Monday, January 16, 2012

Living Buddha, Living Christ: Ch 4a

Chapter Four: Living Buddha, Living Christ

This is, by far, the longest chapter up until now. Lots to think about.

Hahn begins by distinguishing between the historical Buddha/Jesus and the living Buddha/Jesus. He says that the historical Buddha was born in Kapilavastu and died in Kushinagar, but the living Buddha - the Buddha who transcends all ideas and notions - was never born and never died. Similarly, he says, the historical Jesus was born in Bethlehem and was crucified upon Golgotha, but the living Jesus existed before the creation of the world and lives beyond the crucifixion.

What Hahn does not do, though, is explain the relation between the historical and living entities. He says that when we look into the lives of the historical Buddha and the historical Christ, we become more in touch with reality - but he does not explain who or what the historical Buddha/Jesus actually is. At least not very clearly. What he does seem to suggest is that there's really no difference between us and the historical Buddha or the historical Christ, and if that's true the relation between the historical entity and the "living" entity becomes even more vague.

Hahn says that, "In Christianity, you have to believe in the resurrection or you are not considered a Christian. I am afraid this criterion may discourage some people from looking into the life of Jesus." Perhaps it is discouraging to some people, but how can people truly look into the life of Jesus if they disregard the things he said and did? The resurrection is, undoubtedly, a central piece to Jesus' life and teachings. It is not a pity that it is emphasized - it would be a pity if it were ignored. The Apostle Paul said that if Jesus had not been raised the Christian faith is futile (1 Cor 15:14-19). Why does Hahn want to avoid the Resurrection?

Hahn says, "God made Himself known to us through Jesus Christ," but what does he mean by this? Who is God? Later in this chapter, Hahn admits that he does not think it necessary to view God as personal, but if that's the case then how do we make sense of this sentence? "God, an undefined entity without a mind or will, reveals that non-existent mind/will through a mind/will called Jesus Christ...?" How could that possibly be?

Hahn talks about Matthew's description of the Kingdom of God as "a tiny mustard seed." He says that this means that "the seed of the Kingdom of God is within us," but how he gets this idea from Jesus' simile is not explained.

I'll cover the rest of the chapter in my next post.

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