Friday, April 26, 2013

Sounding Like a Buddhist

Yesterday, during a lovely extended lunch with two fellow pastors, we wandered from talking shop to talking Big Picture.  It was a delicious discussion, as we wandered into areas of theological complexity that I thoroughly enjoy.

At one point, things wandered into a conversation about predestination and free-will.  I used to be more traditionally orthodox Calvinist on the subject, but my view has...changed...over the past several years.  My engagement with Many Worlds and the multiverse understanding of creation has caused me to drift away from that old and unresolved argument.

Or perhaps that argument has drifted away from me.  It just doesn't seem relevant any more, a question that is as meaningless as asking about the sound of one hand clapping.

I was endeavoring to explain my viewpoint, but the burrito I'd just eaten was evidently taking up too much of the oxygen in my system, and I could hear myself not making myself clear.  Or I thought I wasn't.  So hard, it is, to hear with others ears.

Midway through an obscure sounding explication of the nature of God, one of my colleagues smiled to the other and said, "He sounds like a Buddhist."

I didn't respond, but smiled serenely, which probably didn't make me seem less Buddhist.

But I thought, hey, no, I sound like a Christian.  Christians sound like this.

In the context of that good company, that observation wasn't what it might have been in other Christian circles.  There are plenty of earnest Christians who might utter that phrase as a cautionary note to a brother or sister who's in danger of wandering off the reservation.  That was not its intent.  It was simply an observation.

I've always respected the teachings of the Buddha, and my depth study of it has only deepened that respect.  I see the value in the Four Noble Truths, and the wisdom of the Noble Eightfold Path.  But it is not the Way I have chosen to follow.   My intention and my focus is teaching what Jesus taught, and guiding people to follow him in intention and deed.

The reality I am describing is the same reality that Buddhism attempts to describe, sure.  But it's not my way.  That does not make it evil, or my enemy, or the enemy of my Master.  There are such paths, and I see their fruits in the world around me.  Those are worth opposing.

Buddhism is simply... different.

And there is nothing inherently wrong with difference.

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