i’ve been trying to come to terms with my hangup on the parable of the unmerciful servant

  i read this quote by buddha on forgiveness:

Anger will never disappear so long as thoughts of resentment are cherished in the mind. Anger will disappear just as soon as thoughts of resentment are forgotten.
– buddha.

buddha has a reason for regarding anger to be unvirtuous. 

however, i also came across this statement from a buddhist teacher regarding anger:

Santideva offers an interesting argument for patience and against anger.  When someone strikes us with a stick, do we become angry at the stick or the person weilding the stick?  Both are necessary for pain to be inflicted, but we feel anger only for the agent of our pain, not the instrument.  If we are directing our anger against the root cause of the pain, we should therefore direct our anger against anger.” 

The story of Buddhism p. 78

so, according to this teacher, the way to destroy negative-karma-causing-anger is to use it against itself.  According to the buddha, the way to be rid of anger is to forget thoughts of resentment/anger. 

Maybe one could go on to say that to forget thougths of resentment we resent resentment?  sort of like how people forget the terrible things that happened to them in their childhood b/c they resent such incidents? 

The passage goes on:

 “according to the law of karma, everything unpleasant that happens to us is a result of our past misdeeds. Therefore, the person who harms us is in fact only the unwitting conduit of our own past nonvirtue, returning in the form of feelings of pain. And as a result of harming us, the other person will himself or herself incur negative karma for which he or she will have to suffer in the future. If we respond in anger, we are both planting seeds for our own future suffering and causing further pain for the person who already will have to suffer for the harm they have done us.”

The Story of Buddhism p. 78

So, even in buddhism, what the parable of the unmerciful servant describes as torchure from the master (v. 34) exists in the form of negative karma.  

   

forgiveness 2

July 17, 2007

“We can all understand how a man forgives offences against himself. You tread on my toe and I forgive you, you steal my money and I forgive you. But what should we make of a man, himself unrobbed and untrodden on, who announced that he forgave you for treading on other men’s toes and stealing other men’s money? Asinine fatuity is the kindest description we should give of his conduct. Yet this is what Jesus did. He told people that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured. He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the party chiefly concerned; the person chiefly offended in all offences. This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin. In the mouth of any speaker who is not God, these words would imply what I can only regard as a silliness and conceit unrivalled by any other character in history.”

c.s. lewis mere christianity

i want to focus on two things c.s. lewis assumes here:

1)  We can all understand how a man forgives offences against himself. You tread on my toe and I forgive you, you steal my money and I forgive you.

it seems to me, that as far as some teachings of  buddhism go, the aim is not to cancel the “you owe me” thought one has towards someone who steals their money or steps on their toe.      

“Indeed, it is said that if the buddha were flanked by two people, one of whom was massaging his right arm with fragrant oils and another who was stabbing his left arm with a knife, he would regard the two equally.”

the story of buddhism p. 77…

Forgiveness

July 12, 2007

Forgiveness
What right has that person to forgive you? The only thing they can do is to urge you to forgive yourself…ajan brahm is speaking of the guilt people carry around for having caused harm to someone.  He mentions the absurdity of someone going to a priest or the buddha or Jesus Christ in order to be rid of your guilt. 

It doesn’t seem that he’s suggesting it’s absurd to go to a person such as your best friend or spouse in order to ask for forgiveness and make amends with them. 

However, i’m going to focus on the concept of forgiveness in relationships before i move on to my thoughts on ajan brahm’s reflections on forgiving oneself.

Warning: the following is a passage from the bible.  This may be a huge turn off to one who may have doubts about the legitimacy of accounts recorded in the bible.  However, it’s where my thought process is taking me so i hope you’ll be patient and read on. 

You may be familiar with the passage in the bible where peter asks Jesus how many times he must forgive someone.

Jesus goes on to give a parable on forgiveness.

side note on Jesus’ parable on forgiveness

Moving on, the basic idea that i want to focus on regarding forgiveness, is that in doing something wrong to someone, we steal something from them in a sense.  …

i don’t like the way the master/God tortures the unmerciful servant until he can repay his debt.  it seems the master/God is consenting to anger, and disregarding the 70 times 7 philosophy Jesus said before moving on to give this parable about the master who forgives conditionally.

  i read this quote by buddha on forgiveness:

Anger will never disappear so long as thoughts of resentment are cherished in the mind. Anger will disappear just as soon as thoughts of resentment are forgotten.
— buddha.

buddha has a reason for regarding anger to be unvirtuous.  How is the same not true for God?  Maybe a Christian reading this can help me to sort those questions out.  i think i have an idea coming on to help explain how God can be angry and still be “good” as i’ve always understood that God is, but it’s still cloudy…

superstitions

July 10, 2007

i’ve been listening to alot of this guy ajan brahm’s lectures on youtube for a while. 

He’s pretty thorough in his explanations, which i like.  i heard his talk on superstitions tonight. 

He’s under the standpoint that Christianity is a superstition. 

He made the statement that a lot of superstition is just believing without actually checking it out.  From my understanding, he said superstition=blind faith.  i agree.  The only way for Christianity not to be a superstition would be if it’s an experiential religion.  From my understanding, Christianity is meant to be an experiential religion Granted, to have this deposit of the Holy Spirit, someone must believe; likewise though, when ajan speaks of seeing the mind, one must meditate. He speaks of the possibility of even seeing a past life you’ve lived.  i like what he said when he explained how he’d experienced an early life memory, then encouraged the listeners to find out for themselves and not to take his word for it.  i do agree that superstition exists in Christianity just as he acknowledged that it exists in buddhism. 

For instance,  ajahn mentioned how the student went to him and some other monks to have them chant over her so she’d do well on her examn.  i once was talking to a muslim man who was turned off by Christianity because (if i remember correctly) of people he’d encountered who mentioned they needed some spare change to put in the offereing plate, so they’d get their blessing.  And how many athletes have you seen who wear a gold cross necklace which many consider to be their good luck charm.  Maybe there are those who wear it as a statement of faith, but i don’t know that clothing/jewelry can really make a faith statement if it’s not backed up by something inward.     

Forgiveness
What right has that person to forgive you? The only thing they can do is to urge you to forgive yourself…

Anger will never disappear so long as thoughts of resentment are cherished in the mind. Anger will disappear just as soon as thoughts of resentment are forgotten.
— buddha.

There’s a certain Christian friend i have who is so full of joy.  The only thing is, this person is also full of disdain for any religion besides Christianity.  i had a conversation with him tonight.  

He wants to one day evangelize to buddhists in tibet.  i asked him how he would go about evangelizing to a buddhist.  He said he would say “i hope you become a Christian.  Why don’t you come to church with me?”  Seems harmless enough i suppose, but i think it would take the moving of a higher power, or a lazy minded response from someone for them to consent to such an invitation with no questions asked. 

aside from that, he began to explain to me how people in this country still worship their ancestors.  He went on to say how ancestor worship started with Confucianism (i question the validity of that claim).  He said that Confucians are hypocrites.  Reason being, when their parents die, they build a tent by their grave and mourn over them for two or three days, usually against their desire.  He considers this not only to be idolatry, but also hypocrisy because these people didn’t honor their parents during the lifetime of their parents. 

i sat their smiling and nodding the whole time, but inside i was cringing.  To disregard a religion or a philosophy b/c it’s nominal practitioners are hypocrites is what causes so many avoidable divisions among people. 

i didn’t get the chance to question his reasoning b/c our conversation was interrupted. 

i just wonder; this man is so happy and seemingly full of peace.  However, his reasoning is an aid to avoidable divisions.  And yet, he’s still full of peace.  i can see it in his eyes.