If God were Tao

Following a discussion with a christian believer who implied buddhism is ‘antichrist’ a member of the Facebook group on zen buddhism asked what best to reply

Here is my answer:

Underlying orthodox christianity (and other monotheist belief systems) is a conviction that the only true religion is the worship of its God and his son Jesus Christ. From this point of view any other religion is a fallacy.

If God could be equated to Tao then a whole new universe of mutual understanding arises. As Thich Nhat Hanh writes in many of his books there are similarities between Kingdom of God, Holy Spirit and e.g. buddha nature. This is why he says it is not necessary for people to adopt zen buddhism as long as they are able to load the religious practices from their own culture with similar meaning.

On this same basis others, like the roman catholic monk Thomas Merton in the mid 20th century, have attempted an interreligious dialogue between christians, zen buddhists and representatives from likeminded religious traditions.

I suppose than in zen buddhist thinking God and other religious representations (like buddhas and bodhisattvas) belong to the images contained in man’s ‘store consciousness’, like Jungian ‘archetypes’ reside in the ‘collective unconsciousness’. Once one has learnt to let go of attachment to any of these projections (killing one or more buddhas when you meet them) there will only be compassion left and no inclination to enter into a theoretical argument with people from whatever religious conviction.

This is why, I think, the Buddha did not bother too much about the gods of his time: the focus should be on being a living example of compassion, much like I guess Jesus may well have been an existential embodiment of profound love in his days. Does not the language of the Sermon on the Mount resemble a buddhist dharma talk or the spirit of the Diamond Sutra?


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