Prior to Christmas

Throughout Christendom the great feast of the Incarnation highlights again and again the early infancy narratives found within the gospels of Matthew and Luke, narratives that focus on the birth of the Christ-child, the Prince of Peace. It’s interesting to note that there are numerous parallels within many spiritual traditions throughout the millennia that speak of a miraculous birth of a long-awaited Messiah, most notably within many Pagan motifs like the one describing how the Egyptian Deity Horus was miraculously conceived of the virgin-Goddess Isis, who later fled to an isolated location to give birth since someone desired the death of her child. In fact, December 25th was chosen in antiquity for Christ’s birth since it coincided with the birth of the Sun-god, Sol Invictus; a reminder that the long days of darkness were now being supplanted with the slow return of the Light.

Standing apart from the anthropocentric emphasis that the Christos—the anointed-awakened one somehow had to be first conceived within an earthly womb to gain any salvific merit, the Gospel of John begins with the revelation that this Word-Made-Flesh was already vivaciously present since the beginning of the created order: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. “ (John 1:1) John’s Gospel contains many Gnostic elements, and there is increasing evidence showing that this Johannine community was heavily influenced by the Essenes. It also needs to be emphasized that this Eternal Word is in actuality, beginningless, without conception or perception of any kind. It is Unborn and completely devoid of all attributes since It is the very vivifying animator that precedes any-thing within the created or uncreated order—of all things visible and invisible.

From a Lankavatarian perspective, this “Word” is a decoder that directly points to the Prior and Unmoving Principle whose “dark-call” is the living dynamo that animates (breathes) all sentient forms into existence and then draws them back again into the primordial formless depths—as John’s gospel states, “All things were made through him (the Word) and without him nothing came to be” (John 1:3). The Self-same Prime motionless mover That awoke those shepherds keeping night watch in the fields; That was the Star directing the three magi bearing those gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh; That empowered all those enamored smiling mouths that gazed so lovingly on the Christ-child who lay asleep on the hay; That inspired the developing bodhichild (bodhisattva) within the heart of Jesus the Christ, enlightening him to proclaim his Father’s nirvanic and undivided kingdom, the Dharmakaya. To paraphrase John, “To those who accepted the Word into their hearts were made into Bodhichildren themselves; to those who trusted in the Dark Animating Principle were not born by natural generation, nor by any sentient agency, but from the very mouth of the Unborn.”

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6 Responses to Prior to Christmas

  1. Sansiddhah says:

    A good counterweight to The Zennist’s too exclusive perspective on Christianity. I personally always enjoyed Bodhichild’s style, he is well versed in both Buddhism and Christianity and offers a marvelous synthesis of both.

    The reason why I personally like this approach more is that all the great breakthroughs were done like this … someone embracing an outside cultural heritage at the same time reawakens and reanimates his own …

    Just as the Chinese, when they met the Dharma, used the Dao to express it, and this marriage of Taoism and Dhyana gave birth to the most profound Chán; so there must be this kind of meeting now between the Buddha-Dharma and Western Christianity.

    Thich Nhat Hanh for instance sometimes uses the term “Kingdom of Heaven” and “Nirvana” as if they are the same thing.

    Do we really think all these teachers pointed at totally different moons? How many moons are there!?

  2. Sansiddhah says:

    (While at the same time, I agree, we shouldn’t slip into “New Age” negligence and just say “they all teach the same thing” … they certainly don’t, but …

    A good analogy is philosophy. The German philosopher Martin Heidegger said that all great philosophers have through the Same. This doesn’t mean that they all say the same things. Just that they all tried to put the Same into words. What else can philosophy talk about? There’s just the Same.

    Then it becomes a question of which philosophy is best at describing the Same. – Maybe Bodhichild would agree , that in religion, too, it is the Same. –

    So we could ask: why is the Unborn a “Zen doctrine” and not a Christian one? – It is because the “Zen path” provides the best and quickest , sure-fire access to IT, towards the “Word”.

    To the students that don’t have access to this “Word”, contemplating the difference between hua-tou and hua-wei will certainly be the quickest access point, the fastest step towards where they already stand.)

  3. Bodhichild says:

    Sansiddhah,

    The “Word” is indeed the great equalizer within all spiritual traditions–That which points directly to the Unifying Factor encompassing them all.

  4. JS says:

    Dear Bodhichild

    I feel compelled to ask: what would you prescribe as the antidote to ignorance? What should one do (or perhaps NOT do) to gain an insight to The Unborn? I’ve read your earlier posts for the answer but, no offence, all I have found is abstraction. The way I see it, all traditions of Buddhadharma recommend some form(s) of practice, what is it that you suggest?

  5. Bodhichild says:

    JS,

    The key to transcend avidya (ignorance) is through proper buddhagnosis, or finding the right compass that empowers one to steer well-clear of its influence. While formal practices are good and necessary for disciplining the mind, in essence they are just that—tools of discipline. In themselves, they are like trinkets—like those excessive Christmas ornaments that are strung about everywhere you look during this time of year; what are they all really pointing to? Hopefully something beyond the disease of commercialism; something beyond those warm fuzzies and that points directly to the real meaning behind that Christ-moment—that of the awakening to the aperceptional Reality that truly encompasses all—and that is, the Word.

    The Word is the compass; Bodhidharma handed his disciple Hui-k’o his copy of the Lankavatara sutra—an auspicious moment that revealed the true Buddhadharma. Within the Lanka one discovers this “Word” and then passes through the gateless gate into the realm of the self-realization of Noble Wisdom that lies at the heart of the sutra. So, like Bodhidharma, I prescribe that you study the Lankavatara Sutra. There’s a marvelous new translation by Red Pine (Bill Porter) that’s coming out in late January—the following link offers more detailed information:

    http://www.amazon.com/Lankavatara-Sutra-Translation-Commentary/dp/1582437912%3FSubscriptionId%3D15HRV3AZSMPK0GXTY102%26tag%3Damznf-us-tbsearchsea-20%26linkCode%3Dxm2%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%26creativeASIN%3D1582437912

  6. JS says:

    Thank you for your reply!

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