Sunday, September 15, 2013
This is a really nice movie about the life of Dogen. Dogen is an incredibly important figure in Buddhism. He was a reformer who reaffirmed the central role of mediation in Buddhism. Also, very important for understanding Dogen is his teaching on the relationship between practice and enlightenment. From a Buddhist Christian point of view please note how similar his story is to the Christian Saints who founded monastic groups, such as Saint Francis, Saint Benedict, and Saint Ignatius
Saturday, September 14, 2013
This is a video about how pretending to be confident significantly alters your body chemistry to support confidence. This relates to Christian and Buddhist practices in two ways. The first is posture. Taking certain postures really does alter your brain and body. Actually, a lot of Christians find the Buddhist posture for meditation feels wrong. In fact, it is wrong for most types of prayer, but it is right for certain types of contemplation. It will put you into a different relationship to God, and that is OK. The other thing is the Christian practice of imitating Jesus or a Saint. The main book for this is, of course, The Imitation of Christ. In this practice you fake it with the knowledge that you will never make it. The point is that pretending really will change your brain state. It is a powerful technique. I have not come across a specific description of this technique in Buddhism, maybe because Buddhists are expected to actually become Buddhas. However, in my opinion it works well for Buddhists too. Just pretend you are the Buddha. One thing though, its best to choose safe things to pretend. Do not start by dinning with prostitutes and talking with killers. I recommend walking
Sunday, September 8, 2013
There is the sense, in North American culture at least, that sin is fun or enjoyable, and that trying to not sin is dry, boring, and uptight. Sin means to miss the mark. The result of sin is what Buddhists refer to as ignorance. It manifests most fundamentally as fear and confusion. Other negative states, such as anger or jealousy, arise from these (Buddhists refer to all of these states as afflictive emotions). Each deadly sin in christianity is associated with a fear. For example, pride is the fear that you are nobody, gluttony is the fear that there is not enough. When we are engaged in a sin we are sad, afraid individuals, desperately trying to deal with a fear by frantically and hopelessly trying to create the opposite situation. Acting without sin is acting without confusion and without fear. Acting without sin makes any activity wonderfully enjoyable and fulfilling. Acting with sin turns each activity into a sad and desperate attempt to maintain a pathetic false sense of yourself and your reality
Chi is a concept usually,associated with Taoism and tai chi, not Christianity or Buddhism (except for tantra). However, I have done tai chi for a long time so the concept of chi is relevant for me. I think that chi is a name for something that exists but is not named in Christianity and mainstream Buddhism. First, chi is relational. It exists in the flow between different things, between different parts of your body, between you and another person, and between us and the natural world. Manipulating chi can produce real, measurable, physical effects. This is well studied and I have seen many compelling demonstrations, but nobody has ever been able to physically detect chi. This is because it isn't a thing, it is an emergent effect arising from the dynamic interaction between systems (in my opinion). Chi is the name for this. If chi is manipulated correctly you get interesting effects. However, the only way to do this is to do the right thing at the right time. So chi cannot be summoned or controlled by an act of will, instead you must act in accord with the situation. Therefore, the concept of chi is related to dependent co-arising and skillful means in Buddhism, as well as the ability to act with grace in Christianity. Acting through chi is embodied wisdom that flows along with the moment. Related to this, an important thing about acting through chi is that it cannot be planned, the correct timing must come out of the moment and in order to do this you must be silent internally.
Different religions have different flavors because they are built on the insights of different individuals living in different cultures. Taoism is is particularly good at describing the human experience with flow, being in the moment, and the dynamic relations between all things. Taking the best from each religion (as well as incorporating science) is the key to a sophisticated spiritual life (in my opinion).