Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Life of Kenosis

ONCE upon a time there were a father and his son, who lived as beggars. One day just across a river they watched a big house engulfed by the fire. This father said to his son proudly, "my son, we are so fortunate because we do not have any house to be burnt down." This comic but pithy conversation speaks of some lesson about our life. Buddhist book banyshimkyung says, "sak-jeuk-see-gong and gong-jeuk-see-sak," which can be translated as "all visible things are empty, and all that are empty are all visible." It is hard to explain here what it means. I can say like this: life is nothing (empty) but your nothingness (emptiness) makes you something.

Similarly, Christian understanding of kenosis (Phil 2:6-11, emptying of oneself) reflects nothingness attitude in our life. It is also found in the Q gospel: There was ONCE a rich man whose lands yielded a good harvest. He thought to himself, "What should I do? I don't have enough room to store my crops. I know, I'll tear down my barns and build bigger ones so that I can keep all my grain in them. Then I will say to myslef, 'I have enough to last me for years. I can take it easy, eat, drink and have a good time.' But God said to him, "You fool! This very night you may die. Then who will own this hoard of yours? So it is with those who pile up possessions but remain poor in the treasures of the spirit. Jesus says, "if you try to gain your life, you will lose it; but if you lose it, you will gain it."

St. Paul also says, "I die everyday on the cross." If you gather more and more and do not give out, you will soon be troubled with riches of consuming fire, and it can happen even now. You will become slaves of riches. But if you give up more and more, your freedom of heart will be greater and greater. Furthermore, your self will live a meaning life, a perfection of life with a sense of living with others in the community. In this way our life extends forever. Its basis is nothing, which gives a sense of something special in your life, and then by return you can become anything to serve others.


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