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.

28 June 2008

The Buddhist God

It's actually quite simple. There is "God" in Buddhism, if one only look at the etymology:
O.E. god "supreme being, deity," from P.Gmc. *guthan (cf. Du. god, Ger. Gott, O.N. guð, Goth. guþ), from PIE *ghut- "that which is invoked" (cf. Skt. huta- "invoked," an epithet of Indra), from root *gheu(e)- "to call, invoke."
"God", then, is that which is invoked. Whether "God" is omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent, is irrelevant. In Buddhism, the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha are all invoked, in one way or another. So, the Triple Gem is the God, as understood within Buddhism.

24 June 2008

Four Turnings of the Wheel of Christian Dharma

The Four Turnings of the Wheel of Christian Dharma:

1. Matter/energy as the foundation of reality. Christian materialism/naturalism, represented by Thomas Altizer's Christian atheism and (possibly) Bishop Shelby Spong. (Corresponds to Jivanta.)

2. Matter/energy in a dualistic relationship to the Transcendent. Christian dualist Transcendentalism, represented by the Arians and Jehovah's Witnesses. (Corresponds to the Beloved.)

3. The Transcendent embodied within, and expressed as, a matter/energy individual. Christian Trinitarianism, represented by Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Protestantism. (Corresponds to the Buddha.)

4. Where neither matter/energy alone, nor matter/energy:Transcendent dualism, nor Transcendent-within-matter/energy-embodiment apply: Christian Non-Dualism. (Corresponds to the Heart.)

Each turning gives distinctive interpretations of Christian doctrine. For instance, let's take the doctrine of "original sin". Christian materialism would see original sin as symbolic of the evolutionarily adaptive traits (e.g., excessive violence) that are no longer desirable within contemporary human communities. Christian dualists and Christian Trinitarians would see original sin in a similar way, as the original couple's disobedience of God's laws. Christian Non-Dualism would see original sin as the moment-to-moment conscious or unconscious movement into lust, anger, and fear. Christian Non-Dualism would then interpret the Christian Trinitarian doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary as indicative of the necessity to be re-born into love, energy, and wisdom, before the Virgin Birth of the "Christ" (or Christ-within-oneself) can take place.

Astronomical Buddhism

The Sun: The Buddha
The Moon: The Sangha
Mars: Vinaya/Renunciation
Mercury: Sutta
Jupiter: Sila/Virtue
Venus: Tantra
Saturn: The Dhamma
Rahu: Bodhisattva
Ketu: Dharmakaya

23 June 2008

Roar of the Tigress

"I am sure you’ve noticed by now that I’ve been talking about Zen as a religion, and yet some of you may have heard that all of Buddhism, and especially Zen, is atheistic. It is not. You’ve heard this due to the fact that the Christian missionaries who brought back the Scriptures from the Far East either did not know of, or deliberately steered clear of, one particular Scripture spoken by the Buddha. In the Udana Scripture He says very clearly, “O monks, there is an Unborn, Undying, Unchanging, Uncreated.” This is what He found in meditation and which gave Him His enlightenment. In other words, He found That Which Is. What the Christians call “God” and Mohammedans call “Allah”, the Buddhists call variably: That Which Is, the Lord of the House, the Cosmic Buddha, the Eternal, Amida Buddha, the Immaculacy of Emptiness, Vairocana Buddha, the Unborn, etc....

Now, if you would study Soto Zen, or for that matter any form of Buddhism, you need three things. You need perfect faith in That Which Is, the Eternal. You need to know, to have the faith in and the willingness to go hunting for, that which will tell you about the Eternal. And you need to know that when you can’t get the answers, there are people whom you can trust to help you. In other words, when you yell, “Help! I’m stuck”, there are people who are willing and able to help. These three things are what we in Buddhism call the Three Refuges: “I take refuge in the Buddha; I take refuge in the Dharma; I take refuge in the Sangha.” These three things are absolutely essential: perfect faith, the willingness to study, and to trust someone who says, “Well, let’s talk; maybe I can help; maybe we can help each other; maybe I have a bunch of experience which I am willing to put at your disposal and see if it’s any use.” Those are the three things you’ll need if you are to study Soto Zen or any other form of Buddhism.

All the rest are beliefs which you have to prove true for yourself. The Buddha said very clearly, “Do not believe anything because I tell you. Only believe it when you have made it true for yourself.” Therefore, enlightenment is the making true for oneself of the reality of the existence, and the experience of the existence, of the Unborn. Again, remember that the word “enlightenment” has got muddled as a result of not understanding the importance of the Udana Scripture. When that scripture was first translated, incidentally, a number of people tried to pull it down saying, “Oh, it couldn’t possibly be that the Buddha had found the Eternal!” You read a bit more, and if you do, you discover that this is the only interpretation that makes sense in Buddhism. He definitely did, and it makes it into a real religion and not just a way of life.

Faith, study, and trust: if you think of the word “refuge”, what does it actually mean? To take refuge in something that you can neither see nor grasp nor feel, you have to have faith in it. When you start, perhaps you believe it, but you have to go on beyond belief: belief does not go nearly far enough. So often in religion people get stuck with belief. They think that is enough: it’s not. It has to go on to the certainty of faith, which is an absolute certainty but one which leads not to absolute belief and the hard-fisted type of certainty; it leads to perfect faith, which can allow everybody else to have their beliefs and not interfere with them, and know that when those people find perfect faith, whatever they happen to call the Eternal will be all right."

20 June 2008

The Discipline of the Laity

The laity are free to disagree publicly with particular Christian doctrines. That is the freedom of the laity. The "free" lay-person, however, is also called to take the next step: to enter into the discipline of the laity. To disagree, or reject, a particular doctrine is simply the first step. The next step is to transform, to re-interpret, a particular doctrine, without merely rejecting a doctrine, so that that doctrine achieves wider and greater levels of description.

Christian doctrine, as understood in terms of its public formulations, is heavily exoteric. To be exoteric does not mean to be false. To be exoteric means to function on primarily physical, emotional, intellectual, and religious levels. The exoteric meaning of doctrine has a purpose for existing, since humans are physical, emotional, intellectual, and religious beings. One may find the exoteric meaning limiting, and non-expressive of reality, but that finding does not negate the exoteric purpose. In one's encounter with exotericism, one has at least two options: merely reject the exoteric teaching as false; or enter into a transformative, bathic, and holistic understanding of the exoteric, in terms of the esoteric.

The esoteric functions on primarily spiritual, transcendental, and divine levels. Humans are not simply physical, emotional, intellectual, and religious. They are also spiritual, transcendental, and divine (cf. theosis). The esoteric, though, is not the dominant aspect of the cultural, social, political, and economic realms of Christendom, since those realms are themselves based on physicality, emotion, the intellect, and religion. To expect Christian doctrine, expressed publicly, to communicate the esoteric functions of Christianity, is to confuse the levels on which public doctrine operates. The esoteric function operates outside, underneath, and beyond public Christianity, while at the same time not rejecting public Christianity. That which is "outer" always needs that which is "inner". The universe always needs the Heart. The esoteric function is the driving engine, the energy-transforming mitochondrion, the nuclear fusion at the Heart of the Sun/Son.

18 June 2008

The Freedom of the Laity

In the Christian traditions, the clergy and the laity together constitute the Church. The clergy act as symbols of the unity of Christian doctrine. The laity, though, function in a slightly different manner. Whereas the clergy must publicly adhere to Christian doctrine (because the function of the clergy is to shepherd the laity), the laity themselves are not bound to such public adherence. Whereas the clergy are "professional" Christians (such that, if they do not publicly adhere, their clerical status may be revoked), the laity are "personal" Christians (such that, if they do not publicly adhere, their ability to participate in various Church activities may be revoked, but their status as Christians can never be taken away). Indeed, the "personal" Christian need not publicly adhere to any non-central doctrine or idea that his well-informed conscience rejects. The cost of being such a "personal" Christian may, of course, be too high for many to bear -- a "cross", if you will, too soon on the horizon.

That leads to the very appropriate question of whether it makes sense to enter into a Christian community as a "personal" Christian who rejects certain doctrines of that Christian community. I think this question confuses the issue. The purpose of entering into any community is not to be confirmed into a particular ideology. The purpose of entering into any community is to participate in that community, regardless of the ideological differences one or more people may have. Community is not simply ideas, but physicality, emotional-connections, mental engagement, and spiritual transmission. Last, but not least, community is about forgiveness, acceptance, and understanding -- beginning with oneself, and radiating outwards. To look for community initially as outside of oneself, is to miss the glory of community.

When it comes to Christian communities, the purpose of entering into any one Christian community, is to participate in the life of Christ, however truncated or abridged the clergy have defined one's participation. The life of Christ can be lived in many different ways: Vedic, Buddhic, Judaic, Islamic, Scientific, just to name a few. The life of Christ can also be corrupted in many different ways. No Christian community is free from corruption; and to let corruption (or dukkha) of any kind prevent one from participating in a Christian community, is to allow corruption (or dukkha) the final word, when the final word is Christ (or the Deathless, Amatam).

05 June 2008

Ineffabilis Deus Mater

Pius IX, after consulting all the bishops of the world, issued Ineffabilis Deus on December 8, 1854, declaring the immaculate conception a doctrine revealed by God:
"We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful." [See here for background; see also Timothy G. McCarthy. The Catholic Tradition: The Church in the Twentieth Century. 2nd Edition. Chicago: Loyola Press, 1998, 373.]
The Immaculate Conception of Mary is a profound doctrine. Within it are hidden the foundations and implications of Christian Avataric Non-Dualism.

Christian dogma has no limit. That is, the literal meanings of the dogmas do not exhaust the dogma's meanings. The literal meanings of the dogmas do not exclude additional implications, implications easily dismissed or rejected when only the literal meaning is considered. The dogmas are experimental hypotheses, working definitions, if you will, whose practicality and reality must be tested in the laboratory of one's own body-mind. In fact, to paraphrase the Buddha Shakyamuni, the final origin and end of Christian dogma cannot be seen. Dogma arises, shines, and subsides within the very Heart. The final origin and end of Christian dogma can only be known from, in, and as the very Heart.