Robert Kennedy, Hyun Kyung Chung and Paul Knitter lead us on an adventure through spiritually nourishing terrain where Christian and Buddhist paths meet.
Music performed by Robert A Jonas, on the Japanese bamboo flute (shakuhachi)
Three leading figures in today’s Buddhist-Christian dialogue share with us their personal journeys “practicing across traditions.” We learn how following the path of the Buddha has informed and deepened their understanding of who Jesus was and what he taught. Their experience and insight bring these two liberating archetypes alive in a way that can help guide us through our own confusion and struggle toward lives filled with joy and gratitude, compassion and service.
During the course of the film, we see that the struggles and anxieties that motivate them are our own. What’s more, their reflections throw the light back on us. We can see better the prison of our ceaseless preoccupations, our obsessions, our animosities. Perhaps our own notions of the spiritual path have been limited by our need for answers and our desire for comfort? In the end it becomes clear from these witnesses that this is not a journey that depends on concepts and abstractions -- and definitive answers are beyond our grasp. The journey is rather one of “practice” and insight. The path these travelers are pointing us to is infinitely spacious and ultimately fulfilling -- it can hold all of the contradictions and the questions as it leads further and deeper into the “incomprehensible mystery” that is this life. Maybe we don’t need to enter a monastery or go to the desert, but some form of discipline may be necessary if we are to move beyond the self as the center of identity and into the liberating vastness of the “Buddha-field” or the nourishing wholeness of the“Christ-reality.”
“The words of Jesus that we must “die to our very self” -- when we first hear that it sounds almost impossible or cruel. It is only later that we realize that it is mercy itself, because the “self” that we cling to doesn’t exist. That’s what zen meditation is all about. Yamada Roshi said to me, ‘I’m not trying to make you a Buddhist, I am trying to empty you in imitation of your Lord Jesus Christ who emptied himself’.” -- Fr. Robert Kennedy, SJ
“It is very difficult for young Western students to understand emptiness. They think emptiness is feeling lonely or unloved, but Buddhist emptiness is not meaningless or nihilistic – it is really fullness, a vortex of life energy where everything is interconnected and everything comes out of it. You’re wide open and you say, “Ah, wow! This is new, how interesting.” That is emptiness!” -- Chung Hyun Kyung
“Gautama became Buddha because he woke up. Jesus, the son of Mary, became Christ, the Son of God, because he woke up to the divine spirit that was given to him in his very being. What it means to be human is to wake up to, to be open to, the spirit of God that is given to us in our very beings. Our problem is we don’t know it. We don’t trust it. But when we realize it, it becomes power, energy, transformative, or what Christians call ‘grace’!” -- Paul Knitter
To learn more about Robert A. Jonas and thethe Japanese bamboo flute (shakuhachi) please visit the Empty Bell web site - www.emptybell.org