Elijah the Bodhisattva
Reading the Bible through Buddhist eyes ... Elijah the Prophet’s journey to enlightenment.
This is an interspiritual commentary -- largely though not exclusively Buddhist-inspired -- on the life of Elijah as recounted in the Bible. It treats the externals of his life as metaphors for internal mind-states, his story as a labyrinth-like journey toward enlightenment, an unfolding realization of the non-duality of himself and God. Elijah begins with a henotheistic conception of God as a national deity connected to the land of Israel and progresses to a realization of God as the ground of being, being-itself, the God of those who struggle with God, which is the deeper meaning of the name Israel. While the inner dimension is emphasized, there is also a focus on the political dimension of the story, which liberation theologians call God’s preferential option for the poor, and here it is called the politics of anatta -- the core Buddhist principle of not-self.
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In a beautiful meditation that exemplifies our interdependence, Malcolm Brown reflects on the life Elijah, a forefather of monasticism in the West and one of the great Hebrew prophets, thru the striking lens of Buddhism and the Bodhisattva. Building a bridge that goes both ways, Brown’s work enriches both Christianity and Buddhism, as well as the other traditions he engages. However, the greatest gifts herein lie for the spiritual practitioner. By placing an emphasis on the spiritual nature of a transformative path, Brown unearths tantalizing Biblical interpretations, with contemplations that roam across our religious traditions. In a world where traditional boundaries between religious traditions are being rapidly worn down in the existential lives of interspiritual practitioners, more books like this are needed—offering deep, respectful, and practice-oriented reflections between and among traditions. As an “unsystematic theology” that makes liberal use of “spiritual imagination,” this book is a gem for anyone interested in interspirituality, new monasticism, spiritual practice, comparative theology, the essential interdependence of our contemplative traditions, or in being a better Christian or Buddhist—or simply a better human being. ~ Rory McEntee, co-author of The New Monasticism: An Interspiritual Manifesto for Contemplative Living
Malcolm Brown employs his wide knowledge of many faith traditions to create a kaleidoscopic interpretation of the Biblical story of Elijah. The prophet is seen in terms of Mahayana Buddhist concepts of nonduality and the Bodhisattva. This imaginative contribution to interfaith exegesis will enlighten some and exasperate others—or perhaps do both! ~ Ross Thompson, author of Buddhist Christianity and The Interfaith Imperative