13. March 2016 · Comments Off on Zen Spirit Christian Spirit by Robert E Kennedy SJ · Categories: Uncategorized



Page 14, “Yamada Roshi told me several times that he did not want to make me a Buddhist but rather he wanted to empty me in imitation of “Christ your Lord” who emptied himself, poured himself out, and clung to nothing.”

Page 33, “True contemplation entails detachment from our most basic need: the need to know, to reason, to have concepts and images. True contemplation especially demands detachment from our images and concepts of God.”

Page 35, “Dom Aelred Graham, the Catholic Benedictine and author of Zen Catholicism, asserts that the chief source of our distress is that we identify our true selves with our assertive, separate egos, the often all too demanding “me” in each of us. This separate conscious ego sees itself as the center and interprets everything in terms of itself; thus it can block a direct contact with reality and union with God more effectively than vice.”

Page 37, “Finally, Zen reminds us that Christian contemplation is not a looking at Christ, or a following of Christ, but a transformation into Christ. The contemplative reaches fulfillment when his ego is lost and is replaced by the fullness of Christ. We all know that for Christ to come to fullness within the Christian something must die.”

Page 40, “Merit, which conventional religion upholds, is a child’s game; gratitude to God, which orthodox tradition upholds, is all that is left to us when we grow up.”

Pages 41-42, “The Zen spirit is one of self-reliance and self-confidence. What talent we have is enough to accomplish the work before us. In fact, what talent we have is all we are going to get. No one can sit for us. No one can come to save us. Zen warns us to avoid becoming a torn-rice-bag-of-a-man who spills out his energy fruitlessly and then cries he can do no better.”

Page 53, “Suffering in frost and snow refers to childish reliance on others for approval, acceptance, affection, guidance, insight, or validation. There is a time of childhood for such dependence; the Zen spirit leads us to experience the reality to “be startled at pussy willows falling.”

Page 63, “If in prayer and in life, moment by moment, we turn from self preoccupation to the Kingdom of God, we will have the joy promised to those for whom Christ grows greater and greater, and the “self” less and less.”

Page 72, “Specifically, Thomas Merton explains that to fully hear the word of the cross is more than a simple assent to the teaching that Christ died for our sins. It means to be nailed to the Cross with Christ so that the ego-self is no longer the principle of our deepest actions which now proceed from Christ living in us. It is central to Christian life to experience the fact of this self-emptying crucifixion with Christ.”

Page 75, “Because Zen is life itself, the teacher turns the student away from any answer to life. The teacher is aware that the student is often looking for an answer, a safe harbor, a package he can wrap up and take home and put on a closet shelf.”

Page 87, “Zen, however, teaches us the vital importance of educating our own vision. There is no one to imitate, there is no time but now, there is no path but our own. It may not be sin at all that keeps us from self-awareness; it may be imitation and the pious repetition of routine and ritual that leave us ignorant of who we are.”

Page 90, “Christians are not urged to copy or repeat the words or gestures of Christ, but to have his mind and to be one with his spirit. Both Unmon and Christ encourage their disciples to act freely in the unique and unrepeatable moment by moment of their lives.”

Page 93, “In his introduction to The Way of Chuang-Tzu, Thomas Merton warns against reasoning about what cannot be understood and trying to attain what is never attained. He says that unless we learn to wait, watch, and grow without any appetite for self-improvement, we will destroy ourselves.”

Page 97, “I suggest that nature is teaching us that we are saved by that which ignores us, and that nature’s indifference to our designs can be a source of our joy.”

Page 101, “Margaret Miles of the Harvard Divinity School has discussed the original meaning of Christian holiness. She points out that before Christian faith was thought of as knowledge or commitment or community, it was lived as an orientation to the source of life; it was lived as a conversion to full vitality from the deadness of secular culture.” Miles claims that being truly alive for the first Christians was not the opposite of physical death, but the opposite of death of the human heart: coldness, dullness, failure to respond, an obtuse spirit.”

Page 108, “The true practice of Zen is the complete accomplishment of our whole nature. We are to live with the simplicity and unselfconsciousness of the little child Master Echu held in his arms.”

Page 109, “God asks that we be silent, that we listen closely, and that we say “yes.”

Page 112, “I would define poverty as purity of heart: the ability not to project the self onto the other. Jesus said the pure of heart will see God. Indeed the pure of heart-those who do not project- are the only ones who ever see anything.”

Page 113, “We are to be so poor that we do not know the matter of our pilgrimage, so poor that we have nothing to cling to, so poor that we have nothing to project on to others, so poor that we have no shelters in the storm, and so poor that we have no parallel life to escape to.”

Page 116, “According to Buddhist Scripture, all suffering springs from attachment; true joy arises from detachment. This noble truth so easily falls from the lips, yet it is a life long struggle to see things clearly and to free ourselves from deluded and possessive love.”

Page 120, “To insist on one truth that we do see is to block other truths from coming into focus.”

Page 122, “The conventional wisdom of this world is folly, and the Christian response to it is death and rebirth now.”

Page 124, “The risen Christ is not another being somewhere else, but rather the risen Christ is the being right in front of me, the same Christ that I am.”

Page 125, “With all my limitations, I am Jesus in this world. I have been given all that I need to live out the spirit of Jesus in all the circumstances of my life. Salvation is given here and now.”

Page 128, “We must base our interfaith dialogue upon practical action for justice and for the development of marginalized peoples. The partners in dialogue must look beyond themselves and reach out in compassionate service.”



“If a not-too-determined Christian were to ask a Zen teacher to teach her to meditate, the conversation might go like this:

CHRISTIAN: Sensei, I hear you are skilled in meditation. I am interested in meditation and wonder if we could talk about it sometime?

ZEN TEACHER: Of course! Let us sit and meditate together.

CHRISTIAN: That would be wonderful. When can we do this?

ZEN TEACHER: Right now! Let’s begin.

CHRISTIAN: Right now? But where?

ZEN TEACHER: Right here! On this cushion.

CHRISTIAN: Here? For how long?

ZEN TEACHER: All day, let’s begin.

CHRISTIAN: Here? Now? All day? On this cushion?

ZEN TEACHER: Of course, you said that you were interested.

CHRISTIAN: Well, yes, but I hadn’t planned to do it just now. I thought that we could talk about it and I could hear about your experience.

ZEN TEACHER: Let’s begin. Do it! Do it now!



“In some ways, the history of Zen teachers nudging their students from safe harbors into the mainstream of life reminds me of Jesus. When Jesus called his disciples he said, “Put out into deep water and pay our your nets for a catch” (Luke 5:4).

These words of Jesus are addressed to us today.

“Put out into deep water…”

“Thank you, Lord, for your invitation. I really appreciate it, but, you see, I’m a shallow water type of person. I enjoy the familiar, things close to home. I’m a creature of habit, I guess. But I’m grateful you thought of me.”

“Put out into deep water…”

“Lord, you’re not listening. I explained to you that deep water is not for me. You see, I tried it once, all young and idealistic, and it was awful. I can’t take any more failure. Please ask someone else.”

“Put out into deep water…”

“Stop it. Stop tormenting me. Don’t you see I can’t do it. I’m not good enough. Leave me alone.”

“Put out into deep water…”

And so all great teachers of all traditions will not give us a packaged answer or an easeful harbor.”