The Works of Mercy

I am a Buddhist, not a Christian.  Yet the teachings of Jesus are part and parcel of the way I see and understand the world.  It is my personal belief, that the Sermon on the Mount is one of the best and most succinct teachings on living a spiritual life.  The Works of Mercy offer a concrete guide to acting compassionately in the world.  Dorothy Day, cofounder of the Catholic Worker and an exemplar religious practitioner, is reported to have said, “the Sermon on the Mount is our Manifesto. The Works of Mercy are our rule.”

The Works of Mercy can help us Buddhist avoid an overly inward and cerebral understanding of Compassion. They can ground our compassion in relationships that help us see the reality of the suffering of poverty, lack, and powerlessness. Like the street retreats conducted by Roshi Bernie Glassman, the Corporal Works of Mercy can challenge our understanding of the world and who we are.

The Corporal Works of Mercy:

  • To feed the hungry
  • To give drink to the thirsty.
  • To clothe the naked.
  • To visit and ransom the captives.
  • To shelter the homeless.
  • To visit the sick.
  • To bury the dead.

The Works of Mercy teach that the thought of compassion is not real until it is manifest in action. The Works of Mercy reminds each one of us to take responsibility for the care of our brother and sister beings.

The Saints are inspiring because of their willingness to personally take responsibility for the wellbeing of us all.  Look at some the great beings, the religious lights, from the past 100 years: Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Aung Sang Sue Kyi, Corrie Ten Boom, Bishop Tutu, Dorothy Day, and so many more.

They show us the way. Each of us, if we so choose, can try to follow their example in our lives. We begin with the little actions of our day-to-day lives. Responding to little hatreds and sufferings with compassion and love, trusting in the Dharma and Amida’s saving grace. We can strive every day to remember that Amida’s great vow encompasses all: the hungry, the dysfunctional, the criminal, the dirty, the homeless, the addict, the thief, and even those who are good and holy.

All are already saved by Amida’s Vow.  The Works of Mercy offer us an opportunity to share in Amida saving grace, to see Amida’s light in all beings, and to participate in the creation of a pureland right here and right now.

Namo Amida Bu!

Peace, Paul

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One Response to “The Works of Mercy”

  1. Shantikara Acquaro Says:

    Namo Amida Bu!

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