In faith

I am in no uncertain terms a Buddhist. I believe that the path to enlightenment is not one of faith but of understanding, that the peace within us is the peace that we must live into the world. I see the proper reaction to aggression not to submit nor to fight but to remain still and silent. I believe that the answer to force is to ignore it regardless of consequence, to confront loud anger with permanence and stillness, immovable in the face of opposition, not fighting back nor backing down. It is not a question of running away from those who oppose but of staring them in the face and remaining still, calm and silent.

I am also without doubt a believer in the ancient ways of Shinto. There is a spirit within everything, the same spirit that is within us, there being no division between the human and the animal and the plant and the inanimate. There is no divine, only the greater entity that is the combination of our spirits and those of all things. The gods are our spirits lived into the world and we are one with a universe neither created nor creating but simply reborn in its own image from endless past toward endless present. When we die, we simply change form and the spirit within us inhabits other beings, not as an entity but as a series of flexible fragments of that greater spirit that is within and around everything, the cause and the result.

The question, of course, becomes that of Christianity. I live in a self-proclaimed Christian country, although I see little evidence of it except in the stone monuments built to the glory of the church. In being a Buddhist, I follow the ways and teachings of the Buddha. Christians, however, ignore the teachings of the great teacher, Jesus of Nazareth, and instead focus on dogmatic ritual. Jesus says not that we are children of god but that we are children in god. That we are one with the spirit. That we are equal and must love and live a life of service. I see these as universal truths and that we as humans must devote our lives to them, to follow in his path. But is this what it means to be a Christian or is it about belief in a trinitarian deity who desperately requires worship and acts in the world, separate from us, who judges our actions and decides our fate for all time? If it is this, I could never follow such an idea. But I could follow such a teacher as I believe Jesus was, a spiritual follower if not in name certainly in thought of the Buddha.