World Religions at Divine Life Church of Baltimore
The pure teachings of Buddha are incorporated throughout the services at Divine Life Church along with the teachings of awakened masters like Jesus, Krishna, and St Francis. Buddha’s teachings are presented by Swami Shankarananda based on Buddha’s original writings without any overlay of later religious practices, rituals, and hierarchies. The mystical understanding of Buddha’s Dhammapada is brought out along with discussion of it’s practical application in our every day life.
The teachings of the Taoist sage Lao-Tzu are interwoven throughout many of the services at Divine Life Church. Lao-Tzu's most well known book, the Tao Te Ching, is illuminated by Swami Shankaranda along with other universal scriptures such as Buddha's Dhammapada, the mystical teachings of Jesus, and the Bhagavad Gita. Taoism, like Buddhism, focuses on the oneness of all life and the importance of meditation on the Tao also called God, the Source, Brahman, the divine reality. Taoism also teaches the importance of cultivating our divine qualities and how to apply these qualities in our daily experience and interaction.
At the heart of Hinduism is the spiritual philosophy of Advaita Vedanta, commonly translated as Absolute Oneness. The Bhagavad Gita, the main scripture of Hinduism, is used frequently in our services to honor the teachings of Krishna, an enlightened being (avatar) like Jesus who lived hundreds of years earlier. Topics from the Gita such as karma, dharma, divine qualities, devotion, the nature of reality and consciousness, nonattachment, wisdom, and meditation are presented with a focus on practical application in our daily experience. Vedanta acknowledges that everything and everyone in the universe is a manifestation of the one divine reality called God and therefore is innately endowed with the nature and qualities of God. The purpose of life is for each person to realize this truth and to unfold and share his or her divine attributes. By unfolding his divine nature, man regains the consciousness of his spiritual identity.
At the heart of mystical christianity is the focus on cultivating unconditional love. Jesus brought in the understanding of a loving Father - God, one that does not judge or condemn any. Jesus was a perfect Yogi, Jnana Yogi, and Raja Yogi, as is evident in his teachings. In fact, Jesus taught Kriya Yoga to his close diciples. Vedanta supports the understanding that Jesus was an Avatar, or Savior, as was Krishna, Rama, Buddha, and others, Vedanta honors all paths, all faiths as a means to commune with God, which is ultimately the desire of all devotees, of all faiths.
The Old Testament God of judgement and vengeance is not a part of Vedanta philosophy, the philosophy of Absolute Oneness. The God of the Old Testament was monotheistic, a creator beyond creation, an "extraterrrestrial" God. The vedantic approach is monistic: God is the only Reality that pervades everything and everyone. God is both transcendental and immanental, impersonal and personal. That God dwells in all hearts. In the Old Testament, the Guru-disciple relationship was clearly understood, as for example, Elijah was the Guru of Elisha, as Jesus was later Guru to his disciples. Vedanta holds to this sacred relationship as a means for the disciple to realize his own divinity.