Dec 8, 2016
Treasure in Broken Vessels
The Many Noble Truths of the Buddha and Jesus Christ
“When I know the glass goblet is already broken every moment with it becomes precious.”Paraphrased from documentary film The Buddha”
2 Corinthians 4:7 (New King James Version)
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, which the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
Would I experience the Love of God more fully as an ascetic or renouncer? No I would focus only on what I was missing, not getting any closer to God but in total concentration of the absence of comfort or pleasure. The more we try to mortify the flesh the more we see we cannot transcend the body while existing in this earthly realm. Deprivation as practiced by some ascetics or mystics and prophets is not necessarily the best spiritual path for the average seeker. Some austerity is necessary so that we are not consumed by the material world but to isolate and deny our very human bodies the daily necessities can open the door wider to a sense of failure or discouragement. We must try to find balance in our lives. At one end is the ascetic, at the other end the hedonist/sensualist. Most of us flow best in the middle ground with occasional visits to the polar ends. Separated from our source we yearn to return.
As prophets and/or enlightened beings both the Buddha and Jesus had similar universal themes of overcoming temptation, a wilderness experience with the tempter, both mystics emerged triumphant. Realization that the Kingdom of God is within us enabled these two very different men, who lived in different time periods, from different cultures, in different parts of the world to have similar spiritual revelations which now have millions of adherents worldwide.
Bliss or self-actualization comes with accepting our interconnectedness with the world, yet not being of the world. Subconsciously we are all craving with a burning desire to become one with the Beloved. This craving may lead us down several spiritual and secular pathways during our lifetimes before we achieve our own individual enlightenment. As a Christian I take refuge in the scriptural jewels offered to me within the Biblical scriptures, yet not discounting other belief systems or spiritual pathways. As I explore many different faiths side by side with my own I find more similarities than differences. Like my Buddhist sisters and brothers I find sanctuary in the Love of God, the teachings of Jesus, and various pastors, evangelists, or teachers who have a more extensive knowledge of the Bible than me, who can help me increase my understanding of scripture. With that said as believers in any denomination we must study the scriptures for ourselves rightly dividing the word of truth so we are not carried away with doctrines of false prophets. Beware those who misuse and misconstrue God’s Divine Word for their own personal profit and gain.
I can truly say the Bible speaks to me. What does your holy scriptures say to you? Like many of the faithful I find comfort in rites, rituals, ceremonies and sacraments of my church. It’s familiar. It’s comforting. If suddenly I attended church one Sunday and everything was out of sequence I would definitely be uncomfortable, wonder what was going on and if I was in the right church. However too much restrictive structure and adherence to doctrine and dogma can inhibit the spiritual growth of the congregation for this reason many people turn to secular and social organizations that offer morals, values and intellectual growth without the mythology. Churches, social organizations and clubs also satisfy the need for companionship and fellowship. As human beings we need to belong to a body of people with similar interests, goals and desires. We desire a place to fit in and be accepted for who we are as individuals. Churches, social organizations, clubs, guilds and professional organizations offer a type of safe space or sanctuary where we receive positive reinforcement that enables us to cope with the not so positive chapters in our lives.
Traveling other Pathways
Recently I attended Hindu church service New York City. At first I was hesitant when my girlfriend asked me to accompany her to her service because those old voices of narrow mindedness assailed me causing doubt to creep into my mind as to whether it would be the right thing to do. Also I wondered if it would just be other Indian people and I would be the outsider. Not so, on both accounts. Initially I had only intended to stay five or ten minutes but I was drawn in by the praise and worship music and the words of the guest speaker who had journeyed all the way from India to share wisdom as given by their Guru.
After his presentation there was a ritual very similar to communion in which I shared. I was very glad to have attended this service and look forward to worshiping again with the congregation. My girlfriend did her best to explain what was going on and to share literature with me. As we walked to Penn Station together discussing religion in general and the things of God in particular I felt a peace, calm, and contentedness that I had not felt in a long time.
It is far removed from my Baptist upbringing and Bible teachings but at the same time there are many similarities teachings of Jesus, the Hindu scriptures and the Buddha. After the service my girlfriend presented me with two of the roses that had lain upon the altar, which I duly took home and placed into a vase with water. Several hours later it struck me that one of the redemptive names of Jesus is the “Rose of Sharon”. Wow! My mind immediately went to “The Song of Solomon” the Bible’s romance book. The Song of Solomon explicitly expresses the desire between two lovers but on a deeper level the love of Jesus for his bride, the church.
Hindu, Buddhist, Hebrew, Jewish, Christian, Sufi Muslim all have their mystical sages who are calling us closer to God. Are you listening?
Divine fragrant Lotus Rose petals fell upon the body of the ascended one and the veil was rent from top to bottom. We his followers make pilgrimage to the Holy City in remembrance of Him.
Excerpt from the poem “One Whisper of the Beloved” by Rumi
In truth, everyone is a shadow of the Beloved –
Our seeking is His seeking,
Our words are His words.
At times we flow toward the Beloved
like a dancing stream.
At times we are still water
held in His pitcher.
At times we boil in a pot
turning to vapor –
that is the job of the Beloved.
He breathes into my ear
until my soul
takes on His fragrance.
He is the soul of my soul –
How can I escape?
But why would any soul in this world
want to escape from the Beloved?