Essentially, metanoia (greek) means an inward conversion, a radical change of heart through the “turning-about” within the deepest recesses of consciousness. Jesus the Christ in Matthew’s Gospel account explains it thus, “Most certainly I tell you, unless you turn, and become as little children, you will in no way enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matt 18:3) The Lankavatara Sutra calls this radical inner conversion, the turn-about—pavavritti—or a sudden awakening within the dormant bodhimind of the aspiring adept. In Unbornmind Zen, Jesus’ words ring true concerning the notion of becoming childlike in this endeavor, for it is the dormant gotra, or bodhiseed that gradually develops into the bodhichild (developing bodhisattva); it is this bodhichild that turns-about from defiled sensate phenomena and begins the process of Recollecting its true essential and primordial stature in the Unborn Buddha Mind.
Why this whole emphasis upon becoming childlike in order to realize the Nirvanic Kingdom of your Inner-Selfhood, or Dharmakaya? (ref: previous post) Without this metanoia, the weary samsaric soul remains bound to its aggregated perceptional environment, much like The Dhammapada describing a land-bound fish suffocating from lack of water. It is the childlike, receptive quality, of the inner bodhichild that receives the necessary buddhaic-grace from countless Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in order to break-free from the redundant cycle of dependent origination, thereby turning-back to the primordial pool of the Dharmakaya Itself. As Tozen’s Dharmakaya Sutra states, this is an imageless affair of true perfection within the Unborn Mind, devoid of the interference from its temporal consciousness. (Dharmakaya Sutra, 4:16)
Invoking metanoia is a true source of wisdom, of listening to the Unborn Spirit within the dharmawomb of the tatagatagarbha; this requires a fine-tuning of one’s own dharma-ear (Dhammasota), thus empowering and engendering the dormant gotra to awaken and claim its rightful affinity as a pure Bodhichild of Unborn Light. In this fashion, one becomes enlightened and enlivened with a new heart and a new spirit, wherein one’s stony-hearts from yesteryear slowly descends and dissolves away in the dark waters of Bodhi.
Impressive post. I especially like the nice synthesis between old forgotten christian thought and original zen buddhism as intended by the likes of Bodhidharma and Tsung Mi. Although I am sure you will encounter certain resistance from neo-zennists from the americanized soto tradition, this return to traditional Buddhist thought with a slight lemon squeeze of ancient christian thought is a nice twist and will probably reach those divided in the bad tasting soup of todays new age teachings.
I agree with John, this marriage between authentic Christianity and authentic Zen is very fruitful and these posts are a delight to read. Sometimes I feel this interaction is so fruitful because Zen can help Christianity all the falsity it’s commonly associated with and return to the source, Christ’s teaching on the Kingdom. At the same time, to remember this connections also means to remember that Zen deals with the transcendent, the supramundane, what is so much suppressed in what John above calls “Americanized Soto Zen”.
Very insightful comments. Yes, there is a need for a great “synthesis” here–a marriage if you will between the authentic mystical streams within both.