Liquid Footprints

Jesus: The Middle Way

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Let us take a look at three different figures: John Galt, Jesus, and the Buddha. They each represent a certain way of living and viewing the world.

John Galt is the “spokesman” of objectivism. Objectivism is a belief system that has grown in popularly lately. Ayn Rand is one of the major movers of the system. In objectivism, the individual and their senses are the focus. People who work hard, “produce,” and live how they want are considered ideal. The senses depict reality as it truly is. It champions independence and freedom. It frowns upon share wealth and the common worker. John Galt is a character from the book “Atlas Shrugged” an exemplifies the ideals of objectivism. He is hard working, dislikes government’s efforts to control his wealth, seeks freedom and independence. He eventually founds his own city where everyone can start a business of their own; work on their own and keep what they earn.

On the opposite end is the Buddha. Buddha teaches that the senses are deceptive, and everything we consider real is like an illusion. The concept of a computer, for example, isn’t reality. The reality is the some of all the parts, materials, and human effort needed to create the device we conceptualize as a “computer.” Buddha also taught extreme altruism. We are all related to each other and connected. The concept of the individual is also like an illusion. Because of this, we should care for others with all our abilities. In Buddhism there is even the idea of a Bodhisattva. A Bodhisattva is a person who decides not to enter nirvana but to instead be reborn endlessly so they can help people. A rough approximation of this idea is to think of a Christian who refuses to enter heaven after they die and demands to be reborn so they can help other people become Christians. Yes, according to Buddhism a person should even give up heaven so they can help people for as long as people exist.

Between the poles is Jesus. Jesus, of course, leans closer to the Buddha than to Galt. Jesus taught selflessness but also with a bit of self interest. For Jesus, it is okay for someone to take care of their own to a certain degree. As long as taking care of one’s own doesn’t preclude you from helping people. Jesus considers those who do give up everything to others as people to emulate. However, He recognizes not everyone can do that. He doesn’t expect you to give up heaven so you can help others. However, he doesn’t tolerate the focus on the individual to the extreme Galt does. Jesus viewed everyone as related, as neighbors. You help when there is need, as much as you can.  He suggests that life is like an illusion, but He leaves it at that. People have to live within this realm of the senses.

Okay, I really glossed this over. There is a lot of depth these short paragraphs doesn’t scratch. I suggest you read “Atlas Shrugged” and books wrote by the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh. Of course, I also suggest you read the Synoptic Gospels.  You could easily write a short book on this subject. However, what is important is how Jesus provides a balanced view on life. One that Buddha would approve. Likewise Jesus would approve of Buddha’s teachings on compassion. Both would frown upon Galt and the focus on individualism and the senses. I find it funny how objectivism is embraced by many Christians considering how anathema it is to what Jesus taught: altruism and compassion.

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Author: Chris

Wanders the world of Japanese culture and library nerdiness.

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