World’s greatest teachers. Seven masters. One path. That’s amazing. The seven greatest teachers in the world all supposedly teaching the same thing. All leading down the same path. Awesome. Unbelievable. Well, actually, it really is unbelievable. Maybe because it’s not true?
Yeah – Seven Masters, One Path. It’s the title of a book that I got an email about today.
Interestingly, and I believe not by coincidence, I got another email today that was about one of those seven great teachers. Well, actually, it was about all seven of them.
World’s greatest teachers? Seven masters?
Let’s start by looking at the seven greatest teachers. The seven “masters”. From the book by John Selby. In the order presented in the ad. There’s also a few words about each of them. It appears this may be from the cover of the book.
Seven Masters, One Path?
|Patanjali||watching the breath|
|Lao-Tzu||quieting the mind|
|Buddha||accepting the truth|
|Jesus||awakening the heart|
I’ve read only four of the seven. From that, I know that three of those four are in direct conflict the other one. I have no reason to believe that would change for the other three. However, for “enlightenment” – pun definitely intended – let’s get just a little more about these seven allegedly greatest teachers.
Admittedly, it’s hard to find authoritative / reliable sources for some of these seven. Since that’s the case, I’ve tried to find “independent” sources. Ones that would have no reason to be biased either for or against them. since Jesus is the one that differentiates Himself from others, we’ll look at Him last.
Patanjali – one of the world’s greatest teachers? one path with the others?
Patanjali, also called Gonardiya, or Gonikaputra, (flourished 2nd century BCE or 5th century CE), author or one of the authors of two great Hindu classics: the first, Yoga-sutras, a categorization of Yogic thought arranged in four volumes with the titles “Psychic Power,” “Practice of Yoga,” “Samadhi” (state of profound contemplation of the Absolute), and “Kaivalya” (separateness); and the second, the Mahabhashya (“Great Commentary”), which is both a defense of the grammarian Panini against his chief critic and detractor Katyayana and a refutation of some of Panini’s aphorisms.
The Yoga-sutras seem to span several centuries, the first three volumes apparently having been written in the 2nd century BCE and the last book in the 5th century CE. Authorities therefore tend to credit more than one author writing under this name, although there is wide variance in opinion. There is a possibility that many people used this name, because it was used by the authors of a number of other works on such diverse subjects as medicine, metrics, music, and alchemy.
So this has to be more than one person. That alone puts some question into the concept of Patanjali being one of seven greatest teachers.
Also note that it says – state of profound contemplation of the Absolute. At least some of them were written after the birth of Christ (BCE and CE being before and after – previously know as BC and AD). Therefore, if the Absolute was the God of the Bible, one would expect this to be mentioned at some point. Even if it was long afterward they were written. But it isn’t. Even if it was multiple authors, one or more of the later ones would have been alive after Christianity got started. Therefore, there is a conflict in terms of who / what the Absolute is and who God is. That’s a moajor difference between what Patanjali taught and what Jesus taught.
Lao-Tzu – one of the world’s greatest teachers? one path with the others?
Staying with britannica.com
Laozi, (Chinese: “Master Lao,” or “Old Master”), original name (Wade-Giles) Li Er, deified as Lao Jun, Tai Shang Lao-Jun, or Tai Shang Xuanyuan Huangdi, also called Lao Dun, or Lao Dan, (flourished 6th century BCE, China), the first philosopher of Chinese Daoism and alleged author of the Daodejing (q.v.), a primary Daoist writing. Modern scholars discount the possibility that the Daodejing was written by only one person but readily acknowledge the influence of Daoism on the development of Buddhism. Laozi is venerated as a philosopher by Confucians and as a saint or god in popular religion and was worshipped as an imperial ancestor during the Tang dynasty (618–907). (See also Daoism.)
Again, we see the probability that Lao-Tzu was actually a name used by more than one person.
Lao-Tzu is one teachers in the group that I have read. Not only read, but studied. Depending on the translation, Daodejing can be found under several different names in English. The one I read was called The Way of Life. If one wanted to find comparisons between Christianity and what’s in Daodejing, it can be done. However, ultimately, what’s missing is a way for salvation. Jesus.
So again, we see an immediate conflict between this and Christianity. I understand that this was written long before Jesus was born. However, if the two were in fact pointing to the same God, that could be brought out. But there’s just no way that The Mother of Ten Thousand Things is the God of The Bible.
Buddha – one of the world’s greatest teachers? one path with the others?
It would have been nice to stay with britannica.com. However, I’ve reached the limit on free access. So, we’ll try biography.com.
Siddhartha Gautama, who would one day become known as Buddha (“enlightened one” or “the awakened”), lived in Nepal during the 6th to 4th century B.C. While scholars agree that he did in fact live, the events of his life are still debated. According to the most widely known story of his life, after experimenting with different teachings for years, and finding none of them acceptable, Gautama spent a fateful night in deep meditation. During his meditation, all of the answers he had been seeking became clear, and he achieved full awareness, thereby becoming Buddha.
A bit later in the same article, we read this:
Armed with his new knowledge, the Buddha was initially hesitant to teach, because what he now knew could not be communicated to others in words. According to legend, it was then the king of gods, Brahma, convinced Buddha to teach, and he got up from his spot under the Bodhi tree and set out to do just that.
Yet again, we have a direct conflict between Christianity and what Buddhism teaches. The God of the Bible says He is the one true God. But Brahma, the one who got Buddha to teach, was the king of gods. Clearly – this is not the God of Christianity.
Mohammed – one of the world’s greatest teachers? one path with the others?
We change sources again, since biography.com has nothing on Muhammad. This time, we’re at newworldencyclopdia.org.
According to traditional Muslim biographers, Muhammad was born c. 570 C.E. in Mecca (Makkah) and died June 8, 632 in Medina (Madinah). Both Mecca and Medina are cities in the Hejaz region of present day Saudi Arabia. He was a merchant in Mecca when, in 610 C.E. at about the age of 40, while meditating in a cave, Muhammad experienced a vision from the angel Gabriel, who commanded him to memorize and recite the verses subsequently collected as the Qur’an. Gabriel told him that God (Allah in Arabic) had chosen him as the last of the prophets to mankind. He began publicly preaching a strict monotheism and predicting a Qiyamah (Day of Judgement) for sinners and idol-worshippers, such as his tribe and neighbors in Mecca. For this was persecuted and ostracized by the Meccan establishment, who depended on income from pilgrims to its polytheistic shrine, the Kaaba. In 622 Muhammad accepted an invitation from believers in the city of Yathrib, where he became the leader of the first avowedly Muslim community (Yathrib ever after become known as Medina-al-Naby, City of the Prophet, or Medina for short). This journey is known as the Hijra, or migration; the event marked the beginning of the Islamic calendar. War between Mecca and Medina followed, in which Muhammad and his followers were eventually victorious. The military organization honed in this struggle was then set to conquering the other pagan tribes of Arabia. By the time of Muhammad’s death, he had unified Arabia and launched a few expeditions to the north, towards Syria and Palestine.
I have read the Qur’an. Also studied it for a comparison between Islam and Christianity. Despite claims by Muslims, and even from Christians like Pope Francis, there’s no way both religions have the same God. The first way to tell is that Islam teaches that both Judaism and Christianity are polytheistic. That means they have more than one God. In fact, neither Judaism or Christianity have more than one God. It’s inconceivable that the angel Gabriel would not know this.
Furthermore, The Qur’an says more than once that God does not have a son. That can only mean Muhammad called Jesus a liar.
Given just these two things, it’s impossible for the teachings of Muhammad and Jesus to be about the same God.
Gurdjieff – one of the world’s greatest teachers? one path with the others?
We can return again to biography.com. (Unfortunately, Gurdjieff seems to have been removed.)
Gurdjieff received early tutelage from the dean of the military cathedral at Kars, who was a priest and family friend. According to his autobiography, Meetings with Remarkable Men, he journeyed across Central Asia, Egypt and India in a voyage of spiritual discovery. However, there is no corroboration for Gurdjieff’s self-reported accounting of his travels between 1887 and 1911.
When his travels were over, Gurdjieff returned to Russia. Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, he moved to Tiflis, Georgia, where he opened the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man in 1919. A few years later, Gurdjieff settled in France, where his institute took shape once more.
From his base at the Château du Prieuré, near Fontainebleau, Gurdjieff shared his new philosophy. He believed that man was in an almost constant sleep state, and that people must work to revive themselves in order to regain the higher consciousness that they are capable of. He also averred that the sleep state made people easy to manipulate, and was therefore a proponent of questioning everything.
This is the only one of the seven that I’ve never even heard of before.
While Gurdjieff was obviously real, this certainly calls into question the legitimacy of what he taught – However, there is no corroboration for Gurdjieff’s self-reported accounting of his travels between 1887 and 1911.
In any case, even assuming those travels did happen, and the rest of his story is for real, there’s still the Jesus issue with him. Gurdjieff was born in 1887 – in Europe. There’s every reason to believe he was aware of Christianity. But he supposedly traveled Asia, Egypt and India on a voyage of spiritual discovery. Christianity was not enough for him.
Therefore, the conflict between his teachings and those of Jesus appear.
Krishnamurti – one of the world’s greatest teachers? one path with the others?
Back to newworldencyclopedia.org
Jiddu Krishnamurti or J. Krishnamurti, (May 12, 1895–February 17, 1986) was a noted writer and speaker on philosophical and spiritual topics. For nearly 60 years he traveled the world, pointing out to people the need to transform themselves through self knowledge, by being aware of their thoughts and feelings in daily life. He maintained that a fundamental change in society can emerge only through a radical change in the individual, since society is the product of the interactions of individuals. Though he was very alive to contemporary issues through the decades, his answers were rooted in his timeless vision of life and truth. As such, his teachings transcend all man-made boundaries of religion, nationality, ideology, and sectarian thinking. Refusing to play the role of a guru himself, he urged his listeners to look at the basic questions of human existence with honesty, persistence, and an open mind.
self knowledge. That alone points to a huge discrepancy from what Jesus taught. Christianity teaches that we need to “die to self”. It certainly not tell us to know more about ourselves as a means to anything other than the realization that we need God.
Jesus – one of the world’s greatest teachers? one path with the others?
OK – we’re going to look at newworldencyclopedia.org again.
Before reading it, I have to point something out. Originally, I said I was going to go for neutral, unbiased sources. However, with Jesus that’s not really possible. Just read the paragraphs below and we’ll see why. I stayed with this though, because I didn’t want to use a Christian source and be open to claims of bias.
Jesus Christ, also known as Jesus of Nazareth or simply Jesus, is Christianity’s central figure, both as Messiah and, for most Christians, as God incarnate.
No true Christian would not say that Jesus was God Incarnate. For any supposed Christian to say that He isn’t – it can only mean they don’t understand the most basic teachings of Jesus.
Muslims regard him as a major prophet and some regard him as the Messiah.
However, as we already saw, The Qur’an very clearly says that Jesus is not the Son of God.
Here’s but one of the many statements in the Qur’an about believing that Jesus is the Son of God. From Sura 91:
(34) SUCH WAS, in the words of truth, Jesus the son of Mary, about whose nature they so deeply disagree.
(35) It is not conceivable that God should have taken unto Himself a son: limitless is He in His glory! When He wills a thing to be, He but says unto it “Be” – and it is!
(36) And [thus it was that Jesus always said]: “Verily, God is my Sustainer as well as your Sustainer; so worship [none but] Him: this [alone] is a straight way.”
(37) And yet, the sects [that follow the Bible] are at variance among themselves [about the nature of Jesus]! Woe, then, unto all who deny the truth when that awesome Day will appear!
(38) How well will they hear and see [the truth] on the Day when they come before Us! Today, however, these evildoers are obviously lost in error:
(39) hence, warn them of [the coming of] the Day of Regrets, when everything will have been decided – for as yet they are heedless, and they do not believe [in it].
(40) Behold, We alone shall remain after the earth and all who live on it have passed away, and [when] unto Us all will have been brought back. Asad, Muhammad. The Message of the Qur’an (Kindle Locations 7814-7830). The Book Foundation. Kindle Edition.
So the Qur’an says Christians are evildoers are obviously lost in error. How then, can we possibly believe in the same God?
And if that’s not clear enough, here’s a longer one from Sura 5:
(70) INDEED, We accepted a solemn pledge from the children of Israel, and We sent apostles unto them; [but] every time an apostle came unto them with anything that was not to their liking, [they rebelled:] to some of them they gave the lie, while others they would slay, (71) thinking that no harm would befall them; and so they became blind and deaf [of heart]. Thereafter God accepted their repentance: and again many of them became blind and deaf. But God sees all that they do. (72) Indeed, the truth deny they who say, “Behold, God is the Christ, son of Mary” – seeing that the Christ [himself] said, “O children of Israel! Worship God [alone], who is my Sustainer as well as your Sustainer.” Behold, whoever ascribes divinity to any being beside God, unto him will God deny paradise, and his goal shall be the fire; and such evildoers will have none to succour them!
The Qur’an says this about Christians: unto him will God deny paradise, and his goal shall be the fire. Christians will be denied entry into Paradise, but instead will be doomed to the fires of Hell. But we believe in the same God? Both teachers, Jesus and Muhammad lead to one path?
(73) Indeed, the truth deny they who say, “Behold, God is the third of a trinity” – seeing that there is no deity whatever save the One God. And unless they desist from this their assertion, grievous suffering is bound to befall such of them as are bent on denying the truth. (74) Will they not, then, turn towards God in repentance, and ask His forgiveness? For God is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace.
Let’s set this one straight first. Christianity does not teach that God is one-third of a Trinity. Certainly, the angel Gabriel would have known this. The one God is a Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. One God chooses to show Himself in this way. An understanding of the Old and New Testaments makes this clear. Again, the angel Gabriel would have known this. Did Muhammad misunderstand what he was told? Was the angel not really Gabriel? Was the angel, as Muhammad originally feared, a Jinn? BTW – a Jinn is a demon. A fallen angel.
No matter what, there’s no way to reconcile these verses with Christianity to say that there is one path to the same God. It’s just not possible.
(75) The Christ, son of Mary, was but an apostle: all [other] apostles had passed away before him; and his mother was one who never deviated from the truth; and they both ate food [like other mortals]. Behold how clear We make these messages unto them: and then behold how perverted are their minds! (76) Say: “Would you worship, beside God, aught that has no power either to harm or to benefit you – when God alone is all-hearing, all-knowing?”
This passage tells Christians that there is no basis for Christianity. If Jesus was not the Son of God, then everything He taught was a lie.
This leads to the inescapable conclusion that Jesus was God and therefore the Qur’an is wrong. Or else that Jesus was not God but He was a liar, in which case He cannot be considered a great teacher. Either way, there is yet again, a divergent path here. The two religions cannot and do not lead to the same God.
(77) Say: “O followers of the Gospel! Do not overstep the bounds of truth in your religious beliefs; and do not follow the errant views of people who have gone astray aforetime, and have led many [others] astray, and are still straying from the right path.” Asad, Muhammad. The Message of the Qur’an (Kindle Locations 2989-3010). The Book Foundation. Kindle Edition.
Once more, there is no way that Jesus and Muhammad lead us to the same path. The God of Muhammad is most certainly not Jesus. And therefore, the God of Christianity and Allah, god of Islam, cannot and are not the same. For a look at God telling us, “I never knew you” – in both Christianity and Islam, please see I Never Knew You, Part 3: from the Qur’an.
Many Hindus also recognize him as a manifestation of the divine (as do Bahá’í believers), while some Buddhists identify him as a Bodhisattva. For Christians, Jesus’ example, teaching, death and resurrection are inspirational of a life of service to others, of love-in-action. More than that, the person of Jesus represents God’s revelation to humanity, making possible communion with God.
Here again, we see a basic misunderstanding or misrepresentation of what Christianity is about. Some who call themselves Christians may agree with the statement – Jesus’ example, teaching, death and resurrection are inspirational of a life of service to others, of love-in-action. However, I have to say that those people do not understand the basics of Christianity. Christianity is, at its core, about Jesus’ death and Resurrection being for our salvation. It’s about God Himself, through the person of Jesus, paying the price of justice for the things we have done. It’s not about inspiration. It’s about loving God for what He did for us. Because of His love for us. And subsequent to that, wanting to bring others to Him, so they also may be saved for eternity.
If you’d like to read more about salvation – especially in terms of Christianity and Islam, please see Which “God” provides salvation for us?
Whats in the previous paragraph is just plain incorrect. It sells Christianity short. And it misses the point of what God did. And if those are the things that cause some Buddhists, or others to relate to Jesus, then they have the wrong picture of Jesus.
Once again, we have a divergent path between the two teachings and therefore between the religions.
As might be expected with a man of this stature, partial understandings, and total misunderstandings of his life and mission abound. Jesus has been described as a peacemaker, as a militant zealot, as a feminist, as a magician, as a homosexual, as a married man with a family and a political agenda, as a capitalist, as a social activist and as uninterested in social issues, as offering spiritual salvation in another realm of existence and as offering justice and peace in this world.
That first sentence is so spot on: As might be expected with a man of this stature, partial understandings, and total misunderstandings of his life and mission abound. I have to believe that it’s misunderstandings, by the author of the book (?), by those who actually believe the stuff we just read about Jesus, by various sources, Etc. that lead to a conclusion of all these people leading to the same path. They cannot. And they do not.
Did he intend to establish a new religion, or was he a faithful Jew? Many Europeans have depicted him with Gentile features, light-skinned and with blue eyes. Departing entirely from the Biblical record, some Asians have speculated that he visited India and was influenced by Buddhism. Traditional belief is that Jesus lived in Palestine his entire life, except for a few childhood years in Egypt.
Actually, there’s much in the text we just read from this source that fits under the label of Departing entirely from the Biblical record. As does the concept that Jesus and the other six great teachers are on one path. They are not. It’s only by departing from what the Bible says that anyone can come to believe they are on one path.
Conclusion – World’s greatest teachers? Seven masters? one path?
I want to put up just one quote from Jesus. BTW – the other email that I mentioned at the beginning – the one I received just after the one about this book – it was the second paragraph of the passage below.
The Shepherd and His Flock
Jn 10:1 “I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3 The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.
Jn 10:7 Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Jn 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
Jn 10:14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
Those who understand what Jesus said here will also understand why the other six people in the list do not teach the same thing He does. They do not share the same path as those who follow Jesus. Anyone who understands those words will realize that, in reality, the other six will lead you away from the path the Jesus is on. The path that we should follow. In fact, the path we must follow if we want to spend eternity with Him.
If you don’t believe that, I can’t urge you enough to learn what Christianity is really about. Especially if you think you’re Christian and you believe any of the other six shares the path with Jesus, I have to tell you, there’s something missing and / or added to your beliefs. I don’t if care if it’s how you meditate, who / what you meditate on, anything that leads us away from Jesus and to something / someone else.
Jesus says we will know His voice and that we will know Him. But if we allow others, even one of the other six on this list, to influence us, we will not know Jesus. We won’t recognize His voice. And therefore, we will follow someone else down the wrong path. The path of the thief.