A New Book on Christian Zen by a Jesuit Priest

October 19, 2008 by  
Filed under Christian Zen, Reuben L.F. Habito

I’m a sucker for Christian Zen.  While I ultimately think the yogic techniques of meditation are more systematic and useful for advanced meditators, the simplicity and power of Zen (and early Ch’an teaching) probably explain why so many Christian seekers are drawn to Zen practice.  For years, there were only a handful of guides to walking “the razor’s edge” of Christian Zen, but recently there has been an explosion of new books about Christians who have studied Zen in depth — and lived to tell the tale.

One book I am reading right now is Reuben L.F. Habito’s marvelous Living Zen, Loving God. A Filipino Jesuit priest who has studied Zen since 1971, Habito’s book has a fresh, nonchalant perspective on Zen not seen since perhaps William Johnston’s classic book published more than 30 years ago. 

I found Habito’s ability to integrate Zen practice with his Christian faith to be particularly enlightening, if I may use such a word.  As Habito’s describes them, the Four Vows of the Boddhisattva — the desire to seek the liberation of all sentient beings even before that of oneself — can easily be harmonized with the Christian initiate’s vow to put the will of God before one’s own desires. 

“Be it done unto me according to His will,” as the Blessed Virgin Mary told the angel, in the Gospel account of the Annunciation.  “Not my will, but thine,” said Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.

A wonderful book… well worth a read.