Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Zen Christianity

The teachings and practices of Christianity and those of Zen Buddhism have much in common.  A few of the things Christians can learn from Zen Buddhism were posted in an article by Lori Erickson on the Beliefnet website (10 Lessons Christians can learn from Zen Buddhism).

One of the primary teachings of Zen Buddhism, that Jesus also reinforced, is to avoid being judgmental. We should take a fresh view of the world.  "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged".

Breath is also a central focus of both traditions.  Zen encourages a discipline of breathing practice.  Within Christianity there are a number of references to the power of breath to heal, and even create life, as in the creation story of mankind. After being formed out of dirt God breathed on man to bring life.

Simplicity was a core teaching of Jesus.  He recommended if we have a spare coat to we should give it away.  As an iterate teacher and healer Jesus stored up his treasures in heaven, not on earth.  Zen also encourages sparsity of things and a richness of the spiritual life.

Silence is golden.  Within the Biblical tradition a key passage from the book of Psalms is "Be still and know that I am God."  Stillness and centering practice are central to Zen Buddhism.

There is much we can all learn from the various faith and philosophical teachings and practices from around the world.  Thomas Merton is among the Christian theologians who have been enriched by the teachings of Zen Buddhism.  One my core beliefs is that there is no "them and us", there is only "us".  If we wish to live more fully in this beautiful and diverse world it behoves us to become less judgmental and more understanding of the world's great spiritual and philosophical teachings and traditions. By seeking first to understand, then to be be understood, it brings us closer together.  We can then come to know people living on all places around the globe as our brothers and sisters.

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