Where I end and you begin: Zen and the problem of Christ


Buddha Zen Statue Spiritual Symbol Buddhism

I have a couple of new posts up at The Personalist Project sparked by an encounter with a Zen priest-candidate who just recently completed his studies. The posts are linked, so please do read both of them! Here’s a taste:

I’ve been mulling over a conversation I had with a Zen devotee this past weekend. Much of our conversation was concerned with the similarities between Zen and Christian mysticism, the way each values asceticism, self-denial, and service, the parallels between the Ten Commandments and religious vows and the Ten (or Five) Moral Precepts and the commitments a Zen monk makes.

…My Zen interlocutor was happy to talk about Christ as a metaphor or symbol of the Infinite Mind or the Source, but uncomfortable when I pointed out that Jesus is more than that, that Christian devotion is centred on a distinct person (well, three persons, but I wasn’t going to get into that!). He admitted that was a topic they’d all very diplomatically steered clear of in their classes with Christians.

This is the thing that sets Christianity apart: God became man for us

…Personalistic ethics rest on the conviction that the person must always be treated as a subject, not an object. The person across from you contains a world of subjectivity that is incommunicable. I am required to treat you ethically, not out of a conviction that the distinction between you and I is a meaningless mental projection covering the reality of the unity of all things, but precisely because there is a distinction between you and I. Personalistic ethics are rooted in the observation that I end where you begin, and that your subjectivity is entirely unique and unrepeatable and distinct from my own…. 


Read more at The Personalist Project!


Image via Max Pixel, CC0 Public Domain

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