Friday, October 15, 2004

Water Buffalo Theology: Chapter 12

Water Buffalo Theology by Kosuke Koyama

Chapter 12: Cool Arhat and Hot God

water buffalo theology coverThis chapter is about God's restoration of the "I!" It reminds me of Martin Buber's saying how *legitimate* is the "I" of the Buddha, of Socrates, of the Christ! For most of us the problem's not so much our insistent "I, I, I," and "me, me, me"; it's the illegitimacy of our cry, the toxic way humans tend to view and relate to themselves and subsequently to everyone else and to God. It's about our unconnected "I" and disconnected "me." Prof. Koyama says according to the Buddhist a person saying "I" is chained to an illusion and a delusion of "I," an illusion of "self." God legitimates both I and self by drawing them into covenant and by calling all of those disparate I's and selves into covenant with each other. As Kosuke Koyama writes, Jesus lives with a strong sense of "I!" And Jesus' strong, legitimate "I" restores and revitalizes our illegitimate "I" that talks about "my" house and "my" spacious upper rooms, to paraphrase God's words through Jeremiah to Jehoiakim. A nirvanic human without "I" ultimately is free from both sight and blindness.

The "hot" God heats the cool outlook by placing it in the context of covenant relationship. God is not free from anger...but this doesn't mean God is quick to anger! Our slow God again!

Covenant is a hot concept, since real relationship never is cool. When relating chills off, the relatedness is gone. God warms the cool person by drawing the person into covenantal relationship. God restores (not eliminates) the "I" before, in the presence of and with the power of God's life-giving, life-enabling Spirited "I." Koyama says "Self without the knowledge of the Lord is the lost self!"

Analysis rather than living connectedness and attachment: to analyze a thing or even a person you need to look at it from some distance, you simply can't be attached and see clearly. Interesting his saying "If the Lord does not explain it to me..." in the wake of his reminding us of Martin Luther's telling us God without strange work is God without proper work! Asking "non-crisis questions" while we're caught in crisis? I do that all the time!

Buddhist holy life is lived "in order to escape completely from existence." Wow! Christian holy life is lived in order to be completely engrossed and engaged in existence. Since the primary truth about humanity is its attachment to existence that's one of the many ways in which humankind is in God's image. God creates for his own possession, in order to have a creation to become attached to!

God and God's people live in particularly close attachment to each other. As Prof. Koyama aptly says...it is this covenant-awareness which has given sharp focus to history-awareness. Theologically speaking, history is the experience of covenant.

God removes distance by attaching to history rather than by detaching from history to "Hebraize" the peculiar apatheticness of the Buddha's teaching! Page 115: God can make use of all weakly historical as well as ahistorical thoughts, convictions, and enlightenments. But the reverse is hardly a possibility.

Hebraization means covenantization. Evangelism to Thai Buddhists - and to everyone else - means bringing the experience of covenanted relationship lived within history rather than outside of history.

Homelessness: nomads aren't homeless but carry their homes on their backs rather than rejecting the idea and value of home. Home is attachment - all so true! Page 107: The principle of homelessness displays its genuine force when one becomes homeless in history... from history to "ahistory" ("historylessness"). Interesting!

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