Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Finally Back...

Going Home: Jesus and Buddha as Brothers
by Thich Nhat Hanh

What a long, strange trip it's been. Six weeks ago tomorrow I injured my back, and that was followed by the worst pain of my life - no exaggeration, much worse than childbirth. Plus it did not end with an adorable baby to take home. In fact it has not really ended yet. The theme of pain has really taken over this summer, and I am working terribly hard at physical therapy to get strong again and not have my back dominate my every thought and motion. Since I have been immobile for the greater part of this summer, I have read A LOT. Given that I would never catch up otherwise, I have decided to do a number of "micro-reviews" of this summer's reading list so that I can begin to get current. Plus, I still cannot sit at the computer long enough to type a multi-paragraph review. So, short and sweet for the next couple of weeks, then hopefully I will be able to be back in full force.

It is interesting (to me anyway) that this summer, while I was fulfilling a promise to a friend to do some reading on Buddhism and preach a " compare and contrast" sermon on Buddhism and Christianity, that a Buddhist monk became an agent of my healing. I was busting my ample you-know-what at physical therapy, and still crazed by pain between appointments and between times when I could stretch at home. A friend recommended that I try acupuncture from a Buddhist monk that she goes to, as a way to offer some relief from the pain while I am in the process of getting stronger. I do not fully understand Eastern medicine, but I think there is something to it. After one week (which included two acupuncture appointments and the beginning of a dose of herbal medicine) I am not 100% pain free, but am certainly better. Moreover, I have not taken any conventional pain medicine for a week (translate: no pills). YAY!

So anyway, this is not the first rambling on Buddhism that you will hear related to the summer of 2010, but I did think it was interesting how the reality of Buddhist practice pervaded my world in conjunction with my reading about some of their beliefs and practices. Going Home is a good place to start if you are curious about the Buddhist faith and how their meditative practices can enrich the lives of non-Buddhists.

Thich Nhat Hanh writes with gentleness and humor about the principles that guided both Jesus and Buddha, and the ways both men lived out those principles. He repeatedly expresses a deep appreciation for the Christian doctrine of the Holy Spirit, and introduces us to the Buddhist refuges of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Nhat Hanh suggests that some of our differences are more in the ways we express ourselves linguistically and in our practices, than in principle.

Having said that, there are important differences between the two faiths as well. To begin to explore those, I suggest you read the book, as well as a couple of others that I will post about later.

Hope you have had a good summer! It's good to be back!

Reverent Reader