I've been contemplating how to use this blog aspect of our web site. Practicing in both the Christian and Buddhist traditions these past 20 year, my hope and intention is that Christianity and Buddhism should find a way to be together as sister and brother, helping, supporting, teaching and nourishing one another as they each seek to bring healing and well being to human culture. This is also Thich Nhat Hanh's vision as expressed in his books, "Living Buddha, Living Christ" and "Going Home, Jesus and the Buddha as Brothers", and in his encouragement to Westerners who have taken up a Buddhist practice to go back to their ancestral faith tradition and "find the jewels buried there" and to "find a way to help".
So I think, at least initially, I would like to use this space to share, reflect, and dialogue about these two beautiful spiritual traditions. For me, it is Christian/Buddhist because those are the two traditions I have spent my life studying and practicing in. But I hope people with connections to other spiritual traditions will feel free to offer from their experience.
In the Buddhist/Christian dialogue section of this web site I have already collected a dozen or so beautiful reflections from Christian and Buddhist writers/teachers, including Joan Chittister, Thich Nhat Hanh, Thomas Merton, Athony DeMello, and David Stendl-Rast. I humbly include some of my own reflections in this section.
I thought I would begin posting these reflections in our blog section. That way people can comment on the post, and hopefully a genuine, loving, mindful dialogue could emerge.
To begin the dialogue, I will share this brief story about the Catholic monk, David Stendl-Rast:
David Stendl-Rast, a Catholic monk, who had been studying and practicing Buddhist meditation on his own, wanted permission from his superiors to study with a Buddhist monk/teacher. The superiors invited the teacher to spend some time in the monastery and requested to interview him at the end of his stay.The teacher lived at the monastery for several days working, living and practicing with the Catholic monks. At the end of his stay the superiors interviewed the Buddhist teacher.
After the interview the superiors talked with Stendl-Rast. They said that the Buddhist teacher’s answers to their questions made no sense to them, but they could see by the way he lived that he was a deeply spiritual person. They gave permission for Stendl-Rast to study and practice with the Buddhist Teacher.
This story reminds me of the "Road to Emmaus" scripture in the Bible. After his death and resurrection, Jesus met some of his disciples on the road to Emmaus. The disciples at first did not recognize Jesus- he had experienced death and re-birth. In outward form and appearance, he was not the same.
Upon their arrival in Emmaus the disciples encouraged Jesus to have dinner with them. And it was here, "in the breaking of bread" "their eyes were opened" and they recognized Jesus as their beloved teacher who had just been crucified. In "living with" the risen Jesus they saw the true Christ, beyond external forms and appearances.
The external forms of our religious teachings and practices are relative, poetic means to help us open to the living reality of life in this moment. As it is expressed in the the Mindfulness trainings of Thich Nhat Hanh's Order of Interbeing (adapted):
"I am determined not to be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory or ideology... Buddhist (Christian, Jewish, etc) teachings are guiding means to help me learn to look deeply and to develop my understanding and compassion. They are not doctrines to fight, kill or die for.... Truth is found in life and I will observe life within and around me in every moment, ready to learn throughout my life."