Brian J. Pierce, a Dominican friar, serves as Promoter of the Dominican Family in Latin America and the Caribbean in Lima, Peru. In this thought-provoking and soul-stretching paperback, he examines in depth the spiritual teachings and practices of the Vietnamese Zen master and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh and the medieval Christian mystic Meister Eckhart. Between them, he finds much common ground. Those who believe in multifaith explorations will be fascinated by the author's insights into the art of dialogue, mindfulness and the eternal now, the breath of the Holy Spirit, the water and the waves, suffering, compassion born of suffering and love in full bloom.
Thich Nhat Hanh and Meister Eckhart give us a model for abundant and attentive living. They also reveal the benefits of openness as a spiritual practice: "Dialogue is a mutual giving and receiving, a sharing of our respective insights into the music of the Great Mystery. It is an opening up of ourselves to the unique gift of the other. What would the world be like today if the world religions were truly committed to this kind of sacred exchange? Do we dare dream of the day when the world conflicts will be solved through mutual sharing of our spiritual riches, a commitment to discern together the music that unites us? What would the city of Jerusalem look like today if Jews, Christians and Muslims gathered each morning for a three-way sharing of sacred music and chant?"
Many Buddhists have been able to use Thich Nhat Hanh's practice of interbeing to sense their intimate connections with others, including their enemies,. But this practice is still very difficult for many Christians raised in the West, where separation and independence are valued very highly. Pierce finds in the vision of St. Paul a way into interbeing: "It was the presence of the living body of Christ hidden in the collective body of the disciples that transformed Paul's life. It was an experience of nonduality, of interbeing. Paul realized that Jesus is not just Jesus. For Paul, we are Jesus, too. We are the body of the living Christ. To cut down a rain forest in Brazil out of greed is to cut down the body of Christ. To execute a criminal, no matter how guilty he or she may be, is to execute Christ. That is why Mother of Teresa of Calcutta, this time responding to a reporter's question after visiting San Quentin prison, remarked, 'What you do to these men, you do to God." She knew that the men condemned to death were as filled with God as anyone else. They too are the body of Christ." There is no better time than the present for Christians to understand and put into practice the body of Christ.