Not so long ago I wrote some articles on Christian yoga. Firstly, in How (not) to Christianise Yoga, I outlined a basic methodology. Secondly, in Yoga Body Yoga Spirit, I outlined some specific challenges, namely, how we understand Spirit (pneumatology) and how we understand union with God (soteriology).
So, having stirred the pot on Yoga and Hinduism, I now what to turn my attention to Zen and Buddhism. To what extent can we Christianise Zen? Again, there are good ways to Christianise a non-Christian practice … and there are not so good ways. Again we can find a multitude of less than inspiring examples. But before we begin, I have a confession to make, I am actually a former Zen Christian … of the distinctly syncretistic, mix-n-match kind. So when I say there are some “not so good ways”, I cite my own initial practice as a prime example.
You see, when I converted to Christianity out of the New Age Movement some 16 or so years ago now, there was not much guidance available in those days. So I had to figure things out for myself, and I made many mistakes getting to that point. It took me some time to realise that any Zen, any dhyāna, any meditation, that can be authentically called Christian, will be grounded in Christ and Christ alone, before anything and everything.
Following this, in exploring Zen as Christians there is a sense in which we need to develop our own Christian Buddhology. In the same way Buddhists see the need to articulate a Buddhist understanding of Christ, Christians need to articulate a Christian understanding of Buddha. And here is the crux of it: if we seek to practice meditation in an authentically Christian way, the Buddha can never be granted the same authority as Christ. His perspectives may prove useful, but we cannot never hail him co-master, so long as we wish to remain Christ-centred that is.
That’s enough for now, I’ll return to this topic soon.