The Jesus Sutras (Part 10): ‘He is the scaling ladder’

This is my final post for the Jesus Sutras series (read Part 1 here). I highly recommend you check out Martin Palmer’s book The Jesus Sutras, as there is much more to glean from these historical and poetic texts, beyond what I have addressed. For instance:  a distinct conception of Satan (“San nu”) and hell; their upholding of a Christian moral code known as the “Four Essential Laws”; Jesus as the embodiment of wu wei; and so on. Plus, the book will help you understand what happened to this particular strand of Christianity in China (which scholars refer to as “Nestorian”) following the composition of the sutras.

Chinese landscape painting

Wang Hui, Clearing After Rain Over Springs and Mountains, 1662. Hanging scroll/ink on paper, 44.5 x 17.75 in. Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I think it’s fitting to conclude with this parable from the Sutra of Returning to Your Original Nature 3:27-39, which is attributed to Jesus:

“I will tell you a story. There was a sick man who heard people talk about this precious mountain. Day and night he longed to reach it—the thought never left him. But the mountain was high and miles away and he was very crippled. He longed to realize his dream, but he couldn’t. But he had a close relative who was wise and resourceful. And this man had scaling ladders brought and steps cut and with some friends he levered and pushed the sick man up until he reached the summit. And there, he was healed.

“Simon, know this: people coming to this mountain were confused and unhappy because of their worldly desires. They had heard the truth. They knew it could lead them to the Way. So they tried to scale this mountain, but in vain—love and faith had all but died in them.

“Then the Compassionate Knowing One came like the close relative and taught them with skill and sincerity so they knew that He is the scaling ladder and the steps cut in stone by which they can find the true Way, freed of their weight forever.”

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2 Responses to The Jesus Sutras (Part 10): ‘He is the scaling ladder’

  1. Thanks so much for your series on this subject! It was fascinating to get an overview of how the Nestorians contextualized the Gospel in China so long ago. I’m still digesting what they did and how they expressed it, but it definitely gives food for thought for today’s Jesus Followers as we try to understand how to make the Gospel more understandable to those who haven’t heard it and don’t have any western religious concepts in common. Also, the artwork that you provided with your posts was wonderful as well!

  2. Christine says:

    Thank you so much for this wonderful study. I am a Christian studying to become a yoga teacher. I plan on teaching a Christ centered practice. I have been frustrated by the demands of my training that require we read the yoga sutras. My instructors claim that yoga is not a religion, yet one God or another are an integral part of the teachings. They, my instructors, tend to believe that there should be no conflict between the Yoga/Hindu way and Christianity. They see the yoga sutras as the same as the Bible teaches… Missing totally that in our human efforts we are lost and we find our day vine nature in the Indwelling Christ. I can’t wait to share the Jesus Sutras.
    Be Blessed

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