Matthew 5:13-22

Jesus is still talking from a mountain to people below. He just said a bunch of stuff about what rewards people will get with various affictions and wants such as “they which hunger and thirst after righteousness.”

Next, he talks about “the salt of the earth” which is a phrase I have always loved especially in a Rolling Stones song. I never knew what it meant. This line is kind of funny:

“Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt have lost his savour wherewith shall it be salted?”

Good question. He goes on:

“it is good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”

So here is a big difference between Buddhism and Christianity. Buddha wanted to save ALL sentient beings. He didn’t think of casting anyone out. In fact, in Buddha’s cosmology, there is no “out” to be cast. We are stuck in this universe for an eternity of suffering. In this regard, it is almost like the Buddhist universe is like a Christian hell. Hmmm.

Next Jesus talks of a city on a hill and candles. Basically all this means is that you should do good deeds; I think.

Finally he says that he has not come to “destroy the law”. This is a biggie because he is Jewish, and they have their Jewish law. Recall that John yelled at some Jewish factions in the past. Here comes some more Jewish infighting. But Jesus is not abolishing the Jewish religion. He has come to “fulfill it.” I don’t know what this means, but it’s the opposite of “destruction.”

Finally, he gets into details about the law. I like this a lot because he introduces the idea of the letter and the spirit of the law. The letter is what the law says while the spirit is the real reason the law is made. Often people who are Lawful Evil will follow all laws, but skirt around the edges kind of like an agressive accountant who tries to save some money on taxes. A Chaotic Evil person would not pay taxes at all. A Lawful Evil one will use all tax laws to try to reduce taxes such as getting residence in the Carribean. Jesus would suggest to stop mucking around and pulling your own weight. So I’m guessing he is Lawful Good.

He takes “thou shall not kill” which I did not know was a Jewish law since Jewish people have killed Romans. Anyway, he takes this law and adds to it saying, “whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of judgement.”

I really like this part. He is saying it’s not the kiling that matters, but also the mental state. This is similar to Buddhism where mental states are very much taken into account. This seems to be highly developed. However, there is a huge difference! That is where he gives the innocuous looking disclaimer “without just cause.” Why is this important? Because in Buddhism hostile anger (intent to kill like in this statement) is always to be avoided. In Jesus’ case, he gives an out so that it is possible to have “justified” anger. In Buddhism this is not so. The idea is to get rid of all hostile anger.

Why get rid of all anger? Because anger is a kind of suffering in Buddhism.

But, you may object, if I don’t get angry at people, they will walk over me. I’m not so sure about that. If you let people walk over you, they will regardless of your temper. However, you need to think of whether the anger is really necessary. Often people use anger as a kind of crutch for when they are otherwise scared. Anger is the only thing that makes them act. Ask yourself, do angry people make great decisions? Again, I guess it depends upon your attitude. If you have the attitude, I can’t be accountable when I am angry that’s up to you.

In Buddhism, you are allowed to strongly react to evil to stop it. You are not allowed to lose your temper to the point where you intend to harm someone. Buddha never sent people to hell, he just realized that they were all ready in a kind of hell of their own making and he wanted to help people get out. He never wished people would be cut down like trees, burned up like chaff, or cast out like salt that has “lost his savour”. I find these passages to be disturbing because I have heard them quoted by people who were clearly angry. In their minds, they have imagined that this has happened, that God is torturing people that they do not like. I do not find imagining the torture and suffering of other humans to be any part of spirituality that I am interested in. I believe it is incumbant for all good Christians to distance themselves from such language and thoughts. They should delete these passages in their own bibles. Otherwise, this will only lead to more agitation and suffering.


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