June 11, 2022

In the Zen Buddhist tradition, a person goes on a very focused interior journey, sitting for hours at a time, asking deep existential questions, and striving for authentic self-understanding.  While it would be easy to dismiss such a religious practice, from a Christian point of view, as too intellectual or too self-centered, these spiritual seekers just might teach us something about what it means to be a follower of Jesus.  How many of us are really concerned about the meaning of life?  How many of us are willing to look within ourselves?  How many of us actually wrestle with the fact of suffering in the world around us?  Perhaps, indeed, we just go through the liturgical and ecclesiastical motions without ever being honest about the way we feel underneath it all.  Siddhartha lived hundreds of years before Jesus and did not claim to have any special revelations. How human he was, though, in his unwillingness to accept both pleasure and renunciation as a way of life.  Instead, he listened attentively in long periods of meditation and responded to the call to a life of integrity.  He thus became enlightened precisely by pairing the profound inner awareness of reality with compassion for and love of others (cf. Mk 12:28-31).  If only we had this kind of desire for kenosis (cf. Phil 2:7), we too might be bearers of light (cf. Jn 8:12).  Ave Crux, Spes Uncia.

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