(As a disclaimer to this introduction of the beatitudes as a support for the exploration and practice of the paramitas, I am not a scholar of either of these wisdom traditions. I am curious and intrigued by the similarities between the foundational teachings of the two and I am hoping that the exploration of these commonalities allows for a deeper insight into the nature of reality as goodness. )
When looking for common threads in the teachings of wisdom traditions it is not to justify one stream by seeing it mirrored in another. It is also not to compare and contrast one with the other, nor is it to lift one above the other. From the buddhist perspective, revealing the wisdom of the inherent goodness of reality is right, however it is revealed. Perhaps the christian view of this is reflected in the phrase, “The holy spirit works in mysterious ways.”
The beatitudes are the first half of what is referred to as the Sermon on the Mount. They are followed by an explanation in parable and simile of what Jesus was teaching. Prior to this gathering of a multitude followers, Jesus has been pointing out and clearing the obstacles and obscurations that inhibit folks from understanding the sutra of the beatitudes. He spent forty days and nights with satan , clearing away the obstacles of attachment, doubt, pride, and greed. Then he points to the obscurations of suffering, caused by the misperception of the nature of form, by enacting miracles of limitless bounty and healing with a touch or word. Luke 6, the chapter with the beatitudes, begins with Jesus working by harvesting corn, feeding the hungry from the sacred loaves in the temple, and healing a man’s withered hand, all on the sabbath which was against Jewish holy law. In trying to find an analogy to buddhist teachings here, it seems that it is pointing out how the obscurations of rigid concepts (Jewish law) become obstacles to goodness. Perhaps it is also a teaching on how to respond out of this inherent goodness, spontaneously in the present moment instead of habit or imprint.
So, it seems that prior to the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is teaching the necessity of identifying obstacles and obscurations and discarding them or at least loosening the grasp of the habits of belief in them. This is in preparation for hearing, reflecting upon and cultivating the wisdom teachings that he is about to offer.
Below is the complete wisdom teaching of the Sermon on the Mount from the King James Version, Luke 6, 12 – 49. As you read, the invitation is to reflect on how it points to perfection, transcendence and purity. Notice and inquire into the constrictions of body and mind that may arise that obscure the heart of the teachings. Apply the same practice to the experience of openness and loosening that may arise. Then perhaps reflect on the six paramitas; generosity, discipline, patience, meditation and insight. And then inquire into what the fruition of the practices of the beatitudes and the paramitas might be.
And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.
13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles; (14 – 18 names of disciples)
17And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judaea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases;
18 And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed.
19 And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.
20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.
22 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.
23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.
24 But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.
25 Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.
26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.
27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.
30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.
33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.
34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:
38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?
40 The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.
41 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
42 Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.
43 For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
44 For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.
45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:
48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.
With these words I pay homage to all buddhas, bodhisattvas, sentient beings, and the totality. May these words not confuse, bring doubt, or harm, but bring ease and warmth and an end to suffering for all beings.
Practicing in sangha, even virtually, supports the practice of meditation differently than sitting solitarily. The members of the Sangha of the Pandemic, invite you to practice with us. No experience is required. There is no cost. Everyone is welcome.
We practice on ZOOM:
- Mondays – Calm abiding and insight meditation. 6 AM Pacific Time
- Tuesdays – Body awareness. 6 AM Pacific Time
- Thursdays – Tonglen, 6 AM Pacific Time
- Sundays – Brahmavihara. 7 AM Pacific Time
- Monday and Thursday. Contemplation and meditation. 4:30 PM Pacific Time
ZOOM Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89989680789
Please feel free to reach out with questions or insights. Please also feel free to forward this post and invite others to join the sangha. You may find more reflections, poetry, art at sanghaofthepandemic.org . If you would like to leave comments or participate in ongoing discussions about a blog, go to the end of the individual post or click on the little green box floating on the page.