Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

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  • doogie
    Member
    • Feb 2008
    • 77

    Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

    NOTE FROM JUNDO: THESE POSTS WERE SPLIT FROM ANOTHER THREAD

    "Gustav Ericsson is a very nice chap, and also an ordained Christian priest in the Church of Sweden."

    I find it interesting that a Christian Priest would receive dharma transmission. I've heard of this before, and it may have been discussed elsewhere in the forum, but I wasn't able to find anything.

    It brings up many questions that are difficult for me to formulate. I suppose in the spirit of non-duality it makes perfect sense. Or non-sense. But in the practical world of distinctions how can one be a master of two seemingly opposed religious viewpoints? One that seeks to end suffering by ending delusion, and one that seeks to end suffering by inculcating delusion.

    I realize the second half of that last sentence might seem offensive to some, but it wasn't meant to be.

    Does the fact that one can be a Christian priest (with all the dogma that entails) relegate Soto Zen Buddhism to little more than a system of techniques rather than a religion? Do the precepts simply become a subordinate adjunctive philosophy? Can one vow with one breath to save all sentient beings, and with another breath promise everlasting life only to those who take refuge in a specific god or trinity of gods?

    Has Nishijima Roshi ever written anything on this topic?

    Out of pure curiosity (and I'm sure there's no way to know this anymore than I can know how someone else experiences Hot or Cold), but I wonder if holding Christian beliefs (or any other religious beliefs) while sitting zazen inhibit or give a very different flavor to a satori-type experience than a Buddhist might have.

    Another question also comes to mind on the topic of dharma transmission. Do you, Jundo, feel a sense of responsibility for passing along Nishijima's tradition as it was passed to you, and do you worry that others might be altering the tradition, and in effect changing the message? Put another another way, do you expect your future dharma heirs to pass along the tradition that you received from Nishijima Roshi as you received it?

    Gassho,

    David
    'Judge a man not by his answers, but by his questions.' Voltaire
  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39474

    #2
    Re: dharma transmission from Nishijima roshi

    Hi David,

    Some big questions! Well, first, I will also ask our very wise Fr. Kyrillos to join in with some observations, as he is walking that walk. Fr. James too, if he sees this.

    I usually sum up our practice as, at heart, sitting with (and as) "what is" ... just as it is ... whatever it is, pushing nothing away. So, I sometimes write ...


    Here is my simplistic view:

    If there is a "God" ... whether in the Judeo-Christian way or some other, whether named "Allah" "Jehovah" "Thor" "Brahma" or "Stanley" ... I will fetch water and chop wood, seeking to live in a gentle way.

    If there is no "God" "Allah" or "Stanley", or any source or creator or point to the universe at all, I will fetch water and chop wood, seeking to live in a gentle way.

    If there is a "God" or "Power" or "Spirit" who has kindly given us life, I will honor that fact by living that life fully and seeking to be a human being who does little harm to others of his/her/its/whatever's creatures and creations.

    And if there is no such "God" or "Power" or "Spirit", I will still live this life fully and seek to do little harm.

    I think that, in our Zen Practice, we do taste a truth that some people may call "God" or "That" or "Thou" or "Buddha" or some such name. It is the sensation that there is some intimate connection to this universe, some profound basis to our being born, some deep beauty behind it all. In fact, we experience that this Reality, and all creatures, are just who we are ... that we are just That.

    But my attitude remains much like a newborn infant lying in a crib, not understanding anything beyond the fact that shadows are passing before its eyes. The world contains many mysteries that the infant cannot fathom. Yet somehow we were allowed the wonder of life, and something in this world provides the sun and air and nutriment and drink we need to survive. Here we are, and some wonderful cause(s) let us be so!

    If it is just the world, mechanical and unthinking, I express my gratitude to that.

    If it is a "god" or "power" or "consciousness" or something else far beyond our understanding, I express my gratitude to that.

    If someone is a Christian or Muslim or Jew and open to Buddhism, I see no reason that they cannot combine the two smoothly. (It depends on how flexible they are in their own minds about combining the perspectives.) But, you can practice Zen if you are a baseball fan, you can practice Zen if you are a football fan, you can practice if you believe in god, you can practice if you don't, you can practice if one fundamentally drops the whole need for the question.
    In all cases we sit with (and as) what is ... and should not be so quick to think that others' views are not what is. I also write ...

    The Buddha did not even say that he was the only Buddha, and many Sutra and such imply that there are countless Buddhas ... more than all the grains of sand of all the seas anywhere among the stars. Personally, I do not think that "my way" is the only way ... and different people might cross this mountain on many good paths (anyway, WHAT MOUNTAIN?) Certainly, all paths just go where they go, and we always are just where we are (however, though there is no place to "get to" ... some "ways" lead in circles, off a cliff or into the poison ivy.)
    I would not even be so quick to assume that the other fellow's path is wrong for her, or that one might not walk several paths at once on this wondrous non-mountain.

    I might also point to some of the threads in the "Tackles the BIG Questions" series, which touch on such BIG questions.

    viewforum.php?f=24

    Originally posted by doogie
    Another question also comes to mind on the topic of dharma transmission. Do you, Jundo, feel a sense of responsibility for passing along Nishijima's tradition as it was passed to you, and do you worry that others might be altering the tradition, and in effect changing the message? Put another another way, do you expect your future dharma heirs to pass along the tradition that you received from Nishijima Roshi as you received it?
    I most certainly feel that I am practicing in Nishijima Roshi's way, and certainly in keeping with the "Homeless Kodo" Sawaki-Uchiyama Roshi corner of Soto Zen we fall in, and certainly within Soto Zen, Zen, Buddhism ... etc., and I feel a love and loyalty in doing so.

    At the same time, there is something quite close about our Practice to the Practice of learning to be, for example, a classical pianist in a conservatory (I actually have a couple of those in my family). I may play the same black and white keys, and the same 'Bach and Beethoven' as my teacher ... but everyone phrases the music in their way of expression. Same tune, same instrument. Otherwise, Buddhism would have changed not a drop over the centuries (which it did, even though the heart is unchanged) (Dogen called the relationship of teacher and student "entwined vines").

    I am a guy who grew up in the 70's in America, Nishijima Roshi and Sawaki Roshi in 1930's Japan ... (and, of course, Dogen in the 13th century, and Buddha 2500 years ago in Ancient India) ... so same music, but different ears and voices. However, the Heart of the Buddha's teachings ... the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, Non-Self, Non-Attachment, the Middle Way, etc. etc., ... All are here now as much as there then!! What's more, we are a pretty typical and mainstream Sangha in the content and style of Soto Practice being taught around Treeleaf, especially as it is found in the West these days. And not to mention too: When there is sitting a moment of Zazen ... perfectly whole, just complete unto itself, without borders and duration, not long or short, nothing to add or take away, containing all moments and no moments in "this one moment" ... piercing Dukkha, attaining non-self, non-attached ... then there is not the slightest gap between each of us and the Buddha.

    I hope that someday you learn to play a heck of a piano in your style. In the meantime, keep practicing your scales.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    Comment

    • Jundo
      Treeleaf Founder and Priest
      • Apr 2006
      • 39474

      #3
      Re: dharma transmission from Nishijima roshi

      Originally posted by chugai
      What about the accepting Christ as one's personal savior?

      Seems to me that atman and anatman are different coins altogether.Then there's sunyata --
      ... although sunyata (emptiness) makes things all there/not different, yet not .... much as Chugai is there, and is all things, yet not ...

      This dichotomy of atman (abiding self-hood) and anatman (no abiding self-hood) was never quite as clear in Buddhist history as one might think. Some feel that it crept back into Buddhism in the Mahayana with visions of, for example, the "all pervading, timeless, true and ultimate" Dharmakaya body of Buddha ...

      http://buddhism.about.com/od/buddhismgl ... makaya.htm

      The result was something darn close to a "Cosmic One Spirit" ... yet in a system also allowing for impermanence and "no independent selfness" too.

      (and before anyone objects that is was something that crept into and polluted "real Zen" ... such is not the case. Dogen and all the rest of them were into it very much).

      Quiet often Gautama, the historical Buddha (who, says the Mahayana, was the Nirmanakaya to Dharmakaya http://buddhism.about.com/od/buddhismgl ... nakaya.htm ) just refused to answer all such 'BIG' questions as irrelevant. His method was to afford us escape and end suffering, and taking a stand on some things was a side issue (assuming that even he knew for sure):

      Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta - The Shorter Instructions to Malunkya

      Ven. Malunkyaputta arose from seclusion and went to the Blessed One. On arrival, having bowed down, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One, "Lord, just now, as I was alone in seclusion, this train of thought arose in my awareness: 'These positions that are undeclared, set aside, discarded by the Blessed One... I don't approve, I don't accept that the Blessed One has not declared them to me. I'll go ask the Blessed One about this matter. If he declares to me that 'The cosmos is eternal,' that 'The cosmos is not eternal,' that 'The cosmos is finite,' that 'The cosmos is infinite,' that 'The soul & the body are the same,' that 'The soul is one thing and the body another,' that 'After death a Tathagata exists,' that 'After death a Tathagata does not exist,' that 'After death a Tathagata both exists & does not exist,' or that 'After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist,' then I will live the holy life under him. then I will live the holy life under him. If he does not declare to me that "The cosmos is eternal,"... etc. or that "After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist," then I will renounce the training and return to the lower life.'

      [The Buddha answered]:

      "Malunkyaputta, did I ever say to you, 'Come, Malunkyaputta, live the holy life under me, and I will declare to you that "The cosmos is eternal,"... etc. or that "After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist,"

      "No, lord."

      "It's just as if a man were wounded with an arrow thickly smeared with poison. His friends & companions, kinsmen & relatives would provide him with a surgeon, and the man would say, 'I won't have this arrow removed until I know whether the man who wounded me was a noble warrior, a priest, a merchant, or a worker.' He would say, 'I won't have this arrow removed until I know the given name & clan name of the man who wounded me... until I know whether he was tall, medium, or short... until I know whether he was dark, ruddy-brown, or golden-colored... until I know his home village, town, or city... until I know whether the bow with which I was wounded was a long bow or a crossbow... until I know whether the bowstring with which I was wounded was fiber, bamboo threads, sinew, hemp, or bark... until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was wild or cultivated... until I know whether the feathers of the shaft with which I was wounded were those of a vulture, a stork, a hawk, a peacock, or another bird... until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was bound with the sinew of an ox, a water buffalo, a langur, or a monkey.' He would say, 'I won't have this arrow removed until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was that of a common arrow, a curved arrow, a barbed, a calf-toothed, or an oleander arrow.' The man would die and those things would still remain unknown to him.

      "In the same way, if anyone were to say, 'I won't live the holy life under the Blessed One as long as he does not declare to me that 'The cosmos is eternal,'... or that 'After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist,' the man would die and those things would still remain undeclared by the Tathagata.

      "So, Malunkyaputta, remember what is undeclared by me as undeclared, and what is declared by me as declared. And what is undeclared by me? 'The cosmos is eternal,' is undeclared by me. 'The cosmos is not eternal,' is undeclared by me. 'The cosmos is finite'... 'The cosmos is infinite'... 'The soul & the body are the same'... 'The soul is one thing and the body another'... 'After death a Tathagata exists'... 'After death a Tathagata does not exist'... 'After death a Tathagata both exists & does not exist'... 'After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist,' is undeclared by me.

      "And why are they undeclared by me? Because they are not connected with the goal, are not fundamental to the holy life. They do not lead to [non-attachment], dispassion, cessation, calming, direct knowledge, self-awakening, Unbinding. That's why they are undeclared by me.
      Also, if one were to visit a typical Zen temple in Japan, Korea or China, one might be surprised how "religious", worshipful and even "deifying" (although not literally calling Buddhas as "gods") ceremonies and doctrine can be ... closer to what might be seen in a Catholic Church in the West than you might imagine. Western Zen Buddhism (with the exception of some Sangha, such as perhaps the OBC/Shasta Abbey) has, in fact, stripped a lot of the "worship" and "churchiness" out of Zen that is found in Asia.

      Gassho, Jundo
      ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

      Comment

      • Hans
        Member
        • Mar 2007
        • 1853

        #4
        Re: dharma transmission from Nishijima roshi

        Hello,

        just a suggestion. Might we move the last part of this thread to a new individual thread? This might make it easier for future forum readers to find the topic.

        Allow me to add at this point, that when using words like "God", "Chrstianity" etc., there are so many individual interpretations, that it is of absolute importance to clearly define these terms.

        It's slightly tedious, I know, but otherwise we'll end up with dozens of comments slightly talking past one another (and I for one have wasted hours and hours in such phantom discussions).

        An impersonal yet all encompassing principle is different from a personal entity with likes and dislikes who cares about which kind of meat to eat, days of the week etc.

        Also let's please remember that sometimes there is no right and wrong to be found. I have observed a slight tendency for mystically minded people to sometimes cultivate a kind of well meaning arrogance that sees their mystical approach as the valid one, a position that automatically (though not explicitly or voluntarily) paints the average practitioner as a non-enlightened sheep (excuse my slight exaggeration here).

        A lot of terms that used to have a distinct kind of meaning are being opened up to include just about any personal interpretation, making a true discussion of many topics almost impossible. Precision of meaning is being sacrificed on the altar of "let's respect each ther's views" very often in this postmodern day and age IMHO.

        I love the diversity of mystical traditions and am a great admirer of Rumi, Teresa of Avila and a few others, but if you eat meat, you are not a vegetarian in my book.
        Can you eat meat, be happy and call yourself a vegetarian without that being anybody's issue but yours? Sure. But the more people are doing that, the more the term "vegetarian" will lose its power of definition and original meaning.

        Gassho,

        Hans

        P.S. Please keep in mind that I am only at the beginning of my training as a priest. I am sure throughout the process of receiving further instruction and hopefully gaining more experience in life in general, my views are bound to undergo a process of clarification.

        Comment

        • doogie
          Member
          • Feb 2008
          • 77

          #5
          Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

          Jundo,

          Thank you for your response. I think I understand your point about chopping wood and fetching water with regard to what might or might not be "out there," "in here," "over there." There's no way to know one way or another, so just sit. That's the practice. But I would think that somebody who takes a vow as a catholic priest or church of Sweden priest must hold tightly to the fundamental doctrine of those churches.

          If one does NOT believe in Jesus Christ as the resurrected only-begotten son of God, in heaven and hell, Satan, and various other things the Catholic church holds to be absolute inviolate truths, then taking a vow as an officer of that church--as a teacher of those truths--would be spiritual fraud.

          If the priest DOES *believe* in those inviolate truths--holds them firmly in his heart--then can he ever get past a certain point in his progress as a Soto Zen Buddhist? Can he (generic he, no one in particular) ever truly experience the universe as it is if he clings to any idea, let alone a rigidly dualistic doctrine. Or does it simply not matter what you believe in this practice?

          Is it fine for me to walk around during the day believing that an alien overlord spirit named Bob secretly runs the universe from his bachelor pad in Betelgeuse as long as I practice my shikantaza at night? I suppose that by practicing, that particular delusion (I don't really believe in Bob--everyone knows Steve runs things now) might fall away eventually, but perhaps not.

          I was just struck by the notion that one can be a an ordained Bobbist on the one hand, and a zen master/Buddhist teacher/lineage holder/non-dualist cushion warrior on the other.

          ****And I hope no one thinks that I'm putting down Christianity (or Bobbism for that matter.) That's certainly not my intent. I can see that in certain circumstances one can be both a wonderful Buddhist and a wonderful Christian at the same time, but both world views have to be plastic enough to meld with each other. Orthodoxy, however, doesn't allow for plasticity.
          'Judge a man not by his answers, but by his questions.' Voltaire

          Comment

          • Saijun
            Member
            • Jul 2010
            • 667

            #6
            Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

            Hello all,

            There are conservative and liberal takes on just about everything in life; perhaps plasticity in the belief system is secondary to plasticity in the practitioner's mind?

            When I broke away from the Church, I was very very "fundamentalist" Buddhist. I could not, would not, entertain the notion that there could be more than one path. However, as I've (hopefully) matured in my practice, I can gradually see that Buddhism is so much more than an orthodox religion. Surely there are people that take it as such, but you don't have to. Gradually, the Dharma is more and more revealing itself to me as the chair that I sit on, the monitor I read the forums on, the dishes that need doing. Everyday life.

            I know Christians and Sufis that would say, have said, much the same thing. Not just a "big old man looking down from Heaven," but the interactions between people. The opening of the heart, becoming as Christ was (it sounds very much like the Bodhisattva path, as I understand it).

            Of course I don't understand everything I should, and maybe this "kinship" is all in my head, but I truly think that there is nothing that could exclude practicing both the Buddha-Dharma and the Christ-Dharma.

            (And, as an aside, I have a sneaking suspicion that Christianity isn't nearly as dualistic as it seems.)

            Just my thoughts.

            Much Metta to all,

            Perry
            To give up yourself without regret is the greatest charity. --RBB

            Comment

            • doogie
              Member
              • Feb 2008
              • 77

              #7
              Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

              You'd really have to pick and choose the particular Christ-Dharma that fits with the Christ-the-Bodhisattva model. It can be argued that Rabbi Jesus was every bit the religious zealot as those who wrote down his story long after his death. Much of Christ-as-enlightened-master version of the man is a backward projection and reformulation of the truth. I doubt Jesus was any more of a perfected being than Gautama. That said, the Buddha probably gets in the way of realization (enlightenment, whatever) more than Christ.
              'Judge a man not by his answers, but by his questions.' Voltaire

              Comment

              • Saijun
                Member
                • Jul 2010
                • 667

                #8
                Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

                Originally posted by doogie
                You'd really have to pick and choose the particular Christ-Dharma that fits with the Christ-the-Bodhisattva model. It can be argued that Rabbi Jesus was every bit the religious zealot as those who wrote down his story long after his death. Much of Christ-as-enlightened-master version of the man is a backward projection and reformulation of the truth. I doubt Jesus was any more of a perfected being than Gautama. That said, the Buddha probably gets in the way of realization (enlightenment, whatever) more than Christ.
                Hello doogie,

                Could not a "backward projection and reformulation of the truth" simply be observing something in hindsight? I know that my parents were terrible strict dictators when I was a child, but the older I get, the more I understand what they were trying to do at the time. I'm sure that you're correct that over time the truth has been reformulated, but could this be simply another interpretation?

                As to "Christ-the-Bodhisattva," I (not being a Christian, nor equipped with an encyclopedic knowledge of the Bible), think that you can see the underlying desire to help people, to show a better (for lack of a better word) way to live, even in his angry moments. Belief in a soul or not, belief in a God or not, don't you think that it could be said that anyone who encourages generosity, self-control, and forgiveness is a Bodhisattva?

                I don't think that one even needs to be aware of being a Bodhisattva to be a Bodhisattva, but that's just me and my limited, deluded thinking.

                Thanks for listening to the ramble,

                Perry
                To give up yourself without regret is the greatest charity. --RBB

                Comment

                • JohnsonCM
                  Member
                  • Jan 2010
                  • 549

                  #9
                  Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

                  Some big questions and big words here!

                  The first thing that I would like to say is that it is important that we remember that one can experience Christ, or Allah, or Vishnu, or Buddha in different ways, but always with the heart. The problem that seems to be in dispute here isn't so much the Way of Buddhism vice the Way of Christianity but rather dogma. In another thread, Jundo explains that the suttras were all written well after the Buddha's death, so the faithfulness of each written word might not match up with each spoken word from Buddha's mouth. Just so with Christianity. All the dogma that is now part of the Christian faith was resolved in a counsel, called the cousel of Nicea (where Christians get the Nicean Creed) and it was there that Emperor Constantine of Rome and the presiding cardinals of the time first codified the writings of the bible and addmitted the books considered to be cannonical and threw out the rest. That was done by Man. If you have a moment, look into the Dead Sea scrolls, more commonly known as the Gnostic Bible. These were purportedly written by Jesus and his disciples and in them you'll find a decidedly different view on things than that addopted by the modern Catholic Church. Also remember that most historians of the time and continuing up until the Enlightenment were of two classes, royalty (who derived their power from divine providence and so had an interest in proliferating the faith) and the priestly class. History, along with policy and proceedure, is written by the victors.

                  So, what all that means to me is this. I think one can be a Buddhist and a Christian with no problems. I think that if one really delves into the history of the religion of the Christ, you might find that his teachings more closely approximated those of Buddha than you'd think. The rest is man made, and subject to the failings of man.
                  Gassho,
                  "Heitetsu"
                  Christopher
                  Sat today

                  Comment

                  • doogie
                    Member
                    • Feb 2008
                    • 77

                    #10
                    Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

                    Perry,

                    We cannot observe Christ in hindsight. To do so is a mental projection. A delusion. All we can do is read what was written about him and interpret those recorded events for ourselves. However, the events you're reading about--the King James bible for instance--is already a product of multiple interpretations/biases/agendas. Only certain events were recorded, many of which have been altered over time, and then of course there's always the problem of translation.

                    The particular flavor of Christ in your head might not even come close to the actual man, or even to anyone's else's notion of what Christ is. That makes Christ-the-Bodhisattva more of an abstract idea. And there's nothing wrong with that. As long as one sees it for what it is.

                    In reality, Jesus may have been a terribly intolerant person. I'm not saying he was. Fact is, know one knows. Looking at various religious leaders today though, it's not a huge leap to say that he may have held some prejudices. Certainly he wasn't too fond of money lenders anyway. The Dalai Llama has his peculiar views on homosexuality, and Nishijima Roshi and other zen teachers have (had) their own biases against various ethnic groups.

                    Romanticizing a man, any man, and putting him up on an impossibly high pedestal is much like romanticizing zen and attaching things to it that aren't helpful for someone on that path. Getting back to the problem of translation, I've just downloaded a really interesting paper on how Zen in the Art of Archery did that for many people, even me when I was a child. It presented zen as something it is not.

                    One could say that it's just a matter of of interpretation whether the book does or does not present the truth of zen, but when we look at the facts, the author's master archery teacher wasn't even a zen practitioner, he didn't speak English, and his Japanese most likely wasn't relayed correctly. The zen in German philosopher Eugen Herrigel's mind was a product of his own making. And then the whole story was further translated from German into English, thereby going through somebody else's mind who may have "corrected" or otherwise altered the work.

                    Calling Jesus a Boddhisattva, or Gautama a Buddha seems rather useless to me. If you don't believe in the miracles, then the only thing separating you from Christ is action. The only thing separating you from Buddha is realization that you are Buddha. If one doesn't believe in his heart of hearts that Jesus was the Messiah--something other or outside come to save you--then calling oneself a Christian is no different than calling oneself a Ghandian or any other venerable -ian.

                    I am Christ. I am Buddha. I am Jundo. I am Perry. To seek to be them, or to worship them, or to attain what *they* attained, is to believe that they are other than me. Separate from me.

                    The word "Christian" has a meaning to most Christians, and though you might change the meaning of the word to describe yourself (Not you, Perry), it wouldn't mean the same thing that it does to most other Christians. And words are useless if they don't communicate meaning (the correct meaning) to others. That's their whole purpose, right? I want to tell you what I believe, so I call myself a Christian, and from that you can unpack all the baggage that the word entails and know generally what I believe. Same with Soto Zen Buddhist or Rinzai Zen Buddhist, no?

                    I grew up LDS, and I've met lots of Christians, but I've never met anyone who identified themselves as Christian who didn't believe that Jesus was the one true son of God, the only way to salvation, and that he and/or God (it gets fuzzy there) are going to judge each of us as worthy or unworthy of a seat at God's table. In a sense, it's almost anti-Buddhist. It's company line that a Christian priest is expected to toe and teach others. So we're not just talking about an average Joe who holds a vague notion of a Christlike it's-all-good-man Bodhisattva, but rather a representative and proponent of a dualistic orthodoxy.

                    Sorry for yet another long post. The things I'll do avoid writing what I'm supposed to be writing.
                    'Judge a man not by his answers, but by his questions.' Voltaire

                    Comment

                    • Saijun
                      Member
                      • Jul 2010
                      • 667

                      #11
                      Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

                      Originally posted by doogie

                      ...The particular flavor of Christ in your head might not even come close to the actual man, or even to anyone's else's notion of what Christ is. That makes Christ-the-Bodhisattva more of an abstract idea. And there's nothing wrong with that. As long as one sees it for what it is.
                      I think that this, and the whole of your post, is a fair criticism. Siddhartha Gotoma must have been different from the Lord Buddha we remember. I'm sure Jesus of Nazereth was just as human as either of us. However, that abstract idea can, if held lightly, used mindfully, become an ideal--something to remind us of what we're trying to do. Like the Buddha image on an altar, no? And if we hold both Buddha and Christ as an ideal, something to be used skillfully to tread the path, how are they different?

                      I think that you may be coming at this from a slightly more devotionally minded angle, and I from a more practical (as in practice oriented, not more useful) angle. And I completely agree with the points you've made regarding devotion, and dualism in that paradigm.

                      Originally posted by doogie
                      Calling Jesus a Boddhisattva, or Gautama a Buddha seems rather useless to me. If you don't believe in the miracles, then the only thing separating you from Christ is action. The only thing separating you from Buddha is realization that you are Buddha. If one doesn't believe in his heart of hearts that Jesus was the Messiah--something other or outside come to save you--then calling oneself a Christian is no different than calling oneself a Ghandian or any other venerable -ian.
                      I fully and completely agree that the only thing separating us from the from Buddha or Jesus is action. That's why I'm here, trying to learn. However, I've always (heretically) viewed Christ as a perfected human. He was the son of God in the sense that he completely embodied what he saw as the nature of God; his entire life was a finger pointing at the moon for the people of Judea. This is just my own personal interpretation, and I know that it's completely unacceptable in the orthodoxy.

                      Originally posted by doogie
                      I am Christ. I am Buddha. I am Jundo. I am Perry. To seek to be them, or to worship them, or to attain what *they* attained, is to believe that they are other than me. Separate from me.
                      Still, there is work to be done, at least for me, before I can actualize the way. Holding the two as examples of compassion and wisdom, each doing what they could to ease suffering. Ghandi, Mother Theresa, Rumi, all fine examples. Even if they have been deified to one degree or another.

                      I'm a simple, deluded, struggling human being. For now, I need my ideals to act as a beacon when I wander off the path. Perhaps someday I'll be able to "burn the sutras" and "kill the Buddha," but for now they are useful tools, not to be abandoned too early.

                      Originally posted by doogie
                      Sorry for yet another long post. The things I'll do avoid writing what I'm supposed to be writing.
                      You know, I just heard the *exact* same words from my father on the telephone :lol:

                      In any case, I think that we're on the same page, just talking a little past each other. Isn't that how it always happens?

                      Metta,

                      Perry
                      To give up yourself without regret is the greatest charity. --RBB

                      Comment

                      • Onshin
                        Member
                        • Jul 2010
                        • 462

                        #12
                        Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

                        Hi
                        Years ago I remember watching a documentary where the inhabitants of a town in Java ( I think) were building a new temple. All the religions pooled thier resources so this temple was divided into three, Taoist, Buddhist and Hindu with televisions in each so you could keep up with ceremonies going on at the same time. In China they have no problem in following Taoist philosphy, Confusionism and Buddhism at the same time. It seems that this idea that you have to believe in one thing to the exclusion of all else is purely in the Judeo-Christian world, and not just within those two religions.

                        Gassho

                        Joe
                        "This traceless enlightenment continues endlessly" (Dogen Zenji)

                        Comment

                        • doogie
                          Member
                          • Feb 2008
                          • 77

                          #13
                          Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

                          I think we are on the same page. Couldn't be otherwise.

                          I'd just like to add that, like you, I do think Jesus was a perfected man. He should be. We've had nearly two thousand years to perfect him.

                          ;-)

                          David/Doogie
                          'Judge a man not by his answers, but by his questions.' Voltaire

                          Comment

                          • Taigu
                            Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest
                            • Aug 2008
                            • 2710

                            #14
                            Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

                            I don't accept the Christ I met as a child, or through the church. Nowadays, I don't want to hear about Christ. But I am sure He doesn t mind. If he does, I am sorry for Him. I feel so good with my brothers Christian, Muslim, Jew...I don't mind what they believe or not. I deeply feel and experience the connection beyond our apparent differences.
                            Just do your thing, do it with all you heart and that's it.

                            gassho


                            Taigu

                            Comment

                            • Hans
                              Member
                              • Mar 2007
                              • 1853

                              #15
                              Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

                              Hello everyone,

                              may I recommend a wonderful book (I read it in German so I don't know what the English translation is like) written by the famous Egyptologist and religious scholar Jan Assmann: "The Price of Monotheism".

                              http://www.amazon.com/Price-Monotheism- ... t_ep_dpt_1

                              There are very distinct differences between religions, not only in terms of general doctrine, but in their relation to notions of ultimate truth. Assmann shows what a massive game changer the advent of middle-easter monotheism was in terms of establishing notions of "ultimate truths". It is a whole lot easier for most average polytheists to accept other people's practise than it was traditionally the other way around. All animosity aside, Buddhism and Shinto have many currents where their practise overlaps, but it is still possible to distinguish them from one another very clearly.

                              Maybe I might suggest that we should also keep in mind the fact that neither Christianity's nor Buddhism's doctrines are free of contradictions.

                              As a rookie novice priest, I find that these question are not just academic gymnastics, but do open up a whole load of other questions all having to do with the future of Zen in the West.

                              Thank you for all your contributions that make me re-evaluate my own position time and again.

                              Gassho,

                              Hans

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