He has very nice calves by the way. Here is his comment:
If there is one thing in your post that I have reservations about, it is your apparent syncretism.I love this question because it pushes me to work things out a bit more clearly in my own head. At this point, I am not all that clear where my thoughts are going to take me this evening...
Christianity and Buddhism are not the same (as I'm sure you know). Resurrection and reincarnation are two quite different doctrines. To give a second example, Christianity holds to a linear view of history, very distinct from the endless cycles of Buddhism.
I don't know that it is wise to blur such distinctions. By allowing each faith to be totally itself, we are given two distinct vantage points from which to examine the world. Each faith offers insights that the other cannot provide.
In other words, my concern is that if we blend Christianity and Buddhism together, we are spiritually poorer than if we allow each to speak for itself.
Maybe you believe that too, or maybe you think there are advantages to emphasizing the commonalities between the two faiths. I'd be interested in knowing more detail, since you've offered us only a mere taste here.
Maybe it would make sense to reaffirm that this is my personal mapping. Since I do teach Religious Studies, I am not in the business to convert or to promote my point of view - so I don't attempt to convince students that Jesus and Buddhism intermingle and make sense. I had been toying around with conversion to Buddhism for years prior to actually doing it. I needed to satisfy a couple of conditions. One, I did not want to feel "colonialist" and occupy foreign territory without any previous invitation. Some Buddhist academics would accuse me of that anyway. The community I joined, is part of the Shambhala tradition, a relatively new form of Tibetan Buddhism - and one of the first purely western Buddhist developments. It was introduced to American hippies by a Rinpoche in exile (approximately 10 years after the Chinese occupied Tibet). To make a very long story short, Shambhala was developed as a new branch off the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages. I have all kinds of "issues" with the political structure on Shambhala, but I think most would admit that this is part of our human heritage, and one would expect this in the first place. My second condition was to become part of an active practicing community. I have found a real kinship with the sangha that I currently practice with - this was an area of my spiritual journey that was of the utmost importance to develop.
Is the way I rationalize God and Jesus in the Buddhist cosmology shared among the sangha? Well it's probably much like any other community - some would and some wouldn't. It's not an integral aspect of what we do or talk about at the centre. Are my beliefs syncretic? Quite possibly. I have not spent much time ruminating on that particular matter. I am not trying to make sense of the Christian worldview and Buddhist cosmology simultaneously, but rather working out how Christian cosmology could be viewed with a Buddhist lens. I suppose I could be accused of being disrespectful of all Christians whoever walked the earth. Perhaps some of that would be true. In all honesty, this was an act of compassion, as much as an act of understanding. It keeps me open, without shutting down. (I did mention my tendency toward anger when it comes to Christianity from time to time) I think that resurrection, creation, heaven, hell, Jesus God still "works" the way Christians have been debating over the millenia. I am in no position to become a theologian. I'm not really suggesting that we blend the both together, but from my point of view, they can co-exist without negating the other. As a convert, this was important to me. I invested alot of my own thought and time developing a relationship with God and Jesus. It would have been like asking me me to stop understanding English when I learned French.
I've just chosen to regard Christianity with a new set of glasses. Now I know that many Christians would debate this. I suppose I should expect it. These are not ideas that I think I ought to promote, nor do I actively engage in redefining Christianity. I think I have enough respect of Christianity to know that there are thinkers (past and present) who do an amazing job doing that for themselves. When I read Christian theology, I am present to it. I am not actively trying to translate it into Buddhaspeak. I don't think it is the same thing to embrace it into one larger picture. At least I've convinced myself that it is possible. Maybe I can boil all this down to 'I am not comfortable telling another faith that they are wrong and totally incompatible with my own".
I h0pe that makes some more sense. I do admit, I could spend more time contemplating this issue.
Thanks for the poke!