Grace

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by CobblersApprentice, Jul 19, 2019.

  1. To open a thread on Grace.....

    For me, Grace is that in which I "live and move and have my being". If that sounds very "mystical" or whatever, I would just say that I am a very vulnerable person. And very secular. I do not move a few feet above the ground....:)

    I would contrast my own "way" with what I would see as a way of understanding Grace that is grounded in a strict duality. Of a "divinity" that offers it, where terms are attached, conditions set, where the believer in effect lives a life seeking a "pass mark", however conceived.

    I realise that my own faith/trust has its dangers. St Paul asks "shall we sin all the more that grace may abound?" Yet I also observe the dangers of other ways and will say no more.

    Nevertheless, I remain in Grace as I experience it, live it, and seek to "understand" it. "Understand" in inverted commas because for me Grace, Reality-as-is, God, are interchangeable words, and each ultimately incomprehensible.

    I, perhaps, have more to say but will stop for now.

    How do others understand "grace"?
     
  2. Just to add a few words on Grace from the Christian Thomas Merton, this from a letter written to D T Suzuki, contained in the collection of letters in "The Hidden Ground of Love":-


    To my mind, the Christian doctrine of grace (however understood—I mean here the gift of God’s Life to us) seems to me to fulfill a most important function in all this. The realization, the finding of ourselves in Christ and hence in paradise, has a special character from the fact that this is all a free gift from God. With us, this stress on freedom, God’s freedom, the indeterminateness of salvation, is the thing that corresponds to Zen in Christianity. The breakthrough that comes with the realization of what the finger of a koan is pointing to is like the breakthrough of the realization that a sacrament, for instance, is a finger pointing to the completely spontaneous Gift of Himself to us on the part of God—beyond and above images, outside of every idea, every law, every right or wrong, everything high or low, everything spiritual or material. Whether we are good or bad, wise or foolish, there is always this sudden irruption, this breakthrough of God’s freedom into our life, turning the whole thing upside down so that it comes out, contrary to all expectation, right side up. This is grace, this is salvation, this is Christianity. And, so far as I can see, it is also very much like Zen. And of course, personally, I like to see this freedom of God at work outside of all set forms, all rites, all theology, all contemplation—everything.
     
  3. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    Grace is always completely unexpected.
     
  4. Yes. I see this as an "argument" against the Mahayana teaching of original enlightenment, again, of notions in Christianity based upon "being chosen before the foundation of the world"(NT, Ephesians) That sense that can prevail of, "well, of course!" and the sheer grace of Grace can be lost. I think I said elsewhere about the sense of pure surprise of those told they could "come into the kingdom" (parable of the Sheep and Goats, NT)

    Losing that sense of "well, obviously" as we are ushered in!

    EDIT:- "come into THE kingdom" not "come into kingdom".
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 19, 2019
  5. On another thread @Thomas spoke of Marco Pallis and his essay "Is there room for grace in Buddhism." I did know of it and I have looked up a post I made on another forum. Most of it reproduced here as relevant to this thread:-


    There are some words of Marco Pallis on the presence of grace in Buddhism. Pallis says that the function of grace is to condition our homecoming to the very centre from start to finish. It is the very attraction of the centre itself.......which provides the incentive to start on the Way and the energy to face and overcome its many and various obstacles. Likewise grace is the welcoming hand into the centre when we find ourselves at long last on the brink of the great divide where all familiar landmarks have disappeared.


    Pallis speaks of the Buddhist Icon of "touching the earth". The Buddha is seated on a lotus on the waters, where the waters symbolise existence with all its teeming possibilities. The Buddha shows the true nature of existence. His right hand points downward to touch the earth, his other supports a begging bowl which symbolises the acceptance of the gift - grace.


    In the two gestures of the Buddha the whole programme of our spiritual exigencies is summed up......an active attitude towards the world and a passive attitude towards heaven. The ignorant person does the exact opposite - passively accepting the world and resisting grace, gift and heaven. (Pallis, from "Is there room for grace in Buddhism?" )
     
  6. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    My own limited personal understanding, is that (Theravada) Buddhism depicts Grace as when the noble eightfold path comes together.

    The imagery of suddenly discovering an overgrown path in the forest. The path has always been there...
     
  7. From the Pure Land perspective, Theravada is a self-power (Japanese jiriki) path - as opposed to the path of Other Power (tariki) and therefore Pure Landers would see the idea of grace as being absent. From my own personal perspective I tend to see "grace" everywhere, but the idea is not explicitly mentioned in the Pali Scriptures as far as I know. Instead, we have such verses as:- "Buddhas only point the way, each has to walk the path themselves." Again (and possibly relevant to your Authority Figures thread) the Buddha, despite being implored to do so, refused to appoint a successor, telling his bhikkhus to "be lamps unto yourselves" and to "let the Dharma be your guide."

    Saichi, the Pure Land myokonin, of course, blended self-power with Other-power to his hearts content, constantly intertwined. The oneness of ki and ho.

    There was a Theravada Bhikkhu who said that when the moment of emancipation comes "effort falls away, having reached the end of its scope." The "scope of effort" has been raised as a topic by me on more than one forum, with the usual result of "ask a hundred Buddhists a question and you get one hundred answers" (which might be good or bad!)

    When you put the Theravada teaching of anatta (no-self) into the mix, you have to begin asking just who is walking the path. But let's not get too deep otherwise my head will begin to ache.

    In the Theravada texts, the ancient forest path imagery is most often used to make a distinction between the historical Buddha - who rediscovers the path - and those who learn of it from the Buddha, following his enlightenment.


    Just a bit more info, in the beginnings of Japanese Pure Land, it was more that those alive saw themselves as living in a degenerate age (the age of mappo) in which practice of the path as originally taught was no longer possible. Thus not so much rejecting it as false, simply no longer possible.

    Also, as far as the path "coming together", it is certainly not a precise sequence of first this, then this, then move onto that. All "steps" are seen as interdependent and "grow" in unison. Balance can sometimes be all important!
     
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  8. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    Thanks, very well said.
     
  9. Just to say, I have made a couple of posts on an old thread over on the Buddhist section, this in respect of Pure Land Buddhism. Anyone interested can look it up. Thank you.
     

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