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Similarities across religious boundaries - an open question

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Hi everyone!

In so many books about Buddhism and meditation, I see references made to other religious beliefs and their texts. For example, parables and quotes attributed to jesus, quotes from the old testament, references to muhammad's teachings, and so forth. I really find that generally inspiring and very interesting. I have found a handful here and there, and can recall something quoted from the old testament in MCTB2 about one's reflection or something... 

Anyway - is anyone willing to throw out some excerpts that are pointing to the deep truths of life through that lens?I feel it would be fun and interesting to see in one place and, as I said, I find it inspiring and particularly interesting to knock around in the noggin' as I go through daily life. 

Thank you! Be well!

RE: Similarities across religious boundaries - an open question
Answer
1/31/20 12:47 PM as a reply to T.
Hi,

A huge topic... Let me suggest a bunch of directions you might want to look into, rather than directly quote texts... Please feel free to jump around and skip any part if it's too much info ;) emoticon

I guess, the take home message is that There is truth, and people who realize it will tend to say similar things... If you are a pragmatist, you will tend to just want to realize it and not read about it, and that is the most important part. But it can be very helpful - and maybe it is actually an essential part of the path - for talking about, articulating and making our insights conscious, to read what others have said about it. 

So here goes :

For taking distance with tradition/mythical stuff while reinforcing faith in something higher : I'm no specialist of this guy but you might be interested in reading a book by Ananda Coomaraswamy, called Hinduism and buddhism. He was basically an erudite who has devoted his life to exploring this very question you're asking, making not just parallels but identificating elements of all traditions, greek philosophy and christian traditions, in a quest for philosophia perennis. There's a whole movement of comparative studies which posits a kind of primordial tradition dating back to before history, which would have diffused within the different religions, taking different forms, of which each spiritual paths are like one aspect.

It's interesting, and will certainly provide one with more distance regarding mythical and trditional aspects of buddhism, but personnally, I think there's a big problem with that historical conception of tradition... But I share the intuition about the universality of ultimate truth, although this is very difficult as soon as you start getting into discussion about it... A lot of people are weary of this kind of syncretism but I think it's just inevitable. There are other ways to do it though.

About christianity : There are just innumerous texts which would be of interest... If you have a historical bent you could learn about medieval thought, in particular, get to know the worldviews, philosophies and art of europe in the XIth and XIIth and XIIIth century... The whole thing is based no only on the bible, but by texts written in earlier centuries by the fathers in the high contemplative traditions of the oriental deserts (for instance the celestial hierarchies of Pseudo-dyonisus the areopagite are a main direct source of gothic thought and art. See this building which is the first example of art taking its source in this thought and aiming consciously at expressing this new esthetic : https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilique_Saint-Denis) ...

Something funny in english is The cloude of unknowing, a mystical XIVth century text which you can find online.

The heart of mysticism/spiritual life during the medieval renaissance, I guess, with authors of the Cistercian order like St Bernard and Guillaume de St Thierry and other thinkers of the XIIth century renaissance. Marie-Madeleine Davy has written books which make access to this much easier. The big word for awakening at the time was transfiguration.

Here's an artistic example of one of the essential practice of christian communities from the first until around the 18th century - singing : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ych_dTX8G0 Here it is a very old, more contemplative style of singing, a more first-millenium esthetic ^^ : the chant of the old roman church. At the time, I believe the conception that christians had of God was much closer to that notion of aei, God was the Eternal, these musical forms aimed at expressing that, and also served as vehicles designed to allow other humans to experience timelessness, which we might formulate as ... realizing the emptiness of time, entering the temporality of a buddha... It is sung by a group whose founder understands what transfiguration means. This thing about transcending time was a central tenet of medieval spiritual practices, I reckon.

For something really essential, devoid of  "BS", but very dense, though, then go for Michel Henry's I am the truth. For a philosophy of christianity. He offers a phenomenological reading of Jesus' sayings based on his own philosophical explorations, which is the only utterly convincing, deepest and most radical exploration of the question I have ever encoutered. He is describing something which highly resembles buddhist thought, in particular you will find alternative formulations of the notion of emptiness, of dependent origination, etc., with no reference at all to buddhist thought. 

Here are some sayings from the gospel according to Thomas I like :


48. Jesus said, "If two make peace with each other in a single house, they will say to the mountain, 'Move from here!' and it will move." 

49. Jesus said, "Congratulations to those who are alone and chosen, for you will find the kingdom. For you have come from it, and you will return there again."

50. Jesus said, "If they say to you, 'Where have you come from?' say to them, 'We have come from the light, from the place where the light came into being by itself, established , and appeared in their image.'

If they say to you, 'Is it you?' say, 'We are its children, and we are the chosen of the living Father.' [we can imagine that "Father" is Buddha Nature, or Dharmakaya, or absolute phenomenological life]

If they ask you, 'What is the evidence of your Father in you?' say to them, 'It is motion and rest.'"

71. Jesus said, "I will destroy this house, and no one will be able to build it [...]."


76. Jesus said, "The Father's kingdom is like a merchant who had a supply of merchandise and found a pearl. That merchant was prudent; he sold the merchandise and bought the single pearl for himself. So also with you, seek his treasure that is unfailing, that is enduring, where no moth comes to eat and no worm destroys."

86. Jesus said, "[Foxes have] their dens and birds have their nests, but human beings have no place to lay down and rest."

113. His disciples said to him, "When will the kingdom come?"

"It will not come by watching for it. It will not be said, 'Look, here!' or 'Look, there!' Rather, the Father's kingdom is spread out upon the earth, and people don't see it."

Early greek philosophy : Also, something I find extremely cool is that in very ancient Greek philosophy, if you read the early texts, you will find numerous mentions of the notion of "eternity", aei, and in particular, in Parmenides' poem, there are sentences which just seem to express an understanding that echoes the highest teachings of the mahayana, or sayings of a zen master. I was struck by that when I read the fragments, because if you listen to what philosophers or philosophy teachers will say about Parmenides... It's very misleading... But i seems that this is changing these days. Parmenides and Heraclites : amazing reads.

The  phenomenologists (Husserl, Heidegger (heavily influenced by XIIIth century german mystic Meister Eckhart), Sartre, Mearleau-Ponty, Michel Henry, ...) have described things which correspond to what we are experimenting with here on this forum. In fact, some say that phenomenologists' descriptions of the results of their practice (arguably, épochè, the phenomenological reduction) is much more articulate, evocative and precise than anthing that's been produced by contemplative traditions, but that their indications of method are close to nothing. I suspect that some phenomenologists have gone very far towards awakening, for instance it seems to me that Michel Henry must have been at least what we call here an "anagami"... I'm unsure what he means exactly when he talks about the ground of being (in a way which bears striking resemblence with some dzogchen texts btw), it's a bit ambiguous whether he gives some ontological status to that or not (is he "hypostasing" the "ground of being" ?) , but in any case it's an extremely enlightening read.

Épochè, trying to synthesize it all, an attempt which culminates in praise of unknowing : currently, Michel Bitbol, a regular speaker at the M&L conferences, is doing great work bridging the gaps between scientific, philosophical, and regligious thought of all times and places. Very highly recommended stuff, although, I guess, pretty rarefied and highly intellectual... In his book, Does consciousness have an origin (I dont know if it's been translated to enlgish), in the third chapter, he provides a comparative study of phenomenological epoche descriptions from Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Fink, and in there you will discern the progress of insight. It's very stimulating, because he's also well aware of indo-tibetan tradition and the more classical philosophical traditions...

Even if you read other classical philosophers a bit you will find a bunch of extremely crunchy stuff. For example Kant's transcendental esthetics, where he asserts that Time and Space are the two a priori conditions of perception... I'm personnally convinced that he got his understandings not just through speculation but by what we call jhana practice...

Tao te king, Rumi : At the other end of the planet, you might want to check out the Tao-te-king ... 

As for more accessible stuff,  I'm personally a fan of Rumi's poetry as "translated" by Coleman Barks, which always provides me with a deep sense of inspiration.

It's endless and endlessly fascinating ^^

Best wishes for your life and practice.

Edited to add music !

RE: Similarities across religious boundaries - an open question
Answer
1/31/20 6:53 PM as a reply to Olivier.
Wow! Thank you so much! I had an inkling it was a huge topic. I guess I was hoping that people would have their small bits of inspiration they stumbled upon and throw those up for consideration. 

For my process, I find it really increases the depth of everything to see the connections and see it in a new light - after having been meditating for some time and steeping in the scientific process of Buddhist meditative practice. 

RE: Similarities across religious boundaries - an open question
Answer
1/31/20 8:12 PM as a reply to T.
As you can probably tell I'm very passionate about this too and will jump on the slightest occasion to get going... emoticon  Haha, but I'm sure others  will post things more in line with your expectations.

RE: Similarities across religious boundaries - an open question
Answer
1/31/20 8:16 PM as a reply to T.
T:
Hi everyone!

In so many books about Buddhism and meditation, I see references made to other religious beliefs and their texts. For example, parables and quotes attributed to jesus, quotes from the old testament, references to muhammad's teachings, and so forth. I really find that generally inspiring and very interesting. I have found a handful here and there, and can recall something quoted from the old testament in MCTB2 about one's reflection or something... 

Anyway - is anyone willing to throw out some excerpts that are pointing to the deep truths of life through that lens?I feel it would be fun and interesting to see in one place and, as I said, I find it inspiring and particularly interesting to knock around in the noggin' as I go through daily life. 

Thank you! Be well!

I wrote this post 1+ year ago:

https://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2018/10/all-religions-on-light.html

RE: Similarities across religious boundaries - an open question
Answer
2/1/20 4:40 AM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
Congratulations and thanks for sharing; I'll go check it out!

(It looks awesome!)

T:
Anyway - is anyone willing to throw out some excerpts that are pointing to the deep truths of life through that lens?I feel it would be fun and interesting to see in one place and, as I said, I find it inspiring and particularly interesting to knock around in the noggin' as I go through daily life.

Chapter 15 of my book, The Slacker's Guide to Stream Entry: A Journey of Christian Meditation and Awakening to No-Self, attempted to do this. It was written over five years ago, so treat it as an essay rather than anything claiming to be definitive.