Thoughts for the Christmas season. Additionally, I recommend Bible and Bhagavad Gita by Sadguru Sant Keshavadas, available at www.templeofcosmicreligion.org.
Jesus and Buddha, by Fr. Richard Rohr
Friday, December 8, 2017
In his book Jesus and Buddha, New Testament theologian Marcus Borg (1942-2015) highlights numerous sayings in the teachings of Jesus that are strikingly similar, if not identical, to the teachings of the Buddha who lived some six centuries earlier. There have been some attempts to explain these similarities through historical access, which is a remote possibility. Borg suggests a more meaningful view: that Jesus and the Buddha had both discovered the same spiritual goal and destiny, or I would say the one Holy Spirit that is guiding all of history. The Jewish Kabbalah, Muslim Sufism, and the teachings of the Tao also reveal a map toward non-dual consciousness and oneness.
Let me just share just a few of the parallel teachings Borg gathers in his book , and you will see how they are coming from the same non-dual perspective:
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 with 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).
Jesus and Buddha diagnose the human dilemma similarly. Our suffering is primarily based on ignorance. The vast majority of humanity lives in blindness about who we are and where we are going. Jesus and Buddha both speak about anxiety, attachment, grasping, craving, and self-absorption.
Unfortunately, Christianity became so concerned with making sure everybody believed that Jesus was God (faith in Jesus) that we largely ignored his teachings on detachment, simplicity, nonviolence, and anxiety (the faith of Jesus). Our Buddhist brothers and sisters can help us remember these teachings at the core of our faith; they can help us be better, truer Christians. And we can help them, or at least give them very few reasons to dislike us! Why not try this novel idea?
On many levels, Jesus and Buddha talked about the same experience of transformation. In the end, all spirituality really is about transformation, dying before we die and being reborn as our True Selves in Love.
Gautama Buddha was a Hindu reformer in a time of corrupt priests. Like Jesus, he had no intention of creating a new religion. He was bringing new understandings to the teachings of the Vedas and Upanishads. Sadguru Sant Keshavadas and Sadguru Rama Mata taught us that Gautama Buddha was the 9th Avatar of Vishnu.
The Asian area between India and China had been Hindu for several millennia. Naturally, they added the Buddhist teachings to its predecessors. This should not be hard to understand for Westerners, because Christians continue to believe in and teach the Torah, the Old Testament.
The idea that Gautama Buddha was an atheist is nonsense. He taught a version of Hinduism that freed people from the corrupt priests. His major change from the teachings of the 8th Avatar, Krishna, was that he taught spiritual independence. Krishna taught people to depend on him, to merge their consciousness in him. Gautama Buddha taught that our sufferings are our own creations and that we can end our sufferings by ending our cravings — those attitudes and behaviors that create karma.
Wesak is the full moon in Taurus every year, despite some other dates that are used in May by various countries. This year, it is May 8th.
The Buddha, Gautama, was born in a Hindu family. He came to teach a better way, at a time when the priests had become very corrupt. So the basis of his teachings is Hindu. The Buddha’s teaching spread through out India and the northern area which includes Tibet, as well as to the east through China and Japan and south to Sri Lanka.
The earlier religion of Tibet was Bon Po. After some time, the Bon Po priests drove out Buddhism. A later ruler of Tibet, believing that Buddhists were more peaceful and easier to govern, sent to India for someone to come and teach the people Buddhism. No teacher was willing to come, but finally Atisha, one of the disciples of the Great Tantric Master Agastya volunteered. The Buddhism he taught was influenced by his tantric mastery, which includes worship of the Divine Feminine. As that is expressed in Tibetan Buddhism, She is Tara, rather than several named Devis. Tara is worshiped as White Tara, Green Tara and more, as ways to approach the Divine Feminine.
The Tara revered in Hindusim is different from the Hindu versions. Hindu Tara is She Who Takes Us Over the Ocean of Samsaras (accumulation of karma from all previous and the present life.)