Thursday, February 16, 2012

Living Buddha, Living Christ: Ch 4c

Hahn quotes a Buddhist proverb: "He who has arrived from suchness, remains in suchness, and will return to suchness." He describes "suchness" as "a Buddhist term pointing to the true nature of things - of ultimate reality. It is the substance or ground of being, just as water is the substance of waves." He adds, "we have come from nowhere and have nowhere to go."

In the Christian worldview, we have all come from a Divine, eternal personality - not nothing. This Divine, eternal personality is the antithesis of nothing. The Christian worldview says that after death we will encounter this Divine personality in a deeper way, and that the meeting will either yield great joy or great suffering. This is, of course, very different from the idea that we have "come from nowhere and have nowhere to go."

What does Hahn mean when he says we have come from nowhere and have nowhere to go? Why does he think this is true? On the contrary, I think the world demonstrates a natural teleology - that is, it appears to be the result of a plan. In other words, it appears to be the product of will and intention - not nothing. Why should we believe that we came from nothing and will return to nothing? On what grounds? I think the natural evidence swings more in favor of the idea that we came from something, not nothing, and given the fact that the evidence swings that way and that the belief that we "came from nowhere and are going nowhere" can have dangerous, nihilistic implications for morality and society, why would I choose to put my faith in it?

Next, Hahn spends some time talking about the Buddhist perspective of human nature. He says that Buddhists believe that every human being has the potential to become a Buddha - that is, every human being has the ability to become enlightened, blessed, happy, mindful, compassionate, etc. He also says that all human beings have negative seeds within them - seeds of hatred, anger, ignorance, intolerance, and so on - that can only be transformed by touching the qualities of the Buddha. He says that this is very similar to Christianity, because Christians believe the Original Sin can be transformed when one is in touch with the Holy Spirit.

I think there are some similarities between Hahn's view and the Christian view, but there are differences as well. The Christian, like the Buddhist, believes that human nature contains "good seeds" and "bad seeds." Christian doctrine says that we are made in the image of God (the good seed) but we are also fallen and corrupt (the bad seed). However, the difference is that the Christian perspective of man sees the bad seed and the good seed as being fused together all the way down to the very core of the person. In other words, even the best of human actions are said to be tainted by impure motivations. The bad seed is inextricably tied up with the good seed, and it is only through realization of the presence of the bad seed and dependence on the mercy of God that the good seed triumphs.

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