Buddhist-Catholic Dialogue
Los Angeles, California

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The Los Angeles Buddhist-Catholic Dialogue is sponsored by the Buddhist Sangha council and the Catholic Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. It was formed as an official, on-going, core group dialogue. Meetings are held every six to eight weeks, rotating between Buddhist and Catholic locations.

Buddhist-Catholic Dialogue Notes - These notes are a overview of some of the monthly Los Angeles dialogues from September of 1999 to August of 2003, they were written and edited by Michael Kerze Ph.D.

The Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions - from www.AmericanCatholic.org - Vatican II was a watershed council in many ways. Decades later, we're still trying to absorb all it offered for our consideration. While the contents of its four major constitutions have had noticeable effect in Catholic life, some of the shorter documents remain virtually unknown. In the case of one, that's a real shame because it's a blockbuster. Maybe its title causes potential readers to nod off: The Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions (Nostra Aetate). Deceptively succinct (an easy five-minute read), it represents a milestone in Catholic thought. Nostra Aetate in PDF - 78 KB - Free Download

Los Angeles Buddhist-Catholic Retreat/Dialogue - Serra Retreat, Malibu, October 1- 4, 1998

Fifty-seven Catholics and Buddhists attended the event. About a third of the participants were affiliated with the L. A. Buddhist-Catholic Dialogue. Among Buddhists there were: Theravadins (both Sri Lankan and Thai lineage's), Jodo Shin-shu (especially Buddhist Churches in America), members of a Vietnamese lineage of Zen, Chinese Buddhists, and members of certain new Buddhist movements (Soka Gakkai, Rissho Kosei-kai, and Shambala). NADEO members from Honolulu, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington DC, Houston, and Oakland came with Buddhist partners. Other NADEO members attended from Buffalo, Newark, Lafayette, and Brooklyn.

Bishop Thomas Costello and the Ven. Dr. Ratanasara co-presided over a program of lectures, dialogues (both in groups and in dyads), meditation periods, and rituals. David Kalupahana spoke on "Dhamma: Buddha's Conception of the Moral," and Leo Lefebure spoke on "The Christian Experience of God." Bishop Costello gave an overview of Christian spirituality, and Heidi Singh spoke generally on Buddhist spirituality. Sr. Margaret Funk, O.S.B., (from Monastic Interreligious Dialogue and who facilitated a NADEO seminar at the Richmond NWCU) reviewed the spiritual ladder of John Cassian while A1 Albergate spoke on use of the Buddhist chant "nam myoho renge kyo." Joan Chatfield reviewed a plethora of projects Buddhists and Catholics have accomplished together in Hawaii while Alan Badiner focused on common feelings about violence. Also on hand was Donald Mitchell who has attended both of the Holy See's dialogues with Buddhists (1995 and 1998) and who helped engineer the "Gethsemani Encounter" in 1996. The L. A. dialogue shared the fruits of their nine-year history. NADEO members gained inspiration and experience for Buddhist-Catholic dialogue in an environment of study and recollection.

DEVELOPING DIALOGUE - Msgr. Michael Fitzgerald, Mafr

A definition of dialogue - Before presenting some reflections on how interreligious dialogue can be developed, it may not be out of place to recall what is meant by this term. This is how it is defined in the document Dialogue and Proclamation:

In the context of religious plurality, dialogue means "all positive and constructive interreligious relations with individuals and communities of other faiths which are directed at mutual understanding and enrichment", in obedience to truth and respect for freedom.

Dialogue - A Proposal - By David Bohm, Donald Factor and Peter Garrett

Dialogue, as we are choosing to use the word, is a way of exploring the roots of the many crises that face humanity today. It enables inquiry into, and understanding of, the sorts of processes that fragment and interfere with real communication between individuals, nations and even different parts of the same organization. In our modern culture men and women are able to interact with one another in many ways: they can sing dance or play together with little difficulty but their ability to talk together about subjects that matter deeply to them seems invariable to lead to dispute, division and often to violence. In our view this condition points to a deep and pervasive defect in the process of human thought.

WORD AND SILENCE IN BUDDHIST AND CHRISTIAN TRADITIONS - Second Buddhist – Christian Coloquim Concluding Statement

The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue held its second Buddhist-Christian Colloquium at the Benedictine monastery of Asirvanam in Bangalore, India, from 8 to 13 July. Eighteen persons from various countries took part, seven Buddhists and 11 Christians.

The Bangalore meeting aimed to deepen the friendship and dialogue with Buddhists which began in August 1995 at the Buddhist monastery of Fo Kuang Shan in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. On that occasion the theme was: Buddhism and Christianity: Convergences and Divergences, while the theme of the meeting in Bangalore was: Word and Silence in Buddhist and Christian Traditions. This general topic was divided further into sub-themes: Buddhist Enlightenment and Christian Revelation; Sacred Texts in the Buddhist and Christian Traditions; Meditation and Contemplation in Buddhism and in Christianity; Anatta/Sunyata and Kenosis.

Buddhism & Christianity in Dialogue - Rev. Samuel A. Trumbore

In the spirit of parables, I'd like to share another one with you about the meeting of a Zen Buddhist monk and a Trappist Christian monk on a balmy spring day with the trees leafing out and many flowers in bloom. They bowed and shook hands admiring each other's robes and discussing many points of similarity in the organization of their monastic lives. Both had taken vows of poverty. Both were celibate. Both lived in separated communities. Both had rituals they did every day. Enjoying this process of comparing their lives, they decided to explore the ideas that informed their religious orders. They found a shady bench to gain shelter from the afternoon sun and began to talk.

First the Trappist monk exclaimed, "Central to our thinking is the Trinitarian understanding of God. God is one expressed as three: The Father God from whom the Universe was created and to whom it will return; The Son who took human form to show us, the alienated creatures of God, how to restore our relationship and who gave his life to appease the Father; and the Holy Spirit who continues the Divine presence in our daily lives by making the reality of God known to us in each moment."

The Zen monk responded, "Your ideas of God are very strange to us. We do not believe in an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God. In fact we believe just the opposite. That there is nothing beyond this wheel of cause and effect.

While they couldn't agree conceptually about the structures of their religions, in that silent moment of spiritual practice, they recognized something in the other which connected them as brothers in wordless agreement.

Interfaith Dialogue a Buddhist Perspective - an Examination of Pope John Paul II's Crossing the Threshold of Hope a talk given at the Intermonastic Dialogue Gethsemani Monastery, Louisville, Kentucky July, 1996 - by Ven. Havanpola Ratanasara, Ph.D.

The Importance of Interfaith Dialogue: A Buddhist perspective

In "Crossing the Threshold of Hope," His Holiness, Pope John Paul 11, made some observations with which I, as a Buddhist, wholly agree. The Holy Father reminded us all, that "what unites us is much greater than what separates us ... It is necessary ... to rid ourselves of stereotypes, of old habits And above all, it is necessary to recognize the unity that already exists." Since all of you are already knowledgeable about the history of inter-religious dialogue, it isn't my intention to bore you by rehashing it. But I think it is worth our while to pause every now and then, to "step back" and remind ourselves just how far we've come in the last three decades. The evidence, which confirms the Pope's observation of a "unity that already exists" is most encouraging.

Formal interfaith dialogue, however, does not materialize, fully developed, out of a vacuum. It evolves gradually, in response to the needs and aspirations of the broader community of which its participants are members. The "unity that already exists," of which the Pope speaks, is the life of the community, and a tacit consensus, that "what unites us" is at least as important as "what separates us." On the other hand, this pre-existing "unity" must be recognized, and positive steps taken to build on it. No less encouraging, therefore, is the evidence that what was begun some thirty years ago continues with increasing momentum.

Dedication of Merit / Compassionate and Wise - Rev. Heng Sure

We are two monastic communities, Mahayana Buddhist and Benedictine Catholic, who have used a piece of Loreena McKennitt's music in our worship. We have recorded a song for free download called (alternately) "Dedication of Merit," and "Compassionate and Wise."

Dedication of Merit

May every living being,
Our minds as one and radiant with light,
Share the fruits of peace
With hearts of goodness, luminous and bright. If people hear and see,
How hands and hearts can find in giving, unity,
May their minds awake,
To Great Compassion, wisdom and to joy.

May kindness find reward,
May all who sorrow leave their grief and pain;
May this boundless light,
Break the darkness of their endless night.

Because our hearts are one,
This world of pain turns into Paradise,
May all become compassionate and wise,
May all become compassionate and wise.

*Special Interest:

The Gethsemani Encounter - 'Spiritual Life' - The theme of the Gethsemani Encounter in July 1996, an historic five-day meeting occurred with close to fifty Buddhist and Christian monks and nuns and other practitioners at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Trappist, Kentucky, was the 'spiritual life' in the Buddhist and Christian monastic traditions.

Monks in the West - A gathering of "Monks in the West" was first proposed at the annual meeting of the Board of Directors of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue in October 2003. Monks in the West was sponsored by the Monastic Interreligious Dialogue (MID), Institute for World Religions, City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, and Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery. The conference organizers were Catholic: Father William Skudlarek, Buddhist: Rev. Heng Sure.

"The most powerful and fundamental experience for me as I lived the three days of dialogue with my Christian and Buddhist monastic brothers was the deep sense of honesty, fraternity, mutual warmth, and depth of desire for authentic living." - Personal Reflections, Abbot Mark Serna.

Nuns in the West – Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple provided hospitality with plenty of space for our dialogue, chants, chats and exchange of views, talent and stories. The process was first the background and practice of each participant shared liesurely, then a gathering of issues, concerns, themes and hot topics. We clustered them into three themes: l) inner life of training, 2) balance of inner contemplative work and outer social engagement and 3) community and role of authority, authenticity and what's in common about the monastic way of life.


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