Dharmakaya: Buddha and Jesus


Seated Buddha at White Sands Buddhist Center, Mims, FL

Seated Buddha at White Sands Buddhist Center, Mims, FL

Today’s readings from the Book of Wisdom and John describe rejection and frustration. Wisdom speaks eloquently about the plight of every prophet. Prophets and poets feed our souls. They challenge us to be more than what we are. They beckon us to live up to the image of the Living god within our hearts. What do we do? We close our ears. We refuse to listen. If they really venture deep into our comfort zones, we plot ways to be rid of them. As the Southern churchgoer once yelled at the country preacher, “Reverend, you’ve gone from preaching to meddling.” We do not want poets and prophets to mess with our lives, our ways of thinking, our ways of doing things. We want to tiptoe through life feeling comfortable. We want to avoid angst. We eschew suffering.

Ponder for a moment in the way of Ignatian meditation how Jesus must have felt. Put yourself into John’s story. Jesus has taken to hanging out in Galilee because the authorities in Judea and Jerusalem are after him. They want him gone. He is stirring up the crowds. He is claiming God is his Father, his beloved Abba. The Father has claimed him, “This is my Beloved. In him I am well pleased!” Yet, Jesus must feel the weight of being on their most wanted list. His Jewish soul wants to go to Jerusalem for the feast. Yet, he is wary. Will they do him in this time? Imagine Jesus disguising himself and slipping into Jerusalem with a few trusted followers. This is James Bond stuff—stealth and secrecy. But, Jesus then understands that he has come to do the God’s will not his own. Throwing fear aside, Jesus steps into the Temple precincts and begins to preach in public. They start to dis his words and his claims.  He cannot be the Messiah. We will know the Messiah when he comes. In sheer frustration, we can see Jesus raise his voice. He cried out:

So Jesus cried out in the temple area as he was teaching and said, “You know me and also know where I am from. Yet I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” So they tried to arrest him, but no one laid a hand upon him, because his hour had not yet come.

Jesus and his loyal band escape into Galilee once again, kind of like Robin Hood and his merry band disappearing into Sherwood Forest with the sheriff in hot pursuit. He is now safe for the time being. He knows full well that, if he keeps preaching the truth to power, he will be hanging naked on a cross. The Romans and their priestly collaborators will not tolerate him and his message.

Just, for the sake of pure fantasy, imagine a wired Jesus living today. What would his Facebook page look like? What would he be tweeting? Remember the faint glimmer of hope called the Arab Spring? With today’s technology Jesus would stir up a Jewish Spring in America or any other country. (Remember Jesus was a Jew and the earliest followers of the Way were Jews.) Jesus would be tweeting the life message of Pope Francis, “Justice. Justice now. Care for the least among you.” He would also be saying, “Treat women in the church justly. Ordain them.” He would be saying, “Be inclusive toward gays and lesbians. They do not suffer from a “character defect.” He would be the darling of MSNBC and the bane of Faux News. Take some time to create your own scenario for a wired Jesus.

Then remember that the Risen Cosmic Christ is wired today. We are his Body. Cry out from the housetops. Post to your Facebook page. Tweet the world. Proclaim the good news to the poor. Storm Capitol Hill and the White House and the Supreme Court and demand justice, food, clothing, shelter, medical care and education for all of God’s children. Call for the end to violence, war, drones, and nuclear weapons. Protest far and wide until the income gap is obliterated and all people share in God’s bounty. We are the Risen, Cosmic Christ. A conservative ex-elected official from Florida told CPAC yesterday, “Peace is achieved through the Marine Corps, not the Peace Corp.” Even if this message resonates among hawkish evangelicals, it is NOT the Gospel of the Risen Christ!

One little excursus. As Merton beheld the statues of the Buddha at Pollonaruwa in Sri Lanka, he thought:

All problems are resolved and everything is clear, simply because what matters is clear. The rock, all matter, all life, is charged with dharmakaya . . . everything is emptiness and everything is compassion. (The Asian Journal, 235)

The glossary at the end of The Asian Journal defines dharmakaya is “the Sanscrit term for ‘the cosmical body of the Buddha, the essence of all things.’”

This is blowing my mind. Think about it. We, as Christians, could write:

All problems are resolved and everything is clear, simply because what matters is clear. The rock, all matter, all life, is charged with the Cosmic Christ . . . everything is emptiness and everything is compassion.

Chardin had it right. Merton had it right. Everything is charged with the Cosmic Christ. Gerard Manly Hopkins nailed it:

THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God. 

  It will flame out, like shining from shook foil; 

  It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil 

Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod? 

Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;         

  And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil; 

  And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil 

Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod. 

  And for all this, nature is never spent; 

  There lives the dearest freshness [dharmakaya?] deep down things;        

And though the last lights off the black West went 

  Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs— 

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent 

  World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings. 

We are charged with the dharmakaya of the Cosmic Christ. The life spirit calls us to live the Gospel of the Risen Christ. We too must go up to Jerusalem or Washington. We speak peace, justice, mercy, forgiveness, and compassion.



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