"Wheels Turning Inward" is a is a rich collection of over fifty poems, following a poet’s mythic and spiritual journey that crosses easily onto the paths of many contemplative traditions. The artwork at the top of this page, is one image found in the Gordon Moore Memorial stain glass window at Trinity Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, by the artist Kim Clark Renteria. The image of these three circles, is emblematic of both the Trinity and the title for this new collection of poetry now available from Friesen Press.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Person Who Is Awake - A Christian comments on the Dhammapada and the Psalms

The Person Who Is Awake
has conquered the world.
How can they lose the way
who are beyond the way?

Like Christ and the Buddha,
like all enlightened people,
their eyes are open and
their feet are free.

Who can follow after them?
The world will not claim them
or lead them astray,
nor the poisoned nets of desire hold them.

They are awake.  They are awake.
They find joy in the stillness of
prayer, contemplation, and meditation
and in sweet surrender to the Lord of Hosts.

They seek the highest consciousness.
They are free from fear.  They are free to live.
They live in joy and in love.
They find their joy in love.

They live in compassion and loving-kindness.
They look within and are still.
They become still to know the Lord
and are renewed with a right spirit.

They are still, and know the Lord.
They are exalted with humility.
The Lord of hosts is with them.
They find refuge in the Lord.

They are washed clean,
whiter than snow.
Their flesh and bones, once broken,
are made whole.

Behold, they have found Thy truth
in the deepest and inward places of themselves.
Through these hidden places
they have come to know Thy wisdom.

With a quiet mind
they open their hearts to compassion
feeling the joy of the Lord's way.
They are delivered.

They are saved, and sing aloud
of Thy righteousness Lord.
Their broken hearts and spirits
are healed and made whole.

They rejoice.  They rejoice.
Because they have seen the Truth
of Thy word, from the very beginning of time.
They rejoice, in seeking your pleasure Lord.

They arise. They arise.
And all about them the earth changes.
Compassion rules their actions.
Their hearts are open to one another.

They abide in love and
are known by the Lord.
They help to heal the earth
and to restore Thy people to Thy ways.

They have found that we are one.
They have discovered we are all Thy people.
They rejoice in righteousness and
offer themselves before Thy holy altar.

Thy Holy Spirit dwells once again within Thy people. 

Ron Starbuck

January 2010

I will not try to claim a proper copyright on these verses, I could not, since all are based on my interpretation of scriptures and translations taken from both the Old Testament Psalms (46, 48, 51) and the Dhammapada (14, 15, 26) one of the earliest masterpieces of Buddhist literature, ascribed to the Buddha himself.  It is surprising easy to combine verses and ideas from these two sacred scriptures.  This is essentially what I did by reading each one back and forth, which was part of the creative process.  Some verses however are completely new, ones I added, inspired you might say by the Holy Spirit, or at least by my seeing how closely they align to one another.

There are several different sources and translations of both the Psalms and the Dhammapada found on the internet.  For the Psalms, I used the 21st Century King James Version found on the BibleGateway.com site.  For the Dhammapada I drew heavily upon the 1993 translation completed by Thomas Byrom, which I found to be the most appealing, straightforward and easiest to read for a Western mind.  On Wikipedia, there are several different sources for the Dhammapada, which I would encourage you to explore on your own.

In exploring both Judeo-Christian and Buddhist concepts about God and the divine, many scholars will agree that they each conceptualize God quite differently.  They both begin in different places, within a specific historical, linguistic, and cultural context that goes back thousands of years.  As the world we know today grows smaller and smaller and as ideas fly at the speed of light across a worldwide internet, we are all challenged to re-imagine our relationship with the divine in new ways.  Many people believe that God is changeless, and I would agree that this may indeed be true, but it also seems that creation itself is constantly changing as is one moment from the next.  If God is endless, has "no end", is "unending", in which "there is no end"; if God is boundless, has no "boundaries;" if God is "ineffable;" if God is more than the Alpha and the Omega of all creation; is not all of creation and how creation is changing, also contained within God, as in Panentheism?

I have intentionally used the word Lord, instead of God in the verses above, because the word Lord seems more intimate to me and can be widely applied to different religious and cultural concepts about the mystery of God and the path to enlightenment or salvation. But, in nearly all cases it also refers to a meaning of a monotheistic God, as in the Lord God Almighty, and the Lord of Hosts to put it into a more traditional Judeo-Christian conceptualization.