Holiday Wisdom, Part 3: Jesus, Buddhism, and Gandhi, Oh My!

So far this week, I've shared a few wise words from Hinduism and Buddhism. Today, I share the words of one of the largest figures in all of Western mythology: Jesus of Nazareth, the purported son of god. 

Jesus Christ Kingdom of God is Within You
Pictured above: The War and Peace Nebula, 8,000 light-years away from Earht.
Image Credit: NASA, ESA and Jesús Maíz Apellániz
Quote Source: Luke 17:21

The reason I'm including this in the Holiday Wisdom series is that it sounds very Buddha-like: 

Guatama Buddha We become what we think
Pictured above: the Pillars of Creation, a part of the Eagle Nebula. This giant formation of dust and gas is in the process of forming new stars.
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Quote Source: The Dhammapada, translated by Eknath Easwaran

A similar quote from Jesus was recorded in the ancient Gospel of Thomas:

"Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty."
(Gospel of Thomas)

If we pretend for a moment that we know nothing about the history of Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism, we can draw some powerful connections here. 

The cosmology of Hinduism states that the entire cosmos is upheld by Brahman, of which everything that exists is but an aspect inside of this supreme reality. But also, in every person, there is a supreme self/consciousness, referred to as Atman, that is identical to Brahman. The point here is that we are the cosmos, and that the cosmos is also in us, and it enables our existence. 

Jesus states that if you come to 'know yourself', then you will realize that you are the 'son' of the living 'father'. This is just a simpler way of saying that we are all offspring of the cosmos, and that we can come to understand this by knowing ourselves. The basic cosmology here is practically identical with Hinduism, except that Christianity uses a more personal 'father/son' dynamic to get its point across.

The Christian God is synonymous with the Brahman figure of Hinduism, of which Krishna is just one aspect:

Krishna quote from Bhagavad Gita
Pictured above: the Crescent Nebula, 5,000 light-years from Earth.
Image Credit: APOD, Michael Miller, Jimmy Walker
Quote Source: The Bhagavad Gita, translated by Eknath Easwaran

And then there's the Buddhas's internalism, whereby our thoughts shape our reality. Jesus drives this home by continually placing the 'Kingdom of God' within the self, and further still when he explains that to 'dwell in poverty' simply means that it is 'you who are that poverty'. 

Jesus also sets up a deeply personal connection between himself and the individual follower of Christianity:

Jesus Christ is the Truth
Pictured above: The War and Peace Nebula, 8,000 light-years away from Earht.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Quote Source: John 14:6

In his transcendence from the flesh via his sacrifice on the cross, Jesus places himself firmly within the hearts of every person seeking salvation. He becomes symbolic of the supreme self/consciousness that seeks communion with the godhead, Atman, the supreme reality of the cosmos.

Some food for thought. Perhaps the teachings of Jesus somehow originated in India. Alternatively, peeling back the layers of many of the world's religions may simply reveal a series of deep-rooted similarities that exist without any influence at all—like the fact that various ancient civilizations around the world built pyramid structures, most likely unaware that anyone else was doing the same thing.

Whatever the case, I'll leave it with a quote from Gandhi:

“The various religions are like different roads converging on the same point. What difference does it make if we follow different routes, provided we arrive at the same destination?”

And of course, tomorrow is, allegedly, Jesus' birthday. May you go forth with good spirit in your hearts, and wisdom on your minds. 

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