Sunday, May 15, 2011

Buddhism in the Psalms?

Sermon in church this morning was on Psalm 23. "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." And into my head pops the Second Noble Truth of Buddhism, that the root of suffering is desire.

Related? Discuss.

Blogger was having issues Wednesday through Friday-ish this last week, so if you tried to leave me a comment then, it didn't go through, but you're welcome to repost. Also, I'm behind on replying to comments this last week, though it is on my radar as a "to do" item. I'm free this afternoon and could use this time to get to comments, but instead, I'm going to a coffee shop with all my issues of The Sun that have been piling up unread, because I really, really want to. I hope you'll forgive me, and I hope you'll do something lovely and rejuvenating for yourself today as well.

Edited to add: It occurred to me as I was heading out in my car the irony of writing about really, really wanting to do something and the pitfalls of desire in the same post...


If you enjoyed this post, I hope you'll check out my new blog.


  1. Did one borrow from the other?  Or did they both individually arrive at the same conclusion?  Who knows.  One place to start is considering the dates the authors lived. Psalm 23 is a Psalm by David who lived circa 1000 B.C.  Buddha lived circa 500 B.C.

  2. Well, "L" a couple of thingies. I did enjoy the sunny Sacramento weather (that's why we live here) and I hope you enjoyed your Sun. Second, When Blogger was working this week I wrote about a documentary that speculates that JC WAS influenced by Buddhism, from 14-29y/o  where there is no mention of him in that bible thingy and after the (failed) crucifixion. I'm agnostic about those things, but it sure is interesting to study and ponder...and the best part is that he skedaddled and went to India, or S. France with the hottie, Mary Magdalene. So awesome.


  3. Given the time frame, could it be argued that there is a little Psalms found in the Noble Truths of Buddha?

  4. I don't claim to be an expert on Buddhism by any means, but I don't know how much Siddharta was reading the David's Psalms. I think a more interesting question than which came first or who may have borrowed from whom is: How does each tradition approach the universal human dilemmas of want and satisfying the insatiable? What makes each approach successful or not?

  5.  Desire can cause suffering but at the same time it can also create a sense of purpose in this life; something to look forward to. It's finding the balance, however, of appreciating what you have versus wanting more that's the problem. If your attitude leans too heavily towards "Once I have THIS, THEN I'll be happy." you'll be unhappy your whole life. I can't say I've heard of very many people desire nothing though. I imagine it'd be kind of boring to want nothing.

  6.  why did it post so many spaces?? i didnt do that


    How does each tradition approach the
    universal human dilemmas of want and satisfying the insatiable?


    Most religions approach the dilemmas in
    terms of self and satisfying self. Good luck with that.


    The Buddha realized that we just cannot
    satisfy craving because the purpose of craving is to crave. So it is not about
    satisfying MY craving, it is about understanding the process of craving to the
    point where our minds are not slaves to that activity.

    It is like holding a glass of water on
    the air with one hand for 10 hours. After a while there will be pain in the
    hand. Now the pain is not created by the hand or by the glass, but it is result
    of clinging to the glass. If we want the pain to stop, we don’t have to throw
    the glass or cut our hand off. We just put down the glass and that’s it.
    Craving and its result are the same. Craving is not a problem, but clinging or
    holding on to the insatiable activity of craving = stress/suffering.  So, all we do is put the craving down (second
    insight into the second noble truth). The result of that release will be peace
    (third noble truth). Noticing the peace in the arm that is not holding the
    glass in the air is the second insight into the third noble truth, etc.



    What makes each approach successful or


    Most religions approach experiences in
    terms of self. The problem is that any kind of self of self-view or
    self-doctrine will be conditioned, fabricated, subject to change. So, anybody
    who puts their faith in something that is conditioned, fabricated, subject to
    change will have a happiness that is fabricated, conditioned and subject to
    change = life of constant disappointment. How can we expect a constant
    happiness out of something that is conditioned, inconstant, fabricated?
    Impossible task.


    However, a happiness based on something
    that is not conditioned, unfabricated, not subject to change….. well, that is
    something to be tested and realized in the present moment individually…   We can talk about it, or we can realize it.
    Like the old saying: we can have someone point their finger to the moon, but it
    will be our choice and actions to notice and see the moon itself, or we can
    spend the rest of our days staring at the finger or talking about fingers and

  8.  Ah. I guess the title, Buddhism in the Psalms, made me think that you were exploring the possibility that David
    incorporated Buddhist teachings into the Psalms. That's why I suggested otherwise
    because of the dating of the authors and texts. 

    As far as satisfying the insatiable, I guess I’d
    start out by pointing out that David believed in the God of Israel as the one
    and only God and would have probably recognized God as the great provider.  I've usually read the opening verse of Psalm
    23 as David singing praises to God who provides for our needs.  Everybody has needs (as opposed to wants).  And as the Great Provider God provides for all
    our needs according. Other translations have translated this passage as:
    "The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need." and "The Lord
    is my shepherd, I shall not be in want." (the NLT and NIV, respectively).
    The Hebrew word used in this passage that we have translated to "shall not
    want" (KJV) is Chacer (transliteration, of course).  Chacer means: to lack, be without, decrease,
    be lacking, have a need.  So
    this verse literally means that the Lord is my shepherd; I shall not lack, or
    be without, or have need. Therefore because he believed that God would provide
    he would have trusted that God provided for his needs.  This is also reflected in Philippians 4:19.


    I don’t think this is intended to mean
    that we don’t ever want things.  And I don’t
    know that it was really about trying to control human desires so much as
    praising and recognizing God as the source of all that we have and need.  Also, if you recall at times David wasn’t
    very good at controlling his human desires (take Bathsheba as an example) just
    like every other human fails to have complete control their own desires. 


    That is not to say that God does not help
    us to overcome our insatiable desires (temptations).  He is repeatedly referred to as the Helper.  See 1 Corinthians 10:13.


    From Eduardo: “However, a happiness based on
    something that is not conditioned, unfabricated, not subject to change….. well,
    that is something to be tested and realized in the present moment individually” 


    Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and
    forever.  Hebrews 13:8

  9.  it worked!! thank you!!! 
    Yes, I first typed my posts in Word then just copied them here, but I tried my last replied here and it came without the extra spaces.
    Thank you!!!

  10. Many quotations from the gospels indicate that Jesus might have been influenced by Buddhism. The great thing about that religion is that it doesn't appeal to any supernatural, unseeable forces. It suggests that the highest achievement is up to us. 

  11. Thanks, Kathleen! I think real growth on any spiritual path is ultimately up to us.

  12. I liked this a lot:

    "The teachings of the noble truths are like a toolbox that is
    offered to someone who wants to do the job and considers it worthwhile. It is
    not something we have to believe in and make a cult about and evangelize people
     Thanks, Eduardo, for taking the time to write these replies. My knowledge of Buddhism is admittedly minimal. I'll probably have to read through your responses a few times, let them sink in, and maybe write a post about them.

  13. I remember a couple years ago, my son asked, "Is today a someday?" We always say, "Someday I'll do such-and-such." Not a bad idea to ask ourselves from time to time, what are we waiting for?


Religion, skepticism, and carving out a spiritual life post-Mormonism