I’ve found an interesting blog by Maggie Harrison who is a Quaker. The blog is Maggie’s Naked Blog: Clothe Yourself in Righteousness. It has nothing to do with nudism but it is about getting naked, both physically and spiritually. She defines getting naked as follows: “Nakedness is about stripping away all of that which is not righteous, which is not eternal, which came into being not through obedience to Spirit/ Love/ God/ Christ/ Righteousness/ Wholeness/ Etc, but through human disobedience, brokenness, and distance from the Divine.” This is a concept that transcends religion. It fits quite nicely into yoga philosophy. Getting naked, in a spiritual sense, is about peeling off all the veils that prevent us from knowing our true Divine Selves.
From the blog: “Christianity began as a radical movement of action and personal commitment, now diluted by the rites, rituals and hierarchies of the modern church.” That’s a point that I believe is lost on most modern-day Christians. What Jesus was teaching was so radically different from the prevailing practices of Judaism of his day. His teachings are still pretty radical. I’ve read that reading the Gospels, to include the Gnostic Gospels, from an Eastern point of view, gives them an entirely different meaning.
It seems quite apparent that Jesus, or those who actually wrote the Gospels, more than likely had contact with Buddhists, Hindus and Yogis who traveled and traded in the region. It’s known that there was trade with cultures to the east of Israel though hardly anyone considers that it could have been with cultures beyond Persia. I have no doubt that early Christianity was heavily influenced by Eastern ideas which were later thrown out and labeled heretical by the Church when it began consolidating its power.
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John hint at it but some of the Gnostic Gospels are more direct in presenting the idea that the Kingdom of God is within everyone and that it exists everywhere and that the clergy may be, for the most part, unnecessary. The 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness was quite likely a Kriya or 40 days of meditation. In deep meditation one often comes face to face with one’s devils and demons.