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solbeam Equipped with backpack, blog and her sense of Wonder, a perpetual pilgrim wanders aimfully on....

walking with Jesus and Buddha

CHINA | Saturday, 9 April 2005 | Views [3848] | Comments [4]

Once upon a time I fell in love with Christianity.

I went to church twice a week and made the sign of the cross each time I went down on my knees. I memorized and repeated prayers as I counted through my rosary’s beads. I sang songs in the choir and lit candles around the alter and I bowed my head before each high hanging porcelain sculpture of the savior. I confessed and repented each of my sins, wore a cross around my neck, and read the Bible from cover to cover.

But I had questions; Why can God only speak through men from behind the alter? And why, in exchange for my blessing, must every practitioner of differing faith be damned? And if Jesus taught us to treat each neighbor as our self, then why are there exceptions if he is black, poor, Muslim, female, or speaks a language we don’t understand? And if any act can be forgiven, why have we never apologized (or even recognized) the trail of blood that bought and brought the conversion of Christianity to the Americas?

Christianity put a finger to its lips and hushed me.

So I turned my back, and walked away.

*

And then one day I met Buddhism.

I was told, “Take only what you need, and anything you don’t like just leave,” and then thought to myself, “Now here’s a religion in which I can respectfully believe!”

So I went to the temples, clasped my hands and bowed, or even made rounds of full body prostrations to humble myself to the ground. I counted on the beads of my mala repetitions of Tibetan mantras memorized (only as I knew them) as segments of sound. I adopted the 8-fold path into my daily life and was careful to always circumambulate in only directions clockwise. I lit butter lamps and participated in pujas and made mindful walking meditations around towering white stupas. I meditated hour after hour cross-legged on a cushion, wore an eternal knot around my neck, and studied the ancient Sanskrit sutras.

But I had questions; If the female form is equivalent in power for progress towards enlightenment, then why do all the high lamas reincarnate only as men? And if Buddha did not want anyone to sculpt his image for praise, then why do we meditate with visualizations of him with a crown on his head, his body high upon a throne raised? And if all sentient beings are created and respected as the same, then why is a “perfect rebirth” into the human realm considered supreme? And if unattachment to the physical is a true precept of this religion, then why do we circumambulate ornate stupas painted in gold flake and housing relics of old lamas from whose bones appear pearls? And if Buddha promised us the path to enlightenment could be attained entirely from direct experience, then why does Buddhism prescribe a disciplined routine of prostrations, meditations, circumambulations and memorizations?

Buddhism shrugged its shoulders, smiled softly and said, “Fine then. Find your own way.”

*

So I took a deep breath and, once again, heaved my pack upon my back. Taking pursuit of my own trail knowing not what would lie ahead but quite happy to leave all I had learned “I’m not” in the past. And as I stepped back in alignment with personal truth, direct experience, unattachment, meditation and mindfulness, I, for the first time, looked down to see that the path was littered with a million dusty footprints of evidence. Yes! Imprints of feet, from a thousand past pilgrims, that all faced forward in one direction forming a one-way path for those for whom returning wasn’t an intention.

And suddenly I felt soft hands slip into the left and right of mine, and a secret whispered softly in two voices of kind;

In the left...

“Between my words and the Bible exists a great void, which everyone moved quickly to fill forgetting that in stillness is my voice.”

In the right…

“And the Sutras I did not want written but only whispered from ear to ear. You don’t need to know Sanskrit to understand, all you need is silence to hear.”


And in both…

“The path of the pilgrim is one we’ve both walked. We’ve left you our footprints to follow, alongside the voice of your heart.”

“Now continue child. Walk mindfully. And keep it in your head, that it’s for you, and ownership of your own enlightenments, that on this road, alone, you tread!”


The hands let go of mine, but my pack became lighter. And one humble tear of thanks bowed down my cheek, as I brought my hands together and lifted my respect, love and appreciation for this most precious piece of guidance graced upon me from higher.

Tags: philosophy of travel, tibet

Comments

1

Wow! You are so attracted in religions. But every religion is not bad.

  Lee Hui Min Mar 17, 2008 10:11 PM

2

What you experienced as 'Christianity' was mostly Roman Catholicism; a 'faith and works' based distortion of the teachings of Scripture, the Bible. You see the acts of going to church twice a week, hanging a rosary around your neck, lighting candles around the alter are practices or traditions in some churches. These, neither as accessories to true faith nor in themselves can bring justification.

So what is justification? - You see, we cannot see God because we are corrupt and there is something wrong with our hearts; not because there is something wrong with our eyes. We, humans are sinners and capable of wickedness to a high degree (as history as proven). Humans hate the true God, they want only His benefits which are piece of mind, salvation, happiness and satisfaction but do not want God Himself. The holy God made us and we hate Him! So what would be our just desserts? To face the greatest calamity in the history of time...God's eternal anger. Who can save us then? Only God Himself. As He has in Jesus. By making His pure and holy Son sacrifice Himself for our wickedness and depravity. This way our sin is imputed on Jesus and His righteouness on us and we are justified. This realisation is brought to us by the Holy Spirit and He brings us to love God by changing our hearts. So salvation is of God from God's wrath. And this is reality.

Now, justification is by faith and faith alone. God can only justify you if are able to genuinely believe that the Lord Jesus suffered and died for your wickedness and sinfulness resulting in its forgiveness. This genuine faith itself is sufficient for God to declare you as righteous. Thereby pronouncing you holy as He is and bring you to salvation and new life just as the Lord Jesus was resurrected.

In terms of 'priesthood', all believers are priests as the Bible teaches. The 'priest' is defined quite differently to the way Roman Catholics' think of its definition.'The priesthood of all believers' is a doctrine of the Christian faith; not Roman Catholicism.

So friend, any other news is no good news. Jesus says, 'I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.' (John 14:6).

So mate, if you are looking for the one and only true God, you can only find Him in Jesus. Jesus is God who took the human form and died for our sins, He rose again and sits at the right hand of the Father to gather His believers, He will come again to judge. Yes, Jesus is still alive!! Hallelujah!

  Josh Simon Mar 21, 2008 9:17 AM

3

Perhaps you may be interested to read
On Living and Dying by Krishnamurti and
Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

  Silence Mar 1, 2009 2:54 AM

4

Beautiful piece and glad you found the wisdom that lies outside the box.

  Rao Sep 30, 2012 2:48 AM

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