THINKING GLOBALLY : BUDDHIST CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY AND ETHICH IN HONOR OF DAVID CHAPPELL

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On December 8, 1996, David Chappell delivered the Bodhi Day lecture,titled  “Bodhisattva in the Twenty-first Century,”at the Hompa Hongwanji Temple in central Oahu. The lecture wasn’t autobiographical-David was much too unassuming to have thought of himself in these terms-but those of us who loved David and who had the privilege of working with him over many years have no such qualms.David’s dedication,sincerity of spirit, generosity,and compassion were truly bodhisattva-like

In his lecture David contrasts the superficial,elrctronic Interner connectednseeof our lives today with the cmmon ground discovered at Awakening based on what David called “heart connection,”an insight into the shared nature of all sentient beings that leads to empathy,compassion, and kindness. Incontrast to enlightened heart connectednsee,Internet interaction lacks the capacity of an intimacy with the varied phenomena of life at each moment,”The Internet,”he observes,”allows us to ease our solitude by getting access to thing that are compatible with our own interests However, Buddhism considers that the achievement of enlightenment involves being able to be compatible and have empathy with things that may seem foreign or offensive or a threat to us by seeing them as connected and similar to ourselves. This involves not just new information, or a new peroective onthing,but a new under standing of ourselves and our relationship to other at a level that touches what is beyond manipulation or even rational expression.

I’ve quoted rather extensively from David’s 1996 Bodhi Day talk because it reveals several dimantions of his bodisattva-like nature his sense of connectedness with those around him and a heart-to-heart intimacy with a wide network of friends, acquaintances, and even those at a greater personal distance. David’s simpatico nature was manifestedin many ways-from his body language to his dedication to peacemaking.

On a visit to the United States during the Vietnam War Thich Nhat Hanh was speaking to a large  audience gathered in the auditorium of  a large Midwestern church. Following the talk a middle-ged man jumped to his feet,shook his clenched first in anger,and shouted in a loud voice, “Well,Mr.Hanh, if you’re so concerned about your fellow Vietnamses dying in the rice paddies, why are here?! Why aren’t you there with them?!” thay stood silently for what seemed like minutes and then replied in calm,quiet tones “I’m here because some  of the  roots of the war the  here in the United States. When one waters a plant, it’s insufficient to water the leaves.

 

 

 

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