I’m not religious, but I live in a religious world.
A couple of years ago I was at my cousin’s birthday sit-down dinner, seated next to one of her friends from a well known, established, Christian church. He seemed nice enough, and he and I chatted a little before somehow getting onto something somewhat philosophical. Whatever the topic of conversation was, it seemed appropriate for me to mention how Buddha was talking about compassion for—and acceptance of—others, a few years before Jesus was credited with similar revolutionary ideas. My cousin’s friend looked horrified and abruptly ended our banter, but not before pointing out there was no way to prove Buddha ever existed, and that he didn’t believe the tubby one did.
With hindsight, I guess I should have asked him for J.C.’s birth certificate.
Because, in the final analysis we were both talking about characters we’ve heard about, not people we have met—or even seen photographs of. Did Buddha inspire Jesus? I wasn’t there, so anything I say is just heresy—sorry—hearsay.
On an early draft of my novel, The Last Great Day, I prefaced the prose with this quote attributed to ‘The Buddha’:
Three things will not long remain hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.
Eventually I decided not to include it, as I imagined some people (like my cousin’s friend) might not be able to see past the mere mention of an alternative spiritual mentor/guide/deity. And, I think they might enjoy—and get a lot out of—a story about a man who learns to value the truth over blindly following another man’s dogma.
Anyway, just as I can’t be sure what J.C. said, I can never know for sure exactly what wisdom The Buddha offered up, after seeing the light under the Bodhi tree. But I like the sentiment.
The truth can not be long hidden.