It may surprise some that the great Buddhist writer Thich Naht Hanh finds many similarities between his tradition’s emphasis on mindfulness and Christian emphasis on the Holy Spirit. As Hanh explains so eloquently in Living Buddha, Living Christ, mindfulness is entering “deeply into this moment [to] see the nature of reality” (16). Statements like this sound exotic to our post-modern Western ears. But our age habitually over-emphasizes what we can measure with five limited senses and explain with finite logic.
How often we get reminded our grasp of “what’s real” is inadequate, as happened last week with news that the muon, a sub-atomic particle, undermines presumably hard-and-fast laws of physics.* Our limitations would hardly surprise Jesus, who taught that mindfulness for what we can’t see and know opens a deeper reality he called “God’s kingdom.” Explaining why he used stories to make his teaching accessible, he told his followers, “You have been given the mysteries of God’s kingdom, but these mysteries come to everyone else in parables.” And then, borrowing from the prophet Isaiah, he warned not even easy-to-understand parables would be sufficient to illuminate closed minds (Luke 8:10).
Neither Jesus nor the Buddha would suggest mindfulness requires esoteric knowledge or exotic practices. As Thich makes plain, mindfulness in Buddhist parlance is comparable to the Holy Spirit in Christian thought—a force that penetrates surface realities to deepen our understanding of the world as it actually is. In his final teaching Jesus promises, “The Holy Spirit will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have said to you” (John 14:26). Everything. All. Wow.
Perhaps hearing this concept reframed in less familiar, Buddhist vernacular can inspire us to perceive more than meets the eye. In Christian thought, without the Holy Spirit—the Comforter, Teacher, Advocate who guides us into all truth—we cannot touch a deeper reality where suffering is felt and healing happens. Thich would (and does) agree with a gently breathed “Amen!”
On Thursday evening at 7:30pm CDT, we’ll talk about this in more depth. (See what I did there?) Join our conversation on Zoom:
Meeting ID: 835 6708 5701
Or dial in at 312-626-6799, using same Meeting ID
Peace and blessings,
We need your help!
As we think about the future of Gather, please let us know what gifts you bring and would like to share with the community. There are many roles that have to come together to make Gather happen every week. This includes setup, technical support, worship, managing handouts and information, coordinating drinks, and teardown. We need your help. Please let us know what type of service you’d be interested in!
Watch God Work,
Tim & Shea
As we prepare to become a vibrant worshipping community, we invite you to enjoy a Spotify playlist that captures the kind of worship we hope to embrace. Give it a spin while you’re driving. Make it your workout jam. Add it to your devotional time. Most of all, feel yourself becoming part of a sacred village of believers who love their God and one another!
Check out the Gather Worship Playlist here.