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All Great Teachers Had Moments
of Trial and Doubt
Religious doubt is not something new. All the great spiritual leaders had their "Dark Night of the Soul" when they questioned their beliefs or were tempted to abandon God.
Jesus had his moments in the dessert. The temptation of Christ, in Christianity, refers to the temptation of Jesus by the devil as detailed in these Gospels (the New Testament of the Bible): Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, and Luke 4:1-13. Christian translations often use the term Satan to describe Jesus' adversary in this narrative.
According to these texts, after being baptized, Jesus fasted for forty days and nights in the desert. During this time, the devil appeared to Jesus, and tempted him to demonstrate his supernatural powers as proof of his divinity -- each temptation being refused by Jesus with a quote of scripture. The Gospels state that having failed, the devil departed, and angels came and brought nourishment to Jesus.
In Buddhist tradition, a super natural being tempts the Buddha in various ways, including urging him to transform the Himalayas into gold. In a famous incident similar to the temptation of Jesus in the Christian religion, Mara urges Buddha to become a universal king, and establish a great empire in which men can live in peace. He reminds Buddha that he can turn the Himalayas into gold if he but wishes so that all men will become rich. Buddha replies that a single man's wants are so insatiable that even two such golden mountains would fail to satisfy him.
There is a Zen saying...
"Great Doubt: great awakening. Little Doubt: little awakening. No Doubt: no awakening"
And, although we are no Jesus, or Buddha, our "temptations" and moments of failure and doubt are no less real or compelling. The journey is long, and there are many dead ends along the way. All we can do is turn around, and find our way back on the correct path.
Some Quotations From Great Teachers
"The beginning of wisdom is found in doubting; by doubting we come to the question, and by seeking we may come upon the truth."
"Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties."
"Throughout the long period of religious doubt, I had been rendered very unhappy by the gradual loss of belief, but when the process was completed, I found to my surprise that I was quite glad to be done with the whole subject."
"The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt."
"Doubt is but another element of faith."
"There lives more faith in honest doubt, believe me, than in half the creeds."
Tennyson, in his poem In Memoriam
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