Empathetic awareness of another’s suffering calls for a response that is driven not by the conceit of knowing what is the right thing to do in general, but by the courageous humility to risk what may be the most wise and loving thing to do in that particular case.
I feel myself to be a religious person, but I feel that to be more the case in terms of the sorts of questions that most deeply motivate me. What is this life, what is death? Rather than religious in the sense of adhering to a particular set of dogmas or doctrines or beliefs. In some ways this is a sense of religion that is quite close to the old Greek understanding of philosophia, of the love of wisdom, of philosophy. And at the same time we have to ask ourselves afresh: well what do we mean by this central term in Buddhist tradition, usually translated as ‘enlightenment’? Although I prefer to use the word ‘awakening’, which is more literally correct. And I would seek to understand this not as the gaining of a privileged, mystical intuition, some sort of special state of consciousness that we might arrive at at one point or another. But rather to think of awakening, which conveniently in the English gerundive form can also suggest a process, that awakening is about living one’s life in all aspects in a more wakeful, in a more alert and even a more enlightened way perhaps. So to think of the goal of Buddhist practice as not about a state of enlightenment, but rather as an ongoing enactment and embodiment of certain values and ideals that we seek to bring into our experience of the world we share with one another.
Stephen Batchelor, Stephen Batchelor and Don Cupitt — The Future of Religion: a Dialogue
(hmm, that sounds awfully familiar … in a good way)
I absolutely loved this conversation and in fact, it may be my favorite yet.
I don’t have a pithy title suggestion, but to me this show is about the language, the creation, and the navigation of faith and faithlessness. It’s about faith as a process. One that includes doubt and not knowing. And it’s about the sacredness of poetry and its role in navigating that very individual faith journey.
A Better Title for Our Show with Poet Christian Wiman?
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
It took several months, but I was finally able to make the case that Christian Wiman was a voice we needed to put on the air after seeing the strong response to his conversation with Bill Moyers on PBS. He was good; he also seemed nervous, and I wondered if that didn’t have to do with being on television being asked questions by one of America’s best interviewers.
And that’s where the beauty of radio comes in. Rather than setting up a face-to-face interview, we set up an ISDN line — an extremely high-quality telephone line that captures the intimate aspects of a person’s voice — with Krista in a studio in St. Paul, Minnesota and Wiman in a studio in Chicago, Illinois. Methinks you’ll hear a somewhat different Christian Wiman that will add to the sum of your life.
That said, I’m not too wild about the title of this show though: “Remembering God.” It doesn’t do the interview justice or capture what’s relatable for many listeners out there: being raised in a faith rooted in family and culture, losing that devotion and belief in a greater Being, and returning to some type of belief that perhaps is more mature but less intense.
If you get a chance, take a listen and tell me what you might have titled it. There’s no doubt we will rebroadcast this show, and I’d be more than glad to shepherd your suggestions so we can make way for a better title!
Momentarily, secular religion may seem to be paradoxical or even an outright contradiction in terms. Does not secular mean the opposite, or absence, of religion? […]
Yet this is based upon, if not an ethnocentric then a ‘temperocentric’ view of religion: that of the ‘early modern’ period. True, secular can be defined with remarkable ease: as the opposite of religion (whatever that is, in any particular situation). […] In historical societies it refers to that willed program of commitment that is, ideally, expressed in the whole of life. When that program no longer takes the form of a traditional religion (as, for instance, in the case of humanism), then the program itself may be described as a ‘secular religion.’
‘Secular religion’ is, therefore, a natural way of describing ordinary human life: either as that way of life that is expressed in religion, or as that way of life in which religion is expressed. The conceptual need to reestablish the secular ramifications of what appertains to a religious order, or to a hierarchical church, or to a transcendent sacred, only proves the symbiotic relationship of the religious and the secular. Thus even a ‘secular’ form of religion will still need its ‘extramural’ forms of expression—if it is to be called a religion at all.
Buddhist Path - Human Path
The teachings of the Buddha are about human life. Rituals and philosophies have gathered around the Buddha’s teachings—different forms in different places—but the heartwood of the teachings is not about these things. It is about coping with our all too human lives of suffering and joy. We can take heart in the fact that the Buddha was a man, not a god. The Buddha taught what he learned from his own human experience. He offered his teaching to other human beings, who were able to benefit from them because they were human. This humanity does not deny the subtle or mysterious aspects of our being, those attributes only realizable by a still, keenly alert mind. Being born into a human’s sensitive body and heart-mind is both exquisite and challenging.
The Buddha’s insights have astonishing depth and right-now relevance because they were based upon his direct, embodied experience. He rose to the challenges of his human life and taught others how to do the same. It makes little difference that the earth touches my bare feet thousands of years later or that the thoughts crowding my mind were influenced by the Internet or that my emotions have a modern Western flavor. The facts of our shared physiology, and of the heart-mind’s tender responses, ensure the continued relevance of those human teachings.
—Greg Kramer, excerpted from Insight Dialogue - The interpersonal path to freedom