If you're looking for an in-depth, metaphysical analysis of the New Testament's Fourth Gospel, you won't do any better than Canadian Physics and Comparative Religion Professor Ravi Ravindra's The Gospel of John in the Light of Indian Mysticism. Originally released back in 1990 as Yoga of the Christ, and again in 1998 as Christ the Yogi: a Hindu Reflection on the Gospel of John, the book shows Dr. Ravindra's deep understanding of the mystical teachings encoded into the narrative of an arguably often misinterpreted document attributed to John the Apostle.
A long-time seeker, Ravindra emphasizes in his interpretation of The Gospel According to St. John that he sees it as pointing in a direction that can aid one in the search for inner transformation. Viewed from this angle, the Gospel's text takes on greatly expanded new and revelatory meaning. Perhaps because of his background in traditions of the East, Dr. Ravindra is able to comfortably make comparisons to ideas in other sacred writings which illustrate the richness of the metaphoric and symbolic allusions that have come down to us over the centuries since this Gospel first came to light. The reader who possesses even the slightest nature of spiritual inquiry will find this book tending to promote increased meaning and aim to his or her path. It furthers the practitioner's awakening to a state of increased openness to that which can and might be transmitted from a higher consciousness. Along this line, Ravindra encourages us to "allow the Gospel to work its magic lifting us above ourselves."
What becomes increasingly clear are the various levels of being within each of us. The book encourages one to rise above even religion itself to a new level of awareness by "letting the inner Christ grow in us." The methods for doing this are given in each of the Gospel's many stories and parables, and Dr. Ravindra explains them, one at a time, in order to offer a surprisingly simple but powerful teaching lesson from each with great care and deep understanding. As I did, you will undoubtedly feel a certain calm uplifting from the very outset as he dissects the stories with a compassion for what he feels are their hidden but real meanings. To say that he has decoded the esoteric aspects of the Fourth Gospel is an understatement, indeed.
Instead of being a teacher of the multitudes, Jesus is looked at as more of an avatar of a particular ashram consisting of a very select band of pupils, even though he occasionally spoke to large audiences. He chose his particular disciples from the masses because he could see in them the ability to witness, experience, and live the truth directly. Ultimately, some disciples received a new name, indicating they had reached a new level of understanding and being. What is emphasized is that the teacher needs the pupil as much as the pupil needs the teacher, but at different levels. Just as Christ formed a bridge between Heaven and earth, He prepared his disciples to be links themselves according to their own level of being. For instance, taking place at the wedding at Cana in Galilee, the familiar story of Jesus turning water into wine is said to be a symbolic story about "the transformation of being from the level of water, which was the level of John the Baptiser, to another level, that of the Spirit,...."
Ravindra takes the seemingly ordinary word "temple", as in the story of Jesus driving the money-changers out of the temple precinct, and explains it as having at least three levels of meaning of increasing subtlety: "The first one is the external Temple in Jerusalem, built out of stone and wood, serving as the place of gathering and worship for the people. This is all that the multitude understands....Then there is the body as the Temple of the Spirit. For any action to be taken in the world, even the Word has to acquire a body, even a mind....It is the cleansing of a disciple's own body and psyche that engages him, so that each one of them may become a fit vessel for the Spirit....(Thirdly) When the natural self is in complete obedience to the spiritual self,...one knows that after destruction of the bodily temple, the real self (certainly not the physical body)...will rise again in eternal life."
Dr. Ravindra quotes from many other parts of the New Testament, not just the Gospel of John, to elucidate his points. And, he also quotes from other sacred writings. But the thrust of his reflections is that those who are interested in inner transformation, as Ravindra obviously is himself, must be prepared for a great internal struggle. They must, in effect, crucify themselves. That, he says, is the real initiatory experience. But, "The teaching is not about physical death by crucifixion, lest anybody should be tempted to be literal-minded about this or any other portion of the Gospels. It is to do with struggling against one's own natural self and self-willing and yoking (yoga = yoke) them to the way of the Spirit, as Jesus did himself. And let no one imagine that it is easy to die to oneself."
So rich is the text of this book, one could read it many times over and gain new insight each time, as I, myself, have done and will continue to do. In fact, because groupings of verses of the Gospel are given subject titles, I find it easy to use this volume as a guidebook and reference, even as a workbook. For instance, here are just a few of the many verse attributions: Intelligence Beyond Time; Preparation for Withstanding Truth; The Need for Inner Unity; The Struggle Between the Self and the Ego; The Fear and Temptation of Becoming King; Levels of Struggle; Conflict Between the Spirit and the World; Adultery: Mixing of Levels; Losing One's Mind Rightly; Awake, O Sleeper, Arise from the Dead; Alien People Clutching Their Gods; Unless a Seed Dies It Bears No Fruit; Levels of Seeing; The Yoga of the Cross; Washing Off the Surface Self; Those Who Have Nothing Will Not Die; Leave the World in Order to Change It.
Needless to say, this particular one of Ravi Ravindra's books (and he has written a number of others) is a favorite in my library.