Posted by: arieliondotcom | September 19, 2008

Connective Zen

As we come to the end of Week 2 (I wish there were some chocolate involved in the celebration) I have this sense of Zen about this week. “BE the Knowledge!” Or as I said in a post somewhere (one loses track of all the breadcrumb trails after a while..Okay, they were chocolate chip and I ate them…I’m making a point here…): “You are the textbook.”

I like that analogy because it not only lends itself to Connectivism, that each of us is a waiting source of some sort of knowledge to someone. They only need make contact to have some new story, new experience, new perception or be reminded of an old one as the sparks fly and knowledge grows across the gaps.

But it also lends itself to the Spiritual life. We are each a textbook, but we have been handled with filthy hands of the enemy of our souls. We reek of the excrement of his perceptions, thoughts, ideas. The stains are there and nothing can free us from them. What to do?

GOD Himself comes to our rescue, the Word in Flesh, JESUS, the very expression of the concepts of Goodness, Truth, Love…the Externalizatin of Spirit in terms that we can begin to (but are only fooling and frustrating ourselves if we try to fully) grasp. He digitizes us, translating us beyond the symbology into Spirit that is clean and beyond the touch of the enemy.

GOD spoke words and the concepts literally became the crystallization of His thoughts and plans in creation. He thought Love and He came Himself in a human body, lived as a man, died as an outcast, rose from the dead to retake His position in Glory and to restore all things.

In connecting with us and translating us He connects through us to other minds across cultures, continents and contexts into the very heart of eternity and eternal connection and growth. That is Missions.

No wonder then, getting back to the Zen of Connectivism, Buddhism itself was influenced by Him. As Dr. Larson of Reformed Theological Seminary says in his lectures, there is evidence that “Pure Land” Buddhism prevelent in most of Japan today is radically different from the Theraveda Buddhism originally practiced in India.  This dramatic change may be because of the influence of Christian Missionaries, through Christian churches perhaps founded by the Apostle Paul himself.

Theraveda Buddhism is noted for the desire to separate oneself from all desire, including the need for human contact.  The road to enlightenment is the abandonment of connection to any one, any thing, any desire and the attainment of Nirvana, the oneness of ultimate self without connection outside of oneself.

Yet suddenly, at the same time period when Christianity came onto the scene and at the very geographic locations where Christians could have made contact, a new network was made.  In this new, Pure Land Buddhism, everything changes.  Suddenly one does not strive only to get oneself away from the world and into a better beyond.  Instead, a heavenly being makes connection with the earth, choosing to live the life of pain in order to show others the way to out to the “Pure Land” of pleasant afterlife.  These others, if they believe in this divine being (even at the moment of their death), if they have connection with him, are able to find that eternal life of peace with him.  They, too, no longer live for themselves but seek to do good for others.

They are still distinctly Buddhist…no synchretism…But one wonders whether the spark jumped the gap.

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