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.
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.”