Having accepted the position that God loves all mankind, that there is no fiery furnace waiting to torture people without end, that God wants mankind to live a rich, full life, I have been thinking about the majority of people around the world that have never had access to the Bible and the Bible stories.
It appears to me the way God spoke to the Israelites is he knew their culture and used that as a basis for talking to them. He didn’t talk to them as if they were living in an entirely different culture. He dealt with them as they were. He used the way they saw themselves and the way they perceived him to lead them down the path of life.
At one stage, the Israelites wanted a king because when they looked around, other nations had a king. God told them a king was not a good idea, but they insisted and God relented. Their mindset was that they wanted laws to live by and God gave them laws. But he only gave the law to them, not the rest of the world.
Does this mean God loved the rest of the world less than he loved the Israelites? That is no longer an acceptable position for me. God loves all mankind completely and unconditionally.
So I am considering the possibility, no, the probability God gave insight to living a rich, full life to the other cultures around the world and not just to the Israelites. Consider the American Indian. He seemed to have a love and respect for life in many ways above and beyond European Christian culture that we read about when the Europeans came to the North American continent.
The Far Eastern cultures also seem to have a sense of how to live a rich, full life as well. It seems some people in
Where did the American Indian or the
Having just entertained these thoughts, I googled “Buddha quotes”. The following are some of the quotes I found, none of which I find contrary to my Biblical understanding of living a rich, full life, but rather I find them quite true. All of them, if taken to heart, will help one have a richer, fuller life.
All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.
All wrong-doing arises because of mind. If mind is transformed can wrong-doing remain?
An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast; a wild beast may wound your body, but an evil friend will wound your mind.
Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.
Do not dwell in the past; do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.
Do not overrate what you have received, nor envy others. He who envies others does not obtain peace of mind.
Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.
Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.
Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.
In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves.
It is a man's own mind, not his enemy or foe that lures him to evil ways.
Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.
Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good deeds, and wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind. To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue.
Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.
The mind is everything. What you think you become.
The tongue like a sharp knife... Kills without drawing blood.
There has to be evil so that good can prove its purity above it.
Those who are free of resentful thoughts surely find peace.
You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.
You will not be punished for your anger; you will be punished by your anger.
You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.
Which one of the above do not sound like something Jesus could have said?
And then, I googled “Hindu quotes”:
True happiness consists in making others happy.
Help your brother's boat across, and your own will reach the shore.
Like the body that is made up of different limbs and organs, all mortal creatures exist depending upon one another.
A man becomes like those whose society he loves.
A person consists of his faith. Whatever is his faith, even so is he.
Once again, nothing that Jesus couldn’t have said.
And then, I googled “American Indian quotes”:
So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and Demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and Its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, Even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and Bow to none. When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, The fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and nothing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision. When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts Are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes They weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again In a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.
Ohiyesa, Wahpeton Santee Sioux
The Wise Man believes profoundly in silence - the sign of a perfect equilibrium. Silence is the absolute poise or balance of body, mind and spirit. The man who preserves his selfhood ever calm and unshaken by the storms of existence - not a leaf, as it were, astire on the tree, not a ripple upon the surface of the shinning pool - his, in the mind of the unlettered sage, is the ideal attitude and conduct of life. Silence is the cornerstone of character.
Silence is the absolute poise or balance of body, mind and spirit. The man who preserves his selfhood is ever calm and unshaken by the storms of existence ... What are the fruits of silence? They are self-control, true courage or endurance, patience, dignity and reverence. Silence is the cornerstone of character.
It was our belief that the love of possessions is a weakness to be overcome. Its appeal is to the material part, and if allowed its way, it will in time disturb one's spiritual balance. Therefore, children must early learn the beauty of generosity. They are taught to give what they prize most, that they may taste the happiness of giving.
Chief Yellow Lark, Lakota
Oh, Great Spirit Whose voice I hear in the winds, And whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me, I am small and weak, I need your strength and wisdom. Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset. Make my hands respect the things your have made and my ears sharp to hear your voice. Make me wise so that I may understand the things you have taught my people. Let me learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock.
I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother, but to fight my greatest enemy - myself. Make me always ready to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes. So when life fades, as the fading sunset, my Spirit may come to you without shame.
These are just some of the things I found. But what I found is intriguing. All of these peoples speak of truths – truths of inner peace and of getting along with others. That was also the message of Jesus who spoke to a people of a different culture and time, but spoke the same things. Jesus spoke of an abundant life. Different time, different people, different culture, but essentially the same message.
Maybe, just maybe, God is much bigger and more loving of all of his creation than Christianity gives him credit for. And, maybe, just maybe, he has spoken to everyone in their hearts if his creation will but only listen.