Humanity at the turn of the millennium has plenty to celebrate about. Since the dawn of humanity, the human race has gone a long way. Improvement in transportation and communication technology has almost eliminated all physical barriers between diverse cultures and peoples. Productivity has soared. The body of human knowledge accumulated over the years has given us such power and command over nature as unimaginable only a few decades ago. We can, so to speak, easily level mountains and fill up seas and lakes. We have overcome gravity and are now able to fly routinely. We sail on the high seas comfortably, and we travel underground rapidly. We have explored the depths of oceans. Even the heavens in outer space are now within reach.
Unfortunately, humanity also has plenty to be sorry about. For all the abundance that science and technology could have given us, we still see tens of thousands die of hunger or malnutrition each day, wars destroy homes and lives all the time, and neighboring peoples fight each other, seemingly under an ancient and perennial curse.
It is not as if we did not have wise counsel. From ancient times spiritual masters both in the east and in the west have taught us how to live peacefully together and in harmony with nature, and how to be happy and see the blessings that life brings. But just as Laozi lamented, few have awakened to the call of Life, and those who do tend to be left alone and even avoided. And just as Jesus predicted, those who preach the gospel of Life and righteousness are often persecuted. While he told his followers that blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, today we see people telling others they are full of righteousness. As a result of such self-righteousness and the rarity of true converts, humanity has seen endless sufferings.
Throughout the ages, sinners of the earth have committed sins in the name of God, but their allusion to God and the cause of God have not made them less sinful. Yet, ever forgiving, the dying Jesus on the cross still pleaded: “Father, Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
So it is. Ignorance (wu-ming, or “dulling the brightness”) is the source of all suffering. For this reason, this book is a humble attempt to bring together the main threads of ancient teachings, from the Buddha, from Jesus, and from Laozi. The omission of other ancient masters meant no disrespect for them. The author’s own limitation and the confines of these pages make it not possible to include other equally wise teachers.
It is vital for us to realize that the apparent diversity of the great religions of the world reflects only the diversity of cultures but not a diversity of teachings. It is vital for us to understand that the real teachings of religions lie in showing us how we may live happily, and not in their diverse theologies. Spirituality carries no cultural, ethnic, or religious labels. The only apt label in this context is “human.”
It is my prayer that humanity will learn to live peacefully with one another and at peace with their inner nature—and that such a day will come sooner rather than later.