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4.8 out of 5 stars
Sermon on the Mount According to Vedanta
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100 of 102 people found the following review helpful
on August 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
Over the course of my life, I have been presented on various occasions with texts described as being 'comparative' of different religions -- usually one religion being stood up against Christianity, the author being a Christian, in an attempt to debunk the teachings of non-Christian faiths. I saw those books as little more than thinly-veiled attempts at propaganda, attempts to spread the Christian message (as the authors saw it) to the 'unsaved, misled masses'.
This book, which I originally stumbled across quite by accident, couldn't be further in theme and temperament from that lot -- this is aboslutely the gentlest, most respectful, most loving book that I could imagine on the subject. It makes no attempts at conversion, but in a very scholarly -- yet very readable -- way, takes Christ's Sermon on the Mount (paying special attention to the Beatitudes and the Lord's Prayer) and makes line-by-line comparisons to the ancient teachings of Hinduism.
Prabhavananda was a monk of the Ramakrishna Order -- and one of Sri Ramakrishna's most fundamental teachings was the 'oneness of all religions', that, when sincerely believed and practiced, 'all paths lead to the same goal'. This incredible, tender book shows how deeply true his teachings were. Ramakrishna -- a Hindu saint of the 19th century who worshiped God in the form of the Divine Mother, and who experienced ecstatic visions of Christ, Mohammed and Buddha as well -- was one of the most unique, unpretentious, all-encompassing figures in any religion. He embraced them all. Would that we had, in this 'modern, civilized era', when people are still killing each other over the way they each worship God, a teacher so unifying, so true of heart, that could shine the light of wisdom on our folly.
Prabhavananda's book brings Ramakrishna's unifying word to modern readers in a wonderful way. I was touched to the core of my soul by this book -- I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who honestly, in their heart, practices ANY faith. It was written to unify, not to divide -- it could be treasured for that alone.
For anyone interested in further readings on Sri Ramakrishna, I can recommend THE GOSPEL OF SRI RAMAKRISHNA, or (if this 1000+ page volume is too 'heavy' for you) Lex Hixon's stunning book GREAT SWAN -- MEETINGS WITH RAMAKRISHNA.
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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
I'm not the kind of person who generally reads these types of books. I gain most of my spiritual solace from Mozart and wilderness hiking. However, this book is surprising. It illuminates Jesus in ways you have never considered and makes you wonder how Christians got things so muddled. This is a refreshing encounter with a subject I usually shun, and you'll never think of Jesus the same way after reading this wonderful book. I highly recommend it to people of all faiths.
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 1999
Format: Paperback
A rare treat. Seldom are philosophies of Hindu and Christian thought combined and made consistent in one text. Typically a short reference in a larger text will make note of similarities, but here we have a line by line explanation of the Sermon, references to Christ's teachings and the Lord's Prayer all in one small book.
Interesting to note the similarities and differences as I read, side by side, Martin Luther's Small Catechism and the Sermon on the Mount According to Vedanta. Is Christ the "only son of God?" This book offers examples from Krishna and Arjuna, Buddha and the Torah and modern Avatar's woven into a consistent theme describing the power of devotional worship. I'm buying a copy for my Mother.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
i first read this book some 20 yrs ago and found it easy to understand and a clever uniting of vedantic teachings and the core teachings of christianity. over the years i've read it again several times. its simplicity is deceptive. the author is/was obviously a spiritual genius and modern saint. to pack so much universal truth into such a small book is, well, a miracle. if you are a sincere seeker of God, you will love this book. as you begin to live this book, its truths will reveal themselves fresh and new and undeniably true within you. i've read hundreds of "spiritual" books in my life and i would rate this one in the top ten without hesitation. don't miss this divine message; it speaks to the heart and soul in a truly wondrous way!
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2004
Format: Paperback
What did Jesus preach? It depended on his audience!

Jesus taught the masses according to their capacity. He spoke to them indirectly about spiritual truths through means of parable and metaphor. He was not an elitist. He was a realist. Even the Universe itself is but a parable God is telling us. I digress.

Jesus taught those closest to him through both indirect and direct means. "When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, the secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables..." Mark 4:10-11. NIV.

There is the exoteric "outside" type of Christianity of the masses and then there is the esoteric "inside" type of Christianity of the few. This is a tendency of all organized religions. But this is a book about the Sermon on the Mount. One type of Christianity is of the letter of the law, of doctrine, an indirect religion. The other a Christianity of the spirit of the law, of direct experience, a gnostic faith. Knowing through personal experience rather than believing through indoctrination. Believers are religious, knowers are spiritual. Jesus was an irreligious man. He was in direct communication with God and so was excommunicated and sentenced to death by the religious believers of his time. Jesus was a revolutionary, a freedom fighter that gave his life for his cause. The cause of spiritual freedom. The truth shall make you free.

Fundamentalist Christianity is doctrinal religion. Tribal religion. As I alluded to above every esoteric spiritual tradition has a fundamentalist crowd of outsiders claiming to be insiders. They know doctrine, but they do not know God. "The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thy eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thy eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness..." Matthew 6:22-23. KJV

The single eye is the third eye of spiritual intuition that sees the unity of reality. That sees that God is both immanent and transcendent. The evil eye is the eye of duality that separates man from God. Eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is seeing only with our physical eyes. Seeing only appearances, duality. Eating from the Tree of Life is seeing with all of our eyes, physical and spiritual. Seeing that the Kingdom of God is within the holy of holies, the heart within oneself as well as within others. The breath takes one through the gateless gate, the barrier without form, to the garden that leads to the great beyond. Sit quietly and follow your breath. They have eyes but they cannot see for they fail to see that it is not the eyes that see essence. We are awareness.

Read "The Sermon on the Mount according to Vedanta." It may just open your eyes to a whole new level of understanding. Remember, it does not matter what we believe if we do not have love in our hearts.

"The Love-Religion has no code or doctrine. Only Love". Rumi
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on February 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book explains clearly and simply the teachings of Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount. It is a must read spiritual book for people of all faiths who are contemplating the meaniung of life. It inspired me when I began my spirtual quest to find out the meaning of life after my mother died. If you are lost, this book will help you find yourself and bring to you that ocean of peace that already exists within you.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
I found this book in a chapel library, and it had a note inside which read "in the belief that a little 'heresy' never did anyone too much harm, and with love and peace." If this book is heretical, it is because Swami Prabhavananda believes in the Sermon on the Mount far more deeply than most of the Christian world has ever done.

He takes each section of the Sermon to represent the particular aspects of the spiritual life and expounds them in an insightful and reverent way. He sometimes quotes from Christian authors like a Kempis and Boehme, but most often from Ramakrishna and his disciples.

This book should be considered a Christian classic. Noone has ever made Christ's immortal discourse easier to understand and live by.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 1998
Format: Paperback
Many Christians feel that Christianity is very instructive, but stops there. It tells you what to do and what not to do, but does not give satisfactory answers to "Why"s. Here is a book which explains every word of the "Sermon on the Mount" from basic principles of human existence and purpose. There is a strong fabric of logic based on common undeniable facts of life. Anyone who denounces Christianity as dogmatic should read this book. He is sure to change his views. This book also provides lot of hints on religious life, which can be followed by aspirants of all religions. This is the best commentary on the words of Christ which I have come across.
A book which must be read by anyone who wants to understand and follow the way of Christ.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
It's hard for me to believe Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount as presented in Matthew. However, Swami Prabhavananda attempts to reach Christians in writing this book. Essentially he confirms Jesus was a God realized human being. Jesus spoke about the kingdom of heaven, which is within us. If we allow our Real self to emerge, and be led by it, we too can achieve Self realization. The Sermon on the Mount is beyond the grasp of most Christians, as is most of what Jesus tried to convey. This book is worth reading.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2006
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
It's always interesting to see the outsider's view of something you have come to understand in one certain way; to see it through fresh eyes can make it new again. This book is a superb example of exactly that. It is probably impossible to come away from this book without a whole series of new insights, no matter how many times you may have read the Sermon on the Mount or how well you think you understand everything in it.

This book also serves to make the point that some of these Eastern swamis and gurus are scholars and thinkers of the first order. It really is a shame that our view of them often has been tainted by the antics of the charlatans and hustlers that came west beginning in the 1960s to exploit their own religious traditions for personal gain. If that has been your prejudice, Prabhavananda's book will be something of a revelation. Not to be missed.
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