In his book " The Zen Teachings of Jesus",Michael Leong presents a very different way of understanding some of the things Jesus taught--thru the eyes of eastern thought.
Here's a couple of examples. (He first explains that we should try to view Jesus as a poet teaching us how to live beautifully.)
When Jesus is questioned as to the greatest commandment and his reply "You must love God with your whole heart, mind and strength." Leong proposes that this is a great "cosmic joke" for how can love be commanded? Jesus impresses upon us the absurdity of it by saying with your whole heart, mind and strength. What good is love that is forced--is it even love?
So why did he say this? Keep in mind who he was talking to, people obsessed with rules and commands. Jesus was constantly trying to show the folly of trying to gain something thru strict rule following. So, it's as if he said " Ok look, you want a commandment. Here's one, try following this."
It's a Zen way of teaching, thru paradox and irony. Another way is by going to extreme. Here's an example Leong presents.
When Jesus says 'I say to you whoever so much as looks at a woman so as to have a passion for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
Now honestly, what adult heterosexual male can say he has never looked at any other woman and felt passion for her. If we were to truly take Jesus words here literally how many men are guilty of adultery--how many elders? It's as if putting a plate of hot food in front of a hungry man and telling him that if he feels hungry he's committed gluttony.
Once again, by setting the bar so high Jesus demonstrates the uselessness of strict rules that only lead to judgement and guilt.
These are a couple of thoughts from the book...any comments?