Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Christianity

Many if not most images of Christianity associate with superstition, blind belief, intolerance, dogmatism... opposites to our themes of the wisdom beyond words, understanding the sense and not just the superficial, the courage to create and innovate instead of following herd instinct and the status quo. As the examples of wise and enlightened men and women listed here show however, many Christian practitioners and philosophic inspirations clearly fit into our lineages and significantly contributed to the evolution of consciousness.

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Quotes (90)

“That which is called the Christian religion existed among the ancients and never did not exist from the beginning of the human race”

Augustine ɔːɡəstiːn 354 – 430 CE via Thomas Merton
(Saint Augustine, Saint Austin, Augustine of Hippo)

Themes: Christianity

6. The Source

“What was one more god? Gods were like the flotsam that washed up with the waves, always coming and going, and those big enough to remain gradually were worn away by wind and water and time. The Christ and his priests were different. They would change everything.”

Hilda of Whitby 614 – 680 CE via Nicola Griffith

Themes: God Christianity

“We should seek not so much to pray but to become prayer.”

Francis of Assisi 1181 – 1226 CE

Themes: Christianity

32. Uncontrived Awareness

“Beware of the person of one book.”

Thomas Aquinas 1225 – 1274 CE

Themes: Christianity

“What Christianity needs is a return from the Church to Christ, from wealth and power to simplicity of life and humility of rule. The Church should be defined not as the clergy alone but as the whole Christian community... a council should choose and govern the pope.”

William of Ockham 1287 – 1347 CE via Will Durant, Shan Dao

Themes: Christianity

“When he goes to the court of Rome and sees the lewd and wicked life of the clergy, not only will he never become a Christian, but, were he already a Christian, he would infallibly turn Jew again.”

Giovanni Boccaccio dʒoˈvanni bokˈkattʃo 1313 – 1375 CE

“Almost all Christians being wretchedly enslaved to blindness and ignorance, which the priests are so far from preventing or removing, blacken the darkness and promote the delusion.”

Erasmus 1466 – 1536 CE
(Desiderius Roterodamus)
"Greatest scholar of the northern Renaissance"
from Praise of Folly

“The nearer people are to the Roman Church, the less religious they are... Possibly the Christian religion would have been entirely extinguished by its corruption had not St Francis restored it to its original principles”

Machiavelli 1469 – 1527 CE
(Niccolò Machiavelli)
from Discourses on Livy

“The Jews hold a middle place between the Christians and the pagans. The Pagans do not know God, and love only the earth. The Christians know God, and do not love the earth.”

Blaise Pascal 1623 – 1662 CE
One of the greatest French writers of all time
from Pensées (1669)

“If you bet that Christianity is not true, and it's false, you've lost nothing. But if you bet that it's false, and it turns out to be true, you've lost everything and you get to spend eternity in hell.”

Blaise Pascal 1623 – 1662 CE
One of the greatest French writers of all time

Themes: Christianity

“When I see Christians cursing Jews, methinks I see children beating their fathers.”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet 1694 – 1778 CE via Gay
from Notebooks

“Christians tricked, hated, excommunicated, condemned, and denounced each other because of unintelligible, minute differences in dogma that no one could understand. And that’s why they slaughtered each other over and over again.”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet 1694 – 1778 CE via Raymond Naves, Shan Dao
from Philosophical Dictionary

Themes: Christianity

“Tell me if there have been peoples other than the Christians and the Jews in whom zeal and religion wretchedly transformed into fanaticism, have inspired so many horrible cruelties…. Yes, the Mohammedans… As for the other nations there has not been one right from the existence of the world which has ever made a purely religious war.”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet 1694 – 1778 CE
from Philosophical Dictionary

“The Christian religion not only was at first attended with miracles, but even at this day cannot be believed by any reasonable person without one.”

David Hume 1711 – 1776 CE
"One of the most important philosophers"
from An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748)

Themes: Christianity

“The Christian religion is a parody on the worship of the sun, in which they put a man called Christ in the place of the sun, and pay him the adoration originally paid to the sun”

Thomas Paine 1737 – 1809 CE

Themes: Christianity

“What unheard of misery have thousands suffered to purchase a cardinal's hat for an intriguing adventurer who longed to be ranked with princes, or lord it over them by seizing the triple crown.”

Mary Wollstonecraft 1759 – 1797 CE
Seminal feminist
from Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792)

Themes: Christianity

“He who begins by loving Christianity better than the truth, will proceed by loving his own sect or Church better than Christianity, and end by loving himself better than all.”

Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1772 – 1834 CE via "Aids to Reflection"
from Moral and Religious Aphorisms

Themes: Christianity

“Between the spirit of Graeco-Roman paganism and the spirit of Christianity, the real antithesis is the pagan affirmation of the will to life opposed to the Christian denial of the will to life with a search for a redemption from the world.”

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788 – 1860 CE via R.J. Hollingdale, Shan Dao
from Parerga and Paralipomena, "Appendices" and "Omissions"

Themes: Christianity

“Christianity is dead and no longer exercises much influence. When it did, civilization was at a very point in Christian countries.”

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788 – 1860 CE via R.J. Hollingdale, Shan Dao
from Parerga and Paralipomena, "Appendices" and "Omissions"

Themes: Christianity

“The same means that have supported every popular belief have supported Christianity: war, imprisonment, assassination and falsehood; deeds of unexampled and incomparable atrocity have made it what it is.”

Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792 – 1822 CE
from Notes on Queen Mab, 1813

Themes: Christianity

“If Jesus Christ were to come today, people would not even crucify him. They would ask him to dinner, and hear what he had to say, and make fun of it.”

Thomas Carlyle 1795 – 1881 CE
"Great Man” theory of history creator

Themes: Christianity

“Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803 – 1882 CE

41. Distilled Life

“We can never understand Christianity from a catechism but from the pastures, from a boat in the pond, from the songs of wood birds—we possibly can.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803 – 1882 CE

Themes: Christianity

“We can never see Christianity from the catechism—from the pastures, from a boat in the pond, from amidst the songs of wood-birds we possibly may.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803 – 1882 CE

Themes: Christianity

“Christianity is completed Judaism, or it is nothing.”

Disraeli, Benjamin 1804 – 1881 CE
(Earl of Beaconsfield )
Political balance between mob rule and tyranny

“I hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so, the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother and almost all my best friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine.”

Charles Darwin 1809 – 1882 CE

Themes: Christianity

“The intention of Christianity was to change everything... [but] Christianity has done away with Christianity without being aware of it”

Søren Kierkegaard 1813 – 1855 CE
"The first existentialist philosopher"
from Preparations for a Christian Life

Themes: Christianity

“Christianity is the complete negation of common sense.”

Mikhail Bakunin 1814 – 1876 CE
Romantic rebel, revolutionary anarchist, founding father of modern socialism
from God and the State (1871)

Themes: Christianity

“I know that some will have hard thoughts of me when they hear their Christ named beside my Buddha, yet I am sure that I am willing they should love their Christ more than my Buddha, for the love is the main thing.”

Henry David Thoreau 1817 – 1862 CE
Father of environmentalism and America's first yogi

“Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian.”

Herman Melville 1819 – 1891 CE
from Moby Dick or The Whale

Themes: Christianity

“The root of almost every schism and heresy from which the Christian Church has suffered, has been because of the effort of men to earn, rather than receive their salvation”

John Ruskin 1819 – 1900 CE

Themes: Christianity

“There has never been a religion in the annals of the world with such a blood record as Christianity.”

Blavatksy, Helena Еле́на Петро́вна Блава́тская 1831 – 1891 CE
Co-founder of Theosophy

Themes: Christianity

“If Christ were here now, there is one thing he would not be—a Christian.”

Mark Twain 1835 – 1910 CE
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
from Notebook

Themes: Christianity

“You believe in a book that has talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, burning bushes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, and all sorts of magical, absurd and primitive stories, and you say that we are the ones that need help?”

Mark Twain 1835 – 1910 CE
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)

67. Three Treasures

“Christianity is a woman's religion, invented by women and womanish men for themselves. The Church's one foundation is not Christ, it is woman.”

Samuel Butler 1835 – 1902 CE
Iconoclastic philosopher, artist, composer, author, and evolutionary theorist
from Note-Books (1912)

Themes: Christianity

“Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand.”

Mark Twain 1835 – 1910 CE
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)

Themes: Christianity

19. All Methods Become Obstacles

“I call Christianity the one great curse, the one great intrinsic depravity, the one great instinct for revenge for which no expedient is sufficiently poisonous, secret, subterranean, petty — I call it the one immortal blemish of mankind…”

Friedrich Nietzsche 1844 – 1900 CE

Themes: Christianity

“What is it that we combat in Christianity? That it aims at destroying the strong, at breaking their spirit, at exploiting their moments of weariness.. until the strong perish through their excessive self-contempt of which Pascal is the most famous example.”

Friedrich Nietzsche 1844 – 1900 CE

“For centuries the leaders of Christian thought spoke of women as a necessary evil, and the greatest saints of the Church are those who despise women the most.”

Annie Besant 1847 – 1933 CE

Themes: Christianity

“If Christ were here there is one thing he would not be – a Christian.”

Robert Louis Stevenson 1850 – 1894 CE

Themes: Christianity

71. Sick of Sickness

“According to a notion of the early Christians, the devil would like to ‘play the part of God’. According to Lao-Tzu’s theory, the nature of the devil consists exactly in the attempt of acting the part of God.”

Paul Carus 1852 – 1919 CE
The Teachings of Lao Tzu

Themes: God Christianity

2. The Wordless Teachings

“Why not give Christianity a trial? No sooner had Jesus knocked over the dragon of superstition than Paul boldly set it on its legs again in the name of Jesus. The followers of Pual and Peter made Christendom, whilst the Nazarenes were wiped out.”

George Bernard Shaw 1856 – 1950 CE
UK playwright second only to Shakespeare
from Androcles and the Lion, 1912

Themes: Christianity

“Once the apostle Paul laid down universal love between all men as the foundation of his Christian community, the inevitable consequence in Christianity was the utmost intolerance towards all who remained outside of it.”

Sigmund Freud 1856 – 1939 CE
from Civilization and its Discontents, 1930

Themes: Christianity

“[Jesus] has not been a failure yet; for nobody has ever been sane enough to try his way... the specific doctrine of Jesus has not in all this time been put into political or general social practice.”

George Bernard Shaw 1856 – 1950 CE
UK playwright second only to Shakespeare
from Androcles and the Lion, 1912

Themes: Christianity

“All good men are Anarchists… all just men are Anarchists. Jesus was an Anarchist.”

Elbert Hubbard 1856 – 1915 CE
from A Message to Garcia and Thirteen Other Things

57. Wu Wei

“Have not some religions, including the most influential forms of Christianity, taught that the heart of man is totally corrupt? [For this reason] how could the course of religion in its entire sweep not be marked by practices that are shameful in their cruelty and lustfulness, and by beliefs that are degraded and intellectually incredible?”

John Dewey 1859 – 1952 CE
The "Second Confucius"

“St. Paul understood what most Christians never realize, namely, that the Gospel of Christ is not a religion, but religion itself in its most universal and deepest significance.”

Dean Inge 1860 – 1954 CE
Christian mystic and philosopher
from Outspoken Essays

Themes: Christianity

“Christianity persecuted, tortured, and burned. Like a hound it tracked the very scent of heresy. It kindled wars and nursed furious hatred and ambitions. Like Islam, it sanctified extermination and tyranny. All this would have been impossible if, like Buddhism, it had looked only to peace and the liberation of souls.”

Santayana, George 1863 – 1952 CE
(Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás)
Powerfully influential, true-to-himself philosopher/poet
from Reason in Science

“I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.”

Bertrand Russell 1872 – 1970 CE
“20th century Voltaire”

Themes: Christianity

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”

G. K. Chesterton 1874 – 1936 CE

Themes: Christianity

41. Distilled Life

“This was called the 'Christian religion,' but none of it had anything to do with God as I had experienced Him... that is not religion at all. It is an absence of God; the church is a place I should not go to. It is not life which is there, but death.”

Carl Jung 1875 – 1961 CE
Insightful shamanistic scientist
from Memories, Dreams, Reflections

Themes: Christianity

“'I live' becomes the objective 'it lives me'… In the Pauline Christ-symbol ('No longer do I live, but Christ liveth in me.') the deepest religious experience of the West and East meet.”

Carl Jung 1875 – 1961 CE via Introduction to Secret of the Golden Flower
Insightful shamanistic scientist

14. Finding and Following the Formless Form

“If one does not take the verses of the New Testament as being commandments, but as expressions of an extraordinary awareness of the secrets of our soul, then the wisest word ever spoken is: 'Love thy neighbor as thyself.’”

Hermann Hesse 1877 – 1962 CE

63. Easy as Hard

“Worship in Christian churches almost entirely represents the course of repetition… prayers, hymns, responses, all had their own meaning in this repetition as well as holidays and all religious symbols, though their meaning has been forgotten long ago.”

Ouspensky Пётр Демья́нович Успе́нский 1878 – 1947 CE
(Pyotr Demianovich Ouspenskii)

“Self-conceit is hostile to simplicity… Simplicity, beauty, and fearlessness - Christ and Buddha spoke of nothing more. Simplicity is a blessing of the spirit that vibrates in these Teachings.”

Helena Roerich Елéна Ивáновна Рéрих 1879 – 1955 CE

“Money only appeals to selfishness and irresistibly invites abuse. Can anyone imagine Moses, Jesus, or Gandhi armed with the money-bags of Carnegie.”

Albert Einstein 1879 – 1955 CE

53. Shameless Thieves

“He who stealeth from the poor lendeth to the Lord. Thus spake Zarathustra.”

James Joyce 1882 – 1941 CE
from Ulysses

“the majestic monotheism of the founder [Zarathustra] became - as in the case of Christianity - the polytheism of the people”

Will Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
Philosophy apostle and popularizer of history's lessons
from Our Oriental Heritage

“Christianity, itself a mystery religion of atonement and hope, of mystic union and release keeps the basic ideas and ritual of the Orphic cults alive and flourishing today.”

Will Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
Philosophy apostle and popularizer of history's lessons
from Life of Greece

Themes: Christianity

“Protestantism was the triumph of Paul over Peter. Fundamentalism is the triumph of Paul over Christ.”

Will (and Ariel) Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
from Caesar and Christ

Themes: Christianity

“Only in Christianity and in Buddhism can we find again so heroic an effort to transmute into decency the natural brutality of men.”

Will Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
Philosophy apostle and popularizer of history's lessons
from Our Oriental Heritage

“The Mahometans, according to the principles of their faith, are under an obligation to use violence for the purpose of bringing other religions to ruin; yet they have been tolerating other religions for some centuries. The Christians have not been given orders to do anything but preach and instruct; yet they have been exterminating by fire and sword all those who are not of their religion... Christians enjoy the fine advantage of being far better versed than they are in the art of killing, bombarding, and exterminating the Human Race.”

Arnold Toynbee 1889 – 1975 CE
from An Historian's Approach to Religion (1956)

“If any one idea dominates the teachings of Jesus, it is his opposition to the self-righteousness of the righteous.”

Reinhold Niebuhr 1892 – 1971 CE

67. Three Treasures

“[Recipe for a setting-sun world]: Take one sexually inept wage-slave, one dissatisfied female, two or (if preferred) three small television-addicts; marinate in a mixture of Freudism and dilute Christianity; then bottle up tightly in a four-room flat and stew for fifteen years in their own juice.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE
from Island

“Belief is the systematic taking of unanalyzed words much too seriously. Paul's words, Mohammed's words, Marx's words, Hitler's words---people take them too seriously, and what happens?…sisters of charity selflessly tending the victims of their own church's inquisitors and crusaders.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE
from Island

71. Sick of Sickness

“In religion all words are dirty words. Anybody who gets eloquent about Buddha, or God, or Christ, ought to have his mouth washed out with carbolic soap.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE
from Island

56. One with the Dust

“The organized Christian churches have persisted in the fatal habit of mistaking means for ends… that souls are saved if assent is given to what is locally regard as the correct formula, lost if it is withheld… The over-valuation of words and formulae so fatally characteristic of historic Christianity.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE
from Perennial Philosophy

“It was during the 4th century that Christianity overcame the pagan cult and magical rites... The persecutions of which they were the cause rank among the major misfortunes that have visited the West.”

Kurt Seligmann 1900 – 1962 CE
An understanding of magic brought into the modern world
from History of Magic (1948)

Themes: Christianity

“You’ve made a blondie out of Jesus… You’ve tried to make him into an Anglo-Saxon Fuller Brush salesman, a long haired Billy Graham… it is dishonest.”

John Fire Lame Deer 1903 – 1976 CE via Richard Erdoes
from Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions

Themes: Christianity

41. Distilled Life

“In the Bible, eternity withdraws, and nature is corrupt, nature has fallen. In biblical thinking, we live in exile… But once you reject the idea of the Fall in the Garden, man is not cut off from his source.”

Joseph Campbell 1904 – 1987 CE via Shan Dao
Great translator of ancient myth into modern symbols
from Power of Myth

“The Buddha follows a path very much like that of Christ... even to the roles and characters of their immediate disciples. There is but one archetypal mythic hero whose life has been replicated in many lands by many, many people.”

Joseph Campbell 1904 – 1987 CE
Great translator of ancient myth into modern symbols
from Power of Myth

“I fear that Christians who stand with only one leg upon earth, also stand with only one leg in heaven.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906 – 1945 CE
from Letter, 1943

Themes: Christianity

“Christianity strives to save history… In Christianity, the Sacred enters a human being to save humans, but it also enters history to ‘save’ history and turn otherwise ordinary, historical events into something capable of transmitting a trans-historical message.”

Mircea Eliade 1907 – 1986 CE

“Islam is now Wrestling with Western thought as it once wrestled with Greek philosophy, and is as much in need as it was then of a 'revival of the religious sciences'. Deep study of al-Ghazali may suggest to Muslims steps to be taken if they are to deal successfully with the contemporary situation. Christians, too, now that the world is in a cultural melting-pot, must be prepared to learn from Islam, and are unlikely to find a more sympathetic guide than al-Ghazali.”

William Montgomery Watt 1909 – 2006 CE
"The Last Orientalist"

“If Christianity is pessimistic as to man, it is optimistic as to human destiny. Marxism, pessimistic as to destiny, pessimistic as to human nature, is optimistic as to the progress of history.”

Albert Camus 1913 – 1960 CE
from Notebooks, 1942-1951

“Jesus… invited people to see differently instead of telling them what to do or believe… he located the authority of his teaching in his hearer’s hearts, not in himself or God-as-removed.”

Huston Smith 1919 – 2016 CE
from World's Religions

“When I read the Upanishads, which are part of Vedanta, I found a profundity of worldview that made my Christianity seem like third grade.”

Huston Smith 1919 – 2016 CE
from World's Religions

“Catholic Dualism is behind the error of Western Civilization with its war of machines”

Jack Kerouac 1922 – 1969 CE
from Some of the Dharma

“New teachers always tailor their teachings for a new generation of people. Christianity is one such reediting of Greek philosophy [with the conflation of] Socrates with Jesus as the projection”

Hua-Ching Ni 1925 CE –
from Complete Works of Lao Tzu

Themes: Christianity

“There are many, many Christians who practice Buddhism, and they become better and better Christians all the time.”

Thích Nhất Hạnh tʰǐk ɲɜ̌t hɐ̂ʔɲ 1926 CE –

Themes: Christianity

“There are many levels of Christianity. There are many notions about God. To believe that God is a person is just one of the notions of God that you can find in Christianity. So, we should not say that there is one Christianity. There are many Christianities.”

Thích Nhất Hạnh tʰǐk ɲɜ̌t hɐ̂ʔɲ 1926 CE –

Themes: God Christianity

“The doctrinal differences between Hinduism and Buddhism and Taoism are not anywhere near as important as doctrinal differences among Christianity and Islam and Judaism. Holy wars are not fought over them because verbalized statements about reality are never presumed to be reality itself.”

Robert M. Pirsig 1928 – 2017 CE
from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

The idea in the Western world is bringing the Kingdom of God to earth, or trying `to create the ideal Jewish level which is really a poverty-stricken of viewing it. As long as we condemn ourselves, no confidence can take place. People are bewildered and only rely on technicians, technocrats, theologians, politicians...”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from A Buddhist Approach to Politics

“Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me.”

John Lennon 1940 – 1980 CE

41. Distilled Life

“The power and success of Jesus’ teaching and the uncompromising message that he taught brought Jesus into direct and conscious conflict with the established political and social powers of his day… changed untold millions of lives and has made history. It has been the source of great art and philosophical treatises, poetry, novels, and motions pictures.”

J. Rufus Fears 1945 – 2012 CE

Themes: Christianity

“Over the last few years, Pope Francis has reinvigorated the Catholic Church’s core message with passionate criticism of unbridled capitalism and a new, more progressive worldview.”

Nina Lvovna Khrushcheva Нина Львовна Хрущёва 1964 CE –

“Catholicism is a ghoulish machinery set to whirling through the ages by the opposing winds of shame and sadism that has spent two millennia demonizing human sexuality to a degree unmatched by any other institution. Its forced celibacy attracts pedophiles, and its opposition to the use of contraception increases poverty, shorter lifespans, and the proliferation of HIV/AIDS”

Sam Harris 1967 CE – via Shan Dao

Themes: Christianity

“How do you cause people to believe in an imagined ordered such as Christianity, democracy, or capitalism? First, you never admit that the order is imagined. You always insist that the order sustaining society is an objective reality created by the great gods or by the laws of nature.”

Yuval Harari יובל נח הררי‎ 1976 CE –
Israeli historian, professor, and philosopher

from Sapiens

“The history of ethics is a sad tale of wonderful ideals that nobody can live up to. Most Christians did not imitate Christ, most Buddhists failed to follow Buddha, and most Confucians would have caused Confucius a temper tantrum. In contrast, most people today successfully live up to the capitalist–consumerist ideal.”

Yuval Harari יובל נח הררי‎ 1976 CE –
Israeli historian, professor, and philosopher

from Sapiens

“The differences between heresy on the one hand and infidelity, schism, and apostasy on the other suggest that heresy as a Christian concept is necessarily intrasystemic in reference, distinctly doctrinal in orientation an must be an exclusively ecclesiastical determination which on the church has the authority to establish”

Edward T Chʻien 1986 CE –
Chiao Hung and the restructuring of in the late Ming
from Chiao Hung and the restructuring of in the late Ming

Sources

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