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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Can you hear your soul calling to you, your very essence? If you can be still, you will hear it and nothing will be the same.
I think my 1 year old grandson will be a lifeguard one day. He just loves splashing in the pool next to the bathtub and sink.
I'm gonna find whoever made up the "Nine Little Monkeys" nonsense and beat the like out of them.
Every year I get deluged with "urgent" requests for money, and every year I unsubscribe from the mailing list of most of them.
Lou Holtz looks pretty good for a dead guy!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Mindfulness and Social Networking

I've been thinking a lot lately about the time I spend on Social Networking sites.  I'm not talking about sites like Facebook, even as I am aware that several old school Buddhist teachers in particular have been very critical of all social networking.  I am also aware that some social scientists are making allegedly profound proclamations about how "authentic" interactions on social networking sites can be.  All of that notwithstanding, social networking is a reality of 21st century life.  Like any other human construct, it has positive and negative qualities.  In the end, if you seek to be relevant and reach people in contemporary society, social networking needs to be part of an effective, holistic approach.  That being said, there are some sites which really serve no purpose for me and just add to the amount of time I spend maintaining my presence there.  It's those sites I am re-evaluating.

To be sure, there are people in cloistered and semi-cloistered environments who have little or no interaction with the outside world and get along just fine.  Equally true is that they have little impact on their world, little or no use of prophetic voice, but can achieve a high degree of realization in that they are dedicated to spiritual practice in a full-time way.  My problem is that I have a bit of a dichotomy going on. I like people, but there are many times when I have had more than enough of them and need to take a break.  At the same time, I realize that I am called to use my prophetic voice, and that trying to do so in a cloistered environment would be an exercise in futility.  The time will come in my life, I am quite sure, when my perceived call to prophetic voice will lessen and I will move more toward my contemplative leanings on a full-time basis.  For now, however, I live a balance of the two callings and so need to be active on social networking.  I have also developed friendships with a few people on those sites that I value very deeply.  All of that having been said, there are some sites - especially those that seem to exist only to create competition between people who use social networking around who is using it more, or more effectively - that just seem to be a colossal waste of time.  There are also sites that showed great promise, like G+, that have made using them so inefficient by not allowing updates from other sources like Twitter that the cost-benefit analysis for using them is pretty poor.

From a spiritual perspective, it seems to me that we need to be mindful of how our time is spent.  If we are spending our time in a way that is beneficial, great.  When we detect areas in which the time we spend is inefficient we need to ask if that inefficiency isn't really just a huge distraction from our spiritual growth and goals.  Do sites like Empire Avenue really make a difference, or are they just a waste of time?  Each of us will have different answers to that question, but we all need to ask the question and then take action in accord with our decisions.  If we don't we may well waste our life away through mindless use of the technology.

We could ask the same questions about how much we really need a cell phone to do, but that's a different post!
Please consider signing this petition! http://ping.fm/Vm1dj
If life was half as on-the-edge as politicians running for office & fundraisers claim, the world would have ended long ago.
Beat up, tired, sick, sore, and taking a down day intentionally before there isn't any choice!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Why Two?

Many people are confused when they hear that someone's spiritual journey is informed by more than one path. That's understandable, mostly because we have all been trained that we should be "loyal" to our religion.  The question that I would like to ask about that loyalty is precisely to whom our loyalty is owed.

At a point along my journey about seventeen years ago or so, I became very interested in the idea of becoming part of a religious Order that allowed me to continue to live in the world and yet be connected to a community.  It was almost as if there was a part of me that wanted to belong to something that was larger than my local church, because I had seen how volatile local parishes can be.  Over the years I have been involved with several organizations that were religious Orders or communities, and one of the vows that are frequently taken is a vow of obedience.  In formal religious Orders, the vow of obedience is often to the Superior of the Order - but is it appropriate to vow complete obedience to a human being?  I don't believe so.  One of the statements I read somewhere along the way said that, "complete obedience is due only to God."  That resonated with me in a deep way, and I believe that statement is true not just to people in religious communities but to people in all walks of life.  Regardless of how you define or envision God - from the old man in the sky with the white hair and beard, to the source and sustainer of all that is, to love and interconnectedness - you will probably agree that obedience to your understanding of God's desire for your life is a good idea.  In fact, we have all experienced that many human beings will betray our loyalties - from employers to lovers and everyone in between.

Why, then, would we believe we owe obedience to a human institution?  Can we see that it is to our church's great advantage that we don't look around on the spiritual journey?  Whether we like it or not, religious institutions have expenses that need to be met and meeting those expenses require members who contribute on a regular basis.  Fidelity to one's church makes financial sense to the church, and so it is in the church's best interest to keep everyone on the farm.  I'm not suggesting that anyone inside the church is being intentionally deceptive or dishonest.  They are just relaying the truth as it has always (to their way of thinking) been understood.

What do we do when we discover that the practices and/or teachings of our church don't address all of our needs and questions?  More importantly, what do we do when we see that the practices and/or teachings of our church are in direct conflict with our own sense of right and wrong?  I was a member of an Episcopal Church in the 1990s when Bishop Walter Righter was tried for heresy for ordaining an openly gay man to the diaconate.   Our rector, for whom I had and still have a great deal of respect, stood up in church during the announcements and said that the shame of it all is that this trial would cost three million dollars and we were wasting that kind of money on those people.  Those people, of course, were the LGBT community.  I wrote him a long letter and told him that I profoundly disagreed with his statement.  We met, had a nice discussion, and he suggested I come to the early Friday morning service that was followed by breakfast.  I went, and the trial came up for discussion and most of the men at breakfast agreed with the rector.  I didn't know any of them well, and it was my first time at breakfast, so I just listened.  Afterwards my rector said that those people didn't see the issue as I did, and I responded that was certainly their right - but I also knew my truth.  We were able to continue building our relationship because we were able to agree to disagree.  There was room for divergent opinion, as there should be.

However, a few years later when my bishop told me that "people like" me - abuse survivors - could never be normal, I new it was time to go.  I didn't leave Christianity, however.  It was about a year after my discussion with the bishop that I was introduced to Thich Nhat Hanh's book Living Buddha, Living Christ that I was not only exposed to the many similarities between Christ and the Buddha, but also to a way of working with my mind that made sense.  I hasten to point out that my Christian spiritual director had tried to teach me contemplative prayer, which is essentially the same thing as meditation, but his instructions didn't resonate with me whereas the Buddhist instructions did.  I also felt very connected to several Buddhist concepts and teachings - most of which were saying the same things that many Christian teachings were saying, but in a different way.  What I discovered was that I could, so to speak, have my cake and eat it to.  I found that Buddhism helped my understand who God was in a clearer way than I ever had before, that meditative practice helped my experience God more clearly that before, and the evolving image of God which we all have throughout our lives achieved much more clarity.  That being said, I am still a Westerner who was raised a Christian.  I still find the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth extremely compelling - I just needed a broader vehicle.

I really believe the New Age movement was, especially in its early days, chock full of people who needed a broader approach.  When the church told them not to step outside the clearly defined (by human beings) limits of what was acceptable, they left and - for the most part - left Jesus behind.  I make no judgment about that, because I left institutional religion but took Jesus with me.  I'm not alone in having done so.  In fact, only about twenty percent of Americans are in Church on a regular basis, yet ninety-six percent of Americans believe in God.  We are in the midst of the next great Reformation, only this time it's not just a reformation of Christianity.  It's a spiritual awakening, and we are on the cutting edge!  It's a fantastic time to be alive!

Friday, November 25, 2011

There is no devil, no "enemy" other than the part of you that has a need to believe in an "enemy." Take control of your life today!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fill 'er up with Jesus


For me, one of the most important differences between Christianity and Buddhism is that Christianity has devolved into something one plugs into for a hour or three, most often on Sunday, and then goes on about one's week without ever having to turn a thought to one's religious or spiritual beliefs.  Of course, some of us do, especially those of us who have a vocation that is connected to our beliefs, but as anyone who has ever met a Christian can readily attest, there are plenty of people who profess Christianity but whose behavior throughout the week is far from being informed by their supposed Christian beliefs.  If one is really a Christian, for example, how could they cheat their clients in business ventures?  Wouldn't their values inform their behavior in the marketplace?  The answer, of course, is "not necessarily."  The reason is that many professed Christians have successfully compartmentalized their religion to a Sunday morning only affair.  They don't really have a spiritual practice, or if they do have a spiritual practice it is one that requires the presence of an ordained person to engage in - such as receiving communion, for example.  When you have a spirituality that can be "performed" with little more effort than you spend filling up your tank at the gas station, is it any wonder that people have found Christianity supremely dissatisfying, even irrelevant?

The truth is that, at the time of Jesus, spirituality couldn't be easily compartmentalized.  The Jewish Law reached into all corners of life.  Perhaps more importantly, we see from the scriptures that Jesus frequently went away to a "lonely place" and spent the night in prayer - what we might call meditation today.  Like Buddhism, which encourages practitioners to have a meditation practice, the Judaism of Jesus' day and the early Christianity that arose from it were steeped in daily spiritual practice.  Regardless of the religious tradition which we claim, or from which we have proceeded - even if that tradition is one of being completely un-churched - we can benefit from meditation.  Even if our outlook on life is completely secular, we can benefit from meditation because it is a way of working with our minds, working to reduce our suffer, and learning to be compassionate beings.

I'm a follower of Jesus and Buddha.  Jesus is the tradition in which I have been steeped by family and culture.  Buddha is the one who made Jesus and Jesus-spirituality finally make sense.  Meditation makes it all come together.  Why not give it a try?
Over the next several weeks I will be revamping all websites connected to my spiritual teachings - watch for updates!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why Buddhist Christianity?

It's a fair enough question: Why Buddhist Christianity? The answer is that, for many of us, Christianity just isn't Christianity any more. Fundamentalism has perverted Christianity into some kind of salvation game, wherein all that matters is "getting saved." The truth is that Jesus never used that kind of language, never saw salvation as a life-after-death proposition, though he did talk about eternal life. Contemporary Christianity has thrown out the prayer example of Jesus, which was essentially meditation, and replaced it with the belief that the Divine can be manipulated if only we use the right word and are persistent enough. Silence, rather than the hallmark of prayer throughout the majority of the history of Christianity, is now suspect for fear that a fictional, mythological devil will attack us while we are silent.

The truth is that, if there is a devil, it is our ego. This notion that there is a permanent, unchanging "me" that I have to protect and preserve at all costs - even for eternity - has turned much of Christianity into an obsessive-compulsive self-love fest. The pastor's job is to convince us that we might slip into eternal non-existence if we are not vigilant, and don't contribute 10% of our pre-tax income into the collection plate. We purchase our salvation in this model, though it would be denied by the religious authorities of our day (read "Pharisees"). While there certainly are corners of Christianity that are exceptions to the above, they exist largely unnoticed. What the public know, and what the media report, are those segments of fundamentalist Christianity that have chosen to identify themselves only as "Christian," and in so doing have so muddied the water around the term that more moderate to progressive people are reluctant to use it.

I identify as a Christian Buddhist because I believe in the teachings of Jesus, but not the perversion of those teachings by the last 1700 years of institutional religion in general and the last 150 years of fundamentalism in particular. I do not believe in Original Sin, I believe in Buddha Nature or what I sometimes call either "Original Divinity" or "God Nature." I do not believe that we have some need to be saved from some external force, but rather that we most need to save ourselves from our dysfunctional feelings, thoughts, and behavior - which all spring from within ourselves! Our stories, our dramas, and our fictions stand in the way of seeing the inter-connectedness of all of life. To solve the problem, we need to work with our minds in meditation - just as Jesus did. We don't need to say a particular sinner's prayer, or confess regularly to a priest, or learn to stand on our heads, we just need to sit. We don't need to sit in full lotus, or half lotus, or with our ankles behind our ears - we just need to sit, and if we can't sit because of back problems we can lay down when we sit!

It's also important to notice that the teachings of Jesus and the teachings of Buddha (for that matter, the teachings of all the great Masters) have a great deal of overlap. Jesus taught karma when he said we shall reap what we so. He taught compassion and loving kindness when he said to love our neighbors as ourselves, through countless parables, and through his own examples of interacting with others - most especially those whom his society had labeled outcasts.

What about the notion of God? I don't believe in a theistic God. In other words, the notion of the old guy with the long white hair and beard sitting on the clouds is absurd to me. The Buddha didn't believe in a creator God separate from the creation, and neither do I. To believe in such a God is to be a deist, one who believes that God wound up the clock that is our universe and now just sits back and listens to it tick. I also don't believe in an interventionist God who moves people around like chess pieces on a board.

Have you ever noticed that in the Bible God is never seen? God's backside is seen, but not God's face. To me this means that we see evidence of God, but not necessarily Godself. I have experienced God many, many times - always through the evidence of God that I encounter in other people, in relationship, and in nature. I will leave the precise location of God and other debates about what I consider to be insignificant philosophical issues that have no impact on the experience of God to those who feel inclined to debate them. Regardless of what such people "decide" about God, it will never change the reality of my experience of God. I am more than content with a God that cannot be separated from what I often call the creation (by which I mean all that is) because it is in the creation that I encounter God - and I encounter God as love, compassion, kindness, and a host of other relational experiences.

Buddhism provides me with the tools that also exist in Christianity but have been obscured or lost through centuries of concrete thought. The great mystical traditions of the monasteries were largely thought to only be accessible to monastics - in both Buddhism and Christianity. Christianity still suffers from an anti-monastic bias, while Buddhism has come to believe that mystical experience is available to anyone. Perhaps most importantly, Buddhism allows free inquiry and challenges. The way Christianity is practiced in our time seldom does.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

To be a sport you must have at least one of the following. The more you have, the better sport you have: 1. A ball or equivalent (puck, birdie, etc.) 2. A time clock that limits how long the game can last and can be stopped with a Time Out or equivalent 3. A very good chance of serious bodily injury, preferably death. http://amplify.com/u/a1ctnq

Saturday, July 23, 2011

There's an ad on Facebook for church growth and small groups that says, "If he's connected, he's five times more likely to stay" Here's a radical idea: offer a living spirituality that works instead of the hell fire and brimstone lies that you are selling and then "he" will *want* to stay rather than you needing to guilt him into staying through his fellow small group members. Of course, my proposal requires honesty, integrity, the willingness to allow questions to be asked, the humility to admit that none of us has all the answers, and the self confidence to function in the ambiguity involved in the real world...I may be asking way too much of fundamentalists! It's worth a shot, anyway... http://amplify.com/u/a19g3u

Monday, June 6, 2011

Please check out the following website regarding The Rev. Amy DeLong's upcoming ecclesial trial and consider joining me in protest in Kaukana, WI later this month. http://loveontrial.org/ http://amplify.com/u/a14osr

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Once we see the truth that God is in everything and everybody, there are no more throw away people in this country or any other, no child or adult we can watch go hungry or be in need of medical care, no war we can fight except to prevent genocide, no environment that we can allow to be poisoned because it's all God. http://amplify.com/u/by0al

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/544439/mike_huckabee_says_he_wants_americans_to_be_indoctrinated_at_gunpoint/ http://amplify.com/u/bx8zz
Let's see if I have this right. General Electric, which last year made over $14 billion and not only paid no corporate taxes but also received $3.2 billion back from those of us who actually pay taxes, and so President Obama thinks the Chairman of GE would be well suited to sit on a committee on corporate tax reform?



As one who voted for President Obama and believed it was, indeed, time for change in Washington, I am beyond disappointed. Barack Obama is clearly no more than another Washington insider, another corporate ass kisser, another politician intent on doing away with the middle class while pretending to be a friend of the same. How do such choices fit in with the man you were when you were a community organizer, Mr.President? Apparently, re-election with the support of big business is more important than the people who were foolish enough to believe in you.



The next time you decide to screw the American Middle Class, you might have the courtesy to buy us dinner first. http://amplify.com/u/bx8wh

Sunday, March 13, 2011

http://www.slate.com/BLOGS/blogs/weigel/archive/tags/New+Hampshire+Republican/default.aspx Well, he's 91, which means we should probably be shipping his demented a$$ off to Siberia - and I'm sure he would agree. He has lived past the average age, is cluttering up the planet, and appears to be off his rocker - mentally ill, most likely either delusional or demented - and so by his own standard, he must go. http://amplify.com/u/bu4nm

Thursday, March 10, 2011

There is no job, no duty, no vows, no responsibility, and no authority that can legitimately ask anyone to deny who they are. Let us be clear, those who engage in self denial and self loathing do nothing but hurt themselves and hurt others who share a similar journey. http://articles.latimes.com/2010/mar/09/local/la-me-ashburn9-2010mar09 http://amplify.com/u/btt7f

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee explained this week that his comments regarding Natalie Portman and all other unwed mothers wasn't a slam. I'm sure he'll understand that my characterizing him as a small minded, lobotomized, hillbilly, redneck, ignorant cracker aren't a slam either. Like he, I am just pointing out a statistical reality.



http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/04/mike-huckabee-natalie-portman-statement_n_831623.html http://amplify.com/u/bt11w

Friday, March 4, 2011

Mindfulness

Sometimes, it gets to be too much. I don't know about you, but I have a BS threshold. There is just so much nonsense I can tolerate, just so much foolishness, just so much stupidity, before I have to shut down. Over the last several weeks I have had more than enough of the Governor of my State and his combination of ignorance and arrogance. At the same time, I have read more than enough from a variety of sources about a variety of topics that is just plain wrong, just totally untrue, just complete spin, and all of it presented and represented as truth - and more than a little of it is so completely irresponsible that I find it hard to believe that it has a human being as its source.

The truth is that traditional, non-Contemplative Christianity, as a spiritual path, has little to offer the individual believer when the world starts to overwhelm them, with the possible exception of the well worn counsel to "give it up to God," which often means little more than denial. It is easy to see why it's not just activists who become overwhelmed, and why the counsel to not watch the evening news - at least for a season now and again - is good advice.

As a person of great passion, especially for social justice, mindfulness practice has been a great help in keeping me centered. I am far from perfect at it, mind you (no pun intended), but the difference in me over the course of my mindfulness practice has been astonishing. It didn't start the first week of my practice, and that is fitting. I have yet to find any sort of practice that yields results instantly. If there is one, I would expect that the results are rather shallow and short lasting, not unlike Jesus' parable of the seeds scattered on the path and the rocky soil.

Despite knowing that my practice is helpful, there are still some times when I find myself on overload, when the inflow of information is just too much and I realize I need to enter a period of shut down. By shut down I mean cutting off the input and spending additional time in intentional practice for a season. Stop to consider that there is no machine which can continue to run indefinitely without being refueled. Our bodies, and our psyches, are less durable than machines, and yet at times I find myself asking both my body and mind to do much more than I would expect from the most durable machine in the world! It is at those times that I need to fall back with great intention onto my practice. I'm not advocating only practicing when the fur hits the fan. Rather, I'm advocating constant spiritual practice, with increased intention when the going gets tough.

It has been said that life is about balance, and I believe that is true. Balance, however, isn't stagnant. Like a high wire artist on a windy day, life balance requires constant readjustment in response to the changing currents of life. It isn't a once for all proposition, but a moment by moment readjustment. Sounds a lot like mindfulness to me!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

This is the Real Deal

There are a few times in life, if you're lucky, that you have a moment of complete authenticity and feel completely at home. It's like sliding your feet into a new pair of comfortable slippers, only on a much larger scale. What I am talking about is different that an momentary glimpse of enlightenment, or kensho. I have had such experiences, and they are truly beyond words because at their heart they are mystical experiences. A moment of authenticity is a mystical experience as well, but of a different sort.

I had such a moment after deciding to start this blog and the associated website, www.buddhistchristian.spruz.com. I knew I had come home, knew that I had, in two places and in two simple words, succeeded in expressing my spirituality in a succinct yet fairly complete manner. My arrival at this point in my journey is in part due to a reconsideration of the Christian Gospels. What I discovered there was a Jesus who, contrary to what the Church has taught for the last seventeen hundred years, said virtually nothing about salvation. He did spend a lot of time talking about what he variously called the kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of God, which he said was present here and now - or, in the case of his listeners, there and then. He didn't preach pie in the sky, by and by; he wasn't selling some sort of life insurance policy that paid off in heaven after we die. Rather, he talked about real life and how to live it properly. He spoke out in favor of the oppressed and marginalized of his day: Tax collectors, prostitutes, notorious sinners, women, bi-racial people (Samaritans), and similar shady characters. He spoke out in steadfast opposition to the corrupt forces of his day: Religious and political leaders, a group that in Jesus day contained many of the same people, and the Roman occupying forces, who would eventually destroy the Jewish Temple in 70 C.E. That same Jesus was silent about the issues that preoccupy today's "Culture War:" Human sexual orientation, abortion, or anything resembling the so-called holiness code which is so important in segments of Pentecostalism and in the Baptist tradition, beginning in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Around the same time, beginning in 2000 C.E., I found myself an eager student of Buddhism. Beginning with two Thich Nhat Hanh books, Living Buddha, Living Christ and Coming Home, Jesus and Buddha as Brothers, my study of Buddhism began with a study of the similarities between Christ Consciousness, if you will, and Buddha Nature. I rapidly gobbled up every book I could find about Buddhism, not restricting myself to any one tradition. Living in the Midwest, it was difficult to find a Buddhist Teacher in the tradition that I most resonated with, so I used technology to learn from a diverse group of teachers - Pema Chodron, Sharon Salzberg, Gil Fronsdal, Tara Brach, Jack Kornfield, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and others. If they had a CD or could be found on Podcast, I listened to them. I read almost every book I could find on Buddhism, having already spent the previous decade doing scholarly work in the Christian tradition. I quickly saw the great common link between the teachings of Jesus and Buddha: Love, or/Lovingkindness, and Compassion.

Were there differences? Certainly there were differences between Buddhism and Christianity, but for a non-theistic Christian like me the differences were relatively small. Much more significant was the way in which, for example, Buddhist meditation instructions finally moved me to understand what in my native Christian tradition is called Contemplative Prayer. Can I wrap my head around Tibetan cosmology? Not really, but I can't get excited about Christian Eco-spirituality, either. Can I solve a Zen Koan? No, but I never have been a fan of mental auto-eroticism either. If a tree falls in the woods and there's nobody there to hear it, does it make a sound? I couldn't care less, but I have never been intrigued by how many angels fit on the head of a pin, either.

My Buddhist self is probably best described as a Theravadan with a Bodhisattva vow. I realize that's a contradiction, but no more so that being a non-theistic Christian who believes that Joseph was Jesus' biological father and that the Holy Spirit moved over his conception in a way that made Jesus Divine - and his mother's virginity had nothing to do with physical virginity. Most Christian Churches would want nothing to do with that kind of theology, but the way I see it most North Americans want nothing to do with most Christian Churches, so we are probably even. What I have to offer is a spiritual path that isn't afraid to look at truth wherever it is found. It's a path that is willing to listen to and consider every person's spiritual journey and every spiritual tradition AND allow each person to explore what works for them. Nowhere did any great spiritual teacher ever claim that there was only one path to the truth. I am aware that in John's Gospel Jesus is quoted as saying, "no one gets to the Father but through me." My problem is that is so unlike anything Jesus said in the synoptic gospels, and John's Gospel is the last written and therefore most theologically processed of the four. I simply don't believe Jesus said those words.

So on this great Interspiritual journey we travel. With discerning minds and hearts, and in the silence in which the mystery of the universe speaks to us, we all seek to be faithful to our understanding and experience, tried in the crucible of community. Here is my path, I know no other.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Meditation and Contemplative Prayer

Years ago, when I had a spiritual director who was an Episcopal priest and monk, I was trying to develop some sort of acumen at Contemplative Prayer. He assigned me to read The Cloud of Unknowing but then pretty much told me that he wasn't much for "methods of prayer." He advised that I just sit in the silence and listen.

He's a good man, and a good priest, and I am sure he truly is one of those rare people who don't need an anchor for their thoughts. Or, perhaps it had been so long since he had to use an anchor that he had simply forgotten that any anchor had ever been necessary to him. He also introduced me to the Jesus Prayer and the use of a prayer rope or chotki, but instructed me that the Jesus Prayer wasn't enough, that I must sit in the silence. It would be hard to pin down one or two times in my life when I was more frustrated with anything.

It wasn't until I was exposed to Buddhist Meditation - completely accidentally - about five or six years later that I even knew there was such a thing as following the breath. This I could do, rather easily after spending five years spinning my wheels except for my Jesus Prayer Mantra Practice. I knew that my director was a good, well intentioned human being, and I felt certain that he wouldn't have kept anything from me intentionally. I began to wonder what other gems might be available that Christianity had either forgotten or overlooked, and I quickly became convinced that to limit myself to what what available from any one tradition on my spiritual journey was to quite possibly limit my journey.

Since that day, I have made many discoveries from within Buddhism. There have been times when I felt more the Buddhist than the Christian, and other times I felt I needed to immerse myself in aspects of historic Christianity. In the long run, I truly believe I need both. I have given up trying to explain or justify it - people will either understand or not, but I feel I must be true to where God is leading me.

I no longer pray the Jesus Prayer. It no longer fits my understanding of who the Jesus of my experience is, and it no longer fits my understanding of the relationship between Jesus and humanity. When I take a break from my Buddhist Mantra, I pray the prayer of St. Gregory Palamas, "Enlighten my darkness." It's said that is the only prayer that he ever used, and that's good enough for me.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Welcome

Welcome to a new blog offering - The Buddhist Christian. This is neither a blog about Buddhism nor a blog about Christianity. This isn't a doctrinal blog, or a sectarian blog, or an evaluation of any particular spiritual path. I seek not to enter into a debate nor to provoke any particular response. This blog is a reflection on more than a decade of practice and exploration of what it means to be a Buddhist Christian.

Prior to picking up and reading a copy of Thich Nhat Hanh's Living Buddha, Living Christ when I was forty years old, about all I knew about Buddhism was that it was an Asian religion. I don't know that I would have recognized a picture of the Dalai Lama. In less that a week I had finished that book and moved onto its sequel. My spiritual journey was forever changed, not because I had discovered a new religion that I would convert to as soon as possible. I had discovered that Buddhism answered for me all the questions that Christianity had been unable to answer. I had mystical experiences of Jesus that would not allow me to cast Jesus aside, but I saw that, as the title of the above mentioned sequel suggested, Jesus and Buddha were, in fact, brothers. I saw that there was nothing about the teachings of the Buddha, who had in fact refused to get caught in the God debate, that contradicted the teachings of Jesus. In fact, I found that spiritual topics such as compassion and love were the great link between the two traditions and were more clearly expressed in Buddhism than in Christianity, where the voices of legalism and sectarianism more often than not drown out the voice of Love and Compassion.

This blog will examine the interspiritual journey through Buddhist Christianity by examining various issues, subjects, and aspects of my personal journey. I am glad you're here!