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Several times toward the end of Zen retreats we have made together you have asked But what does my Christianity add to my Buddhism And the answer you received was Nothing Its all going the other way right now I understand that skepticism about Christianitys adding to Buddhism Both of us know many fellow-Christians who are drawn to Buddhist practice either because of an alienation from the church or as I believe is true for ourselves because we find in the zendo something we believe we cannot find in the church I would not call myself a Buddhist even Buddhist-Christian has its difficulties Although Thich Nhat Hanh has statues of Buddha and Jesus on his altar the Dalai Lama has said that mixing Buddhism and Christianity is like trying to put a yaks head on a cows body Even Thomas Merton who did so much to foster Buddhist-Christian dialogue says in Zen and the Birds of Appetite that studied as structures as systems and religions Zen and Catholicism dont mix any better than oil and water Despite these and other cautions I believe that my efforts at Buddhist practice and my reading in Buddhist literature have subtly and significantly influenced my Christian faith--and I would say for the better In moving from church to zendo and back again I know that I have been able to respond more and more heartily to the gospel It is not that I have set up a parallel religious practice no statues of Jesus and Buddha side by side on my altar--no statues at all come to think of it but in Buddhist practice I have somehow come home in a new way to my Christian faith What I have found in the zendo is a deeper silence than I expect to find in the church at least in my lifetime As you know for Buddhists especially in the Zen tradition the first step
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