Hi, felt like making a thread about christianity, and mainly practices and views concerning christian contemplative practices.
So feel free to share thoughts, books, quotes or other things related to this
Hi, felt like making a thread about christianity, and mainly practices and views concerning christian contemplative practices.
I thought to share some thoughts I have had. I dont practice christian contemplativeness, but feel there are common traits between some of the core concepts in Jesus’ teachings, and buddhist tantra, especially linked to guru yoga and boddhicitta.
The four main concepts I seem to get back to are: 1) Faith/devotion 2) Love for Jesus (God) and love for others others 3) grace 4)forgiveness. I think all four of them relates to the practitioners relationship to Jesus or the guru, so there is some overlap.
Faith and devotion.
I grew up in a christian home and at periods prayed alot, though lost interest at some point. Later on renewed the interest in this topic, mainly from practicing guru yoga practice and having some insights which made the topic of faith very different, like it was no longer the “leap of faith” or do you believe this or not sort of problematic.
I would add as a matter of technicality, that to me there is a difference in the “passive” recieving of blessings (one ask the guru/buddha to bless you), and the “active” engaging and devotion to the guru, like they are two slightly different things. To me at least, if its only the first one, I would end up be too passive and lazy, as well as wavering in attention, and lack of appreciation could happen which again leads to doubt.due to this I feel its necessary for me to actively engage in devotion and love and gratitude to the guru. Of course sometimes it happens by itself. To me this can be an extremely powerful spiritual tool, and why so many masters give strong emphasis on it. And having the experience with guru yoga, its clear to me that the exact same principles of recieving blessings and having loving devotion could have been identical for any christian.
Love/boddhicitta. In terms of devotion to a guru/Jesus I think its pretty much the same, I dont see much difference really in expression, though the emptiness view and pointing out is emphasised in buddhism, which does make a big difference of course.
The other aspect is how you love other beings. The famous saying says you should love others as you love yourself, and I sometimes use this for contemplation and think its pretty good really, like powerful if you take it as a serious spiritual practice, as something you want to “realize”. I dont really see any difference here, everyone has the ability to love, at least with practice we do, and I believe its an inherent part of us, regardless of religion. I feel christianity have a more society oriented view on love, while a buddhist might practice this more in isolation, though this is not a rule at all but often gives a difference spin on it, and how its presented. That being said I dont see how or why a christian cant practice say the 37 boddhisatva practices (or at least many of them), or a buddhist can engage more in helping their community.
The art of forgiveness is currious. I think from point of view of self delusion, talking about sin and forgiveness alot is the recipie for guilt and shame really, everyone are sinners, gosh thats horrible and I think is a big mistake and have lead to this being a theme in the post-christian west.
From the point of realizing the nature of mind I think its a very different thing. We no longer take as the starting point that we are sinners, but that we are ignorant of our true being, and because of this we hurt ourself and others (which in turn leads to sin one might say). But its very different in the sense that we want to and we believe that inherently we are good, and we also want to return to this.
Like in the prayer of the father it says “forgive us our sins as we also forgive our sinners”. so first, there is the “us” implying one does not only pray for oneself, but for lets say everyone (if you want to limit the number then its fine, but I think its meant to cover all life, or it should be). Then forgive us (father). We need a guru/jesus to forgive us our sins. To me this means the forgiveness of sins come through merging your mind with that of a guru, one who has fully realized and embodyied dharmakaya (again from buddhist point of view). Dharmakaya is sometimes said to be self-liberating by nature. I have some experience of this. like shorter or longer periods of being inseperable from the self-liberation nature of dharmakaya, meaning seeing how thoughts and concepts are empty of self uninterupted. To me this really gives a profound meaning to the word forgiveness. Like seeing this for longer or short periods, I dont feel bad about myself for once, which is lovely, and “sins” or habitual tendencies of the mind are liberated/forgiven in the sense that they do not in fact return in the same way, like its in my experience the truest form for forgiveness. Also its currious that Jesus is the one forgiving, we need someone of this dharmakaya nature for liberation to occur, othervice it wont. And he also says this, no one comes to the kingdom except through me, or emphasising that only he can give forgiveness of sins (like your mother or friend cannot).
Then last there is the notion of us forgiving all others. This too is to me can be a powerful practice, it clears samaya and whatever clinging or issues you have to others,takes the weight of my shoulders and so I usually feel much lighter after doing this.
Grace. I dont really know what to say about grace, only that grace is given, like I cant self-effort myself into grace I guess, and it does usually come from “elsewhere”. For example to me blessings are and act of grace. Though there is no effort, like a working muscle or something, like I working myself up to mega-grace doesnt make sense. There is the act of openess and trust (which I would say comes through love and devotion). Like there is always grace or love from a guru, the door is wide open, and so its up to the practitioner to be humble enough to approach it. I think Dilgo Khyentse wrote somewhere (loosely quoted): the blessings is proportional to the diciples devotion. But the grace is always there, and the effort is not anything but full opening up and trust, which I would say at best is a very different kind of effort or more a matter of psychologycal maturity.
I guess these are the thoughts I have had reg these things, hope it is interesting to people.
Tried to find some reference on what I mean by self-liberating. This exception from buddhahood without meditation.
“the fundamental primordial protector, Samantabhadra, is of the nature of the four kayas and five facets of primordial consciousness. His empty essential nature is the dharmakaya, his luminos nature is the sambhogakaya, his self-liberating compassion is the nirmanakaya”
(of the five primordial consciousnesses, the fifths one is) primordial consciousness of accomplishment is so called because it accompluishes its tasks by way of purification and liberation.
So from these excepts, I take liberation and compassion here to be what I try to parallell with christian forgiveness. That it in first instance happens from “another” through grace etc…, though essentially its part of our own nature. Hope its understandable to people
If I am to be totally frank, I think if christianity had a clear set of instruction for awakening, meaning stream entry (which does exist out there from teachers, lineages or books etc… like this isnt hard for someone sincere to achieve), and then have clearly mapped stages and a end result, then the tradition would flurish, like then you really would have the mustard seed. Its also my experience that many christians have very strong need for contemplative practices these days.
Also pointing out instructions, like from the beginning one learns to percieve the body of christ as ones own mind, thus “grow in christ”, sounds so juicy to me, I wouldnt have needed to become a buddhist at all.
Been thinking of the merit* of dying on the cross, motivated by others pain… this sort of dedication shows an unbelievable readyness, like one doesnt get more of a boddhisatva than that. Also what does this to the devotion to Jesus/the guru from the point of view of his diciples or a dharma practitioner really?
*merit meaning readyness for practice the dharma and achieve complete realization, genuin moments of compassion is both something that makes one ready, is with you all the way on the path and is the fruition of this realization, meaning inseperability of emptiness and boddhicitta.
Appreciate your post and introducing the topic In recent months, I’ve also been pondering on Christian religious practices while I’ve gotten more introduced to Buddhism because of Pemako. I also had a Christian upbringing. Some things in Christianity make a lot more sense now that I have some authentic spiritual experience with Pemako practices. Putting Christian practices in contrast to what we do in Pemako, it becomes partly obvious where things got screwed up in Christianity over the cours of time - and even more: what their actual intention was.
I have a great example for this that I took from a text of Leo Tolstoi. The text is called “What I Believe” (looks like the English version is freely available on the internet: What I Believe - Wikisource, the free online library ). Tolstoi describes how his own view of Christianity has changed with a realization about a paragraph of the bible that made him them critize the church as an organisation in whole. The important parts that made quite an impact in the sense of blessings to me is this:
It was not by deep thought, or by skillfully comparing or commenting on the texts of the gospel, that I came to understand the teaching. On the contrary, all grew clear to me for the very reason that I had ceased to rest on any interpretations. The text that gave me the key to the truth was the thirty-ninth verse of the fifth chapter of St. Matthew, ‘You have heard that it has been said, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, do not resist evil…’ The simple meaning of these words suddenly flashed full upon me; I accepted the fact that Christ meant exactly what he said; and then, though I had found nothing new, all that had hitherto obscured the truth cleared away, and the truth itself arose before me in all its solemn importance.
I had often read the passage, but these words had never until now arrested my attention: ‘I say to you, do not resist evil. ’ In my conversations since with many Christian people, who know the gospels well, I have observed the same indifference to the force of this text that I had felt. Nobody specially remembered the words; and, while conversing with persons upon the text, I have known them to take up the New Testament in order to assure themselves that the words were really there.
But as soon as I comprehended the meaning of the words, ‘do not resist evil,’ it became clear to me that Christ does not exaggerate, that he does not require suffering for the mere sake of suffering, and that he only expresses clearly and definitely what he means. He says, ‘Do not resist evil,’ and if you do not resist evil, you may meet with some who, having struck you on one cheek, and meeting with no resistance, will strike you on the other; after having taken away your coat, will take away your cloak also; having profited by your work, will oblige you to work on; will take, and will never give back. ‘Nevertheless, I say to you, do not resist evil. Still do good to those who even strike and abuse you.’ Now I understood that the whole force of the teaching lay in the words ‘do not resist evil,’ and that the entire context was but an application of that great precept. I saw that Christ does not require us to turn the other cheek, and to give away our cloak, in order to make us suffer; but he teaches us not to resist evil, and warns us that doing so may involve personal suffering.
The paragraph is part of the “Sermon on the Mount”, Matthew 5:38-48 ( Matthew 5:38-48 NIV - Eye for Eye - “You have heard that it - Bible Gateway ).
There are many passages from the bible that started making alot more sense when you progress on the path.
From Gospel of Thomas
This book is really interesting, I read it few years ago. Especially interesting I think for those who are familiar with guru yoga in other traditions and very especially it reminds me of Pure Land practice.
Like it is said somewhere in the Bible that you should pray unceacingly, and thats what the book is about how the person goes about that practice from a mentor, and reaches insight simply by doing that. I think he writes that all the Gospels are in the name “Jesus”, impying the experiental insight from prayers.
(Also pretty much the same thing as I see it here: Attaining Buddhahood with Guru Rinpoche mantra alone - The story of Benza Guru Drubthop).
In order to fully see the guru we must be capable of appreciating the aspect of consciousness that is not only willing but happy to suffer for the sake of all beings!