If you were able to meet Jesus today as he was in real life, there would be a gap between your level of awareness and his–we know that this is true when we encounter spiritually inspired people who are far less enlightened than Jesus, the saintly among us whose compassion reflects back our own spiritual shortcomings.
If you were to follow Jesus after meeting him, you would have to try to close this gap, setting you on the path that unfolds over time. The same holds true without a flesh-and-blood Jesus; the same gap needs to be closed between your present state of awareness and God-consciousness.
Devotion, service, and contemplation remain viable ways to transform yourself, yet even the most devout Christians fall into the trap of believing that they donít have to transform themselves inwardly, that performing enough acts of devotion (attending church, praying, giving to the poor, and the like) will suffice or that doing charitable work among the poor and sick, or thinking about God as often as possible, will be sufficient.
Jesus warns us against this trap when he speaks in parable form, about seed that falls on waste ground and doesnít sprout. The seed is his teaching; the waste ground is a mind unprepared to receive the truth.
What Jesus doesnít elaborate upon is how waste ground can be made fertile. He says only that some people receive a bit of the truth, some a great deal, and some none at all.
Letís assume that you and I can absorb some of the truth, rather than all, or none. In this regard, we fit into the category of Jesusí disciples. We are neither hopeless nor fully realized in God. We turn to Jesus because he understands the territory of the unknown, the source not only of a messiah but of the soul itself.
Adapted from The Third Jesus: The Christ We Cannot Ignore, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2008).