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Exploring Other Traditions
Q: I am a Christian contemplative, but find myself increasingly drawn to Buddhist meditation, but am afraid that I am deserting God as there is no emphasis on God in this Atisha Kadampa school. Would it be advisable to attend these classes or do you think it may harm my Christian walk?
A: Thank you for your question and your concern, “Do you think it will harm my Christian walk?” You are very wise to ask yourself this question. Thomas Keating teaches, “In Christianity, motivation is everything.” It all depends on how committed you are to your relationship with Jesus Christ. Is He the one? Or one of many? The fact you identify as a "Christian contemplative" gives me a sense that you already have a strong relationship with Christ. If this is the case, I have found that experiencing another tradition and returning to your own often enriches what you already believe - you start to see and hear your own tradition with new eyes and ears. A friend of mine who has studied other traditions says, “There is a whole deeper dimension to all I believe and worship.”
This could be applied to your experience in the Atisha Kadampa school. Questions will surface, curiosity will be stirred and the Spirit will keep working within you. I would encourage you to walk this path with a Christian companion knowledgeable with eastern religions. And remember that all prayer is relationship, so keep your relationship growing through your daily prayer practices.
In The Better Part: Stages of Contemplative Living, Fr. Keating affirms, "It is important … to be aware … that the Holy Spirit is at work in [those in non-Christian traditions] ... like the spokes of a wheel, all paths to God tend to come closer to each other as they come closer to God, who is the center and source of them all."
These other Q&A exchanges are related and may be of interest to you:
Let me know how it goes for you. – Blessings, Fr. Carl