In my previous post I wrote about my experience of Buddhists in South East Asia. I am often struck by how holy and simple they are. I often feel that they have preserved something that Western Christians seem to have lost.
So what does this mean.
Do Buddhists have a greater teacher in the Buddha than Christ. Buddha from what I understand said of himself that he was a man. He made no claim for himself other than that he was ‘awake’ he was Buddha. Though I am no expert on Buddhist teaching I see the fruits of it in the Buddhists I meet.
Christ, as all Christians know, said of himself that he was God, of one being with the Father, the second person of the Trinity.
So what is happening here. Quite simply put it comes down to the difference between receiving a teaching a living a teaching.
Christians have received teaching from Christ, who is one with the Father, but we have failed to understand, appreciate or live it. His words have fallen on stony ground and have found little root in the Western world.
We are pre-occupied with the pursuit of success and wealth, therefore his words bear little fruit in us.
In contrast the Buddhists having received a teaching from their Master have put those words into practice in their lives. They seek to be at peace with their neighbours and even with their enemies. A teaching that could have come straight from the Gospel and in so doing they bear fruit, fruit that feeds them and their communities. This fruit is born in themselves, in their hearts and minds.
Peter proclaimed you have the words of eternal life. Too often Christians venerate these words as if they were magical incantations and not instructions for how to think, feel and live.
Peter understood that these words give eternal life when they are practiced, not when they are read out loud. It is not simply knowing these words that bears fruit but living them.
Which words in particular. It seems through out my Christian life I have wondered where to start. It seems clear to me now that it all begins with the heart and the mind. What is my disposition to my neighbours, family, friends, acquaintances and yes even my enemies.
Peter realised that these teaching opened a door to eternal life. Chaste in my thoughts and intentions, charitable in my view of others including those who hate me.
If Christians wish to win back their holiness they need to begin here in their own hearts and minds.