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Jonathan Homrighausen – jdhomrighausen@gmail.com – Santa Clara University “Issa of the East: ‘Jesus in Tibet’ Myths and Orientalism,” AAR Western Region, March 8, 2014

Thesis: The earliest narratives of Jesus in India and Tibet, far from representing an openness to Buddhism, exemplify more broadly Western and Orientalist trends of appropriating Buddhism through textualization, patterning the Buddha as a Protestant reformer, and using Jesus’ mastery of Buddhism to further rhetoric of Christ’s theological supremacy.

On the Textualization of Buddhism:

“When the just Issa had acquired the Pali language, he applied himself to the study of the sacred scrolls of the Sutras. After six years of study, Issa, whom the Buddha had elected to spread his holy word, could perfectly expound the sacred scrolls.” (Notovitch, “The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ,” VI.3-4)

“In Lassa of Tibet there was a master’s temple, rich in manuscripts of ancient lore. The Indian sage had read these manuscripts, and he revealed to Jesus many of the secret lessons they contained; but Jesus wished to read them for himself. Now, Meng-ste, greatest sage of all the farther East, was in this temple of Tibet. [ ] Now, after many days, and perils great, the guide and Jesus reached the Lassa temple in Tibet. And Meng-ste opened wide the temple doors, and all the priests and masters gave a welcome to the Hebrew sage. And Jesus had access to all the sacred manuscripts, and, with the help of Meng-ste, read them all. And Meng-ste often talked with Jesus of the coming age, and of the sacred service best adapted to the people of the age.” (Dowling, The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, 36.1-9)

Buddhism-Hinduism and Protestantism-Catholicism:

“And Jesus said no more to them, but looking up to heaven he said, ‘My Father-God, who was, and is, and ever more shall be; who holds within thy hands the scales of justice and of right; Who in the boundlessness of love has made all men to equal be. The white, the black, the yellow and the red can look up in thy face and say, Our Father-God. Thou Father of the human race, I praise thy name.’ And all the [Hindu] priests were angered by the words which Jesus spoke; they rushed upon him, seized him, and would have done him harm.” (Dowling, The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, 24.15-19)

Jesus in India/Tibet as Neither Buddhist nor Christian:

“It was a gala day in sacred Kapa-vistu; a throng of Buddhist worshippers had met to celebrate a Jubilee. And priests and masters from all parts of India were there; they taught; but they embellished little truth with many words. And Jesus went into an an-cient plaza and he taught; he spoke of Father-Mother-God; he told about the brotherhood of life. The priests and all the people were astounded at his words and said, Is this not Buddha come again in flesh? No other one could speak with such simplicity and power.” (Dowling, The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ,

34.1-4)

“Moreover, would it be strange if the founder of the Christian religion inspired himself with these Brahmanical or Buddhist doctrines with a view of transforming them, of purifying them from their dross and bringing them within reach of Western intelligences?” (Notovitch, “To the Publishers”)

Jonathan Homrighausen – jdhomrighausen@gmail.com – Santa Clara University “Issa of the East: ‘Jesus in Tibet’ Myths and Orientalism,” AAR Western Region, March 8, 2014

Issa is a great prophet, one of the first after the twenty-two Buddhas. He is greater than any one of all the Dalai Lamas, for he constitutes part of the spirituality of our Lord.” (Notovitch, “Journey to Thibet,” 138)

“Three thousand years ago, the great Buddha became incarnate in the celebrated prince Sakyamuni, thus continuing the scheme of his twenty incarnations. Two thousand five hundred years ago, the great Soul of the world again incarnated in Gautama. Nearly two thousand years ago the perfect Being, again breaking through his state of inaction, became incarnate in the newborn infant of a poor family.” (Notovitch, “Journey to Thibet,” 184-185)

The Seven Sages:

“In every age since time began have seven sages lived. At first of every age these sages meet to note the course of nations, peoples, tribes and tongues; To note how far toward justice, love and righteousness the race has gone; To formulate the code of laws, religious postulates and plans of rule best suited to the coming age. An age had passed, and, lo, another age had come; the sages must convene. Now, Alexandria was the center of the world’s best thought, and here in Philo’s home the sages met. From China came Meng-ste; from India Vidyapati came; from Persia Kaspar came; and from Assyria Ashbina came; from Greece Apollo came; Matheno was the Egyptian sage, and Philo was the chief of Hebrew thought.” (Dowling, The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, 56.1-7)

“’This man, approved by all the master minds of heaven and earth, this man from Galilee, this Jesus, chief of all the sages of the world, we gladly recognize. In recognition of this wisdom that he brings to men, we crown him with the Lotus wreath. We send him forth with all the blessing of the seven sages of the world. Then all the sages laid their hands on Jesus’ head, and said with one accord, Praise God! For wisdom, honor, glory, power, riches, blessing, strength, are yours, O Christ, forever more.’ And every living creature said, ‘Amen.’ And then the sages sat in silence seven days.” (Dowling, The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, 59.19-25)

Further Reading Dowling, Levi, and Dowling, Eva S. Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ. Prophet, Elizabeth Clare. The Lost Years of Jesus: On the Discoveries of Notovitch, Abhedananda, Roerich, and Caspari. [Contains Notovitch and later defenders of Jesus in Tibet theory.] Almond, Philip C. The British Discovery of Buddhism. Buescher, John. Aquarian Evangelist: The Age of Aquarius as It Dawned in the Mind of Levi Dowling. Dodin, Thierry, ed. Imagining Tibet: Perceptions, Projections, and Fantasies. [See especially chapters on New Age, Theosophy, and missionary literature.] Lewis, James R. “Jesus In India and the Forging of Tradition.” In Legitimating New Religions, 73-88. Lopez, Donald S., Jr. Prisoners of Shangri-La: Tibetan Buddhism and the West. Lopez, Donald S., Jr., ed. Curators of the Buddha: The Study of Buddhism Under Colonialism. Tweed, Thomas. The American Encounter with Buddhism, 1844-1912: Victorian Culture and the Limits of Dissent. Young, Richard Fox. Vain Debates: The Buddhist-Christian Controversies of Nineteenth-Century Ceylon.