How Buddhist mindfulness can awaken the church

Religion News Service | 10/1/2014 | Staff
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(RNS) — In 1954 the eminent historian Arnold Toynbee predicted that “When a historian one thousand years from now writes about the 20th century, he will surely be more interested in the interpenetration which occurred for the first time between Christianity and Buddhism than in the conflict between the ideologies of democracy and communism.”

That interpenetration between Christianity and Buddhism in the West is becoming more and more evident. And it holds the potential to invigorate a diminishing church.

Hand - Buddhism - North - America - Europe

On the other hand, Buddhism is proliferating in North America, Europe and Australia/New Zealand. The various forms of Buddhism — including Zen, Tibetan, Theravada and Pure Land — are intermingling with one another to a degree never before seen in history, and it is happening in Western nations. An entirely new form of Buddhism is emerging as a result, which intentionally exchanges Asian cultural values and trappings for Western ones, yet retains core Buddhist teachings and practices. The clearest example of this trend is the mindfulness movement.

Mindfulness (also known as Insight or Vipassana meditation) is a stripped-down, Buddhist-derived practice in which one develops the skill of focused concentration by observing one’s breath or other physical action (such as walking or eating). By developing this skill we become able to decenter from the flow of thoughts that are continuously running through our heads and are able to dispassionately observe them. The realization comes that you are not your thoughts and that you can choose whether or not to engage with a thought when it arises, or simply let it pass by and evaporate. This results in a sense of internal spaciousness — a gap, if you will — between one’s intrinsic self and one’s thought-stream.

Fruit - Practice - Mindfulness - Ability - Thoughts

The fruit of the practice of mindfulness is an ability to see thoughts for what they are: momentary and ephemeral...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Religion News Service
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