The following videos are lengthy but worthwhile to watch. It is about the non-Biblical findings of the historical Jesus.
I find these relevant to understand religions. As a matter of fact, most religions will go through the same path.
There is the belief that every monotheistic religion represents God. To make this belief “factual,”is the task of every religion through its clergy. The teachings of those self-realized individuals (known as religious founders) have been misinterpreted, changed and even forgotten. Instead, a set of beliefs and rituals have become important. Hierarchies and organizations have flourished through the growth of a belief system. Greater number of followers, greater power.
Are religions “bad” then? No. Religions are tools for self-transformation. The tool is useful up to a point. Every individual decides that point.
Unfortunately the mind of the “followers,” are not always aligned with the spiritual teachings for lack of experiencing those teachings in themselves.
For example, in this teaching: “If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also.” It is a Christian teaching. That teaching could be easily misunderstood. Please take a look at this article: http://www.beliefnet.com/News/2000/01/The-Limits-Of-Turn-The-Other-Cheek.aspx?p=1
Here the author will plainly defend the “normal” person’s behavior as the obvious way to behave in this day and age. That is, the person who experiences duality at every second. The “normal” person is the person understood by the thinker, the philosopher, the moralist, the social activist, the politician, etc.
The teaching “If someone slaps you on one cheek…” is not part of the Western tradition. As a matter of fact, that teaching will not be understood until we experience oneness in life, that is to see the “other” as yourself. This requires a change of consciousness, not a change in beliefs.
That teaching is beyond the boundaries of traditional Western mentality. That teaching belongs into the Dharmic tradition. It is Buddhist.
When someone spat on Buddha’s face, he did not offer resistance. That non-resistance does not come out of fear or lack of self respect; but comes out of that consciousness of no separation, of oneness of going beyond the limits of individuality. If this teaching is “practiced” it will not work. It needs to be “natural” by getting into that state of consciousness, so that teaching could be understood.
Of course, someone like Nietzsche would disdain the Christian teaching of “giving the other cheek” as creating submission on the strong. He was a thinker, a philosopher not a spiritual person searching for truth by looking at himself. He was a “normal” person.
Thus, it is a wonder that Jesus was giving teachings which were beyond the normal western, roman mentality of the time of “one tooth for one tooth.”
A spiritual teaching is timeless, but understood according to time.