Author Topic: The Kingdom of God  (Read 1412 times)

Offline Gray Cloud

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The Kingdom of God
« on: October 30, 2018, 04:54:44 pm »
I've started a new topic because I am confused with this quote from Thich Nhat Hanh:

“The kingdom of God is available to you in the here and the now. But the question is whether you are available to the kingdom. Our practice is to make ourselves ready for the kingdom so that it can manifest in the here and the now. You don't need to die in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. In fact, you have to be truly alive in order to do so.”

Just when I was getting comfortable with the Buddhist teaching of no god, I'm now confused again. I am an ardent follower of Thich Nhat Hanh, and I'd probably attach more importance to his wisdom than to anything else I've studied. So where is he coming from with this? The kingdom of what god?

I feel like I'm back in the starting block.

Offline VisuddhiRaptor

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Re: The Kingdom of God
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2018, 05:05:35 pm »
Thich Nhat Hanh is engaged in "interfaith" here and speaking metaphorically.

Offline VisuddhiRaptor

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Re: The Kingdom of God
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2018, 05:15:35 pm »
The Buddha taught the 'kingdom of god', to non-Buddhists, as follows:

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The Buddha said this: “It’s when a Realized One arises in the world, perfected, a fully awakened Buddha … That’s how a mendicant is accomplished in ethics. … Seeing that the hindrances have been given up in them, joy springs up. Being joyful, rapture springs up. When the mind is full of rapture, the body becomes tranquil. When the body is tranquil, they feel bliss. And when blissful, the mind becomes immersed.

They meditate spreading a heart full of love to one direction, and to the second, and to the third, and to the fourth. In the same way above, below, across, everywhere, all around, they spread a heart full of love to the whole world—abundant, expansive, limitless, free of enmity and ill will.

Suppose there was a powerful horn blower. They’d easily make themselves heard in the four directions. In the same way, when the heart’s release by love has been developed and cultivated like this, any limited deeds they’ve done don’t remain or persist there. This is a path to companionship with Brahmā [God].

Furthermore, a mendicant meditates spreading a heart full of compassion … They meditate spreading a heart full of rejoicing … They meditate spreading a heart full of equanimity to one direction, and to the second, and to the third, and to the fourth. In the same way above, below, across, everywhere, all around, they spread a heart full of equanimity to the whole world—abundant, expansive, limitless, free of enmity and ill will.

Suppose there was a powerful horn blower. They’d easily make themselves heard in the four directions. In the same way, when the heart’s release by equanimity has been developed and cultivated like this, any limited deeds they’ve done don’t remain or persist there. This too is a path to companionship with Brahmā [God].

https://suttacentral.net/dn13/en/sujato

Such novel teachings or reinterpretations obviously influenced the reinterpretations by Christianity:
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Luke 17:20–21

Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, he answered them, "The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, 'Lo, here it is!' or 'There! for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.'"

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1 John 4:7-21

God Is Love

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

 :namaste:


Offline Gray Cloud

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Re: The Kingdom of God
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2018, 07:36:27 am »
Thich Nhat Hanh is engaged in "interfaith" here and speaking metaphorically.

One of the many things I like about Thich Nhat Hanh is that he speaks clearly and concisely. I believe he chooses his words carefully, saying what he means and meaning what he says. And I believe that, even if he was speaking from an "interfaith" context, he still would not deviate from his interpretation of the Buddha's wisdom.

From the Buddhist perspective, the somewhat provocative term "kingdom of God" (especially when God is capitalized) is contradictory to the Dharma. I believe TNH had a reason for speaking this way; thus, my question.

Thank you for your comments.

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: The Kingdom of God
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2018, 10:29:55 am »
I like what TNH had to say and the quotes VR posted. Here's some of my thoughts on this from something I wrote a couple years ago at -- http://www.frogzen.com/uncategorized/eternal-life/

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Luke 17:20-21 (King James version) —

“The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, Lo there! for behold, the Kingdom of God is within you.”

I find the first part of this saying (which is generally overlooked) to be especially significant. The “Kingdom of God” is neither “here,” nor “there.” In other words it doesn’t have a specific location, like a place existing in space and time — not as another life in some future time, nor as rebirth in a distant heaven. It is not anywhere that “observation” can reach.

But he says “Behold.” So somehow, It can be seen, just not in the usual way, as an object or phenomena apart from us, but “within.” Because it is sought somewhere else (or in someone else), it remains hidden.

Jesus doesn’t qualify it by saying it is only in some and not in others. Presumably, it’s not just within you, but in me and everyone, or, as some say, in everything. It’s ironic that despite all the talk of gaining eternal life, it could turn out to be something that is already within every creature as a birthright.

“The Kingdom of God” is not a place to which directions can be given and which one can arrive at in the usual fashion. But, “behold,” It is always “within” — as close as one’s own face.

I’d venture to add that to actually “behold” this mystery is not a matter of intellectual understanding and analysis, of simply reading and reckoning. Instead, it is necessary to strip away all of the conceptualizations and mental habits that have been accumulated — to become as innocent of thought and discrimination as a newborn child.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2018, 11:03:21 am by zafrogzen »
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline Gray Cloud

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Re: The Kingdom of God
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2018, 11:36:33 am »
I was raised in a Christian tradition, so I'm very familiar with what Jesus had to say about the kingdom of God. My question is, rather, why TNH would mention it when Buddhism rejects the idea of god?

Thanks.

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: The Kingdom of God
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2018, 11:45:14 am »
You need to broaden your interpretation of the term "God."
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline Chaz

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Re: The Kingdom of God
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2018, 12:22:47 pm »
I was raised in a Christian tradition, so I'm very familiar with what Jesus had to say about the kingdom of God. My question is, rather, why TNH would mention it when Buddhism rejects the idea of god?

Thanks.

It isn't that Buddhism rejects gods.  There are gods in Buddhism, they just don't play the same role as in revealed religion.  In fact, if Buddhist teachings take any stand at all, it's apatheistic - it just doesn't care - at least as far as existence is concerned.  They need an end to suffering just like all sentient beings.

As far as TNH is concerned.  I don't really care what he says.  He's not my teacher and I've never cared for his written work at all.

I also wouldn't put much stock in what someone says about interpreting his teachings as VR did.  If you want to know what he was referring to with "kingdom of god"  ask him yourself.  If you can't reach him, contact one of his senior teachers.

Meanwhile, don't worry about it.  Focus on your practice.

Offline VisuddhiRaptor

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Re: The Kingdom of God
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2018, 01:55:23 pm »
I was raised in a Christian tradition, so I'm very familiar with what Jesus had to say about the kingdom of God. My question is, rather, why TNH would mention it when Buddhism rejects the idea of god?

I was raised in a Interfaith tradition (which I came to later view as non-sense). Its "interfaith". TNH is from an era in time, where he and other famous Asian teachers, such as Bhikkhu Buddhadasa and the Dalai Lama, engaged in the Vatican II sentiment of "interfaith". This era was the same era as the "Hippies" like zafrogzen; who thought drugs were also Nirvana. In short, this "interfaith" is unrelated to what the Buddha taught.

The Buddha taught the "dwelling of the God/s (Brahma)" is the mind of universal love. Where as TNH, Buddhadasa, etc, were saying the Kingdom of God is Nirvana, which the Buddha never taught. "Universal love" is not "Nirvana/Nibbana".

Examples of the teachings of the Thai monk Buddhadasa are below:

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In the days of Servius, scholars considered ‘religion’ as having its root in “leg” which means ‘to bind’ in the sense of binding a man to the highest thing, i.e. God. Such being the case, Buddhism too is a religion because it is the means for binding man to the highest state which is a state of compete extinction of suffering, called by Christians “Kingdom of God” and by Buddhists “Amata Nagara”. the “City of the Deathless” etc.

In the days of St. Augustine we find scholars synthesizing both roots “lig and leg,” in order to give religion a more appropriate and complete meaning. In this way the connotation of the word ‘religion’ implied the ways of practice according to the Commandments which bind man to the highest, namely God. Likewise in this sense Buddhism is a full-fledged religion, i.e. it is a perfect way of practice which when followed completely binds man to the state in which he knows of no suffering and which is variously named Nibbana, Parama-Dhamma, the Deathless, etc. having the same meaning as “Kingdom of God.”

http://www.thaicrc.com/gsdl/collect/MIS/index/assoc/D1928.dir/1928.pdf


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I'd like to ask if in the Kingdom of God, or in whatever place God is, whether according to the scriptures of Christianity or any other religion, when we're with God can hunger and desire stop? If the Kingdom of God is the end of hunger and craving, then it's the same thing as Buddhism teaches: nibbana, or the happiness that is beyond the world because hunger has ended. But if we understand the Kingdom of God differently, if it is a place where we still hunger, then Buddhism isn't interested. Endless desire for better and better things to take as one's own is not the goal of Buddhism. Buddhism takes the fork in the road that leads beyond the world.

https://www.dhammatalks.net/Books/Bhikkhu_Buddhadasa_Happiness_and_Hunger.htm


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If we speak in people language, as Jesus Christ often did, we say that one is reborn in the world of the Noble Ones and that one lives eternally in the Kingdom of God.  That's people language.  When we translate it into Dhamma language, we use the opposite words and speak of "quenching."  One language speaks of "rebirth," while the other talks about "utter quenching."  Only the words are different. In people language we talk about being reborn; in Dhamma language we talk about quenching [craving] completely.

Therefore, let us live a life of total quenching, a life that douses the flames of desire, a life of coolness.  When we are burning, we are dying.   A person who is hot inside is like a demon in hell, an animal, a hungry ghost, or a cowardly titan.  Such a person is always dying.  His attachment to "I" is never quenched.  His ego hasn't yet been doused; it boils and bubbles inside him with the heat of fire. It has to be cooled down.

http://www.abuddhistlibrary.com/Buddhism/B%20-%20Theravada/Teachers/Buddhadasa/No%20Religion/NORELIG.HTM


 :eek:

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Buddhadasa has been criticized for dhammacizing God and for theologizing the dhamma in a way that glosses over fundamental differences between the Christian and Buddhist world views...

Damien Keown - 2006 - ‎Philosophy

« Last Edit: October 31, 2018, 02:04:53 pm by VisuddhiRaptor »

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: The Kingdom of God
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2018, 02:05:21 pm »

Learning about Buddhism properly and accurately sounds more like masturbation.

My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline VisuddhiRaptor

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Re: The Kingdom of God
« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2018, 02:15:06 pm »
I was raised in a Christian tradition, so I'm very familiar with what Jesus had to say about the kingdom of God. My question is, rather, why TNH would mention it when Buddhism rejects the idea of god?

Buddhism is 500 years older than Christianity. Jesus appeared to take Buddhist ideas and attempt to impute them onto Judaism, which is why he was fittingly crucified for his theft of Buddhism and coveting of Judaism.

It is not so much the "words" of Jesus (such as "god") but meanings of Jesus (such as "not thirsting again") which allow Buddhists to claim that Jesus was teaching Buddhism in disguise.

For example, Nirvana in Buddhism is "the end of craving or thirst ("tanha") and the "Deathless". Now compare this to Jesus:

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John 4:14

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks this [well] water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a fount of water springing up to eternal life.”

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These are the secret sayings that the living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas recorded.

1. And he said, "Whoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death."

2. Jesus said, "Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find. When they find, they will be disturbed. When they are disturbed, they will marvel, and will reign over all. [And after they have reigned they will rest.]"

3. Jesus said, "If your leaders say to you, 'Look, the (Father's) kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the (Father's) kingdom is within you and it is outside you.

The Gospel of Thomas
It is obvious to a learned Buddhist that much of the teachings of Jesus are not related to the Jewish Old Testament.  :namaste:

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: The Kingdom of God
« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2018, 02:30:58 pm »
VR,

I enjoy your quotes, despite their didacticism, but I'd like to hear more from your own experience of practice. Your personal attacks on someone you don’t even know only reflect on your own character and practice.
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline KathyLauren

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Re: The Kingdom of God
« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2018, 03:08:18 pm »
My question is, rather, why TNH would mention it when Buddhism rejects the idea of god?
A good teacher translates his teachings into language that his students will understand.  Just as someone addressing a group of French-speakers would get his message across best if he spoke in French, he may have been addressing a Christian audience when he said this, and therefore spoke in terms a Christian would understand.

Excessive literalism is an impediment to understanding.

Om mani padme hum
Kathy

Offline Chaz

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Re: The Kingdom of God
« Reply #13 on: October 31, 2018, 03:41:31 pm »
I rather doubt that Jesus' teachings as presented in the Gospels  were directly  influensed by Buddhist teachings. 

There are reports that there were Buddhists, in the Holy Land at the time Christ, and if there were, Jesus, may have been in contact with some of them.  However, that's not to say that they placed any sort of influence on him.  if the are similarities, they are far more primal than VR suggests.

I also belive that both Jesus and the Buddha consumed cannabis in the form of hashish.

Offline Gray Cloud

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Re: The Kingdom of God
« Reply #14 on: October 31, 2018, 03:52:50 pm »
Jesus appeared to take Buddhist ideas and attempt to impute them onto Judaism, which is why he was fittingly crucified for his theft of Buddhism and coveting of Judaism.

I don't think the Buddha would choose to judge Jesus as harshly as you do.

I also don't think discussions of Jesus, Christianity or the Gnostic gospel of Thomas are relevant to the question I posed, which was simply why TNH chose to talk about the "kingdom of God."

Quote from: KathyLauren

he may have been addressing a Christian audience when he said this, and therefore spoke in terms a Christian would understand.

I think this explanation makes a lot more sense.

Finally, I'm here to understand the Truths and the Path, including Right Speech.  Nasty repartee seems to be counter-productive.

 


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