An image from the 12th century "Jigoku Zoshi (Hell Scroll)" located at the Nara National Museum in Japan. It depicts a Japanese Buddhist version of Hell. The primary difference between Buddhist versions of Hell and Christian versions of Hell has to do with their different conceptions of time. Buddhist regard time as circular, so stays … Continue reading Hell from a Buddhist Perspective
The following is an excerpt from Sangharakshita "Vision and Transformation" where he expounds on The Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path. This is his explanation of the first of the eight steps on the path. I found it interesting because here he communicates it through a series of images rather than concepts. So what is this Perfect Vision? One … Continue reading Understanding Buddhist Symbols
Buddhist art frequently depicts Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and other deities with their hands forming a number of different ritualised and stylised gestures (Mudras). They may be holding different objects as well within these gestures. Each by itself and in combination with others have specific meanings. Some of the more common ones are depicted below. One of … Continue reading A guide to Buddhist hand gestures
The following excerpt is taken from "Zen Ritual: Studies of Zen Buddhist Theory in Practice" edited by Steven Heine and Dale S. Wright. It provides an informative counterbalance to the western perception that Zen is inherently anti-ritualistic. "That Zen life is overwhelmingly a life of ritual would not always have been so obvious to Westerners interested … Continue reading Understanding Zen Ritual
Yesterday I was reading a Crucible article, "Is God as Good as We Think?", which examined C. S. Lewis' reflections on grief and God. I was struck by this passage in particular: ...emotional pain and suffering, such as grief or loneliness, can be debilitating though those feelings reflect the attachments we make. One way to … Continue reading Can we experience love without loss?
I visited the Lankarama Buddhist Temple at Schofields this morning and had a chat with the head monk. The temple is situated 2.5km down the road from where we are building our new house. They follow the Theravada tradition, similar to the Buddhists we met in Thailand.
How is the Christian church different from the Jewish synagogue, or the Muslim ummah, or the Buddhist Sangha, or the Wiccan coven? They are all words which refer to community after all. Is there any difference in your experience? Should there be any difference?
Some reflections by John P. Keenan on The Emptiness of Christ : The scriptural words of and about Jesus likewise describe him as empty of essence. [The] function of doctrine in Mahayana theology is not to communicate a body of information about God, but to engender a sense of the presence of God beyond all words. It is impossible … Continue reading John Keenan on The Emptiness of Christ
More and more I find language of "eastern religion" and "western religion" superficial and outmoded, if not down right ignorant and misleading. For starters, both Christianity and Buddhism are "world religions" that transcended their ancestral homes millennia ago. But more, their demographic centres of gravity are shifting, to the point where western Buddhism and eastern Christianity … Continue reading Western Buddha, Eastern Jesus
What images arise in your imagination when you hear the word "Buddhist"? This guy here is Vello Väärtnõu, the Perth-based head of Estonian Nyingma Buddhism. I think it is wise to check out preconceptions about other religions from time to time. How would you know if your neighbour is a Buddhist?
In seeking to express Christian teaching in a pluralistic world, I think it is imperative that we come to an understanding of, not only atheist ethics, but alternative ethics as well. For this reason I would recommend reading "Zen as a Social Ethics of Responsiveness" by T. P. Kasulis. I find it a overly simplistic in … Continue reading Ethics from a Zen Buddhist Perspective
Not overly impressed by the Dhammapada ... which I finally got around to finishing this evening. Very repetitive. Lots of do bad and you'll be damned, do good and you'll be blessed kind of stuff. Like the book of Proverbs without the essential grace aspect. Not nearly as interesting as the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā by Nagarjuna. I suppose … Continue reading Unimpressed by the Dhammapada