To Zen or not ?


#1

There are some who believe that Catholicism is not the only choice as far as a religion is concerned and that Zen Buddhism would have been closer to the spirituality that Christ lived and taught.

I am busy reading some interesting writings by the late
Thomas Merton - Zen and the Birds of Appetite and Mystics and the Zen Masters and wondered if anyone else has explored Zen Buddhism at this level and agrees that Catholicism does not take one all the way…?

It seems that Thomas Merton found that the top heavy religious system, had some serious flaws in as much as granting the true truth of Christ and that it was bogged down with heavy rituals and creeds that would never be able to bring about the type of honest to goodness freedom that his mystical counterparts in Zen were living from day to day.

Mystified…Pophead.
:slight_smile:

:coffeeread: How Zen found me


#2

Unless one takes off the veil, and admit that the glory has faded… you will be unable to see the pathway…

Pophead.
:slight_smile:


#3

Jesus taught of the Kingdom of Heaven, and that God is Father.

Zen Buddhism rejects these concepts, IIRC.

How about heaven and hell? What does Zen Buddhism teach about the Heaven and Hell of which Jesus taught so frequently?

It seems that Thomas Merton found that the top heavy religious system, had some serious flaws in as much as granting the true truth of Christ and that it was bogged down with heavy rituals and creeds that would never be able to bring about the type of honest to goodness freedom that his mystical counterparts in Zen were living from day to day.

I wouldn’t want to be a part of a religious system that wasn’t top (God is the top) heavy. If your focus is on self, then this is what is called being “self-centered.” Zen Buddhism is an inherently self-centered religion. The teachings of Jesus are 180 degrees out of phase with this.

You say “bogged down”, I say “anchored.” No matter what notions may pop into my head. No matter which way the wind blows. No matter what religious theories come and go, these “heavy rituals and creeds” are like an anchor which continually remind us of the Truth of Christ.


#4

:thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:


#5

There is a book by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh called, “Going Home: Jesus and Buddha as brothers” which I read and in it he explains similar concepts in Buddhism and Christianity that you might find interesting. I would have to find my copy of it and see exactly what the quotes were from it. It’s a good read for anyone interested in the parallels between the two faiths.

How about heaven and hell? What does Zen Buddhism teach about the Heaven and Hell of which Jesus taught so frequently?

The heaven and hell concept is similar but with different implications. For example, in Buddhism people don’t always stay in one of the heavens or in the hell realms.

I wouldn’t want to be a part of a religious system that wasn’t top (God is the top) heavy. If your focus is on self, then this is what is called being “self-centered.” Zen Buddhism is an inherently self-centered religion. The teachings of Jesus are 180 degrees out of phase with this.

You don’t know enough about Zen to be able to say this. Zen is about the non-self, not about the self. It’s about releasing the self from our thoughts and opinions and judgements about things and simply seeing things the way they truly are. I don’t see how that could be so self-centered. If you believe it is, then please elaborate by giving examples of how it is.

You say “bogged down”, I say “anchored.” No matter what notions may pop into my head. No matter which way the wind blows. No matter what religious theories come and go, these “heavy rituals and creeds” are like an anchor which continually remind us of the Truth of Christ.

Peace…

Fa Chan


#6

The same concepts in Zen about the self and about reality are concepts that Jesus accepted. Jesus was not an ego based person. He was humble in spirit. He told us that He and the Father were one. He said that he came to do the will of the Father. This was a person who understood what life was about and how to heal the wounds of humanity. Zen is this way.

I am busy reading some interesting writings by the late
Thomas Merton - Zen and the Birds of Appetite and Mystics and the Zen Masters and wondered if anyone else has explored Zen Buddhism at this level and agrees that Catholicism does not take one all the way…?

I would not view Catholicism as not “taking one all the way”. If you follow the Catholic path you will gain the Catholic goal. If you follow the Zen path, you will reach the Zen goal. And this applies to other faiths as well.

It seems that Thomas Merton found that the top heavy religious system, had some serious flaws in as much as granting the true truth of Christ and that it was bogged down with heavy rituals and creeds that would never be able to bring about the type of honest to goodness freedom that his mystical counterparts in Zen were living from day to day.

Mystified…Pophead.
:slight_smile:

:coffeeread: How Zen found me

There is mystical Christianity if you want to explore that a bit, which is very similar to Zen. It may be more of what you are looking for without leaving your present faith (if you are Christian) or trying to practice two faiths. Most people cannot follow more than one religion and be successful. I would recommend open and honest inquiry, but do not be quick to jump ship.

One thing I wanted to add too. Your spiritual life and experiences are your own. What works and connects with some people may not with you. So, it’s not a good thing to look at someone else’s life and expect yours to be the same. Follow your path, not someone else’s.

Peace…

Fa Chan


#7

There are elements that can be taken from Zen which do not distract from the salvation granted through Jesus Christ.
Zen talks about detachment from worldly goods. This is a good thing. There is also the idea of becoming still, the better to hear God’s voice. There also is the idea of living in the moment, of being conscious of our every action.
Now we come to the essential differences. I believe that God does intervene in an individual’s life. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life that leads to the Father. When John asked Jesus whether or not he was the messiah or if we were to wait for another, he pointed to the healing that had taken place as he passed. We do not move from this life into nothingness. Rather, the Holy Spirit finds a dwelling place within our hearts that we may carry the Love that God has given us to others. Jesus said, “I came that they have life, life in the fullest.”


#8

Good post. I just had to comment on the comment about going into “nothingness”. That’s not the case in Buddhism. Nirvana is the extinction of concepts and judgements, not the extinction of the person. The energy that was “you” becomes something else. It doesn’t cease to exist. Energy never truly dies, it just moves from place to place.

Peace…

Fa Chan


#9

In Zen the concentration is still on self, no matter how you word it, it is just a play on words. Seeking non-self is not the same as seeking God and his will. In Christianity you must be re-born, not to do away yourself, but in giving yourself to God and doing His will. If you become nothing, then you have nothing to give. and in Christianity, you are only able to do God’s will by Grace, or by the gift of God, you cannot recieve that Gift or Grace if you are nothing. All things God created are good, if you destroy self then you are claiming God made something bad or at least not good. Becoming selfless as a Christian should seek to do, is not the same as non-self. God likes us, not only that He loves us, He does not want us to melt into the universe and disappear, He wants us to stick around and have a relationship with Him.


#10

The concentration is on personal development and release from ego. Do Christians focus on personal development? Do Christians seek to do good, to love? What is your experience with Zen?

Seeking non-self is not the same as seeking God and his will. In Christianity you must be re-born, not to do away yourself, but in giving yourself to God and doing His will.

You should compare the writings of Christian mystics and saints with the teachings of Zen. You will find that your analysis is not correct. Zen is not doing away with self. It’s doing away with our concepts of our self and the world around us.

If you become nothing, then you have nothing to give. and in Christianity, you are only able to do God’s will by Grace, or by the gift of God, you cannot recieve that Gift or Grace if you are nothing.

I’ve already answered this and still you postulate the idea that Buddhists believe they become extinct once they die. It’s an erroneous view. The energy that was once “you” manifests into something else, not nothing. Nirvana is the extinction of concepts, judgements and extremes.

All things God created are good, if you destroy self then you are claiming God made something bad or at least not good. Becoming selfless as a Christian should seek to do, is not the same as non-self. God likes us, not only that He loves us, He does not want us to melt into the universe and disappear, He wants us to stick around and have a relationship with Him.

There is no destruction of self. There is transformation. God did not make us with judgement, hate, greed and ignorance. It is these things that are man made that must be eradicated. Selflessness in Zen is the same as selflessness in Christianity. Compare the writings about Jesus and the writings of Zen Buddhists. In Catholicism no person with sin can enter heaven. In Zen, no one can enter Nirvana with the three poisons. There are similarities you refuse to see. Again, what is your education in Zen and Buddhism?

Peace…

Fa Chan


#11

A Christian desires to be united with the will of God. However, our own personal will often stands in the way. The destruction of the “self” in Buddhism is congruent with the pursuit of God’s will in Christianity. Buddhism seeks to ultimately transcend the “local identity”, the likes and dislikes and associations of the individual. The concept of “nothingness” is the transcendance of the self, not nihilism.

A Christian would argue that we achieve unity with God’s will only by grace. This is totally in line with Buddhism in the sense that Buddhists believe that one cannot “will” themselves away from their “local identity”, the self. To do so is to reinforce the self. Buddhists do not use the “language of grace” like Christians. For Buddhist, transcendance of the self is more of a continual process of letting go through disciplined practice (one could say the same of the truly Christian life).

Having studied both, I find them easily compatible and not mutually exclusive. “Doctrinally” based Christians often seem unwilling to acknowledge the similarities between the two faith traditions.


#12

You need to learn more about Zen. Try Zen is Boring.

Seeking non-self is not the same as seeking God and his will.

How do you know this? What experience of seeking non-self do you have?

If you become nothing, then you have nothing to give.

In Buddhism we do not “become nothing”, we come to realise that what we previously thought was something is not what we thought it was. It is like a mirage, it is not nothing but neither is it what it appears to be. Enlightenment is getting to see things as they really are, not as they appear to be.

All things God created are good, if you destroy self then you are claiming God made something bad or at least not good.

We do not destroy self, what we think of as our “self” is not what it appears to be - it is deceptive. We need to see behind the deception. We need to look for the man behind the curtain.

rossum


#13

Have any of you read Zen and the Birds of Appetite and Mystics and the Zen Masters by Thomas Merton ? Considering that Thomas Merton was personally under the instruction of DT Suzuki, there must have been some pretty profound influences on his life for him to liken his experience to a Zen Garden. He seemed to have found the something he had been searching for and not found in Catholicism. He certainly does raise some serious accusations against the top heaven religiousity of Catholicsm and that he found something far lighter in Zen.

Pophead.
:confused:


#14

Your signature, if reflective of your beliefs as a self-professed buddhist, is very revealing.

Christians absolutely deny the idea that there is no ultimate truth - there most certainly is. God is the ultimate truth, and in the person of Jesus Christ shows and leads us towards that ultimate truth.

The closer we conform to Him the closer we get to that ultimate truth.


#15

buddism is not a religion per se. it merely states
that anyone maybe a bhuda, an enlighten being. no statements are made as to the existence of god, there are no commandments. the only guidance really is the 8 fold path.

zen is a way of life. the images of the bhudda are merely for contempation of the eternal. one does not prays to bhudda. in the earliest depictions of budda, he is represented by an empty space.

yes i know that seems strange but the point to hold onto is that zero is not nothing. the emptiness reveals the fullness. the dark defines the light. merton understood this he was both a good catholic and a bhuddist.


#16

Not for Christians. God IS fullness and light - and Jesus proclaimed Himself (and His followers) to be the Light of the World and that the Light had nothing to do (nothing in common) with the darkness.

He (God) fills the emptinesses of creation and lightens its darknesses. There is no darkness or emptiness in God - only in us and other creatures, since we are limited and flawed.


#17

hard for you to get the point. buddism, not being a religion, has no need to make dogmatic statements. buddism is not about god. god in his infinite wisdom is beyond the world of duality. we however are within the world of duality and we must deal with it.
christ says "pick up your cross and follow me. the argagance of claim to know and understand god is simply foolish pride as god pointed out to both job and his tormentors


#18

Buddism is not only a religion but a sect of Hinduism, Pagan to the core.
No, it is not possible to serve two masters if you are a Good Catholic. and if you are a Catholic and you claim to practice buddhism, then you are in error as to being a Good Catholic. A buddhist can claim any belief, but making the claim to be Catholic while praticing another religion doesn’t make one a good Catholic, but a Catholic in error.

[size=1]John 14:6[/size] Jesus saith to him: I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me.

[size=1]Matthew 24:4[/size] And Jesus answering, said to them: Take heed that no man seduce you.
Matthew 24:5[size=1] For many will come in my name saying, I am Christ. And they will seduce many.
[/size]


#19

bhuddism is not a sect of anything any more that confusionism is
is a sect of any other religion.it is simply a philosophic system related to western thought as are plato and aristotle. the stoic marcus arellius was a stoic and was well respected the church because the church understood the difference between philosohy and religion. the church has always respected and incorporated philosophic thought. the organization of the church is taken directly from plato’s republic.


#20

I’m not claiming, and neither does any Christian, claim that they themselves can use their own unaided reason to ‘figure out’ the Almighty. That indeed would be foolishness and sinful pride such as God condemned in the Book of Job.

But it is equally untrue to say we know nothing of God. God regularly makes pronouncements and revelations regarding Himself and His nature to teach us. Indeed, how CAN we follow Christ to the Father if we know no certainties about one or other of them? And the Bible is full of such certainties which we have been taught.

The Old Testament teaches us His name for starters (‘I AM’ - which is also His nature, living in an eternal timeless present). And remember that in ancient cultures names have significance, to name someone or something gives some (though not complete) powers to the namer in regard to the named.

Through the prophets He teaches us how to worship Him, that He is One God and that there is ONLY one and not many, and He lays down some basic commandments for living and so on.

The New Testament contains the words and actions of Jesus Christ himself (who IS God, claimed to be so, and was killed as a blasphemer for His claims). Again He makes pronouncements about how we are to worship and behave and believe, and about the nature of God.

Who are we not to believe what God Himself reveals to us about Himself? And if He says that Jesus Christ is the only way, then who are we to think there is any other?


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