Jewish & Buddhist Paths in Relation to Passover

Jewish and Buddhist Paths In Relation to Passover

Larry Reside

April 7, 2012

There are many similarities between the paths of various religions. This is very true when comparing the Path outlined in Exodus which is told in the Passover story and the Buddhist Path.

Often People try to create a passover seder in which they try to define God or divinity in a way that would be pallatible to Buddhists. However, if we really understand Buddhism, we would know that it isn’t really possible. It is also not really necessary.

All that really needs to be done is to tell the passover story and then explain the Spiritual Path outlined in the story and then show the similarities between the Path in Exodus and the Buddhist Path.

The message of Exodus is that, by following the will of God, one will attain liberation from the suffering of Bondage and be led to the promised land. Many people have tried to tell others over the centuries what the will of God is. However, God outlined his will to Moses in the Ten Commandments and so, we follow the will of God by following the Ten Commandments.

Buddhism says that we become Bound to Suffering States of Existence through Longing and Attachment (a kind of self-bondage) and we can achieve Nirvana, or Liberation from this Suffering, by following the Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Path starts with 1) Right Viewpoint, which leads to 2) Right Thought, 3) Right Speech, 4) Right Action, and 5) Right Livelihood. These are accomplished by 6) Right Effort, 7) Right Mindfulness, and 8) Right Concentration.

What follows is a chart of the Ten Commandments and the Eightfold Path. In it, I have tried to line up the Buddhist Eightfold Path next to the areas of the Ten Commandments where I think they most closely fit. You can see that, even though there are some differences, there are many overlaps between the two.

The Jewish Ten Commandments of God

compared to The Buddhist Eightfold Path

1) Exodus 20, Verse 2:

I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of Bondage.

v3: Thou shalt have no other Gods before me.

1) Right View:

The World is Impermanent.

The World is unable to provide lasting satisfaction and is subject to suffering.

The World is Interdependent.

The World lacks a separate, underlying Essence or Self.

2) v4: Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

v5: Thow shalt not bow down to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord, thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the 3rd & 4th generation of them that hate me;

v6: and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.

3) v7: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold himm guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
4) v8: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

V9: Six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work;

v10: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservent, nor thy cattle, nor any stranger that is within thy gates.

v11: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.

Note: The sabbath is supposed to be reserved for contemplating God’s creation, God’s message, and examining how well we follow God’s will.

6) Right Effort:

Effort to eliminate and avoid non-virtue.

Effort to develop and strengthen virtue.

7) Right Mindfulness:

Developing Alertness in regards to our Bodies, Feelings, Mind, and all phenomena.

8) Right Concentration:

Through meditation to develop Calm-Awareness and Insight into the True Nature of Reality

5) v12: Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land whcih the Lord thy God has given thee.
6) v13: Thou shalt not Kill 4) Right Action:

Do not Kill, but protect Life.

Do not Steal, but practice Giving.

Do not commit Sexual Misconduct, but practice Moral behaviour.

7) v14: Thou shalt not commit adultery
8) v15: Thou shalt not steal
9) v16: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. 3) Right Speech:

Do not Lie, but be truthful.

Do not Slander, but reconcile others.

Do not Abuse or insult others, but provide Encouragement.

Do not Gossip, but speak meaningfully.

10) v17: Thou shalt not covet they neighbour’s house, thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbour’s. 2) Right Thought:

Eliminate Greed & develop Contentment.

Eliminate Anger & develop Patience.

Eliminate Ignorance & develop Right View.

5) Right Livelihood:

Avoid Livelihoods that promote non-virtue and develop a Livelihood that promotes virtue.

In Conclusion, we could say that:

The purpose of the Buddhist Path is to help us avoid and eliminate thought, speech, and action that enslaves us or oppresses others.

The purpose of Passover is to celebrate Liberation and freedom from slavery and to remind ourselves to be alert to avoid and eliminate the things that enslave us and oppress others.

Larry Reside

Visit us on Facebook:!/PeacefulGardenMeditationGroup

The Four Reliances:

Rely on the Teachings, not just the Teacher.

Rely on the Meaning, not just the Words.

Rely on the Actual Meaning, not just the Interpretation.

Rely on the Experience, not just the Idea.

– The Buddha


About larryreside

Technical Administrator for the Westport Lions Club Website and Instructor @ the Peaceful Garden Meditation Group - A Group that studies and practices Buddhist Psychology and Meditation in the Gelugpa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.
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2 Responses to Jewish & Buddhist Paths in Relation to Passover

  1. Carol Drake says:

    Very interesting! I have been away on and off for most of this year. Is the library group still meeting? Hope you are doing well.

    • larryreside says:

      I’ve been off because of the winter retreat and started new chemo treatments in August of last year – I’m hoping that our next Library class will be May 11th – you can check to find out for sure if it’s on – Hope all is well with you and we’ll hopefully see you when the warm weather comes….

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