Christianity and Buddhism
Being Present to the Presence of God
Friday, November 12, 2021
One of the great gifts Buddhism offers to Christianity is an emphasis on being present to our experiences in the here and now. In one of his homilies, Father Richard speaks of the holiness of our present time and place, no matter where we are:
The presence of God is infinite, everywhere, always, and forever. You cannot not be in the presence of God. There’s no other place to be. The only change is always on our side—God is present, but we’re not present to Presence. We’ll make any excuse to be somewhere other than right here. Right here, right now never seem enough.
But here’s the problem—we’re almost always somewhere else. We are either reprocessing the past or worrying about the future. If we watch our mind, it doesn’t think many original thoughts. We just keep thinking in the same problematic ways that our minds love to operate.
We can say that all spiritual teaching—and I believe this is not an oversimplification—is teaching us how to be present to the moment. When we’re present, we will experience the Presence. 
Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, a Buddhist monk and international teacher, left one of the three monasteries of which he was abbot to spend several years on a retreat journey. Following in the ancient tradition of wandering ascetics, he “wanted to explore the deepest depths of who [he] really was out in the world, anonymous and alone.”  Here is part of the letter he left for his students before his departure:
In parting, I would like to give you one small piece of advice to keep in your heart. You may have heard me say this before, but it is the key point of the entire path, so it bears repeating: All that we are looking for in life—all the happiness, contentment, and peace of mind—is right here in the present moment. Our very own awareness is itself fundamentally pure and good. The only problem is that we get so caught up in the ups and downs of life that we don’t take the time to pause and notice what we already have.
Don’t forget to make space in your life to recognize the richness of your basic nature, to see the purity of your being and let its innate qualities of love, compassion, and wisdom naturally emerge. Nurture this recognition as you would a small seedling. Allow it to grow and flourish. . . .
Keep this teaching at the heart of your practice. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, pause from time to time and relax your mind. You don’t have to change anything about your experience. You can let thoughts and feelings come and go freely, and leave your senses wide open. Make friends with your experience and see if you can notice the spacious awareness that is with you all the time. Everything you ever wanted is right here in this present moment of awareness. 
 Adapted from Richard Rohr, “First Sunday of Advent: To Be Awake Is to Be Now– Here,” homily, November 30, 2014 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2014).
 Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche with Helen Tworkov, In Love with the World: A Monk’s Journey through the Bardos of Living and Dying (Spiegel and Grau: 2019), 10.
 Mingyur Rinpoche, 252–253.
Story from Our Community:
I have been searching for the God I loved as a young child. I found love and divine truth through the Dalai Lama and the teachings of the Buddha—but I still longed for my simple, obvious God. I’ve always talked to God, even when my doubt was its staunchest! Discovering Friar Richard Rohr has been a blessing to me. I still consider myself Buddhist. I still doubt—but now I feel like that’s ok. I feel like it is part of a genuine passionate relationship with God. —Jeremy R.
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