One perennial puzzle I’ve been processing is the obvious chasm I see and sense between my Dhamma teachers and Christian pastors and leaders I’ve met in my life.
After the past eight years of being a believer, and having experienced church in a variety of settings, I have come to the sad conclusion that the fruit of the Spirit seems so rare if not absent in the pastors and leaders I’ve met. This is in stark contrast to my dear Dhamma teachers who so clearly demonstrate in their lives and actions the immaculate qualities of a spiritually developed mind and heart.
For all the biblical talk on love and wisdom, these qualities seem so rarely seen, if at all. Pastoral presence was hardly substantial or inspiring. If anything, one of my pastors was positively abusive. There was so much frenzy and busyness, loud admonitions and calls to be holy or to serve, so much ego and pride and so little stillness, clarity, openness, peace and selflessness. There was little to no evidence of sanctification by the Spirit. From their behaviour, I can only surmise that pastoral inner life is shallow and impoverished. Of course, I might be wrong but I doubt it.
My tentative conclusion is this: the church is sorely lacking in spiritual formation of the deep and profound kind. There is much talk but no contemplation. There is much outer glossy evangelism but little inner meditative presence. There is fixation on metrics and performance but no focus on mind transformation. There is ambition of charismatic displays but no love of silence and solitude. There is obsession with verbal and written words and fear of deep inner stillness beyond words. Dogmatic arrogance trumps spiritual humility, which obstructs learning from outside the intellectual and spiritual confines of the institutional church.
The puzzling question remains: why is it that those who profess to be Christians indwelt by the Holy Spirit so rarely if ever display fruit of the Spirit, when those who are ostensibly non-believing Dhamma teachers are so brimming full of the same?
With Awarezen, Asian Centre for Creative Theology, and Quiet Fellowship in Christ, I hope to change that. No great exploits. No huge fanfare. Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Little by little is the mission accomplished. God willing. In Christ.