Friday, July 27, 2012

To shelter and embrace the distressed...

In many ways, Jesus and Buddha were talking about the same experience of human transformation.

Suffering is the teacher of transformation for both of them. It is the only thing strong enough to grab our attention and defeat the ego. Suffering, for me, is whenever we are not in control. It is our opposition to the moment, our inner resistance that says, “I don’t want it to be this way.” The ego is always trying to control reality and therefore it is invariably suffering, because reality is never fully what we want.

Jesus’ suffering on the cross was a correct diagnosis and revelation of the human dilemma. It was an invitation to enter into solidarity with the pain of the world, and our own pain. Lady Julian of Norwich understood it so well, as if to say, “There is only one suffering and we all share in it.” That is the way all mystics eventually see it. That is the way the Buddha saw it. There is only one suffering, and for Christians Jesus personified that surrender to that cosmic mystery—a “non-resistance” to reality until we learn its deepest lessons. The ultimate lesson is always resurrection.

Richard Rohr, adapted from Jesus and Buddha: Paths to Awakening

I've been thinking a lot about this, recently. The first of the Buddha's Four Noble Truths is the truth of suffering; the last, that there is a path to the end of suffering.

The Buddha said, "Compassion is that which makes the heart of the good move at the pain of others. It crushes and destroys the pain of others; thus, it is called compassion. It is called compassion because it shelters and embraces the distressed."

The compassion of God is everlasting love and mercy: "By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace." (Luke 1.78-79)

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