February 13th, 2012

Church of the East - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Church of the East (Syriac: ܥܕܬܐ ܕܡܕܢܚܐ ʿĒ(d)tāʾ d-Maḏn(ə)ḥāʾ), also known as the Nestorian Church,[note 1] is a Christian church, part of the Syriac tradition of Eastern Christianity. Originally the church of the Persian Sassanid Empire, it quickly spread widely through Asia. Between the 9th and 14th centuries it was the world's largest Christian church in terms of geographical extent, with dioceses stretching from the Mediterranean to China and India. Several modern churches claim continuity with the historical Church of the East.

The Church of the East was headed by the Patriarch of the East, continuing a line that, according to tradition, stretched back to the time of the apostles. Liturgically, the church adhered to the East Syrian Rite, and theologically, it is associated with the doctrine of Nestorianism, which emphasizes the distinctness of the divine and human natures of Jesus. This doctrine and its chief proponent, Nestorius (386–451), were condemned by the First Council of Ephesus in 431, leading to the Nestorian Schism and a subsequent exodus of Nestorius' supporters to Sassanid Persia. The existing Christians in Persia welcomed these refugees and gradually adopted Nestorian doctrine, leading the Church of Persia to be known alternately as the Nestorian Church.

The church grew rapidly under the Sassanids, and following the Islamic conquest of Persia, it was designated as a protected dhimmi community under Muslim rule. From the 6th century, it expanded greatly, establishing communities in India (the Saint Thomas Christians), Central Asia (where they had evangelical success among the Mongol tribes), and China, which was home to a thriving Nestorian community under the Tang Dynasty from the 7th to the 9th century. In the 13th and 14th century the church experienced a final period of expansion under the Mongol Empire, which had influential Nestorian Christians in the Mongol court.

From its peak of geographical extent, the church experienced a rapid period of decline starting in the 14th century, due in large part to outside influences. The Mongol Empire dissolved into civil war, the Chinese Ming Dynasty overthrew the Mongols and ejected Christians and other foreign influences from China* (also including Manichaeism), and many Mongols in Central Asia converted to Islam. The Muslim Mongol leader Timur (1336–1405) nearly eradicated the remaining Christians in Persia; thereafter, Nestorian Christianity was largely confined to Upper Mesopotamia and the Malabar Coast of India. In the 16th century, the Church of the East went into a schism from which two distinct churches eventually emerged; the modern Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldean Catholic Church, an Eastern Catholic Church in communion with the Holy See.

Church of the East - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

*This happened in the early tenth century .  In 7th-9th century China, Christianity took on a Taoist/Buddhist flavor which, IMPPO, was beautiful, unique and perhaps truer than each of the three roots (Christianity, Taoism, and Buddhism) would have been standing alone.

Why The Good Die Young.

I have come to help those who have gone wrong.
This has never been seen before -
This pure effortless emptiness has never been known.
Why is this? Those who act piously soon achieve a name
But fame makes people behave differently
They become driven by worldly ambitions.
This makes them inflated and defined by what they do.
People like this can never achieve Peace and Happiness.
  -- (Jesus, (according to Jing Jing, speaking to the saved.)
The Sutra of Returning to Our True Original Nature - China History Forum, Chinese History Forum

Jesus' career lasted less than three years, some say eighteen month, some say 8 months.
Eight months!  Imagine having your favorite teacher for only two semesters.
He started preaching and healing at about thirty (or later) and was dead at thirty-three.

Of course the good don't always die young (and sometime the not-so-good die young also) The Buddha. Mother Theresa of Calcutta  Dorothy Day and many others lived into their eighties.  Lao Tze's name roughly translates as "the old guy."

And Buddhists and others might disagree that "this has never been seen before."

But Jesus (or Jing Jing) makes a good point here. Doing good brings fame which endangers humility and breeds excess which turns good into bad.  So do good and get out of the way before they know you were here.  Who is "they?"  They is us, the ones who want heroes, the ones who think they need leaders, the ones who think they might be heroes and leaders.  We feed power to the good whether they want it or not. And having eaten, they will be changed accordingly.

We somehow imagine that "power is not the problem, the problem is how it is used."  Perhaps in a world of sagely kings or egalitarian saints that might be true.  But power corrupts and a lot of power creates a lot of corruption.

What would have happened if Jesus followers had just let him die.  There might be no Christians, but there would be many more followers of Jesus.

"If you meet the Buddha in the road, kill him." is not, i think, supposed to be taken literally.  Aren't we supposed to find all life precious?  I think that means think for yourself, don't be a follower, find your path.  Don't rely on the wise to make you wise.  Especially do not rely on the wise to do your thinking for you.  (Of course, it should go without saying that you shouldn't let the stupid do your thinking for you either, and i would not have mentioned it were it not an election year.)

More From The Sutra of Returning to Our True Original Nature -

The All-Knowing Essence speaks through me, and what it says is:
Those who don't act piously and don't seek a name
Trust in their own heart's guidance.
They can go beyond wanting, and trust
In direct spiritual communication.
Understanding what is true, they know
That this is the way to Peace and Happiness.

Attributed to Jesus by Jing Jing, a Chinese Christian monk, ca. 780 a.d.

The Sutra of Returning to Our True Original Nature - China History Forum, Chinese History Forum

Still more Sutra of Returning to Our True Original Nature

....know this. It is a place of incredible blessing
Beyond all conceivable imagining. And it is for everyone.

I study this myself - and yet there's no way to prove it.
Why is it like this? Because it cannot be proved.
How can you define what is beyond definition?
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."

The Sutra of Returning to Our True Original Nature - China History Forum, Chinese History Forum