Tuesday, April 17, 2007
DHARMA AND THE CHRIST
As we walk the paths of our lives, we are to exercise our love for all things spiritual. In a close relationship with the world, we develop a close relationship to God. By loving life, we love God. For the poets of the Bible, this love was deep to the point of being all consuming. Amazement and wonder accompanied their every step. They walked aware that every grain of sand that shifted beneath a sandal was luminous with the light of creation. And just as much as it is a commitment to live life for every minute drop of wonder it can contain, it is a choice to engage life on this level of ultimate intensity. Such is the choice to know God not only through creation but through the experiences that arise in our lives. For just as the flower blooming through the snow is a presentment, and a metaphor, of the divine every conversation and kiss is as well. Once we choose to visit the sacred level of life, we find that it extends through all things and events.
In the reclaiming of Christianity as Buddhism’s cousin, we can find the Buddhist principles of attention to the “good path,” “The virtuous man delights in this world, and he delights in the next; he delights in both. He delights and rejoices, when he sees the purity of his own work.” This verse from Dhammapada's “The Way of Truth” finds its beautiful companion in Psalm 1 from the Holy Bible:
Blessed is the man who walks not in the way of the ungodly nor abides by the counsel of sinners, nor sits in the company of mockers;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law does he meditate day and night.
And he shall be like a tree planted by a stream of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaves fall not off; and whatsoever he begins he accomplishes.
The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the ungodly shall not be justified in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
For the Lord knows the way of the righteous. But the way of the ungodly shall perish.
Righteousness and virtue are one and the same, and both involve a deep sense of attention to the world. In this state, one seeks the beauty and truth of all circumstances and conducts oneself in such as way as will multiply the beauty and truth in the world. Buddha teaches that Mara, the great tempter, can easily overthrow an individual who “lives looking for pleasures only, his senses uncontrolled.” Mara, he also teaches will not overthrow him “who lives without looking for pleasures, his senses well-controlled, moderate in his food, faithful, and strong.” The sinners and ungodly of the Biblical terminology meet a similar fate as those who look for pleasures only in the Buddhist.
When we view Christ as our dharma, an inner-voice that weighs in on our thoughts and motivations, we can begin to see how the teachings of both Buddha and Christ resonate with our own natural sense. While Mark Twain says, “There’s nothing common about common sense,” the vouchsafed Buddha seed and Christ seed in our primordial minds beg to differ. There is a path to achieving a flawless intuition and sensitivity to beauty. There is a fundamental part of us that longs to allow this part of our psyches to be all there is. For once we function from this place, we function in alliance with God. We are no longer “in the way.” We are “of the way.” And in this place, all our works will find completion.
The Messiah Dharma works like a tree breaking through bracken to receive the sunlight. In Psalm 2, we witness the activation of the dharma,
Why do the Gentiles rage and the peoples imagine vain things?
The kings of the earth and the rulers have conspired and have taken counsel together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,
Let us break their hands asunder, and let us cast away their yoke from us.
He that dwells in heaven shall laugh, and the Lord shall mock at them.
Then shall he speak to them in his anger, and terrify them in his wrath and say,
I have appointed my king over Zion, my holy mountain,
To declare my promise; the Lord has said to me, You are my Son; this day have I begotten you.
Ask of me, and I shall give you the heathen for your inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for your dominion.
You shall shepherd them with a rod of iron; you shall break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.
Be wise, therefore, O kings; be instructed, O judges of the earth.
Serve the Lord with reverence, and uphold him with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish from his way while his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they who put their trust in him.
Even in so-called Biblical Times, there were two kinds of people. There were those who did not see life as sacred, and those who did. The former radically outnumbered the latter. This psalm works quite well as a study of a wrathful God about to set aright a wrong people. However, when we read it as a description of how, once activated, Messiah Dharma functions as the communication instrument of a promise-keeping God, the psalm brims with a new spiritual and neurological life. This seed makes us God’s kings who reign over the Kings of the worldly world. It makes us all “my Son,” and we are “begotten” on the day we waken to our Messiah Dharma. God is not speaking to our ego-selves when He says, “You shall shepherd them with a rod of iron; you shall break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Rather, he addresses the Messiah Dharma, granting it permission to do whatever it takes to get us on the right path.
In the Book of Jonah, Jonah denies God’s instructions as they are fed to him through his dharma. The dharma then works with God to bring about Jonah’s awakening to his true path. The sequence of events necessary to bring about this awakening are quite awesome and no more awesome than the journeys our Dharma will take us on to get us to see what we need to see, or, more aptly, see how we need to see. In this same way the dharma shepherd moves through our psyches with a rod of iron judging what can remain and what can be lost. Then we lose it. What we do not “get” right away is brought to us in lessons and experiences. The harder we fight our dharma lessons, we more depressed and ineffective we become as humans. The farther we retreat from life. We will all get broken like a potter’s vessel because we are made of clay. By destroying the clay, dharma empties us so we can be made new. We are not to strike out at the Messiah Dharma, the psalm teaches, but to Kiss the Son. For it is the Son, as in Buddhism it is the Dharma, that will show us how to live life completely.