More Similarities to Solomon’s Proverbs

Buddha and Jesus: Could Solomon Be the Missing Link?
[Excerpt from Chapter Fourteen of
Buddha and Jesus: Could Solomon Be the Missing Link?]

There are many examples of the words of Buddha (and of Christ) echoing the writings of Solomon.  Often, the similarities are so striking that one can only wonder whether Solomon’s influence was direct. Here are two more examples:

Generosity

Solomon (950 B.C.)

“One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”[i]

“He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, righteousness and honor.”[ii]

 

Buddha (525 B.C.)

“Hard it is to understand: By giving away our food, we get more strength; by bestowing clothing on others, we gain more beauty.”[iii]

“With generosity and kind words, always doing to others what is good, he treats all people as the same. His compassion for the world is like the hub that makes the wheel go round.”[iv]

 

Christ (A.D. 30)

“Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”[v]

“. . . you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”[vi]

 

Buddha’s words here carry the same essence as Solomon’s two verses, as do the words of Jesus. Again, there is no reason to posit a direct relationship between Buddha and Jesus, because Jesus clearly was echoing Solomon, and Buddha may well have been echoing Solomon as well.

Further, the following excerpt from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is reminiscent of Solomon’s teachings on generosity:

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.[vii]

In this passage Jesus even mentions Solomon by name, providing further evidence that he had Solomon in mind as he was speaking. Solomon, too, taught the great importance of pursuing, or “treasuring,” righteousness and love.

 

Practice Charity

Solomon (950 B.C.)

“There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing; and one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches.”[viii]

“Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Give a serving to seven, and also to eight, for you do not know what evil will be on the earth.”[ix]

“Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.”[x]

 

Buddha (525 B.C.)

“The greatest reward in the world is to provide for others.”[xi]

“Because he gives a gift at the right time, wherever the result of that gift ripens he becomes rich, affluent, and wealthy, and benefits come to him at the right time, in abundant measure.”[xii]

 

Christ (A.D. 30)

“. . . you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”[xiii]

“Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”[xiv]

 

Buddha’s quote draws an analogy from farming—the planting of trees that will “ripen” to provide shade, flowers, and fruit.  His imagery is similar to Solomon’s third quotation, which refers to fruits, crops, and vats of wine.  As usual, Buddha leaves out any reference to God, implying that the universe (via karma) will naturally bring blessings to those who are generous toward the needy.  In contrast, Solomon and Jesus saw a personal God as the one who provided blessings to those who were charitable toward others in need.


[i] Proverbs 11:24–25 (NIV).

[ii] Proverbs 21:21 (NIV).

[iii] Nitin Kumar “Buddha and Christ: Two Gods on the Path to Humanity,” Exotic India, November 2003, www.exoticindiaart.com/article/buddhaandchrist, retrieved February 3, 2011.

[iv] Richard Hooper, Jesus Buddha Krishna Lao Tzu: The Parallel Sayings (Sedona, AZ: Sanctuary Publications, 2007), 117.

[v] Luke 6:38 (NIV).

[vi] Acts 20:35b (NASB).

[vii] Matthew 6:25–34 (NIV) (emphasis added).

[viii] Proverbs 13:7 (NKJV).

[ix] Ecclesiastes 11:1–2 (NKJV).

[x] Proverbs 3:9–10 (NIV).

[xi] Hooper, Jesus Buddha Krishna Lao Tzu, 120.

[xii] Bhikkhu Bodhi, ed. In the Buddha’s Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon (Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2005), 170–171.

[xiii] Acts 20:35b (NASB).

[xiv] Luke 6:38 (NIV).

Similarities to Solomon’s Proverbs

 

[Excerpt from Chapter Fourteen of
Buddha and Jesus: Could Solomon Be the Missing Link?]

There are many examples of the words of Buddha (and of Christ) echoing the writings of Solomon. Often, the similarities are so striking that one can only wonder whether Solomon’s influence was direct. Here are two such examples:

Love Your Enemies

Solomon (950 B.C.)

“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.” [i]

Buddha (525 B.C.)

“For hatred does not cease by hatred at any time: hatred ceases by love, this is an old rule.” [ii]

“Let a man overcome anger by love, let him overcome evil by good; let him overcome the greedy by liberality, the liar by truth!” [iii]

Christ (A.D. 30)

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you.” [iv]

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” [v]

 

Note that Buddha’s first proverb above ends with the words, “This is an old rule.”  This is direct evidence that at least one of the proverbs in the Dhammapada came from an earlier source than Buddha himself.

Solomon’s proverb may have had its roots in these words of Moses, who in this verse is recording a portion of the commandments to the Israelites as given to him by God:

The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.[vi]

The natural tendency of people to distrust and even to hate people of a different race or culture is very common. Why should you feed your enemy if he is hungry, and give him water if he is thirsty?  Isn’t it to melt your enemy’s animosity, so that he will be persuaded to be kind and caring?  Buddha’s teachings closely parallel Solomon’s proverb, and his exhortation to love echoes Moses’ teaching.

Jesus expanded on Solomon’s proverb.  He starts with doing good, and then adds spiritual ways of loving your enemy—by blessing them and praying for them. In Jesus’ second quotation above, additional examples are provided.

Care for Your Companions

The concept of caring for others as one would within a close-knit family was expressed by Solomon centuries before Buddha.

Solomon (950 B.C.)

“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion.”[vii]

“. . . there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”[viii]

“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Come back later, I’ll give it tomorrow’—when you now have it with you.”[ix]

Buddha (525 B.C.)

“If you do not tend to one another then who is there to tend to you? Whoever would tend me, he should tend the sick.”[x]

Christ (A.D. 30)

“Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”[xi]

 

Buddha’s wisdom and Jesus’ teaching echo Solomon’s emphasis on caring for one another. Buddha equates tending to the sick and suffering with tending to him personally. In the following explanation of what will happen at the last judgment, Jesus made the same comparison much more clearly:

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”

The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”[xii]

The unitalicized passages above directly mirror Buddha’s teaching, and the meaning is reinforced by the entire passage.

Buddha’s and Jesus’ words above are much more similar to one another than they are to Solomon’s proverbs. At first this might be taken as evidence that Buddha influenced Jesus. However, it should be remembered that Solomon was the wealthiest and most powerful king of his time, so the notion of someone caring for him out of compassion for his needy state would have been ludicrous. On the other hand, both Buddha and Jesus were very poor, and doing something to care for them personally would have been a very natural thing to do.


[i] Proverbs 25:21 (NKJV).

[ii] Dhammapada 5.

[iii] Ibid., 223.

[iv] Luke 6:27b–28 (NKJV).

[v] Matthew 5:38–42 (NIV).

[vi] Leviticus19:34 (NKJV).

[vii] Ecclesiastes 4:9–10 (NASB).

[viii] Proverbs 18:24b (NASB).

[ix] Proverbs 3:27–28 (NIV).

[x] Buddha, Vinaya, Mahavagga 8.26.3, in Borg, Jesus and Buddha, 21.

[xi] Matthew 25:40b (NASB).

[xii] Matthew 25:31–40 (NIV) (emphasis added).

Common Roots in Judaism?

Buddha and Jesus: Could Solomon Be the Missing Link?

[Excerpt from Chapter Fourteen of
Buddha and Jesus: Could Solomon Be the Missing Link?]

Some have asserted that similarities between the ethical teachings of Buddha and Jesus provide evidence that Jesus may have traveled to India.[i] The argument usually points out that the Bible makes no reference to events in Jesus’ life when he was between the ages of twelve and thirty, providing ample time for these travels to have taken place. What makes this possibility unlikely is that Jesus was the son of a poor Jewish carpenter. It is doubtful that he could have afforded the 2,500 mile trip to India.

In this book, we set forth an alternative explanation: Buddha and Jesus were both significantly influenced by Judaism, in general, and the proverbs of Solomon, in particular.

Buddha/Jesus Similarities to the Books of Moses

The five books of Moses (the Torah) were first written around 1380 B.C., more than nine hundred years before Buddha lived and taught. In light of that fact, it is not unreasonable to suppose, when one of Buddha’s key teachings is virtually the same as a key verse of Moses’, that Buddha could have been echoing Moses’ words. This likely was also the case with Jesus. The following provides a key example.

Love Your Neighbor

Moses (1300 B.C.)

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”[ii]

Buddha (525 B.C.)

“Consider others as yourself.”[iii]

Christ (A.D. 30)

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”[iv]

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”[v]

Given the close similarities of these sayings, would it be more reasonable to presume that Jesus was quoting Buddha or that he was quoting Moses? Jesus was a Jewish rabbi who often quoted Moses and other Old Testament authors. The Torah was very widely known in Israel for almost 1,400 years before Jesus quoted it. So, Jesus was probably quoting Moses.

Love Strangers

Let’s look at another example. In the same chapter of Leviticus in which Moses exhorted his people to love their neighbors as themselves, he urged them to also love strangers from other cultures and peoples.  Jesus taught that God loved men and women from every culture so much that God sent him to make salvation available to all people.  In this, we again see the inclusion of every manner of stranger within the scope of God’s love.  It is much more natural to assume that Jesus inherited this “love strangers” principle from Moses than that he traveled to India and picked it up from Buddhism.

Moses (1300 B.C.)

“The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” [vi]

Buddha (525 B.C.)

“Just as a mother would protect her only child at the risk of her own life, even so, cultivate a boundless heart towards all beings. Let your thoughts of boundless love pervade the whole world.” [vii]

Christ (A.D. 30)

“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”[viii],

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” [ix]

Buddha’s exhortation to love people everywhere reiterates the same theme that was sounded by Moses nine hundred years earlier.

Buddha’s example of caring for anyone anywhere as a mother would her only child is echoed in Jesus’ exhortation to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. It differs in that Jesus’ exhortation is tighter in scope; however, this scope is widened to the whole world in the second quotation from Jesus.


[i] Swami Abhedananda, Journey into Kashmir and Tibet (the English translation of Kashmiri 0 Tibbate) (Calcutta: Ramakrishna Vivekananda Math, 1987).

[ii] Leviticus 19:18b (NIV).

[iii] Dhammapada 10:1, in Marcus Borg, ed., with coeditor Ray Riegert and an Introduction by Jack Kornfield, Jesus and Buddha: The Parallel Sayings (Berkeley: Ulysses Press, 1997), 15.

[iv] Mark 12:31b (NKJV).

[v] Luke 6:31 (NIV).

[vi] Leviticus 19:34 (NKJV).

[vii] Buddha, Sutta Nipata 149–150, in Borg, Jesus and Buddha, 25.

[viii] John 15:12–13 (NKJV).

[ix] John3:16 (NKJV).

Reviews: Buddhism for Dummies and Rogues in Robes

Buddhism for DummiesBuddhism for Dummies is a user-friendly, extensive presentation of the fundamental teachings of Buddhism. It can be read from cover to cover, or it can be used as a reference book by turning to the section you are interested in.

It provides an introduction to Buddhism, discussing whether or not it is a religion, a philosophy, or a practical way to conduct your life.

If Buddhism is not primarily a belief system and is not centered upon the worship of a supreme Deity, then why is it classified as a religion at all? Because like all religions, Buddhism gives people who practice it a way of finding answers to the deeper questions of life, such as “Who am I?” Why am I here?” “What is the meaning of life?” “Why do we suffer?” and “How can I achieve lasting happiness?” (page 11)

Further, it surveys the history of Buddhism from the life and teachings of Buddha through Buddhism today, and the practical application of Buddhist thought. Almost a third of the book is devoted to walking the Buddhist path toward enlightenment, and there is a section on ten common misconceptions about Buddhism and ten ways Buddhism can help you deal with life’s problems.

Although the authors have tried to simplify the terms used throughout in the book, a glossary of useful Buddhist terms is provided at the back of the book. Additional resources are listed as well.

Rogues in RobesRogues in Robes gives a detailed history of Buddhism in Tibet and examines the historical basis leading to the conflict over the selection of the 17th Karmapa, leader of the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism. It is a story filled with political upheaval inTibet and the sometimes deadly intrigue in the various Tibetan Buddhist schools.

When a Tibetan Buddhist leader dies, he leaves clues as to where he will next incarnate so that he can be found and trained to take up his duties again. When the sixteenth Karmapa, head of the Karma Kagyu lineage, died in 1981, the search for his successor soon began. This is the story of the politics and intrigue involved in finding him, not a simple task as it turned out, as told by a Western student of Lama Ole Nydahl. (back cover description)

In 1956, author Tomek Lehnert was born inPoland, and he studied Civil Engineering at the Polytechnics of Gdansk and English literature at theUniversityofPoznan. He became a practitioner of Buddhism in 1983. He has traveled extensively, and has translated Buddhist lectures into Polish and Spanish for more than ten years. He is a student of Lama Ole Hydhal.

Reviews: Living Buddha, Living Christ and Buddha’s Not Smiling

Living Buddha, Living Christ was written by scholar, activist and Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, who espouses drawing upon the truths (“fruit”) of many traditions.

Fruit salad can be delicious. . . . To me, religious life is life. I do not see any reason to spend one’s whole life tasting just one kind of fruit. We human beings can be nourished by the best values of many traditions. (page 1-2)

Through the practice of deep looking and deep listening, we become free, able to see the beauty and values in our own and others’ traditions. (page 7)

Hanh believes that Buddha and Jesus are both teachers devoted to leading their followers to a way of life that encompasses generosity, compassion and a mindful way of life, and that, “If the Buddha had been born into the society in which Jesus was born, I think he, too, would have been crucified.” (page 55)

When we understand and practice deeply the life and teachings of Buddha or the life and teachings of Jesus, we penetrate the door and enter the abode of the Living Buddha and the Living Christ, and life eternal presents itself to us. (page 56)

He further teaches that Buddha and Christ live on through us as we practice a mindful life following after whichever tradition we grew up in. He states,

No single tradition monopolizes the truth. We must glean the best values of all traditions and work together to remove the tensions between traditions in order to give peace a chance. (page 114)

I do not think there is that much difference between Christians and Buddhists. Most of the boundaries we have created between our two traditions are artificial. Truth has no boundaries. Our differences may be mostly differences in emphasis. (page 154)

This book blends the teachings and beliefs of Buddhism and Christianity into a plea for each person to faithfully and mindfully practice their religious tradition, to draw upon the truths of all traditions, and to be aware that whatever course we take, the result will ripple out into our families, communities, and the world. However, we encourage the reader to understand that when Hanh writes about Jesus, he is defining him in Gnostic versus biblical terms.

Buddha’s Not Smiling is an examination of the Karmapa controversy. Following the death of the 16th Karmapa, leader of the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism, two candidates were put forth, Ogyen Trinley Dorje and Trinley Thaye Dorje, who each have been enthroned and have been independently serving as the Karmapa.

At issue are the methods used to select these candidates (political and/or traditional), and it has caused division and controversy amongst Buddhist leaders. Ogyen Trinley Dorje, who was recognized by Tai Situ, the third ranking spiritual leader of the Karma Kagyu school, and who has the support of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government, and Trinley Thaye Dorje, who was recognized by the 14th Shamar Rinpopche, one of the second-ranking spiritual leaders in the Karma Kagyu school, and the support of Khenpo Chodrak Tnephel Rinposhe, the abbot of the Rumtek monastery until it was taken over by followers of Ogyen Trinley. He is now based inNew Delhi. There are numerous other supporters of both, too many to list here.

This book examines the conflict between the Karma Kagyu school and the Dalai Lama’s exiled government. Historically, the Karmapa has never been chosen by the Dalai Lama, as its lineage dates two centuries earlier than that of the Dalai Lama. This book presents the Karma Kagyu as resenting the interference of the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama in their affairs. The author, Eric D. Curren, expresses his desire to be objective, but it should be noted he is a student of Shamar Rinpoche, and therefore, some bias may exist in his writing.

In February 2011, a gathering of 5,000 people attended an event in Sikkimstate in Indiawhere they burned copies of this book. Sikkim is a landlocked Indian State in the Himalayas, where it borders Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, and West Bengal.

Compassion

Many Hindus believe that if you are suffering, it must be because you created some bad karma by doing some bad thing(s) in this or a prior life. They also believe that the only way to work off bad karma is to accept the resulting suffering. So, they often ignore those who are suffering, lest they interfere with their karmic conditioning.

In contrast, the Buddha taught that one should help the suffering. However, the primary motivation should be to help shed your own ego, and so progress toward your own enlightenment. Is this true compassion in action or rational self-interest?

Buddhists do not have a reputation of being major participants in the providing humanitarian aid. One such Buddhist humanitarian group, the Dai no Shin Ji Buddhists, notes on its website: “Unfortunately Buddhist organizations do not often have a name for being able or operating Humanitarian projects or relief projects. It is sad but true.” A stated purpose of the group is to “provide training to Buddhist temples and humanitarian agencies to improve their skills and productivity.”

The Dalai Lama talks a lot about compassion. When he does, does it mean the same thing that it does to Westerners? Perhaps not. There are various reasons for the limited activity of Buddhists in humanitarian efforts. Each of these is inherent in Buddhist beliefs and practices.

First, if you believe this world is an illusion, then your goal is to escape it, via becoming enlightened. So, it is more noble to meditate intensively for weeks on end than it is to bring a meal to a shut-in. And if this world is an illusion, what is the point of working hard and earning a good living? It may not be a coincidence that most Buddhist countries are less developed economically. Because of this, they generally do not have the financial wherewithal to give generously to humanitarian relief efforts.

Second, if you believe that doing good deeds generates good karma, and that creating any kind of karma, whether good or bad, retards your advancement toward enlightenment, then it is better not to do good deeds. Instead, your focus will be on watch guarding your thoughts to avoid anything negative.

Third, if you believe that your thoughts and words can radically change the world, then you would tend to focus on just thinking good thoughts. That is much easier than providing tangible help to the suffering.

Fourth, when a Buddhist is being compassionate they are usually wishing that all conscious beings would progress toward enlightenment. They might also be coaching someone in how to make such progress. But usually there is little thought of meeting their material needs.

The Bible teaches that thinking good thoughts, without helping the hurting in real ways, has only limited value. James, the brother of Jesus, put it this way: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?  Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:14-17, NIV).

What did Jesus teach about the need to help the suffering? His most dramatic words on this are highlighted in his Parable of The Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25:31-45:

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”

The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.”

They also will answer, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?”

He will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” (NIV)

These are heavy, dramatic words. And yet they strongly emphasize the importance of helping the suffering in substantive ways, and not just of empathizing with them and wishing them well.

In reality Christians are often lacking in compassionate thoughts or deeds. And yet throughout history the church has spearheaded efforts to tangibly help the needy, the injured and the sick and to establish and maintain educational institutions that teach practical skills as well as spiritual values. The history of Buddhism has a different flavor, as well as one might expect, given its emphasis on focusing within.

Jesus taught, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13, NIV) He was a model servant to others, as exemplified by His humbly washing the feet of His disciples (John 13:3-5). As the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats emphasizes, real compassion includes providing drink to the thirsty, food to the hungry, clothing to those in rags and medical assistance to the sick. Without these, however deep one’s feelings of compassion are, they have little substance.

R. E. (“Ed”) Sherman’s Newest Book, Now Available!

Wisdom 365Wisdom 365: Daily Buddha and Daily Solomon
 

Need encouragement? Guidance? Insight? Inspiration? Motivation? Wise advice on how to live? How to find happiness? How to handle stress? How to relate to others? Advice on relationships? Coping when bad things happen? How to make a difference? Where can you turn?

Why not take advice from two of the wisest men in history, the Buddha and Solomon? This ground-breaking book provides a topically arranged collection of their terse, penetrating insights, presented side-by-side. 365 daily readings. Soak in their proverbs. Take a few minutes each day and you will embark on a life-changing journey.

Though they lived 400 years and 3,000 miles apart in two very different cultures, the Buddha and Solomon often spoke with nearly the same voice. Each reinforced and complemented what the other said. These sayings are like diamonds that sparkle in revealing ways when viewed from different angles.

There are basically four different civilizations that coexist on Planet Earth: Judaism/Christianity, Islam, secularism and Eastern religions (Hinduism & Buddhism). The need for better understanding and communication between these civilizations has never been greater. Wisdom 365 provides a solid link between two of them in a way that has never been done before and to an extent that few if any have envisioned. Followers of Eastern religion believe that their truths come from deep within, through meditation and exclusion of outside voices. Followers of Western religions and Islam believe that their truths come from above (God) through revelation.

What Wisdom 365 does is to simply lead you through ALL of the Buddha’s proverbs in short daily readings, while also connecting you with proverbs of Solomon that COVER THE SAME GROUND. The result is an unexpected linking of Eastern and Western truths. Take just 2-3 minutes a day to tap into and be inspired by daily insights from two of the wisest men who have ever lived. You will grow wiser and more able to navigate life and avoid its pitfalls.

The Buddha’s 423 proverbs appear together in the book, Dhammapada, published around 252 BCE, about 230 years after his death. We thought about producing a book of 365 daily readings where a similar (or contrasting) proverb of Solomon would appear side-by-side with each proverb of the Buddha. We wondered what would happen to the 423 if we grouped each pairing of the Buddha’s proverbs that were direct contrasts were shown together, and this brought the number of pages down to about 365. Such a pairing might look like this:

If you are a specific type of positive person, certain kinds of good things will happen to you. But if you are the opposite type of person, these (corresponding) bad things will happen to you.

After finishing the book, we were astonished to find that we had found a proverb of Solomon (or, in a few instances, one of his contemporaries) similar to each proverb of the Buddha, for 100% of the Buddha’s proverbs. This was far beyond what we originally thought would be the case.

In comparing the two collections of proverbs, it was strikingly obvious that the biggest difference was that the Buddha was silent about several topics that were prominent subject areas among Solomon’s approximately 1,300 proverbs. Those topics were highly predictable: God, family, women, children, government and commerce. At age 29, prince Buddha left his palace, wife and children to pursue a life of solitary meditation, self-denial, poverty and itinerant teaching.

Get started today discovering illuminating wisdom and practical advice for your life: Wisdom 365.

Two Paths to Liberation (Part 5)

Behavior

To the Buddhist, violence is never acceptable behavior. For the Christian, using weapons in warfare can be acceptable if the conflict is clearly morally justified.

For the Buddhist, thinking good thoughts toward another is an essential part of having compassion, but providing physical assistance to meet their needs is optional. For the Christian, offering physical assistance is typically necessary for compassion to be real.

The main priorities in public building for Buddhists are monasteries and meditation centers. For Christians, the top projects are building churches, schools and hospitals.

The Buddha refused to perform miracles of healing because such would violate the operation of karma. Jesus miraculously healed many people in part as a demonstration of his compassion for them and his divinity.

Vegetarianism is the diet of choice for Buddhists because every animal may have been or will be a human being in some future reincarnation. Eating meat is an acceptable, and even a recommended, diet for Christians.

Having occulting beliefs and engaging in occultic practices is entirely acceptable in Buddhism. Indeed, the focus of meditation can be virtually anything or any spirit. What matters is the effective practice of meditation in disciplining the mind. In Christianity, no occultic beliefs or practices are acceptable.

 

                                 Buddhism Christianity
Is violence ever acceptable? No Sometimes war is necessary (e.g., WW II)
Compassion should include physical assistance Not necessary Necessary for it to be real
Top priorities in building Monasteries and meditation centers Churches, schools and hospitals.
Miracles of Healing OK? No. Violates karma OK if God gets the glory
Acceptable diet Vegetarianism OK to eat meat
Occult OK? Yes Never

 

Two Paths to Liberation (Part 4)

Suffering

To the Buddhist, the inherent nature of life is a state of suffering. The Christian expects much suffering during their lifetime on earth, but they also see life as a series of opportunities to love God and people.

The highest goal of life for the Buddhist is to become enlightened and to cease suffering. For the Christian, the highest goal is to live out a strong love relationship with God and people.

Buddha taught that any desire, even if it is “good”, is the cause of suffering. While Jesus taught that many kinds of desires can cause suffering, suffering can be experienced by Christians that is not caused by anything they have or have not done. Suffering can occur when it serves the purposes of God in a Christian’s life. For example, suffering can cause character development or somehow bring glory to God.

To the Buddhist, suffering is never a good thing. To the Christian, suffering arising from being persecuted for one’s faith can result in eternal rewards.

  Buddhism Christianity
Nature of Life Life is suffering Opportunities to love God & people
Highest Goal Eliminate suffering Loving God & people
Cause of suffering Any desire, even if “good” Many possible causes
Is suffering ever good? No Yes, when being persecuted

 

 

Two Paths to Liberation (Part 3)

Nature of Reality

Buddhists believe the universe always existed. Most Christians believe that God created the universe, either in the recent or distant past. Who or what is in charge of the universe? For Buddhists, everything is governed by karma. For Christians, God is in charge.

Buddha believed that one’s soul is an illusion. Christians believe that each person’s soul is very real and exists eternally, either in heaven or hell after one dies.

Buddhists believe that virtually everything is determined by karma. The only real exception is that one can attain enlightenment and cease existing, whereby karma is no longer in control. To Christians, free will is pervasive. Even though God governs, He does not force His will on human beings, except perhaps in God’s determination of each person’s eternal state (i.e., heaven/hell).

To the Buddhist, nothing exists permanently except the state of Nirvana, or total emptiness. For the Christian, God, heaven and hell, and the souls of every person are permanent.

Both Buddhists and Christians believe in life after death. However, in Buddhism, one reincarnates and returns to earth as either a person or animal. Christians believe in eternal life after just one life on earth, which will be spent either in heaven or hell.

The desired ultimate spiritual state of the Buddhist is enlightenment, enabling entrance into the state of Nirvana. The desired ultimate spiritual state of the Christian is life in heaven, to be experienced by all who have been saved.

                                 Buddhism Christianity
Universe created? Universe always existed Universe created by God
Who/What is in Charge? Karma God (Father, Son, Spirit)
Your soul Is an illusion Is very real & eternal
Free will Very little Pervasive
What is permanent? Nothing except Nirvana (a state of total emptiness) God, heaven/hell & the souls of every person
Life after death? Repeated reincarnation (could return as an animal) Resurrection
Desired ultimate spiritual state Enlightenment (Nirvana) Salvation (destined for heaven)