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Thread: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

  1. #1

    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

  2. #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

    Quote 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

  3. #3

    Re: dharma transmission from Nishijima roshi

    Quote 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

  4. #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.

  5. #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.

  6. #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

  7. #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.

  8. #8

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

    Quote 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

  9. #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.

  10. #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.

  11. #11

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

    Quote 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.

    Quote 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.

    Quote 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.

    Quote 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

  12. #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

  13. #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

  14. #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

  15. #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

  16. #16

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Hans
    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.
    This is why I was drawn particularly to Zen. It has been said that Zen is a transmission "beyond words" and the emphasis in our Way is to know the dharma, not just intellectually, but to experience it in all things and all forms. Words, whether written or spoken, are at the mercy of those who repeat them, and they get changed from their original meaning to suit the person speaking them. This is why there are so many schizms in so many religions. Catholic, Christian, Methodist, Free Presbyterian, Lutheran, Mormon, Scientologist, Baptist, Protestant, Anglican, Pali Buddhism, Theravada, Mahayana, Gelug, Islam, Sufism, Sihkism, Sunni, Shiite, on and on and on. These all say that they are the heirs of the original teachings of their religious leaders, but they can't all be right? Or can they?

    Bits and pieces, perhaps, of the original sewn together with the personal beliefs of those who broke from their churches.

    But our Way is beyond that. Our Way teaches us to experience the dharma for ourselves. I think, too, that many of the original teachings of the original religious worthies, follow that as well. I recalled something from the Gnostic Bible (Dead Sea scrolls) I believe directly from the Gospel of Jesus where he said, "You shall not find me in any place made of wood or stone, you will only find my dwelling place in the hearts of men." This was stricken from scripture as blasphemy by the Catholic Church, for obvious reasons, but this I think is more in line with what the actual Jesus might have said.

  17. #17
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
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    Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

    I suppose it is about time for me to weigh in here on this discussion. I did try yesterday, and I had a rather lengthy response with all sorts of quotes and then, just at the end my fat fingers toched something on the keyboard and it all...disappeared. I couldn't get it back. After a while, I thought about it and decided it was a lot of blather anyhow and deserved to be "disappeared".

    Okay Doogie, I see your point, but only if you are using the paradigm of the dogmatic Christian Church of the West since about the 14th century. But even within that there can arise those who see the universality (the true meaning of catholic, btw) of Christianity and are able to live it fully, in their hearts and still have room in there for something else like Buddhism. Two major Catholic clergymen who were able to do this spring to mind simply because they are spiritual heroes of mine, Fr. Bede Griffiths and Fr. Thomas Merton. When onew breaks down their writings on their individual spiritual journeys one finds that what is key to both of them is "the heart". The Compassionate Heart is the place where, I believe, all division dissolves. Sure if I stay in my head, in doctrine and dogma; I cannot, will not come to much else but a condescending acceptance of "meditation tachniques" from Eastern Asian religion, and there may be some of those people out there doing just that. I am not referring to those people.

    I have been a monk for about 40 years. I started in the Eastern Orthodox tradition and over the years transitioned through Byzantine Catholic to Benedictine Monastic spirituality. I am presently an Eastern Rite Benedictine hermit monk. I am fortunate in that all of my spiritual training has been in the monastic school, which is vastly different than the "secular-diocesan" school, where dogma, doctrine and the canons of the church are paramount. In the Eastern, in particular the Russian, Byzantine/Orthodox monastic school our training was primarily toward the mystical experience of being through the liturgy, offices of prayer, meditation and Prayer of the Heart. I have been fortunate in that through my years I was able to meet and become acquainted with monastic not of the Christian church, but in whom I was able to recognize a similar "heart". As a Christian monk I was able to spend time with them in their monastic settings in places like Shasta Abbey, Ramakrishna Vedanta Monastery, and others. Certainly there was difference sometimes in language, dress and custom, but at the heart of it all we all were moving toward discovering whatever it was that the universal cosmic revelation was. We all come to that point "from" someplace. None of us springs whole into Cosmic Consciousness. But coming from someplace does not mean that that is the only place there is, nor does it mean that it limits to where we may go. I did not stop being of Italian ancestary because I was in a Russian church. I do not need to flush Christ from my heart to be Buddhist; the same Compassionate Heart resides in both the Christ and the Buddha.

    I know there are even Buddhists who hold that one cannot be a Christian or a Jew, or whatever and practice Buddhism. I have met that even in the Western Christian world: he's Latino, he cannot be Greek Orthodox; oh!, you're not German, and yet you're a Luthren? Spiritual phyletism is still very much alive in the 21st century! I am also sure that there are many who have felt hurt or betrayed by the Christian Church, or more properly by the human beings involved in it, and so paint the entire structure with a tar brush and feel justified in doing so. I just do not feel people ought to carry all that baggage around with them so much. Perhaps it is because I felt the extreme weight of all that sort of baggage over the years that I finally decided to drop it all at one depot or another and travel more lightly. As you pointed out Doogie, much of what the Church holds as Dogma was formed by the Church Councils staring with Nicea, and always under the authority of the Emperors, and always with an agenda. But what is also true is that through all of that time there was also the culture of the monastic Fathers and Mothers in the Desert at Theses, on Mount Athos and the steppes of Russia that kept alive a mystical tradition we believe more reflective of the life taught by the Christ, and as it comes more into contact with other monastic forms finds harmonies its practitioners relate to. Such has been what Bede Griffiths, Thomas Merton and this old monk have found. It is on that basis that I can unequivocally say that I am both a Christian and Buddhist monk.

    Gassho,

    Seishin Kyrill

  18. #18

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

    On the subject of religious dogma, I would like to recount a joke from the famous Emo Phillips:

    Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, "Don't do it!"

    He said, "Nobody loves me."

    I said, "God loves you. Do you believe in God?"

    He said, "Yes."

    I said, "Are you a Christian or a Jew?"

    He said, "A Christian."

    I said, "Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?"

    He said, "Protestant."

    I said, "Me, too! What franchise?"

    He said, "Baptist."

    I said, "Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?"

    He said, "Northern Baptist."

    I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?"

    He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist."

    I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?"

    He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region."

    I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?"

    He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912."

    I said, "Die, heretic!" And I pushed him over.
    'nuff said.

  19. #19

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

    Hahaha. I forgot all about that joke. I used to listen to Emo Philips tapes when I was a kid. I was a weird kid. Thanks.

  20. #20

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

    Quote Originally Posted by chugai
    Another baffling point (to me) to walking the Buddhist path as a Christian or the Christian Path as a Buddhist is why?

    Is it a case of riding two horses or jack of all trades syndrome?

    http://buddhism.about.com/b/2010/12/04/ ... d.htm?nl=1

    Anyway no matter what it seems to be the secret ingredient --

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 091802.htm
    Hi Chugai,

    First, the description of "Buddhism in Japan" at the top link is not my experience at all. I will post a comment there.

    There are several things here in Japan which one MUST believe in unquestioningly if one is to be accepted into a temple and considered a true Buddhist.

    1) reincarnation
    2) souls and ghosts
    3) various realms of heaven and hell
    4) demons
    5) prayer
    6) the Bodhisattvas are REAL gods
    7) Buddha is a god residing in a heavenly realm
    I cannot speak for all forms of Buddhism in Japan, but the modern Japanese are not very insistent on these things, and one will find all variety of folks ... clergy or not ... some who believe literally, some who believe figuratively, some who don't give these things much thought at all. It is not, in fact, unlike how things are now in the west, where LOTS of folks believe in things like ghosts and spirits. Depends on the person. At least, my experience of modern "Soto Zen" in Japan is that most of the teachers are pretty "down to earth" and fairly "modern thinkers", who do not push the literalness of such things, and leave some other questions (such as about the details of "rebirth") as just open questions. It may be different in other sects of Buddhism here (I know that Buddhism in China and some other places tends to be a bit more into "ghosts and spirits" and such than the Japanese these days).

    The other point is about "having two masters". As far as I am concerned (and as Fr. K's description speaks so well), it depends how this is done. One must have many teachers, learning from any wise voice, and from children, the mountains and trees. Look, one can "make a salad" wisely or foolishly. Tomatoes and greens go together well, but I would not mix and match ketchup and bananas! :?

    Another interesting parallel is the way that some Zen Buddhists have comfortably incorporated the teachings of Jodo (Pure Land) Amida Buddhism, which has many similarities to Christianity, with a "messiah" like figure and a "pie in the sky" vision of heaven. In fact, most of Chan/Zen in China and Vietnam is now a combination of Zen and Pure Land. For any doctrinal wonks out there, the following article discusses how doctrines were reconciled (and sometimes not) over the centuries Unfortunately, I cannot find a copy online ...

    Chappell, David W. 1986. "From Dispute to Dual Cultivation: Pure Land Responses to Ch'an Critics." In Peter N. Gregory , ed., Traditions of Meditation in Chinese Buddhism, pp. 163-197. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

    However, D.T.Suzuki (not to be confused with Suzuki Roshi) became quite taken with Pure Land in his later years, though in ways quite harmonious with his vision of Zen Practice ...

    http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cac ... -nuG-ghX2w

    Gassho, Jundo

  21. #21

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

    I found this to be an interesting site which references the Three Pillars of Zen. It describes the five varieties of zen--Bompu, Gedo, Shojo, Daijo, and Saijojo:
    http://www.angelfire.com/electronic/...fivetypes.html

    It presents Saijojo as the highest form of zen. Not surprisingly, the zen of the soto sect. The zen of shikantaza. If a Rinzai guy wrote it, he'd have placed Daijo as the highest form of zen, right?

    It goes on to say that Zazen is the actualization of your undefiled True-nature. Sounds good. But the fundamental underpinning of Christianity is the concept of original sin, isn't it? The concept that we are born sinners. In essence, we are born defiled. It was Christ, then, who died for those sins. I know of no Christian religion that doesn't hold this to be true, though I'm sure there are individual Christians who don't believe it at all. But priests? Ministers? I think it's perfectly reasonable to say that one can create their own salad of beliefs for themselves, but can one be a Jewish rabbi, a soto zen priest, a catholic priest, a taoist priest, and a Lutheran minister all at the same time?

    If I believe that the purpose of zazen is to strive to awaken to my true nature using koans, am I practicing soto zen? If I believe Jesus was just a compassionate man, or even a Bodhisattva, and not the only begotten son of God at all, am I a Christian? If I don't believe in transubstantiation, am I a Catholic? Can you believe in transubstantiation and original sin and practice soto zen? Or more specifically, can I believe in transubstantiation and original sin and still receive dharma transmission from Jundo?

  22. #22

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

    Quote Originally Posted by doogie
    It goes on to say that Zazen is the actualization of your undefiled True-nature. Sounds good. But the fundamental underpinning of Christianity is the concept of original sin, isn't it? The concept that we are born sinners. In essence, we are born defiled.
    Well, whether we are "born" with it or not, whether it is just the way we act here or now or not, and even despite dropping all thought of "pure vs. defiled" or not ... I still chant this each week:

    All evil karma ever committed by me since of old,
    On account of beginning-less greed, anger, and ignorance,
    Born of my body, mouth and mind,
    Now I atone (which is also "at one") for them all.


    So, one way or the other, all comes out in the wash.

    Gassho, J

  23. #23

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

    :-)

    Yes, it's been a while since I chanted that. I suppose I'm overdo.

    Gassho

  24. #24
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
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    Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

    Quote Originally Posted by doogie
    It goes on to say that Zazen is the actualization of your undefiled True-nature. Sounds good. But the fundamental underpinning of Christianity is the concept of original sin, isn't it?
    Actually Doogie, that is not true for all stripes of Christians. The Eastern Orthodox for one have a different view of this than the legalistic Roman Catholic dogma does. We also differ in the concept of the Immaculate Conception and the Procession of the Holy Spirit, as in the "filioque" verse of the Creed as the Roman Church says it. You really cannot make too many blanket statements about Christians anymore, or actually since about the 10th Century, when the One Church began its divisions.

    Here's the thing...the Buddha did not say he was God, others said that of him and then much later. I haven't joined a Buddhist sect which demands that I "worship" the Buddha, or any Bodhisattva, as God or a God. I am following the Teaching of a reasonable man who never demanded that his disciples worship him, or anyone else; or that they would cease worshipping a God, if they did. His teaching does not depend upon theology, so why put it in conflict with any theology? Frankly, I do not see any conflict and I am the one who is a Catholic priest and also one who has received Buddhist monk vows. I am walking in these shoes and they seem to fit me.

    Gasshoi,

    Seishin Kyrill

  25. #25

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

    Hi.

    Please take all the below as my own thoughts and ponderings, i am no authority on the matter...

    Forgive my clumsy walking amongst the otherwise so delicate tapping, but a thing in this, which seem to be missed, is what is the fundamental pillar of Christianity and of Buddhism?
    And for the second one, are they both religions?
    Thirdly, are the definitions the same for everyone, i dont think they are, or do we go by an "communal academic" definition?
    Does it matter?

    Because it seems to me that the question in question is if you can be a "true believer" in two different religions that seem to contradict each other, or am i wrong?
    And before having gone through the above questions, i don't think you can say yes or no if you can go both paths and if you can to what degree.
    We can well enough tiptoe around, but in my humble opinion if you don't grab the ox, you won't go to the market.

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  26. #26

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

    Hello everyone,

    the last few posts led to the arising of a few not really all that well connected ideas in the mind of a sometimes confused novice. So please take everything I write here with a pinch of salt.

    On an individual level, who is to say that a particular style pf practise is valid/invalid? Only the practitioner him/herself can.

    Another question would be? Why feel the need to even try to walk different paths unless it was felt that one path was felt lacking in some way? If it was not lacking, why the need to integrate other practises?

    One can bake an apple pie, or one can bake a cherry pie. A pie with apples and cherries can be a wonderful thing, however, it is something new and shuld be called thus.

    Coming down from the clouds of metaphors and idealism, we have to also acknowledge the social and political dimension that supporting any kind of religious practise entails.

    One can be e.g. a most compassionate Roman Catholic on a personal level, but it is simply a fact that supporting the Roman Catholic church means not only supporting hospitals and schools in third world countries, but supporting a very strong anti homo-sexual and anti contraceptive agenda as well (I'm not even going to get started with the Pandoras box that is sexual abuse/anti-semitism in the Christian churches).
    In the same way one can be an extremely tolerant Muslim, but with the exception of a handful of comparatively tiny Sufi orders, religions other than Christianity, Judaism and Islam are not seen as being worthy of respect at all in almost all muslim congregations.

    When horrible things happen in the name and in the context of religious practise, one can often hear/read: They are not true Christians/Muslims/Jews/Buddhists/Hindus etc. ......

    That may sound nice at first, but ultimately means that real criticism is impossible, because whatever positive kind of things have happened are taken as the ground for definition, and the negative aspects (Crusades, Buddhism being wiped off the map of India by Muslim armies, inquisition etc.) are marginalized.

    Once mutliple paths are mixed, it seems easier to call oneself a pan-traditional mystic, follower of Philosophia Perennis, Neo-Buddhist, Neo-Christian etc. instead of trying to fit one's own path to fit terms that used to have a more distinct meaning before the postmodern age.

    It's interesting that the everyday literal acceptance of certain ideas and concepts is now more and more being seen as "fundamentalist" or "orthodox" than just being normal. The "Zeitgeist" seems to dictate that everyone not prepared to embrace relativistic approaches to religions must be somehow "radical".

    But that's just my chocolate box full of ideas travelling around my mind. I do not mean to preach in any way.

    Gassho,

    Hans

  27. #27

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

    Hi Hans,

    Too wordy...So to speak :wink:


    gassho

    Taigu

  28. #28

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

    Hello Taigu,

    as I wrote before, just a collection of randomly arisen thoughts. Wordiness and non-wordiness stop when you look at issues like kosher/halal slaughter methods, gay bashing etc. the list is long and has nothing to do with over-intellectualising and everything with how supporting religious currents impacts on daily life.

    Gassho,

    Hans

  29. #29

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Hans
    Hello Taigu,

    as I wrote before, just a collection of randomly arisen thoughts. Wordiness and non-wordiness stop when you look at issues like kosher/halal slaughter methods, gay bashing etc. the list is long and has nothing to do with over-intellectualising and everything with how supporting religious currents impacts on daily life.

    Gassho,

    Hans
    Buddhism, during its history, is also not without fault and should not throw stones.

  30. #30

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyrillos
    Quote Originally Posted by doogie
    It goes on to say that Zazen is the actualization of your undefiled True-nature. Sounds good. But the fundamental underpinning of Christianity is the concept of original sin, isn't it?
    Actually Doogie, that is not true for all stripes of Christians. The Eastern Orthodox for one have a different view of this than the legalistic Roman Catholic dogma does. We also differ in the concept of the Immaculate Conception and the Procession of the Holy Spirit, as in the "filioque" verse of the Creed as the Roman Church says it. You really cannot make too many blanket statements about Christians anymore, or actually since about the 10th Century, when the One Church began its divisions.

    Here's the thing...the Buddha did not say he was God, others said that of him and then much later. I haven't joined a Buddhist sect which demands that I "worship" the Buddha, or any Bodhisattva, as God or a God. I am following the Teaching of a reasonable man who never demanded that his disciples worship him, or anyone else; or that they would cease worshipping a God, if they did. His teaching does not depend upon theology, so why put it in conflict with any theology? Frankly, I do not see any conflict and I am the one who is a Catholic priest and also one who has received Buddhist monk vows. I am walking in these shoes and they seem to fit me.

    Gasshoi,

    Seishin Kyrill
    Thank you for commenting. And please don't take what I write as criticism of yours or anyone else's faith. After reading through Chugai's link, I see there are differences in interpretation of fundamental Catholic doctrine. I shouldn't lump everyone together.

    I still don't think the fundamental question is being addressed however. It may be true that Buddha said nothing to his disciples about whether it was fine to worship one or as many Gods as they wanted, but in light of his realization would he have (could he have) worshiped a God? If he clung onto the belief that there was something outside himself, something that should be worshipped, could he ever have had that same realization? Is "worshiping God" so fundamentally dualistic that it blocks that realization. Zen and Buddhism are the path to realization, to enlightenment, right? So does adding "worshiping God" and various other dualistic beliefs about the universe and our place in the universe act as a roadblock to enlightenment?

    Does belief even matter?

    If I live a virtuous life, keep the precepts, worship the one true God (or even The Buddha) for 23 and a half hours a day with my very marrow, teach others to worship in the same way, but drop all that when I practice zazen (shikantaza) for a half hour each day, am I on the Buddha's path?

    Perhaps the answer is one thing in the Rinzai school and quite another in the Soto school. Or different from one teacher to another.

    Put another way, is it enough to be awake 30 minutes of the day?

    I apologize if there appears to be some judgement and bias in how I use "awake" in this sense, but I don't know another way to phrase it with my own limited understanding. I certainly do have my own biases, and many of the discussions that I'm finding in this thread and others have been very helpful. I am not a Christian, and have not even taken (received?) Jukai yet, so I ask these things out of genuine intellectual and spiritual curiosity, and to help me better myself.

  31. #31

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

    Hello Jundo,

    in your last post you wrote:
    "Buddhism, during its history, is also not without fault and should not throw stones."

    I do not think anyone ever suggested in this thread that Buddhism was/is pure and perfect in its actions through its different cultural variations over time. My point is that we cannot just focus exclusively on the positive sides of inter-faith inspiration and understanding, since religious practise is never one hundred percent a-political. Evaluating the actual "actions" and tendencies of different religious currents has to include the real-life consequences that certain mind sets entail. In the case of Buddhism e.g. this meant and means that notions of karma have often led to people taking a slightly passive and fatalist approach to the ills in their own society ("It's their karma.").

    Religions form around human needs, which is why they share a lot of the same territory. At the same time however, the differences between religions are not just to be found in the aesthetic and the cosmetic.

    As a first starting point, one might consider Prof. Jan Assmann's and Prof. Theo Sundermeier's notion of primary and secondary religions, which get mentioned in this very interesting non-specialist blogpost:

    http://egregores.blogspot.com/2009/11/e ... ories.html

    Buddhism, although a "secondary" religion founded on the revelation of Siddhartha Gautama, is insofar special as it has been "relatively" non-aggressive for large parts of its history (and yes, there are a whole list of exceptions).

    Why do I even mention all this?

    Because the historical body of evidence points toward a great probability that an overall positive and non critical reception of Christian-Zen will not benefit the survival of the Dharma in the long term, however it will benefit many Christians insofar as it supplies them with a wonderful technique to experience and to get closer to "God".

    The vedic notion of "the truth is one, the wise call it by many names" was never at the heart of the mainstream practise of the great monotheist traditions. The tolerance we encounter nowadays in western countries is more due to humanism than to original monotheism.


    There is no point in over-intellectualsing life, compassion etc. At the same time, negating differences for the sake of harmony can turn into a kind of escapism and withdrawal from daily life as well.

    Gassho,

    Hans

  32. #32

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

    Hi David,

    I feel that some of your conclusions are possibly hindering and barriers of the mind.

    Quote Originally Posted by doogie
    Is "worshiping God" so fundamentally dualistic that it blocks that realization. Zen and Buddhism are the path to realization, to enlightenment, right? So does adding "worshiping God" and various other dualistic beliefs about the universe and our place in the universe act as a roadblock to enlightenment?
    Saying that "worshiping God blocks realization" is itself truly the erecting of a dualistic division in your mind that can block realization.

    A truly "non-dualistic" realization might feel something like "neither worshiping God nor not worshiping God blocks realization, for realization cannot be blocked ... as realization holds and easily allows for all". In fact, even asserting "worshiping God blocks realization" or "worshiping God does not block realization" will not block realization in the least when realization is correctly perceived.

    Does the presence of a star in the sky block your realization? Does the absence of a star in the sky block your realization? Do high mountains and walls block your realization? So, how would God or her absence block realization?

    In our Buddhist way, the stars and mountains and walls are seen as just the dance of emptiness, which is anything but empty and void. There is no "mountain" truly there, yet there is a mountain to climb. There is no wall there, but what do you stub your toe against? If someone finds that their "Buddha" or "Emptiness" feels like what some call "God", or that one does not leave room for the others ... well, names do not matter, and there is more than enough room when all mental barriers are knocked down.

    In Shikantaza, we drop all judgments and divisions in order to manifest realization. I advise you to drop the judgments that "worshiping God hinders Shikantaza" ... for otherwise you hinder Shikantaza by the fact of the judgment itself.

    Quote Originally Posted by doogie
    If I live a virtuous life, keep the precepts, worship the one true God (or even The Buddha) for 23 and a half hours a day with my very marrow, teach others to worship in the same way, but drop all that when I practice zazen (shikantaza) for a half hour each day, am I on the Buddha's path?
    In Shikantaza, we drop in order to find what was all along. It is not a matter of 30 minutes or 30 Kalpa. If there is a God to worship, we sit Shikantaza. If there is no God to worship, we sit Shikantaza.

    Being filled with greed, anger and divisions can block realization ... but worshiping a God (or not) cannot (assuming that doing so is the absence of greed, anger and mental divisions).

    Enlightenment is so vast and wide that it comfortably holds both God and her absence.

    Please sit with that.

    Gassho, Jundo

  33. #33

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

    Dear Hans,

    1 - Your opinion is too much up in your own head, creating divisions and barriers that need not be there. While what you say may be true in some cases, it need not be true in all cases. You need to sit with this issue more and drop some of these opinions about what is or is not possible. Some ways of combining Zen with other beliefs may be harmful, but some may be not.

    2 - Some forms (maybe the most common forms) of Christianity and Judaism may be practiced in ways that shut out or are incompatible with other religious traditions, but not all Christians and Jews practice in such ways. Some ways of practicing Christianity and Judaism (such as what Fr. K expressed above) are quite compatible and harmonious with Zen Practice. That does not mean that all Zen practitioners need be Christians, nor that all Christians need be Zen folks. It merely means that there are some folks walking the path(s) in a way quite nurturing of both.

    3- Your statement is not the policy of this Sangha, which is quite welcoming of people who wish to practice the Buddha's Way ... whether Christians, Jews, believers in Thor, Atheists or Agnostics, or folks who do not give much thought or define themselves within any such categories. You are a priest in training here, and I am concerned that some people may think you are speaking for this place. You are not.

    Finally, please note that I am not saying that "people must be a Christian or Jew to practice Zen Buddhism". Of course not. Nor am I saying that all ways of practicing Christianity, Judaism or other religions are compatible with Zen practice. Of course not, because some are quite incompatible (especially the judgmental and closed versions of those paths). Nor am I saying that it is wrong for some to reject Christianity etc. when practicing Buddhism ... for it is fine if someone feels it not right for them and wish to devote themselves to a Buddhist path alone. All I am saying is that certain flavors of Christianity etc. are quite compatible with what we practice here ... just as being a Yankees fan, a Red Sox fan or having no interest in baseball whatsoever are each perfectly compatible with Zen Buddhist practice. It is not harmful to mix these things when done in a positive way. Furthermore, one can be a non-Christian, a mailman, gay or straight, a Conservative or Liberal, an Atheist or Agnostic and be a Zen Buddhist, attaining realization. Realization is so spacious and whole that it is found as both God and Atheists.

    Gassho, Jundo

  34. #34

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

    Hiya,
    probably going off at one of my tangents here, (that's the atristic mind for you), years ago when ran a bookshop one of my customers was an american quaker teaching at the uni. We talked a bit about religion and I told him I saw quakers as 'Zen Christians', a view I had got from the way they have honed down thier worship to just that, the barenes of thier meeting halls, way they havwe tolerance for other faiths, going so far as to allow Buddhists to have religious meetings in thier halls, also thier compassion and non-violence and so on, well, far from being offended as some Christians would be, he understood and was flattered by the tag, he, like me, saw no dichotomy there. Can't we all?

    Gassho

    Joe

  35. #35
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
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    Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

    Quote Originally Posted by doogie
    Is "worshiping God" so fundamentally dualistic that it blocks that realization. Zen and Buddhism are the path to realization, to enlightenment, right? So does adding "worshiping God" and various other dualistic beliefs about the universe and our place in the universe act as a roadblock to enlightenment?
    Well , you know Doogie, it all honesty...I don't know. Perhaps that is why I am here and doing this practice, to find out. Since I haven't as yet achieved enlightenment (that I know of) I couldn't tell you if it was because I have belief in God, or if it is just that I am a plodding lazy human. However, I would like to be allowed the opportunity to try along with all the other broken individuals that populate our universe, and not necessarily be excluded simply predicated on the fact that I am Christian, or Jewish, a Muslim or a Scientologist. I would hope that in the 80,00 Dharma Teachings of the Buddha there might have been one for me. I know that my heart is open to it, even if some in the room believe I have the wrong clothes on to be at the party.

    Actually I want you to know that I appreciate this questioning since it again helps me to redefine for myself why I am here.

    Gassho,

    Seishin Kyrill

  36. #36

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyrillos

    Actually I want you to know that I appreciate this questioning since it again helps me to redefine for myself why I am here.

    Gassho,

    Seishin Kyrill
    Hello Brother Kryillos,

    Isn't it this very "defining" that keeps us locked up in delusion? Thinking that we "are this, not that; want this, not that; are here for this, not for that" etc. I've always seen "God" (put in quotes because I know my view is quite heretical) as something like the undefined "wilderness" that lies beyond views and concepts, not limited by time and place. If a practice is to lead us closer to the undefined, unborn, undying Reality, how would defining oneself help?


    I promise I'm not trying to be critical; this is just a very, very interesting topic, and I appreciate all of the views expressed!

    Metta,

    Perry

  37. #37

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

    I will sit with that Jundo. Thank you. And I'm sure you're right. But I'm still unsure about the more practical applications of being both an orthodox Christian priest and a zen priest. I'm just curious how your dharma brother, for instance, functions as both a zen teacher and a priest in the lutheran orthodox church (this thread is about priests). Just as you don't want Hans giving his opinion and having us mistaking it for the sangha's opinion, I have to assume that he runs into conflict between his Christian dogma and his Buddhist teachings regarding homosexuality, heaven and hell, whatever. He did become a priest in the church of Sweden after he received dharma transmission, so maybe there is no conflict. Maybe he's simply a Christian priest who practices zazen.

    I looked for other christian priests/ministers who are also zen teachers, and there are a few. Here's an article on Father Robert Kennedy, a jesuit and zen teacher. http://creedible.com/creed/featured-...zen-meditation

    "Kennedy has received the title roshi, or “old teacher” in the Zen tradition. As a committed Christian, priest, and Zen teacher, he has helped thousands to grow closer to Christ by helping them to empty their minds so they might be filled with the mind of Christ."

    I may be misinterpreting this, but it sounds like he's using zen for the purpose of getting closer to Christ (which doesn't seem in line with 'sitting for no purpose.' Of course that can be interpreted many different ways, depending on how one wishes to interpret it. The mind of Christ could be substituted for the mind of Buddha. But emptying the mind of all notions of self so that one can replace it with another, whether Christ, Buddha, or something else?

  38. #38

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyrillos
    Quote Originally Posted by doogie

    Actually I want you to know that I appreciate this questioning since it again helps me to redefine for myself why I am here.

    Gassho,

    Seishin Kyrill
    I say the more diversity the better. And I am trying to define myself all the time. Maybe that's my problem.

    Gassho,

    David

  39. #39
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

    Quote Originally Posted by doogie
    Is "worshiping God" so fundamentally dualistic that it blocks that realization. Zen and Buddhism are the path to realization, to enlightenment, right? So does adding "worshiping God" and various other dualistic beliefs about the universe and our place in the universe act as a roadblock to enlightenment?
    I find that seeing it as a kind of "flow of the Dao..." A living, chaotic thing... I don't know. I feel it is there, but I do not understand it.

    Seeing it in this undefined, yet friendly way, does not seem to interfere with my "emptiness" at all...

  40. #40
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
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    Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

    Isn't it this very "defining" that keeps us locked up in delusion?
    Hello Perry,

    I don't think I am trying to "define" myself in any way. What I was trying to say there in that the questions helped me to "redefine for myself why I am here" is that these sorts of questions help to clear away any clouds that may have settled in my head, and help me to remember why I took up the study of Zen in the first place.

    ...And to Chugai,, in answer to your question, about my particular church's affiliation with Rome; no, we are not in union with Rome. I never have been with either the Orthodox Church nor now with the Anglican Church.

    Gassho,

    Seishin Kyrill

  41. #41

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyrillos
    Hello Perry,

    I don't think I am trying to "define" myself in any way. What I was trying to say there in that the questions helped me to "redefine for myself why I am here" is that these sorts of questions help to clear away any clouds that may have settled in my head, and help me to remember why I took up the study of Zen in the first place.

    Gassho,

    Seishin Kyrill
    Ah. Thank you, Brother Kyrillos, for the clarification.

    Metta,

    Perry

  42. #42

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

    Another baffling point (to me) to walking the Buddhist path as a Christian or the Christian Path as a Buddhist is why?

    Is it a case of riding two horses or jack of all trades syndrome?


    Just my own thoughts here...
    The sky is blue. The sea is blue. Both those things are true. Both are equally false... neither the atmosphere nor water actually have color. that is true too.
    In order for one of those statements to be true, does the other have to be LESS true?
    Look deeper at it, and we see that those colors only even exist because of the light of the Sun, both the atmosphere and the water reflecting its rays off one another. And then we must acknowledge that the colors, sea, sky, Sun, and even the "selves" seeing them are really just matters of perception.
    So... maybe it's neither "riding two horses" or any kind of "syndrome." I think it's simply a matter of seeing truth two ways, as one might see the color of the sky reflected in the water or vice-versa...or, two truths in the reflection of the same Light.

  43. #43

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

    Christianity and the Dharma seem to me not to be bookends.
    Maybe I'm just dense. I can't make Christ's message of God's redemption for mankind etc. work for me.
    I know he supposedly said some nice things about the Golden Rule and all that but he also supposedly said some things about eternal life in the hereafter, he supposedly walked on water, raised the dead, etc . .. and I know that folks have written wild magical accounts of the Buddha like he was born walking and talking etc but I cannot make sense of those accounts either and I do not believe them. I believe little about accounts of the historical Buddha.

    Well, let's say for the sake of argument (not in anyway meaning aggression... just trying to say what I mean clearly,) and suspending disbelief for a moment that it was ALL true. Christ really WAS God incarnate. Or, let's look at them all as characters in a story.
    So then, it was God who walked on water. God who raised the dead. God incarnate, in the flesh as Christ. So... what would be the big deal? He's God, right? What's the big whoop about the laws of physics not applying to the Almighty? Nothing, really. Not special at all for God. Right?
    But look at the STORIES themselves... Jesus walking on the water is rippling with symbolism, isn't it? Think of the sea as the troubles, problems, phenomena, delusions, samsaric horror and illusions of this life... he walks above all that. As the shattering "storm" rages around him, Jesus simply walks through it, not avoiding it or creating a magic pathway, he simply walks calmly through the horror as it is, seeing it for what it really is and not letting it stop him. Pretty zenny when you look at it.
    And THAT isn't even the important part. What really matters in that story is the usually glossed over or forgotten part... that Peter ALSO walked on water, albeit briefly. Sure... when he looked around- and was affected by what he sensed as a man- and got scared, he started to go under, but when he was able to just move in faith, ignoring the appeaance of the world around him, he stood on the waves too. And if Peter can do it, so can you or I. I think there's a LOT a Buddhist can get from that story. you may not have faith in Christ, or even in the Buddha, but you DO have faith ITSELF... and we CAN step out of the boat. It's about leaning on our faith when we step out of our comfort zone... and that, to me is what sitting and practice are all about.
    The symbolism of the raising of the dead, the blind gaining sight, the lame rising to walk... these are stories that apply to EVERYONE, regardless of how one belief system may have co-opted them. Remember... even the Bible doesn't call him the Son of Christianity. He's called the Son of Man. Looked at symbollically rather than literally, the Gospels can take on a dimension that applies to anyone, and which really, at its core, isn't in any way contrary to the Dharma.
    That's my take, anyway. I haven't got much use for Christianity or religion in general... but I remain "spiritual." I think I'd be silly if I rejected a teacher because I didn't like the name of the school.

  44. #44

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

    What's held as one's private belief (or private religion) is not the only issue here, and that's what most people are focusing on. Again, this thread is about those who walk both the Christian and Buddhist paths as priests in both religions.

    Is zen Buddhism a religion with beliefs, or is it a philosophy that enhances other belief systems. If Buddhists don't believe in an everlasting, unchanging immortal soul, and the belief of an everlasting, immortal soul is the cornerstone of Christianity, how can this dichotomy be reconciled?

    Looking around the web, I see there are many Christians who use zen to get closer to Christ and to find a more mystical connection to their God. There is nothing wrong with this, but is it Zen? Or more specifically, is it Buddhist zen? Also, if you wholeheartedly believe that there is a God out there who will judge you for your sins, can you still teach the dharma?

    And I think we should be careful here about interpreting Christian stories from a Buddhist perspective. It makes no more sense than interpreting Buddhist stories from a Christian perspective. I can tell you my dream, and you can tell me what it means to you, but it won't mean the same thing it means to me, and after all, it's my dream. The life of Jesus may have meant something very different to the man who lived it than to the men who wrote it down, but all we know of his life is what they wrote.

    Scripture indicates that Jesus was not denying His deity by referring to Himself as the Son of Man. In fact, it is highly revealing that the term “Son of Man” is used in Scripture in contexts of Christ's deity. For example, the Bible says that only God can forgive sins (Isaiah 43:25; Mark 2:7). But as the “Son of Man,” Jesus had the power to forgive sins (Mark 2:10). Likewise, Christ will return to Earth as the “Son of Man” in clouds of glory to reign on Earth (Matthew 26:63-64).
    He may have been denying his divinity when he proclaimed himself to be the son of man. Or not. We'll never know.

  45. #45

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

    And I think we should be careful here about interpreting Christian stories from a Buddhist perspective. It makes no more sense than interpreting Buddhist stories from a Christian perspective.

    Well... of course... that's why the point is to read BOTH - or anything- from a PERONAL perspective. "What is the story saying to me?" as opposed to, "What do THEY say this story means." I'm sorry if I was unclear.

  46. #46

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

    Quote Originally Posted by doogie
    If Buddhists don't believe in an everlasting, unchanging immortal soul, and the belief of an everlasting, immortal soul is the cornerstone of Christianity, how can this dichotomy be reconciled?
    Why not toss your fixed ideas and beliefs in a fixed and immortal "soul" into the wash of emptiness, and also toss your fixed ideas and beliefs in the absence of a fixed and immortal "soul" into the wash of emptiness, and toss your small human image of "unchanging and immortal" into the timelessness of emptiness, and see what comes out in the wash? Thus, the "conflict" becomes something of a "non-issue".

    There is nothing wrong with this, but is it Zen? Or more specifically, is it Buddhist zen?
    Please toss your rigid ideas of "Zen" and "Buddhist Zen" into the baths of emptiness too.

    Then perhaps you will first have some clue as to what Zen/Buddhist Zen is!

    Imagine, that you and I disagree over whether there is or is not some timeless "Buddha Nature" which we all have/are, debate the right practices to manifest our "Buddha Nature", and whether this allegedly timeless nature somehow does not vanish following what appears to be human life and death in this visible world.

    Imagine that folks got so hung up on this idea of what "Buddha Nature" is or is not, and whether it is fixed and unchangeable, immortal and timeless, or not ... that "Buddhist Teachers" even had to caution such folks to drop the whole concept of "Buddha Nature" from mind, and to STOP and drop all mental divisions such as "fixed vs. flowing" "changing vs. changeless" "time bound vs. timeless" and "immortal vs. birth/death". These teachers advised folks just to drop all such categories and divisions away. Toss it all away like so much old trash.

    Well, perhaps doing so will not do one darn thing to make "Buddha Nature" any more or less 'true' then it was before ... for if it wasn't a real thing before, then probably it still isn't. And if it was never realistic, then it might still not be no matter what we do. (Anyway, Buddhist teachings even say that you and me and the table across the room are not really "real" and here in all ways ... even though we quite obviously are in some ways).

    However, by dropping all ideas of "Buddha Nature", and all mental divisions of time and change and changeless and all the rest ... some might say that What's thus tasted is Buddha Nature, both within time and timeless, a world changeless in its flowering changing, deathless even in a world of birth and death (perhaps life to life), just who we are all along.

    Now, toss "soul" or anything else in the above equation and see what happens. Perhaps the Buddha (who quite clearly believed that something, in some way, remains after 'death', and continues on and on for countless lives) meant something like that.

    Gassho, J

    PS -

    Also, if you wholeheartedly believe that there is a God out there who will judge you for your sins, can you still teach the dharma?
    Almost all Buddhists I know, in one way or another, believe in a concept of "sin" or "evil Karma", and the heavens and hells that result. Some may take it more literally, as literal "Buddhist hells and heavens" after death ...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naraka_(Buddhism)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yama_(Budd ... _mythology)

    ... or some may take it as the "hells and heavens" we make for ourselves in this world through our harmful words, thoughts and acts. No matter, we believe.


  47. #47
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

    Isn't an after life a wonderful comforting thought? Isn't it nice to think that "those people" who do bad things will be punished in an after life?
    After suffering the stings and arrows of this world we can all go (if we are good little boys and girls) to a place that will be just perfect !

    Thanks for playing folks, it is what it is. I would rather "just sit" and find the truth "as it is".

    More power to the one who tries to ride a number of different donkeys up the mountain. It would be easier to herd cats.

    gassho,

  48. #48

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

    *

  49. #49

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

    Quote Originally Posted by richard409
    Isn't an after life a wonderful comforting thought?
    Quote Originally Posted by richard409
    Not necessarily.

    Isn't it nice to think that "those people" who do bad things will be punished in an after life?

    Not if you have compassion for them and the obvious suffering that made them as they are.

    After suffering the stings and arrows of this world we can all go (if we are good little boys and girls) to a place that will be just perfect !
    Not really.

    Thanks for playing folks, it is what it is. I would rather "just sit" and find the truth "as it is".
    ...isn't that what any religious or philosophical expression- including our own- is at its core? A search for truth? What if there's more than one "truth?"

    More power to the one who tries to ride a number of different donkeys up the mountain. It would be easier to herd cats.

    Unless one has great burdens. Then that extra donkey might come in handy.

    gassho,

  50. #50

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

    Do I have this right?

    I'm climbing up a mountain. Weighed down by not one heavy pack, but two. I think, 'drop one and the climb would be easier. You say, 'Drop both and it's easier still.' Or 'carry both, drop both, it doesn't matter. Both packs are essentially empty. Drop the mountain too. And climbing. And the one who is climbing.

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