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Chapter 1 sketched the bodhisattva path and the Christ way, the one a miracle of identification and realization, the other a miracle of participation and reconciliation. The depth of our consideration of one leads to a fuller appreciation of the other. We return to that comparison but are now focused on the learnings for a Christian pilgrim. We end with no grand resolution to the tensions that make this study so fruitful. No appeal to combine the oppositions or subsume them all in nondualism will serve that purpose. Each tradition has already gone too deep and deployed all the intellectual tools at our disposal too thoughtfully to be superseded in that manner. Buddhism cannot be taken whole into Christianity or vice versa. Christians can only search in their own way to take account of the wisdom they find there. Mahāyāna teachings have the capacity to subsume Christian convictions effectively within their terms, as representing only preliminary or crude versions of the truth. The counterintuitive teachings of Mahāyāna wisdom extend nonpersonal, causal forces to account for all conventional entities as arising from conditioned causes or as appearances screening the luminous, unconditioned emptiness of all mental products that is both nirvāṇa and our original nature. What meaning might the term “incarnation ” have in this perspective? We have seen that Buddha nature is a kind of pulsating emptiness, radiant with unconditioned qualities. This emptiness is opposite of or inside every moment of saṃsāra. It rains, so to speak, its presence indifferently on all of the conventional world. We might stretch to say even that emptiness is incarnate in form as its shadow. This strains Buddhist categories, but it has some resonance in that conventional forms can be, in their place, authentic signs of emptiness. This Conclusion: Crucified Wisdom 262 Conclusion is so even though it is also true that every moment of conventional existence is constituted by ignorance. If we take a step too far and suppose that Buddha nature stands for God, then we have a kind of deistic incarnation. The deist God creates and then leaves the creation to go its own way. Buddha nature of course neither creates nor acts. It simply stands parallel with its shadow, saṃsāra. It is the always-available, unconditioned flipside of the dependently arisen coin with its variegated suffering forms. How far does Mahāyāna go in the direction of the Christian counterintuitive conviction that personal and relational causality far exceeds the power we attribute to it in the conventional world? The ascending bodhisattva path has much to offer in this connection, as we saw in our discussion in Chapter 3. For the fully realized bodhisattva, the closest thing is found in the legacy trail of that bodhisattva’s activity in the conventional world. This conditioned wake of action and intention is personal insofar as it is responsive to the particular condition of different beings. It has an interpersonally unitive aspect, insofar as the bodhisattva ’spathrequiresmakingothers’experience—primarilytheirsuffering— her own. All of this is left behind by the bodhisattva who, as realized, has no suffering and no relation. The Trinitarian understanding of God is the Christian template for this study and the matrix for active incorporation of our leaning. A complex God generates different dimensions of relation with creation. Salvation is the fulfillment of relation in all of these dimensions—the nonpersonal, personal, and communion channels. If creation is to be redeemed in each dimension, and in their interrelations, then the channels for exchange must be kept open for all of them. The study of Buddhist sources can fill out this picture. Buddhist sources are famously detailed on the intricacies of meditational states and practice, as they are also on the philosophy corresponding to these. Christians have tended to lavish their detail on relational and community concerns, whether between God and humans or among humans. Studies like this one may extend the breadth of the Christian vision by clarifying the place for the nondifferentiated flavors of emptiness and immanence. Christian recognition of the truth that Buddhists realize stems from the nonpersonal dimension of the Trinitarian life, with its apophatic and immanent aspects. Emptiness and immanence are two sides of the indwelling of the divine persons in God. That indwelling in the personal and communion modes is particular in that each person makes way for Conclusion 263 the coinherence of the others and each gives itself for coinherence in them as a distinctive other. The indwelling...


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