We all know religion is not exactly universal. Easter is Easter. Wasaka day is still Wasaka day. Christmas is still Christmas. People end family connections and destroy important relationships all the time over the differences that get so much attention. But I’ve been taught that what I focus on grows and so have set out to find and focus on the commonality, the places I can lean in, rip down barriers and find common ground.
I believe the parallels and intentions of our great spiritual leaders are easily identifiable, beautiful and worthy of dual, open-minded exploration:
Jesus: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. From anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. (Luke 6.27-30)
Buddha: Hatreds do not ever cease in this world by hating, but by love; this is an eternal truth… Overcome anger by love, overcome evil by good. Overcome the miser by giving, overcome the liar by truth. (Dhammapada 1.5 &17.3)
Jesus: How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. (Mark 10.23 & 25)
Buddha: Riches make most people greedy, and so are like caravans lurching down the road to perdition. Any possession that increases the sin of selfishness or does nothing to confirm one’s wish to renounce what one has is nothing but a drawback in disguise. (Jatakamala 5.5 & 15)
Jesus: The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tress, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches. (Matthew 13.31-32)
Buddha: Do not underestimate good, thinking it will not affect you. Dripping water can fill a pitcher, drop by drop; one who is wise is filled with good, even if one accumulates it little by little. (Dhammapada 9.7)
Jesus: This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friend. (John 15.12-13)
Buddha: Just as a mother would protect her only child at the risk of her own life, even so, cultivate a boundless heart toward all beings. Let your thoughts of boundless love pervade the whole world. (Sutta Nipata 149-150)
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