Did you know that Jesus meditated? In Living Buddha, Living Christ
, Thich Nhat Hanh delivered a powerhouse bestseller about the affinities of Buddhist and Christian ideals. In Going Home
, he focuses on fundamental concepts that still drive a wedge between the two religions--such as rebirth vs. eternal life, God vs. nirvana, and so on. After praising the differences between Christianity and Buddhism, Nhat Hanh proceeds to dissolve them in virtuosic style. Not only did Jesus meditate, he says, but God is equivalent to nirvana. This effort to free us from limiting concepts is Nhat Hanh's way of paving a road back to Christianity for Christians who have been attracted to Buddhism but alienated from their original faith. In effect, Nhat Hanh is dressing up Christianity in the garb of philosophical Buddhism, which isn't too far off from what certain progressive Christian thinkers have themselves done in different terms. Mindfulness engenders concentration, concentration leads to understanding, understanding strengthens faith, and faith provides the energy to practice mindfulness. More conventional Christians may balk at this blending of traditions, but for many lost souls, it will be a beacon back to a warm hearth. --Brian Bruya
From Publishers Weekly
In this short treatise, Vietnamese Buddhist monk Hanh continues the ecumenical dialogue he began in 1995's Living Buddha, Living Christ. The chapters evolved from talks he gave at Plum Village, Hanh's Buddhist retreat center located in the heart of Christian France. In ecumenical fashion, Hanh does not encourage conversion to Buddhism or any other religion but tells followers to bloom where they're planted, cultivating a "mindfulness" in their own religious traditions. Unfortunately, Hanh often seems to imply that for Buddhists and Christians to talk to one another, they must first soft-pedal or ignore those beliefs that make them discrete in the first place. He considers it a waste of time to discuss "whether God is a person or not a person," although the Incarnation question carries profound weight in Christianity; he also asserts that "nothing can come from nothing," although creatio ex nihilo is a fundamental Christian tenet. Buddhism is better understood in these pages, but distinctive Buddhist beliefs can also stand in the way, says Hanh: individuals can become too attached to their own ideas of nirvana, forgetting that "nirvana means extinction of all notions." Despite Hanh's tendency to ignore significant differences between Buddhism and Christianity, his book speaks powerfully about the need for tolerance and love in overcoming those differences.
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