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

  1. #51
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    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?
    I found a weird quote that attempts to reconcile it. It's from a book of koans published in 1959 called simply, "Zen Buddhism:"

    "In satori we are able to look beyond our immediate world into the universe of original, eternal, Absolute Being-- often called the Great Emptiness-- which was before our world was formed, and will be after it disappears. In this condition we lose our sense of Self, and know ourselves to be part of the great Oneness of all. Knowing ourselves to be part of Absolute Being, our ego and our problems of ego-- sin, pain, poverty, fear-- all dissolve. This is salvation in Zen terms.

    "Having reached the state of satori, we become aware that everything in all this world about us, all other living and non-living things, even our lowest animal functions, are part of Absolute Being-- and are thus essentially holy. Mountains and rocks, trees and grass blades, elephants and microbes, all share equally in the Eternal."

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    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".

    ...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.
    From Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land:

    "Jubal called out, 'That house on the hilltop-- can you see what color they've painted it?'

    "Anne looked, then answered, 'It's white on this side.'

    "Jubal went to Jill, 'You see? It doesn't occur to Anne to infer that the other side is white, too. All the King's horses couldn't force her to commit herself... unless she went there and looked-- and even then she wouldn't assume that it stayed white after she left.'"

  2. #52

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

    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.

    Maybe some people have found a way to use two sources of strength and wisdom to make it up the hill.

  3. #53

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

    Quote Originally Posted by KvonNJ
    Maybe some people have found a way to use two sources of strength and wisdom to make it up the hill.
    Hello friends,

    I agree with this sentiment, for what it's worth.

    I mountain bike. I have a friend who mountain-unicycles. Same trails, same days. I use two wheels, he uses one. Each understands why the other rides, because we ride for the same reason. Each of us thinks the other is completely insane for his choice of vehicle. Which is better? Who is right? How does Grant riding a unicycle down the trail affect my own experience?

    Metta,

    Perry

  4. #54
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

    Quote Originally Posted by AtomicSpud
    I have a friend who mountain-unicycles. Same trails, same days. I use two wheels, he uses one. Each understands why the other rides, because we ride for the same reason. Each of us thinks the other is completely insane for his choice of vehicle. Which is better? Who is right? How does Grant riding a unicycle down the trail affect my own experience?
    I love this analogy and I also love to unicycle as well! I've always wanted to try mountain unicycling and I just need to go out and get that good tire!

  5. #55

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

    Maybe some people have found a way to use two sources of strength and wisdom to make it up the hill.
    Sure. But does this suppose then that neither of them alone is enough? Neither perfect?

    From Sawaki Roshi:

    Everyone believes they have to add something to their zazen. You shouldn't add anything. It's good as it is. You don't need to fool around with it.

    If there is even a bit of individuality left over, it isn't pure, unadulterated zazen. We've got to practice pure, unadulterated zazen, without mixing it with gymnastics or satori or anything. When we bring in our personal ideas - even only a little bit - it is no longer the buddha-dharma.
    Perhaps I've misunderstood this. If you can drop Christ and God and soul and Buddha Nature and all desire for experiencing God or Vishnu or Christ-Mind or reconnecting with the spirit of your dead dog, then it is unadulterated zazen. But if you're seeking any of these things, you're adding to it. If you're hoping for an answer or a mystical experience, then it isn't buddha-dharma. But like I said. I may have misunderstood this. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if I had.

  6. #56

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

    Quote Originally Posted by AtomicSpud
    Quote Originally Posted by KvonNJ
    Maybe some people have found a way to use two sources of strength and wisdom to make it up the hill.
    Hello friends,

    I agree with this sentiment, for what it's worth.

    I mountain bike. I have a friend who mountain-unicycles. Same trails, same days. I use two wheels, he uses one. Each understands why the other rides, because we ride for the same reason. Each of us thinks the other is completely insane for his choice of vehicle. Which is better? Who is right? How does Grant riding a unicycle down the trail affect my own experience?

    Metta,

    Perry
    Not sure I understand the analogy in context with the thread. Maybe the question would be -- can your friend ride a bicycle and a unicycle at the same time? Not really a fair analogy though.

    I guess the question I'm really interested in asking someone who is both an ordained Buddhist and a Christian priest is why. No judgement at all. Just curiosity. I also wonder if any of the vows might conflict.

  7. #57

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

    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.

    Pretty close, Doogie. Not minding being right is the last task. It is done when the one climbing the mountain is dropped, really dropped, not just in words.

    gassho


    Taigu

  8. #58
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
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    Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

    Quote Originally Posted by doogie
    I guess the question I'm really interested in asking someone who is both an ordained Buddhist and a Christian priest is why. No judgement at all. Just curiosity. I also wonder if any of the vows might conflict.
    In answer to your first question: Why not? No sarcasm intended, just a real response.

    In answer to your second question about vows; how could vows to live a good life, treat others with honor and respect, practice humility and voluntary poverty for the benefit of others be in conflict?

    Personally, I am trying to keep my life simple: being a monastic, living simply and trying to calm the turmoil of that which we call life by spiritual practice. I'm just hoping to see the moon reflected in the pool, so I am not going to stir up and muddy the water with conflicts that do not need to be there.

    Gassho,

    Seishin Kyrill

  9. #59

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

    It is not "news", per se, but I remember watching this in the press as it unfolded.
    There were those of a more literal and conservative view who fought this issue tooth and nail in any press which would listen. Their object was to contest the appointment of a Bishop who had also taken Jukai. Here are two takes on this story, one of which even raises the question, "Who cares?":

    http://www.livingchurch.org/news/new...uddhist-bishop

    http://www.getreligion.org/2009/02/z...piscopal-news/

    In the case above, when all was said and done, the common people of the church just went to the convention and voted to endorse a man (not of dogma or doctrine but) of faith. "Good choice", I say.
    Gassho,
    Don

  10. #60
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

    I had the fortune to be born at a very early age, into a Christian family . Consequently, I learned Christian things; values, creeds, prayers, songs and such. Some of these stick with me and give delusional comfort at times. I was confirmed into the Anglican Church and enjoyed the privilege of receiving its sacraments on several occasions. I struggled with the miracles of Jesus and came to realize with time what a miracle consists of; understanding of the laws of nature or the lack of it. BUT, the one thing that has always stuck in my craw is the thing about Christianity ( or Judaism, or Islam, Or Hinduism, or any other ism) being the one and only way to salvation (or do we really need to be saved; and from what.) I can feel resonations with Kabbala, an esoteric theosophy of rabbinical origin based on the Hebrew scriptures and developed between the 7th and 18th centuries. I cried when I first read the Koran; at the pure beauty of it ( it's even better in Arabic, btw.) For a time I thought it would be nice to be pre-Hinduistic. Another diversion was to study and follow the Bahai faith. All, have their merits. (As Fugen would say, "It's all good.") I can understand what is meant by saying the sins of the fathers .... I see this now as the passing down of ignorance from generation to generation through myths and old wives tales. However, I feel that there are so many interpretations to the word 'sin' and I'm afraid to think of how many persons in positions of power have milked this to the bone. We should all flow with the herd without worrying about which donkey whoever is riding. The ilk of a person is not in what they wear or how they think, it's in how they relate. If what we think is our reality, then it all falls into line anyway .

    Br. Kyrill wrote [probably the truest and most sincere words one will ever hear.]:
    how could vows to live a good life, treat others with honor and respect, practice humility and voluntary poverty for the benefit of others be in conflict?

    Personally, I am trying to keep my life simple: being a monastic, living simply and trying to calm the turmoil of that which we call life by spiritual practice. I'm just hoping to see the moon reflected in the pool, so I am not going to stir up and muddy the water with conflicts that do not need to be there.

    Don wrote:
    when all was said and done, the common people of the church just went to the convention and voted to endorse a man (not of dogma or doctrine but) of faith. "Good choice", I say.
    As above, Ioften use the analogy of riding a donkey to to reach the top of the mountain. If someone can truly ride two, three or all in the same lifetime, more power to him/her.

    and thereto I plight thee my troth.

    gassho,

  11. #61

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

    Quote Originally Posted by doogie
    Maybe some people have found a way to use two sources of strength and wisdom to make it up the hill.
    Sure. But does this suppose then that neither of them alone is enough? Neither perfect?

    From Sawaki Roshi:

    Everyone believes they have to add something to their zazen. You shouldn't add anything. It's good as it is. You don't need to fool around with it.

    If there is even a bit of individuality left over, it isn't pure, unadulterated zazen. We've got to practice pure, unadulterated zazen, without mixing it with gymnastics or satori or anything. When we bring in our personal ideas - even only a little bit - it is no longer the buddha-dharma.
    Perhaps I've misunderstood this. If you can drop Christ and God and soul and Buddha Nature and all desire for experiencing God or Vishnu or Christ-Mind or reconnecting with the spirit of your dead dog, then it is unadulterated zazen. But if you're seeking any of these things, you're adding to it. If you're hoping for an answer or a mystical experience, then it isn't buddha-dharma. But like I said. I may have misunderstood this. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if I had.
    I would say that some things matter and cannot mix well with Zazen. For example, being filled with anger, jealousy, excess desires and attachments, thoughts of "us vs. them" each would interfere with tasting the plain beauty of Zazen.**

    But other things do not matter. For example, whether one is wearing a red shirt or a blue shirt during Zazen, is Japanese or American or French, is riding a bicycle or a unicycle up and down mountains.

    If Christianity or Judaism (or Buddhism) is practiced too much with an "us vs. them" attitude, then, yes, perhaps these paths cannot go together. But if each is practiced while dropping such a dividing attitude, then they both fit quite nicely on the cushion (for the cushion holds all things quite roomily). We sit to "find reality always present" by quieting the runaway mind, by dropping thoughts of division, by radically "finding by giving up the search somewhere distant". If someone can find something thereby which is our "Original Face" ... and if they feel that what is thus found is also perhaps a "face of God" ... good.

    As Suzuki Roshi said ...

    Everyone believes they have to add something to their zazen. You shouldn't add anything. It's good as it is. ... When we bring in our personal ideas - even only a little bit - it is no longer the buddha-dharma.
    Perhaps when you bring your personal idea that it is impossible to practice while being a Christian, and perhaps when you try to add to Zazen your feeling that one cannot practice "real Zazen" if also having another faith, then it is YOU who is adding his personal DIVIDING ideas to Zazen. That act is what adulterates Zazen by the very dividing.

    On the other hand, if one sits Zazen without adding such personal, divisive thoughts ... sitting Zazen whether as a Christian, a Jew, an Agnostic or Atheist, in a red shirt or a blue, on a bike or a unicycle ... then one's Zazen is pure, unadulterated.

    Gassho, J

    * * (Heck, one can even sit Zazen as a robber or hired killer ... but the poison of such a mind turns the experience black).

  12. #62

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

    I have thoroughly enjoyed this thread, as it speaks to my experience in many ways. The thread that Taigu had recently regarding the alms bowl reminded me of an email I wrote quite a while ago. This was written to a close friend who is a fundamentalist Baptist, in an attempt to show how Christianity and Buddhism are integrated to a degree for me--please forgive the length, as I couldn't figure out what to edit out. I saved this on my pc under the title "Bowls":


    1. Been thinking about bowls a lot lately, since they keep coming up in Buddhist studies:
    a. alms bowl as on of the few (as in less than 5) possessions of a monk/nun
    b. the story I told you earlier where the 'punch line' is the master telling the disciple that if he has eaten his rice, then he needs to wash his bowl.
    c. the shape of the meditation bells, which are basically an iron bowl
    d. and, last night, I noticed (again, for the first time?) that I have two pottery bowls, one round and one flat, with the same glaze patter & color--way cool!

    well, bowls are really of no use, unless they are empty, right? You can't put something in a full bowl!

    2. Been reading the Heart Sutra, which is a classic, and thought to be a prime condensation of ideas. Not to get into the whole thing (although it is realllllly short)
    a. First lines that appealed to me say, basically, that when the mind has no hindrances, there is no fear

    but, then line that kept going round my head because I had trouble making sense of it was this:

    b. Form is no different from emptiness, Emptiness is no different from form
    That which is form is emptiness, that which is emptiness is form

    3. I read a talk yesterday where the guy said that Buddhist practice does not require that anyone leave their roots, traditions, core faith, etc. In fact, if someone leaves the Christian faith to practice, he will tell them to go back, and practice Christianity more fully with what they have learned (kind of...)

    4. I listened to part of a talk (Thanks JUNDO!!!) (headphones attached to laptop) that was 'zen for newbies'. He first talked about our natural tendency to always judge another person, or a situation, or think 'if only' or 'when this occurs' I will be happy, or looking forward to or dreading the future, or missing the past, etc etc. He said that these thoughts (and demonstrated) are like continually hitting oneself with a hammer. In zen practice, you learn to put the hammer down. Stop the thoughts. Learn to, even for a moment, dwell in actual, internal silence (okay, my words, not his, but that's the idea anyhow).

    4. Reading about Christian contemplative prayer and how Catholics use Zen

    Okay, after all that, here's the good part.

    5. One book that I've known about for years, but always considered too hard, or too dense, or too impenetrable, is the Ascent of Mount Carmel by St. John of the Cross. For some reason, this morning I thought, well, maybe I'm ready to try it now. I'm reading the Introduction, and come across this paragraph (the paragraph before this talks about going through the dark night of the soul before coming out into the sunrise of Divine light, or some such thing):

    Through this obscurity the thread which guides the soul is that of ‘emptiness’ or ‘negation.’ Only by voiding ourselves of all that is not God can we attain to the possession of God, for two contraries cannot co-exist in one individual, and creature-love is darkness, while God is light, so that from any human heart one of the two cannot fail to drive out the other.5959Ascent, Bk. III, Chap. ii.


    Emptiness IS form--the form of Divinity! Because, only where we are empty, can there be room for 'indwelling'.

    This was written a long while back, and I'm not sure I'm exactly in the same place today, but it was a wonderful 'ah ha' moment for me.

    Gassho, Ann

  13. #63

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

    I was just listening to a really good mp3 of RM Jiyu-Kennett, and she talks about this very thing. Not about priests per se, but Christianity and Buddhism. Worth a listen.
    http://www.obcon.org/Dhrmatlk/RM%20J...20Training.mp3

  14. #64
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

    Quote Originally Posted by chessie
    well, bowls are really of no use, unless they are empty, right? You can't put something in a full bowl!
    I've never thought of it this way before.

  15. #65
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
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    Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

    Quote Originally Posted by doogie
    I was just listening to a really good mp3 of RM Jiyu-Kennett, and she talks about this very thing. Not about priests per se, but Christianity and Buddhism. Worth a listen.
    Thanks for this, it was a wonderful talk. Just as an aside, when I was living in a monastery in Northern California I had some rather extensive correspondance with Kennett Roshi, even participated in a correspondance course she offered at that time and spent some time at the monastery on Mount Shasta. Part of the reason I am comfortable in doing what it is I am doing today is because of those previous particular contacts.

    Gassho,

    Seishin Kyrill

  16. #66
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

    Quote Originally Posted by doogie
    I was just listening to a really good mp3 of RM Jiyu-Kennett, and she talks about this very thing.
    http://www.obcon.org/Dhrmatlk/RM%20J...20Training.mp3
    This is great, though I admit I am only through a third of it. Really eloquent explanation of the grace of accepting not knowing.

  17. #67
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyrillos
    ...when I was living in a monastery in Northern California I had some rather extensive correspondance with Kennett Roshi, even participated in a correspondance course she offered at that time and spent some time at the monastery on Mount Shasta...
    There are people who believe that Mount Shasta is a kind of "vortex for enlightenment." I have had some ah-ha times there myself. Very beautiful place.

  18. #68

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

    Quote Originally Posted by doogie
    I was just listening to a really good mp3 of RM Jiyu-Kennett, and she talks about this very thing. Not about priests per se, but Christianity and Buddhism. Worth a listen.
    http://www.obcon.org/Dhrmatlk/RM%20J...20Training.mp3
    Thank you, Doogie, for providing this talk.

    Jiyu Kennett Roshi and her Lineage, the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives (Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey in the U.K. and Shasta Abbey in the U.S) might be said to present a particular interpretation or flavor on these questions. Perhaps more than most Zen Lineages in the West, her teachings do present a rather "Theistic" feel to the nature of "Buddha Nature", "Buddha" and the like. Although she would say that "Ultimate Reality" is quite beyond definition and description, she did (and many of the presentations from her Lineage do) present these as finding "The Eternal", "That" "Thou" "The Still, Small Voice Within" or a feeling of Godhead and Diety, that we are to uncover and be worshipful and devotional toward (often found, for example, in passages of the translation of Shobogenzo produced by the OBC, which can often be quite "King James" in tone). As she says in the talk, her feeliing is that Yahweh, Allah, Buddha and such are all words for the same That. She was also a seer of mystic visions, not unlike many others of the past (Keizan is said to have been such a seer of visions), and that feeling does come through in many of her teachings. In many ways, she created rituals and customs that very much incorporate the feeling of the Anglican Church, such as the lovely Buddhist chants which are written as Gregorian or "Plain" chants ...

    viewtopic.php?p=40544#p40544

    I feel that this is all FINE AND BEAUTIFUL. Yet, as well, it may not be the only way to encounter or present the Zen Buddhist teachings. Many in the west (me among them) may feel that uniting with and fully allowing this life-world-all time and space-ultimate reality, and leaving the ultimate to flow along as the ultimate, might mean that one need not necessarily put things that way, and that everyone from "theists" to so-called "secular humanists", atheists and agnostics, can be held within this "reality" which rejects none of that ... for what can be left out of what is? Perhaps Kennett Roshi's way is actually closer to the devotional, church-like, worshipful flavor of Buddhism that one might encounter at most Buddhist temples in Asia.

    LOVELY, and the wonderful thing about the "Zen Buddhist Tent" ... just as wide and all encompassing as the whole universe, plus all of Reality itself ... is that it is spacious enough to hold all, leaving nothing out. There are as many ways to hear the Sound as there are ears to hear it. Many paths up and down the mountain (and, ultimately what mountain?. I practice such 'non-mountain' hiking.)

    I encountered a passage by Thich Nhat Hanh yesterday in which he spoke of not caring for the definition of "Prajna" as "Wisdom", because to his ears, "Wisdom" seems as such a fixed and solid thing. He prefers "Understanding", which has the feel of "flowing" and penetrating which is fluid, flexible to all conditions. An image I like for that is the sailor single handedly sailing the vast sea who flows and allows for the ever changing conditions of wind and tide, ably sailing whatever comes, allowing it all and ever practicing with each league of the trip. The sailor knows that sea and sail and wind and boat and sailor are each what they are, and wholly one.

    One can be that sailor, whether or not knowing the "beginning and end" of the sea, every inch of coastline, the shape of each grain of sand upon all its beaches, the bottom of its depth or the height of the sky above ... just sailing the sea right here, now, where the hull meets the water and the salty breeze is felt and tasted. The sea is just revealed right to the bottom, and all time and space held within every tiny drop.

    One can be that sailor, whether one tastes the salt of the sea as "God", "H2O" "Water" "The Eternal" "Waves and Sea" "Poseidon" "Sand and Shore" "Buddha" "Liquid and Solid" "A Mirage" "A Dream" "Atoms" or just the flowing Sea.

    Something like that.

    Gassho, Jundo

  19. #69
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    ...the wonderful thing about the "Zen Buddhist Tent"... is that it is spacious enough to hold all, leaving nothing out.
    Like that bowl that keeps coming up...

  20. #70

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

    Hi.

    I tried a couple of times to give some point by point response to the question that doogie asked. But I just ended deleting them. I don't think its about the notion that if one practices Christianity, one cannot practice Buddhism, particularly in the this case, Zazen. I don't think it should be that way.

    Doogie, I appreciate your question but if I engage with it then I will just be locked into an intellectual debate and not get down to the fact that Zazen is universal. Just as the Love of God, as taught by the Christ, is not a monopoly of any Christian church. Oh, of course, we can argue endlessly about the teachings of the institutional Church but even Buddhism has its institutional challenges.

    Matsouka roshi was my first zen teacher. When I entered his zen temple 20 years ago, I admitted to him that I'm a Catholic priest. He immediately said, almost interrupting me, "No contradiction between Catholic and Buddhism." I believed him and have lived his words ever since.

    Karen Armstrong, in her book, A Case For God, contends that up until the modern era (about the 1400's) people were more concern about practice than doctrine. Thus for the Christian, for example, the essence of Christianity was about practicing compassion and helping one's neighbor as the Christ taught. It was also about practicing "prayer"--particularly, liturgical prayer, where the whole body and mind is absolved in the practice. One "lost" oneself in prayer. For Armstrong, and I agree with her, belief and faith is not about intellectual assent but about "to give one's heart".

    Armstrong also reintroduces the 5th century notion of apophasis, that the more we talk about God, the more we know nothing. "[A]pophasis, the breakdown of speech, which cracks and disintegrates before the absolute unknowability of what we call God.” When it comes to theology, "we really can't know what we are talking about." God or the concept of God can only be known through dedicated practice.

    And that brings me back to Matsouka-roshi and his "No contradiction." After he said those words to me, he pointed to the cushion: "Sit!" To me its not about riding a bike or baking a pie or riding a horse. Its not even about popes or original sin or dogmas and doctrines. Its about sitting. At least when I sit, there is "no contradiction."

    I apologize if this doesn't contribute much to the discussion or to the question.

    Gassho,

    James.

  21. #71

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

    Jundo said:
    but I would not mix and match ketchup and bananas!

    Jundo said:
    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.
    There's the Teacher teaching. Thanks for this Jundo.

    Deep bows,

    James.

    Attached files

  22. #72

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

    Quote Originally Posted by frjames

    I apologize if this doesn't contribute much to the discussion or to the question.

    Gassho,

    James.
    I feel that it answered about all that can be answered. Thank you, Padre.

    Gassho, J

  23. #73

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

    I see how there may be no contradiction between Soto Zen and Christianity (or any other religion). Zen appears to be infinitely plastic.

    After reading the pdf that Jundo linked to called The New Buddhism, I am left with questions. The author discussed many of the issues that I've been wrestling with, and although Jundo may not agree with all the author's points, I believe many of the points are valid, and the last point deals directly with this discussion. It is the notion of enlightenment as faith.

    It got me thinking about the story of Abraham, and whether or not a Buddhist would have handled the situation differently. Would a Buddhist, when ordered by his God to kill his son, have taken it on blind faith that he should do so, or would he have declined the offer with a bow.

    I believe the Buddha certainly would have taken issue with any God demanding such an act of faith. In fact, isn't that the whole point of his original message? To wake up from all such delusions and reach that place where the precepts manifest themselves? To act morally because it is your true nature to do so, instead of acting against your nature as an act of faith in an external force?

  24. #74

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

    Doogie, You're right.
    You could pick apart the stories of any religion and base an opinion on them. On a personal note, you just blew off the faiths of millions of people as "delusion," and while I understand your point, there is a more delicate way you could express your own beliefs and ideas about those of others. The simple truth is that our Zen trancends those ideas and beliefs, and rather than worry about "delusions" held by others we ought to remember the delusionary nature of our OWN beliefs rather than those expressed by other people. If you're not a believer, sit with it. If you are a believer, sit also. But Ihave to be honest, it's coming across like your questions are more a matter of stating disagreement with other faiths and what other people think or believe than they are questions about anything.

  25. #75

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

    Doogie, You're right.
    You could pick apart the stories of any religion and base an opinion on them. On a personal note, you just blew off the faiths of millions of people as "delusion," and while I understand your point, there is a more delicate way you could express your own beliefs and ideas about those of others. The simple truth is that our Zen trancends those ideas and beliefs, and rather than worry about "delusions" held by others we ought to remember the delusionary nature of our OWN beliefs rather than those expressed by other people. If you're not a believer, sit with it. If you are a believer, sit also. But Ihave to be honest, it's coming across like your questions are more a matter of stating disagreement with other faiths and what other people think or believe than they are questions about anything.
    If you can state that my OWN beliefs are delusions, then I doubt I'm the only one. That's the point, isn't it? That all beliefs are delusions.

    Zen doesn't mean anti-intellectual. The answer to every question can't be "just sit." Buddha didn't "just sit." He thought about this stuff. Being surrounded by the hindu faith, he thought often about gods. He had opinions on them.

    I'd like to think that "just sitting" would solve a complex dilemma of faith, but perhaps not. If you believe in a God, and that God came down from on high and told you to sacrifice your child, clearly that would contradict everything we know about what it is to be Buddhist. One who is truly enlightened would never do such a thing. Perhaps that's not politically correct, but can't Buddhists agree on that simple point?

    Religions are useless if they don't offer moral guidance, and I think it's just fine to point out moral inconsistencies on both sides. That doesn't disparage either religions, but creates a dialogue between them. Zen has been used for purposes of war, which contradicts the spirit of the Buddha's teachings. It's okay to talk about that too.

  26. #76

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

    I'd like to think that "just sitting" would solve a complex dilemma of faith, but perhaps not. If you believe in a God, and that God came down from on high and told you to sacrifice your child, clearly that would contradict everything we know about what it is to be Buddhist. One who is truly enlightened would never do such a thing. Perhaps that's not politically correct, but can't Buddhists agree on that simple point?

    But, Doogie, if you're not a member of one of the Abrahamic faiths, and don't accept most of the tales of the Buddha either, they're all just stories, right? Illustrations, parables making a broader point? Which matters more... literal flowers springing up in the Buddha's footprints, or that he was a blessing to the world? But if you don't see them as literal- if they're not stories you'd take at face value anyway... Nothing you're actually hanging your faith on? So, how can there be a crisis of faith regarding something you don't believe to begin with?

  27. #77

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

    Hello friends,

    Maybe clinging so tightly to our own notions and ideas is just as bad as hanging on the words of a God who tells you to kill.

    Just my thought.

    Metta,

    Perry

  28. #78
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
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    Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

    Quote Originally Posted by chugai
    Oh Chugai...thank you for this portal. It opened onto so many wonderful places, not only Brother David's simple wisdom, but Merton and so much more. A lot of material I am enjoying. Best Christmas present ever!!!!

    Gassho,

    Seishin Kyrill

  29. #79

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

    But, Doogie, if you're not a member of one of the Abrahamic faiths, and don't accept most of the tales of the Buddha either, they're all just stories, right? Illustrations, parables making a broader point? Which matters more... literal flowers springing up in the Buddha's footprints, or that he was a blessing to the world? But if you don't see them as literal- if they're not stories you'd take at face value anyway... Nothing you're actually hanging your faith on? So, how can there be a crisis of faith regarding something you don't believe to begin with?
    You think that I'm picking a fight with some group. I'm not. All religions have the same heart deep down, but there is a lot of window dressing (delusion) in all of them. Even zen. Thinking zen is the one thing that transcends beliefs is itself a delusion. The practitioner is not separate from the practice, and people have beliefs, sometimes contradictory. I'm sure there are even some here who believe Rinzai is inferior to Soto, that RM Jiyu Kennet's soto zen isn't "our" soto zen, that pureland people have it all wrong.

    It's funny. Buddhists are far more likely to criticize other Buddhists than they are to criticize Christians, Jews, Muslims, or Hindus. But nothing about this thread should be taken as criticism of any religion. Like I said, all religions have the same heart, but their window dressing is very different. If we can't peel it all away, we can't really see that it's all the same space. Perhaps not everybody cares how a Catholic/Buddhist priest might interpret the story of Abraham, but I think it's interesting. Maybe others reading this are wondering how they might reread the bible or the koran or the Torah from a different perspective.

    Perhaps someone following both faiths might reinterpret the story of Abraham to transform it from a literal lesson in faith and obedience to a more metaphorical lesson in attachment. If not, then how does one reconcile that story with the dharma?

    I did grow up in an "Abrahamic" tradition, albeit an odd one, and I was taught a very specific dogma. It's all about faith. Those who have it are gonna be saved, and those who don't aren't. I was ordained into the priesthood at the age of twelve, and at fourteen I was told I needed to start doing baptisms for the dead. That's so you can convert all those poor souls who passed on before they had a chance to accept Jesus as their savior. If you ever wondered why mormons are so interested in genealogy, that's the reason. I thought the whole thing was rather rude. Maybe they didn't want to be converted. Maybe they were just fine believing what they believed even if they were dead. I left the church shortly after, and only now can I really see the unifying threads. I think if you can see that they are all equally false, including zen, then you can see also they are just as equally true.

    I couldn't imagine trying to practice as a mormon elder and a Buddhist priest. There are too many differences in the window dressing. That isn't to say others couldn't do it, but I would find myself standing on the opposite side of many of the church's beliefs and worldly dealings.

  30. #80

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

    I wonder what a religion would look like stripped of everything. I'm not saying that's a good thing or a bad thing mind you, but I wonder. No Buddha, no Christ, No Allah, no Vishnu, no chanting in Korean or Japanese, no incense, no full lotus, no hymns or parables, bon or shinto, eastern rite or legalistic Roman Catholic, pews or cushions, facing East or facing West, runes or eye of frog, souls or aggregates, robes or collars. What would it look like? What would it feel like? How would you express it? How would you convey it without dressing it up and wrapping it in cultural context?

    Maybe that's where sitting takes you (reveals to you). That stripped down place (non-place) where we all go for the answers. The place (non-place) beyond beliefs. Beyond the window dressing. But you can't stay in that place. You have to come back to the world. You have to take an active role in it, which can be hard when you've seen behind the curtain -- seen all the cabling and props and sets for what they are.

    Perhaps for some its better to have never glimpsed the "eternal" or whatever you want to call it, because once you do you can't plead ignorance. You can't return to a belief that two people shouldn't be allowed to love each other or marry because they're the same sex (to take a random example), or that it's fine to put someone to death for this reason, but not for that reason. Those particular beliefs cause suffering. You can't go back to gazing at your naval and letting things be as they are because they are perfectly as they are. You are now responsible. Awake at the wheel. Not just driving yourself, but driving all those snoozing people in the back of the bus.

    Once again, this isn't about private beliefs. It's about how one chooses to act in the world with those beliefs. I've read through the Treeleaf manual for training priests, and I see they are expected to perform as priests in the world, not cloister themselves (not that there's anything wrong with that). Until Fr. Kyrillos enlightened me, I just assumed Catholic priests were the same way. I also believed a priest represents the beliefs of the church from which he derives his authority, but I suppose that's not necessarily true. See, I'm learning.

    * By the way, that was an interesting video, Chugai. Thank you.

  31. #81

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

    Quote Originally Posted by chugai
    Quote Originally Posted by AtomicSpud
    Hello friends,

    Maybe clinging so tightly to our own notions and ideas is just as bad as hanging on the words of a God who tells you to kill.

    Just my thought.

    Metta,

    Perry
    I tried researching the God commands people to kill but didn't find it -- I found stuff on him commanding Angels to kill and certain armies to kill , one thing on killing false prophets, Do you have something on that?
    Hello Chugai,

    I'm not entirely sure what you're asking, but it seems that I've offended you with my previous post, and for that I apologize. It wasn't intentional. I was merely referencing the above example about God commanding Abraham to sacrifice his son.

    As for me "hav[ing] something," I've got nothing. I never have.

    Metta,

    Perry

  32. #82

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

    I think a lot of us Westerners, particularly in America, are caught in the Judeo-Christian mindset whether we want to recognize it or not. Each of the Abrahamic faiths teaches that it is "THE Truth," and that all others are error. Because this ethic is so steeped in our shared culture and thinking, the resultant thought is that, "But if I believe THIS is tue, then THAT can not be..." and we apply such thinking regardless of what our faith- or the lack thereof- might be. Hence, while we're here debating the issue in this thread, Asian Buddhist leaders such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh either pay scant attention to the difference between faiths or outright encourage deep exploration, the attitude being, "Don't convert- use these teachings to become a better whatever you are!" I think teachers trained in Asia, like Jundo, Bernie Glassman, Aitken Roshi, have also adopted some of this same attitude. (LOOK how many Western Zen teachers and those of other styles are Jewish, for example, and have no problem reconciling their spirituality!)
    Buddhism, and our Zen, are unique in that they do not present the "ALL OR NOTHING" mindset of other religious expressions- they simply seek to incorporate our individual "all." AND nothing.

  33. #83

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

    Quote Originally Posted by chugai
    I believe I made the mistake -- I was just asking if you had a link or something to the scripture where god commands us to kill --- the Bible is a tricky read -- I am not offended, I have no God or Savior unless they are invisible and work in such mysterious ways I cannot perceive them except by intuition (which has failed me so far).
    Good morning (here) Chugai,

    I'm glad that's settled. The verse in questions is this:

    Quote Originally Posted by the Bible (KJV)
    Genesis 22

    1And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.

    2And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

    3And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.

    4Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.

    5And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.

    6And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.

    7And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?

    8And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.

    9And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.

    10And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.

    11And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.

    12And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

    13And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.
    Metta,

    Perry

  34. #84

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

    Don't you think this is a story about faith and trust, an allegorical parable rather than a recording of an historic event? Even at face value, one must see that the book was supposedly written by Moses... who wasn't even close to being born yet, so at BEST it's not an eyewitness account, right? I personally think this, like most of the stories in the Old Testament (and much of the New) are allegories meant to make a specific point (or multiple ones) and that dichotomy is only apparent when one tries (as many do) to interpret them literally.

  35. #85

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

    Or it's a story about faith and obedience. And I don't think it matters whether it should be taken literally or as a parable. An interesting Pew poll from 2006 shows that 70% of Lutherans in the United States take the stories in the Bible to be literal. But that's neither here nor there. How does the parable jibe with Buddhist ethics? Abraham is fully prepared to sacrifice his son on God's command, and God goes on to say why he tested him: "... for now I know that thou fearest God."

    All too easily Buddhist ethics are left out of zen, and you end up with something not so much Buddhist as Dogenist, or Japanese spiritualist, or something else. There's a Soto sangha here in Southern California that seems very un-Buddhist to me. A lot of American flag-waving, pro war, us against them attitude. It's not unlike some of the flavors of zen that have sprung up over in Japan at various times.

    Here's an interesting paper on D.T. Suzuki. It touches on some of this stuff.

    http://www.westernbuddhistreview.com...ki-gentium.pdf

  36. #86

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

    Or it's a story about faith and obedience. And I don't think it matters whether it should be taken literally or as a parable. An interesting Pew poll from 2006 shows that 70% of Lutherans in the United States take the stories in the Bible to be literal. But that's neither here nor there. How does the parable jibe with Buddhist ethics? Abraham is fully prepared to sacrifice his son on God's command, and God goes on to say why he tested him: "... for now I know that thou fearest God."



    You really don't see it? It's a story about Zen in its primal form!
    Take the literal interpretation out, if you can do that... drop the characters and actions as historic ideas, and you're left with a parable about letting go in the face of samsaric clinging... severing all ties, even your dearest and closest held attachments in this life, even if it seems not to make sense or to be selfish or unreasonable... EXACTLY as the Buddha did when, in his story, he walked away from the responsibilities of rule, his wife, and his son. And, lets not forget, in both tales, it was the willingness to let go that bore the deeper spirituality and spiritual relationships between the people involved in time.
    Did it literally HAPPEN? I have no idea. I wasn't there. Is there a very "Buddhist" lesson in the story? ABSOLUTELY.

  37. #87

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

    You really don't see it? It's a story about Zen in its primal form!
    That's a beautiful story. But it's YOUR beautiful story. It exists in your mind. That may not be how a Christian views the story at all. You say I don't see IT. I can see what you want me to see. That doesn't mean that it's IT. A Christian might take it as a literal story and yet still want to be a good Zen Buddhist. It becomes a test between external authority versus internal authority. Are you walking the Buddhist path when you abrogate your own morals for the morals of a sovereign being (i.e. God). We cannot alter the story or remove any part of it. We have to take it as it is. You can put whatever spin on the lesson you want, but the parts must remain intact or else we can do away with the story altogether and write a fiction perfectly acceptable to both sides.

  38. #88
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

    I think those most willing to follow a religion religiously are those just starting out, or those with a particularly strong family upbringing in it, or culture. Most other practitioners follow their own flavor of their religion-- following the main points, but with variations based on personal thought, family upbringing, the society they are brought up in, etc. I was a Catholic up until around fourteen or fifteen, and while I would have those times of trying to follow the rules, I usually went pretty easy on myself with other things. I always had a natural buffer for being overly dogmatic with myself, trying to keep in with the essential golden rule more than worrying about how often I was going to confession.

    Quote Originally Posted by frjames
    Karen Armstrong, in her book, A Case For God, contends that up until the modern era (about the 1400's) people were more concern about practice than doctrine. Thus for the Christian, for example, the essence of Christianity was about practicing compassion and helping one's neighbor as the Christ taught.
    Like in that MP3 doogie shared:

    Quote Originally Posted by frjames
    Armstrong also reintroduces the 5th century notion of apophasis, that the more we talk about God, the more we know nothing... "we really can't know what we are talking about."
    Quote Originally Posted by frjames
    Jundo said:
    but I would not mix and match ketchup and bananas!


    I lol'd.

    Quote Originally Posted by doogie
    It got me thinking about the story of Abraham, and whether or not a Buddhist would have handled the situation differently. Would a Buddhist, when ordered by his God to kill his son, have taken it on blind faith that he should do so, or would he have declined the offer with a bow.
    That's a damn good question, but I would ask it this way:

    "Would the Buddha, if ordered knowingly by God to kill his son, have taken it on blind faith that he should do so, or would he have devised some other answer?"

    But still, this is all just stories in my opinion, and wondering about them in a serious sense is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by doogie
    I wonder what a religion would look like stripped of everything.
    It wouldn't be, nor have been?

    Quote Originally Posted by doogie
    I see [Treeleaf priests]... are expected to perform as priests in the world, not cloister themselves...
    Visualizing the teaching, "life is our temple," has really helped me. Activity in "real life" is essentially no different from activity in a monastery or retreat.

    Quote Originally Posted by KvonNJ
    I think a lot of us Westerners, particularly in America, are caught in the Judeo-Christian mindset whether we want to recognize it or not.
    True that. At least, I tend to recognize this in myself, whether I want to or not:

    Quote Originally Posted by "KvonNJ
    Each of the Abrahamic faiths teaches that it is "THE Truth," and that all others are error. Because this ethic is so steeped in our shared culture and thinking, the resultant thought is that, "But if I believe THIS is tue, then THAT can not be..." and we apply such thinking regardless of what our faith- or the lack thereof- might be.
    Quote Originally Posted by "KvonNJ":1jkb19ub
    [The story of Abrahm is...]about Zen in its primal form!
    Take the literal interpretation out, if you can do that... drop the characters and actions as historic ideas, and you're left with a parable about letting go in the face of samsaric clinging... severing all ties, even your dearest and closest held attachments in this life, even if it seems not to make sense or to be selfish or unreasonable... EXACTLY as the Buddha did when, in his story, he walked away from the responsibilities of rule, his wife, and his son. And, lets not forget, in both tales, it was the willingness to let go that bore the deeper spirituality and spiritual relationships between the people involved in time.
    Interesting way to look at it.

  39. #89

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

    So if I change the whole thing around and look at it with my eyes nearly closed it should make sense?
    Wait, What?

    No, the point is we should look at it with the mindset of "What does it say to me?" as opposed to "Well, THEY believe it's about THIS or THAT..." Rejecting wisdom because one doesn't like the source is silly, and so is simply disregarding such a possible source, don't you think?
    ...and who cares? What difference can it make to me how a Methodist or a Catholic sees that story? I have no problem seeing the story of the offering of Isaac as nearly identical to the Buddhist tale I referenced... and I personally think finding common ground is much more important and productive than pointing out and further widening the differences that seperate us as people. If, at the end of the day, all we have to offer is just another "Us" and "Them," then what does our faith hold that any other doesn't?

  40. #90

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

    Someone asked me today why I seem to say opposite things on issues such as this. They were a bit confused about what I mean about "certain" flavors of Christianity or Judaism (or Atheism too) being "compatible with our Practice ... while, in my view, many or most flavors of Christianity or Judaism (or Atheism too) really are not.

    Likewise, they have read me be critical of much of what I call "magico-supersticio hocus-pocus bunkum" in Buddhism, and much myth and fairy tale that it has picked up over the millenia ... yet I also say that esoteric practices (in some flavors) can be harmonious with "our Practice" under certain conditions. Likewise with regard to chanting to Amida, prayer and the like.

    So, what gives?

    It is really very simple. The key, by my eyes, is radical, non-attaining and goallessness of Shikantaza ... moving forward, yet ever still ... polishing the tile, yet not one thing to change. Of course, we sit seated Shikantaza Zazen each day, but many activities and beliefs in daily life can be "Shikantaza" too. For example, if one washes the dishes because dirty dishes are bad, and one cannot be happy until the dishes are clean ... that is not what I would call Shikantaza. However, if one can wash dishes because dirty dishes are bad (but also beyond all thought of "good and bad") and because one must get the cleaning done (but also simultaneously with nothing to attain or in need of fixing) and cannot be happy until they are clean (but while simultaneously content with dirty dishes as dirty dishes, clean dishes as clean dishes, in between dishes as in between dishes ... even content with one's discontent at the dirt) ... that is rather Shikantaza.

    If one sits Zazen striving to get enlightened ... not Shikantaza. If one sits Zazen striving to get enlightened ... with nothing lacking anywhere along the way ... and enlightenment in the piercing of that "nothing in need of fixing, even as we fix" ... that is Shikantaza.

    Well, what goes for dish washing and Zazen applies to all practices, makiing Buddhas, praying, chanting, painting pictures, believing or not believing in God, practicing a religion, holding a political view ... anything really. We try to make ourselves more "Buddha-like" and better people, even though "Buddhas all along" with not one hair on our heads to change. If one prays or bows or chants with nothing in need of getting ... Shikantaza.

    Thus, for purposes of our practice here, it all depends how it is done ... and whether it is Shikantaza.

    Something like that.

    Gassho, J

  41. #91

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Someone asked me today why I seem to say opposite things on issues such as this. They were a bit confused about what I mean about "certain" flavors of Christianity or Judaism (or Atheism too) being "compatible with our Practice ... while, in my view, many or most flavors of Christianity or Judaism (or Atheism too) really are not.

    Likewise, they have read me be critical of much of what I call "magico-supersticio hocus-pocus bunkum" in Buddhism, and much myth and fairy tale that it has picked up over the millenia ... yet I also say that esoteric practices (in some flavors) can be harmonious with "our Practice" under certain conditions. Likewise with regard to chanting to Amida, prayer and the like.

    So, what gives?

    It is really very simple. The key, by my eyes, is radical, non-attaining and goallessness of Shikantaza ... moving forward, yet ever still ... polishing the tile, yet not one thing to change. Of course, we sit seated Shikantaza Zazen each day, but many activities and beliefs in daily life can be "Shikantaza" too. For example, if one washes the dishes because dirty dishes are bad, and one cannot be happy until the dishes are clean ... that is not what I would call Shikantaza. However, if one can wash dishes because dirty dishes are bad (but also beyond all thought of "good and bad") and because one must get the cleaning done (but also simultaneously with nothing to attain or in need of fixing) and cannot be happy until they are clean (but while simultaneously content with dirty dishes as dirty dishes, clean dishes as clean dishes, in between dishes as in between dishes ... even content with one's discontent at the dirt) ... that is rather Shikantaza.

    If one sits Zazen striving to get enlightened ... not Shikantaza. If one sits Zazen striving to get enlightened ... with nothing lacking anywhere along the way ... and enlightenment in the piercing of that "nothing in need of fixing, even as we fix" ... that is Shikantaza.

    Well, what goes for dish washing and Zazen applies to all practices, makiing Buddhas, praying, chanting, painting pictures, believing or not believing in God, practicing a religion, holding a political view ... anything really. We try to make ourselves more "Buddha-like" and better people, even though "Buddhas all along" with not one hair on our heads to change. If one prays or bows or chants with nothing in need of getting ... Shikantaza.

    Thus, for purposes of our practice here, it all depends how it is done ... and whether it is Shikantaza.
    I may be wrong, and forgive me if I misunderstood, but it seems as if experiencing this nonduality is the highest ideal. That this non-attaining goalessness itself is complete enlightenment. But many supposed zen masters have been tragically flawed individuals, just like many leaders in other religions, and just like people in general. Without a reliance on Buddhist ethics, it seems all too easy to think that sitting shikantaza is enough -- like saying a bunch Hail-Marys to absolve oneself of sin is enough.

    One can behave badly, then return to the source, to enlightenment where one is a perfectly actualized Buddha, and then come back to the world and behave badly again. Around and around it goes.

    Perhaps someone who is truly Enlightened (Big E) doesn't need the precepts. Perhaps one can't help but live the precepts because one is enlightened. Perhaps the precepts themselves are enlightenment. That is to say, even if one had never heard of the precepts, someone who is Enlightened would live them anyway. But most people here aren't like that. I know I'm not. What does this have to do with anything?

    There are sometimes conflicts between Buddhist ethics and the ethics taught in other religions. In fact, there are sometimes conflicts in the ethics within zen as well (or have been anyway). Divorcing zen from Buddhism, or simply removing aspects of Buddhism which seem inconvenient, can lead to something like Samurai zen.

    Imagine you're a Catholic Chaplain as well as a Zen Buddhist Priest, the only one within a thousand miles capable of performing marriages, and U.S. Federal law is changed to allow servicemen and woman to marry those of the opposite sex. You believe as your Christian church believes, that it is immoral, and so you refuse. This causes great suffering. Does it go against any of the precepts? I don't know. Perhaps not. Is there still a conflict there. I think so.

    Is the purpose of Zen or Buddhism to help someone live rightly, or is its purpose to help someone be at peace with living rightly and/or wrongly? (And before I'm corrected, the term "right" does appear in the precepts).

  42. #92

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

    Hi Doogie,

    I am going to borrow this from where you posted on the "Karma" thread today ...

    Quote Originally Posted by doogie
    There is a notion. That we (whatever "we" are) are like children. Spun off of something greater. Call it God, the Source, the Tao, whatever. We return lifetime after lifetime to grow more fully into what we are. That is, what we are capable of being. We do this by working through karma. If I kill a man in this life, perhaps I return in another to be killed so that I experience the consequence. Not as retribution, but as a tool to learn and to grow. Eventually we will have learned all that this place can teach us and we move on.

    In this way, a world of suffering isn't a prison to be escaped. It is a school in which to learn.
    I am not saying that such is how the universe works or not. I just want to say that what you describe might not be all so different from the "Christianity" and other belief systems hold. Call it sin ... call it karma ... call it heaven/hell or "Buddhist heaven/hell" ... and it just becomes words after awhile.

    You also post above:

    I may be wrong, and forgive me if I misunderstood, but it seems as if experiencing this nonduality is the highest ideal. That this non-attaining goalessness itself is complete enlightenment. But many supposed zen masters have been tragically flawed individuals, just like many leaders in other religions, and just like people in general. Without a reliance on Buddhist ethics, it seems all too easy to think that sitting shikantaza is enough -- like saying a bunch Hail-Marys to absolve oneself of sin is enough.

    One can behave badly, then return to the source, to enlightenment where one is a perfectly actualized Buddha, and then come back to the world and behave badly again. Around and around it goes.
    We had another thread on when Zen teachers act "Ugly, Small And All Too Human", and you might wish to have a look ...

    viewtopic.php?f=24&t=2074

    In a nutshell, while one may realize wondrous Truths in this Practice, one must still Practice those truths and "realize" them (make them real) through our conduct. So long as we are frail human beings subject to fall in this samsara world, we are never free of the chances to act "all too human". Even the most gifted tight rope walker might stumble and fall with the next crossing, with the next breeze. Darn right that we use the Precepts and Zazen (not two), much as that pole the acrobat holds for balance in crossing.

    Is the purpose of Zen or Buddhism to help someone live rightly, or is its purpose to help someone be at peace with living rightly and/or wrongly? (And before I'm corrected, the term "right" does appear in the precepts).
    Hah! I would say perhaps that the purpose is to help us live rightly and gently ... and be at total peace (beyond small human thoughts of "right and wrong") in a world that can seem to go sometimes terribly terribly wrong. Something like that. 8)

    Gassho, J

  43. #93

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

    Thank you, Jundo. The cosmology of Christian versus Buddhist isn't as important as possible ethical differences and practical choices, but I understand why you can't answer some of those questions.

    Jundo said:
    We had another thread on when Zen teachers act "Ugly, Small And All Too Human", and you might wish to have a look ...

    viewtopic.php?f=24&t=2074

    In a nutshell, while one may realize wondrous Truths in this Practice, one must still Practice those truths and "realize" them (make them real) through our conduct. So long as we are frail human beings subject to fall in this samsara world, we are never free of the chances to act "all too human". Even the most gifted tight rope walker might stumble and fall with the next crossing, with the next breeze. Darn right that we use the Precepts and Zazen (not two), much as that pole the acrobat holds for balance in crossing.
    I read through it, thank you. It's true that people are people, whether priest or president, and it's unrealistic to place anybody up on these pedestals of perfection. The practice never ends, and it's probably pretty easy to let power and praise corrupt that practice.

    Sometimes the people who become priests are the last people who should be priests, just like the people who become president are the last people who should be president. In fact, I think you have to be a little crazy to want to be president. I want someone in office who DOES'T want to be president.

    There's a saying in the world of psychology and psychiatry that those those who enter the field are sometimes the most screwed up people around. Some enter it in order to "fix" themselves, but only end up harming others. That's a gross generalization, of course, but all-too-common. When you put neurotic people in positions of power, those neuroses are usually going to surface.

    Those relative few Catholic priests who harm children didn't become that way because they were Catholic priests. They most likely became catholic priests in order to deal with those impulses (just a hypothesis).

    I don't think anybody comes to Buddhism happy, successful, content, and well-adjusted. People come because they are suffering. They're searching for a "fix," and maybe for a while they find it, and perhaps even try to pass it on to others, but that "fix" is an illusion. Wherever you go, there you are, even if you think you've finally done away with your "self." (The "self" might be an illusion, but so is doing away with it, right?)

    If I've learned anything from Treeleaf (and I've learned a lot), it's that the practice isn't limited to the cushion, and it never ends. Not for a novice and not for a roshi. I've also learned that there's nowhere to get to, so if you think you've arrived, wake up and keep practicing.

    Gassho,

    D.

    ** I hope I didn't give anybody the impression that I think all priests, psychologists, and presidents are nuts or deviants. That's not the case at all. Well, maybe all presidents.

  44. #94
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

    Seishin Kyrill et al,

    The Merton interaction with Buddhism is quite interesting. If you have not already done so, have a look at his book Zen and the Birds of Appetite... a couple of interesting points emerge from this work -

    1) Merton, despite his affinity for and interest in the philosophies and religions of the East, reaffirmed his own Western lineage and roots - note that Thich Nhat Hanh also has quite a bit to say about Westerners who wish to renounce their cultural/religious roots and become Buddhists. They both appear to share the belief that one's (interfaith) practice is best based in one's original cultural/religious milieu.

    2) On his Asian trip, Merton had a conversation with Nishida Kitaro (of the Kyoto School - an interesting story in itself), and he quoted Nishida's definition of God: "the spirit of unity at the center of the universe." Aside from the fact that the Kyoto scholars were for the most part Rinzai-affiliated (Shenichi Hisamatsu and the ultimate koan a favorite of mine).

    It is a tragedy that Merton's intellectual and spiritual maturation was cut short -

    Gassho,
    Alex (Yugen)

  45. #95

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Well, what goes for dish washing and Zazen applies to all practices, makiing Buddhas, praying, chanting, painting pictures, believing or not believing in God, practicing a religion, holding a political view ... anything really. We try to make ourselves more "Buddha-like" and better people, even though "Buddhas all along" with not one hair on our heads to change. If one prays or bows or chants with nothing in need of getting ... Shikantaza.
    Let me underline how sacred it all is, every breath and step, the sacred unity at the heart of this universe, whether washing windows, washing a face, chanting to Buddha or praying to one's image of God, working in a laboratory to unlock DNA, parenting children, being alive ... all sacred among the sacred, each the total manifestation that is the heart of reality. This sense of the sacred too, in every action and every instant of Zazen ... is Shikantaza. If one manifests such insight into every action ... praying, chanting, researching, washing ... all Shikantaza.

    Do not assume that "just this ordinary life" is just "ordinary"? The Ancestors are not preaching mere resignation and stoicism, but to find the jewel and the sacred in this "seems so ordinary" existence. We encounter the "ordinary" for the wondrous, miraculous, whole and flowering treasure that it is ... and which is just "us" too. Such are the fruits of Zazen. It is only that, in Shikantaza, there is found what is here all along by giving up the search somewhere distant and apart.

    Gassho, J

  46. #96
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
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    Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

    Quote Originally Posted by Yugen
    It is a tragedy that Merton's intellectual and spiritual maturation was cut short -
    Yes Alex, it is a shame. I am sure that he would have had so much more to learn and to say about it. But it wasn't totally stopped. His Gethsemane Monastery took up the torch, along with a number of other monastic scholars both Eastern and Western, and with the gentle guidance of the Dalai Lama there has continued a regular meeting and association of (mostly) monastics of the Buddhist and Catholic traditions over the years. They have regular conferences and even publish work about the spiritual path together. It has grown over the years into the Monastic Inter-Religious Dialogue. No one is trying to subject one side to the other: Christian to Buddhist, or Buddhist to Christian. No one is trying to create a syncrtic form of a "new religion". What is happening on a larger scale thre is what happened with me, personally on a much smaller more personal scale; a genuine feeling of the sharing of monastic fraternity with someone of a different religion, that was at once familiar and welcoming, as well as practicable in the idiom I already understood. Once that is felt, there is a natural draw to learn how much more we share. For some of us, not all; it is comfortable enough to open up to the possiblity of monastic/priestly expression in both traditions, with the proper permissions, of course. I think Merton would have move more in that direction as time move on. Others of his Order as well as other Catholic priests have over the ensuing years. So far, as far as I know, the Pope hasn't made a move to baptise all the Buddhists, nor has the Dalai Lama moved into the Vatican.

    Gassho,

    Seishin Kyrill

  47. #97
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

    For the very little that it's worth, us Zennists tend to read our scriptures (sutras) more critically (as guidance from the Buddha) than Christians, who I think are taught to read the scriptures devotionally (as the Word of God). I don't know if us Zennists get taught, per se, to read the sutras more critically as much as it is encouraged or at least tolerated. On the other hand, I think Christians are often dissuaded from critical thinking about their scriptures. All this all too often adds up to conflict and talking past each other. After reading this very interesting thread, I think people in all religions could benefit from reading their respective scriptures more contemplatively, which seems a mix of both devotion and critical thinking.

  48. #98

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

    I agree Alan. Great faith, great doubt, and great determination.

  49. #99
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

    Oh, I forgot to add that at the devotional level there is conflict between Buddhism and Christianity, hence your original question. But once you get to the contemplative level that conflict seems to go away. Interesting.

  50. #100
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path

    Sorry, just one more worthless thought. Depending on where you stand, the whole zen experience is in this thread/topic. If you stand in a place of devotion you see many mountains, or religions. If you stand in a place of criticism those mountains become rivers of thought or beliefs. And if you stand in a place of contemplation (zazen) it all becomes One Mountain, One Body.

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