replied, is not something people will be able to see and point to. Then came
these striking words: “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for,
behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21)
A player shall not dribble a second time after the player’s first dribble
has ended, unless the player subsequently loses control because
of: a. A try for field goal; b. A bat by an opponent; c. A pass or fumble that
has then touched or been touched by another player.
(Section 7: Article 1)
NCAA 2013 Men's And Women's Basketball Rulebook
These reflections are only my own poetic and playful imaginings, which have emerged from my life of studying and practicing Buddhism and Christianity. I'm not attempting to speak in an authoritative way as to the nature of Buddhism and Christianity. I hope these words are helpful, but if they aren't please let them pass like clouds on a windy day.
If you take everything that we now describe as Christian, all of the texts, every bible, every book, every church, every song and prayer, every practice, and every person, and remove them from the face of the earth, the presence of the Living Christ on earth would not be diminished at all. The living Christ of unconditional love, of simplicity, of intimate connection with and responsibility for all life, would attempt to manifest in this world again and again, as it has so many time in the past (in Buddhism, in Native American spirituality, in Hinduism)
If you see the Buddha in the road, kill him. Because the living Buddha is not something outside of yourself. Kill the idea of the Buddha as a fixed being, separate from you. The living Buddha can only manifest out of our life and being in the present moment, when we touch life deeply with a heart and mind of openness and love. You won't find the living Buddha by following Thich Nhat Hanh or the Dalai Llama- though it might help you to follow them. You won't find the living Christ in the Bible, or modern theology- though it might help you to study them. But being the best disciple of Thich Nhat Hanh, being the most expert Christian scholar is not touching the Living Buddha, the Living Christ. In fact, those things can become a hindrance if we become too attached to them. We must find the living Buddha, the living Christ in life as we live it.
In all the cosmos, the only thing that is real is the present moment of life that we are living- everything else is just a thought, it does not have the nature of living reality. If you want to find the living Christ, the kingdom of God, you must find them right now, in this moment, not in some distant world of your or someone else's imagining. Failing to find Christ in this moment, we must find him in the next, whatever that moment may consist of- a prison cell, a wonderful job, a difficult marriage, a loving family, a painful death, sudden wealth.
Compared with the living reality of this present moment, our religion, science and philosophy are vast architecture, or poetry that we have created (in response to that reality).
James Naismith invented the game of basketball. With a peach basket and a round ball, he created something which hadn't existed before. Out of this invention a vast world has emerged. A world of legends and stories, and rules and regulation, and leagues and fans, of extraordinary skill, grace and beauty, of money greed and ugliness, of brutality, of TV, stars, and owners. Some people spend the great majority of their life energy and attention living inside this world. It's ok to spend a lot of time in the world of basketball, if we don't mistake it for the deep reality of life. That is suffering-we invest our heart and mind and being in a world of temporary, shifting manifestations of reality. It's wonderful that we are able to spend our time in the world of Buddhism, in the world of Christianity- they can help us a lot if we don't mistake them for the deep reality of life. We don't live in a Buddhist cosmos, a Christian cosmos, or even a basketball cosmos- they are temporary manifestations of the deep reality of life.
In conclusion, I offer this little parable:
Once there were three fish who lived in a cool mountain stream. Life was, for them, simple, delicious, and fresh. . . heaven. One day a boulder shook loose form the mountain and crashed through the water striking one of the fish. The fish suffered from the wound and, gradually becoming helpless, was eaten by a larger fish. All of this was witnessed by the other two. Having suddenly become aware of the inevitability of their own suffering and death, the two plunged from heaven into a hell of fear and sorrow.
The first of the two decided that the stream was not safe- he could no longer live there. He gathered scraps of stick, bark and plant and, fashioning a raft, climbed out of the stream. Soon others joined him. They felt safer now that they could anticipate falling rocks and avoid the larger fish in the stream.
Soon a large and painful longing came upon them- to return to the stream. However, over time they forgot the cause of their longing. In order to alleviate their suffering, they brought many things onto the raft with them: songs, stories, poems, dancing, crafts, cuisine, philosophy, work, economy, religion. In response to this painful longing, they fashioned a vast culture, a world where they could abate their longing for awhile. But whenever they rested from the creation of and living out this culture, the longing returned. Thus, they were compelled to resume, again and again, the burden/blessing of what they had made.
The second fish was much less industrious. She remained in the stream, remained in grief and pain and fear. She ate grief, swam pain and slept fear. She held and carried this painful reality as her life- her self. For a long time she suffered a lot. One day something wonderful happened. She didn't really know what it was or where it came from. She was swimming in the stream. She began to notice, again, as if for the first time, how cool and refreshing the stream was. She saw the rocks along the side of the stream- she was aware of their color and texture. She was aware of the larger fish and the smaller fish- how different from one another, how beautiful they all were! She saw the light of the sun shining deep into the stream, saw the vegetation that grew along the banks. How fresh and wondrous this stream was! She was deeply moved. In that moment, something turned inside her. A deep peace came upon her.
She recalled the fears that had haunted her. She knew that she too would die one day. But now it was clear to her that she would always be part of the life of the stream- how would it be possible for her to leave it?
Suddenly a shadow passed over head- it was the raft carrying the fish that had left the stream. Her heart filled with compassion. She decided she must try to communicate the great truth that she had discovered. But how she had suffered to realize that truth- that her true nature was not that of a fish, but of the stream! Would the others be willing to fully endure this suffering in order that they might be fully freed from it?