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Featured Where Christianity and Buddhism Agree?

Discussion in 'Interfaith Discussion' started by Buddha Dharma, Jan 30, 2018.

  1. Buddha Dharma

    Buddha Dharma Dharma Practitioner

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    You're right of course, and I really have no excuse for my earlier statements about Jesus, than to say the way his followers behave sometimes bums me out. Maybe it's too easy to associate the followers with the teacher sometimes, and I confess I was replying somewhat out of frustration that some posts were derailing this into a Christian missionizing thread. When I hadn't intended it to be that. I only intended it to be a thread to discuss this similarity between Christianity and Buddhism, in that I think it's part of what our worldviews share in how we should approach other people. That no one is perfect. To quote Plato: everyone is fighting a hard battle- and so forth...
     
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  2. Buddha Dharma

    Buddha Dharma Dharma Practitioner

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    @Vouthon I'll tackle your other statements after I recoup. Your answers are fantastic, but exhaustive.
     
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  3. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member
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    You are correct regarding hospitals. It does appear that Christian beliefs gave a boost to creation of hospitals for the sick in the Roman world.
    However you have not discussed any actual data regarding differential survival rates between those who were cared by Christians vs pagan populations within their communities during the plagues.
     
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  4. Musing Bassist

    Musing Bassist Well-Known Member

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    You misunderstand. No monk, nun, mendicant or member of the clergy was denied marriage. They chose to forgo it to pursue religious and or clerical life instead. Some states of life preclude other states of life. Heck, marriage would utterly defeat the very point of religious life (monastics and mendicants). And the secular priesthood aren't even universally celibate. Eastern Rite priests and clerical converts from select denominations are often married.

    Now as far as the Roman Rite is concerned, celibacy could be dropped for the secular clergy (it's already wavered in certain circumstances) as priestly celibacy isn't actually a dogma. Nevertheless no priest was denied marriage. You don't study for years on end unaware that the Roman Rite currently requires celibacy for its priesthood. They choose that state of life, a state with the clear backing of scripture which you conveniently ignore.

    I have already addressed this above. Celibacy for the secular clergy isn't a dogma, it is a disciplinary practice with precedent going back to the earliest days of Christianity. It is not strictly speaking a requirement of divine revelation but it is by no means contrary to it. Again both Jesus and Saint Paul explicitly encourage celibacy. The fact that the very early Church had married clergy has always been well known and never denied. Heck, as I mentioned before, married clergy still exist! Albeit mostly in the Eastern Rite.

    I've already explained. Also married men can become deacons.

    The point is that ignoring the clear scriptural basis for celibacy by using Timothy in isolation is betraying that you have an agenda. This is further compounded by your silly argument that religious and clergy have been forbidden to marry. They were not. They have chosen not to marry so that they could serve God and the Church without the attachments of married life.
     
    #124 Musing Bassist, Feb 3, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2018
  5. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    Many thanks for your posts Buddha Dharma!

    I find it fascinating that you have alighted upon the doctrine of the Epicureans.

    Undoubtedly, their interpretation of philia anticipated the Christian conception of agape more so than any of the other Greek schools, as scholars recognize:


    Epicurean Tradition

    "....Similarly, of all the Greek schools it was the Epicurean which was the least exclusive and which, in its cultivation of philia, came closest to anticipating Christian agape..."


    However, and somewhat unfortunately, Epicurus was very much an "outlier" among the ancient Greek philosophers in this respect, with his exceedingly atypical view of a somewhat more inclusive love. The Aristotelians and the Platonists enjoyed greater currency with their philosophies, then and now (honestly, everyone immediately thinks about Plato and Aristotle when you mention Greek philosophy), believed in the natural inequality of people. As an example, consider Aristotle's Politics (350 BCE) from The Internet Classics Archive:


    … The rule of a master, although the slave by nature and the master by nature have in reality the same interests, is nevertheless exercised primarily with a view to the interest of the master...

    [T]hat some should rule and others be ruled is a thing not only necessary, but expedient; from the hour of their birth, some are marked out for subjection, others for rule.

    … [T]he lower sort are by nature slaves, and it is better for them as for all inferiors that they should be under the rule of a master. For he who can be, and therefore is, another’s and he who participates in rational principle enough to apprehend, but not to have, such a principle, is a slave by nature. Whereas the lower animals cannot even apprehend a principle; they obey their instincts. And indeed the use made of slaves and of tame animals is not very different; for both with their bodies minister to the needs of life … It is clear, then, that some men are by nature free, and others slaves... [T]he slave has no deliberative faculty at all; the woman has, but it is without authority, and the child has, but it is immature.

    This was actually the conventional understanding in the classical world: that by nature, some people are innately superior to others and have the right to exploit lesser people for their own benefit or pleasure. Plato, likewise, concurred. In his Republic (375 B.C.), he theorized about his ideal state being founded on a foundation of inequality, requiring that different people assume roles appropriate to their innate level of quality, even going so far as to speak about: “inferior members of the human race" (495c) and to “inferior kinds of people” (545a), arguing that if “a small, bald metalworker” happened to accidentally get rich and married “his master’s daughter,” their defective offspring would only be “second-rate half-breeds” (496a). Plato therefore argued that philosophy “should only be practiced by men of true pedigree, not by b-astard-s” (535c), which takes him to the conclusion that we should ideally prohibit the lower orders of human from reproducing: “sex should preferably take place between men and women who are outstandingly good, and should occur as little as possible between men and women of a vastly inferior stamp. [. . .] This is how to maximize the potential of our flock” (459d-e).

    For Plato, Aristotle and their mentor Socrates, the end result was that the government should care for the health of the strong, the weak should be left to die and those with little intelligence should be killed, to quote again from Plato's Republic:

    Socrates:[9] These two practices [legal and medical] will treat the bodies and minds of those of your citizens who are naturally well endowed in these respects; as for the rest, those with a poor physical constitution will be allowed to die, and those with irredeemably rotten minds will be put to death. Right?

    Glaucon: Yes, we’ve shown that this is the best course for those at the receiving end of the treatment as well as for the community.
    (409e-410a)​


    As the legal historian Professor H.L. Pohlman has noted in this regard:

    During the age of the Greek polis the orthodox view was that humanity was naturally unequal. Non-Greeks were perceived to be "barbarians," slavery was widespread, women were subservient, and the "aristoi" (aristocrats) of each city claimed a special birthright.

    It's undeniable that Aristotle and Plato are the pre-eminent Greek philosophers, along with Socrates. To demonstrate to you how widely shared their views were among Romans, of all philosophical schools, just consider the great Stoic philosopher Seneca (c. 4 BC – AD 65), a contemporary of Jesus Christ and his thoughts on, um, this topic:

    "We put down mad dogs; we kill the wild, untamed ox; we use the knife on sick sheep to stop their infecting the flock; we destroy abnormal offspring at birth; children, too, if they are born weak or deformed, we drown. Yet this is not the work of anger, but of reason - to separate the sound from the worthless"

    - (Seneca, Lucius Annaeus (1995). Seneca: Moral and Political Essays. Cambridge University Press. p. 32. ISBN 0-5213-4818-8. Retrieved November 2, 2013.)

    One might be horrified to read the most prominent Stoic of his day say such things but he wasn't saying anything controversial: his was the mainstream societal view, the Christians were the aberrant ones who preached compassion for the deformed, disabled and weak, and who opposed infanticide of so-called "defective" children. The following statements of Jesus would have been shocking - utterly shocking - to many educated upper-class patrician Romans raised with traditional Platonic and Aristotelian values:


    Jesus said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you" (Luke 14:12-14)

    Matthew 20

    25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 26 It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

    Luke 22

    25So Jesus declared, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in authority over them call themselves benefactors. 26But you shall not be like them. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who leads like the one who serves. 27For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is not the one who reclines? But I am among you as the One who serves.


    Luke 9

    46 An argument arose among them as to which one of them was the greatest. 47 But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side, 48 and said to them, “Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.”

    And his disciple St. Paul:


    There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28)​

    In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all! (Colossians 3:11)​

    (continued.....)
     
    #125 Vouthon, Feb 3, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2018
  6. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    We might say - using modern political parlance - that the Platonic-Aristotelian viewpoint represented what we would call the "mainstream conservatism" of the time, or the standard right-wing position among ancient Romans. The Epicureans and the Stoics are what we would call - translating ancient Roman schools into modern political divisions - moderately "left-wing" in their advocacy for some kind of (limited) commonality among people but still within the confines of elite male social gatherings, like 'establishment liberals,' I suppose.

    At the "far-left" grassroots side of the ancient Roman political spectrum, however, were the early Christians with their subversive doctrines of not just natural equality but the idea that the "least" - the disabled, the poor, slaves, the infirm - are actually the "greatest" who are to be "exalted", while those with wealth and power will be "humbled" in time.

    That's why Professor Larry Siedentop, a Harvard-educated world expert in the history of liberalism, in his book "Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism" explains how moral intuitions underpinning Christianity were seismic for the Roman world:

    Liberalism Has Lost Its Way


    As Siedentop shows, the ancient world was not in the least like the Enlightenment’s understanding of it. Far from nurturing freedom, whether positive or negative, its cultures were shot through with hereditary inequalities of status, opportunity and expectation. Social roles were rigidly prescribed and, in effect, inescapable. Escape would be self-exclusion from the city and that was a kind of living death.

    Patriarchy was fundamental to the social order. This was ordained by the household gods; it was the patriarch’s duty to serve them and he derived his authority from this role. The city was an association of families, each with its own cult, not of individuals. The family heads, who were by definition men, were priests as well as citizens. Women, slaves and the foreign-born, on the other hand, were not citizens and could not aspire to citizenship; the public realm of argument and debate that set the city’s course was not for them. In Athens, arguably the ancient world’s most famous city state, full citizens comprised only about a tenth of the population.

    The next stage in Siedentop’s argument is the most explosive. He shows that the gravedigger of antiquity’s implacable nexus of practices and beliefs was precisely the Christian revelation...the historical Jesus believed and taught that the marginalized poor had at least as good a chance of entering the Kingdom of Heaven as the rich and powerful. The real significance of his life lay in his death and its aftermath. For his followers, as Siedentop puts it, Christ’s crucifixion and the Resurrection that they believed had followed it were “a moral earthquake,” a “dramatic intervention in history.” For St. Paul, the true architect of the Christian religion, that intervention was inherently egalitarian and individualistic. The fatherhood of God implied the brotherhood of man and (an even more revolutionary implication) the sisterhood of woman.

    Irrespective of their social roles, all individuals—slaves as well as the free, women as well as men—were equal in the sight of God. The inegalitarian integument of ritual, heredity and prescription that had held the ancient city together was replaced by an egalitarian union of all in the “body of Christ.” God’s grace was available to everyone, sinners included: souls were equal.

    In a striking passage, Siedentop suggests that the scenes of Christ’s Passion and Resurrection painted on the walls of medieval churches “testified that the immortal soul, rather than the immortal family, was the primary constituent of reality.” The doctrine of the incarnation lay at the heart of Christian egalitarianism. The deity was no longer remote and awe-inspiring, like the Jewish Yahweh was. God was within us and “us” meant all of us.

    To followers of this world-view, the elaborate, God-given taboos that governed daily life among the Jewish people were not just pointless; they were also offensive. God was no longer tribal. He was universal. The multiple, local gods of pagan Greece and Rome—and, for that matter, the similarly multiple gods of the barbarian invaders who overwhelmed the increasingly decrepit western Roman empire in the 5th century—were swallowed up in that universality...​

    Siedentop writes in the book:

    https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=f_6EBAAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=liberalism+origins&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjY2cyip47NAhXBBcAKHdkHCzcQ6AEIHDAA#v=onepage&q=liberalism origins&f=true


    "...In its basic assumptions, liberal thought is the offspring of Christianity. [Modern] liberalism emerged as the moral intuitions generated by Christianity were turned against an authoritarian model of the church.

    The roots of liberalism were firmly established in the arguments of philosophers and canon lawyers by the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries: belief in a fundamental equality of status as the proper basis for a legal system; belief that enforcing moral conduct is a contradiction in terms; a defence of individual liberty, through the assertion of fundamental or 'natural' rights; and, finally, the conclusion that only a representative form of government is appropriate for a society resting on the assumption of moral equality..."

    In truth, Jesus' and Paul's teachings were very radical in the context of the first century Roman Empire. I guess it's not surprising that the Roman state had him executed by crucifixion for treason against the empire and likely executed St. Paul by beheading. He, they, the early Christians in general, were a threat to its way of life and social order, even though Jesus wouldn't have harmed a fly and was no revolutionary/Davidic king claimant like Pontius Pilate seemed to fear.
     
    #126 Vouthon, Feb 3, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2018
  7. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    I'll touch upon that tommorrow sayak!
     
  8. Buddha Dharma

    Buddha Dharma Dharma Practitioner

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    Yes @Vouthon I am certainly not favorable to the typical Greco-Roman model. I was thinking those among the Greeks that were true radicals like Epicurus. I suppose that was an individual example, and not a societal one.

    I am favorable to Epicurean social theory, but it isn't wise to set up pleasure as one's ideal, even if it's non-sensual. Because it makes for disappointment if pleasure is ever subverted. In my view, Epicurus came close to a perfect framework. I considered being Neo-Epicurean before I became Buddhist, because Buddhism shares my concern about the suffering of all beings and selfless altruism.

    And as I've said in other threads, Jesus and the Buddha seem to have both seen in the human scope truly- with no regard for only their fellow countrymen, but for everyone.
     
  9. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    Oh yes, I absolutely do understand the attraction of Epicureanism (and Stoicism, for that matter, the infanticide horror aside).

    Epicurean love did not have the self-donating character of Christian, Buddhist or Jain loving-kindness, however.

    To be fair to Epicurus, though, his conception of what "pleasure" meant differed significantly from the sensuality of modern hedonists. Actually, Epicurus was practically an ascetic and rather spartan in his lifestyle. One of his big ideas was that worries about intervention by the gods and punishment in the afterlife caused unnecessary disturbance in people's minds, which is a fair point many contemporary secular people would heartily agree with.

    He emphasised restraint rather than indulgence, because he believed that the avoidance of pain was more important than the pursuit of pleasure. So one must not confuse his philosophy with hedonism. He didn't believe that there was any lasting pleasure to be found in fame or glory, his maxim being: "live unknown", which was a real break with Greek tradition.

    The state of "tranquillity" that he aspired to attain as the highest pleasure, by limiting desire, is very akin to the early Christian goal of the desert fathers to reach apatheia (imperturbable calm).

    People have got Epicurus all wrong in the popular imagination, probably because many Christians dislike his atomistic materialism.

    There are certainly areas where he would be seen lacking from both a Christian and Buddhist perspective but he is still worth some serious consideration.
     
    #129 Vouthon, Feb 3, 2018
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  10. Buddha Dharma

    Buddha Dharma Dharma Practitioner

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    @Vouthon you probably acknowledge then, I imagine- that Lactantius must have wrongfully attributed the problem of evil to Epicurus? Because we know from Epicurean dialogues, including some recorded by Cicero- that Epicureans believed in a deistic high god transcending the universe, as well as the Olympians.

    I've seen the problem of evil described as arguably anti-Epicurean even. Cicero may have been stretching a bit for all I know, but he recorded a dialogue in which he put forth the Epicureans as having thought humans reflect divinity.

    It seems like a similar trilemma argument to the Problem of Evil is attributed to Sextus Empericus by Diogenes Laertius.
     
  11. Buddha Dharma

    Buddha Dharma Dharma Practitioner

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    I was reading something about Hegesias of Cyrene the other day, which of course he was a Cyreniac- but it is suggested that Epicureanism absorbed Cyrenianism somewhere, because Hegesias reformed the Cyrenians into a non-sensual hedonism. He left the movement virtually identical to Epicureanism, and it vanishes not long after him. The Cyrenians were of course sensual hedonists at their founding.
     
  12. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member
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    Looking forward to it. But we were supposed to be comparing Christianity and Buddhism.
     
  13. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member
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    I have been interested in having a comparative discussion on the following:


    The qualities needed for the goal of liberation (Buddha)
    compared with qualities needed to gain the kingdom of God (Jesus)


    This can be followed by the nature of liberation vs the nature of the kingdom of God in the two worldviews.

    I will begin with a quote from the Middle Length Discourses of Buddha. Here Buddha speaks about a general consensus on what qualities need to be cultivated to gain liberation among most Dharmic sects of His time.


    5. "Wanderers of other sects who ask thus may be answered in
    this way: 'How then, friends, is the goal one or many?'
    Answering rightly, the wanderers of other sects would answer thus:
    'Friends, the goal is one, not many.'

    167- 'But, friends, is that goal for one affected by lust or free from lust?' Answering rightly, the
    wanderers of other sects would answer thus: 'Friends, that goal
    is for one free from lust, not for one affected by lust.'-

    'But, friends, is that goal for one affected by hate or free from hate?'
    Answering rightly, they would answer: 'Friends, that goal is for
    one free from hate, not for one affected by hate.'-

    'But, friends, is that goal for one affected by delusion or free from delusion?'
    Answering rightly, they would answer: 'Friends, that goal is for
    one free from delusion, not for one affected by delusion.'-

    'But, friends, is that goal for one affected by craving or free from crav-
    ing?' [65] Answering rightly, they would answer: 'Friends, that
    goal is for one free from craving, not for one affected by crav-
    ing.'-

    'But, friends, is that goal for one affected by clinging or
    free from clinging?' Answering rightly, they would answer:
    'Friends, that goal is for one free from clinging, not for one
    affected by clinging.'-

    'But, friends, is that goal for one who has
    vision or for one without vision?' Answering rightly, they
    would answer: 'Friends, that goal is for one with vision, not for
    one without vision.'-

    'But, friends, is that goal for one who
    favours and opposes, or for one who does not favour and
    oppose?' Answering rightly, they would answer: 'Friends, that
    goal is for one who does not favour and oppose, not for one who
    favours and opposes.'

    168- 'But, friends, is that goal for one who
    delights in and enjoys proliferation, or for one who does not
    delight in and enjoy proliferation?' Answering rightly, they
    would answer: 'Friends, that goal is for one who does not
    delight in and enjoy proliferation, not for one who delights in
    and enjoys proliferation.'


    I think this dialogue provides a good starting point showing the strong ethical foundation that is the prerequisite of all Dharmic praxis towards liberation.

    I will let @Vouthon to find the cognates from the writing of Jesus. :)
     
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  14. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    Indeed, I shall respond to your comparative religion post accordingly!

    I think I will need longer to uncover the actual evidence underpinning the reasons why scholars make claims such as the following:

    Church History, Volume One: From Christ to the Pre-Reformation

    And here:

    The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Individual Differences


    "...Because healthy pagan Romans refused to help the sick or to bury the dead, disease spread further and some cities dissolved into anarchy (Boyd, 2006; Boyd & Richerson, 2006). The survival rates in Christian communities were much higher. Historians believe that Romans converted to Christianity because they were attracted to a better quality of life in the early Christian community (Ferguson, 2007)..."

    I can't, as of yet, find out how they are reaching these conclusions about the differential mortality rates. All that is apparent to me, however, is that this is a widely shared assessment among the relevant experts in the field (for whatever reason!). Obviously it isn't coming out of thin air but I might have to consult peer-reviewed literature that isn't available to the general public to get the answers your looking for.

    I'll get back to you on this when I find out more.
     
    #134 Vouthon, Feb 4, 2018
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  15. URAVIP2ME

    URAVIP2ME Veteran Member

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    First of all, I find the kingdom of God was the main theme of Jesus' teachings as found at Luke 4:43.
    In Jesus' Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5 to 7) Jesus teaches qualities or behavior needed to gain the kingdom of God of Daniel 2:44. That includes the need to tell others about the good news of God's kingdom government on a grand-international scale as Jesus instructed to do at Matthew 24:14; Acts 1:8 before Jesus, as King of God's kingdom, ushers in global Peace on Earth among persons of goodwill.
     
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  16. crossfire

    crossfire Antinomian feminist heretic freak ☿
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  17. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    An excellent topic for a comparative discussion @sayak83 and @Buddha Dharma.

    Before I identify cognates or disparities with the Buddha's Middle Length discourse sayak, I thought it would be worth my while to firstly provide a summary of the "kingdom of God" concept in the New Testament and in the Church's contemplative tradition, so that I have an established base to work from later.

    This is a complex issue, not least since the concept of the "kingdom" was Jesus's preeminent teaching. I'm going to ignore the eschatological dimension (which is relevant only to Christian thought) and focus upon the spiritual (for us its a double-barreled thing with an immanent, realized dimension and an as-yet unrealized eschatological dimension or completion in the Beatific Vision in heaven after we die).

    Therefore, the interpretation I'm going to present to you, initially by sifting through the biblical data in the New Testament, is essentially the same one as is understood in the Christian contemplative/mystical tradition of Eastern Orthodoxy and Catholicism. For that reason, if you are more accustomed to Protestant readings, this might be a good bit different to what you were expecting. My reading will be exegetical and linguistically-based but also filtered through the lens of this tradition.

    Here's a quick sum of what I'll be arguing below (but please do read the below, time permitting, to make proper sense of it in context):

    According to the New Testament, the kingdom of God is a "secret hidden wisdom" (1 Corinthians 2:7) or understanding found within people who are living in a state of grace: described as a "treasure" that "surpasses" human knowledge, sense-perceptions and sense-impressions because it is the highest experience of God that believers in Christ are called to experience in this life, in which we still "see through a glass darkly" (1 Corinthians 13:12), as a foretaste of our full beatitude in heaven, where we will "enjoy the same perfect happiness wherewith God is happy, seeing Him in the way which He sees Himself" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentes) with perfect clarity.

    For this, one must be single-minded and clear focused in their heart, not divided and blurred/distorted by sinful passions/cravings (to use Jesus' words, "choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life" (Luke 8:14) and "having hearts weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life" (Luke 21:34)), which St. Paul refers to as having "the eyes of your heart enlightened" (Ephesians 1:18).

    This can only be achieved by people who become like infants in their mindset and attitudes to life, since in Jesus' own words God has "hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and revealed them to infants" (Luke 10:21). It means that we must be born again through a transformative encounter with God in which we "crucify the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5.24) such that "it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Galatians 2:20) because "we have [attained] the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16).

    This should (in accordance with Jesus' parable of the hidden treasure) make the person completely re-asses what they used to believe was important in life, such that they'd be willing to "sell everything they have" if necessary and relinquish all their attachments just to attain this treasure.

    Ultimately, one discovers through this a "peace" beyond all understanding in which the individual is "filled with all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:14-21) described later on by the early desert fathers through the use of the words apatheia (state of imperturbable calm) and theosis (deification/union with God). The person who dies in this state of perfect union with God, attains heaven immediately, without needing to go through purgatory according to Catholic doctrine.

    Here is how a later Catholic mystic Blessed Henry Suso described it:

    "...Essential reward, however, consists in the contemplative union of the soul with the naked Godhead, because it never rests until it is led beyond all its powers and capacities and is directed into the natural substance of the Persons and into the simple nakedness of Being. Face to face with this it then finds fulfilment and eternal happiness. The more the soul freely goes out of itself in detachment, the freer is its ascent; and the freer its ascent, the farther it enters into the wild wasteland and the deep abyss of the pathless Godhead into which it plummets, where it is swept along, and to which it is so united that it cannot want otherwise than what God wants. And this is the same Being God is: They become blessed by grace as He is blessed by nature..."

    - Blessed Henry Suso (1300 – 1366), The Little Book of Eternal Wisdom

    "...when the good and loyal servant is led into the joy of his Lord, he becomes drunk from the limitless overabundance of God's house. What happens to a drunken man happens to him, though it cannot really be described, that he so forgets his self that he is not at all his self and consequently has got rid of his self completely and lost himself entirely in God, becoming one spirit in all ways with him, just as a small drop of water does which has been dropped into a large amount of wine. Just as the drop of water loses itself, drawing the taste and colour of the wine to and into itself, so it happens that those who are in full possession of blessedness lose all human desires in an inexpressible manner, and they ebb away from themselves and are immersed completely in the divine will. Otherwise, if something of the individual were to remain of which he or she were not completely emptied, scripture could not be true in stating that God shall become all things in all things. Certainly one's being remains, but in a different form, in a different resplendence, and in a different power. This is all the result of total detachment from self..."

    (Blessed Henry Suso (c. 130025 January 1366), Little Book of Truth)​


    Now, that was the "short-hand" for lazy people...here's the nitty-gritty in the second part (continued overleaf).

    I'm going to continue this analysis in a third part with some insight from our contemplative tradition as well as the New Testament, before engaging in a comparative analysis with your text from the Buddha @sayak83.

    continued
     
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  18. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    (1) All four of our canonical gospels and the extra-canonical Gospel of Thomas (which I'm only mentioning for corroborative, rather than authoritative, purposes because I regard it as heterodox text - albeit a useful one for understanding early Christian wisdom traditions) contend that one of the most important pre-conditions for gaining the kingdom of God is the honing of a pure, childlike state of mind (Matt 18:3; Mark 10:15; Luke 18:17; John 1:12; 3:3; Thomas 22). Jesus belabors the point further by stating: "Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it." So we have a very affirmative statement to the effect that if a person doesn't "receive the kingdom of God" as a "little child" then it will be impossible for the individual to attain it, no matter how much they might aspire.

    In the gospels of Mark and Matthew, the relative age of the children in question is unclear, even though the word "little" strong implies a very young child. However, in Luke, John and Thomas newborn "infants" are clearly intended. For instance in Luke we find:

    "At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will" (Luke 10:21)
    The natural implicating being that this teaching is to be thought of as synonymous with Jesus' words to the Pharisee Nicodemus when he explains, enigmatically, how: "no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again". He later spells out in a bit more detail with the qualifying statements, "from above" and "of water and spirit.” Again, we see Jesus emphasizing the definitive character of this doctrine: "no one can see" the kingdom of God, unless they first become like a newborn child again. So this is absolutely essential in Jesus' understanding of whatever he means by the "kingdom of God". Undoubtedly, given its multiple attestation in the Jesus tradition, we have grounds to conclude that this somewhat mystifying doctrine mattered in some crucial way to Jesus' message.

    (2) OK, so we now know about the infant-like state one must be in to "receive/enter/see" the kingdom...but what is it according to the New Testament texts? And where is it located, if anywhere?

    The first clue we have is from the Gospel of Luke, where Jesus says:


    Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21)
    The key word here is entos a preposition meaning "inside/within", which is precisely what Jesus means in the single other NT usage of this word when he declares to the Pharisees how they must "first clean the inside (entos) of the cup and of the dish so that the outside of it may become clean also." (Mt 23:26). This refers to purification of one's heart or mind.

    We learn two important things from this analysis: the kingdom is not a physical reality observable by means of one's actual eyesight, nor will it be "over there" or "over here" in any spatial sense. There is nothing to "observe" about the kingdom: it is basically formless/imageless. On the contrary, Luke's Jesus regards the kingdom to be something interior to people, which has to do with purifying the inside of one's "cup" (body), as opposed to the exterior (sense-impressions and sense-perceptions of the body). This conforms with Jesus telling us above that the kingdom has been "hidden from the wise and the intelligent and revealed to infants" (Luke 10:21).

    This is then confirmed by St. Paul, the earliest witness to the Christian tradition, when he states: “what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the mind of a human conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him" (1 Corinthians 2:9). The unnamed "what" which God has prepared for believers in Christ is obviously the kingdom because in Matthew 35:34 Jesus refers to the "kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" and here again it is defined by Paul in a mystical sense as the supreme state of the blessed, utterly beyond the understanding of anything derived from sense-perception and mental constructs. No positive affirmations can apparently be made about it, so the kingdom is here defined by what it isn't. Moreover St. Paul describes the kingdom as a "secret hidden wisdom" (1 Corinthians 2:7) and this relates precisely to how Jesus describes the kingdom, through veiled imagery, in his parables:


    The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (Matthew 13:44)
    St. Paul likewise makes mention of "the riches of assured understanding...the knowledge of God’s mystery...all the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:2-4) which he calls, "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding" (Philippians 4:7-9). In a different New Testament letter, the sacred author prays that the reader "may with the eyes of your heart enlightened, know what is the hope to which you have been called" (Ephesians 1:18) which is "the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:14-21).

    That phrase, "the eyes of your heart enlightened" (Ephesians 1:18) is very important because it leads onto my next point.


    (3) As the Gospel of John tells us, the kingdom is something that one aims, or hopes, to "see" after being reborn again in the Spirit and adopting a childlike attitude. But we've just established that the kingdom is a "secret hidden wisdom" (1 Corinthians 2:7) within people that is non-sensuous, so how exactly is one going to be able to see something which can't be observed? The metaphor of sight is again used by Jesus in his discourse on the "lamp of the body" (which immediately follows his teachings about not having a divided loyalty to God and wealth), along with similar verses in John's gospel and early Christian sayings collections such as the Dialogue of the Saviour (Matt 6:22-23; Luke 11:34-35; John 11:9-10; Dialogue 8; Dialogue 14). This explains the nature of this "seeing" of the kingdom - it means one must be single-minded and clear, not divided and blurred/distorted.

    In the synoptic version, according to Young's Literal Translation and Wuest, Jesus said:

    "The lamp of the body is the eye, if, therefore, thine eye may be in single focus/clear (haplous), all thy body shall be enlightened. But if your eye is diseased, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! " (Matthew 6:22-23)
    The key word Jesus used is the adjective "clear" (NAS) which is the Greek word haplous which literally means single (as rendered in the KJV) or without folds, which came to mean simple, pure, healthy, clear ("clear vision" - cp spiritual vision). As the scholar Myron Augsburger notes in his exegetical study of Matthew's gospel:

    Verses 22–23 are simple but vivid imagery, meaning that a “single” eye is one with clear vision while an eye with astigmatism produces a blurred vision. The eye is the window by which light registers on the body or perception is brought to the mind. If the window is clear, the effect is good but if it is distorted or dirty the light is hindered...An eye clouded with lust, envy or covetousness leads to improper behaviour...
    In an eye with astigmatism, light fails to come to a single focus on the retina to produce clear vision. Therefore, Strong's Greek Concordance notes that haplous is, "referring to a single (undivided) focus, which prevents needless distraction". What "clouds" the vision of the inner eye and prevents it from having a clear, single grasp of truth are things like lust, envy and covetousness, which the New Testament refers to as "cravings" alack of control of natural appetites/passions i.e.


    Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. (James 4:1-2)
    As Dr. Henrietta clarifies in her book, The Life of Jesus: Matthew through John:

    The Life of Jesus: Matthew through John


    The "eye" is a fascinating term. Of the five senses, the eye is the major gateway to the mind. For this reason, in literature, poetry, philosophy and religion, the eye is often used as a metaphor for physical sensory perception as well as spiritual perception. It can also stand in for the mind (for knowing)...The "eye" filters and colors how we "see" our world - how we understand and process our experiences
    We know from other early Christian texts that the "eye" referred to in this scriptural passage was understood to signify the "mind": for instance The Dialogue of the Saviour, an apocryphal text dated in its final redaction to 150 AD but which may have a core of sayings going back to the first century. Saying 8 goes:

    The Savior said, "The lamp of the body is the mind"
    Saint Bonaventure distinguished between "the eye of the flesh," the "eye of reason," and the "eye of contemplation that sees unto liberation," this last being the inner eye deep within the mind that does not look but "sees clearly" the image of God, in a spiritual sense, without anything obscuring its vision, hence why the sacred author wrote that you must have "the eyes of your heart enlightened" (Ephesians 1:18).​
     
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  19. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    @sayak83 Here's a short comparative exercise using your quotes from the Buddha before I go deeper into the "kingdom of god" concept in the Church's contemplative tradition (i.e. how later Christians developed it from Jesus' time).

    Buddha: 5. "Wanderers of other sects who ask thus may be answered in
    this way: 'How then, friends, is the goal one or many?'
    Answering rightly, the wanderers of other sects would answer thus:
    'Friends, the goal is one, not many.'

    Jesus: "The lamp of the body is the eye (mind), if, therefore, thine eye be single-focused, all thy body shall be enlightened."

    Buddha: 167- 'But, friends, is that goal for one affected by lust or free from lust?' Answering rightly, the
    wanderers of other sects would answer thus: 'Friends, that goal
    is for one free from lust, not for one affected by lust.'-


    Jesus: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart

    Buddha: 'But, friends, is that goal for one affected by hate or free from hate?'
    Answering rightly, they would answer: 'Friends, that goal is for
    one free from hate, not for one affected by hate.'-

    Jesus: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous

    Buddha: 'But, friends, is that goal for one affected by delusion or free from delusion?'
    Answering rightly, they would answer: 'Friends, that goal is for
    one free from delusion, not for one affected by delusion.'

    Jesus: Know the truth, and the truth will make you free

    Leave them; they are blind guides of the blind. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.

    There was a rich man who had much money. He said, 'I shall put my money to use so that I may sow, reap, plant, and fill my storehouse with produce, with the result that I shall lack nothing.' Such were his intentions, but that same night he died. Let him who has ears hear

    Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.” Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes
    (James 4:13-14)

    Buddha: 'But, friends, is that goal for one affected by craving or free from crav-
    ing?' [65] Answering rightly, they would answer: 'Friends, that
    goal is for one free from craving, not for one affected by crav-
    ing.'-

    Jesus: For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person

    Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them...And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?

    Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. (James 4:1-2)


    Buddha: 'But, friends, is that goal for one affected by clinging or
    free from clinging?' Answering rightly, they would answer:
    'Friends, that goal is for one free from clinging, not for one
    affected by clinging.'-

    Jesus: Let the same mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus:
    Who, existing in the form of God,
    did not consider equality with God something to cling to,
    but emptied Himself,
    taking the form of a slave,
    being born in human likeness.
    And being found in human form,
    He humbled Himself and became obedient to death—
    even death on a cross
    . (Philippians 2:5-8)

    Stop clinging on to me (John 20:17)

    So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions. (Luke 14:33)

    Those who have wives should live as though they have none . . . buyers should conduct themselves as if they owned nothing, and those who make use of the world as though they were not using it (1 Corinthians 7:29-31)

    Buddha: 'But, friends, is that goal for one who has
    vision or for one without vision?' Answering rightly, they
    would answer: 'Friends, that goal is for one with vision, not for
    one without vision.'-

    Jesus: How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly

    Buddha: 'But, friends, is that goal for one who
    favours and opposes, or for one who does not favour and
    oppose?' Answering rightly, they would answer: 'Friends, that
    goal is for one who does not favour and oppose, not for one who
    favours and opposes.'

    Jesus: When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you (Luke 14:12-14)

    My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while to the one who is poor you say, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court?
    (James 2:1-7)

    Buddha: 168- 'But, friends, is that goal for one who
    delights in and enjoys proliferation, or for one who does not
    delight in and enjoy proliferation?' Answering rightly, they
    would answer: 'Friends, that goal is for one who does not
    delight in and enjoy proliferation, not for one who delights in
    and enjoys proliferation.'

    Jesus: Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing (Luke 10:41-42)
     
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  20. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member
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    That was excellent. What your posts show is that there is significant convergence between Buddhism and the approach of the more contemplative traditions of Christianity.


    I also found significant similarities between your take of the Kingdom of God and the idea of Buddha Nature that forms an important part of Mahayana Buddhism. Maybe @Buddha Dharma can provides some quotes from his tradition on this.
     
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