The Reading Room
A place to find articles & videos for pondering, insight, contemplation, reflection, and musing.
The articles featured here may not necessarily reflect any official teachings of The Progressive Episcopal Church, but provide inspired insight into the nature of the One we call God the Creator, as well as insights into the various aspects of faith and belief. We believe that faith & spirituality are living organisms, and that Spirit often provides us with fresh insights about God and ourselves.
Buddhism and Easter
April 5, 2015 at 6:49pm
By Rev'd. Michael Fa-Jian Melchizedek, OHA
In the Christian religion, Easter is the religious observance that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christians believe that Jesus rose from the dead or was “resurrected" by his deity.
From a Zen perspective, the spiritual meaning of such things like resurrection does not rely on historic events. Thus, “resurrection” occurs when a person becomes one with Jesus; in other words, when Jesus truly “comes alive" in a person.
In the same way, when we identify with Dharma, the Buddha and we become one. Thus, Shakyamuni, the historic Buddha, though having lived over 2500 years ago, remains a living, spiritual teacher in every generation. Zen Buddhism is not so much concerned with historical accuracy, but rather with the ongoing living element of a master,lord or teacher, such as the Buddha, Jesus or any other master.
Spirituality stands beyond chronology. Shakyamuni Buddha lived and died as a human being in the historic realm. However, the enlightenment he attained and his subsequent teachings,such as the four noble truths, are a timeless, i.e. an eternal truth that always existed and always will. For us it is not to merely"celebrate" historical events, but its spiritual significance for our lives.
Thich Nhat Hanh, a well-known Zen Buddhist and prolific teacher says: “Redemption and resurrection are neither words nor objects of belief. They are our daily practice. We practice in such away that Buddha is born every moment of our daily life, that Jesus Christ is born every moment of our daily life” (from ‘Going Home’).
In his book "Living Buddha,Living Christ" the same Thich Nhat Hanh relates that he came to have an appreciation of Jesus not by reading a bible, but by meeting kind and wonderful Christians. Through these Christians he came to respect and admire the life and teachings of Jesus. In the same manner, people who know little about Buddhism,or who have never been exposed to Buddhism can come to know Shakyamuni Buddha through those who live as Buddhists.
For us, "life eternal"is not an everlasting life in a heaven believed to occur after death. Life eternal means to transcend life and death, to stand beyond time – an“immeasurable life” in Buddhism. Our innate enlightenment nature (Buddha nature) is immeasurable life. Through becoming one with it I become life eternal, I transcend life and death.
Why attempt to transcend life and death? Why try to stand beyond time? Once we do so, our fear and apprehension of death will be gone. Our life is fulfilled, whether we live only to be a few years old or grow into old age. I can unite with the loved ones I have lost, whether it was recently or many years ago. We have peace of mind as we someday leave our loved ones behind when our time also has come. Why would anyone not want to transcend life and death?