It has dawned on me in my contemplative experience that Jesus the Nazarene who is the cosmotheandric Christ contains within himself both Buddha-qualities and Shiva-qualities. In other words, to grow into the fullness of Christ is to grow into both Buddha-awakening and Shiva-consciousness. How so?
Direct Experience of the Personal
For me, I have come to experience the Buddha as transparent and empty; kind and gentle; cool and equanimous; clear and sharp; wise and compassionate. And I have come to experience Shiva as intense and full; warm and ferocious; passionate and engaged; unbounded and concentrated; superconscious and powerful. On the surface, the Buddha and Shiva seem to be antitheses to each other. Yet, digging deeper, I find them highly complementary and mutually enriching. In fact, what is prominent in each is also present in the other. It is a matter of manifestive priority and how each accentuates his qualities in their teaching and emancipatory personas. For example, in Buddhist Tantra, we see the Buddha manifesting his enlightened wrathful persona and form, expressing a more intense quality of vajra presence and power. Even then, wrathful Buddha forms do carry a lighter, more open, and ungraspably radiant feel as compared to Shiva’s embodied presence. In the sophisticated meditative pedagogies of Shaiva Tantra, we can also see and sense a highly cognizant and silent transparency in the being of Shiva, not unlike the empty transparency of the Buddha albeit with a denser feel.
Christ Jesus, as a historical person and meta-historical meme, remains an enigma despite 2,000 years of Christian theologizing, dogmatic preaching, and church proselytization tragically entwined with colonialist expansion and domination. Frankly, I do not think the institutionalized church gets Jesus Christ at all. But that is my opinion, which I will not elaborate upon here. Here, I want to touch on how I experience Jesus Christ as a seamless coalescence of the twin giants of human spirituality, Buddha and Shiva. Leaving aside theological and religious constructions of who Jesus Christ is, I want to delve into my personal experience of and contemplative insights into this enigmatic person. Devotional nonduality is a term I borrow from David R. Hawkins to describe my personal, immediate, and direct experience of Jesus in this mystagogical sense.
In essence, Jesus Christ is velvet and steel; emptiness and fullness; coolness and intensity; equanimity and passion; non-attachment and engagement; gentleness and strength; kindness and discernment; concentration and insight; superconsciousness and naked awareness; grace and wisdom; clarity and mystical puzzle; sharpness and softness; non-clinging and intimacy; compassion and transcendence; and poetically, blazing splendour and fathomless ocean, crackling thunderboltand sky mirror. This is my Jesus, the man from Nazareth and the cosmotheandric Christ, beyond time and space yet immanent as the totality of cosmic and human reality. In this essay, I want to explore the dialogical horizons of the Buddha and Shiva in the contextual field of Jesus Christ.
Jesus the Nazarene
Let us unpack this Jesus a little. While I may use binaries like “I” and “He” or “my” and “his,” this is more a matter of linguistic fact than an assertion of inherent dualism or dichotomy. In truth, I and Jesus are not one yet are not other than one. For both one and not-one are both assertions of inherency that contradict and oppose each other. The relationship between I and Jesus transcend such binary oppositions, speaking to the fact that neither I nor Jesus exist inherently as separate, fixed, unchanging, and isolated entities. Rather, I and Jesus are both imputedly existing by way of language and conception and thus essentially empty of inherency. Bear this in mind as we continue to read this essay.
Like the Buddha, my Jesus exudes a transparent presence of peace and serenity that is unshakeable. This is owing to his unexcelled realization of the unconditioned, nibbāna, that is timeless and spaceless open unknowing. As such, his freedom is unassailable and his enactment of suchness (tathata) is seamless. Jesus has no ego agendas and inner poison drives that can stain or corrupt his pristine being. He is utterly cool and relinquished with defilements erased without remainder. Like the Buddha, my Jesus is fully aware of how things appear and fully awake to the way things are, perceiving both ultimate and relative reality with Buddha-eyes and Buddha-heart of altruistic compassion. Jesus skillfully and artfully adopts diverse pedagogies to teach, guide, enlighten, and convict sentient beings to a radically different way of being and doing he calls the “kingdom of heaven.” Jesus, like the Buddha, is serene and equanimous in the face of his bitter enemies who seek to disparage, condemn, criminally convict, slander against, torture, beat, spit on, and finally crucify him. He shows Buddha-like compassion and magnanimity in freely forgiving his persecutors, torturers, and murderers.
Like Shiva, my Jesus is no pushover. He emanates an aura of passionate intensity and strength that stems from the Beyond. Jesus sees himself not as an independent entity operating apart from God but as Son to God whom he calls his Father. The term “Son” implies intimate kinship, if not union, in a position of highest importance. Jesus’s self-description strongly suggests nonduality between himself and his Father. He engages with people from across tribal, social, and moralistic divisions to share his message and activity of selfless love with them. Like Shiva, my Jesus pours himself into every situation and pours out his passionate love for the lost, the least, and the last without holding anything back. Jesus enters undauntedly into the deep cavern of misery and trauma of his people whom he loves unreservedly — the woman caught in adultery, the tax collector despised by all, the Roman centurion with power and authority but hiding deep angst and anguish in his heart, the outcaste leper deprived of human touch, and the despairing paralyzed man who yearned for healing beside a magical pool without success for decades. And he heals them, bringing them comfort and succour by the touch of his immense compassion and the vibrancy of his life-giving power. Jesus is such a wild electrifying Tantrika that he could even resurrect a human being (Lazarus) from the dead.
Without delving into Christ from Buddhological and Shivological perspectives in this essay, suffice to say that I remain deeply moved by my ancestral source teachers, the Buddha and Adiyogi Shiva. For me, they are exceptional human beings who are pre-incarnate Christophanies or divine appearances of Christ. They both deserve my utmost veneration as refractions of Christ. For more in-depth examination of the Buddhological and Shivological Christ, readers may refer to the Special Advent Issue of ACCT Review available upon request. But Christ is my Supreme Shelter and Supercognizance who Alone in his ineffable aloneness is Alpha and Omega of all that was, and is, and is to come. Amen.