For Liturgical Year B, I will be attempting to write a commentary for each Markan text that appears in a given week. This, of course, is a gargantuan task and may be impossible (pronounces ala Ralphie’s Dad in A Christmas Story, im-po-see-blay). Yet, I intrepidly set out to bridge the gap between Christianity and Buddhism, and hope to identify cross currents between these two beautiful traditions. I write as a religious Christian and a philosophical Buddhist, a nebulous distinction that reflects a need to label myself, a most un-Buddhist endeavor. I invite all to read and comment, especially those who are practicing Buddhists. I readily admit that, while widely and deeply read in Buddhism–in fact, I teach Buddhism at the university level–I am not a practicing Buddhist. I am attempting to be a Christian Thich Nhat Hanh, in that I begin in my own tradition by identifying shared traditions, beliefs, and theologies that I see present in Buddhism.
In truth, this may be destined for failure as such a project has inherent limitations. I am treating Buddhism as a whole, drawing from a wide variety of traditions, while focusing exclusively on the Gospel of Mark. I do this not to be disrespectful–I want to value the varied, rich tradition of Buddhism–but I would argue that Hahn does the same thing in his works Living Buddha, Living Christ and Going Home: Jesus and Buddha as Brothers. He roots himself in Buddhism, for that is where his spirit lives, and treats Christianity as an overall whole. I find this approach beneficial in some regards, but limiting in others. However, if I were to wait to be equally knowledgeable about both traditions, this project would never launch.
I invite well-meaning criticism and input, especially if you see that I am not doing justice to Buddhist ideas and principles. Let’s challenge each other–respectfully, but earnestly–to go beyond labels and to seek the Truth that is out there.
Yeah. I just made an X-Files reference.
I am excited about this project, and I hope that you will come along with me.