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January, 2004 Edition

Discerning the Holy Spirit in Encounter with Buddhism

Elizabeth J. Harris

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Introduction
When I was in Japan in 1998 I went to the Sanjusangen-do (The Hall of thirty three bays) in Kyoto. It was a temple dedicated to the bodhisattva Kannon and dated back to 1164. A bodhisattva, in the Buddhist worldview, is a being who has vowed, out of compassion, not to move beyond the world of birth and rebirth until every being has found liberation. And Kannon or Kwan Yin, who is sometimes male, but most often female, is particularly important, as an embodiment of absolute compassion. In Tibet, she becomes the male Avalokite0vara. That Hall of thirty three bays was filled with 1001 images of Kannon. In the centre was a seated image. Surrounding it, stretched 1000 standing images, covered in gold leaf, each with twenty pairs of arms, each pair of which is believed to save twenty five worlds. As one enters the hall the images stretch as far as the eyes can see, heads framed with a halo-like structure.

This is what I wrote soon afterwards for a Buddhist journal published in Japan:

It seemed to me as though the mind which had devised the hall had asked, ‘How can the depth, breadth and height of the compassion at the heart of the many worlds within our universe be conveyed?’ The effect this had on me is hard to describe. I was filled with peace and gratitude. For some visitors the hall was simply a museum. For me, it was a profound statement of faith and insight.2

I was sure that image hall was attempting to portray compassion at the heart of the universe, compassion reaching into every part of the cosmos, leaving nothing untouched, a vision that lies at the heart of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition. And, with my Methodist, conditioning, I was reminded of the hymns of Charles Wesley, not only the one echoed in the words I wrote about the temple,3 but others as well.4

Overflowing compassion and overflowing love or grace are concepts that touch, that reach out towards each other, from two very different religions. In the New Testament of the Bible, both qualities are linked with the Holy Spirit, compassion as a gift of the Holy Spirit, love as a fruit.5 Can Christians, therefore, leap across religious world-views to say that the Holy Spirit is actively present in Buddhism or that Kannon, as embodiment of compassion, can teach Christians about the Holy Spirit? Only with great caution, I believe. For a religion is a complex entity. Its diverse parts are interconnected. They form a “web” of meaning, rather than a box of assortments. To extract one segment of that web and compare it with one segment of that which informs another religion risks doing an injustice to both religions through ripping the elements compared out of their context. Likewise, to use part of the “web” of one’s own religion to try to make sense of other religions, or make them acceptable, is also risky, although most people of faith do it. It can lead to distortion and misappropriation, a non-seeing of those aspects within the ‘other’ that have no direct parallel to one’s own faith.

So I tackle the question of the Holy Spirit and Buddhism with hesitation and personal apologetic. My encounter with Buddhism over the last twenty years has not been through theology. I have studied it through its own categories, with Buddhists as my teachers and mentors, mainly in Sri Lanka and other Theravada Buddhist countries. Inevitably, my own Christian conditioning informed this process, but I like to think that it was in what the Sri Lankan Jesuit theologian, Aloysius Pieris, has called a symbiotic way, a way that allows religions in their total integrity to shed light on one another, by further articulating meanings already present in each.6
In this article, therefore, I shall seek to reflect on three questions in the light of my experience of Theravada Buddhism:

  1. Is there anything akin to the Christian doctrine of the Holy Spirit in Buddhism? – a phenomenological question.
  2. Can the work of the Holy Spirit be seen in Buddhism and Buddhists? – a confessional and theological question.
  3. What light can Buddhism shed on the Christian doctrine of the Holy Spirit? – a question that seeks a symbiotic relationship between religions.

A Concept of the Holy Spirit in Buddhism?
If the concept of the Holy Spirit is seen as inseparable from the concept of a creating and sustaining God, the answer must be, “No” to my first question. For Buddhism is a non-theistic religion. There are innumerable gods, but they lie below the Buddha and certainly have no creating function. In the Theravada tradition, there are canonical texts that actually link belief in an all-knowing divine creator with delusion. In the Kevaddha Sutta, for instance, the Buddha tells the story of a monk who seeks an answer to the question, “Where now do these four great elements – earth, water, fire and wind – pass away?” Through working himself into an ecstatic trance, the monk in the story is able to reach the worlds of the gods. In each world, he asks his question and is passed on to the next level for an answer. At last he is told to go to the highest world of the gods, the abode of Brahma, who is described as, “the Conqueror, the Unconquered, the All-seeing, All-powerful, the Lord, the Maker and Creator, the Ruler, Appointer and Orderer….” He does so. Brahma is surrounded by his retinue and avoids answering the question in public. He eventually takes the questioner aside and says that he does not know the answer and that there is only one person who does: the Buddha. When the question is then put to the Buddha, the answer does not refer to metaphysics but to the purified mind of the one who has gained freedom from greed, hatred and delusion, and therefore from rebirth.

It must be remembered that the Kevaddha Sutta was commenting on the brahminical strand of religion in 5th century BCE India. It was not commenting on contemporary Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity or Islam. But there is no mistaking the message: the concept of a creating God is irrelevant to the most important task humans can undertake: plucking out greed, hatred and delusion from the heart and mind so that the elements that constitute samsara, the round of birth and rebirth have no foothold. And most Buddhists today would agree with this.

Let me move to one of the metaphorical images of the Holy Spirit – fire. As with the idea of a creating God, there is again dissonance rather than resonance. Fire in the New Testament is linked with destruction, judgement and hell.8 Yet, it is also equated with the positive. To be baptized by Jesus, according to the gospel writer, Matthew, is to be baptized “with the Holy Spirit and fire.”9 On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit comes to the disciples as tongues of fire, and, according to the writer of one of the letters in the New Testament, God is a “consuming fire.”10 In contrast, listen to this passage from the Theravada Canon:

Bhikkhus, all is burning. And what, bhikkhus, is the all that is burning? The eye is burning, forms are burning, eye-consciousness is burning, eye-contact is burning, and whatever feeling arises with eye-contact as condition - whether pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant – that too is burning. Burning with what? Burning with the fire of lust, with the fire of hatred, with the fire of delusion; burning with birth, ageing, and death; with sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair.11

Here fire is linked with that which binds us to ignorance and non-seeing, non-discernment. It is a synonym for the egotistical craving that Buddhism identifies as the major cause of suffering and rebirth. To be cooled is the metaphorical antidote. One who is cool is the one who is worthy of respect and a deep pool rather than fire would be a relevant metaphor.12 The images of vibrant, fiery energy present in some accounts of the Holy Spirit’s work are simply not present in Buddhism.

Therefore, if we are looking for similarities in metaphorical idiom or an inseparable link between Spirit and creating God, there would seem to be no parallel to the Holy Spirit in Buddhism. Does this question, therefore, bring us to a dead end? Not exactly, as the following suggests:

Everyone has the Buddha Nature. I can quote the Buddha – the Truth is there, the Dhamma is there whether the Buddha is born or not. And the Buddha is anyone who can transform himself, herself, from a selfish being to a selfless being. That is how a person awakes. Once he or she awakes then knowledge becomes understanding and understanding becomes love.13

That was Sulak Sivaraksa, veteran socially engaged Buddhist from Siam – he avoids calling his home Thailand. In Mahayana Buddhism, the Buddhism that developed in India several centuries after the Buddha’s death and then spread north to China, Japan, Vietnam and eventually Tibet, the view arose that each of us has within us the mind of the Buddha, the mind of enlightenment. It is not a gift from an outside power. It is simply there as part of the human being. The task is to uncover this, to realise it. Sulak, although a Theravada Buddhist, was drawing on this. One could argue that it touches the Christian concept of the indwelling spirit, the indwelling potential for the holy.

My preference, however, is not to pursue the first question much further. More important for the Christian than looking for a duplication of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit in other faiths are, I believe, my second and third questions.

Can the work of the Holy Spirit be seen in Buddhism?
Important to me is that the Bible offers multiple witnesses to what Christians call the Holy Spirit. Metaphorically the Spirit in the Bible is fire, water and wind. It creates, regenerates, transforms, makes the desert fertile, completes, equips, strengthens, liberates, reveals Truth, and gives wisdom and peace. In these modes it is more like a verb than a noun. But it also “is.” It is creative force, Truth, Wisdom and Peace.14 The answer to my second question must take into account the sheer scope of this picture. I intend to look at the question through two lenses: the Spirit as a force that breaks into a situation with inspiration and urgency;15 the Spirit’s presence as producing the fruits mentioned in Galatians chapter 5.

With the enlightenment experience of the Buddha and his subsequent teaching mission, over forty years long, I believe that a new energy most certainly entered the Indian religious scene. Nineteenth-century orientalists were fascinated by the idea of the Buddha as a reformer of Brahmanism. Strictly speaking, though, he was not. A reformer of a tradition usually works from within, or begins from within, the tradition. The Buddha was not part of Brahmanism. He was in a dialogical relationship with it as a member of the samana tradition in India, the renunciant tradition from which both Buddhism and Jainism grew. It was through this dialogical relationship that the new broke in, as Brahmanism and other samana traditions in turn responded to the Buddha and changed because of him.

The Buddha’s basic message can be summed up as, “One thing only do I teach: suffering and the cessation of suffering.”16 It presented listeners with several social and religious challenges. I will mention just two: one to the caste structure and one to religious ritual and sacrifice.
Some Buddhist communities today, those in Sri Lanka for example, are not free of caste distinctions. But the evidence in the Theravada Canon that the Buddha’s initial message challenged caste consciousness is overwhelming. Numerous canonical discourses could be cited in illustration. The Assalayana Sutta, for instance, shows a young Brahmin, Assalayana, approaching the Buddha to contest the Buddha’s view that all castes were potentially pure.17 The Buddha is seen to offer examples rooted in the Law of Kamma, the Law of Action. He asks questions such as, “What would a Brahmin who killed living beings suffer after death? What would a merchant who did the same suffer? Would the brahmin’s birth save him from hell? Would the merchant’s? Is it only a Brahmin that can develop a mind of loving kindness? Is it only a Brahmin that can take a loofah and bath powder and go the river and wash?” Example after example is piled on to prove that it is a person’s deeds that are important, not birth. And Assal1yana is led by rational argument into supporting the view that both good and bad, purity and corruption, are found in all the castes.

A similar method was taken in mounting my second example of challenge. “Can washing in a river make you pure?” “Can ritual prayers be salvific?” “Should animals be sacrificed for religious reasons?” the Buddha was asked, according to the Theravada canon. The Buddha is shown answering, “No.” Only ethical living and mental culture could purify the person or ensure liberation. There is a section in the Samyutta Nikaya of the Theravada canon in which a Brahmin practice of directing a person upwards to heaven through prayers and praises is mentioned. The Buddha is asked whether this could work for someone who has broken precepts such as destroying life or taking what is not given and he gives this simile:

Suppose, headman, a person would hurl a huge boulder into a deep pool of water. Then a great crowd of people would come together and assemble around it, and they would send up prayers and recite praises and circumambulate it making reverential salutations, saying, “Emerge good boulder! Rise up, good boulder! Come up on high ground, good boulder!’” What do you think, headman? Because of the prayers of the great crowd of people, because of their praise, because they circumambulate it making reverential salutations, would that boulder emerge, rise up, and come up on high ground?18

Further examples could be taken, including an important discourse that shows the Buddha urging a ruler to tackle lawlessness in his realm through improving the social and economic wellbeing of the people rather than offering a sacrifice.19

Could Christians conclude that this was the work of the Holy Spirit? Could they affirm that before the Common Era, before Jesus Christ, the Spirit was active in challenging injustices through the Buddha? I have little difficulty in answering, “Yes.”

I turn now to the fruits of the Spirit. The letter to the Galatians in the New Testament of the Bible itemises the fruits of the Spirit as: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control20 and goes on to plead, “Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.”21

It would be tedious for me to go through each of these ‘fruits’ and find parallels in Buddhism. It could be done but I will restrict my examples. As I have previously emphasised, the key spiritual task outlined by the Buddha was the uprooting of greed, hatred and illusion (lobha, dosa and moha) from the mind and heart. In this process, developing the opposites of greed, hatred and delusion is central: non-greed or renunciation of acquisitiveness; non-hatred or, in its positive form, altruistic love; and wisdom. What is most significant is that the fruits of this practice, as described in the Theravada texts, are almost identical to those mentioned in Galatians, even to the last sentence concerning competition. For, in the Theravada Buddhist worldview, m1na, pride or conceit, the tendency to measure oneself against others, is seen as one of the principal obstacles to enlightenment. It is one of the ten fetters (samyojana) binding beings to existence and one of the most difficult to eradicate.

The brahmaviharas or divine abidings can be used as one illustration of this rapprochement. These are four qualities that most Buddhists see as foundational to their spiritual life: loving kindness (metta); compassion (karuna); sympathetic or appreciative joy (mudita); and equanimity (upekkha).22 Metta can best be illustrated by one sentence that comes from an ancient Theravada text, the Metta Sutta:

Just as a mother would protect her only child at the risk of her own life, even so, cultivate a boundless heart towards all beings.23

Compassion is seen as both an attitude of mind and a form of action that cuts through and destroys suffering in others.24 As for mudita, I can do no better than to quote the words of a Sri Lankan Buddhist teacher of mine:

When your neighbour’s son has come out with first-class honours whilst your own son has failed the BA, can you rejoice over that? Mudita is that. It is the ability to appreciate and rejoice over the greatness of others.25

Upekkha points to the mind that perceives clearly, that is not torn by greed and hatred, attachment and aversion, that can evaluate data without relating everything to self, a quality of mind revered by Christian mystics also.

A study of the Brahmaviharas alone would suggest that what Christians would call the fruits of the Spirit are present in Buddhism. And again Christians can ask: does that mean that, from a Christian point of view, the Spirit of God or the Spirit of Jesus is wholly present in Buddhism, a non-theistic religion? This question would not be relevant to Buddhists, but Christians must ask it if they are to develop a responsible theology that takes religious plurality seriously.

What light can Buddhism shed on the Christian doctrine of the Holy Spirit?
To reflect on my last question is not an easy task. Only one example will be possible out of what I believe are many possible avenues of exploration. It is an example of the Buddhist tradition, from within its own integrity, throwing light on meanings present in the Christian tradition but often overlooked. It concerns the dynamics of the task termed “self-control” in most translations of the list of “fruits” in Galatians. In our contemporary postmodern world, self-control has negative spin value. Christians become the “No” brigade, who repress choice and stifle individual freedom. In the nineteenth century, exactly the same caricature was projected onto Buddhism by Christian orientalists. For example, in the 1830s, one British civil servant in Sri Lanka translated a core verse from the Dhammapada, an ancient and well-known Buddhist text, as: “Abstain from all sin, acquire all virtue, repress thine own heart.”26

The Dhammapada verse in Pali is this: Sabbapapassa akaranam, kusalassa upasampada, Sacittapariyodapanam etam buddhana sasanam. It is the verb pariyodapeti that has been translated as “to repress.” The etymological meaning of the word, however, is to cleanse or to purify. It comes from the word odata, meaning clean, white, pure. To cleanse became under the orientalist pen, to repress, a movement that echoes what those outside Christianity have projected onto Christian practice.

Can Buddhists help Christians to unravel what self-control really means? I believe they can, but only if Christians shed two preconceptions. The first stems from Victorian optimism: that the mind and heart are easily directed if the right beliefs are held and moral discipline maintained. Some charismatic groups formulate it in another way: that qualities such as wisdom and compassion will follow an inflowing of the Holy Spirit automatically. The second is that anything to do with the Greek word, gnosis, signifiying liberative knowledge, is antipathetic to a gospel of grace. For what Buddhists can give Christians concerns what self-understanding involves, the self-understanding that can lead to purifying the heart and mind – a concept, I believe, that is an ally of St Paul’s “self-control.”

History has shown that not all Christians who have claimed to have been led by the Holy Spirit have been discerning, compassionate or Christ-like. In fact, the history of Christianity is strewn with the brutal, the arrogant and the unloving. I would suggest this is because Christians have resisted the hard, painful work of uncovering the hidden greeds and prejudices, the conditioned reactions of aversion and attachment that mould the perceptions of us all. The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola recognized this. A 20th Century guide to the Exercises, for instance, stresses that those making an important decision need:

An understanding of what it means to be spiritually free; an understanding of the necessity for coming to equilibrium, to indifference before I can discover what the Lord is calling me to.

As I discover any disordered attachment involved in this decision I pray for the opposite.27

The language used touches the Buddhist emphasis on upekkha, equanimity. Admittedly, it is placed in a theistic context that is different from the Buddhist. A later piece of advice is that this spiritual freedom is given by God, not worked for.28 But the Ignatian tradition does recognize that the Christian path involves coming to an understanding of our minds and hearts.

Buddhists would say this is the work of meditation. And again there have been translation difficulties. At least two Pali words have been translated as meditation: bhavana and samadhi. The first comes from the verb bhaveti which literally means “to make, to become;” the second means concentration or one-pointedness. Both imply vigorous activity. The Buddhist meditation that I have come to value is activity that helps us to understand our minds and hearts, that helps us to see into our conditioned reactions, through what some Buddhist teachers have called, “bare attention”.29 In silence what arises in the mind and heart, and within the body, is watched and noted, but not clung to or judged. Permission for anything to arise from repressed depths is given. And eventually ‘attention’ brings understanding and understanding brings transformation, as conditioned reactions lose their power. This is how one of my meditation teachers, Godwin Samaratne, put it – and I use material gained in an interview in 1995, since published in my book, What Buddhists Believe:

In the context of mindfulness, a conditioned mind reacts mechanically, habitually and one may neither know it nor be conscious of it. Human beings are conditioned by their culture, by childhood experiences, by the teachings they have been exposed to. With such a reactive mind, as it is said in the dhamma, the result is the experience of suffering. So, in the context of meditation, it is really important to realize and come to know these conditionings, in whatever form they arise. The first step is to acknowledge them, to know how one is conditioned and how a conditioned mind functions and then, through that understanding, to develop insight…..

This then is the start of what Buddhism may be able to offer Christianity. Many Buddhists would go much further urging us to develop the mindfulness that can, at every moment, recognize the arising of greed, hatred and delusion.

In teaching Christians this, Buddhists will not be bringing into Christianity that which is completely new. For it can help us to recover the awareness that there is a two-fold movement surrounding “self-control” or purification: that which comes from absolute openness to the work of the Holy Spirit as inflowing energy; and that which flows from nurturing self-understanding through introspection, through the work that we have to do for ourselves. And surely the Holy Spirit can be within this too, as indwelling Spirit, pushing us towards what John Wesley would call, “perfection.”

Conclusion
My respect for the integrity of the Buddhist worldview and my conviction that face-to face Buddhist-Christian encounter is vitally important leaves me feeling uneasy with my first two questions. For there is more to encountering Buddhism than seeking either for an equivalent to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit or for evidence of the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit mentioned in the New Testament. What excites me far more is how one religious tradition, from within its own world-view, can throw light on and challenge another. And this process is not simply good in itself. It must be instrumental – instrumental to furthering what Christians would call the Kingdom of God, the bringing about of a world where women and men are not bound by chains of injustice, where our own greed does not threaten the future of our planet, where renunciation of selfishness leads to liberation for all. Such a world would embody what Christians call the Holy Spirit and I believe the task of bringing it to birth is more important than controversy over credal statements or right belief.

NOTES

  1. This is a shortened version of a paper given at the conference ‘Yr Ysbryd: the Spirit in a World of Many Faiths’, 14-17 July 2003, University of Wales, UK.
  2. The visit to Japan had been arranged by the International Interfaith Centre in Oxford, at the invitation of Rissho Kosei Kai. Afterwards I was invited to write for Rissho Kosei Kai’s journal, Dharma World, and used this experience. See, Dharma World, Vol. 25, Nov/Dec 1998, pp. 7-10, here p. 7.
  3. ’What shall I do my God to love, My loving God to praise, The length, and breadth, and height to prove, And depth of sovereign grace’ (Hymns and Psalms: A Methodist and Ecumenical Hymn Book, London, Methodist Publishing House, 1983, No. 46).
  4. For example Hymns and Psalms, Hymn No. 48, verse 4 of which speaks of the ‘streams’ of God’s love reaching the whole of creation.
  5. See Romans 12: 8 where compassion is linked with the gifts of grace and Galatians 5: 22 where love is the first-mentioned fruit of the Spirit.
  6. Aloysius Pieris first articulated a typology to replace exclusivism, inclusivism and pluralism that included the concept of symbiosis in “Theology of Religions: an Asian Paradigm” in Horizons, Vol. 20. No. 1 (1993), pp. 106-114 (later re-published as “Interreligious Dialogue and Theology of Religions: an Asian Paradigm” in his Fire and Water: Basic Issues in Asian Buddhism and Christianity, Maryknoll, Orbis, 1996, pp. 154-161). Pieris has re-applied the typology to the cross-reading of scriptures in the paper mentioned in footnote 6.
  7. Kevaddha Sutta, Digha Nikaya: 220 (translation taken from trans. Maurice Walsh, The Long Discourses of the Buddha, Kandy, Buddhist Publication Society, 1996, p. 178).
  8. See for example Matthew 3: 10 (Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire); Matthew 18:9; Luke 3: 17 (but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire); John 15: 6 (Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into fire, and burned).
  9. Matthew 3: 11.
  10. Acts 2: 2-3 and Hebrews 12: 29.
  11. From the Salayatanasamyutta, Samyutta Nikaya, Part IV 28 (6) (translation from trans. Bhikkhu Bodhi, The Connected Discourses of the Buddhas, Boston, Wisdom Publications, 2002, p. 1143.
  12. See for example Dhammapada verse 82: Just as a deep pool is calm and clear, so, hearing the teachings, learned men are calm’ ( transl. K.R. Norman, The Word of the Doctrine, Oxford, Pali Text Society, 1997, p. 12).
  13. Sulak Sivaraksa quote in: Elizabeth J. Harris, What Buddhists Believe, Oxford: Oneworld, 2001 (2nd edition), p. 32.
  14. I am indebted to the Kirsteen Kim for broadening my awareness of the breadth of biblical references on this.
  15. I am indebted to Dr. Israel Selvanayagam for suggesting I look at this theme.
  16. This is a shortened form of the Four Noble Truths. In the Culamalunkya Sutta, the Buddha is recorded as saying, “And what have I declared? ‘This is suffering’ – I have declared. ‘This is the origin of suffering’ - I have declared. ‘This is the cessation of suffering’ - I have declared. ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering’ - I have declared.” (Majjhima Nikaya Vol. II: 432, The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, Wisdom Publications, 1995, p.536).
  17. Assalayana Sutta, Majjhima Nikaya, Vol. II, 147, (Nanamoli and Bodhi, 1995, p. 763).
  18. Gamanisamyutta, Samyutta Nikaya, Part 1V, VIII, 6, (Bhikkhu Bodhi transl. The Connected Discourses o f the Buddha, Boston, Wisdom Publications, 2000, p. 1337).
  19. See the Kutadanta Sutta, Samyutta Nikaya, Part IV, VIII, 6, (Bhikkhu Bodhi trans. The Connected Discourse of the Buddha, Boston, Wisdom Publications, 2000, p. 1337).
  20. Galatians 5: 22-23.
  21. Galatians 5: 26.
  22. The qualities are itemised in the Tevijja Sutta, Digha Nikaya, Vol. I. 235-252. See particularly paragraphs 250-252.
  23. Metta Sutta, Sutta Nipata: 143 -152, here verse 149.
  24. Bhadantacariya Buddhaghosa, who travelled from India to Sri Lanka in the 5th Century C.E., and became one of the most famous interpreters of Theravada Buddhism, wrote this of karuna (compassion): ‘When there is suffering in others it causes good people’s hearts to be moved, thus it is compassion. Or alternatively, it combats other’s suffering, attacks and demolishes it, thus it is compassion. Or, alternatively, it is scattered upon those who suffer, it is extended to them by pervasion, thus it is compassion.’ (The Path of Purification, Bhikkhu Nanamoli (transl.), Kandy, Sri Lanka, Buddhist Publication Society, 1991: 310 (IX, 92).
  25. Ven. Professor Dhammavihari as quoted in: Elizabeth J. Harris, What Buddhists Believe, Oxford, Oneworld, 2000, pp. 53-54.
  26. This version appears in a translation by the British civil servant Andrew Armour, for the 1835 Ceylon Almanac of a treatise on Buddhism written by Ven.. Kitalagama Devamitta, a Sri Lankan Buddhist monk.
  27. J Veltri s.j,, Orientations: a collection of helps for prayer, Vol. I, Loyola House, Guelph, Ontario, 1979, p. 99.
  28. ibid., p. 99.
  29. One of the best accounts can be found in ‘The Power of Mindfulness’, by Ven. Nyanaponika, republished in The Vision of the Dhamma: Buddhist Writings of Nyanaponika Thera, Bhikkhu Bodhi (ed.), Rider, 1986, pp 69-116.

Dr Elizabeth Harris is the national Secretary for Inter-faith Relations, Methodist Church, UK and the author of several books and articles on Buddhism and Buddhist-Christian Relations.


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