Saturday, September 25, 2010

hack thoughts on Eastern religion, forgive me for any ignorance

God's and Christ's relationship to one another provide food for thought regarding another question that has been nagging in my mind.

This summer I experienced a measure of peace and acceptance. Suffice it to say that it was relief from self-doubt, regret, and judging. I feel that the teachings and proverbs that brought me there stemmed from *eastern religion.

I live in the moment. I don't look to the past for nostalgia or regret. I don't look forward to a 'better time.' I accept where I am in my journey in life and I don't constantly wish to be more knowledgeable. I accept others because I know they are on a journey as well.

I know the Bible tells us to 'forget what's behind'. But stating the negative version of 'live in the moment' has not always solved my problem. In this case Yoda says it better, to my way of seeing things.

So I bought a book on Zen. I read the first two pages and realized that trying out any of that stuff means to go all out. Try it. Do it. Is that how the children of Israel felt when they worshiped idols? They wanted to try something new?

Though I don't know much about eastern religion; my gut feeling is that it is a rejection of a personal God. I have a feeling that in a way, the proverb about 'living in the moment' stems from a philosophy that is antithetical to my own worldview.

This is why: relationship.

On my 21 hour drive home from Minnesota I heard a sermon about the latter part of John 1. The pastor, Brian, was talking about Christ's reaction when John the Baptist's disciples started randomly following him.

They wanted to be Jesus' disciples because John told them Christ was the Lamb. They didn't know how to say that to Christ. Christ said "Why are you following me?" They said, "um, can we come over?" Christ said "sure."

As Pastor Brian said, Christ didn't say: "You want to be a Christ-follower? Ok. Believe in these three things and you're an official member." Instead he said: "let's hang out."

Relationships. It would seem that the highest realization of an 'Eastern' religion would advocate an inward meditation, one that is devoid of relationship with another person.

Perhaps a mystical relationship is achieved? A contrast with Christianity which asks us to literally dip ourselves in water and to literally taste bread and wine.

Here's another thing though:

Relationships in the real world are messy. They hurt. On the positive side, they are often based on memories and not 'living in the moment.' "Remember that time that we..." or, "you have proved a faithful friend." Do I reject all that for a peaceful, sterile, 'living in the moment?' Maybe I will, if those relationships hurt enough.

I feel that there are friends in my life that are denying my a chance to explain myself. Whether it is purposeful or not, whether they are hurting like I am or not, the thought exists: that I want reconciliation.

And I am finding that conversely there are other friends who I am not granting reconciliation to. But it's incredibly complicated. Even as a firm believer in communication, I don't know if we can fix the problem.

Relationships involve deep hurt and deep happiness.

All this is an allegory.

God offered us friendship. We blew it. He offered us reconciliation. Hence sin, evil, and unhappiness. Hence joy, peace, and gladness.

Here's to relationship.

*Disclaimer: I hope that my catch-all term 'eastern-religion' is not offensive to anyone. Perhaps there is a better term for specifically all the various forms of Buddhism and descendants of Hinduism? In this area I call upon the spirit of Bono "what you don't know you can feel it somehow" which is sort of my 'mantra' (haha mantra, get it?) this year.

I acknowledge that while any prominent religion is much more complex and well-reasoned than its opponents allow, and I have not studied in depth these religions, I do have a good measure of awareness of basic tenants of east-originated religions.

Finally, although the paradigm that has governed Christianity for the past 600-1000 years has been nicknamed 'western'; I am looking forward to discovering the 'eastern' in Jesus' teachings.

1 comment:

  1. I think this is a good post because it addresses, honestly and transparently, something that all Christians struggle with at some point in their lives: doubt. Let me give a quote from C.S. Lewis's essay, "Religion: Reality or Substitute?"

    "Just as the Christian has his moments when the clamour of this visible and audible world is so persistent and the whisper of the spiritual world so faint that faith and reason can hardly stick to their guns, so, as I well remember, the atheist too has his moments of shuddering and misgiving, of an all but irrestible suspicion that old tales may be true after all....Believe in God and you will have to face hours when it seems *obvious* that this material world is the only reality: disbelieve in Him and you must face hours when this material world seems to shout at you that it is *not* all. No conviction, religious or irreligious, will, of itself, end once and for all this fifth-columnist in the soul. Only the practice of Faith resulting in the habit of Faith will gradually do that."

    I realize his comments are directed more toward a struggle with materialism, and a naturalistic view of the world. Yours have to do with spirituality--Christian versus Eastern. But, I think that he captures an essential truth here, in that way in which he excels so greatly.

    You are dead on in highlighting the retreat of the Buddhist into his own, inward self--a self that we as Christians know is sinful; a heart which is deceitful and desperately wicked. And, the resulting distancing from an organic community of humans is so antithetical to what Christ points out will be the hallmark of our faith: "By this will all men know that you are my disciples, that you love one another" (John 13:35). Our love for our fellow man is to be a light shining out of the darkness, proclaiming to others that we are redeemed; we have been bought with a price; we are changed by God's love, and therefore we love others in a way that seems to go against our human grain. What does Christ say in Matthew 5? "For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?"

    But there is an element to Christian relationships that goes beyond just the social. For, two chapters later in the book of Matthew, Christ tells His hearers that there will be some to whom He will say, "I never knew you; Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness." Christ's knowing us is as important as our knowing Him; and it is our knowledge of Him, and His redeeming knowledge of us, that enables us to demonstrate Christ-like love to those we encounter in life, thereby displaying Christ's glory.

    So, yeah--despite the fact that we are humans and therefore make mistakes, and therefore hurt each other, and therefore require healing in our relationships with each other--here's to relationship, because without relationship, where is our faith?