-which way to go?-
The road outside my house splits, and so you must make a choice about which road to follow. Obviously whatever choice you make means that you choose to "not" follow the other way. I thought about that choice of roads as I walked in the neighborhood yesterday - a great icon for how I see the basic "life-direction" I choose to follow every day.
I am a follower of the way of Jesus. The choice of the "Jesus path" is a lifestyle choice. Jesus calls his disciples to walk the path he walked- to sacrifice "self" (ego) for the good of others, to respect the dignity of every human being, to practice compassion, to be a reconciler, to forgive and have mercy, to build up a society of justice and peace. This is the course of life I choose when I decide to walk the path of Jesus.
The disciples of the Buddha are invited down a similar (perhaps the same) life path- relinquish the ego, be in tune with the fact that everything and everyone is dynamically interdependent, treat all sentient beings with devotion and respect, do not selfishly cling to this life.
I walk in life along the "Jesus path- the Buddha path."
I also realize that by choosing this path I have also made a deliberate decision to NOT walk down other (more well-traveled) roads in this life.
In the Christian tradition, before a person is baptized into the way of Jesus, the candidate is asked to "renounce" before they "affirm." The candidate is asked to reject the road that is a contrary path to the way of Jesus: "Do you renounce sinful (selfish) desires? Do you renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?"
You have to know the road you reject before you can choose the road you accept.
Yesterday I was reading a book about Buddhist Christianity. Buddhists teach that there are three poisons that corrupt and destroy us as human beings: "greed," "hatred" and "delusion" (we are deluded when we believe in the existence of an individual "ego" separated from others, we are deluded when we do not see that all beings are dynamically interdependent, and we are deluded when we believe that self consumption will bring us happiness in this life).
These poisons are the cause of our suffering.
In the book I was reading, the author suggests that the three poisons must be renounced before accepting refuge in the Buddha or refuge in the Christ, and he developed a series of "renunciation questions" that might be asked of anyone who would follow the path of the Buddha or follow in the way of the Christ . I found the questions to be particularly helpful in guiding my decision about what road to NOT travel:
- Do you renounce the web of delusions and ideologies that lure and entangle us in society?
-Do you renounce all grasping and desire to possess people and things for yourself alone?
-Do you renounce the proud belief in yourself as a self-sufficient being?
-Do you renounce all envy, violence and injustice against others and the earth?
I hear these questions asked of me today and I say, "Yes I do renounce that poisonous path." That is a road down which I choose to NOT travel, and in doing so I find my way.