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June 29, 2010


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El Loco

Just to clarify a little, Pharisees are described in the Gospels as hypocrites, basically. Passing judgment on how others conformed to the Law while bending or breaking the Law themselves. If I recall correctly, here Jesus is addressing the restrictions listed in Leviticus Chapter 11 as to what animals are "clean" or "unclean." For example "You may eat any animal that has a split hoof completely divided and that chews the cud.

4 "There are some that only chew the cud or only have a split hoof, but you must not eat them. The camel, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is ceremonially unclean for you. 5 The coney, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is unclean for you. 6 The rabbit, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is unclean for you. 7 And the pig, though it has a split hoof completely divided, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. 8 You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you."

So, IMHO, what's at the heart of Jesus' teaching here are these two things: first, there's no clean/unclean distinction when it comes to food. Technically, God made everything, so everything's good; second, the focus of your beliefs should not be on form or following rules but on substance, or how you live your life.

The issue, then, is this: where is our heart when we speak? If we're kind and compassionate, our words will reflect those traits. If we're angry and upset, that's what we will reflect.

Just my $0.02 . . .

Barry Briggs

Thank you for this wonderful comment, El Loco. I especially appreciate your clarification of Jesus' teaching about clean/unclean food. From a Buddhist perspective, clean & unclean arise in the mind, not in the "object."

El Loco

"Clean" and "unclean" is just one of the many dualities/pairs-of-opposites conventions we need to get past in order to see things as they are. Did I get that right?


I often think about food 2000+ years ago...
I assume a large percentage of the diet was local and probably "real" (I doubt MSG, trans fat, and such things were a major concern...).

What came out of the mouth probably hasn't changed much though, has it? or the minds in charge.


Jesus and Buddha both made very similar statements: Something like: "As you think, so shall you become."

While not food related, still a related teaching.

Jesus' teachings often surrounded the food theme, most importantly, the sacraments. That is, the metaphorical 'blood and body' of Christ.
Other parables with food are numerous. I think, in part because of the pervasive hunger with the poor masses.
One of my favorite scriptures, which I believe Jesus shows his all-inclusive ministry: "Even dogs deserve crumbs from the Master's table."
Christ repeatedly demonstrates his love for the humble (and hungry) masses, through parables of dining. He also expresses his displeasure with the wealthy and closed-minded in the same parables.

I believe Jesus would have loved teachers like Buddha and Gandhi. Especially Gandhi's statement that; "I am a Muslim and a Hindu and a Christian and a Jew and so are all of you."

Sorry to ramble on. I easily stray from the topic!


I'd just like to share some of the joy I see expressed in life (here).


David Clark

Vegetarian or Cannibal,
It matters not,
Void swallowing void.

This strange little verse came to me this morning, while silently eating breakfast at our Zen Center's seshin. Somehow, it seems to fit today's discussion. Jesus' point seems to me to be that nothing of this world that we take in is really of any import at all, it is those things that we do and say that are significant. To believe that what you eat (or wear for that matter)could make you a righteous person is pure delusion! How you act and treat the persons and things in this world say everything there is to say about you.


Well said David.
Words, and actions do matter.
Clothes and other worldly worries are just a part of the delusion we call glamour.


I like "the gate is not the problem."

Mind and mouth: Gate, gate, pair-a-gate...


Words and actions do matter. Of course they do. Vegetarian or cannibal? Which embodies compassion?

Barry Briggs

Thank you - Sekanblogger, David, Joseph, El Loco, Genju and Marcus - for your wonderful comments.

David, your poem provokes, of course, and Marcus responded well. But I always wonder about the middle way between certainty and doubt...

Barry Briggs

Oh, and Sekanblogger - thanks for the video of Keb' Mo' - a personal favorite!


Cannibal or vegetarian - which embodies compassion?

We never know what's "good" for us. In what circumstances do the cannibalism or vegetarianism occur?

Is the cannibalism for survival, without which starvation and death would happen?

Is the vegetarianism a vain and proud affectation?

Jesus's coolest teaching: Judge not, lest ye be judged.

Barry Briggs

Thank you for your comment, Suzanne. Without judging cannibalism or vegetarianism or any other -ism, my experience is that life never seems to respond well to rules, precepts, recipes and formulas. It's not that these aren't helpful - they are incredibly helpful. But they can never be adequate in the face of the diversity of life, as it expresses itself moment to moment.


For real, Dude.

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