Jesus & Buddha

I have this recurring thought of a meeting and conversation between Jesus and Buddha, both of whom are verifiable historical figures, in which, after offering solutions to the world’s suffering, Jesus bows to Buddha and says, “The Lord be with you.”  Buddha replies, “Namaste, I bow to the divine in you.”

Wow! How different would our world be today if the major religions could take it upon themselves to honor and respect each other’s faith walk? Not only could we honor and respect, but we could also embrace each other as co-inheritors of the grace and mercy ofrainbow-solidarity our respective Lords.  All of us are children of God who have received different messengers throughout history to teach the truth of one universal entity which we, as Christians, choose to name God.

That, in essence, is the teaching of Jesus which I believe exhorts me to live life inclusively and compassionately.  Man’s created theology is secondary to this nugget of truth revealed by the author of Mark.

30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[a] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

A few scholars of religion have tried to connect the two, Jesus and Buddha, through historical access.  Jesus, in his lifetime, could have easily heard the teachings of Buddha from merchants and Buddhist priests who undoubtedly travelled the trade routes between Israel and the Far East.  It’s an interesting theory which would add a dimension of mystery to the story of Jesus; however, it is not a necessary component to verifying the validity of our messenger.

Marcus Borg in his book “Jesus and Buddha: the Parallel Sayings” attributes the similarity in sayings to the probability that both mystics were inspired by an indwelling Spirit of holiness which enabled them to recognize the unitive presence of a Oneness, a universal energy which transcended human understanding and religious distinctions.  Following is an excerpt from that book:

Jesus says, “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). The Buddha says, “Consider others as yourself” (Dhammapada 10.1).

Jesus says, “If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also” (Luke 6:29). Buddha says, “If anyone should give you a blow with his hand, with a stick, or CANDLEwith a knife, you should abandon any desires [to hurt him] and utter no evil words” (Majjhima Nikaya 21.6).

Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me” (Matthew 25:45).  Buddha says, “If you do not tend one another, then who is there to tend you? Whoever would tend me, he should tend the sick” (Vinaya, Mahavagga 8.26.3).

The Jewish Kabbalah, Muslim Sufism and the teachings of Tao also reveal this Oneness, the unitive energy of God within.  Contemporary Christianity seems to have become exceedingly concerned with establishing its Jesus story as the only truth to the point that it has lost the Jesus teachings which reveal lessons of detachment, non-violence, simplicity, and anxiety. CAC.ORG

Namaste.

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“do something”

“To repeat, if God operates as me, God operates as thee too, and the playing field is utterly leveled forever. Like Jesus, Francis, Clare, and many other humble mystics, we then rush down instead of up. In the act of letting go and choosing to become servants, community can at last be possible. The illusory state of privilege just gets in the way of neighboring and basic human friendship.” CAC.ORGCANDLE

Father Richard, in this daily meditation, begins by discussing his upbringing within the community of white privilege, the favoritism shown to whites, the status of higher education, numerous challenges which whites do not endure and which non-whites face on a daily basis.  It is truly a different world for those of us who walk the earth in this life as Caucasian.

When I realized and accepted within my heart the truth of “Namaste, I bow to the divine in you,” the Spirit within would no longer cover my inbred white privilege.  It refused to entertain all the excuses I held for my bias and prejudices.  It forced me to look upon my brothers and sisters whom God created in various shades and hues as beings loved just as much by the Creator as me.  I no longer had an excuse to trivialize the plight of people of color.  Our “white” world via politics and extremist religions has demeaned, ostracized, brutalized, and oppressed those children of God and it is my challenge as a white man to make restitution.

In order to do so, Father Richard exhorts me to take the route of ancient mystics who, rather than aspiring to rise toward a perceived heavenly God, focused  downward and joined the suffering and oppressed masses living on the edge of survival in an ungodly world.  That is where true obedience will be found, where salvation shall be experienced, and ultimately where the living Jesus dwells.

Most of my life has been spent anticipating the great white mansions in the far reaches of the Universe where God and Jesus sit side by side on their thrones waiting for me to arrive for my final judgement.  (Incidentally, both of them in my past have been “white boys”.)  I no longer wait for that occurrence because the truth as revealed to me, the GOD OF MY UNDERSTANDING, is right here, right now living in the hearts of all humanity regardless of race, religion, nationality or creed.  I must now choose on a daily basis whether to commune with God and his indwelling truth or return to a denial of that truth.  It’s very simple theology; it is awe-inspiring and breath-taking.

The path which I walk has been tortuous and twisted.  I have endured the full spectrum of faith experiences from belief in a God who was vindictive and vengeful, to a God who was aloof and unapproachable, to an errant acceptance of atheism, to the revealing grace experienced in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Even during my period of strident atheism, I came to realize that my denial of God’s existence only  fortified that his existence was real; otherwise, why would I expend so much energy denying him.  If God is dead, then I should probably take up knitting or crocheting doilies instead of rallying with the oppressed masses or with a suffering alcoholic in forging a better world.  If God is dead, then I would need to depend on the “goodness” of mankind to save us from physical and spiritual destruction.  I can’t do that because goodness is not inherent, it is derived from a Source.

Matthew West in a very powerful song questioned a God who would allow all the suffering endured by mankind, “God, why don’t you do something?”  The reply from his Lord was, “I did, I created you.”  I was created to do something, but it all happens through and by the grace and direction of a Higher Power.smiley 3

 

that divine spark

CANDLE

I love to read about things that inspire people to become a closer image of the spiritual person which God has intended for them.  When reading or listening to others who are sharing their journey, I try to look for the nugget of truth that is intended for me, that divine spark which they harbor inside of them and that inspiring thought which is meant for me.  There are no coincidences in this experience.  You, my fellow human, always have something to teach me.

“Namaste” roughly translated means, “I bow to the divine in you.”  Shared with another in a position of bowed head and folded hands, this one word says to you that I may not agree in philosophy and “isms”, but, I know that the same divine presence which motivates and inspires me is also within you.  It’s a wonderful way to overcome the inherent prejudice and bias which we all endure.  Possibly it is the only way we can avoid species annihilation at the hand of hatred and intolerance.

Buddhism, for me, is a rich sojourn through the thoughts of the character of the Buddha.  The image given to us is that of a weighty man, sitting in the lotus position, transfixed in meditation.  According to the tradition of Buddhism, love, self-less behavior, and compassion are the essentials for a peaceful coexistence with fellow-man and with the entirety of creation.  The practitioners of this philosophy don’t necessarily see it as a religion, but rather, as a way of living.  They name it “the Path”.

Jesus, who historically came to us about 500 years after the Buddha, also referred to this devotion to selflessness as “the Way”:

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

This idea of self-less, compassionate co-existence is not a Christian discovery formulated by Jesus and his followers, nor is it an invention of the Buddha.  It has existed forever in the heart of mankind since the beginning of time.  Religion and the “isms” will never capture it or copyright it.  That divine spark which dwells within, which leads me to try harder, do better, suffer with my brothers and sisters, hope for enlightenment, and realize I need a Lord and Savior in my life is inherent in all of us.

Choosing to acknowledge and follow, to recognize a higher power is a choice.  Whether I soar with eagles or mire in the muck is a decision I must make each and every day.  Come, fly with me today, the skies are spacious and refreshing.  Truth is awaiting.

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a place for everyone

As bloggers, some of us aspire to more intense undertakings such as a novel or a book of poetry while others are content to simply scribble on and on into oblivion.  I fall into the latter category with an exception.  I would like my writing to make a difference in someone’s life.

My most recent post, ROY MOORE VERSUS TRUTH, details the advancing candidacy in Alabama’s United States Senate race of a man who has been described as a “homophobic, Bible-thumping firebrand.”  Indeed some of his verifiable quotes would give credence to that assessment.

I walk this earth as a dedicated anti-religionist.  “Religionist” is a term I use frequently to define someone who supports his/her intolerance, bigotry, racism, homophobia with their religion’s label and their religion’s scriptures.  Most often they view that scripture as inerrant, literal, and infallible.  The religionist’s adherence to a theology of hatred and condemnation precludes the universal message of love, compassion and brotherhood as given to us by Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad.  For additional clarification, I too love the verses and the wisdom of the great scriptures, but believe it is indefensible for anyone to use those writings as a catalyst for violence.

Perhaps as a means of qualifying myself to the those who are non-believers or to separate myself from people like Roy Moore, I inevitably have a need to mark my anti-religionist statement with an asterisk.  * “But, I am blessed with an undying faith in a Higher Power.”

What I share about myself is not a self-promotion.  Rather, it is a need to reach out to those who do  not understand a faith unbounded by theology or religion, those who have been deeply scarred by purveyors of religious hypocrisy, and those who have been misled by misguided religionists.  It is my personal vision of hope in perilous times.

The bowed head and folded hands presented in “Namaste” say, “I bow to the divine in you.”  When I greet my brother who does not profess a faith, I say “Namaste” because I know the divine exists within everyone.  When that brother who does not profess a faith acknowledges and accepts who I am, he is also saying “Namaste”.  Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we valued each other more?

Thanks to Scottie for his comment on my post ROY MOORE VERSUS TRUTH.  His short comment encapsulates the essence of Jesus into one paragraph.

“While I do not share his faith , nor am I religious in any sense……..I support his view of what faith should be……..there is not only a place for everyone, but a hope for how things could be if we valued each other more.” SCOTTIE @ Scotties’sToyBox

 

namaste rainbow

 

NAMASTE

Namaste

“We need to be more concerned with following Jesus, which he told us to do numerous times, and less with worshipping Jesus—which he never once told us to do.”

richard rohr

Whomever we name as Lord and Savior has to be the guiding essence in our lives.  As one brought up in the Christian tradition, I of course have Jesus as my reference point.  I believe the teachings and the words attributed to this messenger of God are the entirety of what a person needs to live life successfully and compassionately.  His disciples addressed him as “Rabboni” meaning teacher or master.  He was not viewed as a preacher, a figure we are more comfortable with in Western Christianity.  He did not chastise his followers with threats and condemnation from his pulpit.  No, the Jesus we see in the Bible was always in the midst of everyday life, enjoying the company of fellow Jews, partying at weddings, consoling hurting friends, and practicing what he knew as the truth.

That is what western Christianity has lost in its zeal to convert the world.  It exhorts proselytes to bow and worship before crosses and man-created theologies rather than to get out there, rub elbows with all of God’s creation and humanity, and be a light in a darkened world by following the examples set by Rabboni.

Jesus endorses freedom of thought and justice for all humanity through actions of love, peace, compassion and inclusion.  I must believe that if Jesus and Buddha had met , they would have smiled on the world and greeted each other with Jesus saying, “God’s peace be with you.”

Buddha would have folded his hands, bowed his head, and returned with, “Namaste”, meaning I bow to the Divine in you.

What a wonderful world we could have if we all pretended to be Jesus and Buddha bowing and respecting each other’s chosen path to enlightenment.