Tag Archives: Jesus

Jesus: A 21st Century Biography by Paul Johnson

Summary
  1. Author wrote this book to broadly summarize the life of Jesus and to explain the joy he gets from following him
Key Takeaways
  1. Jesus was born in the context of a very powerful and expanding Rome and a wealthy Judea ruled by Herod
  2. When Gabriel told Mary that she would bear Jesus, The Annunciation as it later became known, is one of the most touching moments in history
  3. Jesus’ time as a shepherd affected him throughout his life – his love of high places for prayer and how he delivered and thought about sermons
  4. No prophet is accepted in his own country
  5. Jesus was a reluctant performer of miracles as he knew that this could cause a stir and possibly riots. It made people realize he was special but also aroused the anger of the authorities
  6. Jesus’ teachings were often new and counterintuitive. They stressed forgiveness and inner acceptance rather than riches and outer rewards
  7. Compassion has quite literally no limits. Not race, sex, religion, status or any other common dividing line
  8. Jesus was a poet and almost always used very memorable images and parables to get his lessons across. It was his way of directing and capturing emotion
  9. We are all neighbors and our salvation and happiness depends on kindness and charity, not tribe or nationality or race
  10. Heaven is not so much about justice as mercy
  11. Jesus’ redeeming feature was his friendliness, opennness and willingness to listen. He accepted everyone as they were
  12. Jesus made marriage indissoluble and this gave women status like never before. He was also unique in his love of children and their innocence
  13. The aim of Jesus was not to change the world but to make its inhabitants fit for the kingdom of God. He did not want to start a new regime but portray a new way of life. A leader whose goals are entirely spiritual was new to the world at this point
  14. Personality is unique but incomplete. Soul is given by God and has a need to return. Through free will we can accept this and return to the kingdom
  15. You cannot lay down laws of love but you can show them and that is how Jesus lives his life
  16. A life of mercy is a holy one. Grace is mercy. By showing mercy, we act as close to God as we can
  17. He was a man who always kept his head, was always equanimous
  18. Was against those whose minds were closed
  19. Truth is both found in God and in nature. That is why he went to the desert to pray
  20. Jesus frightened the current religious orders as he was attracting a huge following. The priests trembled for their lives, jobs and property. They did not believe or understand that Jesus’ kingdom was solely a spiritual one
  21. Pilate did not condemn Jesus because he thought he was guilty but because he was afraid that the Jewish religious leaders would report him to Rome. In fact, him and his wife thought him innocent
  22. After the crucifixion, Jesus was resurrected and Mary Magdalene was the first to see him and to report back to the Disciples. Shortly after, there was a mass baptism for 3,000 people and thus began Christianity
  23. The Gospels are meant to be read and re-read, gaining something new or a deeper understanding every time
What I got out of it
  1. I really enjoyed and learned a lot about Jesus, his teachings and more from this short biography

Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh

Summary
  1. Beautifully written book which strongly advocates for mindfulness in everything we do – from washing our hands to how we interact with others. Thich Nhat Hanh uses beautiful examples from both Jesus’ and Buddha’s lives to reinforce his points.
Key Takeaways
  1. Reality is free from all notions and it is our duty to transcend words and concepts and be able to encounter reality
    1. “When our beliefs are based on our own direct experience of reality and not on notions offered by others, no one can remove these beliefs from us.”
    2. “Things cannot be described by concepts and words. They can only be encountered by direct experience.”
  2. Avoid attachment to present views
  3. Meditation – stopping, calming, looking deeply
  4. Dialogue and deep listening is vital – must first have peace within before can reach deeper levels or help others
  5. Buddhists aim to be mindful in every moment. Conscious breathing helps with this practice (mindful walking, eating, cleaning, reading, breathing, etc.)
  6. Most precious gifts we can offer others is our presence
  7. Our true home is in the present moment
  8. Being fully aware and present gives you a sense of gratitude
  9. Aim to be like Buddha and Christ where your life becomes your teaching, your sermon in action
  10. Living dharma – mindfulness manifested in daily life
  11. Can’t have true love without understanding and can’t understand without true love
  12. Must begin with self – aim to live as Buddha and Jesus lived
  13. Anger is hell
  14. Our enemy is not the other person, no matter what they have done
  15. Make your life prayer in action
  16. Can come to love our enemy only by understanding him
  17. Whatever happens to the body, happens to the mind and vice versa
  18. People today tend to lack the art of deep/mindful speaking and listening though we have more means of communication than ever before
  19. Mindful breathing – ability to be aware of and manage emotions. Being able to accurately and deeply know what we are sensing allows us to deal with it early and in a positive way before it manifests as anger, frustration, etc. “If we can learn ways to touch the peace, joy and happiness that are already there, we will become healthy and strong, and a resource for others.”
  20. Only compassion and understanding on a collective level can liberate us
  21. Practice the essence over the form
  22. Don’t allow notions or concepts be obstacles to development or realizing ultimate reality
  23. A life that is too comfortable makes spiritual growth more difficult
  24. One day of mindfulness per week is essential. Set aside any day to spend with loved ones, turn away from work/email/distractions and just be
  25. Best way to take care of the future is to take care of the present moment
  26. The concept of interbeing (non-self) is fascinating – everything is connected and made of elements from everything else – “a flower is made of all non-flower elements.”
    1. “To take good care of yourself and to take good care of living beings and the environment is the best way to love God. This love is possible when there is the understanding that you are not separate from other beings or the environment. This understanding cannot be merely intellectual. It must be experiential, the insight gained by deep touching and deep looking in a daily life or prayer, contemplation and meditation.”
  27. The Five Wonderful Precepts of Buddhism – reverence for life, generosity, responsible sexual behavior, speaking and listening deeply and ingesting only wholesome substances
  28. The Fourth Precept – not telling the truth, exaggerating, forked tongue (saying two different things to different people/parties), filthy language
  29. Be an island unto yourself – being able to find refuge wherever you are just by turning inwards is one of the most powerful tools one can possess
  30. “God made humans so that humans can become God.”
  31. “The ultimate dimension is a state of coolness, peace and joy. It is not a state to be attained after you “die.” You can touch the ultimate dimension right now by breathing, walking and drinking your tea in mindfulness.”
  32. “When we touch one thing with deep awareness, we touch everything.”
What I got out of it
  1. Mindfulness in all that we do and interbeing (everything is interconnected and impermanent which leads to the conclusion that we are all one) are two amazing concepts which should be central to one’s daily routine, life, meditation practice

Jesus: A Pilgrimage by James Martin

Summary
  1. James Martin makes the gospels come to life and helps readers experience Jesus as Martin has come to know him, both the human and divine sides. He describes his travels through the Holy Land and how these travels helped him come to better grips with the Bible and Jesus
Key Takeaways
  1. Jesus was at all times all human and all divine
  2. Humility is the gateway to faith
  3. Describes and helps demystify Jesus, his actions and his interactions with other people and disciples
What I got out of it
  1. This was definitely an interesting read and for me really helped make many of the passages in the Bible more relatable and therefore more relevant and exciting

Continue reading