"And what if God spoke through my mouth,
what would the message be?"
-- Alejandro Jodorowsky, The Dance of Reality
I was reminded lately of a thought that came to me as a child. I don't know what age I was, but I do remember that I was sitting in church during Sunday mass listening to the priest's sermon about the teachings of Jesus. I vividly remember thinking to myself, almost as a declaration of life purpose, "when I grow up I want to be like Jesus".
Years later, when I shared this story with someone, I felt somewhat embarrassed as it seemed rather presumptuous of me to think I could be like Jesus. After all, in the years that followed my revelation in Church, I had learned that being like Jesus was somehow unattainable, and actually not even a goal. After all "He" was "The Only Begotten Son of God". No mention of what we were...
Oh, yes, on second thought, there was plenty of mentions of what we were... sinners that's what we were. Born with a black indelible mark on our soul, a mark that wasn't even our fault. Ouch! What a burden to grow up with. We were told we were doomed before we even were born. We were born already a sinner.
Yet, as I reflect on the declaration I made to myself on that Sunday morning sitting in a church pew, I realize that wanting to grow up to be like Jesus (or whatever other role model you may choose) is not presumptuous at all. It is a worthy goal. It is even an attainable goal, at least in a moment-by-moment sort of way, if not necessarily in a 24-hours-at-a-time kind of way.
How To Be Like Jesus (or Buddha, Kwan Yin, etc)
1. Speak your truth and take appropriate action.
When Jesus got to the temple and found it full of tax-collectors and swindlers, he wasn't afraid to throw them out. He saw something wrong, and took action.
2. Accept others without judgment.
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Jesus did not judge and condemn others. He dined with tax-collectors, he mixed with the poor as well as the rich, he loved people regardless of their political or religious beliefs. He did not look down upon the prostitute. Instead he said, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone".
3. Love others and love yourself.
Jesus reminded us to"love thy neighbor as thyself". Now most people only seem to hear the love thy neighbor part of that teaching. But the most important part is the second one... as thyself. In other words, if I don't love myself, how will I love my neighbor as myself? If I hate myself and put myself down, won't I treat my neighbor the same way?
4. Be of service to others.
Jesus told us he came not to be served but to serve. In the same way, we are here to "love one another" and to help each other, not to aggrandize ourselves. If we can heal the "blind", we do so. If we can clothe the naked, so we should. If we can feel the multitudes by sharing our loaf of bread, then this is something we do.
5. Have faith in yourself
Jesus spoke to his disciples about having faith the size of a mustard seed, which is a tiny tiny seed.They were told that even with such a tiny speck of faith they could move mountains. Thus, he taught that if we believe in ourselves and in others, miracles will take place.
6. Live in the present
For those of us who think that "living in the moment" is a new teaching, not so! Jesus reminded his followers: "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself." So living today, with faith in tomorrow, is the recommendation for how to live our life.
7. Stay true to yourself
Jesus asked the following question: "What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?" We forfeit our soul when we do not follow our own inner guidance and wisdom, but rather bend to the dictates of fashion, of peer pressure, of popular attitudes.
"If you hold anything against anyone, forgive them" and also "I tell you love your enemies". Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven".
9. And on the third day, rise again
Jesus rose from the dead after three days. Other than the obvious message that death is only a transition, I like to think of this one as a more practical lesson as well. When someone "kills us" with their words, or "destroys us" with their actions, or "buries us" under their negativity, after the third day we rise up and walk again, free of the past. We do not let any of these things burden us for more than three days. We shrug them off, just as Jesus shrugged off the veil of death, and we move on. We choose to not let the past affect us negatively for more than three days.
This of course ties in with forgiveness, but more than that, it is a symbol of freedom and hope for the future. Whatever happens to us, we liberate ourselves from the weight and restriction of it after three days. And we are free to live, love and laugh once again.
Is All This Humanly Possible?
All of these things can be done. Sometimes only for a moment, but with practice, we get better at it. We are creatures of habit, but we are also constantly learning and changing.
We can strive, daily, to live the above lessons that were taught by most of the great masters, whether in the Christian religion or any other religion or philosophy. The teachings are the same. And the basis for them all is Love. If you reread the above 8 points, you see that all of them translate into Love.
And if you think you can't do it because you're "just human", remember this statement: “For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."
And surely, if we can move mountains, we can change our behavior.
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Inquiry Card used for this article: What am I committed to?
About The Author
Marie T. Russell is the founder of InnerSelf Magazine (founded 1985). She also produced and hosted a weekly South Florida radio broadcast, Inner Power, from 1992-1995 which focused on themes such as self-esteem, personal growth, and well-being. Her articles focus on transformation and reconnecting with our own inner source of joy and creativity.
Creative Commons 3.0: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Attribute the author: Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf.com. Link back to the article: This article originally appeared on InnerSelf.com