与台湾出家人谈话 A Talk with a Taiwan Monk

Two years ago while visiting my wife’s family in central Taiwan, I had an interesting talk with a monk (chujiaren) who lives in a small community nearby whom I met by accident walking on a country road up into the hills near some farms and tea plantations. He broke away to the monk life three years ago. He told me that meditation brings him much happiness and like many kinds of recreation such as singing, dancing and hanging out with friends, brings happiness as a kind of relaxation but is inner rather than outer directed. He talked a long time about the God of the Old Testament saying that as a Buddhist he found it very hard to understand how God could wipe out life on a whim as well as create it, and some instances of executing people for failing to keep some religious observances. “How could someone believe in such a mean god?” he asked.

When I mentioned that some Christian theologians would say happiness is being in the presence of God, he commented that he believes that all people have this valuable divine nature within themselves, adding that he does not believe in God, although among many of the followers of Buddhism believe in God. He said that he found the figure of Christ exceptional in that he knew he was the son of God — actually said the monk, we all are. He said that quiet concentration of all the six senses as well as relaxation is essential for meditation. He said his community does not use Internet leads to distraction and scattered thinking. Some interesting thoughts, some possibly contradictory because of my incomplete understanding but ‘fascinating’ as Mr. Spock might have said.

A Taiwan website goes into the God issue in Buddhism. Don’t know how this might vary and it probably does. This web page says no creator God but a hierarchy of spirits — perhaps like a bureaucratic hierarchy — all subject to Buddhist Law. So Buddhists do not worship a God or gods.
http://www.fomen123.com/fo/fojiao/yuzhou/9571.html

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About 高大伟 David Cowhig

Worked 25 years as a US State Department Foreign Service Officer including ten years at US Embassy Beijing and US Consulate General Chengdu and four years as a China Analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Before State I translated Japanese and Chinese scientific and technical books and articles into English freelance for six years. Before that I taught English at Tunghai University in Taiwan for three years. And before that I worked two summers on Norwegian farms, milking cows and feeding chickens.
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