11/10/05Tapestry of One, a book on the "Axis Age," when the greatest minds in antiquity suddenly appeared together on earth: Buddha (influenced by the Upanishads), Lao Tzu and Confucius.
Copyright © 1993-2005. Mel West. All rights reserved.
The Tapestry of One (continued)
by Mel West
Knowing Thyself & the
Release from Suffering
There is some good advise to be gleaned from the Great Spirit's advise to do things without cause of individuality, or for self-desire, to act in a state of complete detachment from the fruits of action. This is the same message prevalent in the voice of the Holy One of Israel in the Bible. The God in the Bible has no name nor no bounds by which He can be measured. He matches very closely to the description Krishna made of His Self. The Two selves, by their own description of themselves, is the same Self. Moreover, the code of ethics, or morality, of the Self is the same. Once you put a name on Him and claim Him in some exclusive relationship, you limit His Being.
In the case of Krishna we can see mention of gods, demons, and spirits. He claims that these things really are fragments of His Being and anyone worshipping them would, in reality, be deluding themselves. By the same token the God of the Bible claims that there is no such thing as another god. Worshipping another God than He, He says, will bring about His Wrath. Krishna does not take the same position, for Krishna, fulfilling his precept of detachment, is detached from the sound of one calling upon another god rather than Him.
His sense of judgment is similar to that of the Bible. But the Bible focuses more upon judgment than Krishna. In Hidden Pavilions we mention a small poem concerning an individual, the Messiah, who speaks of reincarnation, saying, I was a good soul and entered a pure body, etc. The precept is an admission that the Jewish belief anticipated life after death as a form of reincarnation. Furthermore, at the end of days, the Latter Days, all men will be raised up from the grave, both the evil and the good, for a Final Judgment. So the end of the Bible focuses on The Judgment, the final manifestation of God's power. This Judgment does not seem to appear in the Hindu scriptures. And apart from this characterization, both scriptures would appear to come from the same source. Certainly their rules for behavior follow the same guidelines, coinciding, as it has been mentioned earlier, with even the sayings of Lao Tzu and Confucius.
Each group of scriptures was formed in its own unique environment, or culture. Each one, then, focused upon a particular part of the teaching which was most meaningful to its unique condition. Confucius focused upon the explanation of how the self is best fulfilled working within the System and the Rites, becoming the Disciplined Man. Krishna's advise takes a similar approach but emphasizes the importance of knowing thyself in the criteria of becoming the Disciplined Man. Furthermore, it describes the Self as part of an overall Unifying Whole, which is God. To become aware of your true Self, or Spirit, one must focus one's attention upon the Eternal Self, who is the Great Spirit, and make one's acts conform to that Self. By doing so, the Disciplined Man becomes One with God. And he then loses his identity. Though the course of action is not the same in Taoism, the result is the same. Through knowledge and learning that inaction is the highest state of knowledge, one becomes One with God. The fundamentals in Taoism which lead one to this high state are the same as those which Krishna preached, and the same as those which Confucius preached. Taking any one of the three ways mentioned will lead to the same Oneness of Spirit.
These things are like a warp laid out from which a fine tapestry may be woven. In our work The String of Pearls we compared the warp to a String of Pearls .
We are now almost ready to enquire into Buddhism. But first it is useful to explore a little bit of another Hindu work called The Upanishads. The work is actually a series of books, or stories. The title of the collection means, in a manner of speaking, "sitting at the feet of the teacher." It is these teachings which pick up on the theme of "Knowing Thyself" and expand upon what Krishna already had said.
"Knowing Thyself" is not a theme unique to the Hindu religion or the Buddhist religion. Christ said the same thing: "Know thyself," and we may be reminded that the temple of Apollo, the Greek god of wisdom, at Delphi had an inscription over its door: "know thyself." The Bible, overall, is pretty much silent on this issue and addresses it through a different vehicle. In the Bible the focus is to become One with God, participating in a Promise of a Kingdom of God on earth as it is in Heaven. This is the ultimate goal of the Bible, and it appears at the time of Judgment. At Judgment, then, comes both a Blessing for the good and a Curse for the wicked. We mention this because the path the Bible leads one to being One with God is described in the simple precept of the formation of a Kingdom of God, in which all men on earth will participate. Again, the Messianic Vehicle which brings forth that Kingdom is called The Light of the Gentile, meaning, The Light of the nations.
Obviously, if one follows the tenetes of Krishna, or the others we mentioned, that same Kingdom mentioned in the Bible will come about. If God were to stand on earth today and read the things we have called into remembrance from various scriptural sources, it would be difficult for him to tell you to renounce the moral advise so given. And that ought to be the perspective to keep in mind: that the intent of all of these scriptures is to fashion a man in the image of the Great Infinite Spirit. The image of the Great Infinite Spirit, and His Desires, is the same in all the scriptures. Even in the Pauline concept of the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit) one is compelled to note that the HolyTriad has but one Holy Spirit.
The God of the Bible is called by many names. There is a Christian song, whose name escapes me, which relates all these names, one of which is He who heals. The Rabbis got caught up in trying to name His Anointed One(s), the Messiah(s). Since they see the Messiah(s) as a Personification of God, as described in prophesy, they thought to give the Messiah(s) the names of God. Most of these names reflected the Members of him who is described as the Anointed One(s) in prophesy. Finally they gave up, recognizing that the name of the Messiah(s) is He whose names are infinite.
To the Hindu studying this phenomena, concerning as much as the division of God and His Manifestations into individual Characters, this would not be blasphemous. But to the Jew, such discussions of God under different names ought to be Blasphemous. Because God cannot be named! We draw this parallel, because anyone not familiar with the processes in identifying God, as He is described in the Bible, might be confused as to which person is being addressed. To the novice, or unfamiliar, the Jewish religion could appear on the surface as a pantheistic religion, much like the Hindu religion. In Isaiah 9.1 ff we see a list of the names of the Messiah, among which list is the name Comforter. In Isaiah 7.14 the Messiah is called "Immanuel," meaning, "God with us." In chapter 4 of Isaiah, and also in the prophet Zechariah, we are introduced to another name for the Messiah, which is called, "The Branch." Each name, we see, evokes a particular manifestation of the character to be identified as the Messiah(s). The rabbis of the Oral Torah speculated on this, reviewing all of the names of the Messiah and concluded that, they, like the names of God, are infinite.
The Christian perception of Jesus the Christ (Messiah(s) is not much in variance with this observation. Jesus takes on many attributes. He is addressed most frequently in the same form as God addressed Himself as a Healer. The Ministry like to introduce Him as a Healer: A man of miracles. And I am reminded of a television ministry I watched which posed a question I had put in our book, Hidden Pavilions . They asked, "What would Christ do if he were here?" The answer was, "He would first go around this room and heal everybody!"
Jesus, reincarnated, has a problem, doesn't he? For the ministry to believe it is He, reincarnated, they have to observe Him healing them! This not only limits the identity of His Being but also presupposes that God must respond to their requirements. For they believe that Jesus is God. Exploring this with them would only cause one to get lost, because they put their own identifications on Jesus, presuming to be His Breath of Life, and denying the presence of the Eternal Being as it may choose to manifest itself.
The Healer is a manifestation of God. It is not the whole being of God. It never has and never will be so. Just as Arjuna saw the terrible visage of Krishna, the Great Spirit, fearing that nature with a thousand arms and mouths, so too does the Ineffable God manifest itself in both gentle and terrible forms. The truth is, the Messiah of the Latter Days is Terrible. He is described coming with the full Wrath of God. We are told we will Fear Him.
The gentle manifestation which Christians view in Jesus is not the complete being in which He is created. How could He be so? Throughout the Bible, from Abraham and Moses on, we are taught to Fear God. You must love Him and also, perhaps like a father, fear Him. The proposition leads one to consider that through His Terrible Image one will come to see the fullness of His Nature; and that nature hopefully can be summed up, as Christians are wont to do it, as a Gentle, healing nature, who heals both the body and the spirit of man.
God, in the major religions, has a Oneness of Being, capable of both good and evil [wrath] in his relationship to man. This certainly is clearly cited as an attribute of God in the Bible. See Hidden Pavilions on this. In spite of this manifestation, however, the Bible continually teaches us that if we are to become One with Him in the Spirit we must do good and avoid evil. Good and evil are universally defined, as we have seen by example, in the Hindu and Chinese precepts and quite well elucidated in the Bible.
Ultimately, separating all the chaff from the wheat, we find that all seem to agree that the way to do good is to be Selfless. Do things in humility, with charity, with no intent of receiving a reward. Regard all things created as being One with God. To further the example, consider that you are One with God, in the Spirit, and then do unto others as you would have them do unto you. These are simple precepts and really need no thousands of verses of interpretation and elucidation. The more one tries to elucidate them and explain why these Virtues are truth the more one gets caught in the process of assimilating, or manifesting, God's Supreme Virtues of Good upon man. In this process, which really attempts to Personify God in human terms, God becomes divided into individual realities or Beings. Because we can create so many realities or beings of God, with no end to them, we get lost in trying to focus upon them. And then someone comes unto us saying, "The problem with your reality of God is that you cannot see the forest because of the Trees." Someone finally tells you that you forgot the Unity of the Ineffable One, of which we all are a part. And then you are reminded that His Purpose, as it seems to be universally claimed, is to bring man to Unity (another name for the Messiah; see Zechariah 11). Again, we can rely upon the Bible's claim that all men will bow down to God, the One God, and call upon Him with a common consent. This claim is recognized in the Hindu and the Chinese cultures. The problem in dealing with this is that each component of man thinks it has a preferred status with God, and that their version of This Unification, done through them, will be the True Unity of God in the end. This is a delusion, caused by Vanity.
If God is the All, the Ineffable One, I should think He would be happy to think that His Wisdom, or Brahman, could not be prioritized by any particular people.
The Bible agrees with this precept. Whilst God uses the Jews as a Vehicle of His Light, just as Arjuna is used as a vehicle of Krishna's Light, neither the Jews nor Arjuna are the end of His Being. In both discourses they are clearly viewed as a means by which He sheds His Light on man, or how He penetrates the Hardened Hearts of man. Jewish Midrash (meaning to "search out") reviewed the diaspora as a means of God scattering the light he put into the Jews throughout the world. The precept says, "put light within a people and scatter them to all the nations of the world, so that the light will be shed to all nations; then gather the children of light back to their land of inheritance and punish those who persecuted the children of the light".
These religions are clear on their perception of Man in relation to God. Man is a vehicle of God's being. They conclude that by understanding oneself, through separation of one's self from the desires of the material world, one can become a better vehicle of God's Being. The Bible views all men one day manifesting this Spirit, and on that day man becomes One with God. The Gospel of the Kingdom, in fact, is dependent upon this thesis. The Kingdom of God on earth cannot reign until all men are One with that Kingdom. When asked about this, Jesus responded with several parables, describing the Kingdom as if it were a tiny mustard seed, the tiniest of seeds, which grows into a tree harboring all life. In another instance He described it in terms saying that the Kingdom is already in you. You have not yet discerned it. And with this in mind we can now call into rememberance some precepts of the Upanishads, which, incidentally, ought to be quite familiar to you by now.
The Kena Upanishad:
The student inquires:
1. "Who makes my mind think?
Who fills my body with vitality?
Who causes my tongue to speak? Who is that
Invisible one who sees through my eyes
And hears through my ears"
The Teacher replies:
2. "The Self is the ear of the ear,
The eye of the eye, the mind of the mind,
The world of words, and the life of life.
Rising above the senses and the mind
And renouncing separate existence,
The wise realize the deathless Self.
3. "Him our eyes cannot see, nor words express;
He cannot be grasped even by the mind.
We do not know, we cannot understand,
Because he is different from the known
And he is different from the unknown.
Thus have we heard from the illumined ones.
6. That which makes the mind think but cannot be
Thought by the mind, that is the Self indeed.
This Self is not someone other than you.
II.1 If you think, "I know the Self," you know not.
All you can see is his external form.
Continue, therefore, your meditation.
II.3 There is only one way to know the Self,
And that is to realize him yourself.
II.4 The Self is realized in a higher state
Of Consciousness when you have broken through
The wrong identification that you are
The body, subject to birth and death.
To be the Self is to go beyond death.
IV.5 It is the power of Brahman that makes
The mind to think, desire, and will.
Use this power to meditate on Brahman.
He is the inmost Self of everyone;
He alone is worthy of all our love.
Meditate upon him in all. Those who
Meditate upon him are dear to all.
IV.8 I shall share with you fully what I know.
Meditations, control of the senses
And passions, and selfless service of all
Are the body, the scriptures are the limbs,
And truth is the heart of this wisdom.
IV.9 Those who realize Brahman shall conquer
All evil and attain the supreme state.
Truly they shall attain the supreme state!
The Katha Upanishad:
I.12 There is no fear at all in Heaven; for you
Are not there, neither old age nor death.
Passing beyond hunger and thirst and pain,
All rejoice in the Kingdom of Heaven.
II.2 (Yama) Perennial joy or passing pleasure?
This is the choice one is to make always.
The wise recognize these two, but not
The ignorant. The first welcome what leads
To abiding joy, though painful at the time.
The latter run, goaded by their senses,
After what seems immediate pleasure.
II.3 Well have you renounced these passing pleasures
So dear to the senses, Nachiketa,
And turned your back on the way of the world
Which makes mankind forget the goal of life.
Far apart are wisdom and ignorance.
The first leads one to Self-realization;
The second makes one more and more
Estranged from his real Self. I regard you,
Nachiketa, worthy of instruction,
for passing pleasures tempt you not at all.
II.5 Ignorant of their ignorance, yet wise
In their own esteem, these deluded men
Proud of their vain learning go round and round
Like the blind led by the blind. Far beyond
Their eyes, hypnotized by the world of sense,
Opens the way to immortality.
"I am my body; when my body dies,
I die." Living in this superstition
They fall life after life under my sway.
II.7 It is but few who hear about the Self.
Fewer still dedicate their lives to its
Realization. Wonderful is the one
Who speaks about the Self; rare are they
Who make it the supreme goal of their lives.
Blessed are they who, through an illumined
Teacher, attain to Self-realization.
II.8 The truth of the Self cannot come through one
Who has not realized that he is the Self.
II.11 I spread before your eyes, Nachiketa,
The fulfillment of all worldly desires:
Power to dominate the earth, delights
Celestial gained through religious rites,
Miraculous powers beyond time and space.
These with will and wisdom have you renounced.
II.12 The wise, realizing through meditation,
The timeless Self, beyond all perception,
Hidden in the cave of the heart,
Leave pain and pleasure far behind.
Those who know they are neither body nor mind
But the immemorial Self, the divine
Principle of existence, find the source
Of all joy and live in joy abiding.
I see the gates of joy are opening
for you Nachiketa.
II.15 I will give you the Word all the scriptures
Glorify, all spiritual disciplines
Express, to attain which aspirants lead
A life of sense-restraint and self-naughting.
It is OM. This symbol of the Godhead
Is the Highest. Realizing it one finds
Complete fulfillment of all one's longings.
II.18 The all-knowing Self was never born,
Nor will it die. Beyond cause and effect,
This Self is eternal and immutable.
When the body dies, the Self does not die.
If the slayer believes that he can slay
Or the slain believes that he can be slain,
Neither knows the truth. The eternal Self
Slays not, nor is ever slain.
II.20 Hidden in the heart of every creature
Exists the Self, subtler than the subtlest,
Greater than the greatest. They go beyond
Sorrow who extinguish their self-will
And behold the glory of the Self
Through the grace of the Lord of Love.
II.21 Though one sits in meditation in a
Particular place, the Self within
Can exercise his influence far away.
Though still, he moves everything everywhere.
II.22 When the wise realize the Self,
Formless in the midst of forms, changeless
In the midsts of change, omnipresent
And supreme, they go beyond sorrow.
II.23 The Self cannot be known through study
Of the scriptures, nor through the intellect,
Nor through hearing learned discourses.
The Self can be attained only by those
Whom the Self chooses. Verily unto them
Does the Self reveal himself.
II.24 The Self cannot be known by anyone
Who desists not from unrighteous ways,
Controls not his senses, stills not his mind,
And practices not meditation.
II.25 No one else can know the omnipresent Self,
Whose glory sweeps away the rituals
Of the priest and the prowess of the warrior
And puts death itself to death.
III.1 In the secret cave of the heart, two are seated
By life's fountain. The separate ego
Drinks of the sweet and bitter stuff,
Liking the sweet, disliking the bitter,
While the supreme Self drinks sweet and bitter
Neither liking this nor disliking that.
III.3 Know the Self as Lord of the Chariot,
The body as the Chariot itself,
The discriminating intellect as Charioteer,
And the mind as reins.
III.11 Brahman is the first cause and last refuge.
III.12 Brahman, the hidden Self in everyone,
Does not shine forth. He is revealed only
To those who keep their mind one-pointed
On the Lord of Love and thus develop
A superconscious manner of knowing.
III.13 Meditation enables them to go
Deeper and deeper into consciousness,
From the world of words to the world of thoughts,
Then beyond thoughts to wisdom in the Self.
III.14 Get up! Wake up! Seek the guidance of an
Illumined teacher and realize the Self.
Sharp like a razor's edge, the sages say,
Is the path, difficult to traverse.
III.15 The supreme Self is beyond name and form,
Beyond the senses, inexhaustible,
without beginning, without end, beyond
time, space, and causality, eternal,
Immutable. Those who realize the Self
Are forever free from the jaws of death.
I.2 The immature run after sense pleasures
And fall into the widespread net of death.
But the wise, knowing the Self as deathless,
Seek not the changeless in the world of change.
I.3 That through which one enjoys form,
taste, smell, sound,
touch, and sexual union is the Self.
Can there be anything not known to That
Who is the One in all? Know One, know all.
I.6 The god of creation, Brahman,
Born of the Godhead through meditation
Before the waters of life were created,
Who stands in the heart of every creature,
Is the Self indeed. For this Self is supreme!
I.15 As pure water poured into pure water
Becomes the very same, so does the Self
Of the illumined man or woman, Nachiketa,
Verily become One with the Godhead.
II.5 We live not by the breath that flows in
And flows out, but by him who causes the breath
to flow in and flow out.
II.9 As the same fire assumes different shapes
When it consumes objects differing in shape,
So does the one Self take the shape
Of every creature in whom he is present.
II.ll As the sun, who is the eye of the world,
Cannot be tainted by the defects in our eyes
Or by the objects it looks on,
So the One Self, dwelling in all, cannot
Be tainted by the evils of the world.
For this Self transcends all!
II.12 The ruler supreme, inner Self of all,
Multiplies his Oneness into many.
Eternal joy is there who see the Self
In their own hearts. To none else does it come!
II.13 Changeless amidst the things that pass away,
Pure consciousness in all who are conscious,
The One answers the prayers of many.
Eternal peace is theirs who see the Self
In their own hearts. To none else does it come!
III.4 If one fails to realize Brahman in this life
Before the physical sheath is shed,
He must again put on a body
In the world of embodied creatures.
III.9 He is formless, and can never be seen
With these two eyes. But he reveals himself
In the heart made pure through meditation
And sense-restraint. Realizing him one is released
From the cycle of birth and death.
III.10 When the five senses ares stilled, when the mind
Is stilled, when the intellect is stilled,
That is called the highest state by the wise.
They say Yoga is this complete stillness
In which one enters the Unitive State.
Never to become separate again.
If one is not established in this state,
The sense of unity will come and go.
II.12 The unitive state cannot be attained
Through words or thoughts or through the eye.
How can it be attained except through one
Who is established in this state himself?
III.14 When all desires that surge in the heart
Are renounced, the mortal becomes immortal.
When all the knots that strangle the heart
Are loosened, the mortal becomes immortal.
This sums up the teaching of the scriptures.
The Mundaka Upanishad:
I.7 "As The web issues out of the spider
And is withdrawn, as plants sprout from the heart,
As hair grows from the body, even so,
The sages say, this universe springs from
The deathless Self, the source of life.
2.11 But those who are pure in heart, who practice
Meditation and conquer their senses
And passions, shall attain the immortal Self,
Source of all light and source of all life.
1.4 Fire is his head, the sun and moon his eyes,
The heavens his ears, the scriptures his voice,
The air his breath, the universe his heart,
And the earth his footrest. The Lord of Love
Is the innermost Self of all.
1.9 From him come all the seas and the mountains,
The rivers and the plants that support life.
As the innermost Self of all, he dwells
Within the cavern of the heart.
2.4 Then draw the bowstring of meditation
And aim at the target, the Lord of Love.
The mantram is the bow, the aspirant
Is the arrow, and the Lord the target.
Now draw the bowstring of meditation,
And hitting the target be one with him.
2.12 The Lord of Love is before and behind.
He extends to the right and to the left.
He extends above; he extends below.
There is no one here but the Lord of Love.
He alone is; in truth, he alone is.
1.2 As long as we think we are the ego,
We feel attached and fall into sorrow.
But realize that you are the Self, the Lord
Of life, and you will be freed from sorrow.
When you realize that you are the Self,
Supreme source of light, supreme source of love,
You transcend the duality of life
And enter into the Unitive State.
2.2 Those who dwell on and long for sense-pleasure
Are born in a world of separateness.
But let them realize they are the Self
And all separateness will fall away.
2.3 Not through discourse, not through the intellect,
Not even through study of the scriptures
Can the Self be realized. The Self reveals
Himself to the one who longs for the Self.
Those who long for the Self with all their heart
Are chosen by the Self as his own.
2.6 They have attained the summit of wisdom
By the steep path of renunciation.
They have attained to immortality
And are united with the Lord of Love.
When they leave the body, the vital force
Returns to the cosmic womb, but their work
Becomes a beneficial force in life
To bring others together in the Self.
2.8 The flowing river is lost in the sea;
The illumined sage is lost in the Self.
the flowing river has become the sea;
The illumined sage has become the Self.
I.1 Before the world was created, the Self
Alone existed; nothing whatever stirred.
Then the Self thought: "Let me create the world."
I.3 These are but servants of the Self, who is
This Self is all in all.
He is all the gods, the five elements,
Earth, air, fire, water, and space; all creatures,
Great or small, born of eggs, of wombs, of heat,
Of shoots; horses, cows, elephants, men, and women;
All beings that walk, all beings that fly,
And all that neither walk nor fly. Prajna
Is pure consciousness, guiding all. The World
Rests on prajna, and prajna is Brahman.
I.4 Those who realize Brahman live in joy
And go beyond death. Indeed
They go beyond death.
The Taittiriya Upanishad:
I.1 May the Lord of day grant us peace.
May the Lord of night grant us peace.
May the Lord of sight grant us peace.
May the Lord of might grant us peace.
May the Lord of speech grant us peace.
May the Lord of space grant us peace.
I bow down to Brahman, source of all power.
I will speak the truth and follow the law.
Guard me and my teacher against all harm.
Guard me and my teacher against all harm.
III.1 May the light of wisdom illumine us.
May we become united with the Lord.
IV.2 Lord, may I grow in spiritual wisdom,
And may I have food and clothes and cattle.
May students come to me from far and near,
Like a flowing river all the year;
May I be enabled to guide them all
To train their senses and still their minds;
May this be my wealth, may this be my fame.
IV.3 O Lord of Love, may I enter into you,
And may you reveal yourself unto me.
The pure One masquerading as many.
You are the refuge of all devotees.
I am your devotee. Make me your own.
VI.1 Chanting maha, to be one with the Lord.
Thus one becomes king of his own life, ruler
Of his passions, senses, and intellect.
He is united with the Lord of Love,
Who is truth, peace, and immortality,
The source of joy, the supreme goal of life.
Meditate always on the Lord of Love.
X.1 "I have become one with the tree of life.
My glory rises like the mountain peak.
I have realized the Self, who is ever
Pure, all-knowing, radiant, and immortal."
Thus spoke sage Trishanku when he became
United with the Lord of Love.
Having taught the Vedas, the teacher says:
"Speak the truth. Do your duty. Neglect not
The scriptures. Give your best to your teacher.
Do not cut off the line of progeny.
Swerve not from the truth. Swerve not from the good.
Protect your spiritual progress always.
Give your best in learning and teaching.
Never fail in respect to the sages.
See the divine in your mother, father,
Teacher, and guest. Never do what is wrong.
Honor those who are worthy of honor.
Give with faith. Give with love. Give with joy.
X.4 If you are in doubt about right conduct,
Follow the example of the sages,
Who know what is best for spiritual growth.
X.5 This is the instruction of the Vedas;
This is the secret; this is the message.
I.1 They have attained the goal who realize
Brahman as the supreme reality,
The source of truth, wisdom, and boundless joy.
They see the Lord in the cave of the heart
And are granted all the blessings of life.
I.4 Realizing that from which all words turn back
And thoughts can never reach, one knows
The bliss of Brahman and fears no more.
Within the Mental sheath, made up of waves
Of thought, there is contained the sheath of wisdom.
It has the same form, with faith as the head,
Righteousness as right arm and truth as left.
Practice of meditation is its heart,
And discrimination its foundation.
Wisdom means a life of selfless service.
Even the gods seek spiritual wisdom.
Those who attain wisdom are freed from sin,
And find all their selfless desires granted.
VI.1 The Lord of Love willed: "Let me be many!"
And in the depths of his meditation
He created everything that exists.
Meditating, he entered into everything.
VII.1 The Self is the source of abiding joy.
Our hearts are filled with joy in seeing him
Enshrined in the depths of our consciousness.
If he were not there, who would breathe, who live?
He it is who fills every heart with joy.
When one realizes the Self, in whom
All life is one, changeless, nameless, formless,
Then one fears no more. Until we realize
The unity of life, we live in fear.
For the mere scholar who knows not the Self,
His separateness becomes fear itself.
I.1 Bhrigu went to his father, Varuna,
And asked respectfully: "What is Brahman?"
Varuna replied: "First learn about food,
Breath, eye, ear, speech, and mind; then seek to know
That from which these are born, by which they live,
For which they search, and to which they return.
That is Brahman."
V.1 Bhrigu meditated and found that wisdom
Is Brahman. From wisdom come all creatures,
By wisdom they grow, to wisdom return.
Not fully satisfied with his knowledge,
Bhrigu went to his father, Varuna,
And appealed: "Please teach me more of Brahma."
VI.1 Bhrigu meditated and found that joy
Is Brahman. From joy are born all creatures,
By joy they grow, and to joy they return.
X.1 Refuse not food to those who are hungry.
When you feed the hungry, you serve the Lord,
From whom is born every living creature.
Those who realize the Self within the heart
Stand firm, grow rich, gather a family
Around them, and receive the love of all.
X.5 The Self in man and in the sun are one.
Those who understand this see through the world
And go beyond the various sheaths
Of being to realize the unity of life.
Those who realize that all life is one
Are at home everywhere and see themselves
In all beings. They sing in wonder:
"I am the food of life, I am, I am;
I eat the food of life, I eat, I eat.
I link food and water, I link, I link.
I am the first-born in the universe;
Older than the gods, I am immortal.
Who shares food with the hungry protects me;
Who shares not with them is consumed by me.
I am this world and I consume this world.
They who understand this understand life."
This is the Upanishad, the secret teaching.
The Prashna Upanishad:
May we hear only what is good for all.
May we see only what is good for all.
May we serve you, Lord of Love, all our life.
May we be used to spread your peace on earth.
Question IV . 9 "It is the Self who sees, hears, smells, touches,
And tastes, who thinks, acts, and is pure consciousness.
The Self is Brahman, changeless and supreme.
IV.10 "Those who know the supreme Self as formless,
Without shadow, without impurity,
Know all, gentle friend, and live in all."
Question VI.1 Then Sukesha approached the sage and said:
"Master, the prince of Kosala asked me
This question once: 'Sukesha, do you know the Self
With his sixteen forms?' 'I don't,' I replied.
VI.5 "As rivers lose their private name and form
When they reach the sea, so that people speak
Of the sea alone, so all these sixteen
Forms disappear when the Self is realized.
Then there is no more name and form for us,
And we attain immortality."
VI.6 "The Self is the hub of the wheel of life,
And the sixteen forms are only the spokes.
The Self is the paramount goal of life.
Attain this goal and go beyond death!"
The Chandogya Upanishad:
14.1 This universe comes forth from Brahman
And will return to Brahman. Verily, all is Brahman.
A person is what his deep desire is. It is our
Deepest desire in this life that shapes the life to Come. So let us
direct our deepest desires to Realize the Self.
14.3 Smaller than a grain of rice, smaller than a
grain of barley, smaller than a mustard seed,
Smaller than a grain of millet, smaller even
Than the kernel of a grain of millet is the Self.
This is the Self dwelling in my heart, greater
Than the earth, greater than the sky, greater
Than all the worlds.
2.2 "In the beginning was only Being,
One without a second.
Out of himself he brought forth the cosmos
And entered into everything in it.
There is nothing that does not come from him.
Of everything he is the inmost Self.
He is the truth; he is the Self Supreme.
You are that, Shvetaketu; you are that."
8.7 "...Please, Father, tell me more about this Self."
9.1 "Yes, dear one, I will," Uddakala said.
"As bees suck nectar from many a flower
And make their honey One, so that no drop
Can say, 'I am from this flower or that,'
All creatures, though one, know not they are that One.
There is nothing that does not come from Him.
Of everything he is the inmost Self.
He is the truth; he is the Self supreme.
You are that, Shvetaketu; you are that."
1.1 Narada approached the sage Sanatkumara
And said, "Please teach me, Venerable One."
"Tell me what you know," replied the sage,
"And then I will teach you what is beyond that."
"I know the four Vedas-Rig, Yajur,
Sama, Atharva-and the epics, called the
Fifth. I have studied grammar, rituals,
mathematics, astronomy, logic, economics,
Physics, psychology, the fine arts, and even
Snake-charming. But all this knowledge
Has not helped me to know the Self. I have
Heard from spiritual teachers like you that one
Who realizes the Self goes beyond sorrow. I
Am lost in sorrow. Please teach me how to go beyond."
23.1 "Whatever you know is just words," said
Sanatkumara, "names of finite phenomena.
It is the Infinite that is the source of abiding
Joy because it is not subject to change.
Therefore seek to know the Infinite.
24.1 "Where one realizes the indivisible unity
Of life, sees nothing else, hears nothing else,
Knows nothing else, that is the Infinite. Where
One sees separateness, hears separateness,
Knows separateness, that is the finite. The
Infinite is beyond death, but the finite
Cannot escape death."
26.2 "The Self is one, though it appears to be
Many. Those who meditate upon the Self and
Realize the Self go beyond decay and death,
Beyond separateness and sorrow. They see the
Self in everyone and obtain all things.
"Control the senses and purify the mind. In a
Pure mind there is constant awareness of the
Self. Where there is constant awareness of
The Self, freedom ends bondage and joy ends sorrow."
1.5 Never fear that old age will invade that
City; never fear that this inner treasure of all
Reality will wither and decay. This knows no
Age when the body ages; this knows no dying
When the body dies. This is the real city of
Brahman; this is the Self, free from old age,
From death and grief, hunger and thirst. In the
Self all desires are fulfilled.
1.6 The Self desires only what is real, thinks
Nothing but what is true.
7.1 The great teacher Prajapati said: "The Self
Is pure, free from decay and death, free from
Hunger and thirst, and free from sorrow. The
Self desires nothing that is not good, wills
Nothing that is not good. Seek and realize the
Self! Those who seek and realize the Self
Fulfill all their desires and attain the goal
12.1 It is true the body is perishable, but
Within it dwells the imperishable Self. This
Body is subject to pleasure and pain; no one
Who identifies with the body can escape from
Pleasure and pain. But those who know they are not the body
pass beyond pleasure and Pain to live in abiding joy.
12.2 "...In that state, free from attachment, they
Move at will, laughing, playing, and rejoicing.
They know the Self is not this body, but
Only tied to it for a time as an ox is tied to is
Cart. Whenever one sees, smells speaks,
Hears, or thinks, they know it is the Self that
Sees, smells, speaks, hears, and thinks; the
Senses are but his instruments.
"Worshipping this Self in the world of
Brahman, the gods obtained all worlds and all
Desires. Those who know this Self and realize
This Self obtain all worlds and all desires." So
Said Prajapati; so taught Prajapati.
The Isha Upanishad:
1. The Lord is enshrined in the hearts of all.
The Lord is the supreme Reality.
Rejoice in him through renunciation.
Covet nothing. All belongs to the Lord.
Thus working may you live a hundred years.
Thus alone will you work in real freedom.
6. Those who see all creatures in themselves
And themselves in all creatures know no fear.
7. Those who see all creatures in themselves
And themselves in all creatures know no grief.
How can the multiplicity of life
Delude the one who sees its Unity?
The Shvetashvatara Upanishad:
10. All is change in the world of the senses,
Let's rest here for a moment. Buddha concluded that all things in the world, being subject to change, are impermanent. Thus, he said that one must become detached from the impermanent things of the world, and to do that one must remove all sources of Desire. For it is our Desire which causes us to become attached to the impermanent things. And being attached to the impermanent things we are condemned to live a life of misery: Suffering.
But changeless is the Supreme Lord of Love.
Meditate on him, be absorbed in him,
Wake up from this dream of separateness.
11. Know God and all fetters will fall away.
No longer identifying yourself
With the body, go beyond birth and death.
All your desires will be fulfilled in him
Who is One without a second.
IV.5 From his divine power comes forth all this
Magical show of name and form, of you
And me, which casts the spell of pain and pleasure.
Only when we pierce through this magic veil
Do we see the One who appears as many.
IV.18 Know him to be the supreme source of all
Religions, ruler of the world of light,
Where there is neither day nor night,
Neither what is nor what is not, but only Shiva.
He is far beyond the reach of the mind.
He alone is. His glory fills all worlds.
V.6 He is the supreme creator, hidden
Deep in the mystery of the scriptures.
By realizing him the gods and sages
V.10 Not female, male, nor neuter is the Self.
As is the body, so is the gender.
The Self takes on a body, with desires,
Attachments, and delusions. The Self is
Born again and again in new bodies
To work out the karma of former lives.
VI.3 Those who act without thought of personal
Profit and lead a well-disciplined life
Discover in course of time the divine principle
That forms of life are one.
Those who work in the service of the Lord
Are freed from the law of karma.
VI.9 Know him to be the cause without a cause,
Without a second, parent or master.
May he, Lord of Love, who conceals himself
In creatures as a spider in its web,
Grant us illumination.
VI.13 Changeless amidst the changing,
Of the conscious, he grants all our prayers.
May we, in our consciousness, realize
The freedom he alone can give us.
1. The mind may be said to be of two kinds,
Pure and impure. Driven by the senses
It becomes impure; but with the senses
Under control, the mind becomes pure.
8. Brahman is indivisible and pure;
Realize Brahman and go beyond all change.
He is immanent and transcendent.
Realizing him, sages attain freedom
And declare there are no separate minds.
15. We see not the Self, concealed by maya;
When the veil falls, we see we are the Self.
The mantram is the symbol of Brahman;
Repeating it can bring peace to the mind.
Knowledge is twofold, lower and higher.
Realize the Self, for all else is lower.
Realization is rice; all else is chaff.
1. Narada enquired of the Lord of Love:
"What is the state of the Illumined Man?"
The Lord replied: "hard to reach is the state
Of the Illumined Man. Only a few
Attain it. But even one is enough.
For he is the pure Self of the scriptures;
He is truly great because he serves me,
And I reveal myself through him always."
He has renounced all selfish attachments
And observes no rites and ceremonies.
He has only minimum possessions,
And lives his life for the welfare of all.
2 ".....Free from the sway of doubt and false knowledge
He lives united with the Lord of Love,
Who is ever serene, immutable,
Indivisible, the source of all joy
And wisdom. The Lord is his true home,
His pilgrim's tuft of hair, his sacred thread;
For he has entered the Unitive State.
Entering the Unitive State
That's all these books, which we have just reviewed, including the Bhagavad-Gita , talk about:entering the Unitive State. Only the Disciplined Man or the Enlightened Man, however you wish to view it, can get there. He gets there only One Way: He must meditate with whole heart and consciousness on the Unity of All that Is, which is the Self. In order to attain this pure state of Meditation one must renounce all selfish attachments. Krishna tells us to become completely detached. When you do this a particular boon comes with it: You become free! Most particularly you become free from grief and Sorrow! What a boon!
The teachings also tell us that there are four stages of life: the student, the family man, the grandfather (person whose children are now raised) and the Ascetic. One studies for 12 years to learn the scriptures, etc., marries and raises a family, then, when the children are raised, is free from social obligations. The family must now support him or her. At this point one can go on to the final stage, being the life of the Ascetic, to reach the Enlightened Man. To become One with the Self.
What good is it if only a few can reach the state of the Enlightened or Disciplined Man? If only One reaches this state it is good. For he can teach others and guide man to a greater awareness of God, the Self, the Unity of One.
The Scriptures use a lot of terms to describe the Self. To understand it through Self-Denial is one of them. But other terms, because one is forced to break down the Self in individual parts in order to comprehend it, reflect what appears to be a myriad of separate and individual gods. Like Pranja, Brahman, Shiva, Indra, and even Krishna. The names of these Things confuse the mind. They confuse the mind, because temples are built to them. They call out for separate worship! Focusing upon the separateness, what happens? One loses the perspective of The Unity of One which is The Self! These teachings, in spite of the distraction of individual comparisons, must come back to the Real Truth: that all things are the Unity of One. It speaks of gods and men who became immortal. It concludes that when the gods realized the Self, or when men realized the Self, they became immortal. This is important. The gods were never really gods, in the mind of the Upanishads .
They could not have been gods if through enlightenment they became immortal. The gods had to be mortal before they became immortalized. The teaching with respect to the immortalization of the gods also applies to men. All men can achieve this Unity of One and secure Immortality. When this happens one becomes One with God, the Self, the Supreme God of all. Immutable, undefinable, and Infinite. We, the Enlightened, all become gods, part of the One God (Jesus played with this idea which in the Bible is in two places. In one place it is a blessing; and in another place "ye shall be gods" is listed by the prophet as a curse).
This process is not much different than that which happened to Jesus. He was made a god by the Paulists. Actually, in all fairness, they claim that He is a fragment of God, the Father, being the Son of God. He is linked in a Unity of Three Individual Things; The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. They are really One Unity but separate. So the Son of God, Jesus, gets his own Shrines and alters raised unto Him; He receives His own prayers, and He is given special attributes which were formerly the province of the Father, God, the creator: He is the healer god. Anyone can watch a Christian Minister just a few minutes on television and see this to be true: Jesus is treated as if he is a god separately to be worshipped.
In Hidden Pavilions we complained about this. We were comforted, however, by Muhammed, who also complained about the Christian Ministry appearing to worship Two gods, and not the God of Abraham. Our book The Tempting (see Saving_the Pope.html) goes into the details showing how the Christian religion became, in fact, separate in purpose and practice from the Source of the Old Testament . We mention this not to make further issue with the Christian Ministry, but rather to point out how, from a detached perspective, their practices seem to run counter to their beliefs. They condemn the worship of images, but their religion is full of images to which Christians pray. We comment more on this in our work, On the Breakage of the Holy Catholic Church.html.
Prayer is an act of worship. The Upanishads speak of Meditating completely on the One God, the Self, the Unity of all things. Mediation is prayer. One kneels, one sits, one stands, one prostrates oneself. One prays while one walks. The prayer, the meditation, is the communion with God.
One day, I suppose, God will visit the earth and take a look at all the books which claim to represent his interests. This does not presume He has no knowledge of them already. It just suggests that in the flesh He can look you face to face and judge whether you are in agreement with Him.
The Bible promises such a visitation. It is called the Visit of the Messiah in the Latter Days. He is God's envoy, His Messenger, His Angel. Most people don't seem to understand that such a Visitation would involve One whose Vision is from God's Point of View. And looking from that point of view one easily sees Hypocrisy. Certainly, if I or others can see it and write about it, the Messiah can also. He is also known as the Light of the Gentiles.
The Hindu Scriptures promise such a visitation! How so? The process of Enlightenment has two purposes in it: The first purpose is to free you from the bonds of the material world, to free you from sorrow and grief. Being free you receive a personal reward of Joy in the Unity of the One. The second purpose now has to do with your further duty: Being free, even from having to live in the continuing life and death struggle of karma, One can now Teach. But behind this thought is a sublime problem. If one reaches the height of the Godhead, being One with it, which is called by Buddha, Nirvana, where one is stripped completely of his identity, he is lost to humanity. He can't teach. The problem produces a solution: Just before the Enlightened One reaches the Godhead he is reincarnated just Once More to teach and guide mankind. Then, after his teaching is done, He returns to the Godhead and Nirvana, no longer being separately identifiable again.
Once he is lost to the Godhead, what then can man look forward to? The answer is simple: Hopefully it has produced another Enlightened One! For the entire thesis of Hindu Thought is to try to produce as many Teachers, or Enlightened Ones, as possible, hopefully bringing even all men into the Unity of One. We recall the teacher saying how he realizes that they are being used to bring Peace to all the world. The mission of enlightenment, and its Teacher, then is not just confined to India and the Hindus, but extends to all men. The premise concludes, even, that The Enlightened One which the System produces may appear anywhere and anytime.
Had Jesus known about this thought He certainly would have at least mentioned it. The fact is He was limited in His travels and could not have known about the Buddha or some other Hindu Sage who antedated Him. If we can review these teachings, having such easy access through the blessings of many translations of these books in many libraries near at hand, certainly, had he had access to the teachings, he would have reviewed them also! Because the teachings, when you remove all the chaff, all say the same thing!
There is but One God. Anything which appears to be a god is at most a fragment of His Being. Stripping away things which create appearances, such as names, forms, individual personalities, etc., we are left with the raw discipline pointing to One Supreme Creator God who also has the ability to destroy. He reflects certain ideals that all the religions uphold as truth. Self-Discipline, Self-Denial, is the quickest way to His Truth and realization of His Being. He rewards and He punishes. You pray to Him for Rewards. Most of the things Men pray for are for Material Rewards. Always He speaks, saying, "Don't get hung up on the Material Things". Because He Rewards and Punishes, He is the Judge of Human endeavors. He says, "You will be judged according to your works". The price of one's works can fall into one of two categories: eternal life or a gradual or spiraling descent to hell. The difference between the Hindu and Biblical accounts of Eternal Life and Hell are not clearly drawn, for one flows into the other. Somehow, out of all of it, there flows a Kingdom of God, with the Anointed One of God, or Enlightened One of God, leading, ruling at its head. And through Him God is King. He who is sent in the flesh to perform this task is given another title: Savior of the World.
Jesus claims that title. Buddha also claims that title. Buddha lived about 560 B.C., near the time of the Babylonian captivity of the Jews. In fact, it is interesting that he lived during a window of time between the prophets Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Zechariah, who are important prophets/teachers of the Bible. Buddha's teachings laid dormant in India, not spreading very effectively, until Jerusalem was sacked, about 70. A.D. And that is the time when the teachings of the just executed Jesus Christ began to seek out the World. It is interesting, at just about the same time, the teachings of Jesus began flowing West and the teachings of Buddha began to flow east, into China. As for the home of both teachings, their homes never really accepted them. Israel denies the teachings of Jesus, its son. India denies the teachings of Buddha, its son. Much of the Orient, apart from India, became Buddhists and Most of the Western World became Christians. The other part of the world, stretching in between the two worlds of Christ and Buddha, is that of the Moslem world, with which we have already dealt in Hidden Pavilions .
Taking these three worlds together we can count perhaps over ninety-percent of the world's population. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we found out that they all believed the same teaching, even the same God? Truly, if that day were to come the Unity of One would be a Reality. Help me! Strip away the names and the temples and their individualized worship! Worship only their Voice! Remember the beginning of their creation story: God thought about making himself a world and said, Let there be... In the Bible the rendering goes thusly: And God said, Let there be light...And God said, Let us make man in our image....As the Upanishads seem to agree, God is the Many in the Unity of the One. It is easy for Him to say "we" and still be One! Can two walk together except they be agreed?
Suffering and Salvation
We know that you are suffering to hear the word on Buddha. After all, that is what was included in the title, a commentary on Buddha; and we are more than half way through the book, still commenting little on the Buddha.
Just as other considerations, Confucius, Lao Tzu, and the Vedic literature were way-points in our discussion, so too is there another. It has to do with the concept of the hero.
Heroes and Deification
Perhaps the first heroes were Shamans. A shaman may have been one who excelled in battle or the hunt who had some form of magical power over those he hunted or his enemy. He had a closer tie to the Spirit World or the Great Spirit and, therefore, was not alone in his works. The ordinary man could only marvel at the Shaman's power over the natural world. This could have been the scenario over thirty thousand years ago; even as far back as two-hundred thousand years ago with the Neanderthal man.
Man likes to specialize. Eventually, one would assume, the role of the Shaman and the Great Warrior got split. Perhaps another entered into the scene: the artist who painted on the walls of caves the things the community needed powers over. The community might need a plentiful supply of Bison, for instance. The artist seemed to have great power over the spiritual and natural worlds, multiplying the beasts upon which they fed by merely painting them on the wall, often making them pregnant; and killing them abundantly by merely painting them killed on the wall. Such was the power of the artist in man's formative years. He could also create a Shaman on his cave wall. The Shaman was usually drawn wearing antlers on his head, animal hides, and his inner torso revealed a skeleton (as was often the case in representing animals). This is Immortal Man: a man who can live after the body has turned into bones. He has an internal eternal spiritual substance which could only be represented by the pictograph of the skeleton. The skeleton, we might add, was thought to contain the spirit. The Neanderthal would break the bones of the Cave Bear and orient them toward the West, the Setting of the Sun. If you break the bones the spirit will escape. Orient the bones towards the setting sun and you will be sure that the Spirit of the Bear will never awake. For a loved one who dies one must orient the bones towards the Rising Sun to be sure that the Spirit awakes at the next dawn. The modern day practice of Cremation evolved from these rites. By burning the body one releases the Spirit to Heaven. Both then and now we execute rites for properly sending off a body so that it will not come back to haunt us; and we put flowers on graves or insert grave goods so that the Spirit will be properly provided for in its journey to the place of the dead. All spirits must think well of those who must send them off to the place of the dead.
The Shaman presided over the rites of the Spirit World. He was the High Priest, but more than that: he was a magician and a healer. Modern Shamans are the local doctors in traditional societies. Even today, according to a recent television documentary on China, much of the medical practice in China is still in the hands of the Shaman or Witch Doctor. He is a specialist with natural herbs and healing notions. Modern physicians are even studying these ancient healers.
Civilized man took on new heroes, reflecting the orientation of their culture.
Among the Indo-Europeans the heroes were Warriors. The highest caste in India is the Warrior Caste. One of the most powerful gods of India was Indra, a god of War. It was Arjuna's Duty, or Dharma, we saw, to fulfill the duties of His Caste: that being the Warrior and overlord of society. Another Caste, perhaps even higher still, was the Brahman, who were the philosopher Sages of Hindu Society. All achieved their status through rites of inheritance.
In Western Civilization one of the greatest heroes is another Warrior: King Arthur and, of course, we must include with him his Round Table Warriors.
China seemed to go the other direction, being not so dependent upon Warfare as the horsed Indo-European invaders were. They were able to develop a System and Rites to such a sophistication that the society concentrated not so much on defensed cities and heroes to defend them but a King who would maintain the Order of the Society. They created monarches who were named Sons of Heaven. The Sons of Heaven had ultimate and absolute, heavenly authority. Off shore, in Japan, that society took the Chinese dress, writing system, and culture to another threshold. They became perfect imitations of the System in effect in the early dynasties of China. And taking the Chinese system to perfection the Japanese officially deified their monarch. No longer just a Son of Heaven, he is a deity to be worshipped as a god.
The Japanese experience was not the first instance of deification of man. The Romans practiced it with the Caesars. Julius Caesar, his nephew Caesar Augustus, Vespasian, who sacked Jerusalem and its temple, all had alters raised unto themselves. Like other gods, they had their own official priests offering sacraments to them. The philosopher, Juvenal, notes that he was a priest himself to the god Vespasian.
We offer these comparisons, because after a great man dies men like to deify him. Some men intended to be deified; others not. From the days of the early Shamans to the present day, mortal men are sometimes chosen, by their often miraculous deeds, to be deified.
Gilgamesh wanted to attain immortality. He was a king of Erech, as I recall, who was renown for the extent of his realm and the wonderful inventions he brought to civilization, like writing, for instance. In the story of Gilgamesh , Gilgamesh, a great warrior, actually had immortality in his grasp but lost it to a beguiling snake. Thus, he was never given a place among the immortal gods. Others like him, like Tammuz and Osiris, however, were deified and worshipped as gods. Perhaps Indra, or Shiva, or Krishna were once mortal rulers who were unfortunate enough to have those following behind them deify them.
When one is deified, new accounts have to be added to the mortal diary to account for one's immortal nature. Oracles, miracles, etc. have to be added to the story-line to account for the person's god-like nature.
Let's take an easy hero to focus upon in this instance: Jesus of Nazareth. Though he was not recognized as God in the Flesh in his own time, later (St. Peter--IIPeter 1.17--reminds us that he heard the voice from heaven say, ..This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.) The apostle Paul and his disciples went beyond the Son of God thesis to the accounting that Jesus is God , and thus deified him. In the gospels Jesus is discussed by the disciples a prophet of God; they thought him to be even Elijah the prophet resurrected and then, at the time of the Transfiguration, he is believed to be John the Baptist resurrected (who had only a few months earlier been beheaded by Herod). Some thought He might have been Moses Resurrected, though they had some reservation, since they knew Jesus didn't do the things Moses would have been expected to do. As far as His perception of Himself goes, it is clear He saw himself as a special Servant of God. He, in fact, said that he was the angel of whom Moses prophesied. He called Himself on a regular basis the Son of Man. Ezekiel the prophet referred to Himself as the Son of Man. The nomenclature had Messianic overtones, but still, according to Rabbinical Tradition, the Messiah has always been recognized as a being who is a mortal servant of God, the Father. On one account, when Jesus asks the disciples, "and who do men think I am?" Peter answered that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. As suggested in The Tempting , the account of Peter may be perhaps an interpolation by Paul's branch of Christianity to account for their Deification of Christ. The Rabbis during Christ's time (We are specifically speaking of the Essenes) considered the Two Messiahs as mortals to come, especially anointed by God, just as King David was anointed by God (through the prophet Samuel). In sum, Jesus Christ saw Himself as a Servant of God (He prayed to God, the Father, not to Himself, for guidance). Taking the Key that He also fulfilled prophesy, that being of the Son of the Virgin prophesied before the sacking and scattering of Jerusalem, and that also being of the Suffering Messiah who is killed, we can also assume that Jesus believed that He was the Messiah. And we must emphasize that the Messiah, from his day to this day, has always been thought of as a Mortal Being by the Rabbis, including Jesus Himself, a rabbi, who represented Himself as a Mortal and certainly a Servant of God. This has important implications on the future. Forasmuch as the Jews do not recognize Jesus as their Messiah and still await the Two Messiahs prophesied in the Bible, it behooves us to note that when those Two Messiahs appear they, following Jewish tradition, ought not to be deified, any more than David could have been deified. David was never considered a god; neither was Moses, the great Jewish lawgiver. We make this conclusion, not on the basis of our own personal desires, but rather on the assumptions the Rabbis have made over the years. To consider the Messiah as a mortal for these past two thousand years and then suddenly change position and consider Him as God in the flesh would represent a major change in their reasoning. The Messiah to come, from the Jewish point of view, ought never to be made into a god. And with this consideration in mind, we can now look at another deified man: Buddha.
Both Jesus the Christ and the Buddha are, according to their disciples, the Saviors of Mankind. They each claim to be Saviors of the entire world. And neither acknowledges any other competition. They hold their Orders in an exclusive role; and in both Orders they are heroes, or, in Biblical terms, Messiahs to come. They both are anticipated to come out of Heaven in a full reincarnation to Save the World. Short of seeing this anticipated manifestation of the immortal back into mortal flesh, we are told by both Orders that Their Word alone is Man's Salvation.
This presents a problem from several points of view. The two creeds have divided up the world and claim that the world must worship only one of them in the end. The Paulists say that all men will worship Jesus the Christ in the end, and the Buddhists say that all men will worship Buddha in the end.
Sorry to have to put it to you this way. It appears that you, being of the world, are going to have to make a choice for the sake of your Salvation. According to the two Orders you must choose between Buddha or Jesus if you wish to avoid the burning pit of damnation, on the one hand, or eternal reincarnations to greater and greater suffering on the other hand. It doesn't seem fair, does it?
In keeping with this thesis the Paulists say that all those who do not believe in Jesus (and all the trappings they have assigned to him) will be burned in Hell-fire (those who believe in Him, of course, are given the Grace of Eternal Life and Paradise). All the Jews, Taoists, the Buddhists, and the Hindus who have not sought Salvation in Jesus have been, and will continue to be, condemned to the pit, according to Pauline theology. However, with Buddha, much of China is Saved, Japan and parts of Indonesia included, and the Taoists, the Hindus, the Moslems, the Jews, the Christians, etc., because they believe not in Buddha, will be condemned to eternal reincarnated mortifications and the sufferings of hell. Depending upon how you look at it, half of the world's souls have been condemned to hell and the other half reserved to Salvation. Now where is the Truth in this matter?
To ascertain the Truth, or at least peek into the Divine Truth, we have to look closer at Jesus and Buddha. We have already well discussed Jesus in our book Hidden Pavilions , and will at most summarize our thoughts on him here. And having now introduced Him as a means of better understanding the Buddha, let's now take a look at Buddha. Who was he? What was he?
Although I had studied the Far Eastern philosophies and India on a rudimentary scale in my youth, I must admit I have forgotten most of that which I learned. Perhaps it is still somewhere back in the inner-sanctums of my mind. If it is still there, hopefully it will come out, reducing my chance of error before the scholars; but for the moment, what I am about to say must rely upon two books. The first, L'Enseignement du Bouddha ("The Teaching of Buddha"), published by the Buddhist Promoting Foundation, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan. I shall refer to this work as the Bible of the Buddhists. My copy of the Buddhist Bible was loaned to me by my Advocate friend right after she returned from Bangkok, Thailand. The book had been placed in her hotel room. The other book upon which we have chosen to rely is Buddha and the Gospel of Buddhism , 1988 version, by Ananda Coomaraswamy, Citadel Press, Secaucus, New Jersey. We shall rely upon these two works for our discussion, because we like to take people at their word; and to understand a religion one need not study every scholarly work written on it. Often just a few quotations from its master is sufficient to the basic understanding of the foundation of the religion.
Before the Advocate left on her trip we had been talking about a possible new book. I thought perhaps it was time to write a book for children. So we exchanged a few ideas on the new book. Then the Advocate mentioned that she would like to study Buddhism. I thought for a moment about this. I had considered it before, while writing Hidden Pavilions . I concluded then that I would not muddy the water, so to speak, concerning those writings. Though I remembered little about Buddhism, I suspected that bringing up the subject of Buddhism in the context of Hidden Pavilions would probably add more confusion than it would light. After all, in Hidden Pavilions I left Buddha with the comment that the System of belief in Buddhism is too complicated. God surely would have a simpler method of explaining things, I thought. I had good cause for saying this, for my remembrance of Buddhism left only the feeling that it was too complicated for common man to understand. And my thesis in Hidden Pavilions had been all along to argue for the precept that God's concerns are for all men and any guidance He would give would have to be something fully understandable by all men. I developed this issue even more so in our book The Tempting . One need not be a scholar to study God. Looking at the stacks and stacks of books written on Buddhism made me shudder, just as the stacks and stacks of books written by the Paulists made me shudder. The simple precepts of Jesus were far easier to grasp and could easily be sifted from the myriads of books on the Bible which we used as sources for Hidden Pavilion's conclusions. Though our task in Hidden Pavilions , looking back, was more awesome than we thought in the beginning of the work, the study of Buddhism seemed to be even more awesome. After reading the two books on Buddhism just mentioned, we found ourselves in a state of helplessness, nonplussed, as to the means of approaching the study. There must be some easy way to reduce it to an easily understandable system.
When the Advocate mentioned that she would like to study Buddhism it struck a vital cord in my body. By the time she had returned from her trip, a week later, I had written my children's book and already had begun to think about Buddha. She handed me her Buddhist Bible and I found myself off on a new adventure. In the formation of our presentation in this book, we thought to rely only on this Buddhist Bible, hoping to use it as our Authority. We believed that any teaching, to remain true, has to be consistent wherever you find it. Any book on the Source and foundation of Buddhism ought to be sufficient for explanation of the Buddhist argument. The book had other qualities as well. It was placed in hotels as a proselytization tool. It is intended to bring you to the Faith. Like the Gideon Bibles placed by Christians in hotels, we believed that this book shares an equal foothold in the Door of Truth. Having browsed through Coomaraswamy's book, however, we realized that the Bible we had chosen would not be complete enough to provide a proper assessment of Buddhism. Certainly there could be many other books which we must consult, the neglect of which would probably offend many scholars. But our premise all along had to be kept in perspective; we could not entertain Buddhism as The Word of God if it took several books to understand the basic message of Buddhism. So we took the option of using these two books as our representation of the faith and ask you scholars to forgive us for our limitation.
As must be apparent by now, our first order of business was to determine whether there was a background to Buddha's teachings that ought to be mentioned first. Just as we concluded that Jesus actually said nothing new, in terms of His Sayings, for everything He said came right out of Biblical Knowledge, so too did we suspect that Buddha had passed on what he had learned, reciting the Hindu Vedas accurately and faithfully, without really introducing anything new.
Suspecting this to be the case from my somewhat superficial and waxing overview from my younger years, I thought to proceed on this basis, inquiring as to the presiding wisdom in place prior to Buddha's entrance into the field of knowledge. Because our work was now taking on universal proportions, we thought to include Taoism and the sayings of Confucius in our background study. This proved to be worthy, for we discovered a small (I would call it minor) conflict between Lao Tzu and Confucius. And that Conflict led directly to the Cause which Buddha took upon himself. Though Buddha, Confucius, and Lao Tzu come from about the same period of time, and we are tempted to think Buddha received some influence from China, we have doubts that Buddha was influenced from Chinese sources. It is worthwhile to mention that Confucius and Lao Tzu, being reported as contemporaries, could be placed in time circa 500 B.C. (551- 479 B.C.). Buddhist Tradition places the man named Gautama, who became the Buddha, in the years 563-483 B.C., calling from a place in northern Kashmir, India. Lao Tzu was believed to have lived at the same time and may have lived himself over a hundred years,--tradition says he may have lived as long as two hundred years.
These three individuals, it seems, all awoke at the same time, out of different causes and with slightly different perspectives of the same teaching. Of the three, Confucius and Lao Tzu both admitted that they were "passing on" the knowledge they had learned from sages before them. They had added to that knowledge, perhaps even shaped it to influence society in a new way, but the basic Warp of the Wisdom did not change. The Warp, concerns two matters: Suffering and Salvation; and its thread seems to be found well woven into the major religions. Through the common identification of problems and solutions in this Warp, we can easily make comparisons between the religions. And the comparison is not concerned with the Material aspects of the religion but rather the aspects of Virtue: the Spiritual. The Spiritual things remained constant: The Unity of One, humility, self-denial, charity, doing unto others as you would have them do unto you; Serving God with all heart and soul, etc. These Virtues emphasized the antimaterial aspects of Duty. It is these things which form the Warp from which we worked in weaving this Tapestry.
The Spiritual Virtues, or Warp , just mentioned are not dependent upon any particular System of government or an official system of Rites. Rites, however, are tailored to particular social orders. Because the Virtues are independent of a particular kind of society, we can expect them to manifest themselves in most societies. They--more than any rules of Order--were the threads which held the fabric of society together. Thus, we can see the Upanishads teaching us a similar theme we saw in Taoism.
From fundamental Virtues come specific precepts. In the Judao-Christian Bible we have, for instance, the precept of the Savior being a Father of the fatherless. This precept is peculiar to the God of Abraham. In the scheme of the Bible God thought to lay a curse upon His Chosen People--of whom He said He was their father--and in that curse He would turn His face away from them and scatter them to all the nations and subject them to a Spirit of Burning. After they had been purified in fire, He would redeem them to their Holy Land. And then He would be a Father to them again. While He had His face turned away from them (He could not bear to look upon their suffering, we presume) they were fatherless. During that time we could say of Him that He was a Father of the fatherless. This precept is extended to the Deliverer Messiah whose epithet includes, a father to the fatherless. It is the Messiah who redeems Israel in God's stead. Thus we can see this precept really sums up the entire plan of redemption voiced in the Bible.
On the other hand if we were to see the metaphor of the carved block of Taoism in the Bible or something closer, like Vedic literature, it most certainly would cause us to raise our eyebrows and say, "Say what?" For the Carved Block is as much an image of Taoism as the Father of the Fatherless is to Judaism.
Our use of the Warp in like manner describes fundamental virtues which can be a binding agent to unify all the religions of this book with the Judao-Christian-Islamic structure. The Warp becomes a precept showing how the Unity can be approached. And knowing the Warp one can follow the train of our precepts much easier: how we can in fact pen a New Tapestry upon which man can rest.
Lao Tzu concluded that life was suffering. To avoid the suffering one must disassociate oneself from the material things which cause suffering. That is to say, one must become an ascetic. This leads to the removal of all desire, which causes suffering, altogether. As an Ascetic you live in a cave or forest with a rice bowl, dependent upon others to sustain you. The concept is dependent upon Charity. Without Charity no hermit or ascetic could survive. To Confucius the life of a hermit is unnecessary self-punishment.
The Hindu sages and Krishna's Manifestation resolved that the removal of Suffering best comes through the life of an Ascetic. Material things cause desire and desire causes suffering. Give up your material possessions--become a Hermit--and Suffering would cease.
The Hindu sages compromised on the theme of Lao Tzu, somewhat, like Confucius, recognizing that a System and Rites was valued to maintain Order and that one need only teach mankind how to live within that order. The conclusion was the creation of Sages to be models and guides, who are fashioned on the order of the Ascetic, and who would shed their wisdom upon the masses, helping them to order their lives better without suffering. The Wisdom also included a Promise that by following the Way of Self-Discipline every man could free himself from suffering. Dharma, Duty, was important to the Wisdom as Self-Denial. One is born into a Caste System and must fulfill his duty on earth. Though one is at the bottom of the ladder in the Caste System now, perhaps being an Untouchable, one could, by influencing his conduct towards Self-Denial Virtues, purify one's soul; and, at the next reincarnation one might be born into a higher caste. Ultimately, with proper attention to the Virtues, following the Way faithfully, one may even look forward to not being reincarnated and blessed with eternal fellowship in Heaven. That is to say, one can look forward to reaching Nirvana, (or Nabbana), which may be summed up as complete Oneness with the All, or Brahman, or Krishna, however you wish to name it. This is the ultimate goal of Christians as well: to become one with the All, or the Father. In Jesus's prayer (John 17.17-26) we have the note that the Father is in Jesus and Jesus is in the Father and the request that man would become one with Jesus and through Jesus achieve the Oneness of being with the Father, the All. Thus, through Jesus there would be a Body of Christ which is man living in the Body of the Father. This objective, we might add, is consistent with the objective of the Old Testament: through the Messiah all men would come to bow down before the One God to call upon Him with one language and one consent and live with him as their King in an eternal Kingdom of Peace forever and ever. This day of Peace would also bring long life: it was essentially the realization of Heaven on earth. Thus we have the Lord's Prayer:
Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name,
Thy Kingdom come, thy Will be done
in earth as it is in Heaven...
On the Day--called the Latter Day when the Messiah comes to raise up His Kingdom, the dead in the earth are raised up: some to everlasting life and glory; others to the second death, which is the burning of their soul in the fiery pit of Gehenna (Hell) [Rev. 20.12-15].
The Vedic precepts of life after death provided for the transmigration of the soul, where the soul would struggle from body to body until it reaches perfection. This precept of the transmigration of the soul is not foreign to the Jewish Scriptures. In the Odes of Solomon, # 23, the Messiah who is charged with building a copy of the Tabernacle is heard saying,
I was a well formed child,
And a good soul fell to me,
Or rather, I was good
and entered an undefiled body.
The precepts of reincarnation are rather simple for the common man to understand and avoid a lot of problems in explaining the origin of things, what Truth really is, and how the gods interact in reflecting the manifestations of the One Eternal Self. We mention this because the precepts of rebirth are easy to grasp. Most people I run into today, in fact, who are of no particular persuasion, have invented a sort of reincarnation theme explaining their hopes after death. They need no years of study to arrive at this conclusion. They can pick it up easily for themselves. The conclusion simply says, "Be good in this life and your next life will be better, with less suffering".
So the prospect for some kind of "reward" for your suffering is something most "sufferers" like to cling on to. It can be a place in Heaven, in Christian terms, Paradise in Moslem terms, or Buddha Land in Buddhist terms; or a better next life or reincarnation in Hindu terms. Ultimately, however, all these focus upon a state where the soul is allowed to live in everlasting joy and happiness. Ultimately they view a state where the good soul is rewarded with life with the All, the ineffable God. Until then, there would be suffering. Some looked upon Suffering as a natural state of being (a characteristic of the Messiah is that He is a sufferer--even bearing the sins of many; Isaiah 53); others saw that suffering caused distress, and to remove the distress one needs to remove the suffering.
When Buddha came on the scene, he noticed several things wrong with the System in which he was born; and these things, he saw, caused suffering. The Caste System was terrible. It promoted unnecessary suffering. One born into a lower class could never hope to rise, by knowledge or works, above his class. The lower classes were condemned to poverty and suffering. There was no hope of escape, except through death. It was a miserable lot for those on the bottom of society to say the least.
In response to this Buddha took a somewhat radical stand. He said, in so many terms, all men are equal before God. That is to say, all men are born with the Buddha Nature and have an equal chance to achieve nabbana (nirvana). One day a disciple asked him whether women were also entitled to this Buddha Nature, and he argued that they ought to be admitted to the Order. Under protest Buddha finally consented to allow women into the Order. Women also could now enter the Buddha Heaven.
The other part of Buddha's argument on Suffering stemmed from the observation of certain Ascetics who spent much time in self-mortification. In fulfilling the rites of Self-Denial there had been a practice of self- mortification. At the time the Jain's of the area around Binares (the Sacred Grove where Buddha gave his first sermon) were wandering in the nude as Ascetics. Their practices denied them almost every earthly enjoyment one could imagine. Even clothes were denied to the most faithful. Other Ascetics, even to this day, can be seen walking in that area in the nude, subjecting their bodies to fire, sticking pins in their flesh, and basically contriving new ways to inflict pain upon themselves. Along with this there was the practice of Sutthi: throwing the surviving Widow of a dead man on his funeral pyre. These are the main things which were repulsive to him, and to summarize His Mission we can conclude it as helping the poor to free themselves from uncalled for suffering. It was enough to have to deal with acts of nature, which cause suffering -like floods and fires; and maybe even War--but there ought to be no reason for suffering caused by the writs of an inequitable System. He concluded that the key to Salvation was therefore the altogether removal of the rules of the system which cause Suffering.
The basic criteria for the removal of suffering were already in place in the Vedic literature. But let's face it, we recounted only a part of the literature explaining the Way to achieve Salvation. We focused only on the part involving the Self; and what we covered was a small sampling of all the considerations involved which had been extrapolated in the Rich Scriptures of the Hindu Culture. So if you may have nodded a few times reading the scriptures we quoted, and wondered what they really had to do with Salvation--and the removal of your suffering, and what Death really does mean, you can be assured that you have seen nothing! You still have volumes and volumes of books to go through to learn all the nuances and meanings of the Hindu precepts of Salvation.
Buddha reacted the same as I, perhaps, and thought to simplify the Way to Salvation in more easily absorbing terms. We emphasize this, because this is what He really means in the Order of the Wisdom of God. He is a Simplifier, making a complicated message easier to understand. He did what Jesus, in a manner of speaking, did with the Bible.
My first exposure to a Buddhist ceremony, or worship service, was in Paris, France. I had been invited to a friend's home to meet a well-revered priest of the Tibetan Buddhists. I was surprised to find that the man was from Vancouver, Canada and a Caucasian.
At that time I had just finished a book which led up to my work on Hidden Pavilions and was interested in the Buddhist view of the Bible. I was curious whether a Buddhist, certainly raised in Christian values, would see any truth in the Bible. I complained to him that Christians have translated Two Messiahs in the bible into one only begotten Son of God, in Jesus, and suggested that this typifies how men take clearly written passages in the Bible and distort them into another thing altogether. It was not a matter of whether the Bible were True but whether men could be True to the thing which they used as their Source of Truth. Thus, the phenomena of the Two Anointed Ones [Messiahs] really was a vehicle in our conversation which illustrated how well men can come to Truth. The sage seemed disinterested and uncomfortable talking about the Bible, and we quickly turned to other interests. Here we have an illustration that Truth is important to only those who see it misused.
Later we were invited to one of the Tibetan services in a lovely house in the middle of one of the major Parisian parks. Most of the people there were about the age of my friends, in their early thirties. The place was full of people and we had to watch the service on the second floor from the stairs below.
Though all the spectators were French, so it appears, the music and the teaching was in the Tibetan language. I wondered how so many people could be interested in participating in such a ceremony when there was no way to understand what the service was about. "Perhaps it was the costumes, the unusual musical instruments, and the chanting," I thought. Before the service was ended one of the monks came down the stairs with water or oil. We all held out our hands and a small puddle of liquid was dropped into our waiting palms. I had never had communion before, since I was not Catholic or of similar persuasion, and--understanding this to be the Buddhist Communion--then wondered whether finally I had been saved. What an irony, in view of my present wanderings! Of all the religions of man only the Buddhist thought to anoint me with Salvation. Anyway, I thought it odd that one must be converted to receive the sacraments in a Catholic Church and yet the sacraments of the Buddhists were not dependent upon Conversion, so it appears. This was the end of my adventure into Buddhism, until today.
There are many ways to Salvation and many more meanings of Salvation. To Jerusalem at Passover in 70 A.D., should you have asked anyone within that city then, they could have told you what Salvation means. According to Josephus, a participant in that siege, as many as six-hundred thousand bodies had been thrown over the walls during that siege of the Roman general Titus. The City was being starved into submission by Rome. A Savior, to them at that time, would have been Joshua with an army descending, like locusts, upon the Romans and ridding the land of them. That would have been Salvation to the Jews at that time. In recent times Salvation was seen by Jews in the hands of a Gentile who sought to hide them and protect them from the holocaust ["holocaust" means "burnt offering" in Hebrew]. Today, Salvation to the Jews has been realized in the restoration of their people to the Holy Land. Yet, they still await their Salvation. For they know--because of the oracles--that there is more to come. The Kingdom of God must yet come.
In these days, Salvation can mean--by the appearance of a great leader or great leaders-- the freedom from the fear of a nuclear War. To Eastern Europe, at this writing, assuming the trend continues and is not stained by personal motives of those bringing about the New Freedom, Michael Gorbachov certainly must be, in their minds, a kind of Savior. Hopefully his works will continue to be towards Peace and Freedom for those previously in bondage; hopefully he will go down in history as a great Savior. I say this not with any bias towards his person or country; I say it only with respect for the Work--towards freedom--which he has already accomplished. In the Bible an epithet of the Savior or Messiah is letting the prisoners out of their bonds--letting them go free. We can only Hope that in Gorbachov's position as a World Leader he will end up as a Light to the World. A True Savior, letting the prisoners go free.
There is, of course, another kind of Savior. Both Lao Tzu and Confucius spoke of it. He's the Sage, the Disciplined Man who leads from behind the scenes for no sake of reward or even remembrance.
The Bible contemplates in its Messiah such a man. In the book of Revelation there is a character called The Word of God who rides on a white horse, whose mouth is a sword, and smites the earth with the Rod of His Mouth [Rev. 19.11-16]. The same character is also mentioned in Isaiah. He carries a name known only to Himself. We wondered in Hidden Pavilions whom the Christians really thought they were waiting for. We asked how they would recognize their Messiah if the Bible says no one will know His Name! In any event, the message here is that the Messiah of Revelation is very similar to the Virtuous Savior modeled by the Upanishads, Lao Tzu, and Confucius. He does His work with complete detachment from material reward; even doing His Work with No Name. It calls to mind Lao Tzu. No one is sure of His Name. Yet, look at how many people, millions upon millions, he has led through the ages! This is, by comparison, a significant feature of the character called The Word.
Both the creeds around Jesus and Buddha have, we must regret, gotten locked into Naming the Name of the Savior of the World in their own Order. Being locked into the name, they have put themselves in conflict with the very thing their creeds direct them away from: Vanity.
When we look back on our lives, how we each have been saved from some terrible crisis, often it has been through means we, ourselves, would never have anticipated. The character of the Savior might have been a complete stranger and our Salvation might have been in the most unexpected place and by unanticipated means. Certainly those who were rescued from beneath the Cyprus Freeway Collapse in Oakland, just recently, must have found themselves in a similar situation to that which we have described. A crisis occurs unexpectedly: the Savior must come the same way (unexpectedly) to match the Crisis at hand. The Messiah of the Bible is described in such terms. At the moment you least expect Him He will come, it says. Jesus refers to Him Coming like a Thief in the night.
These elements are important considerations to understanding the Judao-Christian Religions. They are no less significant to understanding the Buddhist Religions. We say "Buddhist Religions" because, like the evolution of Christianity, which we describe in our work, The Tempting, and a later work called The Son of Man, a Commentary on Immanuel and the gospel of Truth , Buddhism evolved into two distinctly separate religions. How this occurred and the forms they took is our next subject.
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Updated 7.19.98; 5.27.2000; 10.17.04; 11.10.05
Copyright © 1993-2005 Maravot. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 1993-2005 Mel Copeland. All rights reserved.