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

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  1. #1

    Priests and Priests: Walking the Buddhist and Christian Path


    "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?



  2. #2

    A Christian Zen Friend

    Article in Zen Friends Vol. 15, Ni.1 2004 P. 13 A Christian Zen Friend Misao Kawamata Catholic Priest


  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by TomSchulte View Post
    Article in Zen Friends Vol. 15, Ni.1 2004 P. 13 A Christian Zen Friend Misao Kawamata Catholic Priest
    Hi Tom,

    Is there a link?

    Most of the Catholic Priests I know who are also Zen Practitioners are Jesuits, and most seem to be practitioners of Rinzai Zen or the mixed Rinzai-Soto Sambokyodan. (I wonder why not so much Soto Soto? Hmmm. Perhaps just historical fluke and one followed another in that direction.)

    Robert Kennedy, S.J., Roshi, is a Jesuit priest and Zen teacher in the White Plum lineage. He studied with Yamada Roshi in Kamakura, Japan, with Maezumi Roshi in Los Angeles, and with Glassman Roshi in New York. Glassman Roshi installed Kennedy as sensei in 1991 and conferred Inka (his final seal of approval) in 1997, making him a roshi (master). Kennedy Roshi is the author of Zen Gifts to Christians and Zen Spirit, Christian Spirit.... To date, Kennedy Roshi has installed six dharma successors...and Kevin Hunt Sensei, a Trappist monk from St. Joseph's Abbey at Spencer, Mass.

    For the occasion of Fr. Hunt's installation, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., wrote:

    "Because of the long preparation and training required to become a master of the demanding Zen training, Fr. Hunt's achievement is one that we can all celebrate in thanksgiving to God ... Jesuits and other Christians have found Zen to be a valuable instrument for progressing in the spiritual life. ... By coming to focus on the present moment through the practice of the techniques of Zen meditation, the Christian can become aware of God's immediate loving presence."

    Gassho, Jundo

    Last edited by Jundo; 04-07-2017 at 03:33 AM.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Tom,

    Is there a link?
    No link, Saw it in the reading rack at Cedar Rapids (IA) Zen Center Did look for it though.


  5. #5
    Let me feed your curiosity.

    As for the gentleman in your post, I'm sure he practices the paramitas. If he does so earnestly, he should handle the three poisons including delusion. If you mean the western meaning of delusion, the Buddha told the parable of the poisoned arrow to reccomend becoming entangled in metaphysical speculation, not to say not to believe in something greater than yourself. Just don't let it turn you into a pretzel.

    Marc Connery
    Myo̅ Gan - Bright Cliff

    I put the Monkey in Monkeymind

  6. #6
    I am a Zen Buddhist by choice, and I came to Treeleaf Zendo thinking I knew about meditation, not knowing. For about four years before coming to Treeleaf, I sat counting my breath scanning my body and sitting quietly with my breath to alleviate my arthritic pain. Now I just sit. And sometimes I return to these meditations. I observe the things I have learned in reading through the small amount I have done, and by observing and doing. For me I sit, and I am learning to sit often. I am learning not to announce on Facebook that I am a Zen Buddhist, but I've had to make that mistake a lot before that began to happen.

    I've had to make many mistakes in my Shikantaza before even getting started, and I feel like I'm just getting started. I want longer sitting to be in my future. Like many I left fundamentalist Christianity at the age of puberty, and I toyed with main-stream Christianity until I found Unitarian Universalism and I'm still a part of this, and I sit with the help of folks at Treeleaf. AND Jundo says there is no bad sitting, and length of sitting time does not matter. I'm not a real Christian.

    I know who Thomas Merton is, and I've read St. John of the Cross. I've memorized parts of poetry, but really, Shikantaza is my first formal introduction to actual meditation. I guess all this is unimportant. I sit Shikantaza, and I will continue to sit alone or with others. I'm not sure where my sitting will take me, and some people, Jr. Priests, and practitioners with much more sitting time, tell me that I have a lot to learn, that sitting in and of itself will lead me to more.

    I'm a Christian, but only in that I look at some of the practices of Jesus as truth. I am at this time in my life a Soto Zen Buddhist, and Jundo and the other priests of Treeleaf are offering much. I'm told that I have much to learn. I'm 65.

    Tai Shi
    sat today
    Last edited by Tai Shi; 04-07-2017 at 05:31 AM.
    For the end is to know the beginning, to know the beginning is to know the end for the first time.

  7. #7
    Member Geika's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    San Diego County, California
    Tai Shi, I have read before that sitting for longer than twenty-five minutes at a time is not necessarily beneficial, but sometimes harmful. Don't push yourself too much! Tackle longer sittings with intervals.

    Gassho, sat today
    迎 Geika

  8. #8
    What a lot of labels in this thread!

    Doogie asks how one can be a Catholic priest and a zen priest.

    I ask how I can be fat and on a diet.

    It seems in both cases the answer is, "Like this."

    Isn't the rest just the mind doing its gymnastics? "Gotta keep busy."



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