Sunday, August 26, 2007

From Buddha to Jesus in the Life of Society

This is the third blog in my series on the problems of the world -- one factor, capitalism, that is a nurturer of these problems -- and possible solutions.

In my mind, one's spiritual path or religion cannot and should not be put in a side room labeled "Religion or Spirituality" -- and the rest of the house for the "real" matters of life, i.e. the secular.

One's religious or philosophical beliefs should influence, encompass everything; give meaning to them and point the way to act.

This sounds a little like a fundamentalist, but IMO this label would be an incorrect one.

In the last blog I looked at some of the teachings of the Buddha and showed that they are at variance with "savage capitalism". That the problems created and exacerbated by this world domineering economic system are fostering injustice, poverty, war, class struggle, and so on.

One more look at Buddhism's values contrasted with those of "savage capitalism" >>>

Buddhism/Savage Capitalism: cooperation/competition; compassion/ ruthlessness; reverence for life/ destruction and disregard for life; equanimity/anxiety; contentment/ endless desires;
joy/misery; peace/conflict; interdependence/independence; wisdom/shortsighted folly; spirituality/materialism; humility/pride. I could go on, but this gives the contrasts and reasons why I believe a Buddhist, IMO, cannot support savage capitalism.

What about Jesus -- his person, life and teachings?

Although I believe Jesus has a personal message, he also has equally important teachings -- both social and political. This is also true of the Hebrew Bible .

One clear example, is the many times Jesus speaks of the "kingdom of God". In almost all these instances -- this kingdom is what the earth would be like -- NOW -- if God were king. God has a passion for justice -- which is shown strongly in the Hebrew prophets. Jesus was in this same lineage -- a prophet. Jesus was not an "individualist" --- he has a profound sense of the unity of life --- a horizontal view of mankind rather than a vertical or hierarchical perception. He opposed both the secular and the religious domination systems of his time. This is extremely important to notice because this was a major signal to us of what God wants. Jesus' message was one of radical freedom and equality. He seemed to envisage a world where people lived as a family -- sharing, loving, cooperating.

Very often Jesus warns us of the corruption of wealth and how the poor are blessed. The idea that Jesus would feel comfortable today in a world where to secure the comforts, wealth, and security of our nation we would invade another is out of the question. That Jesus would have nothing to say about the commercialism of today's world with its advertising focusing people's minds and goals on accumulation of things and money --- is ridiculous. In fact Jesus would be astonished if one of our television preachers would tell him: "Jesus, you are in a Christian nation." Let me be blunt. I don't believe one can be a follower of Jesus and support savage capitalism. A world dominated by this system of power and wealth is not the Kingdom of God, but the Kingdom of Satan.

When Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God -- he described the Earth ruled by God and -- not by the rulers of this world. Matthew usually uses the phrase, Kingdom of Heaven -- not because he meant something other than God's kingdom on this earth -- but because as a conservative Jew he preferred not to use the word -- God.

IMO, Jesus' life was not primarily dedicated to showing how we can arrive at a better place after death, but how we can join our energies to the creative energy of God --- in making this world more just and loving. The Lord's prayer: "Thy kingdom come, they will be done, as it is in heaven."

Marcus Borg points out in "The Heart of Christianity," --- "The coming of God's kingdom involves bread and debt forgiveness." In Matthew: "And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors."

God has a dream for the earth, and Jesus wants us to be active socially and politically in making this dream a reality.

Savage capitalism is making it impossible for God's dream to be realized.

In the next blog, I try partially to answer the question -- What can Buddhists, followers of Jesus, Jews, and men and women of good will do -- about savage capitalism domination system of our Earth?

(I did not mention Muslims because, frankly, I don't know enough to express an opinion.)