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Recommended 30-minute video: "Buddhist-Catholic Dialogue on Spiritual Practices" (free post)
A Ch'an - Carmelite exchange in Hsin Chu, Taiwan
Picking up on the subject of my previous post, here is a video that presents a sterling example of genuine, practice-based Buddhist-Christian dialogue. I found the exchange beautiful, good-natured, and simultaneously rich and simple. English subtitles are provided. Here is the description of the video from YouTube:
Buddhist-Catholic Dialogue on Spiritual Practices (Dharma Master Hsin Tao & Rev. Father Joseph Wang)
They are good old friends with a bonding spanning four decades. One is Dharma Master Hsin Tao, who took the path least traveled for Buddhist monasticism by practicing solitary retreat for extraordinary spiritual training in run-down cemeteries and pagodas housing urns containing ashes and relics of the deceased, and the other is Priest V. Rev. Joseph Wang, who has been dedicating his life of services to the Catholic Church for over 60 years already. Although they remain deeply steadfast to their respective religion, they share in common an unlimited love for the world in the spirit of services, which in turn sustains and nourishes their time-honored friendship.
It was at a time when the year-end of 2018 was approaching, Dharma Master Hsin Tao led a delegation of residential masters of the LJM Buddhist Society to visit his old friend, Catholic priest Rev. Father Joseph Wang, who was on call for a visitation at the Carmelite Monastery in Hsin Chu, where a group of Catholic sisters resides in monastic practice. It was a fine occasion where Buddhism and Catholicism/Christianity enjoyed a warm exchange, while an old friendship rekindled fond memories.
Father Joseph Wang formally entered the priesthood in 1951 at the age of 28 and was ordained to be a Franciscan priest of the Catholic Church. He became the in-residence priest for the parish of the Church of the Queen of Peace in Keelung in 1957. Father Wang still looks after the same parish today.
The Carmelite Monasteries rank as one of the most strict and stringent convents of the Catholic Church. Carmelite sisters take out an oath by God for lifelong obedience to live in a seclusive hermitage based on material minimalism and spiritual abundance. Praying is the quintessential element of their daily life, and the sisters pray to God Almighty for the Lord’s grace to liberate those in need, pain, and agonies and grant them speedy relief, peace, and health.
The Catholic sisters sang psalms to welcome Dharma Master Hsin Tao and to bless his disciples in the entourage. As nuns of two different faiths, the sisters and the visitors were naturally curious about the spiritual training on each other’s religious practices. They were equally curious about how the friendship between Rev. Joseph Wang and Master Hsin Tao started. The sisters raised questions one after another and if the Master was ever intimidated by fearful thoughts during his decade-long retreat in the cemeteries and how he overcame such sensations? They also wanted to learn about why and how a Buddhist Chan/Zen Master created a world-class museum to feature the world’s leading religions… The sisters and the visiting Buddhist nuns exchanged their experiences in their respective monastic practice as the centerpiece of their daily life. Dharma Master Hsin Tao displayed a great sense of humor in responding to questions asked, and his wit was matched by an equally humorous Rev. Joseph Wang whenever remarks and comments were called for.
Why would a Catholic priest pay visits to a Buddhist Chan/Zen Master practicing solitary retreat in a mountain cave? How does our daily life differ from that of the Catholic sisters of the Carmelite Monastery? How do Catholic sisters progress in spirituality versus Buddhist nuns? On the occasion when two old friends re-grouped, a host of interesting topics arose to shed light on life in a monastery, on how different religions thrive in an interfaith harmony that upholds a diversified symbiosis, on how world peace is possible by virtue of love and spiritual exchanges, and, above all, how the Earth might be saved for survival.
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