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Lions Roar : November 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN NoveMBer 2009 78 he experiences them in a new form. Some of the doctrines he explores and redefines in Buddhist terms include the will of God, God as the triune, Jesus as the only Son of God, Jesus as the Savior, action versus contemplation, creating peace versus being peace. He deals intensively with the nature of language and words and the limits they impose. Despite his own preoccupation with words, Knitter advises the reader to under- stand language symbolically, not literally. Borrowing from the Zen lexicon, he reminds us that words are simply fingers pointing to the moon. Fingers are not the moon. In his desire to maintain his identity as a Catholic theologian, some of the con- clusions he reaches are inevitably based upon concepts and words. At one point he distinguishes between buddhanature and the Spirit of Christ, saying that one is founded upon wisdom, the other upon love. However, these definitions are words only, not the moon itself, not the true taste of buddhanature nor the Spirit of Christ, which, when experienced directly, cannot be categorized. The book presents and summarizes many Buddhist practices. The reader is led through a tour of the Buddhist world, hear- ing different teachings. Knitter wants tools; he wants a practice that “works.” At one point, he describes these practices as recipes and sometimes I had the sense of reading a cookbook with all kinds of ingredients listed for enlightenment, depending upon one’s tastes and needs. But as the great teachers have consistently told us, true awakening only begins when we rid ourselves of reci- pes, strategies, and demands. For me, this book emphasized the futility of trying to answer certain kinds of questions intellectually. My head was spinning with all the passing forward and passing back. That said, Without Buddha I Could Not be a Christian is a worthy book, which will help many people bridge the gap between Buddhist and Christian understanding, making it possible to in- tegrate them. This book may also speak to other students of the dharma, coming from different traditions, who have struggled with ways to view their own experiences in Buddhist terms. ♦ In this eye-opening sequence of personal meditations through the cycle of seasons, celebrated storyteller-poet-naturalist Diane Ackerman awakens us to the world at dawn. “Ackerman pins our eyelids open with astonishing epiphanies – secular, simple, and vital aspects of everyday life...”—Maxine Kumin W. W. Norton Independent publishers since 1923 www.wwnorton.com