Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Zen meditation helps us

An interesting post by Wayne Codling, which helps to remind us about the teachings in the new testament,  to read more go here

In Buddhist terms, Jesus was the variety of saint known as the bodhisattva. The term means "awakened being." Doctrinally, a bodhisattva is a Buddhist adept who vows to never cease teaching the middle way until all beings are enlightened and only then accept nirvana. Jesus didn't think that way at all, of course, but he behaved like a bodhisattva in that he aligned himself with all people, especially the marginalized and outcast people in his world. He went so far as to say that the treatment of the least of us is equivalent to how we treat him. It's clear; Jesus takes it very personally when the poor and the ill and the elderly and the eccentric are treated with suspicion and enmity; like thieves or liars. Jesus wanted them to be treated as reverentially as he was.

This is worthy of emulation about Jesus; the biblical Jesus is not an elitist. Indeed, he challenged the elitist leaders of his own religion. Jesus was friendly with outcasts and prostitutes.

These are the people he was referring to when he taught this esoteric message of reverential equivalence. The least among us are the ones who live under bridges, or who are addicted to powerful substances. These are the ones who are treated all too often like something repulsive; something that their betters might scrape off their shoes.

Having said that, it should be noted that, in our community and most of our country, the ones who feed the hungry and clothe the naked and shelter the homeless are the followers of Jesus. Indeed, Buddhists could learn a thing or two about how charity and love work in society. Once you look beyond the level of the street, though, the notion of reverential equivalence rapidly loses potency. This is because this spiritual condition is challenging; it requires renewal. It is more than an intellectual idea.

Establishing reverential equivalence is a meditation skill. Zen meditation facilitates the restoration of equivalence in all relationships. To bring into being a genuine reverence that has zero bias between Jesus and the least among us is attainable through meditation, even by the greater among us. This is something that Buddhism, as a meditation culture, has to offer modern, western life.

Our cultural ancestry is bereft of subtle skills such as the doing of not doing. Yet, this is the power and efficacy of equivalence. It does this by intentionally setting all parameters to zero, another way of speaking of the skills of relinquishment and cessation.

Not everyone can work the streets and actualize the fundamental point that Jesus was making with his reverential equivalence. But the spiritual imperative remains, and the more elevated our social position, the more difficult and elusive this teaching becomes. Didn't Jesus even point out that the likelihood for their salvation is akin to a camel passing through the eye of a needle? To me, meditation is the best solution to an endemic dearth of equivalence and everyone can do it.

Wayne Codling is a former Zen monastic and a lineage holder in the Soto Zen tradition. He teaches Zen-style meditation in various venues around Victoria

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