One day in a more transcendent reality, Jesus and Buddha decided to meet for a picnic under a Bodhi tree. The Bodhi tree, of course, is where Siddhartha Gautama, later known as Buddha, reached enlightenment. As they sat down to an excellent lunch of nuts, berries, cheeses and wine, Jesus asked, “Isn’t this a fig tree?”
“Indeed, it is,” Buddha said.
“I hate those things!” Jesus joked, and they both laughed heartily.
“Is that story about you cursing the fig tree true?” Buddha asked. “What is truth?” Jesus replied. Buddha chuckled and said, “Your followers don’t know you have such a good sense of humor. It’s a pity the stories about you don’t portray that side of you. You’re always so serious with the parables and the answering in riddles. You didn’t make it easy for your students to understand what you were saying.”
“Well, I’m not sure that’s entirely true, Siddhartha,” Jesus replied. “After all, you and I worked in different places and times. I spoke to my people in a language they understood, just like you spoke to your people with images and stories they knew. The fact we’ve both been misunderstood by 21st Century humans is… unfortunate.”
Buddha poured them each a glass of wine and popped a Strawberry in his mouth. “You know, I taught that by going inward one would find the Godhead. I said (if I may be so discourteous as to quote myself) ‘Anyone who withdraws into meditation on compassion can see Brahma with his own eyes, talk to him face to face and consult with him.’ You once said ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.’ It’s the same message, no?”
“It is the same message, of course!” Jesus exclaimed. “It’s my core message: unconditional, honest love changes the nature of human being. You and I draw from the same source—the Loving Godhead, so, naturally, our messages are similar.” Jesus smiled and teased, “Why do you think I’m hanging out with you right now?”
Buddha laughed and joked, “Well, I figured it was because I’m a glorious sinner! You loved to hang out with those sinners!”
“What’s that thing kids use today? Text? I’m going to text you LOL later,” Jesus said as he casually levitated a Cashew and flicked it at Buddha’s forehead.
“Nice magic trick,” Buddha laughed. Then his tone became more serious. “What are we going to do? It seems the people who claim to be our followers have missed our point entirely. They’ve turned both of us into gods. I was very clear about the fact I was not a god, and that we must all transcend the idea there are gods in control of our lives.”
Jesus said, “Well, you already know how much I admire you. I had heard of you when I was in human form and always thought that what you taught was so very similar to my Jewish traditions—traditions that in my time I felt my people were confused about. So a couple of thousand years after you and I taught, people are confused again. It’s natural. We both know language changes, especially when you teach in metaphor, which we both love!”
“It may very well be natural,” Buddha said, “But that doesn’t make it right. I’ve been thinking about going back to set everyone straight. What about you?” Jesus spit the wine out of his mouth, dropped his glass and spilled all over his bright white robe. “No, no, no, no, no! I think that’s a horrible idea! Haven’t you seen what they’ve said about me? They all expect me to return—me, Jesus, coming back on a glowing, flying horse or something, like a character in Game of Thrones.”
“I love that show,” Buddha said.
“I know, right? Anyway, our point—if I may be so bold, is that all human beings—not just you and I—are capable of transcending, of reaching entirely new levels of conscious reality—what you called Nirvana.”
Buddha poured Jesus a fresh glass of wine and said, “Of course, you are correct. I think the problem stems from the non-Jewish people who became your followers, and the non-Indian people who became mine. They missed our cultural meanings. Suddenly we’re both walking on water and moving mountains—not that I couldn’t do that if I wanted to…”
“Keep it 100, Sid. Amen to that!” Jesus joked. “But we were both trying to say that faith is what changes the world. What was your quote? ‘A monk who is skilled in concentration can cut the Himalayas in two.’ It’s the same thing I said! ‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will be able to move this mountain.”
Jesus continued, “When I said ‘I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life,’ I was trying to teach my students that I am simply a pointer in the darkness and that if they practiced what I preached they too would become lights in the darkness for others. So what happens? Now they worship me and tell everyone the only way to heaven is to believe in Jesus. I don’t even know what that means!”
“Jesus Christ! You are Joshua, the anointed one! It is an appropriate name for you,” Buddha said. “My name means ‘enlightened.’ I am a Bodhisattva. It is said, ‘When a Bodhisattva descends from heaven, there appears in this world an immeasurable, splendid light surpassing the glory of the most powerful glow. And whatever dark spaces lie beyond the world’s end will be illuminated by this light.’ We all have Bodhisattva potential. That’s why I urge my students to practice the Noble Eightfold Path—to eradicate greed, hatred, and delusion from their lives; to achieve the same enlightenment I discovered.”
“I want the same for my students,” Jesus answered. “I left them precise instructions on ascendance, on how to become one with God. I showed them, through the actions of my life and all my teachings, how to behave as a God-connected being. Yet, here we sit, looking at an Earth 2500 years after you taught, and 2000 after me. Did anyone listen? They have turned us both into idols of worship. They are as lost now as they were when we started. We failed, my dear Buddha.”
Buddha sat silently for a moment and then said, “Dude! Way to harsh my mellow. Have you always been so depressing? I’m only asking—and I don’t mean to be rude, but I’ve noticed that most of the human depictions of me are all fat and jolly, and you—well, you’re all morose and heavy-laden. I won’t even get into the whole blonde hair, blue eyes thing. I’ll LOL you later!”
Jesus looked askance and said, “I was—am—a pretty light-hearted fellow, actually. I think our cultures were just different enough that your people could accept your teachings a little more readily. Remember, I taught the same things you did: Love your enemy. Accept that a certain amount of suffering is the way of the world, yet we never suffer alone—God is with us through it all. I thought I showed that pretty well on the cross. But, I taught in an occupied territory and told people they didn’t need a priest to communicate directly with God. So, I became a bit of a political target.”
“Well,” Buddha replied, “My priestly class was none-too-happy when I said the same thing, but I didn’t present a revolutionary threat to our rulers. My father was very upset when I left the palace to pursue the enlightened path and serve the needs of the poor. But, I could not stand to live a life of lavish excess while right outside my palace people had nothing to eat, nothing to wear, no safe place to hide from robbers, bad weather, or wild animals. What is it you said about a rich man and the eye of a needle?”
“It’s funny,” Jesus said wistfully, “for all we have in common, our backgrounds are so different. You were born a king, yet rejected and left behind everything you had for the good of the many—something I told everyone to do, by the way! I, however, was born a peasant and had kingship forced on me, even though I rejected any kingdom—Earthly or otherwise, every step of the way. I never wanted to be a king. I just wanted to help people see a world beyond human suffering; what I called the Kingdom of Heaven—a place where all people from all nations understand each other as equal, beloved beings of the Eternal Godhead.”
“Me too,” Buddha said. “So what would you do now, to right the ship? If you will not return in the flesh (at least, not in the flesh as Joshua from 2000 years ago), how do you propose we help the Earth students rediscover our original meanings so that they might attain enlightenment and truly become beings of ultimate love?”
“I think that we use the Spirit of Eternal Love to touch the hearts of our followers,” said Jesus. “Perhaps, from this plane, we can encourage Buddhists and Christians to spend more time with each other. I pray that by studying your ways, some of my followers might rediscover that my message is not one of worship, but of personal connection to God.”
“And it is my wish,” Buddha said, “that my followers will also stop worshipping me, and remember that, like you, I am simply a connector to the Godhead, the great creative all in all.”
“That which I call ‘Father,’” Jesus said.
“That which I call ‘Nirvana,’” Buddha said, “but which is, no matter the name, the one true source of all that exists in all universes: Love.”
“And of course, the only way to get to love is to become love.”
“May it be so for all humankind,” said Buddha.
“Amen,” said Jesus.