A few months ago, I gave a talk in Sacrament meeting in which I discussed how studying other religious faiths and their scriptures had enriched my life. When the meeting was over, a couple approached me and said they wanted a copy of the talk to give their daughter because she described herself as a “Buddhist Mormon.” The couple said their daughter couldn’t decide whether to be a Buddhist or a Mormon, so she was trying to be both.
I responded that in a certain sense I considered myself a “Buddhist Mormon” as well, and that the beauty of true Mormonism is that when we find truth in another religion, we have no obligation to reject it, but rather, are encouraged to embrace it. As Joseph Smith said: “We should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out as true ‘Mormons’.” “One of the grand fundamental principles of ‘Mormonism’ is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may.” Thus, one could say that to the extent the principles of Mormonism overlap with the principles of Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, or other religious faiths, one could say that a Mormon is a Buddhist, a Hindu, or a Taoist, and vice versa.
As I’ve discussed in a previous post, the Book of Mormon declares that God speaks the “same words” to “all nations,” and that one day God’s words to all nations will be “gathered in one.” In a follow-up post, I discussed my belief that the existing great religious texts of the world are God’s word to all nations to the extent their principles and doctrines overlap with the Standard Works. In this post, I’d like to share just a few examples of the great overlapping truths found in the Standard Works, the Buddhist Dhammapada, the Taoist Tao Te Ching, and the Hindu Bhagavad Gita. Please bear in mind that the following list is by no means an exhaustive compilation of all commonalities; due to space limitations, I could only list those overlapping truths that are succinctly expressed in just one or two sentences.
Matthew 10:39 – [H]e that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
The Bhagavad Gita – “Through selfless service, you will always be fruitful and find the fulfillment of your desires”: this is the promise of the Creator.
Matt 5:44 – [B]less them that curse you, do good to them that hate you.
The Dhammapada – Let us live in joy, never hating those who hate us.
Mark 9:35 – If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.
Tao Te Ching – If the sage wants to be above the people, in his words, he must put himself below them; If he wishes to be before the people, in his person, he must stand behind them.
Matthew 7:3 – And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
The Dhammapada – Do not give your attention to what others do or fail to do; give it to what you do or fail to do.
Luke 6:38 – Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.
Tao Te Ching – The sage does not hoard. The more he does for others, the more he has himself; The more he gives to others, the more his own bounty increases.
Proverbs 23:7 – For as [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he.
The Dhammapada – [W]e become what we think.
John 14:15, 15:4,10 – If ye love me, keep my commandments. Abide in me . . . . If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love.
The Bhagavad Gita – [T]hose who worship me with love live in me, and I come to life in them.
Proverbs 15:1– A soft answer turneth away wrath.
The Dhammapada – Speak quietly to everyone, and they too will be gentle in their speech.
Luke 14:11 – For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Tao Te Ching – The unyielding and mighty shall be brought low; the soft, supple, and delicate will be set above.
Proverbs 16:32 – He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
The Dhammapada – One who conquers himself is greater than another who conquers a thousand times a thousand men on the battlefield.
D&C 38:16 – . . . I am no respecter of persons.
The Bhagavad Gita – . . . none are less dear to me and none are more dear.
2 Nephi 26:22 – [Y]ea, and [the devil] leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever.
The Dhammapada – Little by little a person becomes evil, as a water pot is filled by drops of water.
D&C 93:29 – Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.
The Bhagavad Gita – There never has been a time when you . . . have not existed, nor will there be a time when we will cease to exist. The body is mortal, but he who dwells in the body is immortal and immeasurable.
The Dhammapada – Guard your thoughts, words, and deeds. These three disciplines will speed you along the path to pure wisdom.
Mormons believe Christ is the source of all truth. That being so, can any Mormon deny that Christ is the source of the Buddhist, Taoist, and Hindu scriptures quoted above? Can any Mormon dispute that the authors of these scriptures were messengers of Christ? Perhaps Christ’s presence in non-Judeo-Christian scripture is much larger than we have been prepared to recognize in the past due to our cultural traditions. Perhaps millions of faithful adherents to the world’s various religions have already heard Christ’s voice and are already living in accordance with Christ’s true principles without even recognizing it.