Friday, April 21, 2006

Excerpts from the Lost Sutras of Jesus

I came across this interesting book the other day called The Lost Sutras of Jesus. What I liked about it that it was very accessible no matter whether you are religious or not. Here are some excerpts.

The Four Laws of the Dharma

1. No desire.
"Your heart seeks one thing after another creating a multitude of problems. You must not allow them to flare up. Desires are like the roots of plants. Since they are buried deep below the earth you can't see them and don't know they are damaged until the buds of the plant begin to wither and die. Desire in the human heart can't be recognized from the outside either. Desire can sap wholesome energy from the four limbs and the body's openings, turning it into unwholesome activity. This cuts us off from the roots of Peace and Joy. That is why you must practice the law of no desire."

2. No action.
"Doing things for mundane reasons is not part of your true being. You have to cast aside vain endeavours and avoid shallow experiences. Otherwise you are deceiving yourself."

3. No virtue.
"Don't try to find pleasure by making a name for yourself through good deeds. Practice instead universal loving kindness that is directed toward everyone. Never seek praise for what you do. Consider the earth. It produces and nurtures a multitude of creatures each receiving what it needs. Words cannot express the benefits the earth provides. Like the earth, you are at one with Peace and Joy when you practice the laws and save living creatures. But do it without acclaim. This is the law of no virtue."

4. No truth.
"Don't be concerned with facts, forget about right and wrong, sinking or rising, winning or losing. Be like a mirror. It reflects one and all; blue, yellow and all other colors; long, short, any size. It reflects everything as it is, without judging. Those who have awakened to the Way, who have attained the mind of Peace and joy, who can see all karmic conditions and who share their enlightenment with others, reflect the world like a mirror, leaving no trace of themselves." (pp 81-83)


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"I see the Dharma, my vision is not blocked by forms. I hear the Dharma, my ears are not overwhelmed by sounds. I smell the Dharma, my nose is not filled with scents. I taste the Dharma, my tongue is not deceived by flavors. I move with the Dharma, my body is not hindered by physical forms. I know the Dharma, my mind is not cluttered with things. Once you embody these six Dharmas, you will understand the Teaching." (p. 88)

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"Key among the lessons for us to learn from this Tao of Jesus are its Four Essential Laws: no desire, no action, no virtue, and no truth. These teachings are difficult for the modern westerner, who is full of craving and has often adopted a philosophy that doesn't provide a sense of belonging to the world community. For pleasure and meaning in today's society, we look to entertainment and science, two inadequate sources that only increase our craving. We are taught to be literal and constantly active. The Taoist ideal on the other hand is effortless action.

"The Four Laws in the Jesus Sutras begin with no desire. This doesn't mean that you should once and for all purify yourself of all desire. That would be inhuman. But there is a kind of craving that can take away your freedom and tranquillity, a compulsive sense of need - for things, food, people, money, sex and even experience. Strong desire can serve the spiritual life, but even the slightest degree of compulsion throws you off balance. Maybe you don't see the precious and beautiful life in front of you, and especially the simple and important things like children, family life, neighbors, nature and craft. Not having these things that enrich you at a deep level, you go after things that glitter without satisfying.

"Second is the law of no action. Obviously, this doesn't mean becoming a vegetable. It means noticing the activities that keep you occupied but don't really make life worth living. Today everyone complains they're too busy, and yet the important things are not being done. We have many people in need of help. We need good story telling, whether on television or in print. We need beautiful objects that are not mass-produced. We need supportive and safe cities and towns and food that doesn't poison us or cause disease. There is much for us to do, not for financial profit and personal enhancement, but to make life beautiful.

"The spiritual enlightenment in the Sutras stream forth in their treatment of the third law, no virtue. Within the spiritual life there is an impulse towards sharing your excitement at finding insight and an effective way of life. But this natural desire to spread the word easily becomes excessive. In the extreme, believers force others to follow their way. In more modest form, the urge becomes an annoying attempt to convert those to your opinion.

"The Jesus Sutras answer this by combining beliefs from Christianity, Taoism and Buddhism in a balance and dynamic fashion. The result is a different form of piety, a devotion in which you focus on the wisdom and insight that has come to you. You may develop daily practices that keep your understanding in mind. This will lead in turn to serving not only the community that shares your vision but the greater community as well. All this is a form of piety that will do more to convince others of the value of vision than any effort to convert and persuade.

"The fourth law, no truth, can be a difficult one to accept. Think of it as the difference between fact and insight. We live in a culture that believes in provable facts. Anything else is personal, suspiciously subjective. Even in spiritual matters, you may think you possess the truth. But actually insight, with all its subjectivity, is more important that the illusion that you have all the answers. The word "truth" conveys the idea that you alone are aware of the ultimate reality. It is a highly dogmatic word, usually split off from the soul qualities that would temper it and make it less belligerent. The Jesus Sutras soften the notion of truth and give it a needed depth. In a society full of competitive claims about who is right, this slight change in attitude can inspire our religions and transform the way we lead our lives." (pp. 126-129)