Archive for the ‘Thich Nhat Hanh’ 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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