I often wondered as a child why God didn’t just make life easy for Moses or Jesus. After all they were chosen by God to be God’s spokespersons. When we look at the founders of the world’s great religions, we find that none of them had an easy time of it.
Moses in a rage killed an Egyptian and had to flee Egypt. Buddha was raised in total luxury, hidden from any pain or illness. Upon seeing the sick and elderly, he left his wife and child and went on a search for awareness of the Divine. Muhammad’s father died before Muhammed was born. Then his mother died when he was 6. His grandfather took care of him, then died when Muhammad was 8. Finally an uncle took him in. To be without parents in Arabia in the late 6th and early 7th centuries CE made a child very vulnerable. Jesus was born at a difficult time as well. Joseph had to take his family to Egypt to avoid Herod’s wrath. They returned to live in Nazareth. I was so surprised to learn that when Jesus was teaching his understanding of the book of Isaiah in Nazareth, his neighbor got so worked up that they tried to throw him off of a cliff (see Luke 4:14-30).
As these great spiritual leaders learned about their connection with God, or by whatever name you call God, they inspired their followers to join them in realizing how deeply connected we all are with the Divine. It does not mean that each of them were not tempted to live by the standards that the world calls successful. Jesus and Buddha had worldly temptations while in meditative states. Moses and Muhammad had outward connections through a burning bush and the angel Gabriel. But each one of them had to make the choice of how they wanted to show up in the world. Though not easy, each taught their followers to value each other with respect, love and compassion, so they could find the way of peace and understanding instead of violence.
They also showed us that we are responsible for how we react to the world. We always have the freedom to react in the loving ways taught to us by these great spiritual leaders. Do we want to show up as peaceful, loving, compassionate people to our friends and family? If you are not sure, look around you at the people who are the closest to you. Are they judgmental, angry and intolerant? Or are they peaceful, loving and compassionate.
I think it was Wayne Dyer who said “We don’t attract to us what we want, we attract to us who we are.” I have a cousin in Missouri who I am very close to. She has met several of my best friends. I loved it when my cousin said “You have the neatest friends.” Indeed they are, for they reflect what I value in people, and I am so pleased that my family appreciates them too.
When asked what his message was for the world, Gandhi said “My life is my message.” Your life is your message to the world. If you don’t like what you see, you have the power and ability to make changes. As we follow the teachings of these great spiritual leaders, let’s make the world reflect the values that they taught us.