Thoughts from Fr. Helmer.

Article for May-June 2011 Newsletter
St. James’ Church, Eureka Springs

Recently Jane and I traveled to the U of A campus with Cheri and Al Lacock for a remarkable afternoon of hearing and seeing the Dalai Lama in person. His Holiness is a truly gracious man, a humble Buddhist monk (his words) who has done much to promote peace and harmony among the religions of the world.

Jane and I experienced that harmony on Guam while we lived there from June of 2007 until January of 2009. We found sitting with Buddhists and Muslims to be moments filled with charity and gentleness. The rough and awkward moments came from some of our Christian sisters and brothers, but never from them.

Buddhism is not a religion; it is a way of being and is best understood from that point of view. It has a dignity and worth, and there are many Christians who have found benefit from its practices, particularly meditation, chanting and quiet.

At St. James’ we seem to have figured out how to embrace others who are not like us, living out the declaration of one of our former presiding bishops, Edmund Browning, who declared that in the Episcopal Church there are no outcasts. That is certainly the message the Dalai Lama proclaimed in his address. That does not preclude disagreement: it does prohibit the violence of exclusiveness in our behavior toward those who differ from us.

At the end of his address His Holiness spoke to me most when he said, “If there is a problem to which there is an obvious solution, then there is no need to be overwhelmed; if there is a problem to which there is no solution, then there is no point in being overwhelmed.” I thought of Jesus’ own teaching not to be anxious about earthly things. This is wisdom from a human being who has been exiled from his homeland much of his life, yet still finds hope for humanity and democratic principles.

Ben Helmer
May 12, 2011

Published with permission from the author.

– From the mobile desk of Fr. Jos Tharakan

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