When Buddha achieved enlightenment, he could’ve stayed where he was. He was no longer chained to mortal existence. But instead of staying and enjoying enlightenment, he came back. He wanted to share his experience and joy with the rest of the struggling world. In the Buddhist tradition, those who experience enlightenment and stay here, like Buddha, are given the title bodhisattva.
As Christians, we are called to be bodhisattvas. We are called to experience the freedom and joy of the Gospel: God’s grace offering us unlimited and no-strings-attached love to us exactly as we are. And after we experience that enlightenment, we are called to go back into the dark world and share that experience with others. This is why the Gospel is called Good News. Because to understand that you are loved without reserve, exactly as you are, without changing a single thing, is to know good news.
Now some Christians argue and dispute about what exactly the Good News is. I hear that. Perhaps I am oversimplifying. But perhaps I’m just clarifying. Because although it is clear in the Bible that acceptance of God’s love changes a person, we don’t have to change to receive it. You don’t have to renounce your sexuality. You don’t have to get sober. You don’t have to lose weight. You don’t have to do anything.
As bodhisattvas, we have the enormous privilege of sharing that unconditional love with everyone we meet. This is why I don’t agree with Christians who believe that preaching the Gospel means telling people that they are sinners. Telling people they are screw-ups is not loving them. It just isn’t. When was the last time someone criticized you and you felt loved and cherished as a result?
Christ says that he must be raised up so that all who see him will be saved. He has ascended, and as Christians, as bodhisattvas, we point to him. Our actions and words must always lead people to look for the source of our love, which is Jesus. Are you a source of unconditional love for others?