Unconditional love is central to the wisdom of Jesus and the Buddha.
In the silence when I forget all the words of the priests and the Holy Joes, I see Jesus and the Buddha, and all the mystics of the world’s wisdom traditions, as one. When I leave all the fads and the self-proclaimers, and when I forget my rickety ideologies and my meagrely-adjudged clever ideas; I am moved by unconditional, all-connecting love. I’m not alone. All people are connected.
This mystical oneness had Jesus loving and accepting all comers. His openness to all of society’s races and classes repulsed the exclusivist elites and the men-of-god to such an extent that they allegedly conspired to execute him.
Jesus was a practical mystic – oneness was not some fancy state of being spiritual. He taught that divine love works right in amongst the despicableness of the world, amongst the beggars and the lepers, the sinners and the Samaritans. It waves its wonderful salutations from the mountains and the rivers where Jesus met his followers… not from temples and synagogues.
Reversal of norms
It is recorded that Jesus was surrounded by simple people desperately in need of love, rejected by society’s norms. He reversed those norms of acceptability.
Religious doctrine and holy pontificating turned him off. Man-made laws on how one qualifies for divine consolation were not important to him. The law preached achievement of a state of grace through some magical merit or deeds-based point-scoring system. Teachers sought to change people into a mould that supposedly guaranteed some future spiritual reward. Some blessedness. But Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
He turned religiosity on its head. He loved people as he found them… here and now. He had no sanctimonious conditions to be met in order to join him. All he did was love. Like the father’s unconditional acceptance of the prodigal son in his well-known parable.
Unlike the norms of his time, Jesus required nothing in order to love. He lived the experience of oneness with the world and rejected exclusion of any race, nation or class. For him ‘the kingdom of God’ included every aspect of reality, even the barren fig tree.
The Parable of the Vineyard
Some workers came early in the day to labour in a vineyard. At the end of the day, they were aggrieved when the landowner paid them the same as he paid those who worked half-day and quarter-day. The landowner said to them, “Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to these that came last the same as I give to you.”
Jesus told all and sundry, “The kingdom of God is like this.”
Society’s chosen people identified with the early workers. They would have been incensed that Jesus implied, through his story, that they were the same as the dregs of humanity.
Unfortunately, then, as now, all-inclusiveness is threatening to those who have invested in being in an exclusive club that lays claim to the lion’s share of material or spiritual spoils. They cannot accept that their perceived righteousness wins them no special favour. They cannot believe that they are not blessed. Their programmed minds ask, “How can love be totally unconditional?”
The Buddhist Way
The Buddha loved unconditionally. He turned his world of privilege upside down to discover the truth. The norms he grew up in became like naught on his path to enlightenment.
In Buddhism, there are no good people and bad people, spiritual people and worldly people; instead there are just different people at varying points on the Way. True love in Buddhism is shown by not allowing the outward “clothes” of a person to detract from our respect for their Buddha Nature. It is said in Buddhism that we must bow endlessly, and this is our willingness to always show reverence and gratitude to all beings and all things. A heart that bows is a heart that loves.
Everything possesses the Buddha Nature. When we show reverence, gratitude, and compassion to all things – including those we dislike – we are treating everything as part of the body of the Buddha. It is not enough to say that unconditional love exists – that Divine Light exists; we must find it even in amongst the worst conditions and in the most untouchable lows of society. It is everywhere, not just in the sterile yoga class or the quiet meditation hall across the road from your suburb’s manicured park.
The Same Way
Jesus and the Buddha had the same mystical insight into reality. Connectedness underpins the physical world. A parallel universe – a deeper dimension of consciousness – drew them into solitude and into radical acceptance of all. They show us the same way to meaning.
Like Jesus and the Buddha we must love all… unconditionally. There is no other way to personal happiness, and to our species’ renewal.
The sceptic may ask, “Were Jesus and the Buddha not just psychotic? Were they not deluded? Mentally sick?”
I’d say no. Simply because their way resonates strongly across all wisdom traditions and millions of mystics. It is not exclusively a religious phenomenon. Nor a fairy-tale of simple folk. Unconditional love is universally attractive to the human psyche. We keep it unconscious because it forces huge letting go when it arises… which is frightening. But deep down, it calls us. We want to be free of prejudice and hate. We want to be uncompromisingly in love.
We want to love first, at any cost. Even death. If we answered this call we would find prejudice based on any ‘ism’ a dry and hurtful obstacle to our soul’s journey to its true home. A home where everyone, absolutely everyone, is welcome. A home which is not mine or yours, but all of ours.
Unconditional love – a home open to all – is radical, perhaps. Idealistic and impractical, maybe. But the alternative leads to the depressing conclusion that we are separate, that we live in these isolated little bodies behind our barricades… and then we die. This depressing state drives our hate. It drives our current world order.
So let us follow the mystical way. Let us love and accept. Start today. Meditate. Become a practical mystic, and see the real wonder of reality.
And perhaps, if enough of us truly follow Jesus and the Buddha, it will not be too late for us to change our world.