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"living Buddha, Living Christ"

"Living Buddah, Living Christ"   4 members have voted

  1. 1. Are you interested in a chapter by chapter group reading if this Thich Naht Hanh classic?

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Yes, Joseph. I suppose that's the end result of the practice. Harder for some than others I suspect.

 

Steve

Edited by SteveS55
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CHAPTER FOUR: Living Buddah, Living Christ

 

This is a lengthier chapter, and title of the chapter is the title of the book so let's read carefully and be precise.

 

A reminder: this is a chapter by chapter discussion of this particular book and not a general discussion of meditation, Buddha or Jesus. Those are all excellent subjects for new topics but please try to stick to the book in this topic. Start a new topic if you are inspired to do so.

 

If the names Christ and Buddha are not both in your post, you are likely to be getting off topic as the comparison of these two people is TNH subject.

Edited by Burl
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Chapter 3

The First Supper

 

To Be Grateful

I have no problem with this. I am reminded of Meister Eckhart's If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.

But the agnostic in me can't help asking to what am I doing this thanking. A universe that is ultimately chaotic? To be thankful for an arrangement of "energy" that can be seen in a dualistically positive light? Well this little bit of interbeing is appreciative.

 

Looking Into Our Food

Again this food eating thing ... this is not making much sense to me. Either I am concentrating on the food or the dispossessed. Apparently I don't need to be in a monastery to practice this. But I asked do I need to practice it at all? Steve suggested earlier because it is difficult to practice he does not; which of course is fair enough.

 

Living in the Presence of God

The entire world, all the good things in life,belong to God. ...Well I can't help thinking this is a bit selective here. Interbeing; all is connected, I think "God" [whatever we might have in mind here] is also responsible here for what might be considered the crappy parts of life. Hahn in the same paragraph goes on to say ... Piety is the recognition that everything is linked to the presence of God in every moment.

 

The Bread We Eat is the Whole Cosmos

As a metaphor I get it. Indra's net says the same thing. pretty much.

I sure I have posted this camp video before ... but essentially science also points to the same thing. Except, like Laplace I have no apocryphal need of the God hypothesis.

 

The Body of Reality

Again talks of mindfulness ... I think it would be a mistake to censor meditation from the discussion, at least for those who find that aspect relevant to Hanh's writing.

 

Later he seem to skirt the subject of transubstantiation ... for which I am thankful.

 

Everything is Fresh and New

I found this was getting a little repetitive ... time to move on to the next chapter.

Edited by romansh
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TNH observations on the sacrament of the Lord's Supper center on TNH concept of mindfulness. Perhaps this is a linguistic issue, or perhaps a religious one, but I feel I understand mindfulness better after reading this chapter.

I had previously thought of mindfulness as a type of focus or concentration, but the sacrament of the Lord's Supper is more about releasing and removing attention from what is extraneous in order to isolate, ensconse and elevate the omnipresent divinity. It's not about making God more present, it is about minimizing everything else.

 

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” (Thich Nhat Hanh) We are always in the present moment, but we are not always aware of it. The present continues if we are aware of it or not, the difference is where is our attention on our pain or on worrying about what is to come.

 

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[c]? (Mathew 6:25:27) Jesus at the last supper didn't worry about the events to come, but gave thanks for the bread in the present moment. I feel he was an example of being mindful in the midst of a crisis. Jesus saw the the outer reality and the inner reality at the same time the big picture in the moment and not focused or attached to the part of it that causes pain.

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Ch. 4: His Life is His Teaching

 

TNH equates the recorded wisdom teachings of Jesus with Buddha.

 

What impresses me is TNH recognition of the critical importance of Jesus' title "Son of Man". Scripture uses the term "Son of God" for many, but the term "Son of Man" is exclusive to Christ. So many Christians miss this, but TNH recognizes it immediately.

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Maybe it’s just me, but this chapter seemed to be a bit fragmented. He talks about Dharmakaya, references Tillich’s “ground of being”, the mystical body of Christ and even devotion to the Virgin Mary. Any of these concepts are full of possibilities for endless discussion.

 

But, in the end, I think he does a pretty good job of separating the man, Siddharta Gautama from “Buddha” and the man, Jesus of Nazareth from “Christ”. Both honorifics are available to all of us in any of 84,000 ways, only awaiting the birth (or rebirth) of the “Buddha” within, “Christ consciousness”, or whatever you choose to call it.

 

Humans, being what we are, have frequently chosen to worship the particular manifestation and ignore the universal possibilities. Perhaps worship masks our spiritual envy at these two exceptional humans. But they, like us, come from the same “stuff”, embedded in the Logos if you like. We have all manifest as the same creative display of the “ground”, or zero dimensional fundament of reality. Since this idea is not necessarily warm and fuzzy, it seems necessary to make it so, and therefore create more idols for the Pantheon.

 

Christianity gets pretty hung up on “time”, beginnings and endings. Buddhism doesn’t suffer from this constraint. To me, one of Naht Hahn’s more profound statements is “We come from nowhere and have nowhere to go”. Indeed, we have arrived, but in some sense have always been. Only now, in this moment, we are aware. I agree with him; there is really nowhere to go.

 

Steve

Edited by SteveS55
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Steve,

I like your points on this chapter.

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Steve,

I like your points on this chapter.

Agreed. A topic on the nature of time would be welcome.
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Ch. 4: More Doors for Future Generations

 

TNH observes that both Christ and Buddha are doors to an immediately accessible God. He mentions that this view of an immediate access to the divine is supported by the gospel message, which is absolutely true.

 

Mention of heaven is rare in Scripture, but the term everlasting life (which certainly includes present existence) is common. Biblical imagery is not of souls going up to heaven but of heaven materializing on earth. TNH has a better grasp of Christianity than many Christians.

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Finishing Chapter four, I realized the reason TNH does so well at recognizing Christ within Buddha is that he tries his best to adopt a Christian viewpoint. He is not outside looking in, and he is not comparing theological constructs.

 

He has borrowed what he can from Christians he respects and has built himself a little hut in the Christian wilderness.

Edited by Burl
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Finishing Chapter four, I realized the reason TNH does so well at recognizing Christ within Buddha is that he tries his best to adopt a Christian viewpoint. He is not outside looking in, and he is not comparing theological constructs.

 

He has borrowed what he can from Christians he respects and has built himself a little hut in the Christian wilderness.

Or, perhaps he is recognizing Buddha within Christ rather than the other way around.

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Chapter 5: Communities of Practice

 

TNH observes churches are essential to the spiritual life, even for Buddhist and Christian monks. It is essential to gather with like-minded people. The spiritual life can't be lived by looking in a mirror.

 

Personally, my family is between churches right now and we are visiting many. It's interesting, but I do miss making friends. The internet is a lifeline, but really that's all it is.

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For where two or three are gathered together in my name --or "unto my name.". there am I in the midst of them --Sublime encouragement for union, For (Mathew 18:20)

 

When I first started meditating, group meditations were essential because it was easier to go beyond earth's gravity and experience a collective consciousness, but now after almost fifty years it doesn't matter because alone means all one (al-one). When we go to a party it takes about twenty minutes for a collective consciousness to form where everything flows beyond the ice-breakers. This is experienced at concerts, sports, comedy shows etc. When I first moved to Reno, I met with the Carmelite nuns who are cloistered, but had group meditations once a week. Their philosophy was that they were doing service as a cloistered group by raising the collective consciousness of the community. I relate the name as Christ Consciousness, which is beyond the stories and is an experience beyond the words similar to Buddhist states of consciousness.

 

Burl, I like your discrimination about choosing the right church because many are negative, political organizations. Advice given to me was If we are a positive 10 we will affect people in a positive way who are 10 or below, but if we visit a negative 15 they will affect us in a negative way. Mob rules and violence are executed in these collective situations. Many Christians have been damaged with an immature Christianity, which projects hatred and meanness in the name of Jesus where they would crucify Christ if they saw him. (A joke that is not funny)

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I agree generally Soma, but TNH is commenting not on group meditations but rather on the necessity of numerous common, everyday interactions with spiritually like-minded people.

 

I don't think TNH is focusing on church as group worship as much as he is church as group problem coordiation. I think TNH is specifically rejecting the idea that spiritual advancement can be achieved out of community.

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I guess their our different communities for different purposes, social interaction, service to humanity, contemplation or silent worship as the Trappist monks participate in.

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I think you are right, Soma. There are all kinds of "intentional communities", some formal and some not. It seems to me that Nhat Hahn is proposing an intentional community of social and environmental action coming from the practice of mindfulness. That practice would include group meditation, among other things. But, meditation does not have to be "formal", as in sitting on a mat for an hour or so. The challenge he presents is integrating the contemplative life with social involvement. Thomas Merton would probably be the Christian complement of what he is suggesting.

 

Steve

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Steve I agree. This move I am turned upside down, surfing the energy wave and going over the falls. Exhausted trying to get to the surface, out of air, but something always brings me back to the present moment so I can catch my breath. That moment seems to be what I desire more and more as the world turns in another rotation, and it only takes a moment to get the oxygen and energy to proceed, in an attentive state so I can enjoy a huge truck that is noisy or the physical exhaustion of lifting in high temperatures as the world turns. I like to sit in full lotus, but it is not necessary when you don't know if you are up or down moving, but going no where, it is only the mind that moves if I think of Reno, I am in Reno, think of Vegas and I am here, making reservations for Asia in October I am there in August, but more than mental activity I really enjoy the still, tranquility of the moment.

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You're a better man than I am, Soma. I can probably still get into the lotus position...I just can't get out of it. My meniscus won't cooperate! Asia sounds great...enjoy!

 

Steve

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When I was a monk we had to sit for 4 hours a day and the lotus is the most comfortable for the back. I had a hard time at first and it took gravity many years to get me into it because sports tightened my muscles and I had to relax them, but it doesn't matter when you are floating in the universe, up and down, cross or straight are the same. Asia is going to be a great retreat a jump into the unknown since it has changed so much.

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Chapter 6: A Peaceful Heart

 

A short chapter on the importance of inner and outer peace in Buddhism and Christianity. Not surprising but important.

 

I was in a very stressful period this week when I was surprised by a serendipitious, peacemaking email. I quickly put my worries on the back burner and moved back towards that peaceful heart. A good day.

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When I was a monk we had to sit for 4 hours a day and the lotus is the most comfortable for the back. I had a hard time at first and it took gravity many years to get me into it because sports tightened my muscles and I had to relax them, but it doesn't matter when you are floating in the universe, up and down, cross or straight are the same. Asia is going to be a great retreat a jump into the unknown since it has changed so much.

 

4 hours a day sitting down sounds like a lot. I'm surprised monks don't get Aummerhoids ;)
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We meditated 1 hour before breakfast, lunch and dinner and again at midnight so the four hours were in intervals. I never got them and never heard other monks complaining. When I could sit in full lotus it is very comfortable for the legs, anus and a straight back. The Ashram is a power house so mentally people are dealing with their mental garbage and unloading, but there is no external tension, which I think causes hemorrhoids.

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The importance of inner and outer peace in Buddhism and Christianity. Not surprising but important.

 

 

According to the Mayo clinic. The veins around your anus tend to stretch under pressure and may bulge or swell. Swollen veins (hemorrhoids) can develop from an increase in pressure in the lower rectum. Factors that might cause increased pressure include:

Straining during bowel movements

Sitting for long periods of time on the toilet

Chronic diarrhea or constipation

Obesity

Pregnancy

Anal intercourse

Low-fiber diet

Hemorrhoids are more likely as you get older because the tissues that support the veins in your rectum and anus can weaken and stretch with aging.

 

It seems hemorrhoids are caused by external or physical factors or pressure. Peace of mind is a state that seems to be where the negatives and positives are both accepted so if one had hemorrhoids and accepted them in peace, the pressure would subside; after all, dis-ease, disease is not at ease; therefore peace is healing.

 

Peace is always present, but at many times we are not, so like any desirable state of mind, it requires some focus, even if that effort entails consciously choosing to be still, meditating, watching the breath or going for a walk. Our situation affects our mind, but it doesn't control our mental state because we can make choices for our mental well being and health. To choose peace is not easy or the lazy way out because it can be tough at times like 4 hours of meditation,but I would rather meditate for four hours than go through worry and stress as a way of life. The outcome for meditating and worrying is quite different, but everyone must find their unique way as meditation is not for everyone. There are many things we can do to create peace of mind I think Buddha and Christ were trying to bring this experience into our lives, to be proactive where peace inside brings peace outside. I needed 4 hours when I was young, energetic and wild, but now I can get by with just mini meditations or focus here and there. This move with deadlines, high temperatures, signings, picking up trucks, drop off deadlines and having a house empty and clean on time was worst than any 4 hour meditation, but with mini meditations I made it with a smirk on my face. All paths lead to unity where opposites are at peace residing within and outside us, and it doesn't matter what route because peace is everywhere in wholeness.

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There's an old hotel down the way from where I live near a marina. When I was young the dance bar there was known as a "pick-up" place. Convenient since you didn't have to go far for a room! They used to advertise their rates on a billboard outside. But, for the last few weeks they posted the following: "There is no path to peace. Peace IS the path". Pretty profound for a place like that!

 

Steve

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I am not sure how we got on to the topic ... I will have to back and read the new posts. But:

 

When we look into the heart of hemorrhoids, we see clouds, sunshine, minerals, time, the earth, and everything else in the cosmos in it…

 

There are ho hemorrhoidal parts ...

Said partly in jest.

 

I was away on business and I have been unfaithful. Started reading The Domesticated Brain by Bruce Hood. Basically describes the more [possible] proximate causes of flowering of humanity.

 

I am beginning to find Hahn tough going. I found the chapter four starting to be repetitive, but I will create a bit of time to give my initial comments.

Edited by romansh
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