A Reflection on Buddhism, Christianity and Unitarian Universalism
Wednesday 2 December 2015
Yesterday I posted a blog post in honor of the Feast of Sts Barlaam and Josaphat, where I mused on my fantasy of a Buddhist Christian, or maybe it would be a Christian Buddhist church. After which a friend linked me to an archive of newsletters for the UU Buddhist Sangha, which included this article by me written in 1998. In yesterday’s meditation I wrote of the lost Luminous Religion of China as one possible paradigm for such a thing. In this 1998 article I dig into other theological considerations from different sources. Whatever, as it turns out, seventeen years on and I still think about a marriage of Buddhism and Christianity…
For many, many years the Catholic church observed the feast of Sts Barlaam and Josaphat every November 27th. The Orthodox church also remembered these saints, on November 9th. No less a figure than the renowned eighth century doctor of the church, John of Damascus, wrote the definitive spiritual biography of these two holy men.
The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church briefly outlines their story. “It having been prophesized in the infancy of Joasaph (or ‘Josaphat’), the son of a heathen Indian king, that he would be converted to Christianity, he was shut up in a palace so that he should know nothing of the facts or evils of life. Thence he escaped, and was found and won to the Christian faith by the hermit Barlaam. For a time he ruled the kingdom with his father, but later retired to the wilderness with Barlaam.”
Wonderful story. But, then in the great nineteenth century rush of critical scholarship, people began to notice how this story of Barlaam and Josaphat was eerily like that of the Buddha...
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