I was wondering how to interpret the words from Jesus, “I am the way, the truth, and the light. No one comes to the Father but by me.”
What most Christians think is that this means Jesus is the only possible way to achieve salvation and all other masters are incapable and false. How to understand better and explain to them the yogic perspective?
Dear Milton, Paramhansa Yogananda explains carefully that Jesus spoke in two ways at different times, as a human being and as the Son of God. When speaking as a human, he said things like: “Bring me the fish you just caught.” [John 21:12] That “me” was Jesus speaking as a human being, for certainly he needed a human body and personality to work through.
But most often, such as in the quotation you are mentioning, the “I” is not Jesus speaking personally, as a human being. Rather he is speaking as a “greater I,” in the sense of the state of God-realization which he had attained. “I and my Father are one.”
To apply this concept more broadly, Jesus explained that the high state of consciousness he had reached (oneness with God), was and is reachable by everyone! “Don’t you know that you also are Gods?” Jesus said. He urged his disciples (and everyone!) to know this truth and let that truth “set you free!”
Yes, you are right, most Christians feel that this and other verses quoting Jesus mean that he is saying that he was the ONLY Son of God and therefore the ONLY way to find God was through him alone.
But if you read the Bible sensitively, knowing that he spoke not of himself as only a regular human being, but as a person who had attained God-realization, his teachings become much clearer. It’s not: “I am the only way,” but rather, “What I have done SHOWS the way, and you can do that also!”
Hoping this is clear. I strongly suggest that you read Revelations of Christ by Swami Kriyananda, in which this topic is covered in much more depth.