The late Thich Nhat Hanh was one of the great souls of our time. We have all been blessed to share this planet with him. He did not lead an easy life and faced opposition from his own religious order as well as from politicians in his country, both North and South. He lived in exile from his own country and even religious order for much of his life.
But he did not wallow in self-pity or despair or “woe is me” attitudes or in self-recriminations. He carried on with his deep vocation to live out his commitment to Buddhist values and to share them with the world. This makes him a model for healthy manhood.
He invented the term “engaged Buddhism” which might also be called “prophetic Buddhism,” the commitment to interfere with injustice and to call it out. He sought to heal the world. “Tikkun,” the Jewish and Biblical tradition calls it.
He reached out to others in other religious traditions to do the same—including Thomas Merton and Martin Luther King, Jr.—thus demonstrating what Deep Ecumenism is about.
I devote a chapter to him called “Meister Eckhart meets Buddhism via Thich Naht Hanh” in my most recent book on Meister Eckhart. Many Buddhists have acknowledged the Buddhism present in Meister Eckhart, especially the late Dr. D. T. Suzuki who converted the Catholic monk Thomas Merton to an “engaged” or prophetic Christian spirituality by urging him to study Eckhart, a “Zen” thinker.
While TNH said he was “very excited” about the encounter of Buddhism and Christianity in the 21st century, he also called for a “very drastic change” to occur in Christianity. “If we can bring into Christianity the insight of interbeing and non-duality, we will radically transform the way people look on the Christian tradition and the valuable jewels in the Christian tradition will be rediscovered.”
This non-dualism is, of course, what the mystics like Eckhart, Julian of Norwich, Merton, Mary Oliver and others bring.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior for Our Times, p. 56.
See also, Matthew Fox, A Way to God: Thomas Merton’s Creation Spirituality Journey, pp. 26f., 37-43, 248.
To read a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Queries for Contemplation
Are you discovering the “valuable jewels” in the Christian tradition thanks to the non-dualism of the mystics? Do you see the need to to bring about a “very drastic change” in Christianity?
Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior For Our Time
While Matthew Fox recognizes that Meister Eckhart has influenced thinkers throughout history, he also wants to introduce Eckhart to today’s activists addressing contemporary crises. Toward that end, Fox creates dialogues between Eckhart and Carl Jung, Thich Nhat Hanh, Rabbi Heschel, Black Elk, Karl Marx, Rumi, Adrienne Rich, Dorothee Soelle, David Korten, Anita Roddick, Lily Yeh, M.C. Richards, and many others.
“Matthew Fox is perhaps the greatest writer on Meister Eckhart that has ever existed. (He) has successfully bridged a gap between Eckhart as a shamanistic personality and Eckhart as a post-modern mentor to the Inter-faith movement, to reveal just how cosmic Eckhart really is, and how remarkably relevant to today’s religious crisis! ” — Steven Herrmann, Author of Spiritual Democracy: The Wisdom of Early American Visionaries for the Journey Forward
A Way to God: Thomas Merton’s Creation Spirituality Journey
In A Way to God, Fox explores Merton’s pioneering work in interfaith, his essential teachings on mixing contemplation and action, and how the vision of Meister Eckhart profoundly influenced Merton in what Fox calls his Creation Spirituality journey.
“This wise and marvelous book will profoundly inspire all those who love Merton and want to know him more deeply.” — Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism
Passion for Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart
Matthew Fox’s comprehensive translation of Meister Eckhart’s sermons is a meeting of true prophets across centuries, resulting in a spirituality for the new millennium. The holiness of creation, the divine life in each person and the divine power of our creativity, our call to do justice and practice compassion–these are among Eckhart’s themes, brilliantly interpreted and explained for today’s reader.
“The most important book on mysticism in 500 years.” — Madonna Kolbenschlag, author of Kissing Sleeping Beauty Goodbye.