And just as in the night, at the moment of dawn, the morning star shines forth, bright and brilliant, even so, whatever grounds there are for making merit productive of a future birth, all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the mind-release of loving-kindness. The mind-release of loving-kindness surpasses them and shines forth, bright and brilliant.
—Itivuttaka 27, translated by John D. Ireland
And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
—2 Peter 1:19
I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.
Where water, earth, fire, & wind have no footing:
There the stars do not shine,
the sun is not visible,
the moon does not appear,
darkness is not found.
And when a sage,
a brahman through sagacity,
has known [this] for himself,
then from form & formless,
from (pleasure) & pain,
he is freed.
This blog is an exploration, nothing more. It is not intended to persuade anyone that Buddhism is right, or that Christianity is right, or that they somehow are equivalent. It has nothing whatever to do with the distracting intellectual gamesmanship of trying to justify one point of view or another. It's much more basic than that.
This blog is about fundamental practice. Recognizing the reality that this heap of aggregates we call the "self" is bound up in long-held habits and reactions, viewpoints and predilections, the question arises: How to engage with the stubborn disposition that is present in this moment, and that seems to persist? How to start where we are?
In western cultures predominated by Christianity, many of us have grown up from childhood with the concept of "God." In the Buddha's Dhamma, there appears to be no place for such a being as ostensibly conceived in Christianity, that is, a saviour. Instead, we are instructed to work out our own salvation with diligence, we are the owners of our kamma.
And that is the crux. Because as Christians we are taught that there is nothing we can do to win salvation for ourselves. Rather, in the words of Paul, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God." (Ephesians 2:8)
Yet at its core, we also find among those who seem to advance far along the Christian path an inspiring self-abnegation, a lovingkindness in action that appears to manifest the Dhamma ideal of selfless love, without clinging. Can this be anatta in action, a practice of anatta cultivated through devotion (saddha) to that which is beyond understanding, that God?
It is not a question that deserves a yes or no answer, in my view, because at this stage we cannot know the intricacies of the workings of kamma. Put another way, this question is relevant only for oneself, not to ask of our perceptions of others, or of Christians in general, or of the faith as some object of analysis in a theoretical sense. From a purely practical point of view, can the habitual Christian hope to cultivate that supreme right view as described in the Buddhadhamma? Can the habitual Christian follow the path of morality, concentration and wisdom? Can the habitual Christian arrive at a direct understanding of the not-self nature of all phenomena? Of its impermanent nature? Of its suffering nature? Is it a possibility?
More to the point, is the Buddhadhamma to be found at all in Christian teachings and practice?
May this exploration benefit all beings. May all beings be happy, be liberated, and be peaceful.