Learning Christian Faith from the Buddha

This is a quote that really spoke to my spiritual journey. It’s from a book called “The Case for God” by Karen Armstrong, who considers herself a “freelance monotheist.” It is a conversation between a Buddhist monk and the Buddha. There is truth in it, even though it doesn’t come from the Bible. (It should not be surprising that people who openly observe people and the world come to true observations. It is all God’s world, after all.)

One of his monks was a philosopher manqué and, instead of getting on with his yoga, constantly pestered the Buddha about metaphysical questions: Was there a god? Had the world been created in time or had it always existed? The Buddha told him that he was like a man who had been shot with a poisoned arrow and refused medical treatment until he had discovered the name of his assailant and what village he came from. He would die before he got this perfectly useless information. What difference would it make to discover that a god had created the world? Pain, hatred, grief, and sorrow would still…

I spend a lot of time engaged in the head questions of the Christian faith. Unknowns, at times, can drive me nuts. I have lately developed a small habit of seven minutes of quiet prayer time before I go to bed. I set the timer and enter into time with God. Sometimes I listen. Sometimes I feel myself breathing. Sometimes I feel led to pray for someone. It is a practice based not in answering questions, but in being a child of God. Sometimes I even start my time by saying something like, “Well, here I am again, your big screw-up. I’m so glad you love me anyway.” I think my Father would prefer that I not refer to myself as the “big screw-up,” but some days that’s how I feel. Regardless of how the day has gone, I enter into that seven minutes.

Engaging in practices that are not knowledge-based has been a good thing for me. If you are consumed with the big questions of life, the universe and everything, you might try engaging in a spiritual practice that is not knowledge-based. Call it “meditation” or “prayer” or whatever. But sit with God. Let yourself feel his arm around you sitting next to him. No memorizing. No word-studies. Nobody else. Just you and God. Sit quietly. Talk if you want to, but don’t talk just to fill the space.

Oh, and if you’re like me, you’ll want to set a timer. If I don’t set a timer, I get distracted wondering how much time I’ve spent. Setting a timer frees me to be fully present in that moment.