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Was Jesus Christ a Buddhist saint called Issa?
April 6, 2008
6:29 pm
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MsGuided.

From the onset, I must tell you that I claim no expertise in Buddhism. Since I haven't taken refuge, the equivalent of the Christian baptism, I am not technically even a Buddhist, let alone a spokesman for them. I just think that the Buddha really knew what its all about.

Recommending a book on Buddhism is a very difficult thing to do. I have a strong preference for the books written by Buddhist Ch'an Master Hsing Yun(Chinese) and interpreted by Dr. Tom Graham. One such book that is good for newcomers and veterans alike is called 'BUDDHISM Core Ideas' by Master Hsing Yun and translated by Dr. Tom Graham. The interpreter is a very important person who can make all the difference, as you would realize.

Equally good are books written by another Ch'an Buddhist Master Thich Nat Hanh(Vietnamese). If you click on the link to the Plum Village web site below:

Plum Village - Zen Master Thich Nhat
Hanh



you will find more info on his books.

Both Hsing Yun and Nat Hanh are living Patriarchs who head lineages of Buddhist traditions. But unlike Christian sects the relationships between sects are much closer, warmer and less distinct. Buddhist sects all seem to acknowledge the truth of each other's teachings. From what I can see it just seems to boil down to preferences for this group of sutras or that one. Customs that often stem from influences of local religions seem to differentiate the schools too. Tibetan Buddhism has influences from the old Bon religion in regard to their imagery and rituals. Likewise Chinese Buddhism is similarly influenced by their past religious and cultural traditions.

I don't favour any school particularly and love them all. Therefore I find no conflict in this regard.

Books written by Christmas Humphreys and Francis Story (Englishmen, both now deceased) are good too.

There are a great many free eBooks available that broach topics within the domain of Buddhist thought and practices.

If you go to their web site by clicking on the link below:

BuddhaNet - Worldwide Buddhist
Information and Education Network



you will find an eBook library full of free downloads by a many different authors from many schools of Buddhism. I trust the authenticity of this source.

If you read widely and reflect at depth then your heart(Buddha Mind) will tell you where the truth lies.

April 6, 2008
6:52 pm
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Hi Garfield9547

I personally think that Christ's followers could be broadly classified into two groups. The minority group was able to understand Christ's mystical teachings at depth at least to some extent; while the main body, led by Peter, James and in later years Paul, was only able to grasp meanings at a superficial level. Since Christ excluded no one who wanted to hear what he had to say, Christ, I believe, taught at different levels to suit his audience. The Buddha did the same.

There are no prizes for guessing to which group by far the majority of his followers belonged. When it came to later 'faction' fights, gnostics versus the rest, it is easy to see why we have the bible that exists today! The 'parables' and shallow anecdotal stories won out over the 'nitty gritty meat'.

I often wonder if the name Didymus(Twin) was tact onto Thomas's name because he was reportedly so close to Jesus and was said to be his 'confident'.

I think Thomas belonged to the much smaller group of followers who were able to understand Christ's mystical teachings. Unfortunately this 'gnostic' group was squashed like an unwanted cochroach by those 'loving' Christians belonging to the 'main' group of Christ's followers. Even today, 'gnosticism' is a dirty word to most Christians. What chance did Thomas and his crowd have then? Buckley's and none!

April 6, 2008
8:33 pm
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Hey Tez

For many years, the churches reisisted the field of psychology until they came up with "spiritual counselors".

Assuming Jesus existed and I suspect you do - do you reckon Christ's messages that they wanted to repress are those he may have learned as Issa? There is still a vast gulf between the two schools of thought, isn't there?

You say - "The 'parables' and shallow anecdotal stories won out over the 'nitty gritty meat'. "

and "Even today, 'gnosticism' is a dirty word to most Christians. What chance did Thomas and his crowd have then?"

I often wonder what about the messages, what was and is it about knowledge that's so frightening or threatening?

April 6, 2008
11:27 pm
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And Tez,

I wonder what those who knew gained in keeping the knowledge, suppressing it? Power and control? Politics, money?

Sometimes I still marvel at it. And from a few people withholding and suppressing knowledge, fear of sharing truth that might have liberated, a cult was formed, religion evolved, a culture built.

April 7, 2008
10:14 pm
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Bevdee

You raised the question:

"I often wonder what about the messages, what was and is it about knowledge that's so frightening or threatening?"

I think that the early Christian hierarchs and even those today reject as heresy, any message purported to have come from Christ which either:

1. The church hierarchs did not understand and therefore were vulnerable in that they were unable to explain to their underlings, upon which their power base depended, what Christ meant, or

2. went against their own interpretations of other of his more shallow teachings, therein threatening their power base as the dispensers of the true interpretations of the meaning of Christ's words.

I know that there are Christian ministers reading these threads and occasionally responding.

To make this point more powerfully, I will demonstrate the modern Christian minister's response to the Gospel of St. Thomas by a simple challenge, that I spell out below.

Thomas reports Christ as saying, below:

"3. Yeshúa says: If those who would lead you, say to you: Behold, the Sovereignty is in the sky!, then the birds of the sky would precede you. If they say to you: It is in the sea!, then the fish of the sea would precede you. But the Sovereignty of God is within you and it is without you. Those who
come to recognize themselves shall find it, and when you come to
recognize yourselves then you shall know that you are the Sons of the Living Father. Yet if you do not recognize yourselves then you are
impoverished and you are poverty."

This is Christ openly saying that his disciples are equally with himself, the "Sons of the Living Father"!

Imagine the threat this was to the Christian hierarchs who claimed(and are still claiming) that Christ was God himself incarnate who came down from heaven to die for the sins of His failed and sinful creation to reconcile them to Himself!!!! How can Christ's followers be on the same level as Christ who is supposedly the only Son of the Living God??? The early church fathers already empowered by the might of Rome had, at the Council of Nicea, three choices; two equally horrific and one far more acceptable to the status quo. Either:

1. Christ was not God and therefore they had to admit publicly that their whole fabricated story was wrong, or

2. Christ was God and we are all God also. This was from their shallow perspectives absolutely blasphemous -or,

3. Thomas's Gospel was heretical nonsense.

It doesn't take a brilliant mind to see why choice 3 was adopted by the more shallow thinking apostles and their disciples and later by the same kind of shallow minded church hierarchs at the Council of Nicea when many scriptural writings were assigned to the rubbish tip.

Then you have Thomas reporting Christ as saying:

"5. Yeshúa says: Recognize Him in front of thy face, and what is hidden from thee shall be revealed to thee. For there is nothing concealed which shall not be manifest, and nothing buried that shall not be raised.
"

From a Buddhist perspective this is part of the Buddha's teachings and quite meaningful. But what can a Christian make out of that?

Again, you have Thomas reporting Christ as saying:

"7. Yeshúa says: Blest be the lion which the human eats--and the lion shall become human. And accursed be the human which the lion eats--and the human shall become lion."

Again from a Buddhist perspective this is most meaningful. But what does a Christian make of this very important message.

Again, you have Thomas reporting Christ as saying:

"11. Yeshúa says: This sky shall pass away, and the one above it shall pass
away. And the dead are not alive, and the living shall not die. In the days when you consumed the dead, you transformed it to life--when you come into the Light, what will you do? On the day when you were united, you became separated--yet when you have become separated, what will you do?"

This is most meaningful to a Buddhist, yet obscure and puzzling to a Christian I presume. Perhaps the Christians might like to contradict me here. Be my guest and I will be grateful if a Christian proves me wrong. I know we have ministers reading these threads - be my guest.

Again, you have Thomas reporting Christ as saying:

"17. Yeshúa says: I shall give to you what eye has not seen and what ear has not heard and what hand has not touched and what has not arisen in the mind of mankind."

Again - most meaningful to a Buddhist, yet obscure and puzzling to a Christian I presume.

"18. The Disciples say to Yeshúa: Tell us how our end shall be. Yeshúa says:
Have you then discovered the origin, so that you inquire about the end?
For at the place where the origin is, there shall be the end. Blest be he who shall stand at the origin--and he shall know the end, and he shall not taste death."

I repeat the same challenge to the Christian ministers here on this site. Shall there be an indepth meaning in Christ's words forthcoming from you?

Or will you resort to the same response as the early Christian fathers i.e. denial that this is Christ's message at all? Will Satan be blamed yet again?

Bevdee - I'll stop there. Otherwise I'll end up quoting all of Thomas's gospel and therein fill Site Co's database up to no real avail.

April 8, 2008
4:25 pm
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Me thinks a can of worms have developed from the depths of mudpies.

The religion, made by man, is dangerous, as it has nothing to stand on. Many of the gnostic gospels were written about 150 -200 years after Christ's death on the cross. So most followers of Jesus Christ deem the gnostic gospels such as Thomas, etc. to be attempts at either undermining the gospels themselves, or basic untruths. Not speaking of the Catholic religion per say, but followers. Maybe the gospel of Thomas for example is puzzling to Christians because they believe that they are not the words of Jesus but of an imitator of the word. Since Thomas was dead by the time the gnostic gospels were written, then it makes you wonder who wrote it.

The gospels, written by those who knew Christ up close and personal were written by the guys who followed him on a day to day basis and saw him after his resurrection. The thing about all of this is that in Isaiah 53, 1,000 years before it all happened, it is prophesized. I just watched an interesting DVD called "The Case for Christ", which is also a book, written and done by Lee Strobel. I found it interesting the way the Bible, Jesus and history are depicted in this DVD.

I know we all have different beliefs. I suppose one day we will all find out if our belief systems hold true or not.

April 8, 2008
9:37 pm
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On my way

You wrote:

"The gospels, written by those who knew Christ up close and personal were written by the guys who followed him on a day to day basis"

Yes and Thomas was one of the main players too. However the apostles and disciples were mostly simple minded folk - not mystics like Christ. Thomas, one of Christ's closest apostles, was an exception. If his gospel is any guide, Thomas was evidently a mystic like Christ.

And you predictably wrote:

"So most followers of Jesus Christ deem the gnostic gospels such as Thomas, etc. to be attempts at either undermining the gospels themselves, or basic untruths."

Yes, that is the standard Christian 'party line' cop out - and completely without foundation. In challenging Christians to seriously explain Christ's message in the Gospels of St. Thomas, I asked in my previous post, the rhetorical question:

"Or will you resort to the same response as the early Christian fathers i.e. denial that this is Christ's message at all?"

The options faced by Christians when confronted by contents of the Nag Hammadhi scrolls are:

"1. Christ was not God and therefore they had to admit publicly that their whole fabricated story was wrong, or

2. Christ was God and we are all God also. This was from their shallow perspectives absolutely blasphemous -or,

3. Thomas's Gospel was heretical nonsense."

You also seem to me to have chosen option 3 as I would expect most Christians to do.

Options 1 and 2 were 'unthinkable' for the majority of the early church fathers and I cannot see why things would have changed since. But since when are the majority always right?

However, Thomas's gospels do stand on their own merit in the depths of the insights into the nature of truth contained therein. They don't need to be explained away by unsubstantiated attribution of ulterior motives to a presupposed forger. Such 'forgers' by the very nature of their unprincipled and shallow characters would be unable to think up such indepth truths and to make them even half credible.

I maintain that because the Gospels of St. Thomas are filled with the same insights into the very nature of reality that the Buddha expounded, they are the genuine mystical, in-depth teachings of Christ.

This is not to imply that the 'shallow' teachings attributed to Christ, that are contained within the bible, are not also Christ's teachings. As I also said, Christ like the Buddha, tailored the depth of his teachings to suit the depth of understanding of his audience.

It is all a question of depth, context, what's been left out, what's been retained and the mindset from which the biblical writings are being interpreted.

And you wrote:

"Since Thomas was dead by the time the gnostic gospels were written, then it makes you wonder who wrote it."

So were both the Buddha and Christ dead when their teachings were finally written down. And Paul, the obsessive and suspected schizophrenic who heard voices and saw visions, well he never knew Christ in person at all. Yet he was the one who institutionalized the Christian church and it's doctrines excluding those those of which he disapproved and those later discarded at the Council of Nicea. I fail to see the relevance of the names of the scribes who actually wrote any part of the gospels. There certainly were multiple authors who wrote parts of the individual gospels within the bible. Linguistic academics have categorically stated this as a given. This 'wondering' is nice but it is also a red herring!

I stick to my proposition that Christ intended that there be two levels to his teachings. Thomas evidently grasped the deeper level - the rest well ... I would gladly speculate upon which level the bible addresses.

I would very much appreciate you giving me just one indepth interpretation of the meaning of any quote of your choice from the bible that you attribute to Christ's authorship?

Please note that I stress the words 'indepth interpretation'. No more 'shallow party lines' please.

I am more than happy for you to consult with your most respected and learned Christian minister(s)or colleagues in meeting this very difficult challenge. After all, achieving this in-depth interpretation of your chosen exemplar of Christ's teachings can only be good for both yourself and your fellow Christians.

April 9, 2008
3:22 pm
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Tez,

You said:

"I would very much appreciate you giving me just one indepth interpretation of the meaning of any quote of your choice from the bible that you attribute to Christ's authorship? "

Do you want the quote itself (verse)or do you want to debate it? Any believer (and I know you already know this) will give you the same answer over and over. It isn't up for debate for a believer/follower. So, will I try to change your mind? No. Will I give you the 'quote' verse..which you probably already know...yes. As far as going to a respected learned Christian minister,
you may look up for yourself any Calvary Chapel Word based church on the internet and email anyone of the pastors there with your questions and they will probably be glad to answer your questions in depth. If I were a new-bee here on AAC I might go there, but not anymore because we have been there oh so many times.

It's your word against God's. I love your writings and your ideas, but when it comes to absolute truth, you know I won't choose your path or Buddha's. I'll end up gong with God everytime. Let me ask you this:

Would you die for your faith?

April 9, 2008
5:53 pm
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What an interesting thread. In my Faith (Bahai), we believe that there is only one God and only one Faith of God which is eternal in the past and in the future. All the different religions are valid and each has/had it's time and place when it met the social needs of humanity. That's why like Buddha said, every religion, not Faith, will at one point be discarded for one whose social rules match the spiritual, emotional, educational, technical, social, of the age. This is where the different Teachers, Masters, Founders, etc that we attach to and claim to be our religion come in. Whether it is Zoroastrian, Adam, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, and Baha'u'llah for us, they all bring the message that is relevant for humanity at that time.

The general spiritual messages of love are similar in all religions, there is actually a chart with the verse "love your neighbor as yourself" from all the different major religions, the concept of life after death is also present for all religions, the concept of reap what you sow is also seen in all religions also the concept of the return of a "promised one and the day of judgment/accountability" is also true for all religions...there are so many other similarities in all religions that in the end if we all sit together, we would find that we are more the same than we are different.

April 9, 2008
8:16 pm
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Ho Omw.

No - I am especially not asking for a quotation.

No - I'n not trying to convert you to anything, let alone Buddhism. I hark back to Buddhism mainly because they tackle the causes of the human condition head on and at a depth deeper than Depth Psychologists can only dream of.

No - I am not seeking any more Christian party lines.

I'm seeking to find at least one Christian who can think for himself/herself at any depth and still make sense out of the 'shallow' Christian message in the bible that pretends to contain Christ's true message.

I often wonder at why 'party line' Christians don't ever seriously question why the Gospels of Mary, Phillip, Thomas, Judas, James, Peter, etc don't appear in the bible. Why did only Matthew, Mark, Luke and John get a look in? Even then, the three all but plagairised the one. Is it because 'party line' Christians abnegate all responsibility for thinking at depth for themselves? Are they like sheep requiring the 'good shepherd' to herd them unquestioningly?

Over thirty years ago, I asked a Catholic priest, himself a doctor of divinity and a university lecturer in theology to explain the deeper meaning implied by the 'tree of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil' described in Genesis. To my horror his answer, spoken with an irritation in his voice, was: "It means exactly what it says literally". This started my loss of faith in the ability of bible based Christians to think at any depth about Christ's teachings and others contained within the bible.

However, because I have enough humility to admit to myself that there might be at least one in-depth Christian thinker out there I persist in seeking in-depth interpretations of 'party line' Christian beliefs.

I don't consider resorting to the old cop out: "Oh that's a mystery of faith" or "we cannot know the mind of God." I'm not referring to mysteries or the mind of any god. I'm referring to Christ's supposed teachings contained within the bible.

Therefore I am asking any Christian minister or some one considered an 'authority' on Christ's teachings for an "in-depth interpretation of " their own "chosen exemplar of Christ's teachings" as I said. I underlined the "indepth interpretation" deliberately. Because the 'party line' interpretation of the key points or exemplars, which I know well from my indoctrination years, are 'shallow' at best and at worst damned sick.

No - I'm not looking for a debate. I am really answering BevDee's question in a more demonstrative way. Bevdee wrote:

"I wonder what those who knew gained in keeping the knowledge, suppressing it? Power and control? Politics, money?"

I 99.99% believe that the reason was that they knew that the knowledge Christ passed on to them was well and truly beyond the intellectual capabilities of most Christian's grasp at any depth then and in the future right up to now. What they had hoped to 'gain', I believe, was freedom from the persecution by supposed hard line Christians of the ilk of Paul; persecution that subsequently followed anyway. The meek didn't inherit the earth. Bishop Cyril, the might of Rome, the Crusaders et all, those butchers of non-conforming human beings did the inheriting! They made damned sure that the party line was the dominant dogma.

It is the 0.01% doubt that I am right that I'm trying to dispell by challenging a knowledgeable, 'indepth thinking' Christians to explain at depth the meaning of Christ's message contained within the bible. You see I don't think that they can! That is what I'm trying to confirm in my mind with 100% certainty.

A gungho Christian recently gave me a copy of C.S. Lewis's book "Mere Christianity". Lewis is supposedly an indepth Christian thinker. I realised after reading the first few chapters that his supposedly logic thinking was not only very shallow but also very naive and flawed. Perhaps Einstein had also discovered this when he didn't recommend the mainline Christian religion as the religion of the future, prefering Buddhism instead - yet Einstien, like myself, did not belong to any Buddhist sect or congregation.

Am I asking too much? I live in hope.

Thomas's gospel shows me that Christ was a great mystical master whose message was almost completely confounded and obscured by the power driven, 'mindless pharisees-in-disguise' then and ever since. Paul didn't change his stripes or his modus operandi. Paul only shifted his shallow religiosity from one brand to another, IMHO.

April 9, 2008
9:22 pm
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fantas.

Thanks for your interesting post.

In it you wrote:

"there are so many other similarities in all religions that in the end if we all sit together, we would find that we are more the same than we are different."

I've heard that said many times. There are also major differences that cannot be overlooked by any thinking person in choosing a religion to join.

For example:

Buddhism doesn't have a God or a divine messenger passing on the divine, implaccable, infallible word of some imagined god or anyone else. Buddhism is really an atheistic religion.

I've seen in print a great Buddhist master challenge the authenticity of supposed Buddhist teachings without so much as a ripple of objection from those who believed otherwise. The Buddha's sutras are not set in concrete like the bible. Challenge the bible's authenticity in any respect as a practicing Christian and its the 'bell, book and candle' for you.

Buddhists don't beg forgiveness for some supreme being for their transgressions. Christians do.

Buddhists don't blame the human condition on Eve's deceitfulness and Adam's stupidity in being fooled by a supposed talking snake. Christians do. The Hansel, Gretel and the big bad wolf story is more credible.

Buddhists don't believe that anyone died to make reparation to some blood thirsty deity for their transgressions. Christians do.

Buddhists don't look outside themselves for a 'saviour' or for divine intervention in the process of enlightening a deluded psyche in the getting of wisdom. Christians do. Christians pray and seek divine intervention into their dysfunctional thought processes by looking for a 'divine shortcut'. For example, they pray: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference." And St. Augustine's famous prayer: "God make me perfect, but not yet" Whaaaa!!!!

Buddhists don't believe that blind faith in Buddha can do anything. In fact the Buddha taught not to just take his teachings as true on his say so. He taught that his followers should test his teachings empirically in their own lives in deep reflection and inner introspection of the workings of their own psyche.

The Buddha taught the law of cause and effect and dependent origination of all things at depth. Whilst Christ said: "so as ye sow so shall ye reap" and Thomas plumbed the depths a little, 'party line' Christians have this shallow belief that if they have 'faith', 'hope' and 'charity' all will be well in the pie in the sky that's coming to them after death, if they 'pass' the final judgement. Buddhists look to the eternal 'now' for the causes of their future mental conditioning and therefore their state of happiness or otherwise. Genuine Buddhists fear causes much more than consequences.

Buddhists believe that the 'effects' of one's life are transmitted after death as 'causes' in the very beginnings of the next 'life' in the sequence and thereafter until conditions permit the 'fruition' or 'reaping' of the consequences. Christians don't believe in any form of rebirth, either in the Buddhist or the Hindu sense in which it is understood. There is a huge difference in the Buddhist and Hindu concept of 'who' or 'what' is reincarnated too.

The goals of Buddhist practices are very different to that of Christian practices as are the practices themselves.

The list of the major differences goes on and on. Not all paths lead to Rome! Nor is Rome always the destination of the journey.

I reiterate - I am not a Buddhist apologist! Buddhist monks and nuns would certainly frown on my writings here as not being 'wisely' or compassionately expressed. I tend to agree with them. But I haven't the time or the inclination to pussy foot around any more.

Your statement that "we would find that we are more the same than we are different" has some elements of truth in it but only at the most superficial levels, IMHO.

April 10, 2008
11:44 am
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Tez,

I am very interested in the ways that you think and live your life.
I speculate that many religions are similar because innately, to me, we as humans are lovable creatures. If we nurture that, then it manifests itself in different ways. Then, we all 'name' what that is to us. For me it's God, for others it is something else.

I repsect you because you have an open mind and have one of those great hearts that I speak of. But sometimes it takes a life of pure strife to humble us out to make us that way. I know many who have had very difficult lives and are the kindest, most gentle and loving people I know. Then there are those who of course become bitter and violent people. Without any sort belief system to 'guide' them, or to follow, or attain to, it is more difficult to have one of those great hearts, IMHO.

I have been to many churches in my life time. Many will tell you how to live. Many will tell you how not to live. I finally decided that they were nice and made me feel good, but I didn't want to feel good without knowing why. There are churches that teach specifically the Bible without opinion, if you can understand that. As you have encountered the teachings of Buddha, it has made you more aware and open to those teachings. What inside of you allows you to do so....your spirit, right? Well, with me looking for a church that speaks the Bible, I can recognize it...it either rings true with my spirit or it doesn't. I go where it does ring true. And sometimes that is in my own little quiet place in prayer, just me and God. So in this sense, we are all similar.

I do not think that I am the one to answer your questions, but I respect them. To hand you a book to read like "Mere Christianity"...it's a good book, I have read it, will not answer your question. For another to tell you that "Have more faith, or that is just the way it is"...is wrong. God says, "Seek me and you shall find me if you seek me with all of your heart." YOu in all of your searching have found God, don't you think? You have at least found what He is NOT. The only way I can suggest is to look up CALVARY CHAPEL churches in the United States, email the Pastor...you may also try Jon Michaels at Calvary Chapel, Spring Valley in Las Vegas Nevada.

He will probably give you the most honest answer. Then it would of course be your interpretation as to whether or not it is a 'party-line'.

April 10, 2008
1:48 pm
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Tez,

Why don't you chose one of the "chosen exemplar of Christ's teachings" as you say and let it be debated here.

By the way the Gospel of Thomas is not one of them.

April 10, 2008
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"By the way the Gospel of Thomas is not one of them."

I eagerly await your in depth rendition of the basis for your conviction regarding the veracity of your above statement.

As for your question:

"Why don't you chose one of the "chosen exemplar of Christ's teachings"..."

I would have thought the answer to that question was obvious. I desire to give some highly evolved Christian as much latitude as is possible in meeting my challenge. I wouln't want to constrain such a person to having to find depth in some obviously 'shallow' quote of my biassed choosing.

Did you really understand the above challenge? Your question would seem to me to indicate otherwise.

For your benefit, I will restate my challenge by 'rewording' it. My challenge to you 'party line' following Christians is to plumb the 'depths' of your own beliefs and then to disabuse and enlighten ignorant people like myself who presently believe that you are blindly following a 'bastardized' version of Christ's genuine message.

April 10, 2008
6:59 pm
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On my way.

Thanks for your humble and honest answer.

Your advice regarding 'going to Mohammed rather than waiting for Mohammed to come to me' will be given much serious consideration by me. I doubt that I would get an in-depth answer, just more of the 'shallow same old'.

You also asked the question:

"YOu in all of your searching have found God, don't you think?"

Over a lifetime, I have found that the primitive needs for security that are based upon the ego's evolving survival drives, have resulted in poor, ignorant humanity inventing imaginary god(s) in their own image and likeness.

Your question seems to me to indicate a complete misunderstanding regarding my beliefs about the non-existence of some God who is a Person, a Supreme thinking and feeling Entity of some kind,(key words) as expounded by the Christian bible.

However, I do believe in an undifferentiated, underpinning Ground of All Being that sets the pattern for the extraordinary behaviour of sub-atomic particles all the way up to the macro-world of the universe that we 'think' we know. That Supreme Underpinning does not think as we know thought, nor feel as we feel - that much is obvious. Thinking and feeling requires at least a brain and an amygdala, respectively. We and more involved lifeforms in the universe, if they exist, are doing the 'thinking' and possibly 'feeling', as we know it, and those thoughts are deluded, mine included. The Buddha knew this and from what Thomas wrote, I suspect that Christ had more than an inkling of it too.

However, our thinking apparatus, our intellect, is a powerful 'crap detector'. It can aid us in finding evolved 'ways of knowing' that are extraneous to itself, without having to invent and/or follow the naive beliefs about some wrathful, anthropomorphic god as fantasized by the primitive tribes of ancient Israel.

Those ways of knowing, call it 'inspiration' if you will, form the source of Einstein's great insights as well those of the other scientific and mathematical giants of history.

Those other ways of knowing involve the discovery and plumbing of the depths of our own mind and what underpins it - namely the great Underpinning that defies all description. The Buddhists call this Underpinning the Tathagata, Buddha Mind, Pure Mind, Suchness, Thus-Come-One and other unsatisfactory misleading words. There isn't a word that even comes close!!! But I believe that of all the world religions the Buddhist sutras with all their shortcomings, are as close to the ultimate truth as we can presently get. But science is coming up in the rear in full support with great promise for a huge leap forward, hand in hand.

The Underpinning, yet to be 'discovered' and crudely 'modelled' and 'labeled' by science, is the very same guiding 'Force Field', for want of better words, as that which patterns the energy within the electron and sets it's very behaviour. That same Underpinning pervades all, including the governing of the behaviour of the very neurons of our own brains. Calling that magnificent Underpinning a God and casting 'It' in the role of an anthropomorphic Christian God of the biblical understanding, is The Ultimate Blasphemy of the Ignorant.

April 11, 2008
3:44 pm
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garfield9547
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Tez

You said

"Buddhists don't look outside themselves for a 'saviour' or for divine intervention in the process of enlightening a deluded psyche in the getting of wisdom. Christians do."

I am a Christian and I do not look outside myself for answers, So its not all Christians who look outside.

"Christians pray and seek divine intervention into their dysfunctional thought processes by looking for a 'divine shortcut'. For example, they pray: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference." And St. Augustine's famous prayer: "God make me perfect, but not yet" Whaaaa!!!! "

This is insane. Really. I understand what you are saying and cannot agee more. I do not believe in prosperity preachers. For me the bible is all connected to a spiritual understanding and has to make sense for me NOW. I have to be able to apply it in my life today.

I have seen preachers on TV saying just come to church and all will go well with you. Bullsh..t Lots of them are just there to take your money and leed life's that are not to be follewed.

People tend to go to church and serve God for the wrong reasons. They want to serve the spiritual and expect to be blessed to the natural.

April 11, 2008
5:31 pm
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Tez,
I want to think about this. I find it all very thought-provoking. Will get back to this thread after the weekend. Have a good one. 🙂

omw

April 11, 2008
8:30 pm
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Garfield9547

You wrote:

"I am a Christian and I do not look outside myself for answers"

You just might be the one in a million Christian that I'm looking for!!

What meaning do you have for the reportedly voluntary submission by JC to horrendous suffering and subsequent death on the cross.

Bear in mind that Christ said in his final words: "Eli, Eli sabatini?"(Party line translation -"My God, my God why has't thou forsaken me?") My quote comes directly from memory - so I will stand corrected for any error in the quote.

I'm absolutely sickened by the 'party line' response to that question. It is part of the reason I abandoned any interest in the 'party line' Christian doctrine altogether. So please don't regurgitate that all over me - pleeeazzzze. It is a horrendous non-sense.

April 11, 2008
10:46 pm
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bevdee
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"What meaning do you have for the reportedly voluntary submission by JC to horrendous suffering and subsequent death on the cross." I know the question wasn't directed at me, but I have a vague theory.

I have wondered if the alleged life of the christ and the crucifixion story were metaphorical references to the steps to spirituality in ancient religions. Like Dionysis,Mithra, etc., whose lives are all so similar to that of the christ, to convey compiled knowledge of all the old mystery religions. Like the initiations in the Eleusinian Mysteries. In the Shamanistic religions.

If those who created the religion applied those steps to initiation, to spirituality - to the life of a man called Jesus. Because there were other "saviours" in mystery religions, some of them crucified. Maybe it's just one of several metaphorical symbols applied to the story of this man, this symbol of spirituality for Xtians to aspire to be- the crucifixion representing transcending pain to achieve a higher spirituality.

I mean, his "birthdate" was changed to suit existing popular custom. Some of the other "facts" might have been altered.

But if you look at those initiation steps - those that alter consciousness? That makes more sense to me than any other explanation.

April 11, 2008
11:00 pm
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bevdee
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this was interesting.

http://www.ampainsoc.org/pub/b...../path1.htm

"Five Spiritual Interpretations of Pain

Is pain evil? Is it inherently bad? Can anything good come from pain? And is that potential good worth enduring the pain? In my work as a hospital chaplain and member of a pain management committee, I have worked with religious people who refuse pain medications for spiritual reasons. They find deep religious significance in their pain. I have found their understanding of pain generally falls into one or more of the following categories that have been considered "normal" throughout religious history:

Pain as Punishment. Pain as a form of divine punishment is perhaps the first place of our minds go in our attempt to reconcile physical pain and religious imagery. The connection is not without theological precedent. Theologians and spiritual caregivers regularly acknowledge "God's punishment" as one of the ways the presence of pain has been traditionally understood by religious adherents (Moss, 1996; Conwill, 1986).

People of Eastern faiths such as Hinduism have long believed pain and suffering in this life are a result of sin and misdeeds in previous lives. And though modern scholarship downplays the connection between punishment, sin, and physical pain, traditional Islam, Judaism, and Christianity have always understood some direct relationship between pain and punishment. This is clearly seen in debates about whether anesthesia should be used for laboring women, since pain was perceived to be the curse for Eve's disobedience recorded in Genesis 3:15-16. (Cohen, 1996)

But punishment is not always punitive. Many Christians, citing Hebrews 11:7-11, see pain and suffering as potentially educational. "Divine discipline" or "divine chastisement" sees the infliction of pain, suffering, or "hardship" (as the text reads) as God's desire to train a person, similar to the traditional parental discipline of spanking. John, a 58-year-old diabetic patient, lay in pain caused by a necrotic toe, which he believed was the result of his "backslidden" relationship with God. Quoting Deuteronomy, Chapter 26, which refers to the blessings of obedience and the curses of disobedience, John spoke of how he felt the flare-up of his diabetes was connected to his "spiritual disobedience" and his noncompliance. John saw his hospitalization as a corrective punishment for sin that brought him into closer fellowship with his God.

Pain as an Opportunity for Transcendence. I asked a friend, an elder of a large Evangelical church, about his prolonged recovery from knee surgery. He said he was fine, but admitted he was not taking all the pain medications he had been prescribed. He said, "A little pain is good for the soul." While most mainline religious faiths advise against suffering and encourage the use of pain medications when needed, they also recognize the potential for spiritual transformation through pain.

In a 1984 papal address at St. Peter’s Bascilica in Rome, Pope John Paul II said, "Suffering seems to belong to man's transcendence: It is one of those points in which man is in a certain sense 'destined' to go beyond himself, and he is called to this in a mysterious way." Monks, mystics, and martyrs have long seen pain as a way of breaking from this life to experience another. It is not odd that some people in the modern world might still use pain for such purposes.

The best example of the use of pain in modern health care is in our labor and delivery rooms. A new mother writes, "I am no masochist; I have been known to cry over cuts, menstrual cramps, and even spilt milk. Childbirth is pain like none of those, nor is it like any other pain I have had...I had no need or desire to end or diminish the sensations of birth. It was exhilaration to be part of a primal experience. I was caught up in the desire to know each moment; to discover the unique progression of events leading to the entrance of a new being—or is it 'exit'? Not only me, but no one else can have that time again. It was an opportunity" (Caldwell, 1981).

Pain as Test or Competition. Marie, a 28-year-old Vietnamese-American woman, chose natural childbirth to give birth to her son. While intending to give birth "as God intended" (meaning without medical intervention) and later viewing the experience as an opportunity for transcendence, her primary motivation for voluntarily enduring the pain of labor was more to test her own limits and prove to herself and to others that she was not a weak-willed person. "I want to see what I can handle," she said, speaking of the modern world's overemphasis on personal comfort and convenience. For those who choose it, voluntarily enduring pain becomes an opportunity to discover one's own limits and potential and connect with one's self on the most intimate level.

Pain as Atonement. While the strongest image of pain as atonement comes from the Christian tradition of Jesus' painful crucifixion for the atonement of humanity's sin, other religions and cultures also believe in the redemptive value of pain and suffering. Suki, a 62-year-old Sri Lankan woman recovering from abdominal surgery, told me she believed her pain was helping many deceased friends and family pass into the next life. And we only need go back 100 years to the Native American sun dance to see an indigenous example of pain as atonement. Before being outlawed in 1904, those practicing this ritual attached themselves to large poles with hooks or eagle talons, and, symbolizing death and rebirth, captivity and freedom, and illness and healing, painfully pulled themselves from the hooks' flesh-piercing grip. Manny Twofeathers wrote, "I prayed to the Creator to give me strength, to give me courage. I was doing it for my children. When I stood up, I did feel pain. I felt pain, but I also felt that closeness with the Creator. I felt like crying for all the people who needed my prayers. I prayed they could get enough to eat. I prayed for all the people who are sick in the world. It brought tears to my eyes...the pain did not compare to what I was receiving from this sacred experience..." (Glucklich, 2001)."

April 14, 2008
9:33 pm
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I guess that some people do like pain. Masochists certainly seem to get their rocks off while getting a damned good flogging. Was Christ a masochist? I don't think so.

The saints who went around wearing hair shirts, chains etc and who whip themselves believing that it has deep religious significance for them also found "deep religious significance in their pain" - as the quoted author wrote.

The good friday spectacles in the Phillipines of guys with pierced skin and thorns rammed on their heads carrying crosses certainly find "deep religious significance in their pain".

But what is this significance? "I'll suffer like hell now and then God will recompense me in the next life!" Is that it?

The Jihadic suicide bombers have a similar mentality.

Was Christ a Jihadic warrior hell bent on destroying himself hoping that the Jews would rise up in his defense? I doubt that.

Was Christ's self-inflicted pain on the cross an offering of recompense for his past misdemeanours(sins)or for some one elses?

That's the Christian party line.

Christ was a little more spiritually advanced than all of the above would indicate, IMHO.

Given that he was in similar circumstances to Christ, would the Buddha have submitted to the same fate willingly? I think so. But of course this is speculation - we can never know.

The question remains - was Issa a disciple of the Buddha's teachings for a while before his coming out?

Thomas's gospel certainly has Buddhist overtones.

April 16, 2008
10:19 pm
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bevdee
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Tez

Goodness gracious - I never meant that Jesus got his rocks off by masochism!! I meant that (maybe) his transcendence of the pain of crucifixion took him to a higher spiritual plane. That's why I said - "Maybe it's just one of several metaphorical symbols applied to the story of this man, this symbol of spirituality for Xtians to aspire to be- the crucifixion representing transcending pain to achieve a higher spirituality."

That's why I pasted all the spiritual references to pain.

"The question remains - was Issa a disciple of the Buddha's teachings for a while before his coming out? It sure sounds possible, but not enough proof for me.....

Later - :~)

April 17, 2008
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Thanks BevDee, I knew what you meant.

Seeking out or not taking steps to avoid pain purely as an exercise in transcending it to the point of dying seems to me to be a little extreme to me and hardly the 'middle way' of the Buddha. Perhaps, if this was Christ's motive, then he was not a Buddhist saint at all but just another guy who either misunderstood or disagreed with the Buddha's teachings.

April 19, 2008
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garfield9547
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Tez

"What meaning do you have for the reportedly voluntary submission by JC to horrendous suffering and subsequent death on the cross. "

I do not believe this happened in a physical sense. Really, where do we draw the line between what "really" happened and between what is meant by parables.

When a snake TALKS in Genesis people say thats metaphoric and when somebody is crusified they say this happened. Really??

They discovered dinasaurs thats millions of years old, but could not discover the cross, ark etc.

I wonder why??

Garfield

April 19, 2008
10:23 am
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garfield9547
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Tez

You pretty much summed it all up by saying

" But the Sovereignty of God is within you and it is without you. Those who come to recognize themselves shall find it, and when you come to recognize yourselves then you shall know that you are the Sons of the Living Father. Yet if you do not recognize yourselves then you are impoverished and you are poverty."

"Thomas appears to me to be saying unequivocally: "salvation comes from recognizing who you are, seeing your true nature, and your unity with all 'things' beyond which and in which there is no 'thing'. Otherwise you are totally ignorant of 'what is'.". Where in all this is there any 'self' to be found?

There is NO self to be found.

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