For all of us who were born into Christian families, the story of Jesus has been with us from the beginning. Undoubtedly he lives in our subconscious. I really have no way of absolutely knowing whether or not he was a living, breathing human being. Regardless of that, his words and story have had a profound impact on my perspective of life and the world.
For me Jesus did not preach a religion. He would certainly be horrified at what has been attached to his name for the last two thousand years. I cannot really categorize him as a saint, a prophet, a savior or anything else. To me though, he seems to have been a solitary figure who discovered in himself something mysteriously profound, a priceless treasure that cannot be articulated. He wished to share it with the world but no one would take from him, not even his own disciples. And because of this, he was left crucified and alone. As such, Jesus is the ultimate divine tragedy.
It is clear to me that Jesus' Kingdom of Heaven is in the present moment, not a concept to be found in the future or in some sacred texts of a certain race or group of people on earth. I believe Jesus felt that, if the secret of life should ever be found anywhere, it is not written in sacred books that are passed down through traditions and generations but engraved in the human heart and etched in the fabric of our DNA. For Jesus, the roots of freedom are to be found within the depths of oneself, even if one is trapped in a prison or a decrepit body. That salvation is not dependent on another person or savior or deity or even time. Contrary to his teaching, mainstream Christians have made a god and an idol of him and continue to oppress and cause harm to many, as most idolaters do.
The story of Jesus does not ask of us to take ourselves out of the world or to put great effort, through meditation or prayer or asceticism, to overcome the world. Jesus asks that our life itself should become a meditation. He asks us not to escape our psychological suffering but to go through it and open up to it. It is in many ways a knock at our door. He does not bid us to sit on our balcony and watch the people go by and study their behavior but to come out and walk in the procession, to partake in life and to touch every key in the whole range of human experience.
I wrote at length about the story of Jesus in The Looking Glass.
More insight into the story and message of Jesus:
The Gospel of Thomas:
This text is part of the Nag Hammadi Library, which is a collection of thirteen ancient codices. The codices contain over fifty texts and were found in Egypt in 1945. It is believed that some of these texts were part of the scriptures and mythology of the Gnostics, an early Christian sect. At the time of its formation, the early Catholic Church ordered all of the Gnostic Scriptures destroyed. It is believed that the codices found in Egypt were hidden in an urn or jar by a Gnostic monk. Needless to say, none of the Gnostic Scriptures made it into the modern New Testament.