OK. Now, what did I just do? As a mathematician, a socio-anthropologist and a computer geek I conveniently, quickly and easily kicked into the dustbin of irrelevance and irreverence, science and the religion associated with it where people blindly believe in it out of faith and the evidence of a few buildings and machines.
The problem here is simple: Blind faith is precisely that - blind. Science of course, does not have a monopoly on such forms of faith. The most populous religions on earth also insist on blindness as an intrinsic part of faith. Like a chain born out of a smelter in Hades, blindness is the cord that ties the devotees to the religion and keeps these appropriately fearful people substantially faithful. Faithful to the religion that is. Not, to the truth. Hoping against hope that some unseen, unknown power-that-be would take pity on them or at the very least not smite them down while alleviating their fear through some magical means and solving their energy crisis, their climate crisis, their financial crisis and their matrimonial crisis.
However, and I cannot stress this too much, Faith, untrammeled, clear sighted, lit up with the incandescence and iridescence of truth - is never blind. Rather, it is born out of the company of great beings such as those mentioned here, out of a desire to open one's eyes and see what they saw, out of a practice in accordance with their instructions and out of an affirmation within oneself of the truth of what they said subsequent to that practice.
Now, my parents called themselves Buddhist so I was called a Buddhist as well. So, it was some time before I was introduced to my Lord Jesus Christ. I think I was about 10 when I picked up a Bible slotted into the many bookshelves in my reading-mad family's digs. Since no faith-blind pastor or astigmatic school mam put the fear of God in me (heaven forbid), or taught me utter bunkum about Jesus or forced me to do rote-prayers or write exams on his life, I was in a privileged and highly advantageous position to let what he said light up my life at its own slow-radiating pace.
He was a complex being and I was a stupid boy. Therefore, I didn't attempt to second-guess what he said and kept my reading of him and my practice of what he taught very simple, very stupid, very true. I needed to know two things only: What must I do? What must I pray?
There was a lot of rhubarb in the Old Testament that went right over my head and, for all that I care, can continue its journey out of the solar system and into deep space but I liked the commandments. Don't kill, don't steal, don't covet, don't lie. They were completely human, completely earthbound, completely right, completely wholesome, completely doable. What's more, they were the same key commandments of the Buddha and the other beings mentioned here as well so there was a congruence and cross-denominational affirmation of them (given, of course, the base understanding that the words of such teachers were all denominations of truth).
I thought they would be good to practice. I practiced. Umbly-bumbly practice of course and who at the age of twelve know of neighbor's wives? A few years later, reading further, in Matthew 5:17 I found affirmation that Jesus was thrilled by the commandments himself. He says there, that he has come to fulfill the commandments - not to change them. mmm...? Interesting. What does this great, great being mean by this? The commandments were valid but either he had not fulfilled them yet or human beings had not fulfilled them yet.
Knowing his conduct, I understood he fulfilled them first. His life is a testament to that fact. Through his words, it is also clear he exhorted us to do the same. Now, one cannot fulfill "don't kill/steal/covet/lie" by talking about it, parabalizing it or rote-repeating it. One can only fulfill those by acting in accordance with them. That was the key clue.
He, through his own conduct in fulfilling the commandments was asking us to do the same. Not, repeat not, pray that somehow that would happen through some magical intervention. The ball was, is and always will be in our court. It was up to us. Not to him, not to God. Thrilled me. It was enough for me to chew on and practice on for the rest of my life. What did I need of the ritualistic aspects of Christianity? Here, was pure gold. He was the image of God. He wanted us to be an image of him. That's it. How? By conducting our lives in accordance with him. By practicing what he preached, by practicing what he practiced. If he healed, let us heal. Not, oh puh-leez, pray for healing. That, in essence, was the whole nine yards. And what an amazingly simple, beautiful and true nine yards these were. As my friend Mike Marcelamani pointed out to me, there was more to Jesus than the fulfillment of the commandments and I fully agree. Just that, just fulfillment of those would, I knew, take me a personal lifetime.
On to prayer. I needed only one. The Lord's Prayer. This is one of the two most powerful prayers known to man - the other being the Gaythri Mantram used by the followers of Lord Shiva.I used both during my wedding ceremony a few years back. During that ceremony, just as I had always done in my life, I used an unconventional phrasing of the forth, fifth and six lines of The Lord's Prayer.
Thy kingdom come on earth,
Thy will be done on earth,
As it is in heaven.
How? Well, most certainly not by asking someone to bring something down like a ton of bricks on to planet earth. That, we can safely leave to meteorites and sky labs.
Then how? By practicing in accordance with what he spoke and, being, such as he is, so too, us. Within each of us then, God's will be done. Within each of us then, his kingdom come. Amen.
Why? Certainly not because we want to purchase a piece of his heaven.
Then why? Because that way we can have heaven on earth. Amen.
My Lord Jesus Christ was too gentle, too compassionate, too caring, too self-sacrificing to have ever wanted to have visited some evil, vengeful, jealous, angry and vindictive God on us regardless of what the church seems to tell us. He was far too loving to have wanted to make us obey through fear of some unknown entity or shiver in our shoes at the mere mention of the name. He was far too insightful to tell us that the way to God was through mumbling incoherent nonsense or getting involved in church committees organizing nativity plays or choir practice.
I subscribed to none of those. In fact, I categorically reject all of them. Faith-blinded I never was so there was absolutely no reason for me to compromise the reason for my faith nor the results of it.
Instead, I practiced Jesus. Therefore, I saw him. Therefore, I felt him. Therefore, I do not suffer much nor do I enjoy too much. Therefore I am not praised too much nor am I blamed too much. Therefore I am not famed too much nor shamed too much. Therefore I don't gain too much nor do I lose too much. Content am I. Peacefully sleeping am I. In my little pocket of heaven am I. Thanks be to my Lord Jesus. Thanks be to God.