Why A Chinese Buddhist Became an Orthodox Athonite Monk

Christ is born! And we are not alone.

The Meaning of Christmas

Nativity of the Savior, 2011

This story, received in an email today [1], on the Eve of Nativity, (Dec 24 2010/ Jan 6 2011) is entirely appropriate for the Nativity season. Because God became man, we are not alone. We have someone Whom we can talk to, Who understand us, and CAN help us, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  (16)  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb 4:15-16)

This sums up pretty well the meaning of the Incarnation of the Son of God, the meaning of the Nativity of the Savior, the true meaning of Christmas.

 

By Fr. Libyos

On my last trip to Mount Athos I visited the Monastery of Simonopetra. It is a majestic monastery and the sky was fully blue. There I met a graceful novice monk from China. In truth, he surprised me by his presence. An Orthodox rason on a Chinese man? I was moved somewhat. I had never seen this before up close, only in pictures of missions. An inheritor of a great cultural tradition and for him to embrace Christianity? My friends and I got curious to ask him about this.

"Brother, how did you, a Chinese man, embrace Orthodox Christian monasticism coming from such a great cultural tradition? Were you a Buddhist?"

"Yes, of course, I was a Buddhist."

"What won you over to Christianity?"

"Divine companionship!"

"Excuse me?"

"Yes, yes, Father, hahahahaha!", he laughed, since with every three words the Chinese seem to laugh at two. "In Buddhism, my Father, you are very very much alone. There is no God. Your entire struggle is with yourself. You are alone with yourself, with your ego. You are totally alone in this path. Great loneliness Father. But here you have an assistant, a companion and a fellow-traveler in God. You are not alone. You have someone who loves you, who cares about you. He cares even if you don't understand Him. You speak with Him. You tell Him how you feel, what you would have hoped for - there is a relationship. You are not alone in the difficult struggles of life and spiritual perfection.

I realized things in those days. A severe cold bound me to bed. No doctor could find anything wrong with me. The clinical picture was clear, at least the doctors couldn't see anything. The pain was unbearable and there was absolutely no pain killer that could stop it. I changed three different pain killers and still the pain was not alleviated.

At this time I got the news that the brother of my father, whose name I bear, had an advanced form of cancer in the vocal cords and larynx. He had a largyngectomy. It was the result of chronic alcohol consumption and smoking. Generally he lived a bad life, without any quality.

Then I felt something a former Buddhist and now a Christian monk on Mount Athos told me, that you need to have a God you can talk to; to perceive and to feel someone besides yourself Who hears you.

I don't know if it's wrong or right. I only know it is a deep need of man. This is evidenced by life itself. Even these Buddhists, who are from a non-theistic religion, created various deities. Even in dream language and worlds. But they have a need to refer to someone, to something, someone beyond and outside themselves, even if it's dreamy. Besides, reality and truth is something very relevant and will always remain so. It is an enigma, a mystery."

At this I remembered the words of Saint Gregory the Theologian, who had a sensitive and melancholic nature, when he said: "When you are not well, or not feeling so, speak. Speak even if it is to the wind."



 

St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

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http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2011-01-06-why-a-chinese-buddhist-became-an-orthodox-athonite-monk-christ-is-born-and-we-are-not-alone-the-meaning-of-christmas.html

 

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[1] From an email from Matushka Elizabeth Perdomo, on the “StGeorgesOrthodoxTX” mailing list. She sends out ton of stuff every day, and I sometimes glean from it. St George the Great Martyr Orthodox Church is in Pharr Texas, and hosts an annual Orthodox Winter Service retreat that I recommend (with my words and my “feet”, since I have gone two years in a row)

 

 Subscribe by sending an email to: StGeorgesOrthodoxTX-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

 

Matushka got this text from a translation by John Sanidopoulos of this Greek language blog post: http://plibyos.blogspot.com/2010/12/blog-post_30.html. The Translation, form John’s excellent blog, is here: http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2011/01/why-chinese-buddhist-became-orthodox.html

 

 





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St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas