Deus non alligatur. God is not bound. Nibbanam paramam sukham. Unbinding is the Highest Happiness. The Heart is Divinity. God is the primal radiance of Divinity. Nature is the primal manifestation of Divinity. The Buddha is the primal realization of Divinity. La ilaha il Allah. Allah is Complete Wholeness.

02 December 2007

Peter's Rock

One of the most controversial passages in the New Testament is the sixteenth chapter of Matthew, where Jesus refers to Peter as (in Aramaic) "Kephas" and (in Greek) "Petros", both words meaning, roughly, "rock".
Matthew 16:15-18:

He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
The Orthodox, the Catholic, and the Protestant differ on the significance of this passage. Specifically, the Catholic believes that this passage conferred upon Peter an authority given to him and him alone, an authority that contained within it, in seed form, universal papal jurisdiction and papal infallibility. The Orthodox maintain, one, that the papal office is not equivalent to Peter the Apostle, and, two, that the Bishop of Rome (the "Roman" Pope, not to be confused with the Pope who is Bishop of Alexandria) is "one among equals", lacking both the power to coerce other bishops (a power that is part of universal papal jurisdiction notions) and the guarantee of papal infallibility. And Protestants side with the Orthodox, in general.

From the perspective of the Heart, any one of these positions can be, and are, true. In fact, each can be affirmed to be as true as any other. To say that any position can be affirmed just as well as any other, does not mean that the material implications of any one position would be the same as any other. If a bishop believes in universal papal jurisdiction, then that bishop should be prepared to encounter the exercise of papal authority. That bishop might lose his own power, authority, or wealth even.

However, the Heart is not limited, nor constrained, nor bound, by worldly authority. The Heart is not affected, if the Pope is infallible or not, or has universal jurisdiction or not. The Heart does not seek power, authority over others, or wealth. Thus, from the perspective of the Heart, any one of the three positions regarding the Pope is equal to the other two.

The Heart interprets the passage in a different way. The "rock" that Jesus referred to, was Peter's faith and trust -- in other words, to Peter's own recognition of the Heart. The Church that Jesus was to build, would be founded on this Heart-recognition, which is not limited to Peter, but belongs to all. This rock is clear, pure, and perfect. In fact, this rock can be compared to a lustrous diamond, indestructible, and adamantine. In the Tibetan tradition, this rock is known as vajra, the indestructible diamond, clear and empty, and yet reflective, of imperfections. This vajra is bodhi-citta, the Heart of Awakening. Peter recognized bodhi-citta, the mind of enlightenment, and Jesus affirmed Peter's recognition. This Awakened Heart, though dormant in many, can be awakened by many means, within many different religious-political-authority structures, whether Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant, just to limit ourselves to Christian examples. The point of Jesus' acknowledging Peter's "rockness" was not to make Peter (or a Pope) into an idol, no more so than the Father's acknowledgment of Jesus as His "Son" was meant to make Jesus into an idol. Instead, Peter was meant to be an example from which others could learn the universal truth that the Heart could manifest unexpectedly, anywhere, anytime, and to any person.

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