Are you there Buddha? Jesus? Mohammed? Socrates? Plato?
This is not a hub about religion.
It is a hub about great teachers.
I honor all teachers, especially the ones who do not want recognition: like Jesus Christ, Buddha and Mohammed. These three men never wanted to be worshipped. On the contrary, each one was specifically instructive in the repudiation of their specific grandiosity, and felt each one of us could do things even better than they did.
I grew up a happy Christian in New Hampshire. I was not raised on negative dogmas nor a belief in an angry and fearful God. My church was a happy place and my beliefs grew from the comfort of the doctrines espoused in said religiosity.
Becoming educated in the experience of living in the southern part of the country for a time, I soon learned not all Christan doctrine was the same. And most of it was mammon-driven. Somebody told the preachers who stood before the congregations that Jesus wanted us to give as much money to them as we could possibly afford. One trip to an establishment in Virginia Beach changed my view of religion forever. A preacher stood before his parishioners and decried his recent lusting after his church secretary in his heart. I was at church to sing! I was at church to show gratitude. This clearly was a place of judgment and the infestation of error (more commonly known of as sin) and I wanted no part of it! The whole incident sickened me with its tribal mentality. I was no more a church going follower.
As time went on, I learned the difference between religion and spirituality and religion and philosophy. With each passing new idea, I was enthralled with the idea of people aimlessly allowing another "human" being to tell them what any religious text "meant". I was bright enough to discern the lesson myself, thank you very much. I studied Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Native American Spirituality and with each and every new idea, integrated it within my own core spirituality.
The key to all of it was that the great founders of all the religions were not egotistical and in need of adoration. These brilliant souls founded a system of belief that was bastardized by those following it. There are so many interpretations of sacred text that it is impossible to know which one was the original in many cases. And judgment of others lives is not something we are asked to do. We need to worry about how WE live, how WE love and what OUR life's path need be. We need to invest the time in making our own character above reproach, and in being an example to others of kindness and compassion.
The reality is that a good teacher lets you become your own authority. There is a hope you will begin to think for yourself and outshine your teacher. Jesus knew this, as did many other good teachers.Plato tells us that Socrates taught this way. He says that the good teacher does not impose his ideas on his students, but rather serves as a midwife for the students own dormant intellect and or spirituality. We already have enough rules to live by, and some of us change those rules depending on our own insights and knowing. Examining ones life need be done by the self, and not someone who has an egotistical need to stand before a crowd and command those to follow him or her.
These days I follow my own sort of spiritual path. I choose to honor others and their decisions to employ those methods they deem necessary for their own earthly journey and I remind myself that the path to enlightenment is a labyrinthine and circuitous one. Sam Harris says in an article in the "Shambala Sun" a Buddhist magazine: " The ninth-century Buddhist master Lin Chi is supposed to have said, “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.” Like much of Zen teaching, this seems too cute by half, but it makes a valuable point: to turn the Buddha into a religious fetish is to miss the essence of what he taught. "
I need not ask if Buddha is there now, I only need reflect on the way to life my own life with the idea of the following lifestyle or path that consists of:
- Right Understanding
- Right Thought
- Right Speech
- Right Action
- Right Livelihood
- Right Effort
- Right Mindfulness
- Right Concentration