One of the things that turns many people away from spirituality is that they equate it with the supernatural nature of the different myths and doctrines of the major “Organized Religions”(Especially the Big 3: Judaism,Christianity, and Islam.) and their claims to being absolute truth,despite the fact that there are so many contradictions and assertions that have been proved incorrect in recent centuries by research, historical evidence and the scientific method.
I know at least for me,I had always despised how organized religions made people act in a tribal manner,how they emphasized ceremony and ritual over true actions,the wording of the hymns,and of course the conflicts they seem to always be at the heart of.
My only contact with organized religion as a younger person was Christianity,which even at an early age I considered to be a “fools refuge.” The concept of worshiping someone who was no longer here,who was impossible to accurately research and yet was supposedly the “greatest person who had ever lived”seemed ridiculous and absurd, as did the claim that he was in fact “God’s Son”.
Because I found this whole concept so belittling and absurd,I never really took the time to study any other religions or faiths as a younger person. However, when I read some of the words and teachings of Jesus in the New Testament,I saw some deeper truths revealed and decided to look into Jesus more—-both the man and his words.
I soon came to realize it wasn’t Jesus himself or what he said that I had a problem with:
It was the DOCTRINE that “surrounded those teachings” that all who professed to believe in them was “sworn to believe and uphold”. Things like
1) “The Virgin Birth”
2) “The Resurrection”
3) Various miracles like turning water into wine and “Raising the Dead”
4) Dying for my sins
ALL of these seemed contrary to the very laws of nature and also a bit on the theatrical side. They struck me as events that had been made up to “sell the religion”,NOT the teachings themselves.
Then I read another religious book called “The Tao Te Ching” by Lao Tzu. In this short book, I read many of the same sentiments and ideas that Jesus himself had taught in his famous “Sermon on the Mount”,but written at least 500 years before Jesus had been supposedly born!!
I thought to myself:
If Jesus was “God incarnate” (As my Christian friends had insisted)then why was God “plagiarizing the words” of another man who had lived 500 years before?
Wouldn’t logic insist that perhaps Jesus was just a man who had studied the teachings of another man from the past (Lao Tzu) and was merely a teacher repeating those ancient truths in “The Sermon of the Mount” instead of “speaking the words of God?
After my discovery in the similarity between the teachings of Lao Tzu and Jesus’s “Sermon on the mount”,I decided to see if these “basic truths” were espoused by other “major religions.” What I found was that not only did Jesus and Lao Tzu have a similar “basic philosophy”,but that many of the same ideas were espoused in Buddhism,The Hindu beliefs and even in the Koran as well.
The more similar statements I saw in all of these religions,the more I realized that here was concrete proof that these men weren’t “prophets” or “Gods”—they were merely teachers who were stating basic truths that have been known by wise men thru out human history!!
I realized that this basic message espoused by all of these “teachers” had been again and again corrupted and embellished with all of these outlandish myths by “The middle men”(“The followers/disciples etc)who CAME AFTER these teachers. I realized that it was these “middle men” who had “divided the truth up” and packaged it with different back stories for different cultures and then used the differences in the back story to pit people against each other. I saw that it was all this extra “coating” around the basic truthes that all the big religions espouse that had made spirituality such an odious thing to so many people and had driven many away from it all together.
The fact is,it isn’t “spirituality” that divides people up: It is the DOCTRINES AND MYTHS tacked on to the real spirituality that have been used to deadly effect to divide people into warring factions,especially in the newer western religions.(Christianity and Islam)
For example: the doctrines of both Christianity and Islam coerce us with the idea of “eternal bliss” and “eternal punishment”. They both preach the concept of “One life to get it right” and the concept of “Everything has a beginning and an end”.
However,the founder of Christianity was obviously a student of Taoism and Buddhism ,and in those teachings,we realize the truth of “the duality of nature”: That “Light” does not exist without “Dark” nor does “Cold” exist without “Hot”—-and more importantly,,”good” can not exist with out “evil.”
What we are talking about here are is dualism, and it is these “opposites” that give us the ability to “sense reality.”
(Of course, they do not describe the entire reality itself which is infinite and never ending—-just our interaction with it).
Many of the concepts of dualism taught in the ancient eastern religions have been recently backed up and verified by the most advanced thinking in the biological and physical sciences. In sum,with all matter,we see a positive and a negative charge,as well as a “neutral charge” when these positive and negative charges are balanced. We have also proven in science that energy can not be destroyed—it can only be changed or transformed into other forms.
This is entirely in line with Hinduism,Buddhism and Taoism, and it can be argued that Jesus might also have been referring to this when he talked about a “resurrection of the body.” The concept of a resurrection or “reincarnation” is impossible if we accept the idea of “finiteness” and of reality being based on everything having “a beginning and an ending.”
In sum, if science has shown that energy can not be destroyed, then death is merely a transformation, not a finality.
So why is this whole concept of a beginning and an end reinforced so vigorously in certain areas of science AND in so many religious doctrines? If energy provably can not be destroyed and the FOUNDERS of all the great religions taught about reincarnation and resurrection,why all the emphasis “on birth and death”, on “The Big Bang” and “The Apocalypse” and “The End of Days?”??
As you may have already guessed, it all comes down to FEAR.
It is not the founders and teachers of spiritual disciplines who preach fear—it is the followers and “middle men”who come after them who create “the doctrines” and “the myths” that often tell us “Their religion is the only way” and “Only their prophet has the REAL answers” and “Only THEIR GOD is THE ONE TRUE GOD”.
If you don’t believe in this doctrine?
You are “In trouble” and “Bad things are going to happen to you”and you are “On the wrong side” and on and on.
Reading about these other “beliefs” and “doctrines” is frowned upon in the newer religions (Especially Christianity and Islam),as it is considered to “weaken your faith.”
Thus we have not a fear based mentality created not by the teachings themselves, but by the use of these “Myths and doctrines” that demand strict adherence and devotion to , despite their having nothing to do with the actual teachings themselves!
Of course it isn’t just the bureaucrats in organized religion who use this type of mind control on their “subjects”—governments have used these types of “loyalty oaths” to inspire fear and unswerving and un monitored devotion to their causes as well thru the use of colored flags,slogans,as well propaganda for their side and against the other.
What I am describing here is a problem that goes back millenia—but solving this probelm and understanding how it is used against us is more crucial now than ever,as the human race now possesses a technology that can not only destroy all human life,but all other life on this planet as well.
This is why it is ESSENTIAL that we understand that we are all one species on one planet,and that the time for fighting over “Who’s God or Tribe is better” HAS TO END.
What we need is one religion that sums up ALL the truth espoused by all the great teachers thru out history that LEAVES BEHIND the myths and claims to supremacy the old ones have.
We need a spirituality that is united with science,not opposed to it. BOTH science and spirituality in essence represent the same search by the human race to “find truth” and it is long overdue to unite these two disciplines rather than have them “separate” and opposed to each other.
(A good starting place for this unity might be the comparison of the similarities between the concepts expressed by “Quantum Mechanics” and the basic tenets of the old eastern religions.)
However that is the subject for another essay—-in THIS one, I mean to show how similar many of the basic teachings are within 5 of the worlds major religions (Islam,Taoism,Buddhism,Hinduism,Christianity/Judaism) by comparing some quotes/summations on basic spiritual values and concepts attributed to the founders/books of these faiths.
CONCEPT #1: “GOD IS ABOVE ALL THINGS AND IS GOOD”
A)”THE TAO TE CHING”:
“Yet only God’s self can impart completion to the soul,and some day every human heart shall comprehend the whole”
(The 6th teaching—Verse 31)
“I exist in all creatures,so the disciplined man devoted to me grasps the one ness of life; Where ever he is,he is in me”
(Mark 10,Verse 18)
“Why do you call me good? No one is good but GOD alone!”
D)”THE KORAN” :
“Allah—–there is no God but him. In Allah let the faithful put their trust”
E)”THE DHAMMAPADA” (VS 154)
“The mind approaching the eternal attains the distinction of all desires”
CONCEPT #2: “KNOWING TRUTH MAKES FOR A SIMPLE CALM LIFE ”
A)”THE TAO TE CHING”:
“In Godlike calm simplicity,nothing remains undone. Thus the people all might be to calm contentment won”
(“The 5th teaching-Verse 24)
“The man of discipline has joy,delights,and light within; becoming the infinite spirit,he finds the pure calm of infinity”
(John 7,Verses 31 &32)
“If you live according to my teaching,you are truly my disciples; Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free”
“As for those who have faith and do good works and humble themselves before their Lord,they are the heirs of paradise and there they shall abide forever”
E)”THE DHAMMAPADA” (VS 24)
“If a man is earnest and exerts himself, if he is ever mindful if his deeds are pure, if he acts with consideration and restraint and lives accordsing to the law—–his happiness will increase”
CONCEPT #3: “TREAT OTHERS THE WAY YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE TREATED”
A)”THE TAO TE CHING”:
“Those who are good he greets with good,and greets bad the same. For thus is goodness understood by those who know its name”
(The 14th Teaching—-Verse 25)
“The same in honor and disgrace,to ally and enemy,a man who abandons involvements transcends the qualities of nature”
(Matthew 7,Verse 12)
“Treat others the way you would have them treat you”
(Also,Luke 6,Verses 31-33,35)
“Do unto others what you would have them do unto you. If you love those who love you,what credit is that to you?? Even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you,how can you claim any credit? Evil men do as much. Love your enemy and do good: Lend without expecting repayment. Then will your recompense be great. You will be rightly called sons of the most high,he he himself is good to the grateful and the wicked”
“You shall be gratified with what your Lord shall give you. did he not find you an orphan and give you shelter? Did he not find you in error and still guide you? Did he not find you poor and enrich you? Therefore do not wrong the orphan,nor chide away the beggar,but proclaim the goodness of your Lord”
E)”THE DHAMMAPADA” (VS 125)
“Whosoever offends a harmless,pure and innocent person,the evil falls back upon that fool, like light dust thrown up against the wind”
CONCEPT # 4:
“MATERIAL DESIRES CORRODE DEVELOPMENT OF THE SOUL”
A)”THE TAO TE CHING:
“The tree no storm wind can up root is planted in deep earth. Thus the treasure none can ever loot,is that of greatest worth”
“Good treasures need not bolt nor bar to keep their treasures sound. Though all may know where they are,by none may they be found”
(The 2nd Teaching,Verse 62)
“Brooding about objects makes attachments to them grow—–from attachment,desire arises and from desire ,anger is born”
(The 2nd Teaching, Verse 71)
“When he renounces all desires,and acts without craving or possessiveness he finds peace”
(Matthew 6,Verses 19-20)
“Do not lay up for yourselves an earthly treasure. Moths and rust corrode:Thieves break in and steal. Make it your practice instead to store up in heavenly treasure,which neither moths nor rust can corrode,nor thieves break in and steal”
D)”THE DHAMMAPADA” (VS 7)
“He who lives for pleasures & riches, his senses uncontrolled, immoderate in his food,idle and weak—for him,”Mara” (“The Tempter”)will surely overthrow,as the wind throws down a weak tree.”
“WE CREATE OUR OWN JOY,OUR OWN PAIN”
A)”THE TAO TE CHING”:
“Superior men who hear of it,walk in the God like way: and average men of lesser wit strive,but oft disobey”
(The 4th Teaching,Verse 40)
“An ignorant man is lost,faithless,and filled with self doubt: A soul that harbors doubt has no joy,not in this world or the next”
(Mark 7,Verse 15)
“Nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him impure.It is that which comes out of him, and only that which constitutes impurity”
“Indeed,Allah does not in any way wrong mankind—they wrong themselves”
“ONLY KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH KEEPS ONE SAFE FROM EVIL”
A)”THE TAO TE CHING”:
“According thus with destiny,the eternal light grows strong. Without this light one can but be forever in the wrong.”
(The 6th Teaching,Verse 40)
“Arjuna,he does not suffer doom in this world or the next: Any man who acts with honor cannot go in the wrong way,my friend”
(John 11,Verses 9-10)
“Are there not equal parts day and night?? If a man goes walking by day he does not stumble because he sees the world bathed in light. But if he goes walking at night and has no light in him, he will stumble”
“He that does what is right does it to his own advantage; He that commits evil does so at his own peril”
E)”THE DHAMMAPADA” (VS 18)
“The virtuous man is happy in this world and he is happy in the next. He delights in both. He is happy when he thinks of the good he has done.”
“RESIST NEGATIVITY WITH LOVE”
A)”THE TAO TE CHING”:
“Disdaining argumentative talk,none leads him into strife. This is the path that all must walk,to lead the peaceful life”
(The 1st Teaching,Verse 46)
” If Dhritarashtra’s armed sons kill me in battle when I am unarmed and offer no resistance,it will be my reward”
(Matthew 5,Verse 38-39)
“You have heard the commandment an eye for an eye,a tooth for a tooth——But what I say to you is; Offer no resistance to injury. When a person strikes you in the right cheek,turn and offer him the other”
“Requite evil with good,and he who is your enemy will become your dearest friend”
E)”THE DHAMMAPADA” (VS 21)
“Truthfulness is the path of immortality,thoughtlessness,the path of death. Those who are truthful do not die. Those who are thoughtless are as if dead already.”
“ALL THINGS ARE DEFINED BY THEIR OPPOSITES”
A)”THE TAO TE CHING”:
“Misery rests on happiness,and under that is the same—and tho the foolish can not guess,it repeats itself again. Thus everything in life depends upon its own reverse. As enemies depend on friends, praise rotates with curse”
(The 6th Teaching,Verse 32)
“When he sees identity in everything,whether joy or suffering,thru analogy with self,he is deemed a man of pure discipline”
(John 16,Verse 21)
“When a woman is in labor she is sad that her time has come.when she has borne her child,she no longer remembers her pain but only feels joy because a human being has been brought into the world”
“Have we not lifted up your heart and relieved you of the burden which weighed down your back? Have we not given you high reknown? Remember—every hardship is followed by ease”
E)”THE DHAMMAPADA” (VS 119 & 120)
” Even an evil doer sees happiness as long as his evil deed has not ripened: but when his evil deed has ripened, then does the evil man see evil. Even a good man sees evil as long as his good deed has not ripened: but when his good deed has ripened, then does the good man see happiness.”
“BEING HUMBLE AND KIND LEADS TO INNER PEACE”
A)”THE TAO TE CHING”:
“He who is peaceful as a child and weak need fear no wrong; Thus it is the meek and mild can conquer the fierce and strong”
(The 12th Teaching,Verses 13-14)
“One who bears hate for no creature is friendly,compassionate,unselfish,patient,the same in suffering and joy. content,always disciplined,self controlled,firm in his resolve,his mind and understanding dedicated and devoted to me——that one is dear to me”
(Matthew 5,Verses 6-9)
“Blest are they who hunger and thirst for holiness for they shall have their fill.
Blest are they that show mercy; Mercy shall be theirs.
Blest are the peace makers; They shall be called Sons of God.
Blest are those persecuted for holiness sake; The reign of God is theirs”
“Blessed are those who have faith and do good works; Blissful is their end”
E)”THE DHAMMAPADA” (VS 183)
“To refrain from all evil,to achieve the good,to purify ones own heart—-this is the teching of the awakened.”
“GOOD DEEDS SHOULD BE PERFORMED WITHOUT STRINGS ATTACHED”
A)”THE TAO TE CHING”:
“When he has done his simple best,he asks for no reward.He acts as humbly as a guest and does not play the Lord”
(The 3rd Teaching,Verse 19)
“Always perform with detachment any actions you must do; Performing good deeds with detachment,one achieves supreme good.”
(Matthew 6,Verse 14)
“Keep your deeds of mercy secret,and your Father in Heaven who sees in secret will repay you”
“Who for the sake of Allah endure with fortitude,attend to their prayers and give alms in private and in public—who shall ward off evil with good—these shall have a blissful end”
E)”THE DHAMMAPADA” (VS 406)
“Him I call indeed a Brahman who is tolerant with the intolerant, mild among the violent, and free from greed among the greedy.”
“THE DHAMMAPADA” (Continued) (VS 365)
Let him not disdain what he has received, let him not envy others; A monk who envies others does not attain the tranquility of meditation.”
“EMBRACE UNITY,DENY SEPERATENESS”
A)”THE TAO TE CHING”:
“Increase will follow learnedness,but fed from Heaven’s store,the holy man grows less and less and so gains more and more”
“And so the holy man attends to his duty,not his due; And him the heavens will befriend,in all that he may do”
(The 2nd Teaching,Verse 71)
“When he renounces all desires and acts without craving,possessiveness,he finds peace”
(John 5,Verse 30)
“I cannot do anything of myself. I judge as I hear,and my judgement is honest because I am not seeking my own will,but the will of him who sent me”
“I am no prodigy amongst the Apostles; Nor do I know what will be done with me or you. I only follow what is revealed to me and my only duty is to give plain warning”
E)”THE DHAMMAPADA” (VS 374)
“As soon as he has grasped the origin and passing away of the elements of the body, he attains the happiness and joy which belong to those who know the immortal. ”
“DO NOT BE OVERLY JUDGEMENTAL OR UNFORGIVING”
A)”THE TAO TE CHING”:
“Who sums up his fellows at sight brings wonder to their eyes. But he who sums himself aright alone is truly wise”
(The 12th Teaching,Verse 18)
“Impartial to foe and friend,honor and contempt,cold and heat,joy and suffering—–he is truly happy”
(Matthew 7,Verse 1-5)
“If you want to avoid judgement, stop passing judgement!! Your verdict on others will be the verdict passed on you. The measure with which you measure will be used to measure you. You see the speck in your brothers eye,yet miss the plank in your own? You hypocrite!
Remove the plank from your own eye first; Then you will see clearly to take the speck from your brothers eye.”
“My deeds are mine and your deeds are yours. You are not accountable for my actions,nor am I for yours”
“For him that gives in charity and guards himself against evil and believes in goodness,we shall smooth the path of salvation; but for him that never gives and only takes and disbelieves in goodness,for him we shall smooth the path of affliction. When he breaths his last,his riches will not avail him”
E)”THE DHAMMAPADA” (VS 363)
“The monk who controls his tongue, who speaks wisely, who is not puffed up, who elucidates the letter of the law—-his word is sweet.”
As a “Coda” to this essay, may I suggest that the reader try this method out for themselves and see if you can find similar repetitions of basic truths in the different faiths like I did here. You will see that most basic tenets of life and good and right behavior are echoed in all the great religions,proving that these ideas and concepts are something common to all of us.
I also hope that those who attempt this (Or who have read my essay) will come to the conclusion that I did—-that when one knows the truth, one does not need all the trappings and “extras” that are wrapped around it by the purveyors of organized religion.