Then Jesus beholding him, loved him.
In our time of protest and counterprotest, in which we lionize those who “speak truth to power” and idolize those who defend the authority of public institutions, we forget entirely the lesson of great spiritual teachers like Jesus and the Buddha. We mistakenly believe that people followed them and listened to their teachings because they were wise.
Indeed, they were wise. But countless wise spiritual teachers have walked the Earth. What set Jesus and the Buddha apart is that they truly loved the men and women they taught. Most importantly, they loved the people no one else would.
So I ask myself, if Jesus or the Buddha were walking among us today, who would they “behold and love”? Who is it that no one loves, that no one dedicates their life to, that no one would die for the sake of?
To my mind, it’s the men and women of the Mafia, gangs like the Trinitarios (who operate in my neighborhood), and the people of North Korea. Were Jesus or the Buddha walking among us today, they would look upon these people and love them. And motivated by that love, they would endeavor to teach them a beneficial, transformative spiritual path. Their purpose wouldn’t be to damn and condemn, but to heal and save — and their words, full of love and truth, would show that.
Today, our social and political protests are so useless and our preaching and spiritual teaching so ineffective for a simple reason. We lack the compassionate love of great spiritual teachers like Jesus and the Buddha.
Cardinal James Harvey cut to the heart of the matter when he observed, “People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”
You and I know a great many things. But knowledge and wisdom alone will not transform the world.
Only love will.
October 18, 2017