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The Divinity of Interdependence

by Jerry Kolber

Been slowly (very slowly) making my way through the ESV Study Bible - read the Bible when I was in Hebrew school in the 80's (the whole thing - Old + New) but did it quickly and with the impatience and grok of a sexually confused 15 year old boy.

I'm re-visiting it because a) the Bible is as responsible for the rules, regulations and tonal quality of life and debate in America than the government is and b) Jesus is freakin' awesome and there's a lot of great metaphorical life lessons in those sex, blood, and passion soaked pages.

One thing that always perplexed me, until recently, was the idea of the Holy Trinity. Father and Son, I got, but the Holy Ghost? My boyfriend's wonderful, open-minded, deeply Catholic Grandma explained to me that she believed the Holy Ghost was love - the love that flowed through everything and everyone. I dig that.  But there's more.

As I make my way through the pages, I have something of my own I'd like to add to Grandma Rose's idea.  The Holy Trinity is like a triangle for hundreds of millions - maybe billions - of souls walking the planet right now.  There's also a good 500 million Buddhists (like me and not like me) who believe that we are all part of one great emanating wave of life energy - distinct yet distinctly connected.  That could be called love, or divine source, or light - and so I started thinking, the Holy Spirit is the energy of interconnectedness, the underlying zing-zang that unites us all.

One other thing.  The triangle is dude heavy.  Father, son - that's a lot of male energy, and even if Jesus was a man-God of fierce compassion, I do believe it's lacking in some femininity.  Holy Spirit is genderless, and though most modern translations choose to interpret Holy Spirit with a "he" or "him", women still get paid a lot less than men for the same job, so I don't put a whole lot of stock in traditional relationship to gender.  So , for me the Holy Spirit is also a divine Mother energy (not necessarily Mary, just a more open aaaaah, open, motherlike energy) suffused with Love as a transducer for the spirit of God and Jesus Christ to impermeate the world.

Now, I'm not saying I follow Christianity, or Catholicism, but in trying to come to understand and mutually respect the beauty inherent in the religion, and to co-habitate it with my own Buddhist leanings, this is where I've come to right now. If you take fear out of the religious equation - when you stop using religion to prop up your position, defend your ego, or gain territory - and see that it's just an opportunity to open up to divine and fierce compassionate interdependence (aka God-Source), all religions offer the same teachings of universal truth experience through love and acceptance and situation-appropriate action. That's the divinity of interdependence.

For those of you who were raised in a Christian tradition (whether or not your now Buddhist), I'm curious to hear  - how do you interact spiritually with the idea of the Holy Trinity?

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The Assumption of Mary

Below is an interesting quote from Carl Jung regarding the Holy Trinity and Pope Pius XII dogmatic treatment of bringing the feminine principle into the equation. The Trinity by its very nature is in fact masculine. With the Assumption of the Virgin, a genuine feminine principle was introduced to complete the archetype of the more balance quaternity.

".....anyone who has followed with attention the visions of Mary which have been increasing in number over the last few decades, and has taken their psychological significance into account, might have known what was brewing. The fact, especially, that it was largely children who had the visions might have given pause for thought, for in such cases, the collective unconscious is always at work ...One could have known for a long time that there was a deep longing in the masses for an intercessor and mediatrix who would at last take her place alongside the Holy Trinity and be received as the 'Queen of heaven and Bride at the heavenly court.' For more than a thousand years it has been taken for granted that the Mother of God dwelt there.

I consider it to be the most important religious event since the Reformation. It is a petra scandali for the unpsycholgical mind: how can such an unfounded assertion as the bodily reception of the Virgin into heaven be put forward as worthy of belief? But the method which the Pope uses in order to demonstrate the truth of the dogma makes sense to the psychological mind, because it bases itself firstly on the necessary prefigurations, and secondly on a tradition of religious assertions reaching back for more than a thousand years. What outrages the Protestant standpoint in particular is the boundless approximation of the Deipara to the Godhead and, in consequence, the endangered supremacy of Christ, from which Protestantism will not budge. In sticking to this point it has obviously failed to consider that its hymnology is full of references to the 'heavenly bridegroom,' who is now suddenly supposed not to have a bride with equal rights. Or has, perchance, the 'bridegroom,' in true psychologistic manner, been understood as a mere metaphor?

The dogmatizing of the Assumption does not, however, according to the dogmatic view, mean that Mary has attained the status of goddess, although, as mistress of heaven and mediatrix, she is functionally on a par with Christ, the king and mediator. At any rate her position satisfies a renewed hope for the fulfillment of that yearning for peace which stirs deep down in the soul, and for a resolution of the threatening tension between opposites. Everyone shares this tension and everyone experiences it in his individual form of unrest, the more so the less he sees any possibility of getting rid of it by rational means. It is no wonder, therefore, that the hope, indeed the expectation of divine intervention arises in the collective unconscious and at the same time in the masses. The papal declaration has given comforting expression to that yearning. How could Protestantism so completely miss the point?

let's leave buddha nature out of creation

yeah, that's where it starts to become one religion allocating another in a way that misrepresents the colonized religion. ergo. war. i prefer buddhanature as godforce, or just dont bother yourself with buddha nature at all.

the holy spirit is not buddha

the holy spirit is not buddha nature. its god, which according to christianity, is separate from the creation. buddha nature, to be buddha nature, would have to be part of the "creation."

Thanks Nancy

Really helpful to hear from you as someone who grew up Catholic and have taken Buddhist refuge vows.  I don't mean to imply that I view the BIble as benign - there's a lot in there that's frankly bizarre and sometimes kind of twisted - but most specifically I was talking about the character of Jesus and his actions.  Too much bad has been done cloaked in the "good name of the BIble" for it to be a benign book to me , but I am enjoying the underlying message of Christ's teachings as well as some of the more metaphorical stories.  

I appreciate the distinction that Holy Spirit comes from outside...that does seem to make it not the same as buddha-nature.

holy spirt vs holy ghost

the holy spirt is mentioned in the Bible at least the translation I have. for example:


    2 Corinthians 13:14 
    May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

I don't know the history of changing from Holy Ghost to Holy Spirit,  but John's idea of spirit as truth and consolation resonates with how I'm thinking about it.

Ethan yeah, I'd say my thinking about the Holy Spirit is that is something akin to Buddha-Nature.

Bible is definitely worth a read through - and I can't recommend the ESV Study Bible highly enough - very modern, full of facts and research, maps & charts,  and a nice translation - check out www.esvstudybible.org. 


Jerry, you're writing from the bible, while I'm reacting from catholicism, and they're not necessarily the same. it'll be another lifetime or two, I think, before I shed my catholic conditioning in some areas. The line you quote from corinthians is one that's said in the catholic mass -- in latin, when i was a kid -- to which we then replied 'et cum spirit tutu-o," which is nowhere close to the actual spelling but I only ever could parrot the latin. the response now is "and also with you."

I know that as I kid there was a definite point in time when the sign of the cross -- that gesture notre dame players make before shooting free throws -- went from "in the name of the father, son, and holy ghost" to "... holy spirit."

I have to strongly disagree on the question of holy spirit as equivalent to buddhanature. the holy spirit is an external power that arrives on pentecost; it is not inherent. what is inherent is original sin.

for me, coming from a catholic background, the idea in buddhism that everything is inherently good rather than inherently bad was mid-blowing and life-changing. I explained this to the monk who did?administered?officiated at? my refuge vow, and he gave me the best name ever -- Kunzhang Lamo (can't spell Tibetan either), which means "Always Good Divine Lady." soooooooo much more affirming for me than "lord I am not worthy to receive you but only say the word and my soul shall be healed."

I can't see the bible as benign, so I will attempt to bow out of the conversation. but I feel empathetic joy that you've found something that is meaningful to you in an ancient text. me too.


ghost v spirit

it was my understanding that the catholics changed the holy "ghost" into the holy "spirit" around vatican II when they did away with the latin mass. it (I've always thought of it as an it) was represented by the tongues of flame that appear over the apostles' heads on pentecost. I've never thought of it as mother-like or female -- it's a little more abstract than that in my memory. in fact, it was my impression that the holy ghost wasn't specifically mentioned in the bible but was part of the dogma that developed later. (this is all based on my recollections of CCD classes 40 years ago).

according to the catholic encyclopedia online:
"In the New Testament the word spirit and, perhaps, even the expression spirit of God signify at times the soul or man himself, inasmuch as he is under the influence of God and aspires to things above; more frequently, especially in St. Paul, they signify God acting in man; but they are used, besides, to designate not only a working of God in general, but a Divine Person, Who is neither the Father nor the Son, Who is named together with the Father, or the Son, or with Both, without the context allowing them to be identified.
" We read in John 14:16-17: "And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with, you for ever. The spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive"; and in John 15:26: "But when the Paraclete cometh, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceedeth from the Father, he shall give testimony of me." St. Peter addresses his first epistle, 1:1-2, "to the strangers dispersed . . . elect, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, unto the sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ". The Spirit of consolation and of truth is also clearly distinguished in John 16:7, 13-15, from the Son, from Whom He receives all He is to teach the Apostles, and from the Father, who has nothing that the Son also does not possess. Both send Him, but He is not separated from Them, for the Father and the Son come with Him when He descends into our souls (John 14:23).

note that many of the references are from John, the most abstract thinker among the gospel writers, (God was the Word, etc), and he never uses the term Holy Spirit but spirit of truth, spirit of consolation.


also, the place I've never heard the word paraclete is in the movie "dogma," which I highly recommend.

jesus was a bodhisattva but the roman catholic church is another story altogether.

want to discuss original sin v buddhanature? I can go on for days there.

nancy (who is probably not signed in)

Thanks for this Jerry

I've been meaning to give Bible study another pass through, time permitting. This is a good inspiration.

Is the Holy Ghost Buddha Nature?

holy spirit is responsible for speaking in tongues

Ten days after Jesus ascended into heaven, the twelve apostles, Jesus' mother and family, and many other of His disciples gathered together in Jerusalem for the Jewish harvest festival that was celebrated on the fiftieth day of Passover. While they were indoors praying, a sound like that of a rushing wind filled the house and tongues of fire descended and rested over each of their heads. This was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on human flesh promised by God through the prophet Joel (Joel 2:28-29). The disciples were suddenly empowered to proclaim the gospel of the risen Christ. They went out into the streets of Jerusalem and began preaching to the crowds gathered for the festival. Not only did the disciples preach with boldness and vigor, but by a miracle of the Holy Spirit they spoke in the native languages of the people present, many who had come from all corners of the Roman Empire. This created a sensation. The apostle Peter seized the moment and addressed the crowd, preaching to them about Jesus' death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins. The result was that about three thousand converts were baptized that day. (You can read the Biblical account of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-4.


no, because the holy spirit isn't inherent. it's something you get later on.
nancy who is still not signed in

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