Friday, May 13, 2011

All Truth is God’s Truth: Finding Wisdom in Places You Never Thought to Look

I think I grew up assuming that when Jesus says “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” this meant that the only place that we can find truth is in his actual words, the Bible. While I have not strayed from believing that the Bible is an incredibly wise, helpful, truth-filled text, I have come to see that truth and beauty and wisdom can be found in a myriad of other places as well. And when we arrive at this truth, we can know that God is involved...because all truth is God’s truth. With this in mind, we can honor these other places of truth, rather than fear or avoid them. Regardless of where this truth arrives from, if it allows us to better live into the way of Jesus, it can be freely embraced without fear or xenophobia (fear of the other).

These thoughts arise out of the class that I am current taking called ‘Our Religious Impulse’ (basically a world religions class). I was reading about Buddhism this morning and came across some beautiful thoughts from Thich Nhat Hanh, a famous Zen Buddhist thinker and writer. When I have approached world religions in the past, it has typically been a quest to know a plethora of data so that I can disprove that faith tradition, thus validating Christianity. I have come to see these actions as quite fruitless, however, so it is exciting to study these other forms of spirituality with the intent of learning from my brothers and sisters around the world. If my primary posture as a Christian is to love my neighbor, then this sort of interest in, and curiosity about, my neighbor seems like a healthy undertaking. While I still see Christianity as the best possible way of living, and Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life, I want to maintain a posture of openness and invitation, a freedom to absorb the truth of God wherever I may find it. With that in mind, I hope you enjoy these words of wisdom from a Buddhist brother.   
There is a story in Zen circles about a man and a horse. The horse is galloping quickly, and it appears that the man on the horse is going somewhere important. Another man, standing alongside the road, shouts, "Where are you going?" and the first man replies, "I don't know! Ask the horse!" This is also our story. We are riding a horse, we don't know where we are going, and we can't stop. The horse is our habit energy pulling us along, and we are powerless. We are always running, and it has become a habit. We struggle, all the time, even during our sleep. We are at war within our selves, and we can easily start a war with others.

We have to learn the art of stopping--stopping our thinking, our habit energies, our forgetfulness, the strong emotions that rule us. When an emotion rushes through us like a storm, we have no peace. We turn on the TV and then we turn it off. We pick up a book, and then we put it down. How can we stop this state of agitation? How can we stop our fear, despair, anger, and craving? We can stop by practicing mindful breathing, mindful walking, mindful smiling, and deep looking in order to understand. When we are mindful, touching deeply the present moment, the fruits are always understanding, acceptance, love, and the desire to relieve suffering and bring joy.

1 comment:

  1. I am with you on the idea that we can learn from all religions and to me it seems like Buddhist ideas we can learn most from (probably because it doesn't operate like other religions do).