Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Paul and the Roshi


In the Coptic Gospel of Thomas, which is a collection of Jesus sayings (many of which predate those we have in our bibles), Jesus appears as an enlightened teacher in the manner of the Buddha. Compare then these two descriptions of what characterises Jesus and Buddha disciples:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, fidelity, gentleness, self-control.” (The apostle Paul, in his Letter to the Galatians.)
“The results of this in terms of the quality of his life are extraordinary—buoyancy, vigour, straightforwardness, simplicity, humility, serenity, joyousness, uncanny perspicacity, and unfathomable compassion.” (Trudy Dixon, in a tribute to the Zen Roshi Shunryu Suzuki.)
And to be disciples of such disciples is to continue the tradition. Every day I awake at 5.00 a.m. and spend at least twenty minutes or so reading and meditating before I continue with my day. I have noticed that my favourite two texts for this early morning read and meditation are chapter 4 of Paul's 'Letter to the Philippians', and Shunryu Suzuki's 'Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind'. This early morning practice has become an essential for me: it's a disciplining, informing, and nurturing beginning to my days, and without it my hours would not work so well.

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