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Compassion and Meditation

Compassion and Meditation

The Spiritual Dynamic between Buddhism and Christianity

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A profound reflection on how complementary themes in Buddhism and Christianity could serve as the basis for a truly ecumenical faith

• Compares Zen meditation with the Greek Orthodox practice of Hesychasm (prayer of the heart)

• Shows how Buddha and Jesus represent the distinct yet complementary values of meditation and compassion

In Asian spiritual traditions the mountain traditionally symbolizes meditation while the ocean signifies compassion. Jean-Yves Leloup uses this metaphor to compare Buddhist and Christian approaches to meditation and compassion to reveal the similarities and divergences of these profound practices. Emphasizing their complementary nature, Leloup describes how Jesus and Buddha are necessary to one another and how together they form a complete system: Jesus as awakening through love, and Buddha as awakening through meditation. Where Buddha represents the forests, Jesus represents the trees. Buddha is brother to the universe, whereas Jesus is brother to humanity.

Nevertheless, these two religious traditions have a profound common ground. Compassion is central to Buddhism, and meditation practices have been central to many Christian traditions. Both view murder, theft, and the destructive use of sexuality as great barriers to realizing our essential being, and both agree on the need to rise above them. Here, however, Leloup suggests that both faiths could benefit from the precepts of the other. The complementary aspects of Christianity and Buddhism offer the possibility for a truly profound ecumenical religion whose interfaith relations are based on deep understanding of the true meaning and practice of meditation and compassion and not merely shared goodwill.
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  • Inner Traditions | 
  • 176 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781594772771 | 
  • June 2009
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Read an Excerpt

ELEVEN

The Three Attitudes

The King, the Ferryman, the Shepherd

In Tibetan Buddhism, there are three types of bodhisattva symbolizing the king, the ferryman, and the shepherd. The king symbolizes one who works for the good of all by saying: “I must begin by becoming master of myself. I must bring about peace in myself; only then can I help others.” Though his goal begins with himself, he is still on the same path of awakening and well-being for all.
The ferryman symbolizes one who is on the path but in the company of others.
The shepherd symbolizes one who is primarily concerned with... see more

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