Zen and Christianity
Regular participants at Morning Star Zendo include Roman Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Atheists, and those who prefer not to speak about their faith. All are welcome at Morning Star Zendo. Given Roshi Kennedy's deep Catholic faith, we thought it fitting to offer some thoughts about Zen from some Christian perspectives:
From Michael Barnes, S.J. (Heythrop College, University of London): "Robert Kennedy is one of the most eloquent exponents of a Catholic Christianity rooted deep in his own lived experience of faith. His wonderfully poetic style speaks of Zen as a way to overcome the human tendency to theorize, by total immersion in a stillness where an intuition of God's immanence can be realized..."
James Fredericks (Marymount Loyola University, Los Angeles) captures Kennedy's vision of Zen Buddhism for Christians and non-Christians: "Kennedy's approach is theologically sophisticated and deceptively simple. [His is the] work of a Christian who is spiritually mature, and [of] a Zen practitioner of advanced training."
More from James Fredericks, Commonweal April 2017
The late Robert F. Drinan, S.J., evaluated a Zen sesshin he attended : "After the retreat ... I experienced Asian wisdom combined with Christian illumination. I found God in a new way. I became a new man with deeper insights, and more importantly, a better Christian."
John Paul II, on Faith and Reason (Fides et Ratio): (It is) "the duty of Christians now to draw from (the) rich heritage of (the East) the elements compatible with their faith in order to enrich Christian thought. "The Church of the future" will judge herself enriched by all that comes from today's engagement with Eastern cultures and will find in this inheritance fresh cues for fruitful dialogue with the cultures which will emerge as humanity moves into the future."
From Jesuit Father General Nicolas: "I am fascinated by the fact that every culture has its own wisdom.....we need to bring in the wisdom of other traditions..in a community where you have Christians and Muslims and Buddhists...(and Jews) you have a very wise community."
On the occasion of the installation of Kevin Hunt, a Trappist monk from St. Joseph's Abbey at Spencer, Mass. , the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., wrote: "Because of the long preparation and training required to become a master of the demanding Zen training, Fr. Hunt's achievement is one that we can all celebrate in thanksgiving to God ... Jesuits and other Christians have found Zen to be a valuable instrument for progressing in the spiritual life. ... By coming to focus on the present moment through the practice of the techniques of Zen meditation, the Christian can become aware of God's immediate loving presence."