Archive for the ‘Zen of Christianity’ Category

Church Chat: My Good Friend Marvin Speaks

July 19, 2009
Where do I fit in this mosaic world of many religions?
I often think about that. Do you?

I’ve had several conversations with my pal and resident blogging grandpa Marvin D. Wilson. And hands down my favorite thing about this great all around guy/blogger/writer/dad/grandpa is that he’s basically open to listening to any and all religious ideas. When was the last time you were able to have that kind of a conversation with someone? People often want to talk about their own religious ideas, but not so much to just listen to yours? Please visit his site: The Old Silly’s Free Spirit Blog for more Marvinisms!

I think he’s pretty much done it all. The good the bad the ugly and everything in-between… Seriously.

Recently I read two of his novels: Owen Fiddler and I Romanced the Stone.
And especially from reading the biographical Romanced the Stone: I’m beyond impressed with the depth and understanding Marvin shows for any and all. I asked good ole Marv if he had any thoughts to share on his view of world religions.. I give you: Part I (See Part II as well)

The Zen of Christianity

Star of David Coexistence- 2As a self-described “non-religious, dogma free, maverick spiritualist Christian with a Zen Buddhist background and a firm believer in the Law of Attraction,” I often get asked,

1. “How does your earlier Zen training affect and/or influence your current Christian beliefs, practice and experience – if at all?”

2. “How do you feel about the New-Age spirituality – the Law of AttractionThe Secret? Is humanity on the right track, or are we abandoning the scriptures and trying to ‘figure things out’ on our own, becoming a godless race of self-aggrandizing egotists?”

For today’s post I’ll answer the first question. The short answer is that the Zen training helps my Christian practice. It deepens it. I studied formally for four years under a Korean monk, a certified Zen Master, Venerable Samu Sunim. I will tell you this. That man was more Christ-like than the majority of the professing Christians I’ve known in my life. He held no prejudice against people of other religions, races, colors or ethnic backgrounds. He loved everyone equally and unconditionally. He was a free man, who lived with his students communally, just like the early Christians. He held no real estate, had no possessions other than his monks clothing, had no money other than what was donated to him without his asking, all of which he turned over to his Sangha. He enjoyed reading the books of the famous Trappist Christian monk author, Thomas Merton, and found profound spiritual value in them. One of his suggested books for his students to read was a Christian story of enlightenment through prayer titled, The Way of a Pilgrim. He would even sometimes quote the words of Jesus in his Dharma talks.

I’ve never heard a Christian minister or teacher dare to give any credence to any author from another faith, let alone the spiritual founder of one. Most of them seem to be afraid to admit there was any truth in the teachings of any other avatar than Jesus. My all time favorite Christian author, C. S. Lewis, was well read in all the major world religions, and he found a great deal of truth and wisdom in them. He wrote, and I agree with him, that if there were no common correlations, no cross-over of fundamental truths contained within Christianity and the other major spiritual paths, he would have to ultimately doubt the validity of his chosen faith.

But back to my Zen teacher. Best of all, he taught me how to meditate. How to quiet the internal dialog – that incessant continuous brain-rambling on and on and on in repeat loop mode that keeps us distracted away from (and unable to hear) the voice of God. Most Christians I know don’t know how to do this. And then they wonder why only the gifted ones, the prophets, the anointed ones, can hear the voice of God. Everyone is spoken to by God. You just have to shut up and listen!

When I first converted to Christianity, that happening due to a powerful spiritual experience I had, a direct meeting with the Christ (I write about this in I Romanced the Stone), it was at a little fledgling ministry in Saginaw, Michigan, a church called Shiloh’s Lighthouse Ministries. I joined the congregation, a (to me at the time, considering my past experience with Christian churches) strange collection of people from all walks of life – different races, ages, ethnic backgrounds, economic statuses, and backgrounds, all coming together for one purpose, and that was to draw closer to God and be enlightened with the Truth. The truth of the love of Jesus, the free gift of God’s Grace, and the divine human birthright, the empowerment to be one with God. But as I grew familiar with the church’s constituents, I became aware of something.

Very few of them knew how to “be still and know that I am God.” (Psalms 46:10) Wonderful people, don’t get me wrong – big hearts, loving, striving to be good, wanting to become all they can be in the light of God, but so full of useless crap inside their everyday heads. Melodrama junkies. A lot of Christians (I’ve known in my life) are so internally noisy – filled to the brim with their own thoughts and melodramas. They don’t have the foggiest idea how to sit still and let the sound of God speak to them through the whisper of the wind through the trees or the lap of the waves at the beach or the tap tap tap of the pellets on the rain-soaked window. Many contemporary Christians use loud beat music with Christian lyrics to get empty, get wiped out, get depleted of their daily thoughts and concerns, in order to be able to sit still after an hour of praise and worship music and hear the Word of God with a clear undistracted mind.

Well, that’s fine for Sunday morning (or Saturday or whatever day your particular sect holds regular weekly meetings on), but what about Wednesday afternoon at work? How are you going to hear God tell you the best way to respond to your jerk boss who just chewed you out for something you didn’t even do? Will you be still and peaceful and hear the little voice? Ain’t happening. Your gonna get pissed off and lose your faith! I’m speaking generalities, of course, there are many, many well-grounded spiritual Christians these days who carry their inner-peace and the love of Jesus with them 24/7. Just not enough, in my opinion.

So I started a meditation class for Christians. That’s just me – I try to help. I call the class, “Sit down, Sit Still, Shut Up, and Listen.” Christians need to learn how to meditate. It’s not a substitute for prayer, mind you; it’s a means of deepening your connection with God. That’s another post I’ll write one day. And by the way, Buddhists need to learn how to pray, also. But that too is another post.

Please read part II: Christianity and the Law of Attraction

image credit: zeevveez
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