The Sutra of Returning to Your Original Nature

I am certainly no religious expert, and I’m not sure whether Palmer is right when he argues that:

Jingjing should be recognized as a Dharma King: a saint. One of the most outstanding Christians ever produced by China, he is also, to the best of our limited knowledge, the greatest product of the Tang Dynasty Church in China. He wrote works that are masterpieces of world spirituality in his ability to interpret to a Chinese world the significance of Jesus’ human incarnation. He deserves to be recovered from obscurity and recognized by contemporary spiritual seekers with the same admiration and affection that his own Church clearly had for him.

Nor do I know nearly enough about Christian writing in China to know whether Palmer is using hyperbole when he argues that in The Sutra of Returning to Your Original Nature:

… we have the fullest expression of the Dharma Law of God, the Tao of Jesus, a magnificent fusion of the best of all the worlds in which the Chinese Christians of the age found themselves.

But I do know that there are some extremely powerful and eloquent lines in this sermon, certainly the best sermon I’ve ever heard, as evidenced by lines like:

This is why I say: no wanting, no doing, no piousness, no truth.
These are the Four Essential Laws.
They cannot teach you in themselves
But follow them and you will be free
From trying to sort out what to believe.
Feel compassion, and be compassionate over and again
Without trying to show it off to anyone.
Everyone will be freed this way-
And this is called the Way to Peace and Happiness.

I would, however, agree with Palmer that:

These Sutras deserve to be better known. They are classics of the most radical fusion of Western and Eastern spirituality as well as classics of Tang Dynasty poetry. I hope that by bringing them to life again through translation they can join the corpus of great works of spirituality. After a thousand years of silence, they sing out again.

I wish the Sutras were longer so that I could feel comfortable quoting longer passages and giving you a better feel for their power, but Palmer has done a masterful job of introducing them and putting them into a historical context.

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