Parallels Between the Beatitudes of Jesus
and the Proverbs of Solomon and the Buddha:
Part I


In this first part of a two-part blog, we examine four of the Beatitudes and some parallels in Solomon's writings and the Buddha's proverbs.


Humble

Jesus' opening statement in the sermon on the Sermon on the Mount was, "Blessed are the poor in spirit [humble people], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."[1] While there is a difference between humility and financial poverty, the two can go hand in hand. The following proverbs of Solomon allude to both:

    Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than he who is perverse in speech and is a fool.[2]

    Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to heed a warning.[3]

    Better is a little with righteousness than great income with injustice.[4]

    Incline my heart to Your testimonies and not to covetousness (robbery, sensuality, unworthy riches).[5]
In a similar vein, the Buddha encourages freedom from possessions and the love of the world, "Him I call indeed a Brahmana[6] who calls nothing his own, whether it be before, behind, or between, who is poor, and free from the love of the world."[7] To be humble, to be free from the love of the world, and to turn our hearts towards wisdom and away from covetousness and selfish gain is wise.


Meek

Jesus said, "Blessed are the meek [i.e., enduring injury with patience and without resentment, for a noble cause (e.g., Gandhi)], for they will inherit the earth."[8] Solomon taught that God would show favor to the humble and oppressed, "Though He scoffs at the scoffers and scorns the scorners, yet He gives His undeserved favor to the low [in rank], the humble, and the afflicted."[9] The Buddha emphasized being one who controls his emotions, appetites, and behaviors, "Him I call indeed a Brahmana who is free from anger, dutiful, virtuous, without appetite, who is subdued, and has received his last body."[10] In these proverbs, we find a portrait of one who is patient, humble, without resentment, and exhibits self-control.


Pure in Heart

Jesus taught, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."[11] Solomon encouraged loving a pure heart, speaking with grace, delighting in wisdom, and being righteous:
    One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend.[12]

    To do evil is like sport to a fool, but a man of understanding has wisdom.[13]

    The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.[14]
The Buddha exhorted us not to cling to pleasure or desire, which may describe a pure heart, and he encouraged laying down our burdens.
    Him I call indeed a Brahmana who does not cling to pleasures, like water on a lotus leaf, like a mustard seed on the point of a needle.[15]

    Him I call indeed a Brahmana who, even here, knows the end of his suffering, has put down his burden, and is unshackled.[16]
It is a blessing to have a pure heart, delight in wisdom and righteousness, speak with grace, and be free from the evil and burdens of this world.


Thirst for Righteousness

Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."[17] Solomon wrote, "Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor."[18] The Buddha taught such a person's "glory would increase" (he would be renowned), "If an earnest person has roused himself, if he is not forgetful, if his deeds are pure, if he acts with consideration, if he restrains himself, and lives according to law, then his glory will increase."[19] Purity in mind, heart, body, and deed, and a thirst for living a righteous life paves the way to becoming fulfilled.


[1] Matthew 5:3 (NIV).

[2] Proverbs 19:1 (NASB).

[3] Ecclesiastes 4:13 (NIV).

[4] Proverbs 16:8 (NASB).

[5] Psalm 119:36 (AMP).

[6] Brahmana: One who has attained enlightenment.

[7] Dhammapada 421.

[8] Matthew 5:5 (NIV).

[9] Proverbs 3:34 (AMP).

[10] Dhammapada 400.

[11] Matthew 5:8 (NIV).

[12] Proverbs 22:11 (NIV).

[13] Proverbs 10:23 (NKJV).

[14] Proverbs 11:6 (NIV).

[15] Dhammapada 401.

[16] Dhammapada 402.

[17] Matthew 5:6 (NIV).

[18] Proverbs 21:21 (NIV).

[19] Dhammapada 24.
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