That Morning in the River Jordan
Osho on Jesus Christ
25th December is celebrated as Christmas around the globe to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. The origins of this date are intriguing – 25th December was fixed as Christmas by the Church in 4th century AD under the Roman emperor Constantine the Great who ruled from 306-337 AD. One of the reasons was that 25th December coincides with Winter Solstice on the Roman calendar. The Eastern Christian Churches however celebrate Christmas on January 07th.
Historical differences aside, the popularity of Xmas can be judged by the secular undertones in the customary celebrations that have expanded far beyond Church Services. It now includes family reunions, feasting, gift giving, caroling, Christmas tree, fairy lights, Santa Claus and much more. Expectedly, businesses have claimed the holiday season as a period of bumper economic activity before the year end.
Osho has spoken extensively on Jesus in His discourses and there are entire discourse series dedicated to Jesus’s life and teachings:
The series COME FOLLOW TO YOU (Vo.1-4) are reflections on Jesus.
The series I SAY UNTO YOU (Vo.1-2) is dedicated to the sayings of Jesus.
The series THE MUSTARD SEED: MY MOST LOVED GOSPEL ON JESUS are commentaries on the Fifth Gospel of Saint Thomas.
ONCE A RABBI WAS ASKED to tell the whole Bible message in brief. He replied that the whole Bible message is very simple and short. It is God shouting to man: “Enthrone me!”. This is what happened that morning in the River Jordan. Jesus disappeared, God was enthroned.
Jesus vacated the house, God entered. Either you can be or God can be; both cannot exist together. If you insist on existing, then drop the search for God; it is not going to be fulfilled. Then it is impossible, absolutely impossible. If you are there, then God cannot be: your very being, your very presence, is the hindrance. You disappear, and God is. He has always been there.
Man can live as a part, separated from the whole. Man can create around him ideas, dreams, ego, personality, and can think of himself as an island, unconnected with the whole, unrelated with the whole. Have you ever seen any relationship between you and the trees? Have you seen any relationship between you and the rocks, have you seen any relationship between you and the sea? If you don’t see the relationship, then you can never come to know what God is. God is nothing but the whole, the total, the one. If you exist as a separate part, you unnecessarily exist as a beggar, You could have been the whole. And even while you think that you are separate, you are not separate — that is just a thought in the mind. The thought is not befooling God, it is only befooling you. The thought is just a barrier for your eyes to open.
That morning in the River Jordan when John the Baptist initiated Jesus, he killed Jesus utterly. Jesus disappeared. And in that moment of nothingness, a Buddha — what Buddha calls SUNYATA, emptiness…. The heavens opened and the spirit of God, like a dove, descended on Jesus, lighted on him. This is just symbolic. Jesus died, God was enthroned. This is what they call in Zen a special transmission, outside the scriptures. No knowledge was given by John the Baptist to Jesus, no scripture was conveyed — not even a single word was uttered. No dependence on words or letters, just a direct pointing to the soul of man: seeing into one’s nature — an attainment of Buddhahood.
This is what happened that day. Christians have missed that point: it was not knowledge that was transferred from John the Baptist to Jesus, it was a vision. It was not verbal, it was existential. It was more like knowing than knowledge. Eyes were transferred: a new way of seeing the world and being in the world was transferred. A special transmission outside the scriptures.
That’s why Jesus immediately felt one with God, but cut off from Jews. Jews are ‘the people of the book’. The Bible doesn’t mean anything else; it simply means ‘the book’. Jews are the people of the book — the people who have believed in the scriptures tremendously, who have loved and relied on the scriptures for centuries. Jesus became one with God, but immediately was cut off from his own tradition. Then he tried in a thousand and one ways to remain part of the community, but it was impossible. He could not be part of the scriptures, could not be part of the tradition.
Something of the beyond entered in him and when God enters, all scriptures become useless. When you yourself have come to know, all knowledge is rubbish. That was the struggle between Jesus and the rabbis. They had knowledge, Jesus had knowing — and the two never meet. The man of knowing is rebellious: the man of knowing has his own eyes; he says whatsoever he sees. The man of knowledge is blind: he carries the scripture, he never looks around; he just goes on repeating the scripture. The man of knowledge is mechanical, he has no personal contact with reality…
Somebody has said something: it is recorded there. Then you read it and it becomes recorded in your own tape recorder, but there is no personal touch.
Knowing is personal, knowledge mechanical. Through a mechanical approach you can never come to discover the reality, the truth. It is going to be a dead affair. You will attain much information, but you will never attain to transformation. You may come to know many things, but you will never know the thing which needs to be known: the being that you are and the being that surrounds you — and that which surrounds you is the same as that which is within you. A deep personal contact is needed. That morning in the River Jordan, Jesus came in personal contact with the divine. John the Baptist initiated him TO BE A NOTHING.
When you come to me, you are not coming to a man who knows much. You are coming to a man who has a lot of nothingness in him. I can share that nothingness with you. The day you are ready to share my nothingness, you are initiated. You can be here in two ways. You can be a student. Then you will be related to me in a mechanical way, you will collect information from me — which was never meant to be done. You will start knowing many things from me. That is an addiction. The ego may feel stronger, but the soul will become more and more impoverished.
you can be a disciple here and not a student. Then you share in my nothingness. Then by and by you disappear completely. Then there is nobody inside you who knows — and that nobodiness is the only way to know. In that nothingness your heart is open, in that nothingness the island disappears and you become the continent. In that nothingness the separation disappears: you become the whole. Then the whole exists through you.
The rabbi was right who said, “God shouting to man: ‘Enthrone Me!’ ” Jesus, Krishna, Christ, Mohammed, Lao Tzu, all are shouts of God to man: “Enthrone Me!”
FROM THAT TIME JESUS BEGAN TO PREACH…
Immediately: knowledge needs time, knowing is immediate. If I want to share my knowledge with you it will take time, but if I want to share my nothingness with you, time is not needed. Immediately, right here now, it is possible. Only your readiness is needed. Time is not a requirement at all, it can happen in a split second. Whenever I read this gospel the thing that strikes me immediately is: the moment Jesus was baptized, and the heavens opened and the spirit of God descended like a dove, he moved out of the river, went to the bank — a crowd was gathering — and he started to preach. Before that he had never uttered a single word, before that he had not taught anything to anybody. That’s how it should be. A teacher can go on teaching without knowing, but not a Master. Teachers are many, Masters few. A Master is one who teaches through his knowing and a teacher is one who teaches through his knowledge.
A teacher prepares himself for years, then he can teach But a Master — in a single moment of courage, in a single moment of daring, in a single moment of death, in a single moment of jumping into the unknown — becomes capable of teaching.
Once you know, that very knowing wants to be shared; once you are blissful, that very blissfulness starts flowing, it starts seeking the heart. Once you are, you are already on the way to be shared by many.
Jesus moved out of the river:
FROM THAT TIME JESUS BEGAN TO PREACH, AND
TO SAY, REPENT: FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND.
John the Baptist was saying the same thing. Jesus could have said the same thing just by hearing John the Baptist. He was a well-known preacher, great multitudes used to visit him, great crowds used to wait and listen to him. Everybody knew that his message was this: “Repent ye for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jesus must have known about it, but he never uttered those words before. To utter such great words without knowing is sacrilegious it is a betrayal…Nobody knew about this man Jesus before. He remained in his father’s workshop; he worked, he helped his father. Suddenly a new quality of man, fresh — an altogether new man — was born. Baptism is a birth. From that very moment he BEGAN TO PREACH AND TO SAY REPENT — because now he can utter those words with authority. Now they are no longer John the Baptist’s word he is repeating, now they are his own. He has repented and he has come to know what they mean. Now they are not futile, parrot-like words; they are pregnant, alive. He has touched the reality of those words, he has come to see the mystery of them. The actual word in Hebrew is TESHUVAH: repent. TESHUVAH means ‘return’ and TESHUVAH also means ‘answer’. Both meanings are beautiful. To return to God is an answer to Him. This is one of the most beautiful things in Judaism, one of the greatest contributions of Judaism to the world. It has to be understood because without it you will never be able to understand Jesus.
Judaism is the only religion in the world which says that not only is man seeking God, but God is also seeking man. Nobody else in the world believes that. There are Hindus, Mohammedans and other religions: they all believe man is seeking God. Judaism believes God is also seeking man. And this should be so if He is a father. This should be so. He is the whole, and if a part has gone astray, the whole — out of His compassion — must seek the part. Judaism has a beauty of its own. Man seeking God is just like stumbling in darkness. Unless God is also seeking you, there seems to be no possibility of any meeting. How will you seek Him who is unknown? Where will you seek Him? You don’t know the address — where will you address your prayers? Where will you move, where will you go, what will you do? You can only stumble, cry and weep; tears can be your only prayer. A deep desire — but how to fulfill it? You can burn with it, but how to arrive? Judaism says: man can seek, but man cannot find unless God wills it so.
God is within reach, but not within grasp. You can spread your hands — He is within reach, but not within grasp. He comes within grasp because He is also seeking you. He can seek you immediately and directly. He knows exactly where you are. But He cannot seek you unless you are on the search. He can seek you only when you are searching, when you are doing everything that can be done, when you are not withholding anything, when your search is total. When your search is total, immediately heaven opens and the spirit of God descends in you. He is waiting, waiting with a deep urge to meet you. This should be so, because existence is a love affair. It is a hide-and-seek play, it is a game. The mother is playing with the child and hiding. The mother is waiting and if the child does not come, the mother will start seeking him. But God gives you total freedom: if you don’t want to seek, He will not interfere; He will not be an intruder. If you want to seek, only then does He knock at your door. If you have invited, only then does the guest come. The guest may be just waiting to knock on the door; only your invitation is needed. Otherwise He can wait for eternity, there is no hurry. God is not in any haste.
REPENT: FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND. It would have been absolutely different if the word was not translated as ‘repent’, if it was left to the original: ‘return’. That is what Patanjali says in his yoga sutras — that PRATYAHAR is ‘returning to oneself’. That is what Mahavira means when he says to move within-wards: PRATIKRAMAN, to go in. The word TESHUVAH has a totally different meaning from repent. The moment you say ‘repent’ it seems that man is a sinner: a deep condemnation comes in. But if you say ‘return’, there is no question of sin, no condemnation enters. It simply says that you have gone far away, you have played too long — please come back. The child has been playing outside and evening is descending. The sun is setting and the mother calls, “Please return.” A totally different quality, a totally different connotation. There is no condemnation in it, just a deep love call: “Return!”
Just listen to the sentence if I say: “Return ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” All condemnation, all sin, and the whole nonsense that has created guilt in man, disappears just by a single word translated rightly. A single word can be significant, but the whole of Christianity will disappear if you translate repent as ‘return’. All churches, the Vatican — everything will disappear because they depend on repentance. If it is a question of return — and you are not condemned and you have not committed any sin — then guilt disappears. And without guilt there cannot be churches, without guilt the priest cannot live. He exploits the guilt, he makes you feel guilty — that is his trade secret. Once you are made to feel guilty, you have to seek his help because he will ask for forgiveness for you, he will pray for you; he knows the way to pray. He is in a deeper relationship with God: he will defend you, he will persuade God for you, and he will show you how not to be a sinner again, how to be virtuous. He will give you the commandments: do this and don’t do that.
All the churches of the world are founded on the word ‘repentance’. If it is only a question of return, the priest is not needed; you can return home. It is not a question of condemnation: nobody is needed to purify you; you have never been wrong. You HAD gone a little farther away, but nothing is wrong in it. In fact it could not have been so if God were not willing for you to go so far. There must be something in it: that going far away must be a way of coming back because when you have gone too far and then you come back home, for the first time you realize what home is. It is said that travelers in foreign countries realize for the first time — as you must be realizing in Poona — how beautiful home is. It is difficult to realize when you are at home; everything is taken for granted. But when you go away, now everything is difficult. It is no longer home, you cannot take anything for granted. There are a thousand and one inconveniences, discomforts — and nobody is there to look after you; you have to look after yourself. Nobody cares; you move in an alien world, a stranger. In contrast, suddenly for the first time, the home, the meaning of the home, arises. First it was just a house to live in; now it is a home. Now you know that houses are different from homes. A house is just a house; a home is not just a house, it is something plus. Plus love. Maybe it is needed that man should go a little astray — off the track, into the wilderness — so that, in contrast, coming back to home becomes significant, meaningful.
I say ‘return’; I don’t say ‘repent’. Jesus never said ‘repent’. He would laugh at the word, because the whole thing is corrupted by the word. Churches know well that the word is a wrong translation, but they still insist on it because it has become their foundation. ‘To return’ is so simple: it depends on you and your God; no mediator is needed, no agent is needed. FROM THAT TIME JESUS BEGAN TO PREACH, AND TO SAY, RETURN: FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND. Another meaning of the Hebrew word TESHUVAH ‘answer’. Your return is your answer. Answer to what Answer to the shout: “Enthrone me!”; answer to the question God has been asking you: “Come back home.” This is again a very beautiful contribution of Judaism. Every religion has contributed something original. Judaism says: “God asks the question; man answers.” Other religions say that man asks the question and God answers. Judaism says, “No, God asks the question; man answers.” The moment you answer, that is the return. The moment the child says, “Yes, I am coming,” he is already on the way. Have you heard the question? If you have not heard it yet, how will you be able to answer?…
The moment you hear the question the direction is clear — the moment you hear the question that arises deepest in your being, at the deepest core, and becomes; constant haunting in the heart: who are you, why are you here, why do you go on existing? For what? If the question has arisen in the heart, you will know God is, because who is asking this question? YOU cannot ask it. You are unconsciousness, a deep sleep — you cannot ask. Somewhere deeper within you God is asking the question, “Who are you?” If you have heard the question, you know the direction. And the answer can only be: “Return back. Follow that direction, move back.”
But your questions are false. You have not heard them; somebody else has taught them to you. Your questions are false, and then your answer becomes false. You learn the question from others, you learn the answer from others, and you remain phoney…
The answer can be true only if the question has been really heard. Every day I come across somebody or other who says, “I want to meditate, I want to search, but nothing happens.” He is complaining as if existence has not been just to him — “Nothing happens.” But I look into his eyes his desire is phoney. In the first place he never wanted to meditate, he has come as part of a crowd. Somebody else was coming, a friend was coming, and he followed. Or he had a holiday and he thought, “Let’s go and see.” Now nothing is happening. Nothing can happen because
meditation, God and prayer are not questions of technique. You can learn the technique, but nothing will happen unless the question has been heard first unless it has become a deep desire in you, for which you can stake your life — unless it has become a question of life and death, unless it penetrates to the very center of your being, unless it becomes a thorn in the heart, unless it becomes a deep anguish and pain. If the question is heard, then the answer….
We can translate this sentence in two ways: FROM THAT TIME JESUS BEGAN TO PREACH, AND TO SAY, REPENT: FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND. Either we can translate it, “RETURN: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” or “ANSWER: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And the kingdom of heaven is always at hand, it is its nature. It has nothing to do with Jesus’ time: it is true right now, exactly as it was then. It was true before Jesus and it will always be true.
The kingdom of God is ALWAYS at hand — just grope. His hand has always been seeking you, but your hand is not groping. You answer, you return, and He is available. All that you need is available, only you are not ready to move towards it. You are afraid to lose something which you don’t have, and because of that fear you cannot attain to that which has always been yours to take.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: Come Follow To You, Vol 1
Chapter title: And He Saith unto them: Follow me
25 October 1975 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on ‘Krishna, Jesus, Buddha, Shiva, Lao Tzu and many other enlightened Masters’ in many of His discourses. More on them can be referred to in the following books/discourse titles:
- Vigyan Bhairav Tantra
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha
- Tao: The Three Treasures
- Zarathustra: The Laughing Prophet
- The Mustard Seed: My Most Loved Gospel on Jesus
- The Path of Love
- Bodhidharma: The Greatest Zen Master
- When the Shoe Fits
- Hyakujo: The Everest of Zen, with Basho’s Haikus
- Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega
- Sermons in Stones
- The Book of Wisdom
- The Divine Melody