SPIRITUALITY OF HEART IN BUDDHISM AND CHRISTIANITY
COMMENTARY ARCHIVES, 31 May 2009
When the heart is spiritually oriented the human being may be termed as good, holy, and saintly. The spirituality of the heart is all that counts. God measures our greatness by the degree of spirituality our heart has reached and not by the visible achievements or good results of our work.
How God Views Great People
When the Blessed Virgin Mary was chosen to become the Mother of promised Messiah, she was found great before God because of the great spirituality of her heart. Her visible achievements in life, until the time when she was informed by an angel about God’s plans on her, were close to zero. When St. Joseph was chosen to become the husband of this divine Mother, he fascinated God because of the great spirituality of his heart. He was simply a plain carpenter whose profession was held in a very low esteem at that time.
The great men and women of the scriptures that shook the world and left a great impact were all people that were characterized by the spirituality of the heart. When Gautama Siddhartha abandoned the rich lifestyle of his family and embarked upon a life of simplicity, his heart was purified and he became immensely spiritual. In his successful spiritual effort to become the reflection of God’s enlightenment, as to enable others to develop the spirituality of the heart, he became the Buddha. This means he became enlightened or qualified to lead people to God through the spirituality of the heart as a medium.
Even though Buddha lived a few centuries before Jesus and did not seem to be aware of the contents of the Bible, his concept of the spirituality of the heart was very similar to that of Christianity. In fact, there is nothing that Buddha advocated spiritually that contradicts that which Jesus promoted in the spiritual sphere. To this end, Buddhism and Christianity complement each other very well. They both advocated that to receive God in your heart, you have first to empty your heart from anything worldly, indecent, and displeasing to God.
The spirituality of the heart demonstrated by Jesus was so deep that numerous books were written on how Jesus influenced the last two thousand years. Numerous books were also written during the same period about the spirituality that emanated from the heart of Buddha. These two spiritual giants of the human race were both guided by the same God to bring to God’s children everywhere God’s messages. Both stressed the detachment from anything worldly. When one is freed from earthly desires, one is given the opportunity to discover within oneself inner peace that is the desire of every one.
Spiritual Similarities of Buddhism and Christianity
Buddhism views human existence as a privileged state because only human beings have the capacity to elevate themselves to a higher level of existence spiritually. They have the capacity of a spiritual heart that is capable of reaching God to the fullest extent possible.
Jesus exhorted his disciples to elevate themselves to God’s spirit through prayer, meditation, and fasting which were elements that Buddha used to exhort his disciples to lead a life of holiness that was pleasing to God, the Eternal Light. The precepts that Jesus advocated to enable us to lead a better life more pleasing to God, were the same as those advocated by Gautama Siddartha a few centuries earlier. This proves that, in the evolution and development of both Buddhism and Christianity, the spirit of God the Father was there guiding His children to Him in various ways but through the same means.
Relative to the spirituality of the heart, or the way that it leads to holiness, in both Buddhism and Christianity we find the following similarities. They both: 1) advocate prudence and moderation in anything we do, 2) exhort people to eliminate distractions altogether in prayer and meditation, 3) teach that peace develops from the inner self and it is not imposed from the outside of oneself, 4) prohibit people from doing harm to others through stealing, uttering of lies, destruction of property, and the equivalent, and 5) encourage mortification through the elimination of several conveniences that we can do without them.
In conclusion, we may state that the teachings of Buddha, like those of Jesus, apply to all people at all times. Such teaching relate directly to the universal welfare of everyone without exception. Both the Buddhist and Christian communities have plenty to learn from each other. In so doing, both communities will provide themselves with the opportunity of nourishing better their human soul, of elevating more effectively their human mind to a higher level of existence, and of achieving eventually the state of peace, serenity, and holiness.
Charles Mercieca, Ph.D.
President, International Association of Educators for World Peace, NGO Dedicated to United Nations Goals of Peace Education, Environmental Protection, Human Rights & Disarmament.
Professor Emeritus, Alabama A&M University.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 31 May 2009.
Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: SPIRITUALITY OF HEART IN BUDDHISM AND CHRISTIANITY, is included. Thank you.
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