Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Notes from Holy Island Journal

Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh. London, Random House, 1995. There is some very good stuff in it. “When you are a truly happy Christian, your are also a Buddhist. And Vice versa.”

p. 10-11 In the Psalms it says, “Be still and know that I am God.” “Be still” means to become peaceful and concentrated. The Buddhist term is samatha (stopping, calming, concentrating). “Know” means to acquire wisdom, insight, or understanding. The Buddhist term is vipasyana (insight, or looking deeply). “Looking deeply” means observing something or someone with so much concentration that the distinction between observer and observed disappears. The result is insight into the true nature of the object [MR: not an object if you are truly concentrated!] When we look into the heart of a flower, we see clouds, sunshine, minerals, time, the earth, and everything else in the cosmos in it. Without clouds, there could be no rain and there would be no flower. Without time, the flower could not bloom. In fact, the flower is made entirely of non-flwer elements; it has no independent, individual existence. It “inter-is” with everything else in the universe. Inter-being is a new term…When we seethe nature of inter-being, barriers between ourselves and others are dissolved, and peace, love, and understanding are possible. Whenever there is understanding, compassion is born.

Just as a flower is made only of non-flower elements [one of the aspects of emptiness MR], Buddhism is made only of non-Buddhist elements, including Christian ones, and Christianity is made of non-Christian elements, including Buddhist ones. We have different roots, traditions, and ways of seeing, but we share the common qualities of love, understanding , and acceptance. For our dialogue to be open, we need to open our hearts, set aside our prejudices, listen deeply, and represent  [12] truthfully what we know and understand. To do this, we need a certain amount of faith. In Buddhism, faith means confidence in our and others’ abilities to wake up to our deepest capacity of loving and understanding. In Christianity, faith means trust in God, the one who represents love, understanding, dignity, and truth. When we are still, looking deeply, and touching the source of our true wisdom, we touch the living Buddha and the living Christ in ourselves and in each person we meet.

p. 30-31: …When a priest performs the Eucharistic rite, his role is to bring life to the community. The miracle happens not because he says the words correctly, but because we eat and drink in mindfulness. Holy Communion is a strong bell of mindfulness, We drink and eat all the time, but we usually ingest only our ideas, projects, worries and anxiety. We do not really eat our bread or drink our beverage. If we allow ourselves to touch our bread deeply, we become reborn, because our bread is life itself. Eating it deeply, we touch the sun, the clouds, the earth, and everything in the cosmos. We touch life, and we touch the Kingdom of God. When I asked Cardinal Jean Daniélou if the Eucharist can be described in this way, he said yes.

p. 32 When Buddhists and Christians come together, we should share a meal in mindfulness as a deep practice of Communion. When we pick up a piece of bread, we can do it with mindfulness, with Spirit. The bread, the Host, becomes the object [!] of our deep love and concentration. If our concentration is not strong enough, we can try saying its name silently, “Bread,” in the way we would call the name of our beloved. When we do this, the bread will reveal itself to us in its totality, and we can put it in our mouth and chew with real awareness, not hewing anything else, such as our thoughts, our fears, or even our aspirations. This is Holy Communion, to live in faith. When we practice this way, every meal is the Last Supper. In fact, we could call it the First Supper, because everything will be fresh and new.

When we eat together in this way, the food and the community of co-practitioners and the objects of our mindfulness. It is through the food and one another [33] that the ultimate becomes present. To eat a piece of bread or a bowl of rice mindfully and see that every morsel is a gift of the whole universe is to live deeply. We do not need to distract ourselves from the food, even by listening to scriptures or the lives of bodhisattvas or saints. When mindfulness is present, the Buddha and the Holy Spirit are already there.

pp. 37-38 When we are in touch with the highest spirit in ourselves, we too are a Buddha, filled with the Holy Spirit, as we become very tolerant, very open, very deep, and very understanding.


p. 39 In fact, we have to open doors for future generations. We should not be afraid of more Dharma doors—if anything, we should  be afraid that no more will be opened…Each of us, by our practice and our loving-kindness, is capable of opening new Dharma doors. Society is changing…conditions are not the same as they were in the time of the Buddha or Jesus. The Buddha relies on us for the Dharma to continue to develop as a living organism—not a stale Dharma, but a real Dharmakaya, a real “body of teaching”.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just wanted to tell what follows to people somewhere who I know will understand the deep grief, pain and despair this anecdote has/is causing me.

At the end of June two people I know comparatively well were ordained as priests in the CofE. Although they had been on the same pre-ordination retreat, they were ordained at different services. Both separately told a group of people, which included me, with some glee that although they had been told that their retreat was to be silent and they weren't to use mobile phones and other electronic devices for communicating, instead they had both phoned family, texted friends, and on two nights gone to the pub with others from the retreat. What made it even worse - if this was possible - was that both people knew I was just days away from the viva for my PhD which explores the role of women's practices of silence in their faith lives, and one of them had been one of my interviewees!!!

What are we doing when we are ordaining people as priests who think that this is not only ok but something to almost brag about on the day of their ordination?

11:08 am, July 09, 2015  
Blogger Dugald Campbell said...

Wow - very, very thought-provoking, helpful and challenging.
Thankyou for the post.
I always read your blog with great interest and am deeply nourished.

6:12 pm, July 13, 2015  

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