Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Mahayana Buddhist (or Mystical Christian) Available. All offers considered.

I am into (and you can readily search for scads of posts in which I elaborate on the following):

  • the idea that salvation of the Bodhisattva (or any other kind of the spiritual variety) cannot be complete unless all are saved, and that the implication of stories abiut figures like Dharmakara becoming Amida suggest that we are all already resting in the wisdom and compassion of the Ultimate, of Becoming, or God, however you like to phrase it.
  • following that line, things like grave offenses aren't unforgiveable or an excuse to exclude some from salvation - it simply means one who is in that kind of deluded state is not able to perceive the truth underlying liberation at that moment.
  • the underlying nature of liberation is the appreciation that there is only Buddhanature and that all else is delusion, hence the teaching that "samsara is nirvana", implying in the contradiction that there is in truth only nirvana except for those deluded into believing in a separate, distinct, intrinsic existence of any phenomena from the source of all phenomena. In other parlance, we are all already saved and hell and suffering is something we inflict on ourselves and each other - so stop it already!

  • focusing on transforming desire from selfish cravings that come from a sense of isolation/uncertain incompleteness into a positive motivation to improve the world and assist others born from a sense of unity/inherent wholeness, from the insecurity of a deluded being to the confidence of Bodhisattva. This is sometimes phrased as another seeming contradiction, "passions/desires are enlightenment".
  • the claim that it can benefit people to pray for whatever they want. It may seem like a contradiction of the last statement about transforming desire, but it is actually a corollary, and perhaps a necessary one. A major obstacle to spiritual transformation is the fact that we find it hard to be honest. To really face up to what is in our hearts. So instead we put up a nice facade, even for ourselves, especially for ourselves, so we can try to think and say and so what we suppose we ought to think and say and do. But look at the Bible, especially the Psalms. Many of those prayers reveal selfishness, fear, anger, haughtiness, intolerance, impatience, etc. That is because true prayer involves pouring out your heart, not just making, stale, formal offerings.

    [The same is true for Buddhist prayer. If we aren't brutally honest about what is really in our heart, and if we don't pour it out, how can we then be filled with something else, something nobler? If we can't accept who we are, how can we become who we want to be? Of course, if we just pray or chant as if the object of our devotion was just a cosmic vending machine and hold something back, or fail to take in the examples of teachings of generosity and faith in our inherent wholeness/Buddhanature, then we will never experience transformation, but will remain at an infantile or juvenile phase of spiritual growth. Either we trust in the whole process or we simply become attached to some part of it, and not only do we fail to benefit but the would be cure becomes a poison. (Yes, it works both ways, poison to medicine, and vice versa.) Eventually our prayers come to more and more reflect our growing spiritual maturity and what is truly in our deepest heart of hearts as we excavate further and further with our practice into our true limitless compassion and wisdom at the root of our Being.]
  • the idea you don't have to be explicitly Buddhist to appreciate or discover these ideas, nor use Buddhist terminology. In fact, getting too hung up on "Buddhism" can actually be very counterproductive. Many of these teachings are expressed in other sacred traditions, especially among those who practice what may be dubbed "contemplative/apophatic mysticism".
  • the idea that focusing on these kinds of things as intellectual philosophy can lead one to a mistaken sense of accomplishment and a misleading arrogance, and that if you can't appreciate the more basic teachings at the more literal level, then you are missing out on necessary growth and expansion of nuanced perspective. It can lead to attachment to (presumptions about) emptiness, which is far worse than attachment to form. Far better to take the simple road and cultivate great faith than to be too clever to allow a true surrender of the lesser self ("ego") and an acceptance of that self (in its proper role) as as a part of a whole being/Buddha.

I guess that means that I am cleared to practice most major forms of Mahayana Buddhism, especially Nichiren Buddhism, Shin Buddhism, and whatever blend is present at the Buddhist Society of Compassionate Wisdom, which suggests that the five major pronouncements of Mahayana teachings include:

  1. All sentient beings are buddhas.

  2. Samsara is Nirvana.

  3. One's passions are enlightenment.

  4. We are an interrelated whole.

  5. Everyday life is the Way.

I am also open to Christianity via my appreciation of Panentheism and my appreciation of Christ in that faith as the premier incarnation/avatar of the Divine in his role as the Cosmic Christ, with God (the Ultimate/Source of Becoming) seen as a father and in which Jesus represent form/the phenomenal world, linked by each giving utterly of each other through love (i.e. the Holy Spirit). The Gospels then are a revelation of God's solidarity with humanity in all things, including the worst suffering, and of course the death of the limited self to reborn to our greater nature, the example of the law of love through sacrifice, etc, etc, and many other similar signs and lessons in the life of Christ. It may sound complicated, but it isn't as far from many roots of contemporary and historical theology as some might suspect.

So yay. But I really wish I had a home base, if you will, to operate from. Anyone want to make any suggestions or offers? Oh where do I belong?

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