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Christianity And Buddhism


earl
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The past 10 years in publishing seems to have featured a plethora of efforts at Christian-Buddhist dialogue and/or combined practice. As for me, the blending is really quite simple (or I keep it that way :) ). If 1 of the biggest parts to Christian spiritual practice mystical or otherwise is to overcome enslavement to the "passions," to use the early Christian terminology and keeping yourself open to the workings of God in your being and life, then practices from any religion which serve that purpose are certainly complementary in my book. buddhism with its emphasis on methods of overcoming the 3 "poisons" of clinging, aversion, and ignorance, (believing we're something we're not and thereby freezing our "selves" into dysfunctional knots) seems to fit that bill. Its ultimate aim to dismantle all false views of self and life would seem to be a heck of an apophatic approach! So whatcha think? Have a good one, Earl

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Hello, Earl :)

 

As you surely know, this is a topic that resonates with me as well. I was not raised in any faith and came to Buddhism in my early twenties.

 

So, my background is mainly Buddhist, and my spiritual introduction to Christianity is fairly recent. I suppose it has much to do with my lack of Christian background, but I have found that much of the baggage many struggle with is simply absent.

 

I have had brief brushes with various Christian teachings in the past, but nothing seemed to have a voice for me back then. However, when I walked into a church two Christmases ago and began really listening to the gospel (as opposed to endless reinterpretations of the gospel), the sense that this was something with which I was already intimately familiar was overwhelming. I couldn't pretend that this teaching of Christ was not dharma. It all seemed so clearly metaphorical for that journey to no-self, no separation. I fell in love with the words and the life and the example of Christ.

 

So here I am... I practice two traditions. I feel both of them inspire and inform my spiritual life in important ways.

 

It's always been odd for me to see that so many folks can be harshly critical of such a blended practice. There's not an ounce of conflict within me anywhere.

 

I do love the works of the early desert fathers; some of their writings are deeply reminiscent of the words of zen masters:

 

"One day, some elders came to see Abba Antony.  Among them was Abba Joseph.  Wanting to test them, Abba Antony suggested a text from the scriptures.  Beginning with th eyoungest, he asked them what it meant.  Each gave an opinion, as he was able.  But to each one the old man said: "You have not understood it."  Last of all, he said to Abba Joseph:  "How would you explain this saying?"  Joseph replied: "I do not know."  Then Abba Antony said: "Indeed, Abba Joseph has found the way.  For he has said, 'I do not know.'"

 

Abba Alonius said: "If I had not destroyed myself completely, I would not have been able to rebuild and reshape myself again."

 

A brother came to Scetis to visit Abba Moses and asked him for a word.  The old man said to him: "Go, sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything."

 

- excerpted from In the Heart of the Desert, John Chryssavgis

Edited by Lolly
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Hello, Earl :)

 

As you surely know, this is a topic that resonates with me as well.  I was not raised in any faith and came to Buddhism in my early twenties. 

 

So, my background is mainly Buddhist, and my spiritual introduction to Christianity is fairly recent.  I suppose it has much to do with my lack of Christian background, but I have found that much of the baggage many struggle with is simply absent. 

 

I have had brief brushes with various Christian teachings in the past, but nothing seemed to have a voice for me back then.  However, when I walked into a church two Christmases ago and began really listening to the gospel (as opposed to endless reinterpretations of the gospel), the sense that this was something with which I was already intimately familiar was overwhelming.  I couldn't pretend that this teaching of Christ was not dharma.  It all seemed so clearly metaphorical for that journey to no-self, no separation.  I fell in love with the words and the life and the example of Christ.

 

So here I am... I practice two traditions.  I feel both of them inspire and inform my spiritual life in important ways. 

 

It's always been odd for me to see that so many folks can be harshly critical of such a blended practice.  There's not an ounce of conflict within me anywhere.

 

I do love the works of the early desert fathers; some of their writings are deeply reminiscent of the words of zen masters:

 

"One day, some elders came to see Abba Antony.  Among them was Abba Joseph.  Wanting to test them, Abba Antony suggested a text from the scriptures.  Beginning with th eyoungest, he asked them what it meant.  Each gave an opinion, as he was able.  But to each one the old man said: "You have not understood it."  Last of all, he said to Abba Joseph:  "How would you explain this saying?"  Joseph replied: "I do not know."  Then Abba Antony said: "Indeed, Abba Joseph has found the way.  For he has said, 'I do not know.'"

 

Abba Alonius said: "If I had not destroyed myself completely, I would not have been able to rebuild and reshape myself again."

 

A brother came to Scetis to visit Abba Moses and asked him for a word.  The old man said to him: "Go, sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything."

 

- excerpted from In the Heart of the Desert, John Chryssavgis

If it weren't for Meister Eckhart, my "zen nature" may have split me from christian affiliation long ago, but so many of his quotations are pure zen:

 

"This play has played eternally before all natures. As it is written in the Book of Wisdom, 'Prior to creatures, in the eternal now, i have played before the Father in an eternal stillness.'" For me this thread runs with the threads I posted before here re mystical christianity and one re Eckhart-where i've posted other of his sayings of a mystical nature, many of which are highly "zen flavored." DT Suzuki, one of the "importers" of zen into america even wrote a book re Eckhart & its affinity with buddhism back in late 50's. He's a very good example of the universal language of mystics. Take care, Earl

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Hello, Earl :)

 

As you surely know, this is a topic that resonates with me as well.  I was not raised in any faith and came to Buddhism in my early twenties. 

 

So, my background is mainly Buddhist, and my spiritual introduction to Christianity is fairly recent.  I suppose it has much to do with my lack of Christian background, but I have found that much of the baggage many struggle with is simply absent. 

 

I have had brief brushes with various Christian teachings in the past, but nothing seemed to have a voice for me back then.  However, when I walked into a church two Christmases ago and began really listening to the gospel (as opposed to endless reinterpretations of the gospel), the sense that this was something with which I was already intimately familiar was overwhelming.  I couldn't pretend that this teaching of Christ was not dharma.  It all seemed so clearly metaphorical for that journey to no-self, no separation.  I fell in love with the words and the life and the example of Christ.

 

So here I am... I practice two traditions.  I feel both of them inspire and inform my spiritual life in important ways.  

 

It's always been odd for me to see that so many folks can be harshly critical of such a blended practice.  There's not an ounce of conflict within me anywhere.

 

I do love the works of the early desert fathers; some of their writings are deeply reminiscent of the words of zen masters:

 

"One day, some elders came to see Abba Antony.  Among them was Abba Joseph.  Wanting to test them, Abba Antony suggested a text from the scriptures.  Beginning with th eyoungest, he asked them what it meant.  Each gave an opinion, as he was able.  But to each one the old man said: "You have not understood it."  Last of all, he said to Abba Joseph:  "How would you explain this saying?"  Joseph replied: "I do not know."  Then Abba Antony said: "Indeed, Abba Joseph has found the way.  For he has said, 'I do not know.'"

 

Abba Alonius said: "If I had not destroyed myself completely, I would not have been able to rebuild and reshape myself again."

 

A brother came to Scetis to visit Abba Moses and asked him for a word.  The old man said to him: "Go, sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything."

 

- excerpted from In the Heart of the Desert, John Chryssavgis

If it weren't for Meister Eckhart, my "zen nature" may have split me from christian affiliation long ago, but so many of his quotations are pure zen:

 

"This play has played eternally before all natures. As it is written in the Book of Wisdom, 'Prior to creatures, in the eternal now, i have played before the Father in an eternal stillness.'" For me this thread runs with the threads I posted before here re mystical christianity and one re Eckhart-where i've posted other of his sayings of a mystical nature, many of which are highly "zen flavored." DT Suzuki, one of the "importers" of zen into america even wrote a book re Eckhart & its affinity with buddhism back in late 50's. He's a very good example of the universal language of mystics. Take care, Earl

For those who'd like to read Suzuki's book re Eckhary on-line, here's the address:

 

http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/mcb/mcb00.htm

 

Have a good one, earl

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  • 2 weeks later...

I blend Christianity and Buddhism, in that I follow the Buddhist 8 fold path, and some of the other "rules" in addiiton to the 10 commandments. I see no conflict with this, as the two are really quite similar, in that they are rules about much the same things.

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  • 4 years later...

I think that both the teachings of Gautama Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha (the Enlightened One), as well as the original teachings of Jesus, the Christ (Anointed One), focused on compassion and overcoming egocentrism and parallel each other quite well. Their teachings became overlaid with the cultural and historical manipulations of sociopolitical institutions in their respective cultures to evolve into the organized "religions" that we see today.

 

I always saw Jesus as a mystic much like Gautama. It certainly explains the 40 Days in the Wilderness as well as some of his nondualistic statements.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm not sure if Christianity as a whole and Buddhism have a lot to talk about, but I can see that as individuals Buddhism can be of great assistance no matter what your tradition. I'm a progressive Christian but Buddhism has been a large part of my life since I first discovered it. Many mystical teachings of Christianity, especially eastern Christianity, have certain parallels with Buddhist teaching pertaining to non-attachment and the nature of the self.

Thomas Merton is a good example of someone went a long way in exploring Christian-Buddhist relations.

Edited by Mike
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I’ve always liked the way Merton and others relate Christianity to Buddhism. Marcus Borg sometimes compares the wisdom books of the bible to the Tao. He says Ecclesiastes’ critique of conventional wisdom is similar to what we hear in the writings of Lao Tzu--subversive, alternative wisdom that leads beyond convention...the “road less traveled.” The parallels seem to flow out of similar reflections on human experiences and the sacred.

 

A saying from Saichi: "The truth is, there is nothing the matter with one; and there is nothing more that makes one feel at home."

Edited by rivanna
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