“Jesus and Buddha can not both be right; the lotus is the symbol of Buddhism, the cross the symbol of Christian faith. Behind them stand two diametrically opposed beliefs.”
Notes/summary from The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha, Ravi Zacharias (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Press, 2001).
“Dedicated to ‘the kind and generous peoples of Malaysia, India, Singapore and Thailand for their friendship, hospitality and inspiration.’ where the author spent time, ‘scores of hours in temples with monks and with instructors of Buddhist thought,’ researching the book.”
The City of the Buddha
The book begins as the writer hails a boat for a ride through an Eastern city, which teems with both apparent acts of reverent devotion, a monk wandering with a bowl for begging in his hand, and a pimp advertising for his brothel’s business. There is a charm and carefree friendliness to the people of the city. The temples of the Golden Buddha, Emerald Buddha and Reclining Buddha are offset by stories in the newspapers of HIV and AIDS, and how the income from prostitution has been estimated to exceed the entire national budget.
While riding down the famed River of Kings, the rider considers the typical story of a young prostitute from the newspaper; Priya had left home at age 17 to the city, at the encouragement of her parents, to earn a living. Within hours, the friend who was her guide raped her, then later helped her find employment as a seamstress, where she ended up as basically the company prostitute, becoming a full-time prostitute by age 23., managed by “a handful of thugs who shared in the spoils.”
Priya, whose name means “sweetheart” or “beloved,” finds she is HIV-positive, but continues in the only line of work she knows. Her disease disfigures her, and when she can no longer hide it nor find a cure, she finally succeeds in one of her several suicide attempts.
‘What would Buddha have to offer her if he and she were in the boat?’ (as 95% of the country is Buddhist) the rider wonders. ‘Or Jesus?’ The rider lets his imagination take a ride and pictures the conversation …
Priya: We have a saying in my culture, which means ‘never mind’ or ‘it will all work out,’ but I don’t believe it anymore, life has not ‘worked out.’ Every tick of the clock reminds me of that.
Jesus: Your whole body is a gaping wound of the past. You mentioned time, and timeless truths: Tme never moves forward without engraving its mark upon the heart – sometimes a stab, sometimes a tender touch. But always an imprint.
Jesus offers her a drink of water – Priya has her own cup in her bag, which she is not to let anyone else touch, as she is considered unclean.
Jesus notes how she has been enticed and let down by many in her life, and how the human heart is foolish, prey to deceit, and enticed by the evil one, in however small increments.
You know, when the imagination is beguiled – which is where it all begins – and the will succumbs, the mind is unwittingly taken prisoner.
With each breakdown of the will comes a greater imprisonment of the mind.
Priya: notes how this is how things happen in small towns; Jesus responds by stating that
Gaining the world and losing the soul has been a malady of all mankind.
Jesus states that Man cannot live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, then mentions how he would like to offer her life, forgiveness and eternal life.
Buddha’s Way … and way, and way, and …
Buddha enters the conversation now as he feels compassion for Priya as well, but says that what Jesus speaks of – spiritual death, the Word of God, forgiveness – are illusions and crutches for the weak, nor does he believe in an ‘evil one.’
Buddha claims his life was shaped by issues like these and suffering especially. He says to Priya that her life is “the fruit of all that you yourself have sown. You were not free from debt when you were born, and you won’t be free from debt when you die. You were born with a cup half full; you have filled it he rest of the way. And your every act, word and deed has to be paid for.”
Jesus interjects: Just look at these masses – you carve into their consciences an enormous moral debt. What an unbearable burden you’re laying on humanity, Gautama!
Buddha replies: I didn’t just make this up, it took years of philosophizing … My way, really a thing of beauty, is this: there is a moral law of cause and effect in the human consciousness – with nothing to do with God or the evil one.
You are born with a collective moral capital; your present life is bankrupt because of how you spent your life. In this life, you bear not only your debt but that of others as well. Your choices help to pay down that debt.
Unlike Hindu karma, you are not re-incarnated, or carnated again … you’re reborn because you don’t return as yourself. That’s the difference between what I call ‘rebirth’ and the Hindus call ‘reincarnation.’
Priya: I am confused. Whose karma is being worked out when each life is wrapped around so many? Are my parents also paying for past lives through my tragedy? I mean, trying to reach for an answer in this karmic cycle is like putting your hand in a bucket of glue and hen trying to wipe it clean. Everything you touch becomes sticky and there’s nowhere to wash it off. (p.24)
Buddha: I have a technical term for that: dependent origination: your origin is dependent on innumerable causes. But that is complex – for now, free yourself from the illusions of God and forgiveness and individual life hereafter, and invest in a life of good deeds that will outweigh the bad. Make yoru heart pure, and offset all of your impure acts and thoughts. That’s your only hope.
Jesus wants to address Priya’s need for answers to life, but Buddha wants to lay out a few principles first. First, and ‘well, this is awkward’ but … once I became enlightened, I would not let my disciples address me by my common name, Gautama, but only as ‘the Buddha,’ as I’ve reached the pinnacle of knowledge and wisdom. Secondly, while we can discuss a number of things, the idea of discussing what Priya ‘personally needs’ is one of the core differences between you and me; the idea of ‘personal’ is a delusion.
Buddha describes his own life: born into wealth, he had three palaces, one for each season. His parents wanted to shield him from all pain and suffering – ‘suffering’ – a key word, Buddha claims to have wrestled with the idea 5 centuries before Jesus was born, and the problem of pain became the ultimate quest of his wife.
Jesus: “Let me present to you my servant Job” (that line sounds familiar …) from centuries before you – he was moral and still suffered, and while you are uncomfortable with the idea of ‘an evil one,’ Satan played a pivotal role. Or consider Abraham, who knew the infirmities of old age (which also bothers you) – yet God birthed a miracle for him, though much of what anguishes modern history came from his home. Abraham came more than 2000 years before you, and for the record, before Abraham was, I am. So time ought not to be a factor of seniority here, if you don’t mind. Those who define truth by the calendar run afoul of Him who created time.
Buddha: good answer … since my followers take great pride in dating my sojourn before yours. How can time argue with eternity? … anyway, to continue: in my life, I saw many things that disturbed me – old age, death, sickness, disease, pain. Anguishing, but I had to find a reason for these mysteries.
I saw a wandering ascetic, and decided that was what I should do. I left my wife and family,the very night my son was born in fact – I named him Rahula, which means ‘fetters; or shackles,’ because he was an encumbrance to my pursuit of peace. Wife, children, parents – all were an attachment I had to leave if I was to find true peace. I lived the life of an ascetic for 6 long years.
I was born a Hindu, was taught under two great Brahman teachers, but disagreed with the authority of the Vedas.
Then one day, while sitting motionless under a fig tree in a place called Bodhgaya, there came upon me the transcending memory of all my thousands – indeed, infinite number – of previous lives. I was in a state of unparalleled tranquility, a life of perfect balance, as if light and its absence commingled.
I saw the illusion with which humanity lives, though at the same time, something was extinguished as it had never been extinguished before: I was unmoved by either joy r sorrow, I became unshackled from desire. I was at peace with reality and needed nothing in any way, shape or form. I was now the Buddha – the Enlightened One. I had achieved my personal pursuit. And also note, I had one basic pursuit: Truth. I have told my disciples since not to follow anything just because they were told to, but to taste and see for themselves whether something is true or false.
Jesus: “Unshackled from desire” – what a statement! “Extinguishing all hungers” An incredible ideal. How can it be possible that all desires are wrong? That issue alone could dominate our discussion, couldn’t it?
You remind me of someone else I saw under a fig tree – Nathanael, whose name meant ‘gift of God.’ He was shocked when I knew him by name – then I revealed to him the innermost inclinations of his heart. When we were done, he had had a glimpse of heaven. Few experiences are as jolting as really knowing yourself for the first time through meeting someone else. That’s the power and unpretentiousness of truth.
Morality and the path to truth: Buddha’s way and Jesus’s
Jesus: Gautama, your meditation under your fig tree, and your heart of compassion, are proverbial. Your followers work hard at being compassionate and selfless, some of my followers can learn much from their simplicity.
But something quickly stands out – rules, scores of rules, like a noose tauntingly swaying above the head, ready at the hint of one wrong move to be tightened around the neck. 4 sets of rules for 4 great offenses, 13 rules required for formal participation in the brotherhood, 30 rules to curb greed and possessions, 92 rules of offenses under yet another category, 75 rules for proper behavior of novices who seek admission to the order, and 7 ways of settling disputes. And the list goes on – 227 rules for the male monk and 311 for the female – plus scores of fine-print contingencies. This is the Rule Book of rule books!
I seethe wandering monks with their bowls in their hands, beginning each day with the hope of bringing themselves under these precepts, none ever quite sure if they’ve made it. It’s quite a life they lead, set apart from the mainstream. The boat driver then mentions how he saw a monk with a cell phone, but Buddha doesn’t want to ‘go there.’ Generations have sat in caves and lived the life of renunciation, but you have not seen their hearts like I have. Some have spent 10 or 15 years in caves in Tibet in meditation.
But we haven’t reached the core of your teaching yet – mere renunciation isn’t enough, as even you left the life of asceticism. Abraham left all he knew for a city that would be eternal, Moses left his life in a palace, and Paul considered as dirt all his credentials. You’re offering nothing unique – many other religions boast notable martyrs for their causes. Hindus, Muslims and even atheists. But you claimed to come to a different conclusion than all of them – what was it? An infinite number of lives, and nirvana – so little understanding about these, can you explain?
Buddha: yes, there is confusion, mostly because people don’t understand ‘death.’ I see you agree … and I might add that your life, Jesus, showed the most exemplary qualities one could want to see. Some of my followers have written about how close your teachings are to mine, and have even called us brothers.
Jesus: yes, but those scholars have taken the lighter matters of what I taught and neglected the weightier matters of my teaching. When you mix falsehood with truth, you create a more destructive lie. In fact,many of those very scholars have even distorted what you have taught. You know, Gautama, morality as a badge of attainment breeds the deadliest state of mind – a delusion of absolute autonomy.
A young rich ruler came to me once,who had kept all the precepts, but the meaning of life had eluded even though he circumspectly kept the moral law.
By contrast, one who sees his or her spiritual poverty and comes to God for help is far closer to God’s kingdom. It’s a bit like sanding on a mountain and looking down at a city below. If the only path down the mountain winds around it, at times you may actually find yourself farther from the city, sometimes even losing sight of it, in order to get closer to the city. The morally confident person demeans the distance and loses the path. The impoverished in spirit, humbled by the distance, keeps to the path and reaches the goal. That’s why, Priya, you may be closer to the kingdom than you think, and I will show you the way.
Buddha: Your illustrations are compelling, you read my heart. But you want me to continue? Ok …
I was saying, I had seen life as I had never seen it before.
First, life is suffering – not just simple pain, but the all-encompassing sense of life lived with perpetual loss, all of life’s aches, hurts, longings.
Second, I saw the cause of suffering – all suffering is caused by longing, by desire, by attachment.
Next, came the answer to end suffering – for which I conceived the eightfold path to nirvana.
These are the 4 Noble Truths: suffering, its cause, its end and the 8-fold path.
The two words to summarize the dilemma of being human are ignorance and craving. Take Priya for instance: her life-destroying error lie in her not knowing who she really is, her existence and her essence; in that ignorance, she craved after money and comfort. Had she been devoid of her ‘self,’ this would have never happened.
Similarities that are really differences: the importance of the individual self, God’s perfect knowledge and prayer
Jesus: here’s one interesting similarity between us but with a world of difference: I mean something very different when I say that one must deny himself before following me.
You also speak of Priya’s ignorance about not shaking off her sense of personal self, and forsaking any personal pursuits, while I seek to provide answers to those.
But here is another difference between us – you said you originally thought to remain silent about you discoveries, but your disciples changed your mind, even though your knowledge was complete, and you were completely enlightened. You were also persuaded to limit children joining to those with parental approval (though you did not have yours), and to allow women to become monks.
But, while you point out that God changed his mind to requests from Moses or Abraham, there is a critical difference: God’s gift of prayer is a constant reminder that the human being is not autonomous. In its most basic form prayer is the surging of the human spirit in its weakness, grasping at the Spirit of god in His strength. Sometime mere words can not give shape to the longing of the heart.
God answers every prayer by either giving what is asked for or reminding the petitioner that God’s provision is built on His wisdom and executed in His time. But the answer is always there for the instruction and nurture f the soul. Never is any new knowledge added to the mind of God.
Buddha: But prayer is a dimension that doesn’t fit in with my teaching.
Jesus: Exactly; you had your mind changed substantially, you had not changed the petitioner nor their heart; that is the difference. Prayer is part of the very pattern God has designed for responding to the sincere heart.
Prayer and Meditation
Priya: I passionately want to understand this – how often I dreamed that my prayer my cry – was heard by some power greater than mine.
Jesus: This is yet another core difference, Guatama: Just as the call of karma demands a payment of a debt when there is no creditor to receive it, so with the desire of your followers to make a petition for their needs, there is no one to whom they can go.
Buddha: Yes, there are big differences between one who prays and one who meditates, one looks beyond, the other looks within. (and its true that with my followers, prayer does ‘slip in’ as you say – that’s when reason is set aside and emotion triumphs).
But let me clarify – even though I realized nirvana 45 years before reaching paranirvana, my departure into oblivion, at death, those 45 years were a process of clarification for me. All understanding takes time, I was no different.
Jesus: But you made it very clear to your followers that, long after you reached nirvana, you needed no teacher. You were neither taught by, nor dependent on,anyone. Your realization, just as Priya’s condition here, was completely self-caused and self-realized, and needs only the self to correct. Nothing more, no one else. There was no need for God to be your teacher, and each person was his or her own refuge. Your admission I respect, your reasoning on this doesn’t comport with reality.
There are mysteries beyond you, even though you claim to ‘have arrived.’ You claimed to know more than God. Job thought he knew everything too, but was embarrassed about how much he did not know when God confronted him with a flurry of questions.
And 3 centuries before you arrived, my prophet Isaiah said
“Who has understood the mind of the Lord, or instructed him as his counselor? …
To whom then will you compare god? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, and Creator of the ends of the earth,. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.”
This is the same God who will say to Priya in her broken condition
“I give strength to the weary and increase the power of the weak. Even youths grow tied and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Buddha continues with his Illusion Show – however Self-lessly
Buddha: The self we claim is nonexistent. It exists nowhere, neither in our physicality nor in our mental parts.
Look at this boat: Is it the wood? Is it the motor? Is it the glue or paint? No, it’s none of these.
In the same way, the self does not exist in any of the elements we are composed of, nor outside of them. We are nothing more than physical quantities, and when that ceases to exist, dies, so do ‘we.’ Nothing remains beyond that consciousness; all our troubles begin by having this sense that there’s an individual self. All of Priya’s devastations could have been avoided if she realized that she didn’t have a self, so she would have stopped trying to satisfy that self.
Jesus: ok … first you told us that there is no God.
Then you said that you knew more than God.
You also said that when ‘gods’ come to the realization that you have, hey will be promoted to your state.
You went on to assert a moral law apart from God, and that each one owes a moral debt.
Now we’re told that there is no such person as Priya.
No real self on the one hand – but her self is all that she needs, on the other hand, to find the truth.
Listen to your words: “Once we realize … We find the middle way … if only she knew … she would not be … life ceases to hold us” – All these assume personality – Who are we talking about? You cannot reconstitute reality just by changing language.
My assertion is that each one is an individual – created unique and created in the image of God. Your analogy of the boat should be a contrast, not a comparison: there’s no breath in it, its but a thing a man carved with his hands. You didn’t turn to the boat for wisdom or understanding – but Ill grant you that there is a plan, a design – and a designer. That’s why it steers and floats, but its lifeless. When this boat gets old, you won’t be sitting here explaining to it the tragedy of getting old. <ok, one has to chuckle at this point >
and without Dignity
Jesus: But when you see Priya, you’re not seeing a boat or just a thing to be used. You see why ‘god is mindful of her- He has made her less than a god and crowned her with dignity and honor. In her being she reflects what it means to be made in God’s image. In her present state, she grieves the loss of her dignity. That’s why she wrestles with such lofty ideas. Even her misery is a veiled reflection of her grandeur.
Buddha: Why do we need to have God to have that dignity? I gave humanity rules and laws for their dignity.
Jesus: It’s surprising that you haven’t yet discerned that morality itself cannot bring freedom or dignity. Extremism towards moral claims is the chronic bent of the human mind. Some take moral precepts and apply them with ruthless rigor, piling law upon law till they break under the burden of legalism. Every generation without god, bereft of wisdom, will have opposing reactions to moral issues.
Isn’t that the first clue to finding an answer for the source of human dignity? It’s not so much the illusion of self but the illusion of self over God that breeds a breakdown of what God intended us to be.
Do I even exist? Who is asking? The Lotus flower answers, then Jesus
Your espousal of an absence of self is the most unique and fearsome claim you made, a concept that cuts across virtually every major belief. You turned from Hinduism because it said there was an essential self, which they called the atman. And on that denial, you hung everything else.
At the heat of the Mosaic law were the commands to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself. My invitation to each person is to deny himself before he begins to follow me. But your response is that there is no self to deny. In looking for an answer to suffering, you haven;t dealt with the problem at all – you’ve just tried to obliterate relationships.
Priya’s parents gave her this cherished name because to them, she wasn’t just a stream of consciousness; must we tell them that if they weren’t attached to her, they wouldn’t grieve now?
Your attachment to detachment and the expulsion of the self only opens the door to further questions that are even more difficult to answer.
Buddha: p.62 Yes, Jesus, there is a world of difference in our views on this matter. You see, a lotus flower goes through several stages of development. In one, it lies buried under the water as a young plant that not yet seen the sun. In another, it lies half-submerged in the water, caught between two worlds of water and air. Ina third, it rises well above the water and blossoms in the full light of day.
That’s the way we come to knowledge: in degrees. Someday you’ll realize that the goodness of life is seen only when you break free from submersion in this doctrine of self.
Jesus: Love is particular. God so loves the world that whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. God loves every man, woman and child as an individual, that’s why each one has a name. Only when they find me as their Savior are they able to give full expression to their uniqueness.
The path of that person begins like the gleam of dawn, shining brighter to the full light of day.
Buddha: that’s a nice vision; that’s why I speak of enlightenment
Jesus: ok, but here’s the catch: you must explain to Priya what you mean when you say that she’s not an individual, and that she burns from full candlelight to the “extinguishing of a candle.” That’s nirvana, at which point there will be no such person as Priya.
But I say to her, “Come to me, you who struggle and are weighed down, and you will find rest in your very soul. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. Before you were born I knew you and have loved you with an everlasting love. I came looking for you, to save you. Cast your cares on me, Priya, for I care for you. In fact, if you were to die today, you could be with me in paradise tonight.
Gautama, I am the Light of the world – Priya will see life’s purpose because of me.
I am the Bread of Life – she will be full because of me.
I am the Good Shepherd – she will be guided by me.
Without me, nothing was ever made that was made. …
These are credentials you have never claimed.
Buddha: But why do we need God to know who we are? I think I’m rady to start asking some questions now.
Jesus: ok, but lets get off now, and look at these temples.
Temple Time & Worship p.66
Buddha: I’m not sure I like all these temples – gold, precious stones, all on a carved idol. I didn’t want to be deified or made into a statue.
Jesus: yeah, I had some problems with the temples in Jerusalem, myself.
Buddha: incense lighting, ritual and idolatry – I told my followers not to be burdened with images and worship, but they didn’t listen. What I taught and what has become of what taught are two different things.
Jesus: again, same problem, but also yet again, with a difference: consider the words superstition and legalism.
Superstition in its essence s actually a subtle lack of faith in God. If there is no righteous God in control of all things, a person ends up trying to appease the world of the unknown. You took away God from them, Gautama, so they live in fear of the spirit world. Anytime God is displaced but belief in the spirit world remains, placation will dominate the individual’s efforts.
Legalism: this is the corruption that attended my followers, the other side of the coin. When grace is evicted, laws or power-seeking people take over. Legalism enters and ceremony becomes the focus.
These two things – superstition and legalism – rush into hearts bereft of a God of mercy and grace.
Your followers are consumed with ritual and fear, and you don’t recognize the cause.
To prove his point, Jesus then invites a monk to lunch, but … it is past noon, so he can’t eat as it would violate his code of discipline. Priya would offer food, but a woman can not place food directly into the monk’s hands. The boat driver offers some fruit, but is allowed to place it into the monk’s bag as long as he didn’t touch the food.
Buddha objects that this is all a corruption of what he taught.
Jesus traces the route of that corruption:
Buddha has taught that there is:
no God – no self – no one to pray to – no evil one to fear;
- that everything is within themselves, though those selves do not exist
- that their good deeds have to outweigh their bad deeds
- carved into their conscience a huge debt, giving them scores of rules to live by.
As a solution, they are to have
- no desire – expect to cease to be – when they have paid their debt, then they will cease to be
“How can all of this bring peace, Gautama?” Jesus asks, continuing:
They cannot escape the conviction of a power greater than themselves.
A sense of worship and awe is inextricably woven into the human condition.
If they don’t find it in spirit and in truth, they will find it in the flesh and falsehood.
There is only one who offers solace and fulfillment in spirit and in truth – and that is God. (p.70)
God and Infinity: Give Two Examples of Each (sic)
Buddha: there you go again with all that God talk, you Jesus freak … (ad libbing here …)
Jesus: ok, let’s ‘have it your way’ – you had an infinite number of births, but also a final birth ?
How can in infinite number have finality?
Buddha: ok, lets call it ‘numberless.’
Jesus: <buzzer> <gong> wrong. Same problem: you can’t evade this contradiction.
That’s why I began the Old Testament and one of the New Testament books with “In the beginning, God” – a quantity has limitations, an eternal infinite being is not the same as a quantity.
Morality, Meditation and Meaning
Jesus continues: The same applies to morality: morality is inextricably joined to personhood. There is no way to talk if what one ought to do without showing the value of the person. In fact,wasn’t your objection to the caste system one of the reasons you rejected Hinduism?
You saw the problem, but where’s the solution?
There’s no way to confer value on a person unless that value is intrinsic.
There’s no way value can be intrinsic unless that person is created by one of ultimate worth.
That’s why the heart craves worship: it seeks worthship in the object that’s revered.
( http://www.thefreedictionary.com/worship Old English weorthscipe, from worth1+-ship] )
The purpose in life is communion, not union. There can be no meaning when the goal is to meditate oneself into oblivion.
But meaning is found in a relationship with the living God – that’s what it’s all about, a relationship.
And I am the one who is the way, the truth and the life.
Buddha: but haven’t many in your name perverted worship?
Jesus: once again, a similarity with a difference:
Your followers were entangled in superstition was a logical departure from your teaching because their no God to start with. Their hearts drove them to a transcendent one, but you said there was none to be found. The substitute was worship in any form. (Rom.1)
The departure of my followers was inconsistent with my teaching because they forgot God. The replaced the well of God with broken cisterns of their own making.
You told your followers to go beyond you, so in a sense they did; the same cannot be said of God, of whom here is no ‘greater beyond.’
The Kicker: Truth
Buddha: A perversion is a perversion, what difference does it make?
Jesus: there is a major difference between our indictment of false worship and mine:
Wherever the worship of the living God has been perverted, it has always been the result of a departure from my Word. I taught my disciples that though everything on earth would someday pas away, the Word that I gave to them remains forever.
Right from the beginning, the greatest question ever asked was “Has God really spoken?” The answer to that is a resounding “Yes!” That’s why I told Priya that it’s not bread that we live by, but every word that comes from the mouth of God.
When people depart from that Word, other hungers take charge. Individual lives become prostituted, and worship itself is prostituted.
Buddha: Well, I gave my disciples no written word as an abiding authority.
Jesus: why not?
Buddha: because .. everything is impermanent.
Jesus: even that statement? Is that impermanent too?
There is no permanent truth is everything is impermanent.
Buddha: but everything else I have taught hangs on that statement of impermanence
and redeeming the heart to righteousness
Jesus: Priya, consider some women I spoke of or met:
The woman who came to get a drink at the well – she had all kinds of questions about worship, but her real problem was that she had squandered the special person god made her to be. When I gave her my message of love and eternal life, she ran back to her village to tell the people she had found the one who knew her frailties, yet loved her for who she was. For the first time, she found worth. I disclose the heart of every person who comes to me. I see your heart better than you can.
Another woman who was caught in adultery was brought to me. Her accusers set a trap, asserting that the law of Moses said she should be stoned. Strange that the one who committed adultery with her was not there.
Priya: can I ever identify with that! That’s the way our hearts cheat, then after we have hurt others, we run.
Jesus: That’s it! The heart is desperately wicked, who can understand it? This has nothing to do with ignorance, it has everything to do with one;s rebellion against God. I change the heart of everyone who comes to me.
There was a 3rd woman – she lived a life of prostitution. She once came into a room full of self-righteous people, and they were horrified that I would even let her near me. That’s what legalism does. What would have happened, Priya, if you had hugged that monk or even put your hand on his shoulder? I told the woman that her pouring the alabaster ointment on me was an expression of worship, and I received it. I fill the heart of everyone who comes to me. Her heart was full of the joy of communing with God.
Do you see the sequence, Priya? I disclose, I change, I fill.
Buddha: Before she answers, isn’t that because they came to you because they were clearly in need?
Jesus: Consider Nicodemus, who was learned, and came to me in the dark to ask how enter the kingdom of God. I gave him the same answer as these others. Knowledge and righteousness can not carry you into the kingdom; you can never be truly righteous until you are redeemed. This is the heart of the difference between you and me: you cannot become righteous by looking deep inside yourself and meditating
Priya: So I cannot bring salvation to myself
Jesus: No, Priya, Salvation is from above.
‘Yes, The Roundabout’ Runs Out;
& The Heart of the Sonrise <couldn’t help myself, ‘Yes’ fans>
Priya: what happens to all the evil that I lived with in the past, if I cannot do anything about it?
Jesus: I have paid for it, Priya. You may be like a lotus seedling still submerged under the water; someone else may be a full-grown plant. It makes no difference. The cross is for everyone who thirsts for forgiveness and for eternal life.
Buddha: Well, I have listened, Jesus. There are superficial similarities to our thoughts but foundational differences; our messages are worlds apart.
I tell people that they are born in debt and that they either add to or subtract from hat det by the way they live.
You tell people to find their inheritance in God.
Jesus: We come to the end of our conversation, Gautama. What would you offer to Priya?
Buddha: She knows, I am sure. We call it the Triple Gem:
The Buddha – enlightenment
The Dhamma – the teaching
The Sangha – the community
Jesus: Lets look at them
1st the Buddha. According to your teaching, you personally no longer exist, nor will she. Nonexistence is the first gem.
2nd The Dhamma. The teaching has no eternal Word to preserve, no absolute to be guided by.
3rd The Sangha. The community consists of those who believe no self exists and move toward not desiring anything, including the friendship of others
You know, one day a man looking for precious pearls came across a pearl of great price. He traded everything he had to obtain this pearl. I am that Pearl of Great Price. Through me, Priya can bring the rule of god into her heart. I will give her the purity she thinks she can never recover; I will bring her into the presence of God.
Priya: My choice, then, is the Triple Gem of the Pearl of Great Price?
Jesus: Your choice is either to obliterate yourself or to find yourself.
Desolation or communion.
Jesus then asks for Priya’s cup, and drinks from it – to her horror, her germs and general defilement tinge the cup. She asks why he did this?
Jesus: I did it for you, and in even greater measure than this.
No one wants to drink from your cup.
Buddha says that you filled your cup wit your choices and so you alone must drink from it.
I tell you something different.
Shortly before was crucified, I was alone and in prayer with my heavenly Father. As I prayed, I knew that the cup of suffering and death that I was to drink from was for all mankind.
It contained the sins and shame of the whole world, but in drinking from that cup, I was able to offer the gift of eternal life to all who would accept it.
A thousand years before, one of the psalmists of Israel spoke of this:
“The Lord is gracious and righteous, our ‘god is full of compassion. I believed; therefore I said
‘I am greatly afflicted.’ And in my dismay I said ‘All men are liars.’ How ca I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.”
I offer my cup for yours Priya.
At the Cross I drank your cup.
Now I give you a fresh cup of eternal life.
You can drink from it.
Buddha: it’s getting a bit dark, it’s time to return. Who’ll pay the boatman?
I don’t keep any money with me.
Jesus: <to the boat driver> I have a gift for you, too. Your name is Wat, right? With a slight change of intonation, that would mean ‘temple.’ – you should change it.
Wat: yes, but I could never make that change because only a building can be a temple.