Monday, November 29, 2010

Small reflections, 11/29/10

These may one day be the seeds of longer essays or they may not.

Jesus must be the exemplar incarnation of God in Christianity, i.e. the "son of God".  Even for those who believe that all of existence is (of) God, this role is unique to Christ in that religion because it is an assertion of what a fully realized human would look like and therefore puts a face on the Divine.  Some want to compare the major figures of each religion to each other or themselves.  This is OK up to a point.  But only Jesus is supposed to be Jesus and fill that role.  Some say "the Buddha isn't Jesus", as if that is an insult or a claim of one religion being better than another, but why?  Einstein wasn't Jesus either, and neither was Van Gogh.  So what?  So why does Siddhartha have to be the Christ?  What's wrong with him being the Buddha?

Even if your goal is to emulate Jesus, does that mean you need to be a Jewish day-laborer born two thousand years ago?  If so, you are out of luck.  You might want to emulate Siddhartha, but you aren't going to be a former Indian prince turned wandering holy man no matter how much you wish it.  Let Jesus be Christ.  Let Siddhartha be the Buddha.  If you want to be a son or daughter of God or a Buddha, that's fine.  Want to be a saint or arhat or Bodhisattva?  Fine.  But you must do it as you.  It requires your unique take on the role. And you never know what your contribution might be.  Will you found a religion, or create some world-changing invention, or be remembered as a master of science or the arts?  Maybe not.  But that might not be your contribution.

Some children are born and die within hours.  In that time they touch the lives of those who shared that brief time with them.  Maybe last week around noon you smiled at someone and said hello. Perhaps a stranger, or perhaps a familiar face. And in the grand scheme of things, in that moment, with all the twists and turns of choice and causality and in the balance of that person's life, it may have been a tipping point.  Without that small gesture, that person may lost have their job, or their family.  Six months on the person may have ended their own life.  Or decided not to go to graduate school and play a key role in a cure for cancer.  From a certain perspective, you may have already done the most important thing you will ever do and you may never know it.  Or it might be coming up later today.  Don't be absent from your own life.  It's too important.

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