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14.3: Chapter Summary

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    The example chosen to illustrate the way of sacred rite in Buddhism is Cha-no-yu, "Tea Ceremony," as found in the Rinzai Zen Buddhist tradition. Horst Hammitz1?ch narrates a vivid description of an actual Tea Ceremony, telling not only of the ceremonial actions but also of the specific artistry that has gone into creating the setting and mood of the ceremony via the traditional sacred arts of landscape and building architecture. Overt reference to Buddhist symbols and concepts is completely absent, yet the essence or spirit of Buddhism-especially Zen Buddhism-is pervasive in every aspect of the whole, as is brought out by the interpretive commentary following Hammitzsch's narrative. The timeless Buddhist themes of harmony, reverence, purity, and tranquillity are touchstones of the overall effect to be realized. So also, simplicity, stillness, silence, and empty space are essential features of the experience, sacramentally intimating the emptiness (sunyata)-the absence of "selfbeing"- that characterizes reality from an enlightened Mahayana perspective. At once rule-governed and beyond rules, artful and artless, evanescent and timeless, Cha-no-yu embodies the central paradox at the heart of Mahayana, that nirvana is not other than samsara. For one who is appropriately prepared, to participate in Cha-no-yu is sacramentally to be liberated from the defilements of samsara and to enter, momentarily, into nirvana-a nirvana at one with samsara. Moreover, the experience is not for oneself alone; it is essentially a shared, communal renewal of the sense of the enlightened, Buddha nature of each person and all other things. Nor is it for its own sake alone, for that renewed identity is then taken back into the everyday realm, and with it a renewed sensibility with which things may be per- ceived in what to Buddhism is their true nature.

    The Christian example of the way of sacred rite given here is the Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgy. First, a narrative of the ceremony is given, followed by an interpretive commentary on the Eucharist (another name of the Divine Liturgy) as understood in sacramental Christian traditions. Here too, mood and setting are essential complements to the elaborate ritual actions, presupposing such sacred arts as iconography and architecture. All elements conspire to convey a won- drous sense of whole-self participation in the Marriage Feast of Christ, the wed- ding of heaven and earth, creator and creation, eternity and time, God become a human being in Christ so that human beings might enter into the very life of God. The focal point of Eastern Orthodox Christian life, the Divine Liturgy, sym- bolizes the coincidence of two cosmic actions: that "by which God sanctifies the world in Christ" and "the worship that the human family offers to God through Christ." For one who is appropriately prepared, to participate in the Divine Liturgy is sacramentally to be caught up in the divine life of the Holy Trinity, for the mo- ment to become one with Christ in the archetypal pattern of his one great sacri- fice by which creator and creation are reconciled: offered, blessed, broken, and shared for the life of the world. Participants thereby renew their identity in com- mon as members of the Body of Christ and refresh their sensibility for the every- day world as a world reconciled in Christ to God.

    This page titled 14.3: Chapter Summary 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.