Amongst them, Confucius, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammed stand out.
Each of these teachers had disciples, with one or two becoming highly devoted acolytes. I wonder what each of these acolytes saw when they looked into the eyes of their teacher?
Yan Hui was a favourite of Confucius, and is revered within Confucianism as one of the Four Sages. He was much younger than Confucius and died young, at just 40 years of age.
What did Yan Hui see when he looked into the eyes of the Master?
Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī was the foster-mother, step-mother, and maternal aunt of the Buddha. She was the first bhikkhuni (ordained nun) within Buddhism. Buddha initially refused to ordain her; however, after being informed that she had accepted the Eight Conditions, the Buddha is reputed to have said, “then she has been ordained already as a nun.”
What did Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī see in the eyes of the Enlightened One?
Mary Magdalene was perhaps the woman most closely associated with Jesus. It seems that she supported him and his teachings financially. She is sometimes referred to as the apostle to the apostles. She is mentioned more often in the gospels than most of the twelve apostles.
What did Mary Magdalene see when she looked into the eyes of the Messiah?
Khadija was the first wife of Muhammed, and became his first follower. As a successful merchant Khadija noticed in Muhammed a truthful and trustworthy employee of hers. They were married for 25 years until her death in AD 619 at the age of 65.
What did Khadija see in the eyes of the Prophet?
Did any of these disciples, followers, acolytes see an hierarchic order based on power and oppression? Did any see a rigid belief system? Did any see hatred? Did any see separation and division?
I suspect not. When they looked into the eyes of their teacher, I suspect they all saw: kindness, compassion, love, empathy. In the eyes of each of these teachers they will have seen reflected the teacher’s words:
Confucius: “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.”
Buddha: “When watching after yourself, you watch after others. When watching after others, you watch after yourself.”
Jesus: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.”
Muhammed: “Do good and good will come to you.”
Within these words of these four teachers, we see two consistent themes. First, the exhortation towards kindness and goodness. Second, the recognition that we are all interrelated; that we are all connected by thought, word, and deed.
I suspect it was the embodiment of these words that the disciples, followers, and acolytes saw when they looked into the eyes of these four teachers.