Joshua and Siddhartha
There are probably no greater spiritual teachers in human history than Joshua ben Joseph, aka Jesus of Nazareth and Siddhartha Gautama, aka Buddha. Both had life-transforming experiences around the age of thirty. Joshua spent 40 days in the wilderness before beginning his public career. Both of them had an enlightened wisdom, a new way of seeing.
Both taught similar metaphorical styles, using simple yet profound language. The emptying out, letting go and dying to self are central themes. Both men were a radical slap in the face to the existing orthodoxy. Siddhartha Gautama’s teachings were a refreshing rebuke to the Brahmin culture of elaborate rituals and Vedic philosophies.
Buddha rejected the caste system and its evils including rituals based on animal sacrifices, fasting and pilgrimage—he preached total equality. Doesn’t this sound familiar to the Christian reader? They both taught a transformative new and better way that subverted tradition. It’s not possible to be a follower of Jesus without undermining the present social order.
Both of them laid great emphasis on love, equality and non violence. Even current Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama to this day has repeated the slogan “my religion is compassion.” Siddhartha taught “consider others as yourself” a similar instruction to Joshua’s “love your neighbor as yourself.”
“If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also.”
“If anyone should give you a blow with his hand, a knife or a stick, you should abandon any desires and offer no evil words.”
And then compare their teachings on overcoming evil:
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.”
“Hatreds do not cease in this world by hating, but by love; this is an eternal truth. Overcome anger by love, overcome evil by good. Overcome the miser by giving; overcome the liar by truth.”
Though there are many differences between the two great teachers, there are some remarkable similarities that point to a new and better way of life that is more satisfying and fulfilling than what our current materialistic age is offering.