I have heard it argued both ways, that the Sermon on the Mount was addressing life after death, and that the SotM was addressing a better world here, if we would learn to live the way he taught. When I read Neil D. Klotz interpretation, there were many things that pulled together for me. I have come to believe that Y’shua was very much addressing how our lives can change in the here and now, if we will learn to live a “surrendered” life.
This is a life so dependent on Spirit that we know that all of our needs will be seen to, no matter what they are. I have actually known people for whom this has happened. I can testify that Spirit will indeed see that your needs are met, if not your wants. And there is where we come to the similarity between the “surrendered” life of Y’shua’s teaching and the life without external attachment of Buddha’s teaching.
When one lives a life without external attachment, one has reached a point where there is an acceptance of all that befalls one. This has been called fatalism by many from this side of the theological divide, and to a degree, that may be truth. But it is not the whole truth. There are “graces” in Buddhism, as there are in all major faiths. The presumption that we understand a faith or path from the outside looking in was one of the many things Y’shua cautioned us about, yet many practice that very form of judgment.
When Buddha taught regarding Nirvana he was not addressing an afterlife experience, he was talking about the golden life one would be able to lead when one no longer held onto desires as rights. You can understand this if you look at the meaning (from Huston Smith) of the word tanha, in the Four Noble truths. “I want what I want when I want it, no matter the cost.” This was the cause of suffering and misery. Letting go of this was the road to Nirvana, the Eightfold Path that led to enlightenment was the prescription toward getting “there”.
Y’shua taught the Eight Beatitudes, Gautama Buddha taught the Eightfold Path, I believe they are the same path. Simply taught to different audiences, therefore with different emphasis, according to the needs of those intended to hear the message. (The Lakota believe the Path of the Morning Star (eight points) will lead to happiness in this life and a good crossing into the next life. Coincidence?)
I also believe that we the people of earth will only remain divided as long as those who desire the dividing are allowed to influence what we think. When we can surrender our will, let go of the desire to have what we cannot have, and learn to walk in inner peace, there will be outer peace, and not before. There are many who believe the prophecies of the end times and of great disasters befalling the human race. That is one possible future. Look at the story of Jonah and the whale. Prophecies may be true and still do not have to happen. We can treat our fellow humans with kindness from deep within, and in doing so, bring about a time of true peace.