I face “High Noon” this Sunday. And nobody from town will help me deal with whether I’ll live or die in the outcome. None can, because the confrontation is something I knew for some time that I would have to face alone.
Christianity versus Buddhism. Is there a God as we know Him? Will my spiritual “life” seeking the greatest good through a Buddha come to an abrupt end, for lack of a real and honest accommodation of the two points of view?
“Buddhists don’t believe in a God who is creator of the universe, and who is a participant in history,” announced the newsletter I received this week from the Chenrezig Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia. I heard similar things like this from some Christian friends, but I felt this was something I must discover for my Self. I believe God can exist with the scientific “Big Bang” theory of Creation. I also believe in the elevation of man through biological evolution as well as Social Darwinism.
But, can I be a Buddhist and still believe in the Almighty, the Supreme Being as I was raised to see God? Can the Apostle’s Creed stay true while accepting the tenants of Buddhism, particularly the very first sentence of the prayer: “I believe in God, Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth?”
Ah, the word “Creator.” There’s the rub. Perhaps Buddhism uses a different lexicon than most English-speaking seekers are familiar with. Could the word “Creator” mean something different in, let’s say the Tibetan, Japanese or Chinese languages? What about Vietnamese, Burmese or any other Eastern language you can name ending in an “ese.” Sri Lanka-ese? Korean-ese? Malaysian-ese?
My point is, that I will be open to a definition of God from some spiritual influence other than the Judea-Christian one. Buddhism may not acknowledge an “Originator” while teaching of cause and effect. My training as a lawyer, however, will enable me to not only read the “fine print,” but also examine the “letter” of the law against the practical application of the “spirit” of the law. And I think I may find some “precedents” to keep my spiritual path through the “East” still on track.
“. . . [I]s there any similarity between what we call the “Dharmakaya” and the theist mystic’s understanding of God?” questioned the Buddhist newsletter announcing the discussion planned for Sunday. You can bet that I’ll discover what “Dharmakaya” actually means in laymans’ terms, as well as learn the specific definitions for “theist,” “mystics,” and “understanding of God.”
I have already uncovered some evidence to use in my cross-examination on the subject of God. I hope to use it at the most opportune moment. Here is my “zinger” for whether a Buddhist can believe in God and the hereafter:
“‘Suppose there is a hereafter and there is a fruit, result, of deeds done well or ill. Then it is possible that at the dissolution of the body after death, I shall arise in the heavenly underworld, which is possessed of the state of bliss.’ This is the first solace found by him.
“‘Suppose there is no hereafter and there is no fruit, no result, of deeds done well or ill. Yet in this world, here and now, free from hatred, free from malice, safe and sound, and happy, I keep myself.’ This is the second solace found by him.
You know who spoke these words? The Buddha himself. Now if that ain’t enough to allow for the “belief” in God, then I don’t know what to say. Don’t think the gods of Mt. Olympus or the priests of Zarathustra could have said it any better.