I was chating with someone today in the hallway of a Presbyterian Church where I had attended a noon meeting of some folks that are trying to stay sober. Our conversation revolved around growing sanity and spiritual values and an ethical grounding in sobriety. She knows I’m a practicing Buddhist and as we were saying our goodby’s she said in a kindly way, “I heard that, to a lot of people, Christ was a Yogi.” At that moment a lady who was walking by seemed to do a slight “stutter-step” but kept going. I assumed she worked in the Church because she was carrying a sheaf of papers in a sort of official way; you know, between offices.
It got me to thinking about a notion that I’ve encountered quite a few times in various settings and forms, that Jesus encountered Buddhism, or studied it, during those years (12?) that there is no record of him, as such. It’s an idea that some people cherish or nourish and others think a bit far-fetched. I don’t have a position one way or the other, but its certainly very possible for anyone in that same age, place and time to have encountered the teachings of the Buddha.
As various cultures and societies were being formed throughout the world there was always interaction and communication between, tribes, families, villages, cities and various ethnic and cultural or “national” entities. Those connections, at their base, were initially trade of goods, services or skills. From what I gather in my general historical understanding of societal growth and transformation, is that initially people traded very basic items that had universal value. The main one of those may have been salt, because it is a vital ingredient for diets and survival, and as people spread out around the globe they had to keep in touch with others who had constant access or proximity to sources of it. So, it is a universal staple of trade throughout human history.
For some reason, we in modern times have a sense that all information and cultural, scientific, mechanical, technological, philosophical or spiritual/religious ideas stayed rooted in their place of origin for long periods of time because of the difficulty of travel. No highways or airports, etc: But, there were roads and ports for ships and intersections of trade routes where people from all-over-the-world met regularly, annually at least. So, my thought is that all information travels, at a minimum, at the speed of salt being transferred from those that have it, to those that need or want it.
Since all that activity is human based there will be information traveling ,and new ideas being packed, with goods of trade and at some point, ideas became the goods of trade, always a rich exploration and exchange of information, ideas and thought.
So, Buddhism as it spread through much of India and into what is now central Asia encountered Alexander’s conquering Greeks and all those trade routes going over vast deserts and mountains, all the shipping lanes that went from China, Southeast Asia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, East Africa and the Mediterranean, bringing salt, silk, corn and chickens and a bunch of new ideas about the world, its functions and relationship to humans and their relationship to Something else, Somewhere. Somehow.
Anything or thought that has sprung up anywhere, from any seed, has to spread and cross-pollinate and it has to change. Always will, and it takes time.
We and our lives and beliefs and all of our stories about it all, are a cross-pollination.
Nothing is firmly, just this.
It may be for a while, but
Not for long, So, relax.
We all know a very little.
Relaxation is who you are,
Tension is who you think you should be.