Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Without Emptiness

The Catholic schismatics at EWTN may have a problem with Buddhism, but Buddhism does not have a problem with fabulous hagiography — miracles, immaculate conception, virgin birth and resurrection (not necessarily in chronological order) are all perfectly kosher to Buddhists.

Here's my thesis. The Resurrection is taboo, not even discussed. Like drawing a cartoon of Mohammed, it is simply Not Done. In Islam, that means respect. In Christianity, it means the believers are at a bare minimum candidates for their own special olympics of the mind. Fortunately, we can discuss this from a neutral-seeming corner.

The kicker is, if you become a Buddhist Catholic for the right reason (namely, because everyone you love is Catholic), then you do the whole eight point seven yards. For Buddhists, the notion that God might suspend the rules of the natural universe and do miracles is not even out of the ordinary; from a Buddhist point of view, the universe is suspended from moment to moment already — time steps from one unliklihood to the next, from instant to instant, miracle to miracle. Time is momentary, and if the Buddha smiles, the moment is gone before you're sure you saw what you think you saw. The Universe is not the Universe. No past, no present, no future. So what does it really mean, that stuff happens?*

So, Resurrection. No problem there. It drives secular liberals nuts just thinking about it, and the ultra-orthodox either bananas or pineapples, depending how close they're standing to Mel Gibson at any given moment. At any rate, the point of Easter is not that we've lost another one in the trauma ward of faith — God is, after all, not playing benihana in a butcher shop — but that the rules got bent — that Law bent its knee in service to the Son of Man. Why is that so hard too get your head around? You'd think it could at least show up in the funny papers.

*Some theoretical physicists think it could mean the Universe is virtual, a kind of program playing on an enormous (or tiny) computer of some kind. Time in a computer is an organizing principle, a metronome, not an arrow, and metadata would be entirely unaware of it, like a fish is unaware of water. In this sense, Time is not Time, the Universe is not the Universe, and everything is meaningless without its freaky observer.



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