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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Zip-a-dee Buddha, Zip-a-dee-ay...

...why oh why are Catholics leaning his way?

Dalai Lama conducts navel exercises at Blackfriars Hall. (from USCatholic)

Popette Joan Chittister advocates building houses on sand. (from the National Catholic Distorter)

Here are excerpts from each article:

#1: "The Dalai Lama laughs, his dancing eyes made even brighter by the yellow hue of the large, square lenses of his glasses. He has been awake since 3:30 a.m., having started the day as usual—with four hours of meditation. In this inner search he taps into a fount of gleeful passion that is nothing if not contagious.

"If meditation is the key to this man's happiness, what does that say of the value and the power of contemplation? Is it better to sit in search for God's presence, or to go out and aid those in dire need, bringing God's love to the world? Can one necessitate the other? How does Christian contemplative prayer connect to the Buddhist search for understanding?

Deep meditation, then, serves to seek the truth within and is the only path to "real transformation," the Dalai Lama says, that can "bring about the flowering of love in oneself."

Not Jesus Christ, not the grace we receive from the sacraments, but deep meditation is the "only path to real transformation". Hoo-hah, I say. Give me St John of the Cross, St Teresa of Avila or St Anthony of the Desert any day over this man - peace loving he may be, spiritual he might seem, but he denies the divinity of Christ, the existence of the triune personal God and the reality of heaven. Contemplating my navel to bring about happiness is far less transformative than contemplating the face of Christ to bring about true joy.

#2: "Buddhist monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery in Atlanta, the descendants of a revered 12th century foundation in Lhasa, Tibet, have come to the United States “to contribute to North American culture by providing theoretical knowledge and practical training in Tibetan Buddhist traditions for Western students, scholars and the general public” and “to preserve the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of wisdom and compassion” that thrived there until the Communists closed 6,500 Buddhist monasteries in Tibet in 1959.

"Their message, a sobering one for us all, is not given in words. In fact, they never utter a syllable as they work. Instead, the monks bring the message in a medium seldom thought of as beautiful. Which, of course, makes it even more striking, and more meaningful.

"The monks, you see, spend their lives going from place to place, from occasion to occasion, making sand mandalas, sacred cosmograms, that originated in Buddhist India over 2,500 years ago.

"The creation of a cosmogram, the representation of the world in divine form, perfectly balanced, precisely designed, is meant to reconsecrate the earth and heal its inhabitants. But it is more than a picture. Sand painting is an intricate process. It requires millions of pieces of sand to make a mandala five by five feet square. It requires a team of monks working anywhere from days to weeks, depending on the size of the mandala, to create this floor plan of the sacred mansion that is life. It requires the interplay of vivid colors and ancient symbols.

"When the mandala is finally finished, however long it takes for the monks to deal in this divine geometry of the heavens, they pray over it -- and then they destroy it. They sweep it up, every last grain of sand, and give handfuls of it away to those who participate in the closing ceremony as a final memory of sublime possibility. Then they throw the rest of the sand into the nearest living stream to be swept into the ocean to bless the whole world. And that’s it. It’s gone. In an instant, after all that artistry, all that work, it’s over.

"They destroy it. Why? Because the underlying message of the mandala ceremony is that nothing is permanent. Nothing. All things are in flux, it says, beautiful but ephemeral, moving but temporary, a plateau but not a summit. All things are called to balance and enlightenment and the fulfillment of the Divine image in them, yes, but in flux. Always in flux."

So nothing is permanent? More hoo-hah and claptrap. If nothing is permanent, then why be Christian? Why spread the Gospel? Why fight against the culture of death? Why believe in God? Why believe in the existence of our souls and of heaven? God IS permanent, as is His Church, and that, I believe, is what Popette Joan and others like her are most afraid of - which explains their drive to refashion the Church. If nothing is permanent, then there's no such thing as Absolute Truth; if there's no Absolute Truth, then 'truth' is what any individual determines it to be; then there's no need for the Church, whose mission is to preserve the Truth (or deposit of Faith, as St Paul wrote).

Her admiration for the mandala ceremony and Eastern mysticism is a scandal. While the art may be beautiful, and while great skill may have been used to create it, there's no sacredness to it. There's no healing powers there. Better to gaze upon the Cross and its permanence in order to be healed - that is where the healing of the world's inhabitants truly occurs. And no power on Earth can destroy it.