The following is a continuation in the series which began with: Whose Proverbs Covered a Broader Range of Topics: Buddha or Solomon? (What About Women?)
When Solomon taught on something, an amazing 48% of the time the Buddha was silent! Interestingly, those topics on which the Buddha was silent are totally predictable and expected. The Buddha was raised as a prince and totally renounced his wealth, status and family to give up everything in search of wisdom. So on what matters was the Buddha nearly silent? All the things he renounced: wealth, government, power, business, women, family, and children!
Let’s look at some topics on which the Buddha was silent, or nearly so. Of the 423 proverbs of the Buddha, the Buddha makes 14 references to god or gods. Here is a sample:
One’s own self conquered is better than all other people; not even a god, a Gandharva, not Mara with Brahman could change into defeat the victory of a man who has vanquished himself, and always lives under restraint. (Dhammapada 104-105)
Let us live happily then, though we call nothing our own! We shall be like the bright gods, feeding on happiness! (Dhammapada 200)
But he whom those who discriminate praise continually day after day, as without blemish, wise, rich in knowledge and virtue, who would dare to blame him, like a coin made of gold from the Gambu river? Even the gods praise him, he is praised even by Brahman. (Dhammapada 229-230)
The Buddha views the conquering of self (i.e., self-control, lack of materialism, and remaining pure), as being praiseworthy (even by the gods), and that not even a god would defeat one who has conquered himself. Lowercase “god” and “gods” are almost an afterthought in the Buddha’s proverbs.
Solomon references God 54 times in the Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Consider these proverbs of Solomon:
God Gives Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding
My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding—indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. (Proverbs 2:1-8, NIV)
To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. (Ecclesiastes 2:26, NIV)
Kindness Honors God
Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. (Proverbs 14:31, NIV)
God Is a Refuge
When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, but even in death the righteous seek refuge in God. (Proverbs 14:32, NIV)
Fear of God
Blessed is the one who always trembles before God, but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble. (Proverbs 28:14, NIV)
I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him. (Ecclesiastes 3:14, NIV)
Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore fear God. (Ecclesiastes 5:7, NIV)
God’s Work is Unfathomable
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11, NIV)
God Is our Provider
That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. (Ecclesiastes 3:13, NIV)
This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. (Ecclesiastes 5:18-19, NIV)
The Future Is in God’s Hands
When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future. (Ecclesiastes 7:14, NIV)
In these handful of proverbs by Solomon he covers many aspects of our relationship to and with God. If we pursue wisdom, God will give us wisdom, knowledge and understanding. In being kind, we honor God. God is our refuge in times of difficulty and calamity. The fear and reverence of God brings blessing. God’s work, his creation, is unfathomable. He is our provider, giving us life, food and drink, and work to put our hands to, and the future is in God’s Hands.
The Buddha’s teachings are about self, and controlling self, with god or gods as almost an afterthought. Solomon’s teaching is about many of the aspects of a relationship to and with God, as our refuge and provider.