all the great cultures of the world.

You are not serving your country if you think that it’s necessarily the best of all possible countries. That is doing a disservice to your country. It is refusing to be critical where criticism is proper. So of religion, every religion should be self-critical, otherwise it soon degenerates into a self-righteous hypocrisy.

Popular Protestantism and popular Catholicism, will tell you nothing about mystical religion. The message of the preacher 52 Sundays a year, is dear people, be good! But how? How are we going to change? Obviously, there cannot be a vitality of religion, without vital religious experience. That’s something much more than emoting over singing “Onward Christian Soldiers.”

We run a talking shop. We pray, we tell God what to do, or give advice (as if he didn’t know). We read the scriptures. And remember talking of the Bible, Jesus said, “You search the scriptures daily, for in them you think you have life!

I feel then you see that it’s enormously important that Churches stop being talking shops. They become centers of contemplation. What is contemplation? Con-Temple, it’s what you do in the temple! You don’t come to the temple to chatter, but to be still, and “know that I am God.

If the Christian religion, if the Gospel of Christ is to mean anything at all, instead of just being one of the forgotten religions, along with Osiris and Mithra, we must see Christ as the great mystic. In the proper sense of the word mystic, not someone who has all sorts of magical powers, and understands spirits, and so on. A mystic, strictly speaking, is one who realizes union with God, by whatever name. This seems to me, the crux and message of the gospel. Summed up in the prayer of Jesus which Saint John records, as he speaks over his disciples praying, “that they may be one, even as you Father and I are one.” That they may be all one. All, realize this divine son-ship, or oneness, basic identity with the eternal energy of the universe, and the love that moves the sun and other stars.