If Buddhism is attractive, it's only because it suggests that by belonging to it you can touch the infinite, and you can have joy without concrete religious obligations. It's spiritually self-indulgent eroticism.''
At a simple glance, this statement reflects an arrogant, disrespectful and self-centered individual. One that is blind by ones own mental afflictions. Hard to imagine that this is words of the highest nobility and intelligence that the Catholic Church has to offer. Of course, as many of you may know those words were spoken by none other than Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benidict XVI.
How are Buddhists to embrace and respect such an individual? After all, we are human beings, having pride in what we do and believe. I was delighted to find out that Buddhist leaders around the world showed such respect in offering congratulatory jesters to the new Pope. His Holiness, The Dalai Lama is one such leader that extended a hand of acceptance to the new leader of the Catholic world.
One thing that drew me to Buddhism, almost a decade ago was that it was a positive gesture to respect different paths. Every Buddhist priest, lama, scholar and teacher that I have ever encountered has always encouraged respect and honor for other disciplines, beliefs and practices. The idea that we are all on this planet trying to make our journey and find our way the best we can, lends itself to a compassionate position.
Pope Benedict, as Cardinal Ratzinger seems to know so much about Catholic doctrine, but seems to not embody the correct noble approach to love, compassion and understanding that it crucial to good human relations. I feel his past comments with regard to Buddhism are reflective of the many hard-minded leaders of the Christian faith today. They are so arrogant to think that their way is the only one and that it is superior. I guess it is one reason I could never find myself as a practicing Christian.
There exists so much uncertainty in our existence that many of those, like Cardinal Ratzinger, lack something instrumental to understanding reality. Not to say such people don’t have a real beliefs or understanding, but that they are so arrogant in their positions that they berate and condemn other for theirs. I am sure it seems like I am condemning the Pope for his beliefs, but I am just trying to understand. I guess, to say the least, it doesn’t appear representative of the teachings of Christ.
I must be clear. When I first heard, what I call, nonsensical rhetoric of then Cardinal Ratzinger, I was troubled and agitated. I felt anger toward the new Pope and those that elected such a man. It seemed to me as though a divisive and irrational individual of this nature had no place being given the leadership of such a respectful religion as Catholism. My agitation soon turned to understanding and calm after reading about H.H. The Dalai Lama’s good words toward the new Pope. I guess my own human nature expected nothing more than respectful silence. Instead, he responded with words of encouragement in the most honorable way, leaving anger, disdain or condemnation absent. I wish I could say this much for myself.
Looking at the situation now, it shows I have so much to learn. I am grateful that His Holiness responded in such a way. Not that one could really expect any different, but still the same, I am happy he did. It is something to behold as a follower of the Buddhist Way. I hope that someday I can learn such temperance, compassion, and understanding while remaining clear of anger when encountering such adversaries.
So to present a question, can we truly embrace those that condemn us or is it an unrealistic feat to attempt? Are we just kidding ourselves when we celebrate for those that despise us? ~Amadeus
“Compassion and understanding are my brooms to remove the obstructions that plague my path.”