The Opening

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From Pema Chodron’s The Places and Scare You: “An analogy for bodhichitta [our ability to feel the pain that we share with others] is the rawness of a broken heart. Sometimes this broken heart gives birth to anxiety and panic, sometimes to anger, resentment, and blame. But under the hardness of that armor there is the tenderness of genuine sadness. This is our link with all those who have ever loved. This genuine heart of sadness can teach us great compassion. It can humble us when we’re arrogant and soften us when we are unkind. It awakens us when we prefer to sleep and pierces through our indifference. This continual ache of the heart is a blessing that when accepted fully can be shared with all compassion. It can humble us when we’re arrogant and soften us when we are unkind. It awakens us when we prefer to sleep and pierces through our indifference. This continual ache of the heart is a blessing that when accepted fully can be shared with all.”

Roger

 

The Soft Spot

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From Pema Chodron’s The Places and Scare You:“WHEN I WAS ABOUT SIX YEARS OLD I received the essential bodhichitta (compassion) teaching from an old woman sitting in the sun. I was walking by her house one day feeling lonely, unloved, and mad, kicking anything I could find. Laughing, she said to me, “Little girl, don’t you go letting life harden your heart.” Right there, I received this pith instruction: we can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder and more open to what scares us. We always have this choice…Bodhichitta is …equated, in part, with compassion—our ability to feel the pain that we share with others. Without realizing it we continually shield ourselves from this pain because it scares us. We put up protective walls made of opinions, prejudices, and strategies, barriers that are built on a deep fear of being hurt. These walls are further fortified by emotions of all kinds: anger, craving, indifference, jealousy and envy, arrogance and pride. But fortunately for us, the soft spot—our innate ability to love and to care about things—is like a crack in these walls we erect. It’s a natural opening in the barriers we create when we’re afraid. With practice we can learn to find this opening. We can learn to seize that vulnerable moment—love, gratitude, loneliness, embarrassment, inadequacy—to awaken bodhichitta.”

Roger

 

Cocoon

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From Pema Chodron’s The Places and Scare You: “A teacher once told me that if I wanted lasting happiness, the only way to get it was to step out of my cocoon. When I asked her how to bring happiness to others, she said, “Same instruction.” This is the reason that I work with these aspiration practices: the best way to serve ourselves is to love and care for others. These are powerful tools for dissolving the barriers that perpetuate not just our own unhappiness, but the suffering of all beings.”

Roger

The Baptized Life

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From Rowan Williams’ Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer: “So the baptized life is a life that gives us the resource and strength to ask awkward but necessary questions of one another and of our world. It is a life that looks towards reconciliation, building bridges, repairing shattered relationships. It is a life that looks towards justice and liberty, the liberty to work together to make human life in society some kind of reflection of the wisdom and order and justice of God.”

Roger

Seedlings

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From Thich Nhat Hanh’s The Heart of Buddha’s Teaching: “Everyone has a seed of faith, or confidence…If you have friends who water this seed in you, it will grow strong. But if you meet only favorable conditions, you will not realize how precious this seed is. Obstacles along the path can help our determination and compassion grow. Obstacles teach us about our strengths and weaknesses, so that we can know ourselves better and see in which direction we truly wish to go. One could say that the Buddha’s practice of austerity was unfavorable to the development of his path, but if he had not undertaken those practices and failed in them, he would not have learned and later taught the Middle Way. When your intention is strong, unfavorable conditions will not dishearten you. In difficult moments, you will stick to your friends, fortify your convictions, and not give up”

Roger

The Mystery of Incarnation

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From Paul Knitter’s Without Buddha I Could Not Be A Christian: “So if we extend, as I am suggesting, “incarnation” beyond Jesus of Nazareth and recognize that Buddha and Muhammad and others may be “enfleshments” of Ultimate Reality or Ultimate Truth, then because these enfleshments take place in very, very different historical contexts, the truths that they reveal will be very, very different, one from the other. Or, in Buddhist imagery, if we call Jesus and Buddha different fingers pointing to the moon, we can’t simply say they are pointing to the very same thing. They are pointing to really different parts of the moon –or maybe it’s better to say they are pointing to different moons, both of which are orbiting around a Mystery that is beyond them both. In other words, in saying that Jesus and Buddha are both unique manifestations of Holy Mystery or the Spirit, we are saying that although the Mystery may be “one,” Jesus and Buddha remain really different. Or perhaps it is more accurate to recognize that there are real differences within the one Mystery. Only by preserving the differences, and then letting them speak to each other, can we preserve and better understand the Mystery.”

Roger

Trust

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From Paul Knitter’s Without Buddha I Could Not Be A Christian: “A passage from my journal of March 2000 was trying to express more personally what it means to experience Jesus as a Teacher become-Symbol: In a way that transcends discursive thinking or hard-hitting proof, Jesus the Christ embodies for me the reality of the Spirit/ Divine in my life. He is sacrament, symbol, myth that makes Reality clear and present and gripping. In my mind, as a being swimming in the current of our modern world, I am tossed back and forth on questions of whether there really is a Something More, whether it is truly worthwhile to struggle for love and justice, whether there is anything beyond the portals of death. The results of these struggles are always inconclusive. So, I trust. So I let go. So I believe. It is Jesus, in his story, in his life and death, and especially in the way in which he is present in the community and in my life through the resurrection, that I know in trust what I cannot know in reason.”

Roger

Immediacy

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From Paul Knitter’s Without Buddha I Could Not Be A Christian: “As regards salvation, Buddhism has become for me another inspiring reminder that when we Christians talk about “being saved” we’re not simply talking about “getting to heaven.” Yes, we have firm hopes for continued life after death (as we explored in Chapter 4). But that life begins already in this life. In this life, salvation is not just a matter of “previews of coming attractions” –the attractions begin now. And Buddhism has helped me see and feel in my own self that Christian salvation, like Buddhist Awakening, is a matter of waking up to our own unity with God, or oneness with the Spirit. To be saved is to realize that we are indeed children of God; as divine children we can feel the very life and energy of God –that means love and compassion –coursing through our being. To feel truly what Rahner called “our immediacy with God” is to feel the peace and groundedness that enables us to deal with whatever there is to deal with; and it is, also and just as much, to feel a spontaneous and enduring interest in and compassion for all the other of God’s children (which, as the Buddha reminds us, includes all sentient beings).”

Roger

The Awakened

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From Paul Knitter’s Without Buddha I Could Not Be A Christian: “To understand Jesus’ divinity as the result of his waking up to the presence and action of the Spirit within his spirit is to make him a very special human being, but it is also to keep him a very real human being. He remains one of us, though he “arrived” way ahead of most of us. As I “passed back” to what I had been taught about Jesus, having passed over to Buddhist teachings about Gautama, I came to realize the amazing resonance between Jesus’ divinity-as-Awakening and my teacher Karl Rahner’s “transcendental Christology.” Rahner insisted that when Christians say that Jesus is divine, they are not making him into some kind of a wonderful “freak,” some kind of a divine Superman who descends from Krypton to save us. Rather, when we say that Jesus is divine, Rahner insisted, we are saying that he realized the full potential of human nature; he attained what all of us, whether we realize it or not, are striving for. We are all imbued with this openness to the Infinite, we are all “finite beings capable of the Infinite.” Buddhists might say we are all endowed with and therefore called to realize our Buddha-nature, or in Christian terms, our divine nature. Rahner reminded us that to say that Jesus was truly divine was another way of saying that he was fully human.”

Roger

 

The Stream

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From Thich Nhat Hanh’s Good Citizens: “There is great joy in us, even in those things that contain suffering. For example, the Buddha saw that old age contained suffering. But I’m old and I’m so happy. I have found that old age is something very delicious. When we get old, we don’t have all the excitement and stress that young people may have. We have more maturity and we have learned from years of unskillful experience to be more skillful. So old age is wonderful. When you are a young person, you are like a young creek, and you meet many rocks, many obstacles and difficulties on your way. You hurry to get past these obstacles and get to the ocean. But as the creek moves down through the fields, it becomes larger and calmer and it can enjoy the reflection of the sky. It’s wonderful. You will arrive at the sea anyway so enjoy the journey. Enjoy the sunshine, the sunset, the moon, the birds, the trees, and the many beauties along the way. Taste every moment of your daily life. Old age can be very enjoyable.”

Roger