People back away from Christianity for many reasons, many of which are quite valid. I've got not a few of them tucked away myself. But in my honest opinion, the fact that such core doctrines as “the Trinity,” “the Dual Nature of Christ [100% God, 100% human at the same time, not 50% of each] is off-putting is a tad disingenuous, at least if the person who claims to be put off is at all literate in modern science. In a universe ruled by “quantum weirdness” – “particles” really being only “tendencies to happen” unless and until observed; particles and even larger entities fully capable of being in more than one place at one time; the “dual nature” light as simultaneously particle and wave [100% of each, not 50%-50%} and on and on and on – in this kind of universe, the Trinity and Dual Nature of Christ and so on are what you’d expect ... if (of course) there is a Creator God and if the creation in any way reflects the nature of that Creator God. (Pretty big assumptions, I admit, especially for Buddhist partners in Christian-Buddhist dialogue ... occasionally even for the Christian partners too ... but I won't go there now:-) )
One of the richest of these “Christic Koans” (as I call them) is surely the doctrine of the Trinity. At least one Eastern Orthodox theologian – I cannot locate the source at the moment L but if memory serves me (as it so often does not these days), it is the late Russian Orthodox theologian Vladimir Lossky -- insists this is metaphor, and the number “three,” should not be taken in any kind of literal numerical sense. This is not “arithmetic”; this is a mystery in and beyond the structures of being, at which all concepts, numerical included, can only point and hint.
Rather, the doctrine recognizes an almost quantum-like indeterminacy of “number” within the Godhead: interacting regions of … well, of what? Of Unoriginate Light, Uncreated Light, manifesting now in this kind of guiding work in the cosmos (“Father”), now that kind of saving work (“Son”), or on another occasion some kind of interior teaching, re-shaping and strengthening work(“Spirit”).My reason for this post, however, is more directly related to the Buddhist appreciation of Interbeing.
It seems to me that, at its core, the doctrine of the Trinity is getting at much the same reality as is the teaching of Interbeing. Regardless of whether one takes “three’ness” metaphorically or literally, the most ancient understanding of the Trinity is that each of the Divine Persons (Father, Son and/or Holy Spirit) inter-exists with the other Two. None of them exists on His/Her own. (I’m not struggling to be “just” politically correct there. The Spirit sometimes has feminine grammatical features in the biblical languages, and arguably even is the figure of “Lady Wisdom” in the Book of Proverbs as well as other “Wisdom texts” in the Bible.) The enduring reality of the Father, for example, is entirely in the Son and the Spirit; the Son, entirely in the Father and the Spirit; the Spirit entirely in the Father and the Son. When any one Person acts, the other two are fully and entirely present and active as well. All Trinitarian Christians would agree with the immediately preceding sentence; but the teaching about each Person having its identity only in the other Two seems to be most fully appreciated within Eastern Orthodoxy.
Let’s take this one step further.
Humans are created in the “image of God,” according to Genesis 1. If the Godhead is, so to speak, Primal Interbeing (or “Primal Communion” or “Community”): then human beings also exist in, and only in, interbeing with each other and with the rest of the cosmos. We are created for – and in and only in – interbeing. That is The archetype of them all: Trinity. Interbeing.
In other words: in the Christian tradition, the universe is the way it is – i.e. a quirky quantum place where everything inter-is with everything else, where “your” and “my” only reality ultimately is in the fact that everything else comes to focus here where “I” am, and where “you” are – because the Godhead is the way It is: the Ultimate Inter-Being, out of which all other interbeing comes.