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Author Topic: Do buddhists experience the Taboric Light of Christ?  (Read 3213 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: April 08, 2006, 05:04:56 PM »

Praise be to Jesus Christ!

It is getting popular to believe that all contemplative traditions are the same in essence. I have read a number of Orthodox writers who postulate that buddhists, and people who practice transcendental meditation etc, experience the Taboric Light of Christ. Read for example some entries from "Merton and Hesychasm: Prayer of the Heart in the Eastern Orthodox Church" and "A Different Christianity: Early Christian Esotericism and Modern Thought." Some of these writers have close relations with Mount Athos.

Most contemplative traditions speak of inner divine light. But it is a mere created image of the Uncreated Light. It does seem divine. But I am baffled at how quick some people are to confuse mere natural contemplation with infused contemplation. On the Catholic side, advocates of the new gnostic religion are people like William Johnston, Bede Griffiths, Thomas Keating. It has plagued Catholic monasticism; at least in the more contemplative monasteries. Most people I know who practice centering prayer have fallen for it. I see it as real dangerous. Please tell me there are others out there who think the same!

Grace and Peace,

PaulRomuald
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« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2006, 11:43:26 PM »

No one cares? So much for the Palamites. This is an embarassment.
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« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2006, 11:51:06 PM »

I was simply unsure of what exactly you were asking/proving/etc in this thread, that's all.
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« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2006, 12:28:07 AM »

I have enough difficulty accepting that Christians experience anything like the "Taboric Light of Christ," let alone worrying about Buddhists! Wink  And, while I don't think I'm a complete idiot, I've read 3 or 4 books on Palamas and his theology, and I still don't really get him, so I'm not sure what to say anyway. *shrugs*
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« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2006, 01:15:11 AM »

I am not an authority on this issue, by ANY means, but I'll jump in anyway.......

It seems to me that there are some very holy Buddhists out there.  But do they experience the uncreated light?  I honestly don't know.  You have to remember, that, despite some striking similarities between some schools of Buddhism and Orthodoxy (a very apophatic approach to the spiritual life would be one shared quality that comes to mind), ultimately, they are founded on radically different principles.  When you get right down to the nitty-gritty, there is no such thing as the person (hypostasis) in Buddhism.  Buddhists are ultimately trying to lose themselves in nirvana.  In Orthodoxy, we have the aforementioned apophaticism, but this is always balanced by the antinomic reality of the person.  God transcends and is completely beyond us in every way, we are less than fleas when we are compared to him.  And yet, He loves each one of us as a father would love his only child.  We don't believe that we lose ourselves to nirvana when we empty ourselves.  Paradoxically, as we empty ourselves in humility and make room for Christ in ourselves, we believe that we become more like ourselves, more like our true and unique self.  Christ is "He who is", the ultimate reference for our "beingness." We don't have any being apart from him, any "beingness" that we have is really ascribable to God.   So despite some striking similarities, at their roots Buddhism and Orthodox Christianity are fundmentally incompatible.  But for me, it's really weird, because I cannot dismiss Buddhism out of hand.  It's really a fundamentally different world view from Orthodoxy, like a different way altogether of approaching reality.  I don't really know what is going on  there.  Is it somehow another backdoor way to theosis that God has granted to these people?  That's not for me to say.  But it is very strange, and I suppose quite wonderful(?).  Words fail me.

Fr Thomas Hopko has spoken with Buddhists about the similarities/differences between Buddhism and Orthodoxy at various times.  Maybe you could dig up some info from old theological/quasi-theological journals like "Parabola"(?) on this. or find more stuff on the internet or in a good theological library.  

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« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2011, 11:29:54 AM »

Fr Thomas Hopko has spoken with Buddhists about the similarities/differences between Buddhism and Orthodoxy at various times.  Maybe you could dig up some info from old theological/quasi-theological journals like "Parabola"(?) on this. or find more stuff on the internet or in a good theological library.  

James Bob
Fr. Hopko took part in the First Naropa Buddhist-Christian Conference, in the early 1980s (1981, perhaps?). Some excerpts from an article (written by Daniel J. O'Hanlon, S.J., from The Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, and published in Buddhist-Christian Studies, Vol. 3 (1983), pp. 101-117) about that conference:

"When the Tibetans left Tibet in droves at the time of the Chinese Communist
invasion at the end of the 50's, a number of them in time found their way
to the United States and established teaching centers. One of them, Chogyam
Trungpa, eventually founded the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado,
where Christians and Buddhists gathered for a five-day "Conference on Christian
and Buddhist Meditation" from August 7 to 11 of this year. This article is
a report on that conference."

"There were eight principal faculty persons, four Christians and four Buddhists;
in addition, His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama, though not an ongoing
participant at the conference, gave two evening talks."

"The choice of meditation as the central theme of the conference proved to be a
wise one. Despite the sometimes confusing diversity of terminology, here was
solid ground for dialogue and mutual enrichment. Christian speakers more
than once expressed their gratitude for the rich abundance of time-tested practices
in the Buddhist tradition, considerably more numerous and varied than
we have in our Christian tradition. From the other direction, the Christian contribution
to Buddhists in this area of meditation had more to do with the large
general direction and meaning than with methods, or so, at least, it seemed to
me."

"For Father Hopko, the representative of Easter Orthodox Christianity,
prayer was the act of uniting the whole person with God in a conscious,
aware, awake manner. Prayer, he said, is not only
something we do, but something we become,
because that is what we by nature are. If we could allow ourselves
to be what we are, we would be prayer. So meditation,
liturgy, chanting, vigil, and all the other practices are only means, not
prayer itself. Prayer itself is the conscious uniting of will and heart with God,
and although the Jesus-prayer is one widely used practice among Orthodox
Christians, there is no single set method."

"The spokesman for Orthodox Christianity, in his light brown robes, was
Father Thomas Hopko, an Orthodox priest, and retreat master for St. Vladimir's
Orthodox Seminary. This was Father Hopko's first experience with Buddhists,
and he confessed at the end that he had been very nervous when he
began to talk. Indeed, he sometimes spoke at machine-gun speed, he was so
full of what he wanted to say. But he was always clear, and enormously knowledgeable
about the Orthodox tradition. Though he claimed to speak only
about what he had read and seen in others, and not from his own experience, it
was obvious that he had a lot of firsthand acquaintance with what he was talking
about. It was a pleasure to watch how he felt more and more at home day
by day as the conference progressed.

Significantly, his talk was not on meditation, but on prayer. He modestly insisted
that he spoke not from his own experiences, but as one describing the
experience of others. "I speak from ink and from other's blood," was the way
he put it. Prayer, in the Orthodox tradition, is the central essential act of the
creature. Contemplation is usually the result of prayer, yet always remains a
free gift. There are no guarantees of such a result. And meditation is a particular
way of thinking-not just thinking about, but letting ideas and words enter
within and have their way with us. The aim of prayer is to seek the true God,
who lies beyond all idols or words and concepts. The primordial struggle is between
love of self and love of the other. Selfish spiritual ambitions are the worst
of all."

"In speaking of the Jesus-prayer, he distinguished between it and hesychast
prayer. Hesychast prayer is a very specialized discipline and not for everyone
Indeed, in nineteenth-century Russia its practice was forbidden. But the simple
restful synchronization of breathing with the name of Jesus is a practice which
can be taught even to little children."

"When Mother Tessa introduced her distinction between sexuality and genitality,
Fr. Hopko expressed his uneasiness. As a married man with five children,
he seemed to feel that this distinction put him in an inferior position. In
response to the young woman who asked for compassionate help in maintaining
pure mindfulness during sexual intercourse, he asserted that this was possible
only within marriage. He drew attention to two ikons in the Orthodox
Church which affirm the holiness of physical married love. One is for the feast
of the conception of St. John the Baptist, the other for the feast of Sts. Joachim
and Anne, the parents of Mary. Both ikons show the saints, husband and wife,
on the bed embracing."

"Fr. Hopko began his discussion of God by noting that God is always essentially
hidden from us. If God could reveal what he is in himself he would not be
God. With frequent citations from the Fathers of the Church he insisted that to
identify any word, image or concept with God is to build an idol. Pseudo-
Dionysius speaks of God as not only beyond substance or essence (ousia), and
beyond the Good (a favorite neo-Platonic word) but even beyond God!"

"Nevertheless-and here is the Christian extra-this ultimate reality is constantly
radiating himself to us. He has come to us in Jesus and given us the
boldness to dare, without being destroyed, to call upon this superunknowable
as Father, Abba, Daddy." [It was unclear whether Hopko said this, or if this is commentary
by the Jesuit writer of this article.]

Hopko also took part in the second and third Naropa Buddhist-Christian conferences (1982 and 1983).

Has Hopko spoken in depth about his experiences in these conferences? He has briefly mentioned them in his Ancient Faith Radio podcasts, but just briefly, without going into detail, but he seemed to have regretted participating in these conferences.
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« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2011, 11:33:56 AM »

No.
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« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2011, 04:09:51 PM »

[tangent]

According to Fr Thomas Hopko:

"He [Fr Thomas] drew attention to two ikons in the Orthodox
Church which affirm the holiness of physical married love. One is for the feast
of the conception of St. John the Baptist, the other for the feast of Sts. Joachim
and Anne, the parents of Mary. Both ikons show the saints, husband and wife,
on the bed embracing
."

I sincerely hope Fr Thomas was misquoted. In icons, these holy couples are seen embracing while standing up, NOT while on their bed. In some very recent versions (20th C) of such icons, the bed might be seen in the background, but this is still considered controversial.

[/tangent]
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« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2011, 04:13:50 PM »


I agree with ialmisry.

No, they do not.

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« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2011, 04:25:32 PM »

[tangent]

According to Fr Thomas Hopko:

"He [Fr Thomas] drew attention to two ikons in the Orthodox
Church which affirm the holiness of physical married love. One is for the feast
of the conception of St. John the Baptist, the other for the feast of Sts. Joachim
and Anne, the parents of Mary. Both ikons show the saints, husband and wife,
on the bed embracing
."

I sincerely hope Fr Thomas was misquoted. In icons, these holy couples are seen embracing while standing up, NOT while on their bed. In some very recent versions (20th C) of such icons, the bed might be seen in the background, but this is still considered controversial.

[/tangent]

Fr. Thom has mentioned his time at Naropa where he ending up teaching for a few summers more than a few times.

And he has alluded to this conversion regarding the Feasts of Conception. His point to the "Buddhist" students was that indeed in Christianity we celebrate two acts of "sexual union" committed without lust, making love.

That is not to say there have not been more, but he wanted to drive home that within Orthodoxy that making love can actually be love making and making out of love, the conception of another person without defilement of lust. My words parsing his stance, not his.

LBK, I can shoot him an email if you like and see if was he misquoted, but I doubt he would swear to certainty his exact words spoken, but I can check what I do have from him specifically on this matter.

From memory, he does mention the more contemporary tradition of depicting the bed when touching on this issue as to drive forth more clearly to Puritanical Americans, "Buddhist" or Orthodox or otherwise, that Orthodoxy has no problem with making love in and of itself.

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« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2011, 09:42:00 PM »

Are buddhists even theists by and large?  Huh
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« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2011, 09:43:33 PM »

Btw, my answer in response to the question would be this:

If a Buddhist experienced the Taboric Light of Christ, he would become Orthodox.
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« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2011, 10:00:10 PM »

What I heard from Fr. Hopko was that the general idea is that non-Christian mystics experience the goodness of man left over from being the Imago Dei. This can be a good starting point for finding God, but if you just stop there and only rejoice in humanness, you're in te snare of the devil.

Could God give a Buddhist the Taboric Light as a means of witnessing to His glory and drawing men to Himself? Sure. Fr. Hopko believes that some pagan instances of "speaking in tongues" could be of God for the same purpose, I tend to agree. But this isn't the same as "all mysticism is identical." As in all human endeavor, the good is mixed with the bad.

As for whether any Buddists would correctly respond to the Light, depends on them.
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« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2011, 11:55:02 PM »

"Christian speakers more than once expressed their gratitude for the rich abundance of time-tested practices
in the Buddhist tradition, considerably more numerous and varied than
we have in our Christian tradition."

 Undecided Angry Sad

No.

Beat me to it.
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« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2011, 11:59:43 PM »

Quote
"Christian speakers more than once expressed their gratitude for the rich abundance of time-tested practices
in the Buddhist tradition, considerably more numerous and varied than
we have in our Christian tradition."

Gawd, what a crock. I'm with Cognomen on this one.
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« Reply #15 on: November 09, 2011, 04:48:28 AM »

Are buddhists even theists by and large?  Huh
The answer to that depends upon what you mean by "theos".
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« Reply #16 on: November 14, 2011, 06:41:17 AM »

Budhism like eastern religion are sorcery.

Some like tantra yoga lead people into doing perversions and some perversions for men at least are followed by men writting letters from mental hospital. Menstrual blood is very toxic and men doing perversions encouraged by eastern religion can have mental problems. Not to mention the recommendation of staying away from blood and men and women have no business putting their mouth where it does not belong. Wish I knew this before. Perversion may need to be confessed.Every man woman is in image and likeness of God and perversion is out of normal way of things.

Some eastern religions like hinduism have inm their sacred texts black and white magic. So I beleive there is an incompatibility with christianity.

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« Reply #17 on: November 14, 2011, 12:26:16 PM »

Budhism like eastern religion are sorcery.

Some like tantra yoga lead people into doing perversions and some perversions for men at least are followed by men writting letters from mental hospital. Menstrual blood is very toxic and men doing perversions encouraged by eastern religion can have mental problems. Not to mention the recommendation of staying away from blood and men and women have no business putting their mouth where it does not belong. Wish I knew this before. Perversion may need to be confessed.Every man woman is in image and likeness of God and perversion is out of normal way of things.

Some eastern religions like hinduism have inm their sacred texts black and white magic. So I beleive there is an incompatibility with christianity.


So many points being made, pasadi, where do I start.

I'm toxic.  Sad
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« Reply #18 on: November 15, 2011, 12:13:19 PM »

You're not toxic. Just body's way to eliminate toxins. I don't identify with my toxins resulted from nutrition ans so on.
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« Reply #19 on: November 15, 2011, 03:15:28 PM »

There is a natural, created light which Buddhists can experience, but they cannot experience the Uncreated Light.  The following quotes from Hieromonk Damascene of Platina and Elder Sophrony of Essex, contained in the book "Christ the Eternal Tao", are really the best quotes directly on the subject that I have found, so some may recognize them from other threads where I have quoted the same text.

In “Christ the Eternal Tao”, Fr. Damascene says concerning the experience of inner light:

“Here we are treading on dangerous ground, so it is necessary to step lightly. This is where many who have practiced watchfulness have fallen into delusion over the centuries. Everything depends on the purity of one's intention in going within. If one's intention (conscious or unconscious) is not to face one's sin-condition, repent and thus be reconciled to God, but instead to "be spiritual" while continuing to worship oneself, then one can - upon becoming aware of the light of one's spirit - begin to worship it as God. This is the ultimate delusion.”

Archimandrite Sophrony is then quoted as saying: "Attaining the bounds where 'day and night come to an end,' man contemplates the beauty of his own spirit which many identify with Divine Being. They do see a light but it is not the True Light in which there 'is no darkness at all.' It is the natural light peculiar to the mind of man created in God's image.

"The mental light, which excels every other light of empirical knowledge, might still just as well be called darkness, since it is the darkness of divestiture and God is not in it. And perhaps in this instance more than any other we should listen to the Lord's warning, 'Take heed therefore that the light which is in you be not darkness.' The first prehistoric, cosmic catastrophe - the fall of Lucifer, son of the morning, who became the prince of darkness - was due to his enamored contemplation of his own beauty, which ended up in his self-deification."

Fr. Damascene then comments on this passage: “The darkness of divestiture of which Fr. Sophrony speaks is the state of having risen above all thought processes, which we have described earlier. If a person's motive is prideful, he will stop at this point, admiring his own brilliance; but that brilliance will still be darkness. He will think he has found God, but God will not be there. He will find a kind of peace, but it will be a peace apart from God.

“To go beyond thought is not yet to attain true knowledge. Such knowledge comes from the Word speaking wordlessly in the spirit that is yearning for Him; it does not come from the spirit itself. The Word will come and make His abode with the spirit only if the person approaches Him in absolute humility, for He Himself is humility, and like attracts like.”

Fr. Sophrony writes further on those who go within themselves without humility: "since those who enter for the first time into the sphere of the 'silence of the mind' experience a certain mystic awe, they mistake their contemplation for mystical communion with the Divine, whereas in reality they are still within the confines of created human nature. The mind, it is true, here passes beyond the frontiers of time and space, and it is this that gives it a sense of grasping eternal wisdom. This is as far as human intelligence can go along the path of natural development and self-contemplation...

"Dwelling in the darkness of divestiture, the mind knows a peculiar delight and sense of peace... Clearing the frontiers of time, such contemplation approaches the mind to knowledge of the intransitory, thereby possessing man of new but still abstract cognition. Woe to him who mistakes this wisdom for knowledge of the true God, and this contemplation for a communion in Divine Being. Woe to him because the darkness of divestiture on the borders of true vision becomes an impenetrable pass and a stronger barrier between himself and God than the darkness due to the uprising of gross passion, or the darkness of obviously demonic instigations, or the darkness which results from loss of Grace and abandonment by God. Woe to him, for he will have gone astray and fallen into delusion, since God is not in the darkness of divestiture."

To experience the darkness of divestiture and the light of the mind, says Fr. Sophrony, "is naturally accessible to man," but to experience the Uncreated Light of the Divinity is given to man by a special action of God. These two experiences differ qualitatively from each other.Fr. Sophrony writes: "It has been granted to me to contemplate different kinds of light and lights - the light the artist knows when elated by the beauty of the visible world; the light of philosophical contemplation that develops into a mystical experience. Let us even include the 'light' of scientific knowledge which is always and inevitably of very relative value. I have been tempted by manifestations of light from hostile spirits. But in my adult years, when I returned to Christ as perfect God, the unoriginate Light shone on me. This wondrous Light, even in the measure vouchsafed to me from on High, eclipsed all else, just as the rising sun eclipses the brightest star."
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« Reply #20 on: November 15, 2011, 03:29:18 PM »

Budhism like eastern religion are sorcery.

How is Buddism "sorcery"?  Do you know any real Buddhists or read anything that was really about them?

Quote
Menstrual blood is very toxic

No, it is not.  Where did you get that idea?   Huh

Quote
Some eastern religions like hinduism have inm their sacred texts black and white magic.

Can you please tell us which of the sacred texts you are thinking of here?   What have you read or experienced with Hinduism?  
I am not saying that it *is* compatible with Christianity, but true specific things about other religions should be told, not some vague accusations without any real information.  

Ebor
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« Reply #21 on: November 15, 2011, 04:24:17 PM »

Can you please tell us which of the sacred texts you are thinking of here?   What have you read or experienced with Hinduism?  
I am not saying that it *is* compatible with Christianity, but true specific things about other religions should be told, not some vague accusations without any real information.  

Ebor

He/she is probably referring to the Atharva Veda. The AV contains many sections of what may be called "spells", "magic", "prayers", or "charms" depending upon one's perspective. Many of these deal with physical health, love, and protection against enemies. Hymn 14 of Book 5, for instance, is a prayer/charm/spell that is meant to protect one from the evil magic (i.e., sorcery) of sorcerers. Hymn 14 also invokes the Divine Persons Agni and Indra as protection against sorcery, so whether one defines Hymn 14 (and the AV in general) as "magic" or "prayer" would depend upon one's own religious perspective. (A more contemporary term might be "affirmation".)

The fact that the AV contains such a large number of prayers/spells/charms whose purpose is health, protection against enemies, and other more "worldly" affairs, is one reason why the AV was the last Veda to be accepted as a Veda by the early Hindus. The Rig, Yajur, and Sama Vedas, in the earliest Hindu texts, were described as "the three Vedas". The idea of a fourth Veda, the AV, appeared much later.

In the earliest Buddhist texts, mention is made of "the three Vedas", since at that time (c. 400 BCE) the AV had not yet been accepted as a Veda. The early Buddhists would have criticized the AV for being so "worldly", anyway.

It seems the Hindus can't catch a break. If they speak of transcending the world, they are criticized for being world-rejecters. If they seek to improve their health, wealth, and relationships, they are criticized for casting spells. Grin
« Last Edit: November 15, 2011, 04:30:15 PM by Jetavan » Logged

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« Reply #22 on: November 17, 2011, 07:42:35 PM »

Perhaps, but from other threads where that poster has admitted to not reading works from other religions that she/he has made statements about (such as the Talmud) and going on second/third/or greater hand information it is possible that he/she does not know anything about any of the vedas.  That's why I asked for some real information so that it could be checked.

Thank you for your post, Jetavan.  I found it interesting and I agree with your point on prayers/charms/etc

Ebor
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The Katana of Reasoned Discussion

For some a world view is more like a neighborhood watch.
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