As a believer in Jesus, the Son of God, who became a human, lived to teach, died to save, then appeared alive to humans after his crucifixion, I have forever sought the best way to serve him. Christianity does not provide a Path, a detailed explanation of HOW to serve Jesus from one day to the next. I know there are those who will disagree. Of course they will. They won’t understand, they won’t try, they’ll condemn me. So be it.
Christianity is obsessed with the crucifixion, death, resurrection, life after death, everything BUT living in this world. But I DO live in this world. How should I live my life so that I no longer cause suffering to others, am not suffering myself, and can possibly prevent suffering in other human beings?
There’s been a body of materials lying around since before Jesus came telling us in no uncertain terms precisely how humanity is expected to live. Gautama Buddha found Truth and then dedicated his life to sharing it. In his teaching I have at last discovered a Path that will lead me to the ideals Jesus taught, one that focuses on living here and now, one that is simple, straightforward, practical, and supported by 2500 years of practice. It’s been there all the time.
Gautama discovered that life means suffering, suffering caused by focus on self (or, to be precise, attachment to THINGS by what we perceive as self). Suffering can be eliminated if all we’ll end our attachment to things and get rid of self. Give up self, give up our life, eliminate suffering.
I believe the True teachings of Jesus, most of them, were destroyed by self-serving religious leaders in the first centuries and replaced by the misleading and inadequate dogma that Christians believe these days. Christianity has never made any sense to me. I might be the only person on the planet who can’t accept it but I just can’t go along with the “just because”‘s that drive Christendom and pervade Christian doctrine. Christianity is especially confusing since it has splintered into so many factions some have said Christianity is a group of religions that center on Jesus Christ rather than a single religion with divergent views.
Jesus didn’t teach anything new about how our Creator expects us to live. All he did was remind us–or clue us into–the knowledge of God that we all possess. While he lived here he showed how living for our Creator can be and should be done. His death and the reasons for it are not secondary, by any means, but they relate to the eternal rather than the temporal. His life and his teachings all focussed on the here and now.
The Buddha said we have an innate compassion within us, a desire to remove the suffering of others. It’s not complete, it’s muddled by self and attachment to things of this world, but it’s there. Our goal should be to alleviate our own suffering by removing attachments and work to relieve the suffering of others. Jesus told us to love others instead of ourselves. What other purpose would that serve if not to drive us into compassion for others? Of all The Buddha’s words it’s his teaching on Compassion that draws me like nothing else. It is in recognizing the suffering of others and having compassion for them that humanity begins to fulfill its purpose. Jesus came to assure us our Creator loves us and that we should concentrate on living our lives in love with the Creator and dedicated to others and he would take care of all that comes next. This is Truth.
The way I see it, Gautama discovered it. Jesus validated it.
I shall seek to live it.
This post is the results of a book I’m reading called The Best of Buddhist Writing 2005. In it is a collection of short conversations, focussed meditations, by Thich Nhat Hanh called “Touching the Earth.” His words touched me deeply. I recognize more fully what I must do. I have, therefore, decided to make the pledge just below, words taken from Thich Nhat Hanh’s writing:
Buddha [and Jesus] …I vow that I shall not seek happiness in the five sense pleasures. I shall not think that wealth, fame, sex, power and luxurious food and material objects can bring me true happiness. I know that if I run after these objects of craving, I shall incur great suffering and make myself a slave to these things. I vow not to run after a position, a diploma, power, money, or sex. I vow that every day I shall practice to give rise to understanding, love, and freedom. These elements have the capacity to bring true happiness for me and for the Sangha body now and in the future.
I have not done so well in the past. I shall do better with each passing day.
This vow taken July 3, 2007.
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