Love, Part 1 of 2013 Buddhist-Christian Dialogue

My 2013 conversation with Lama Marut consisted of four parts - two based on Christian scriptures, and two on Buddhist scriptures.  Part one focused on the Christian spiritual practice of love.  The Christian texts we discussed can be found below the video.  




 Matthew 22:35b-40
A lawyer asked [Jesus] a question to test him. 36‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ 37He said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” 38This is the greatest and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’


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Awakening and Buddhahood

Part four of my 2013 conversation with Lama Marut focused on Awakening and Buddhahood.  The Buddhist texts we discuss can be found below the video.  


From the Uttara Tantra:

Because they have seen reality as it is, they are freed from birth (sickness, old age and death).  But because they are the very essence of compassion, they display birth, death, old age, and sickness.  Just as the lotus grows in water but is not tainted by the water, so too is such a person born in the world but is not tainted by the things of the world. . . . Due to the power of his previous virtue and because all self-consciousness has been destroyed, he exerts no effort in bringing living beings to spiritual ripening.  He knows exactly what is to be taught, and which teaching, appearance, body, conduct, and method to use.  The one with unimpeded intelligence thus always acts effortlessly for the benefit of living beings as limitless as space itself.  A bodhisattva who has reached this level acts in the world in a way equal to the way Buddhas take living beings to liberation.  But the difference between a bodhisattva and a Buddha is like that of an atom compared to the whole earth, or the puddle of water in a cow’s footprint compared to the ocean. (1.68, 72, 74-78)

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Buddha Nature

Part two of my 2013 conversation with Lama Marut focused on Buddha Nature.  The Buddhist texts we discuss can be found below the video. 


From the Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life by Shantideva (ca. 800 A.D.)

Never allow yourself the feeling of being discouraged, of having the thought, ‘How could I ever become Awakened?’  The Buddhas, the ones who speak the truth, have spoken the following words of truth: ‘Those beings who are flies and gnats or bees and even those who live as worms can reach Awakening, so difficult to reach, if they develop the force of effort.’  Someone like me, someone born as a human being, can tell what helps and what hurts.  Assuming then that I never give up the bodhisattva’s way of life, why shouldn’t I reach Awakening? (7.17-19)

From the Uttara Tantra (Ratnagotravibhaga) attributed to Maitreya and Asanga (ca. 200 A.D.)

All beings are said to have Buddha nature because the wisdom of a Buddha is carried within all of them, and because of the non-duality of its immaculate nature, and because the propensity to Buddhahood takes the name of its result. . . . If there were no element of Awakening (= Buddha nature), there would be no dissatisfaction with suffering.  There would be no desire, striving, or aspiration for nirvana.  Since the propensity (to Buddhahood) is there, one can recognize that suffering mars existence and happiness is the quality of nirvana. Were there not this propensity among us, this would not be. (1.27, 40-41)

Why I Hate Yoga

Preaching sucks.  

Climbing into the pulpit with the expectation that I deliver a message that is moving, entertaining, positive, inspirational, not too long, with moments of humor,  connected to our daily lives and connected to the life of Jesus . . .  Gleaning this message from a  passage that is so familiar it no longer shocks us. . .  Somehow speaking on behalf of the Church, on behalf of God . . .

And then doing it again next week.

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The International Buddhist Conclave in India


In September I was invited to participate in the International Buddhist Conclave in India, a gathering of about 134 people (mostly Buddhist monks) from, I believe, about 33 countries.  The purpose of the event was to help Buddhists appreciate the important pilgrimage sites in India.  I was the only Christian clergyperson in the group and one of only a handful of people from the U.S.  I was adopted into a group of monks from Thich Nhat Hanh’s communities. Attending the Conclave with them made the experience even richer.  I ate meals with them, meditated with them and visited sites with them.  We were joined by Shantum Seth, a remarkable man who leads pilgrimages in India.  Shantum is Buddhist and is a student of Thich Nhat Hana.  He took us on some private, extra tours.

I arrived in Delhi on Thursday, September 27.   They took us to some World Heritage sites in Delhi (not Buddhist sites), before we left for Varanasi, where the conclave would be held, on Friday.   Here are some pictures: