Los Angeles Buddhist Catholic dialogue
March 12, 2003
Loyola Marymount University
Present: Ven. Karuna Dharma, Lucy Palermino, Fr. Jim
Fredericks, Sr. Thomas Bernard, Cynthia Shimazu, Arvin, Leila
Kerze, Michael Kerze.
Fr. Fredericks discussed the recent Globalization Forum he
hosted and issues of the reaction of fundamentalist groups
to the overwhelming presence of Western culture and commercial
values. About the relationship of awakening and faith in Buddhism
he asked about jikaku, awakening or
self-awakening ... to what?
Ven. Karuna Dharma: To your own Buddha nature. We live
a dream we think is real, but to wake up to our own Buddha
nature is to experience emptiness. Yet that is only half way
to enlightenment for it can be a trap; form is emptiness and
emptiness is form form is the phenomenal, emptiness the absolute. Your
moral character changes so that you cannot perform a bad deed.
Ven. Thich Tien-An was the closest .Ive met to a fully
Sr. Thomas Bernard: If a person is enlightened, is that
persons will still operative?
Ven. Karuna Dharma: Does will still exist if a person
has no ego? In Mahayana there are 8 consciousnesses, the first
5 are the senses, the 6th organizes data, the 7th
is the mind, and that is where the ego is. The 8th is
the storehouse consciousness which stores our behavior. For
example, if we are angry a seed then resides in the storehouse
and it may be easier to be angry thereafter. To cleanse the
storehouse thats enlightenment. Once enlightened,
you cannot fall back. The next step is Nirvana. Rev. Kusala
and I disagree for he thinks there is a difference between enlightenment
and Nirvana. Why? Bodhisattvas are still attached to saving
all beings, and therefore are not utterly free of attachments.
If one is enlightened, karma does not exist for you. Enlightenment
is the same as awakening.
Michael Kerze: What is faith?
Cynthia Shimazu: In Pure Land, we do not deal with awakening.
In Jodo Shinshu it is impossible thats where faith
comes in, to recite the Nembutsu.
Ven. Karuna Dharma: In Zen, one needs great faith to
believe in ones own Buddha nature and there is great
doubt and great effort.
Fr. Fredericks: So in Zen what goes on in the mind with
faith? I believe is cognitive but also more than
that in a Christian context. In Graham Greenes novel, The Power and the Glory, there
is a corrupt priest during the Mexican persecution; he drinks
and has a mistress but is pulled in unexpected directions.
There is a person worse then him who wants to betray him. The
priest reaches safety over the border while on the other side
that bad person is wounded. Come, hear my confession, he calls. The bad priest
crosses the border to help him. That is not cognitive, it is
practice. Faith is what you do; it not an emotion. Christian
love is a question of obedience to Gods command to love,
to do something, to cross over the border.
Ven. Karuna Dharma: In Zen every emotion is preceded
by a thought, so the priest did have a thought.
Fr. Fredericks: Masao Abe said the Zen doesnt
talk of faith but the word used is pronounced the same, dai shin.
Ven. Karuna Dharma: In Zen the word used is Great
Mind, Great Heart.
Cynthia Shimazu: In Pure Land, Jodo Shinshu and Jodo
Shu, two characters are combined for great faith and great heart/mind.
It is who a person really is.
Lucy Palermino: In Christianity there is something like
the Nembutsu the Jesus Prayer. It is a prayer: Jesus,
Son of God, have mercy upon me a sinner, that is repeated
over and over until it becomes wordless and it is prayed in
the heart with the heart beat. It becomes the source of all
ones activities and one advances, becoming closer to God
and acting more God-like. You have good heart and
it shows up in what you do. The basis of that is love.
Sr. Thomas Bernard: There is a growing consciousness
that God is not outside of you but that God is within you and
that is love.