” If you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” -Jesus
“Believe nothing, O monks, merely because you have been told it . . . or because it is traditional, or because you yourselves have imagined it. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings–that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide.” -Buddha
When I was young I was taught religion in the style called “catechism” where you memorize answers. When I got older and ran across the saying of Buddha above, I longed for an understanding of Christianity that was also vast and honest. In John 8 there is a story leading up to the famous quote about the truth setting one free. In that story, Jewish people are said to believe Jesus. It does not say they stop being Jews, in fact, when Jesus taught there wasn’t a church to convert to, nor a New Testament to read, nor a creed to recite.
So the story seems to say that we can be honest about who we are. Then it says we can grow. For many, “faith” means holding on to old answers in the face of changing evidence. Is it possible that when Jesus is talking here about “truth” that he actually means reality itself and not religious dogma? He goes on to say that the truth will set us free.
How many people have you known whose religion set them free? True freedom would mean release from propaganda, addiction, hypnosis, habit and even our own little dramas. When some people go to a party some they set aside a “designated driver” who won’t drink so everyone else can be safe. Perhaps Jesus (and Buddha) are asking us to be the “designated thinkers” of humankind. We are being asked to be the ones who stay awake and refuse to fall into the trance of our culture, or nation or sect. ” If you abide in my word… you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”