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Archive for the ‘Buddhism’ Category

A brief excerpt from Going Home: Jesus and Buddha as Brothers, by Thich Nhat Hanh.

Of course there is a relationship between water and wave, but this relationship is very different from the relationship between waves and waves. This is very important. When we say this wave is made of all the other waves, we are dealing with the phenomenal world. We are speaking of causes and effects in terms of phenomena. But it’s very different when we say that this wave is made of water. By separating the two relationships, we will save a lot of time, ink and saliva.

When you say that humankind was created by God, you are talking about the relationship between water and wave. God did not create man in the same way a carpenter creates a table. All our Christian friends would agree with that. The way God created the cosmos was quite different. You cannot mix up the two dimensions. You cannot consider God as one of the things that operates in the realm of phenomena. There are many theologians who are able to see this. Paul Tillich said that “God is the ground of being.” The “ground of being” is the noumenal aspect of reality. God is not a being in the phenomenal world. He or She is the ground of all being. It would not be difficult for Christians and Buddhists to agree on this.

We can talk about the phenomenal world, but it is very difficult to talk about the noumenal world. It is impossible to use our concepts and words to describe God. All the adjectives and nouns that we use to describe waves cannot be used to describe God. We can say that this wave is high or low, big or small, beautiful or ugly, has a beginning and an end. But all these notions cannot be applied to water. God is neither small nor big. God has no beginning or end. God is not more or less beautiful. All the ideas we use to describe the phenomenal world cannot be applied to God. So it’s very wise not to say anything about God.

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I’ve seen a lot of comments, ever since Brit Hume advised Tiger Woods to change his spiritual path, rejoicing in how finally someone who is not generally known as a religious leader was bold enough to proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ on television. Christians, and in particular the conservative ones, seem to think Hume struck a blow for the faith that will lead to many souls taking the exit ramp off the highway to hell.

Ironically, this whole thing has just made me interested in learning about Buddhism.

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Golfer Tiger Woods is in a bit of trouble. Fox newsman Brit Hume has some advice for him: Convert to Christianity.

I’ve been in and out of active participation in Christianity, and it is my primary spiritual background. But I have always been put off by the exclusivity (only Christians go to heaven) of the orthodox form, and the assumed certainty of many of its practitioners. I’ve seen these things divide families. In my own family, my mother and my paternal grandmother never had a good relationship, largely because of this kind of religious division — and they were both Christians. My mom, you see, was the wrong kind of Christian in my grandmother’s view.

My early religious life was marked by the question of truth. How do we Christians, I pondered, know that what we believe is true — is The Truth — and what people of other faiths believe is false?

Never got a good answer for that one.

Woods is a Buddhist. Hume’s advice was to become a Christian because Buddhists don’t have a means of forgiveness. Judging by reader comments on various articles about it, a lot of people agree. What Hume neglects, though, is that Buddhists also don’t have a concept of original sin — or sin at all, really. Punishment for wrong comes not from a lawgiver-God, but through direct repercussions of the actions or, longer range, through karma. Buddhists may seek  forgiveness from people they wrong, but don’t need it from a deity.

All of which means, if Woods is finding comfort in his faith, then it’s meeting his needs. A Christian in a similar situation would find the ability to gain God’s forgiveness through repentance and grace to be comforting, and I well understand where Hume and other Christians are coming from in that sense. But a Buddhist would not see it as lack to not have that ability, since Buddhism does not have a concept of a personal deity who keeps an eye on us.

Hume should stick to giving right-leaning takes on the news, and leave the religion to others.

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