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4.5: Combinations of Different Ways

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    Cha-do, the "way of tea," is an interesting case in which two ways, the way of right action and the way of sacred rite, are simultaneously expressed. For Zen Buddhists, when rightly entered into, it is both a practical realization of "the Buddha-mind" (the Buddhist ultimate realityo, which is immanent within the cosmos, not transcendent to it as in Western religions) in one's actual life and a sacramental ritual participation in "the Buddha-mind."

    This illustrates how the ways of being religious may not only coexist alongside each other but at times may be so intertwined with each other in a given religious practice as to be indistinguishable. The ways are not necessarily opposed to each other at all, though at times they can be. What is called halakhic piety in an observant Orthodox Jewish community-namely, the sanctification of virtually every aspect of life through the performance of the many "Commandments of God," such as those pertaining to the preparation and eating of food, the observance of the Sabbath restrictions, and the Morning, Noon, and Evening Prayersalso combines elements of sacred rite and right action. A very similar phenomenon is found in the effort by pious Muslims to bring all of life into submission to the will of God as revealed in "the holy Shari'a [Law] of Allah as revealed in the Qur'an," in the ritually circumscribed everyday life of a pious Hindu following the Dharma appropriate to his caste and stage of life, and in the life of a sincere Confucian whose studied social interactions are meant to be a sacred ritual gracefully embodying "the Dao of Heaven and Earth."

    Other combinations of ways can readily be found. In the writings of sixteenthcentury Spanish Christian mystic Teresa of Avila, the ways of mystical quest and devotion are inseparably joined. So also, Francis of Assisi in twelfth-century Italy, who combined with these ways the way of right action as well. St. Augustine's writings in the fourth to fifth century embodied mystical quest, devotion, and reasoned inquiry. As all of these persons were good Catholic Christians, sacred rite was an important part of their lives as well. Mother Teresa of Calcutta combines the way of right action with sacred rite quite differently from the examples mentioned above, as is shown in her declaration that she would not be able to see and serve Christ in the poorest of the poor if she did not first meet him at the altar in Holy Communion.24

    Similar combinations in individual figures as well as particular local practices in almost every religious tradition can be found.

    Almost all monastic Buddhists, by virtue of their monastic practice, combine mystical quest, reasoned inquiry, and right action, although, depending on the subtradition to which they belong and the particular orientation of their individual practice, one or another of these will be more emphasized. In a Japanese Rinzai Zen Monastery, though primacy there is given to the way of mystical quest, almost equal emphasis is placed upon the way of reasoned inquiry in its preoccupation with solving koans (intellectual riddles that help occasion enlightenment) and question-and-answer sessions (sanzen) with the roshi (spiritual master). So also the involvement of members of the community in all aspects of mundane work in and around the monastery and their pursuit of traditional, highly ritualized arts like calligraphy, archery, and swordsmanship, all in a manner manifesting "the Buddha heart of emptiness," exemplifies the way of action. Further, much of their time is taken up with ritual ceremonial, which betokens the way of sacred rite-though clearly not the elaborate kind of sacramental rites found in Shingon (Japanese Vajrayana) Buddhism. So here is an example that combines four of the ways. 25

    This page titled 4.5: Combinations of Different Ways is shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Dale Cannon (Independent) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.