Exoteric Christianity and the Universal Spiritual Message of Jesus

Exoteric Christianity and the

Universal Spiritual Message of Jesus

an essay by

Sri Adi Da Samraj

(May 8, 1982)


The Message (or “Gospel”) of Jesus of Nazareth is the universal
Teaching of ego-transcending love of the Spiritual and Transcendental Divine,
to be practiced directly as well as in self-transcending love and tolerance
of all living beings. The exoteric religionists who developed the system
of beliefs that are now called “Christianity” transformed Jesus’ universal
and non-sectarian Teaching of ego-transcendence into the “pharisaical”
(or priestly and dogmatic) religion of ego-salvation through the ritual
sacrifice of Jesus.

Perhaps the principal individual to give voice and concept
to this new exoteric “faith” was Paul of Tarsus. On the basis of the ego-consoling
religion summarized (and developed) by Paul (who did not respond positively
to Jesus while Jesus was alive, and whose “Christian” thought was dictated
by his own conventional and provincial Hellenism and Judaism). Christianity
was transformed from the culture (or Spiritual practice) of self-sacrifice
to the cult of vicarious salvation.

The two-sidedness of Christian ideas (representing the
Spiritual Way of Jesus and the contrasting religious method represented
by Paul, and others) is the basis for many internal conflicts and contradictions
in the Christian tradition. It is Paul’s “method” (or the exoteric “technique”
that he, among others, proposed) that made Christianity into a religion
of worldly self-improvement, righteous cultism, and eternal self-glorification.
But the Way of Jesus is the Way of all Great Masters: the Way of the sacrifice
and transcendence of egoic self in the Divine.


The Christian “cult of vicarious salvation” was founded on
the belief that creatures are inherently separated from God (or Happiness)
and, therefore, cannot and even should not sacrifice (or transcend) themselves
and, thereby, enter into Union (or Re-Union) with God (or Happiness). Even
so, it was traditionally presumed that a sacrifice is necessary in order
for such Union or Re-Union to take place. And on this basis it was presumed
that a substitute sacrifice (by Jesus) had taken place. And belief that
the substitute, vicarious, or priestly sacrifice of Jesus is forever sufficient
to grant all other individuals, or selves, the ultimate Rewards of sacred
sacrifice (which are Union or Re-Union with God, Happiness, and all Blessings)
thus became the basis for the popular cult of Christian sectarian religion.

The problem with exoteric religion is that it only permits
people to participate in a myth, and, therefore, the salvation it seeks
is also only a myth (or a conventional belief). The ancient sacred society
of the Jews was, like other societies of the ancient world (among the Semites,
the Hindus, and so forth), founded on the idea and the sacred techniques
of sacrifice as the necessary means whereby the community and every individual
maintained relations with the Divine, received the Blessings of the Divine,
and, ultimately, achieved Union (or Re-Union) with the Divine and the Divine

There was no presumption that the sacred system of sacrifices
(which included those to be performed in everyone’s name by priests as
well as those to be performed by every individual in his or her own name)
was either unnecessary or fruitless. On the contrary, it was presumed to
be both necessary and fruitful that collective and personal sacrifices
be performed. The method of ritual sacrifice was the sacred means for achieving
all desires in this world and in the next.

After many centuries, the Jews of the time of Jesus were
no longer a homogeneous and centralized social or cultural body. The ancient
religion of sacrifices had grown corrupt and often too technical for anyone
but a trained priest to understand and perform. And many different factions
had arisen, each with its own dogmas of belief and ritual. This was the
circumstance of religion in the time of Jesus, and it is the circumstance
in the present time as well.

Jesus was a Spirit-oriented rather than merely a religion-oriented
individual. He understood the Way to God in Spiritual, mystical, and personal
terms rather than in general, dogmatic, and ritualistic terms. Therefore,
he Taught the Way of sacrifice in Spiritual, mystical, and personal terms.
He Taught that there is no inherent separation or obstruction between creatures
(or living beings) and God. He Taught that God is the Living Spirit, in
Whom all beings exist, and in Whom all beings must live.

He did not Teach that human beings need a mediator between
themselves and God, nor that there should be or can be any substitute for
every person’s own self-sacrifice as the means of Communing with God. He
did not represent himself as a mediator (or substitute sacrifice), since
he did not presume there is any inherent separation or obstruction between
creatures (or living beings) and the Spiritual Divine. He only Taught a
direct, non-ritualistic, Spiritual, mystical, and personal Way of sacrifice,
which he thought represented and epitomized all of the ultimate Wisdom
of the ancient Jews.

Paul of Tarsus was a conventional Jew, trained in the
sectarian rabbinical system of his time. He was not Taught by Jesus (or
the disciples of Jesus), nor does the point of view characteristically
expressed in his letters represent the true (or specific) Teaching of Jesus.
Paul came to feel that he (and mankind in general) was and is inherently
separated from God and Happiness. And he felt there was no effective means
for restoring himself (or anyone) to God or Happiness, since there was–it
seemed to him–some kind of inherent obstruction in everyone that could
not be transcended.

Then, as reported in his letters, Paul experienced a mystical
phenomenon (which he associated with Jesus) that encouraged him to believe
that the inherent obstruction and separation between creatures and God
had been conquered, for everyone, by the death (or ritual blood-sacrifice)
and resurrection of Jesus. And he spent the rest of his life proclaiming
this religion–which is the faith or systematic belief in the effective
power of Jesus’ self-sacrifice to bring everyone to eventual Union or Re-Union
with God and Happiness. (In all of this, Paul was more of a Greek “gnostic”
than a Jew.)

I must criticize this “Christian” (or even “Pauline”)
religion (which was an invention of the original popular Christ-cult, whose
“genius”, or most potent idea-maker, was Paul, not Jesus) because (1) it
is not the religion or Way Taught by Jesus (but is only a mythological
and priestly religion about Jesus), and (2) it is not a method that in
fact and in Truth does what it proclaims to be able to do (that is, if
the ego merely witnesses or believes in the self-sacrifice of another,
it neither transcends itself nor Receives the Ultimate Results of the other’s

First of all, as I have already indicated, Jesus Taught
a free personal Way of Spiritual self-sacrifice, or the Way of self-transcending
love of God, and ultimate inherence in God (or the Inherently Spiritual
and Transcendental Divine) expressed in daily life via self-transcending
love, or tolerance and service, of all living beings. Jesus heartily proclaimed
that all beings are inherently intimate with God (Whom he described as
“our Father”).

He did not at all subscribe to the view that living beings
are inherently evil or inherently separated from God. He described every
living being as a child of One Father. And by that he did not mean that
human beings should be childish (and so act in such a loveless and egoically
“self-possessed” manner that they effectively separate themselves from

Rather, his idea of the Fatherhood of God was related
to the conventions of Jewish laws of inheritance. He conceived of every
human child as the direct inheritor (even through birth in his or her mother’s
womb) of the blessings and status of all that a child is rightly to receive
from his or her parents. And, in the case of a child of God, what is ultimately
inherited is Blessing and Union and Happiness from, with, and in the Spiritual
Presence of the Divine.

Jesus Taught that human beings are tending to separate
themselves from the Spirit-Presence of the Divine. He described the Father
as One Who is always ready and even seeking for intimate Re-Union with
those who separate themselves from God. Therefore, Jesus did not at all
subscribe to the view that human beings are inherently separated from God
(and thus, even by virtue of the Will of God, inevitably going to death
and hell, unless a voluntary mediator or substitute self-sacrificer can
appear between them and God and so create Union). Indeed, the idea of a
necessary mediator or ritual substitute is the most obvious and conventional
kind of priest-talk, a kind of sinful (or “off the mark”) presumption,
the kind that Jesus always criticized.

Jesus Taught that “sin” (or all that people do or think
or believe or presume that separates them from God or obstructs their Union
with God and Divine Happiness) is not inherent. He Taught that people can
and should and must repent of (or renounce) sin (or the tendency to separate
from God). He Taught that such repentance purifies people (as long as it
is practiced as a continuous and real exercise, followed by changes of
mind and action). And he Taught that such self-purification, rather than
any participation or belief in ritual or substitute sacrifices, is the
basic or foundation means for entering into Union or Re-Union with the
Divine Spirit.

Now, repentance (or the renunciation of the tendency to
separate from God) is basically a process of self-transcendence. Indeed,
the egoic self (as contraction from God) is sin. And, therefore, the Way
Taught by Jesus is the Way of repentance from sin, or the direct Way of

Jesus Taught that once a person is established in self-understanding
(which is the awareness of sin, or awareness of the action of separation
from God), and once that self-understanding has become expressed as responsibility
for sin, or free renunciation of the tendency to separate from the Living
Spirit that is God, the Way in practice must become one of continuous self-transcendence
in relation to God and all of the conventional relations of the manifested
self. And he summarized that practice via the ancient Jewish summary of
the Law, which is to love (or sacrifice or transcend the separate and separative
self in every moment through the practice of self-surrender in relation
to) God and neighbor.

The four “gospels” of the New Testament otherwise suggest
that Jesus and his direct disciples also Taught “secret” practices of Union
with the Divine Spirit. Those practices were given to those who had truly
(and practically) responded to the Teaching about repentance and self-surrender,
and they clearly represented ancient traditional mystical and psycho-physical
techniques (primarily of the type that is typically promoted by esoteric
schools of the fourth stage of life and the fifth stage of life). And,
in any case, those “secret” or “inner circle” instructions were simply
extensions of the basic public Teaching of Jesus, which was always a call
to each individual to renounce egoic “self-possession” and constantly transcend
the egoic self in Communion with the Spirit of God.

Whereas Jesus Taught a direct Way of Union with God, Paul
(and the “Pauline” cult) proposed a religion about Jesus. Whereas Jesus
Taught the Way of self-transcendence as the necessary means of Communing
with God, Paul taught that “selves” cannot transcend themselves in God.

Paul taught a conventional religious path rounded on egoity
rather than the transcendence of egoity. He taught that people should believe
in the sacrifice of Jesus as a substitute for their own sacrifice. Of course,
he spoke of repentance, but he saw it as a self-based gesture, not as itself
a salvatory or self-transcending (or ego-transcending) process but only
as a behavioral response to the myth of Jesus’ universally effective self-sacrifice.

For Paul, the separate self is incapable of direct Divine
Communion, and so it can participate in the Divine only at a distance,
or through belief. For Paul, God-Communion is a mediated event: Jesus participates
in God-Communion, and all others, like those who observe a priest performing
a ritual in their name, participate in God-Communion only sympathetically,
indirectly, and, for now, only partially. Paul taught a religion in which
people remain as egos, egoically “self-possessed”, but made hopeful (and,
hopefully, more loving and benign) by what they believe about Jesus. Therefore,
in Paul’s view, anyone’s actual and full entrance into God-Union must wait
for a future Event (either in the universal righteous judgment and transformation
of mankind at the “second coming” of Jesus, or in some other time or place
or circumstance after death).


The Teaching and the Way of Jesus are such as can be seen
to have many other examples or likenesses in the fourth and the fifth stage
traditions of the Great Tradition of human religion and Spirituality. Therefore,
the Teaching and the Way of Jesus are not unique–but they are simply an
expression of true religion in the context of the fourth stage and the
fifth stage of life. The Great Tradition as a whole (and not merely Christianity)
is mankind’s common inheritance, and all must discover and practice the
Way of Truth (rather than any divisive and exclusive sectarian approach
that supports rather than directly transcends the limitations of egoity).

Jesus was a revolutionary Teacher. He instructed people
within his native tradition, but he Taught them how to transcend themselves
and their religious conventionality via a direct process of God-Communion.
Thus, the Spiritual (or Spirit-based) Teaching of Jesus stands in utter
contrast to the culturally fabricated religious views of Paul. Jesus would
not at all have agreed that human beings are inherently sinful, “fallen”,
or separated from God, or that they therefore need a mediator or a substitute
for their own free action of repentance and Communion with God. Indeed,
one of Jesus’ primary efforts was to criticize such conventional “pharisaical”
or priestly views.

Jesus was committed to the view that every human being
is inherently free to repent of egoic self and turn directly to God, Who
is the Living Divine Spirit in Which all beings exist.

Jesus clearly felt that his role, as a Spirit-Realizer,
was to criticize and purify the minds and institutions of his time, and
to Awaken people to the Way of God-Communion.

He also served his intimates as a Spiritual Transmitter,
or a Master with the unique Power to Awaken committed practitioners to
the profound Awareness of the Divine Spirit. But Jesus was not otherwise
disposed to be regarded or proclaimed as a cultic or priestly substitute
for the self-transcending practice of others. Therefore, he apparently
resisted the attempts of people around him to declare him to be the Messiah
or to put him in a position of worldly or institutional responsibility.

And even if a case can be made for the presumption that
Jesus somehow “played” with Messianic self-imagery, it was only after his
death (or his presumed “disappearance” from the scene) that a Messianic
cult began to develop around his person. Paul became the leading literary
exponent of that cult, and, largely because of his “success”, Messianic
(or exoteric) Christianity was not rounded on the Teaching of free God-Communion
but on the conventional religion of ego-fulfillment via the traditional
idea of outward (non-personal, or substitute) sacrifice.

Jesus proclaimed that sin, or separate and separative
self, must and can be transcended via repentance, or self-understanding
and a life-practice of total psycho-physical conversion from egoity to
God-Communion. That life-practice involves basic features that are also
to be found in many other schools of the Great Tradition.

Jesus’ Teachings are based on two primary disciplines.
The first is the practice of self-transcendence in the context of all worldly
relations, circumstances, and bodily functions, and the second is the practice
of constant Remembrance of (or psycho-physical Communion with) the Divine
Spirit. This combination of disciplines was proposed (by Jesus, and countless
other fourth to fifth stage Spirit-Masters) as the Great Means, to be elaborated
over time in terms of the fullest possible Spiritual and mystical practice,
and to be fulfilled in the Realization of a totally Spiritual Vision of
life, wherein there is Union (or Unity) with (or no fundamental separation
from) and fundamental inherence in the Divine Spirit. And if this fourth
to fifth stage Spiritual Way is truly fulfilled, then the lie of separation
through sin is transcended in Truth (rather than as a presumed effect of
the “mediation” of any substitute sacrifice).

As long as the ego is the basis of religion, there is
no Re-Union with God. As Jesus Taught, there is no substitute for the individually
initiated and personally practiced self-transcending love of God (or the
Inherently Spiritual and Transcendental Divine Truth), and there is no
true religion without self-transcending love, tolerance, and cooperation
in relation to others.

I appeal to all Christians for a new understanding of
Jesus. I appeal to all Christians as One Who took human birth into the
religion of Christianity, and Who grew to suffer and transcend the burden
of its faults. I appeal to all Christians to “consider” these criticisms
and, by abandoning the conventional (or inappropriately “cultic”) attachment
to the exoteric (or merely legendary and mythological) Jesus, to be restored
to the Way of Communion with the Divine in the midst of the universal and
free community of all those who surrender to the Living God.



The Da Love-Ananda Samrajya Pty

as trustee for The Da Love-Ananda

claims perpetual copyright
to all photographs and

the entire Written (and otherwise recorded)

Wisdom-Teaching of Avatar Adi Da Samraj and

the Way of the Heart, or Adidam.

© 2001 The Da Love-Ananda
Samrajya Pty Ltd.,

as trustee for The Da Love-Ananda

All rights reserved.

Used in DAbase by permission.

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