Christ, the Philosopher

He urges us to explore the possibilities in life, a message that can be succour for the world in its moment of crisis.

Written by Jyothi S

On the occasion of Christmas, the birthday of Jesus Christ, a symbol of peace, patience, forgiveness, love and sacrifice, it would be exciting to look at his sermons from a philosopher’s standpoint. It would be particularly worthwhile exercise in this moment of human crisis. As the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard says, “The supreme paradox of all thought is the attempt to discover something that thought can’t think.” It would be relevant to explore Christ’s philosophy of life rather than worship his godly self.

Jesus advises us, “Do not worry about tomorrow. Each day has enough trouble of its own. So, just look at the problems of the day.” If we reflect on our lives with such an understanding, we might realise that most of our problems are related to a tomorrow that is unseen — not to the present. This is either because we are prisoners of our expectations or because of apprehensions of an uncertain future.

When people demanded that an adulterous woman be stoned to death, Jesus’ riposte was: “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.” Importantly, Jesus does not use the word, “adultery”, but “sin”. For Jesus, a sinner of any sort does not have the right to point fingers at someone else. No human is perfect. However, most of us waste a lot of time in searching for mistakes in others and relish discussing them, but rarely do we look with in.

For people who over think, but don’t act on their plans, Jesus has a special message. He says, “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” Most of us engage in thought experiments, but hesitate to execute them due to the fear of the unknown. The graves of most humans are heavy with feelings and ideas which they thought, but couldn’t execute. Most of us live within the socially set boundaries overwhelmed by the fear of social rebuke.

Jesus also says, “The kingdom of heaven is spread out across the earth, only people don’t see it.” We spend much of our lives making acquisitions to increase our comforts. But as the poet William Wordsworth wrote, ‘The world is too much with us.” The child within us, who was innocent, questioned everything, felt pure joy in small things, and was fearless, curious and expressive, lost out to the worldly person.

Jesus urges us to explore the possibilities in life. And, this optimism is what we desperately need in this year of the pandemic. “Even the least among you can do what I have done and greater things, ” he says.

Like most religious preceptors, Jesus too reminds us, “He who rules his spirit has won a greater victory than the taking of a city.” A person who has mastered her mind, can master anything outside. He says: “For what shall it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, and suffers the loss of his soul?” We might accumulate all the wealth of the world, but feel utterly empty within, and thus can never enjoy what we possess.

His advice, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you,”, if followed wholeheartedly, could really male the world a better place to live in.
Finally, Jesus gently asks to be humble: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and everyone who humbles himself will be exalted.” Humility and wisdom are two sides of the same coin for him.
Jesus Christ may not be seen as a philosopher in the traditional sense. However, his teachings contain the true essence of life. As philosopher Martin Heidegger says, “Philosophy remains latent in every human existence and need not be first added from somewhere else.” So, every human being has a philosopher within herself. Let the gentle words of Jesus awaken this inner philosopher.

The writer is assistant professor of English, Tumkur University

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