Date of Award
Master of Arts in Monastic Studies
School of Theology • Seminary
Fr. William Skudlarek, OSB
The Buddha’s dharma of the interdependent co-arising of all phenomena (this is because that is) is the unifying concept between Christianity and Buddhism. The vast, incomprehensible interconnection of all aspects of the cosmos with every other aspect can be described as “interbeing.” Furthermore, because each new manifestation depends completely on the passing away of every previous manifestation, we may also call this interbeing, this impermanence,“generosity.”
The Buddha’s dharma of interdependent co-arising reveals reality as it is; and it helps to reveal a sublime and profound unfolding of God’s relationship with the world. In light of the dharma, the Christ-event can best be seen as the Seven-fold Sacrament of Generous Interbeing: Creation, Pentecost of Torah, Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension, and Pentecost of Spirit.
Every phase the Seven-fold Sacrament of Generous Interbeing reveals the divine imprint of generous interbeing. Without the unimaginable and astounding gift of Creation, Pentecost of Torah is neither possible nor necessary. Without the Pentecost of Torah, the Incarnation is neither possible nor necessary, etc. Creation, the entire cosmos, is of the nature of generous interbeing, and Creation is the stage upon which every other phase in the Seven-fold Sacrament of Generous Interbeing unfolds in history, so it is no surprise that the same divine imprint inheres in every other phase of the Seven-fold Sacrament.
Each successive aspect of the Seven-fold Sacrament of Generous Interbeing interdependently coarises because of limitless causes, and in an especial way, each aspect is mutually caused by and is the mutual cause of each other aspect. When seen as a whole, the Seven-fold Sacrament reveals the divine imprint of generous interbeing on creation, and helps us to see the astonishing ways in which God’s loving presence inheres in every manifestation of every created thing. In short, the sacramental moments of the Seven-fold Sacrament are the various aspects of salvation. And salvation is the practice of intentional, generous, selfless love, which is fulfilled in the extinction of suffering in the Kingdom of God.
Generosity takes two forms: pervasive, inescapable and involuntary generosity, which is the imprint of God on creation, and intentional generosity, which is the image of God in which humans are created.
Because of space considerations, my thesis will focus on just four of the phases of the Seven-fold Sacrament of Generous Interbeing: Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection and Pentecost of Spirit. These four have been chosen because of their vivid centrality to the Christian identity and salvation. These four are presented with the heretofore explicit understanding that if we were to make similar investigations into each of the other three aspects of the Seven-fold Sacrament, we would find similar harmony between Buddhist and Christian teachings because of the unifying concept of generous interbeing.
Thoemke, Paul Joseph OblSB, "GospelDharma: The Seven-fold Sacrament of Generous Interbeing" (2005). School of Theology and Seminary Graduate Papers/Theses. 7.
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