What Christianity is Missing

Today is my continuation day! I am celebrating with my wife, son, and daughter. We will spend some of the time in the lovely Napa Valley.

Just eleven days ago, my wife and I returned from a wonderful gastronomic tour of the Catalan region of Spain. We spent ten nights in Barcelona, where my other daughter lives. She just completed the work for her masters’ degree in innovative tourism and gastronomy. And boy, did we eat!


Beach in Menorca by Jerome Freedman, © 2014

Our first excursion outside of Barcelona took us to Menorca where we stayed three nights and swam in the Mediterranean Sea, with its crystal clear waters and sandy beaches.

After two nights in Girona, and visiting the Dali Museum in Figueres, we moved on to the Costa Brava. We spent one night in Begur, where Jessica and I battled mosquitos for over an hour – you know that Begurs can’t be choosers – right? This is a beautiful medieval town with a castle on the hill and the typical narrow streets you’ll find all over Europe.

The next day, we backtracked to Pals before going on to Calella, another wonderful beach town in the Costa Brava.

It was in Pals that something happened that I want to tell you about. While sitting in the cathedral waiting for my wife and daughter to complete their shop lifting, I had an insight into what Christianity is missing.

I want to be absolutely clear that this is my own insight and the following is not intended to cause harm to any living being. It is just an opinion that I want to express, and I hope you will forgive me in advance if it bothers you.

Pals Cathedral Cross

Pals Cathedral Cross by Jerome Freedman, © 2014

What Christianity is missing can be deduced from the following story from the time of the Buddha as told by S. N. Goenka in his dharma discourse for day 2 for the ten day Vipassana retreat and in his book, The Art of Living. I summarized it in We Make the Path by Walking It, which is reproduced here for convenience. Goenka tells it much better! You can watch it here: Vipassana Meditation Day 2.

A lay practitioner comes to Savatthi, where the Buddha was staying with his monks and nuns.

This young man asks the Buddha, “Why don’t you use your power and compassion to liberate them all?

The Buddha replies with a question, “I see that you are not from these parts. Where are you from?”

The young man tells the Buddha that he is from Rajagaha in another state.

The Buddha continues to question him in various ways until he asks the young man to explain whether all the people he knows have walked the path to Rajagaha.

When the young man answers, “Those who walk the entire path to its end will reach Rajagaha.”

Then the Buddha explains that people come to him knowing that he has made the path by walking it to nirvana, and they, too can follow it to liberation. Nobody can carry anyone to the final goal of nirvana. As Rumi says, “…no one can walk it for you.”

What Christianity is missing is that, as Goenka says, “You have to walk the path yourself.” Expressed differently by Rumi, “It’s your road, and yours alone. Others may walk with you, but no one can walk it for you.”

Judith Hanson Lasater writes,

We accept responsibility for ourselves when we acknowledge that ultimately there are no answers outside of ourselves, and no gurus, no teachers, and no philosophies that can solve the problems of our lives. They can only suggest, guide, and inspire. It is our dedication to living with open hearts and our commitment to the day-to-day details of our lives that will transform us.

When Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is at hand,” he was teaching us that the kingdom of God is in the here and in the now – nowhere else. The kingdom of God is in the present moment, as Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh also teaches.

If this is so, we do not need priests, bishops, cardinals, and popes to walk the path for us to the end of guilt, sin and suffering. They can show us the way, but we cannot get to God except by our own efforts.

If Jesus was a true master, and I definitely do think he was, then he would tell you that you have to carry your own cross. No one can carry it for you. He could not carry it for you. I don’t think he would approve of an intermediary between you and God. I don’t believe that he died for our sins. I believe that he died to show us the way is to carry our own cross into the kingdom of God.

As for virgin birth and resurrection, well, that’s a color of a different horse!

How will you walk your path and carry your cross?


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