”Life as an end is qualitatively different from life as a means.”
This line from a book I'm currently reading forced me to stop and give it a significant amount of thought. It isn't important what the book is or who the author was. It also isn't important what context it was stated in. It strikes me as a ”stand alone” statement.
What is Life? Is Life a means to an end – and if so, to what end – or is Life an end or purpose onto itself?
If Life is the purpose itself, then Yeshua (among others) becomes a guide into how to live that life. It also leads to another very divisive issue; Is man innately good?
These paradigms drastically shape how we understand, how we choose to interpret, and how we absorb Yeshua's teachings and example.
If Life is only a means to an end – and I am going to presume that salvation of the human soul is that end – then one must believe man is inherently hopeless, corrupt, or worse.
I think this is a fundamental difference between Eastern and Western Religion and Philosophies.
Western Religion (Christianity) lacks faith in mankind. It believes man to be innately corrupt and evil. And by implication, embraces Hopelessness in a certain sense.
Eastern Religion/Philosophies have hope and faith in mankind, but realize it is in need of guidance.
One puts its faith and hope only in a postmortem future while the other believe in the now.
(And on a side note, I am not convinced the “religion” the Jewish Rabbi Yeshua of Nazareth taught was necessarily a “western” religion in its original form, nor am I convinced that it was what Western Christianity has today become).
I am going to leave you with two questions to ponder. Please don't confuse what I am asking you. I am not asking you what your interpretation of your religion teaches. I am asking what you think:
Is Life a means to an end, or is Life the purpose itself?
Do you believe man is innately good?