"LET THE DEAD BURY THE DEAD" - branched off of --- "The Book" - I want to write this WITH YOU AND NOTEPD AS CO-AUTHORS
This is the second branch now off of my original idea list on this. I want to write "The Book" - take significant passages from the Bible and show how they interweave with all other religions. BUT I want to write this with the NotePD community. I'll add anyone's name who contributes with their own list. You can either branch off this or write in the comments. whatever.
Luke 9:59–60 — The New International Version (NIV)
1. CHRISTIANITY - "Let the dead bury the dead".
59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
He didn't mean, of course, let a dead person bury another dead person.
But he's saying metaphorically, don't stay involved in the affairs of other spiritually dead people. Come and join the path of spiritual growth.
All the time we get enmeshed in our petty lives when each moment you can move towards whatever you view as "spiritual growth" (or, this can even be applied to more traditional goals of success).
Joseph's brothers threw him in a pit that was filled with snakes and left him to die there. This is in Genesis 37.
2. JUDAISM - the story of Joseph
Although the exact phrasing is a bit different:
"So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the robe of many colors he was wearing— and they took him and threw him into the pit. Now the pit was empty, with no water in it."
First off, like the example with Christianity, it doesn't just say something about "be spiritual". It's again an almost inconceivable act of family vs family. Not burying a father, for instance. Or brothers throwing their younger brother into a pit.
The Bible didnt' specifically say the pit had snakes. The Kabbalah interpretation of the Bible saying "the pit was empty and had no water" (why say both? Why say "water" and "empty") is that the pit had snakes in it and Joseph was screaming for help and his brothers ignored him.
The interpretation from the Kabbalah further states that water represents truth and snakes represent all the negative things in the world. So Joseph focuses on the "no water" and the rest is "empty". He is focused on getting out of the pit to get water (to get to "the truth") and avoids thinking about the negative or worldly aspects of his situation ("let the dead bury the dead").
Advaita Vedanta can sometimes be thought of in the same way that the Kabbalah is to Judaism or Sufism is to Islam. I am oversimplifying them but maybe the metaphor is correct.
3. HINDUISM - ADVAITA VEDANTA
The book, "I AM THAT" by Nisagardatta Maharaj is in the form of a Q&A session. Nisargadatta would sit in his home and people would just show up and ask him questions.
Here is one excerpt that reminds me of the story from the Bible although it is not in the form of a story the way the Christian and Jewish versions are:
"Q: What is right and what is wrong varies with habit and custom. Standards vary with societies.
M: Discard all traditional standards. Leave them to the hypocrites. Only what liberates you from desire and fear and wrong ideas is good. As long as you worry about sin and virtue you will have no peace.
Q: I grant that sin and virtue are social norms. But there may be also spiritual sins and virtues. I mean by spiritual the absolute. Is there such a thing as absolute sin or absolute virtue?
M: Sin and virtue refer to a person only. Without a sinful or virtuous person what is sin or virtue? At the level of the absolute there are no persons; the ocean of pure awareness is neither virtuous nor sinful. Sin and virtue are invariably relative."
The Tao Te Ching doesn't really tell stories. And, to this day, we don't really know if Lao Tzu intended this as a spiritual guide or as a "leadership" text for the rulers of his day.
But Chapter 3 of the Tao Te Ching makes me think of the same ideas as the above ideas :
If you overly esteem talented individuals,
people will become overly competitive.
If you overvalue possessions,
people will begin to steal.
Do not display your treasures
or people will become envious.
The Master leads by
emptying people's minds;
filling their bellies,
weakening their ambitions,
and making them become strong.
Preferring simplicity and freedom from desires,
avoiding the pitfalls of knowledge and wrong action.
For those who practice not-doing,
everything will fall into place. "
In other words, if you "overly value" the dead, then you become dead. Metaphorically.
And "avoiding the pitfalls of knowledge" is interesting. Don't we want knowledge?
But he is saying to unlearn traditional knowledge as taught by our institutions and seek instead the simple answers of who we really are. No written knowledge will help. No rituals or traditions will help.
Mohism slightly predates Confucianism. Not much is known about it's founder, Mozi. The theory is that he was some sort of craftsman / worker and did not deal with high society (unlike Confucius) so was very skeptical of authority and traditional learning.
He wrote that most artists and craftsman learn their skills from studying "models". Basically, the works of artists before them. But he questioned, "how does one know if these models are any good?" and thinks the best artisans are the ones who eventually blaze their own path.
And if this is true for artists, he says, it is also true about parents, teachers, etc. Just because someone if your parent, doesn't mean they know anything so you can't take their word, literally, as gospel.
"That being so, then what is acceptable to take as a model (fa) for order (zhi)? How would it be for everyone to model themselves on their parents? Those in the world who are parents are many, but those who are benevolent (ren) are few; if all model themselves on their parents, this is modeling the unbenevolent. Modeling on the unbenevolent — it’s not acceptable to take that as a model."
He basically says all customs and traditions are cultural based, can't be trusted and have nothing to do with a spiritual life.
For instance, Mozi says, " In the past, east of Yue there was the country of Gai Shu. When their eldest son was born, they chopped him up and ate him, calling this ‘advantageous to the younger brothers.’ When their grandfather died, they carried off their grandmother and abandoned her, saying, ‘One cannot live with the wife of a ghost.’ These practices superiors took as government policy and subordinates took as custom, performing them without ceasing and maintaining them without choosing something else. Yet how could these really be the Way of benevolence and righteousness?!”
He says instead to model after "Heaven" but, to me, it's not so clear what he means by that. That said, this reminds me of the story from the BIble.
This is a story from the Dhammapada. There are so many versions of Buddhism (Zen, Tibetan, Mahayana, etc) that it is hard to know what are the direct sayings of Buddha.
But many branches of Buddhism believe that the Pali Cannon (and the Dhammapada is part of that) represents the direct sayings of Buddha.
Here is a story from the Dhammapada that, to me is, "let the dead bury the dead":
Now at that time, Ven. Bhaddiya Kaligodha, on going to a forest, to the foot of a tree, or to an empty dwelling, would repeatedly exclaim, “What bliss! What bliss!” A large number of monks heard Ven. Bhaddiya Kaligodha, on going to a forest, to the foot of a tree, or to an empty dwelling, repeatedly exclaim, “What bliss! What bliss!” and on hearing him, the thought occurred to them, “There’s no doubt but that Ven. Bhaddiya Kaligodha doesn’t enjoy leading the holy life, for when he was a householder he knew the bliss of kingship, so that now, on recollecting that, he is repeatedly exclaiming, ‘What bliss! What bliss!'” They went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As they were sitting there, they told him: “Ven. Bhaddiya Kaligodha, lord, on going to a forest, to the foot of a tree, or to an empty dwelling, repeatedly exclaims, ‘What bliss! What bliss!’ There’s no doubt but that Ven. Bhaddiya Kaligodha doesn’t enjoy leading the holy life, for when he was a householder he knew the bliss of kingship, so that now, on recollecting that, he is repeatedly exclaiming, ‘What bliss! What bliss!'”
Then the Blessed One told a certain monk, “Come, monk. In my name, call Bhaddiya, saying, ‘The Teacher calls you, my friend.'”
“As you say, lord,” the monk answered and, having gone to Ven. Bhaddiya, on arrival he said, “The Teacher calls you, my friend.”
“As you say, my friend,” Ven. Bhaddiya replied. Then he went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, the Blessed One said to him, “Is it true, Bhaddiya that, on going to a forest, to the foot of a tree, or to an empty dwelling, you repeatedly exclaim, ‘What bliss! What bliss!’?”
“What meaning do you have in mind that you repeatedly exclaim, ‘What bliss! What bliss!’?”
“Before, when I was a householder, maintaining the bliss of kingship, I had guards posted within and without the royal apartments, within and without the city, within and without the countryside. But even though I was thus guarded, thus protected, I dwelled in fear — agitated, distrustful, and afraid. But now, on going alone to a forest, to the foot of a tree, or to an empty dwelling, I dwell without fear, unagitated, confident, and unafraid — unconcerned, unruffled, my wants satisfied, with my mind like a wild deer. This is the meaning I have in mind that I repeatedly exclaim, ‘What bliss! What bliss!'”
Cynicism slightly predates Stoicism. In a discussion I once had with Ryan Holiday about Cynicism vs Stoicism he said, "Cynicism is like Stoicism without clothes."
Started by Diogenes, who was basically exiled from his home town for the crime of "debasing the currency", he basically wandered around and didnt' care at all what people thought of him. He hated all traditions, authority, rules, etc. He'd shit in the streets, eat wherever he wanted, barely wore clothes, etc.
There's a famous story with Alexander the Great, who wanted to meet Diogenes, and this story again displays the shocking display against convention that the stories above display:
Plutarch wrote this:
"Thereupon many statesmen and philosophers came to Alexander with their congratulations, and he expected that Diogenes of Sinope also, who was tarrying in Corinth, would do likewise. But since that philosopher took not the slightest notice of Alexander, and continued to enjoy his leisure in the suburb Craneion, Alexander went in person to see him, and he found him lying in the sun. Diogenes raised himself up a little when he saw so many people coming towards him, and fixed his eyes upon Alexander. And when that monarch addressed him with greetings, and asked if he wanted anything, "Yes," said Diogenes, "stand a little out of my sun."It is said that Alexander was so struck by this, and admired so much the haughtiness and grandeur of the man who had nothing but scorn for him, that he said to his followers, who were laughing and jesting about the philosopher as they went away, "But truly, if I were not Alexander, I wish I were Diogenes.]"