Tuesday

Hacking the Afterlife, hearing what Jesus had to say about women


I'm in the process of recording the audio for the book "Hacking the Afterlife."  This is an excerpt from the book "HACKING THE AFTERLIFE" where I include the "The Life of St. Issa" - a book that resides at the Hemis monastery in Ladakh, India.  The book has been seen by over a dozen witnesses, and there are at least two translations of it.  

(As recounted in the book, I was in Ladakh with Robert Thurman, head of Tibetan Studies at Columbia. We attended a festival at Hemis, and the abbott of the monastery told me that "Jesus studied here at this monastery."  My brain froze with the Catholic brain freeze associated with anyone named Jesus.  I said "Who?"  He said "He's known as Issa in Asia, but it's the person you refer to as Jesus. He studied here in Hemis."  I smiled, nodded, thought I wasn't hearing him correctly. And then I started doing research, and found a lot of references in different countries, to this Issa fellow. I tracked down a copy of the book "The Life of St. Issa" author unknown, but that exists as a Tibetan text in the monastery (and there's a copy in Lhasa.)  

The book claims to be an account of the life of Issa, as Jesus is known in Asia. You'll find quite a bit of vitriol if you search out this document, but again, it exists, (Gutenberg.org) and has been translated twice by two different people; a Sherpa from Nepal (who translated it for Nikolai Notovitch, who later had that translation made from Russian to French) and by an Indian Saddhu, Swami Ahbedananda, who translated the book in the 1960's from its original Sanskrit.  The translations are the same.
Swami Ahbedananda

Nikolai Notovitch

But I'm reprinting an excerpt here, where Issa is followed by Roman "spies" sent by Pilate to see if he's preaching against the state.  The text claims that he knows who the spies are, identified here as "the disguised men."  But after I read this passage aloud, I realize this is one of the most profound statements about motherhood ever made by anyone in any religious text.  Set aside for a moment that it is being ascribed to Jesus, that it exists in a book at all is pretty mind blowing - as the sentiments expressed can't really be found in ANY RELIGION on the planet - not in Buddhism (Buddha denied women entry into the Sangha at first, later changed his mind), not in Hinduism (there were many adherents in the region when this was supposedly written), you can't find these sentiments even in any text written about Christianity.

But it bears repeating - whoever said it.  Whoever wrote it in this book, quoting the man known as Issa or Jesus.  
Ladakh, formerly Tibet, now part of Kashmir in Northern India, was part of the silk route
He's preaching, when this happens:
"8. Upon this, an old woman who had approached the group, to better hear Issa, was pushed aside by one of the disguised men, who placed himself before her.
9. Then said Issa: "It is not good for a son to push away his mother, that he may occupy the place which belongs to her. Whoso doth not respect his mother—the most sacred being after his God—is unworthy of the name of son.
10. "Hearken to what I say to you: Respect woman; for in her we see the mother of the universe, and all the truth of divine creation is to come through her.

11. "She is the fount of everything good and beautiful, as she is also the germ of life and death. Upon her man depends in all his existence, for she is his moral and natural support in his labors.
12. "In pain and suffering she brings you forth; in the sweat of her brow she watches over your growth, and until her death you cause her greatest anxieties. Bless her and adore her, for she is your only friend and support on earth.
13. "Respect her; defend her. In so doing you will gain for yourself her love; you will find favor before God, and for her sake many sins will be remitted to you.
14. "Love your wives and respect them, for they will be the mothers of tomorrow and later the grandmothers of a whole nation.
15. "Be submissive to the wife; her love ennobles man, softens his hardened heart, tames the wild beast in him and changes it to a lamb.

Sassoferatto's Mother Mary
16. "Wife and mother are the priceless treasures which God has given to you. They are the most beautiful ornaments of the universe, From them will be born all who will inhabit the world.
17. "Even as the Lord of Hosts separated the light from the darkness, and the dry from the waters, so does woman possess the divine gift of calling forth out of man's evil nature all the good that is in him.
18. "Therefore I say unto you, after God, to woman must belong your best thoughts, for she is the divine temple where you will most easily obtain perfect happiness.
19. "Draw from this temple your moral force. There you will forget your sorrows and your failures, and recover the love necessary to aid your fellow men.

20. "Suffer her not to be humiliated, for by humiliating her you humiliate yourselves, and lose the sentiment of love, without which nothing can exist here on earth.
21. "Protect your wife, that she may protect you—you and all your household. All that you do for your mothers, your wives, for a widow, or for any other woman in distress, you will do for your God."


(Wow. Here’s an incredible argument on behalf of women from someone who was considered the most important person on the planet.  Imagine if this had been in the Bible instead of the redacted version we've come to know so well. Imagine if these concepts had filtered into the religions of the world as well. Hard to imagine, but worth contemplating.)

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And the following is also from the same book, where Issa is talking about the caste system, and how it should be done away with.  Listen to how his words echo what Jesus reportedly says in the Bible:

This is from the section where he's returned to Jerusalem after spending time preaching and studying with a variety of religions, and lecturing (admonishing) them when he found them lacking.

(Note: Shu·dra noun plural noun: Sudras
a member of the worker caste, lowest of the four Hindu castes.)

"1. In his fourteenth year, young Issa, the Blessed One, came this side of the Sindh (India) and settled among the Aryas, in the country beloved by God.
2. Fame spread the name of the marvelous youth along the northern Sindh, and when he came through the country of the five streams and Radjipoutan, the devotees of the god Djaïne asked him to stay among them.
3. But he left the deluded worshippers of Djaïne and went to Djagguernat, in the country of Osiris, (The Jagannath Temple of Puri is in Odisha, India) where repose the mortal remains of Vyassa-Krishna, and where the white priests of Brahma welcomed him joyfully.[1]

(Note: Buddhism spread to India in the latter half of the first millennium: "Buddhism arose in Greater Magadha… to the east of aryavarta, the land of the Aryas..." (Wikipedia) For Notovitch, whom many consider some kind of hoaxer, to correctly identify these various religious sects back in 1896, unknown to the West, is a stretch. If he’s constructing a hoax, he didn’t need to include these details, some of which are mistaken, and other are correct.) 

4. They taught him to read and to understand the Vedas, to cure physical ills by means of prayers, to teach and to expound the sacred Scriptures, to drive out evil desires from man and make him again in the likeness of God.
5. He spent six years in Djagguernat, in Radjagriha, in Benares, and in other holy cities. The common people loved Issa, for he lived in peace with the Vaisyas and the Sudras, to whom he taught the Holy Scriptures.
6. But the Brahmins and the Kshatnyas told him that they were forbidden by the great Para-Brahma to come near to those who were created from his belly and his feet; (slaves with a darker skin color, believed to come “from the feet”)[2]
 
Castes in India. Sudras.
7. That the Vaisyas might only hear the recital of the Vedas, and this only on the festal days, and
8. That the Sudras were not only forbidden to attend the reading of the Vedas, but even to look on them; for they were condemned to perpetual servitude, as slaves of the Brahmins, the Kshatriyas and even the Vaisyas.
9. "Death alone can enfranchise them from their servitude," has said Para-Brahma. "Leave them, therefore, and come to adore with us the gods, whom you will make angry if you disobey them."
10. But Issa, disregarding their words, remained with the Sudras, preaching against the Brahmins and the Kshatriyas.

(Note: This was an era when disagreement with the Brahmin “high priests” could lead to death. Issa is stating here that the caste system is wrong.  He refuses to obey the Brahmins, preferring to stay with the poor.  Sounds a bit like the same “Blessed are the poor” fellow who later shows up in Jerusalem.)

11. He declaimed strongly against man's arrogating (claim the privilege of) to himself the authority to deprive his fellow beings of their human and spiritual rights. "Verily," he said, "God has made no difference between his children, who are all alike dear to Him."
12. Issa denied the divine inspiration of the Vedas and the Puranas, for, as he taught his followers, —"One law has been given to man to guide him in his actions:
13. "Fear the Lord, thy God; bend thy knees only before Him and bring to Him only the offerings which come from thy earnings."

14. Issa denied the Trimurti and the incarnation of Para-Brahma in Vishnu, Siva, and other gods; "for," said he:
15. "The eternal Judge, the eternal Spirit, constitutes the only and indivisible soul of the universe, and it is this soul alone which creates, contains and vivifies all.

(Note: Para Brahman(Sanskrit:परब्रह्मन्) (IAST: para-brahman) is the "highest Brahman," that which is beyond all descriptions and conceptualisations. Wikipedia)

(Note: Interesting he's clarifying who "God" is here - the eternal spirit which creates, contains and "animates" all. Not a being per se, but the indivisible “soul of the Universe” - reminiscent of the reports where people claim “God can be experienced by opening your heart to everyone.”) 

16. "He alone has willed and created. He alone has existed from eternity, and His existence will be without end; there is no one like unto Him either in the heavens or on the earth.
17. "The great Creator has divided His power with no other being; far less with inanimate objects, as you have been taught to believe, for He alone is omnipotent and all-sufficient.
18. "He willed, and the world was. By one divine thought, He reunited the waters and separated them from the dry land of the globe. He is the cause of the mysterious life of man, into whom He has breathed part of His Divine Being.

(Note: Another reference to divine breath - father/son and "breath" from the original Aramaic, or Greek. “Pneuma” became “Spiros” (to breathe) but was later translated as “Spirit” and then “Ghost.” “Holy Ghost” would refer to the etheric spirit that animates humans.)

19. "And He has put under subjection to man, the lands, the waters, the beasts and everything which He created, and which He himself preserves in immutable order, allotting to each its proper duration.
20. "The anger of God will soon break forth upon man; for he has forgotten his Creator; he has filled His temples with abominations; and he adores a multitude of creatures which God has subordinated to him;

21. "And to gain favor with images of stone and metal, he sacrifices human beings in whom dwells part of the Spirit of the Most High;
22. "And he humiliates those who work in the sweat of their brows, to gain favor in the eyes of the idler who sitteth at a sumptuous table.
23. "Those who deprive their brothers of divine happiness will themselves be deprived of it; and the Brahmins and the Kshatriyas shall become the Sudras of the Sudras, with whom the Eternal will stay forever.



[1] The “five streams” may refer to a Hindu expression of five sacred rivers in the Himalayas… The “Djaïne,” known today as the Jain religion dates back to the 1st century; they espoused a belief the universe had no beginning or end, practiced extreme non-violence (sweeping the path in front of them so they wouldn’t accidentally step on an ancestor). “White Priests” appears to refer to "white flag Brahmins" who were a class of Hindu Brahmin priests and Ayurveda teachers and practitioners, with significant concentrations of their populations occurring in Western and Northern India." Again, not something Notovitch would likely be aware of, and the writers of this document left out the world "flag" in the original text or in this the translation.  If Jesus had met "white priests of Brahma" it's likely they're referring to the “Maga Brahmins” of Northern India who were Persian in origin who wore all white clothing.)
[2] Vaisyas are the "merchant and farmer" caste of Hindus, and Sudras are the lowest caste - but still the caste above the "untouchables" who do all the lowest forms of work in Hindu society. Also not likely a detail that Notovitch or his Sherpa would have been aware of.

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I'm almost done with the audible version of the book, soon to be available at Audible.com - but I had to stop and reprint this dialog attributed to Issa. I've never heard anyone describe women this way - other than the Dalai Lama's argument that we should meditate on the idea that we were all each other's mothers in a previous lifetime, and that mother's are the planet's example of unconditional love.

I must say, I think Issa's version, although it's buried in a document that has remained on the outer edges of study - is so powerful that it should be included in the lexicon of great quotes about women.  (Even if it was supposedly made up by a Buddhist monk or monks living in a monastery near the border of Tibet in northern India.) 

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