So, this Buddhist and this Catholic were talking…

Well, not really. Both were musing and sharing their thoughts. And both had a great deal to say that was worthwhile.

And I liked what they had to say so much that I figured I would share it with you.

First up The Buddhist. An excerpt:

There was once a very enlightened Buddhist yogi who had an extraordinary vision. He is a tulku, one of the yogis who comes back regularly to help us, like the Dalai Lama. You can read about his latest manifestation here. But I want to tell you about a vision he had around 1740, while still a small child, and the 13th rebirth of his line.

There appeared to him a beautiful young boy, dressed in white silk and carrying a crystal plate covered with flowers. When the child yogi asked him, “Who are you?” the young boy transformed into a terrifying form, a huge and wrathful being with the proportions of a pituitary dwarf.

It’s skin was a deep dark midnight blue, one-third of it’s body was head and one half of its head was a wide gaping red mouth with long fangs, it had three eyes (one in the center of the forehead), and it’s yellow mustache, eyebrows and hair rose straight up as if in an overwhelming wind. In its right hand the fearsome figure held a curved flaying knife and in its left hand it cradled a bowl filled with blood and made from a human skull. It was covered in a flowing black silk cloak, wearing live snakes as ornaments, and enhaloed in a gigantic mass of flames. It looked, in fact, like this.

This terrifying being replied to the child yogi’s question, “I am the glorious roaring Vajra Black Cloak. I arise in the space of transcendent wisdom. This is the ‘ultimate view’!” Then it vanished with an echoing roar. In this way, the vision indicated to the young child yogi that all things and all appearances arise from mind, that there is nothing separate from mind, and that no matter what appears, there is no ultimate reason to fear it or to hate it, because there is no real boundary separating you from what you perceive. Your fear and hatred itself is what makes the illusion of a boundary…

You can read the rest of it at Joe’s place, natch.

The Catholic was not quite as accessible – he has no blog, but I’ve put his book just under Hugh Hewitt’s over on the sidebar, so it’s available thru Amazon (I didn’t feel right re-printing his words without linking to the book). I actually cribbed this out of the January 11th meditation entry for this months’s Magnificat Magazine. Sorry, no link.

Part of what he writes:
“Have you come to destroy us?”

Sin leads to death; not so much to the “act” of dying – which lasts only a moment – as to the “state” of death, that is precisely to what has been called “mortal illness,” a state of chronic death. In this state the creature desperately tends to return to being nothing but without succeeding, and lives therefore as if in an eternal agony. From this state comes damnation and the pains of hell; the creature is obliged by One stronger than himself to be what he does not consent to be, that is dependent on God, and his eternal torment is that he cannot get rid of either God or of himself. Kierkegaard rightly said that “the formula for all desperation is to refuse desperately to be what one is.”

Satan embodies this state. In him sin has run its entire course and is shown in its extreme consequences. He is the prototype of those ‘who do know God (and how they knew him!) but do not give him the glory and thanks that belongs to God.” It is not necessary to fall back on the imagination or on theological speculation to learn Satan’s feelings on this point because he himself shouts them into the hearts of those whom God still allows him to tempt today, as Jesus was tempted in the wilderness: “We are not free,” he shouts, “we are not free! Even if you kill yourself, your soul lives on; you cannot kill it, we cannot say no. We are obliged to exist forever. It’s all deciet! It’s not true that God created us free!”

Such thoughts make us shudder as it would seem that we are directly listening to the eternal argument between Satan and God. He, in fact, would wish to be left free to return to nothingness. Not because he doesn’t want to exist or to be God’s antagonist, but because he does not want to be what he is: dependent on God. He wants to exist, but not “through the grace of another.”

As the Power above him is stronger than he is, and obliges him to exist, this is the way to pure desperation.
From, Life in Christ; The Spiritual Message of the Letter to the Romans, Fr. Raniero Cantalamess, ofm, Cap. Translated by Frances Lonergan Villa

About Elizabeth Scalia