Buddhist Christian Conversion Formula

David, the only Taiwanese Episcopal
Bishop told me (David, the only
American Zen Abbot at breakfast),
when I asked, that there are
five things he tells Buddhists
about why they should become
Christian.

First is that people these days
love speed and that the fastest
thing in the world, faster than
the Taiwanese bullet train
that travels 350 kilometers per
hour, is pure light that travels
300,000 kilometers per second.
And faster yet is God, who is
right here the moment we call
His name.

And second is that more powerful
than the atomic bomb that
destroyed Nagasaki and fills
our hearts with fear is God’s
power – which is love and is
even stronger than this
terrible darkness.

Then there’s the fact that
God is on-call twenty-four
seven. He takes no breaks
or vacation days so whenever
we call out, He is there.

Not to mention the fourth
reason to be Christian: God
is everywhere always so
we don’t have to go anywhere
to be protected – no temple
visits required, no incense
offerings necessary, even the
clapping of hands is optional.

I wish I could remember
the fifth, because as he
spoke in these seemingly
simplistic images, I felt his
true faith and was indeed
instantly comforted by the
most wonderful God
that sparkled his eyes
and animated his heart.

There was no time to compare
notes and see if his God is also
a being with ears and hands all
over like Kanzeon, the Bodhisattva
of compassion, who behaves
in a similar manner—is reputed
to respond instantly to our calls,
and who also, as far as is discernable,
does not take vacations.

I wondered too about the possibility
of a face-to-face cosmic compassion
competition between God and Kanzeon.
I like to think they would meet
with peals of laughter and
tangle together, indiscriminately
intertwinkling like ten thousand
illuminated dust motes in
the late afternoon sun above
the dining room table—swirling
on joyous currents through vast space.

As for his own journey, David
chuckled and recounted that
as a six-year-old Buddhist, he
was invited to a Christmas party.
He didn’t want to go until he
found out there was cake and candy.

If I were in his shoes,
I would have gone too.

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Ambivalent Love Song to Things: Part Seven

Perhaps it is the
love of every thing
that lures us back
into the primordial
swamp of stardust.
Perhaps the longing
to be everything
permits only a limited
stay as something—
a short recess
from eternity—
a brief sojourn
into the fleshy
time of things.

Then, when
called, we stop
our earnest
play to head
home—though
we had rather
remain
outside riding
bikes in
uninterrupted
circles on the
dimming street.

We walk through
the doorway,
reluctant and grateful,
into that unimaginable
and familiar home
we can only
fully know
when the
darkness settles
strong and we
are gone.

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Ambivalent Love Song to Things: Part Six

Note to self:
practice gently
the small steps
of losing until
the larger dance
of dispersal
blossoms into
freedom and joy.

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Ambivalent Love Song to Things: Part Five

Every thing
is a traveler
that wants
to see every
where some
time but is
disposed to stay
for a spell,
or at least
until the desire
for dispersal
overwhelms
the inertia
of its own
thickness.

I too am
disappearing
bit by bit—
worn away—
little parts of
me leaving
immediately,
and endlessly.
Not out of malice,
but simply
obeying the gravity
of attraction
that pulls us
apart eventually
and utterly,
but not fully
just yet.

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Ambivalent Love Song to Things: Part Four

Mostly I don’t
mind how the
things of my life
seem to slowly
drift away. Sometimes
I can even hold
less tightly
and appreciate
these initial intimations
of final dissolution.
Except when
it’s my glasses
that go wandering
and the TV is slightly
blurry for days,
and when my keys
disremember their proper
place just when
I really must be
somewhere else.
Then I am once
again conscripted
into the advanced
study of groundlessness—
that wild and dangerous
freedom that threatens
to carry all things
back to all places.

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