Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Buddha meets Christ in embrace

Reading Lama Anagarika Govinda is proving nostalgic on a number of fronts.

I recall my first reading of it in my first year at university, bought at Watkins, the famous 'esoteric' bookshop in Cecil Court in London. I sat in my hall of residence room transfixed by a world made familiar; and, it was deepening of a commitment to contemplation (which has been observed fitfully)!

I remember returning, at the time, to my school to give a talk to the combined fifth form on Buddhism and using Govinda as the backbone of my delivery (both this book, and his equally wonderful, the Foundations of Tibetan Buddhism). I was voted (I immodestly remember) their best invited speaker of the year. I had even bought a recording of Tibetan music as opener and closer!

He reminded me of how important Buddhism was (and is) to my own thinking and comprehension of my experience. The Buddha's First Sermon in the Deer Park was the first religious text I read (of my own volition) at the tender age (or precocious) of thirteen and its realization of suffering, its causes and its cessation was and remains a deep revelation of truth.

If I did not take a Buddhist path, it was because I had been claimed by a different, but complementary path, I had in George Fox's inimitable words discovered one who spoke intimately to my condition: Christ as inner light.

That the two are doctrinally apart is an exoteric truth, that they join at an esoteric level is equally true. Both encompass that vulnerability to what is from which flows abiding compassion. It is beautifully captured in this icon of their greeting.


Both stand upon their respective truths - of dharma and logos - that circulate their patterns of discipline and form that fully entered into are saving vehicles and yet beyond that, beyond the vehicle is the destination, they embrace. They recognize each other. We may embark, necessarily, on different journeys, require often radically different methods, but the destination is the same.

6 comments:

  1. "No paradise of the East,
    No paradise of the West,
    Seek along the way you have come -
    They are all within you"

    From 'The Gospel According to Zen', Robert Sohl and Audrey Carr.
    As lent to you in those dismal hall of residence rooms.

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  2. I do not remember "The Gospel According to Zen"! But much of the thinking that has stood the test of time was initiated in reading (and conversation) in those 'dismal halls'!

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  3. Can you please tell us about the painting.

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    Replies
    1. I wish I could. I saw the image at a Roman Catholic convent in England looked after by an order from India and took the picture but sadly I do not know its origin and who painted it! I am spurred by your question to see if I can find out!

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  4. Me too around same time. Guess you'll have paired it with P Yogananda too?

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  5. No, I did not. I have Yogananda on a shelf shelf somewhere but have never read him!

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