Q: I am so grateful to you raining down these blessings [i.e. various teachings from different traditions on YouTube]. I want to humbly ask you how you reconcile views of God with your view as a Buddhist Nun. Is it possible to have a deep faith and practice in the Dharma as well as faith in God as pervasive conscious energy in which we are in constant communication with? In your view do all these teachings point to the same non-conceptual, empty but alive consciousness and can you interact with all of these faiths and concepts interchangeably without tangling yourself up? I understand there may be no real answer to this question but am just curious of your perspective. Thank you *Bow*.
A: Thanks for your question. Not so easy to answer on a comments thread but I’ll give it a go… In terms of the idea or concept of ‘God’, it really depends on how one defines or relates to it. As a child raised in the Catholic tradition, it was embedded in me that ‘God’ was some anthropomorphic ‘man’ in the sky with a white beard who was up there in heaven judging all my naughty and nice behaviours. Clearly once maturity hit, this didn’t gel with me as didn’t much of the behaviour and limitations of the Church. Hence my interest to delve into the Buddhist practice to really understand my mind, heart, and Reality. Reading the words of some of the highly evolved Christian mystics (St John of the Cross, Meister Eckhart, St Teresa of Avila) it is clear that their direct experience and understanding of this concept of ‘God’ is very profound and not like most people relate to it or “him”. The teachings of these mystics do not in any real way contradict the deepest wisdom that is found in all other religious and spiritual traditions, nor the direct insights of those rare ones who have penetrated Reality.
‘God’ is just another word and has become such a loaded and problematic one. If people really experienced ‘God’ in the fullness, depth, and emptiness of what the mystics were pointing to, they would all shut-up and stop arguing. If only that could be so…. I like your expression of God “as pervasive conscious energy in which we are in constant communication with”. Yes, indeed, how can it not be so, and how can we not take faith and refuge in That. We are living, breathing, miraculous expressions flowing from That energy. How come we all miss it so much?
For, as Meister Eckhart says: “You should love God non-mentally — that is to say, the soul should become non-mental and stripped of her mental images. For as long as your soul is mental, she will possess images. As long as she has images, she will possess intermediaries, and as long as she has intermediaries, she will not have unity or simplicity. As long as she lacks simplicity, she does not truly love God, for true love depends upon simplicity . . . Indeed, you must love him as he is One, pure, simple and transparent, far from all duality. And we should eternally sink into this One, thus passing from something into nothing.”