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The Contemplative Way
James Finley, Ph.D
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Jesus and Buddha

The four noble truths embody the distilled essence the Buddha's teachings. This retreat introduces and explores each noble truth. While noting and respecting the differences between Christianity and Buddhism, an emphasis is given to four noble truths as universal principles of spiritual awakening and fulfillment. We will explore the ways in which each noble truth is present in the teachings of Jesus. The striking affinity between the Buddha's teachings and teachings of Meister Eckhart, Thomas Merton and other Christian mystics will be explored. Time will be provided for group meditation, personal reflection and discussion of the themes presented.

The topics covered in the conferences include:
  • Who was the historical Buddha? Who is the living Buddha? Who was the historical Christ? Who is the living Christ? The first noble truth: Accepting and understanding the pervasive nature of suffering and discontent in our lives. How Jesus invites us to become aware of suffering so that we might seek healing.
  • The second noble truth: Understanding that suffering arises from our desire to want life to be other than it is. By craving and aversion we perpetuate the very suffering we are trying to avoid.Jesus' teachings on discerning, obeying and trusting in God's will embodied in the unfolding circumstances and events of daily life.
  • The third noble truth of nirvana: Awakening to a deep, abiding peace and happiness in the midst of life as it really is. The Good News of the Gospel in which we awaken to the peace that surpasses understanding.
  • The fourth noble truth consists of the eightfold path along which we learn to awaken to the deep, abiding peace of nirvana in the midst of life as it is. We will see how this path consists of a daily life of love and compassion for ourselves, others and all sentient beings. Grounding this compassionate love in a commitment to daily meditation, we grow in the wisdom of finding happiness by helping others to be happy. Christ's call to a lifelong, total conversion and spiritual awakening expressed in the eight beatitudes and a life of love for God, ourselves, others and all living things.
Suggested Reading

Thich Nhat Hahn. The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching.
Walpola Rahula. What The Buddha Taught
Thomas Merton. Zen and the Birds of Appetite.
Thomas Merton. Mystics and Zen Masters.
Marcus Borg. Jesus and Buddha.

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