Consciousness… Week 09



a Moment for Wisdom…



A Moment for…



“I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works I do: and greater works than these he will do.”

Jesus of Nazareth (John 14:12)





Personal Wisdom:


Do you think that a person has to be a professed “Christian” in order to see Jesus as a wisdom teacher?



Societal Wisdom:


How would society function if we actually applied Jesus’ teachings and practices to our domestic and foreign policies?



a Moment with Sharif…




[Note: I am referring to Jesus as a wisdom teacher.  Regardless of your “religious” beliefs (if any), Jesus was one of humanity’s greatest teachers – and clearly one of the most well known.]


I believe in Jesus.The same way I believe in gravity.  The same way I believe in YOU.


Gravity seems to exist, despite my beliefs.  And, you seem to exist, regardless of whether or not I hold contrary beliefs. 


When Jesus said, “Believe in me”, I don’t think he was saying, “Pray to me”.  I think he was saying, “What I’m telling you is the eternal truth.  BELIEVE IT.”  (Yes, he referred to himself as the “Son of God”.  So did every other Jewish man of his era.)


Some people find it sufficient to put a Crucifix around their necks, go to church on Sundays, then completely IGNORE everything that Jesus taught.  For many people who call themselves “Christians”, Jesus is worshipped… but not believed.  And that’s not what he was asking for!


Fundamentalists focus on the “miraculous” parts of Jesus’ life.  They think his “works”
are walking on water, turning water into wine, raising Lazarus from the dead.  And, since no one else has been able to do those things, they can effectively ignore his call to “… do the works I do…”.  (To me, this is a really convenient excuse to ignore the really hard parts of Jesus’ mission: loving our enemies and practicing inclusivity.


So, Jesus poses a three-part challenge for us:


  1. To “believe” (“get”) his work (we would say “projects”), his teaching and his mission.
  2. To do the same projects.  And…
  3. To surpass his “works”.  Do better.


His “works”?Feeding the poor.Supporting the “untouchables” of his day.  Helping to cure what we would call “mental/spiritual illness” (demons).  Articulating a new way of understanding human society.  Resisting the power structure, including opposing the economic abuses of his day (the money-changers).  Practicing inclusivity (the “Golden Rule”).


Does any of this sound familiar?


When Jesus said that we should practice nonviolence, practice loving our enemies, practice forgiveness… I REALLY THINK HE MEANT IT.  AND WANTED US TO “BELIEVE” IT. AND DO IT!  (Maybe he needed Nike’s advertising agency…)


Think of what our foreign policy would look like if we “believed” Jesus.  Our country would not be in bankruptcy, living on borrowed money, with an over-inflated military eating up our wealth.  We would not be afraid of the rest of the world.  We would not be afraid of each other.


After the horrific events of 9/11, we would have “turned the other cheek”, instead of striking back blindly, in any and all directions.   We would be honoring those he called “blessed”, not ignoring and despising them (in favor of the rich and powerful).


Think of your own actions: toward your significant relationships, toward your community, toward “the Other”, toward your family, toward yourself.  How would those relationships change if you “believed”? 






Consciousness Exercises:


This week’s “Consciousness” exercises: 


  1. First list:  Regardless of your “religious” beliefs, what parts of Jesus teachings and mission resonate most with you?  Make a list of them.



  1. Second list: Which parts are difficult for you?  Which parts don’t seem to “fit”, or don’t seem to apply to our lives today?  Make a list…


  1. Make a third list: which parts of Jesus’ reported actions are “impossible”?  (Walking on water, etc.)  How important to you are the “impossible” parts for understanding Jesus’ works and mission?


  1. Finally: which parts of Jesus teachings and mission do you find most difficult in applying to your own life?  Are those the things that wound up on your second list?







All photos by Sharif Abdullah, unless otherwise noted.








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2 Responses to Consciousness… Week 09

  1. Susie says:

    Today’s lesson is exactly what I talk about when I talk about my spiritual beliefs and what I really don’t like about organized religion. It drives me crazy how a lot of people who call themselves Christians totally ignore the teachings of Jesus. I think Jesus was an awesome teacher, and that’s what I consider him, an awesome teacher. I don’t believe a person has to accept him as his/her personal savior or s/he is going to hell. I believe there are many paths to God, none of which are the ONE right way. I don’t worship Jesus, even though my church uses his teachings as the basis of its belief. Jesus was a window to the greatness of God, and now people worship the window.

    • Sharif says:

      Your comment reminds me of a Zen saying:

      “The teacher was pointing at the Moon…

      her students were looking at her finger.”



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