There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus. He came to Jesus at night and consulted him. Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Nicodemus asked. “Surely anybody cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born.” Jesus answered, “Only a man who is born of water and the Spirit can enter the kingdom. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John3:1-8)
Surely, you cannot, by polishing a piece of fired clay, make it into a mirror. (Zen masters often use these words to cheer the learned priests in their meditation halls.) Neither does every sentient being who tries hard to become a Buddha succeed. Every living and lifeless thing in this world has its own karma. A cat cannot become a dog; a dog cannot become a human. Likewise it is impossible that we sentient beings, filled with blind passions, isolate ourselves from our karma and become Buddhas. Indeed flesh only gives birth to flesh.
The snake that was lifted up in the desert is my role
Jesus also said, "Only the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man can go into heaven. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John3:13-17)
Fruit of absolute mediation of Absolute Other-power
According to Tanabe Hajime (1885-1962), a Japanese modern philosopher, compassion of Amida (Buddha of Infinite Light & Life, Lord of the Beyond & the Afterlife, Lord of Gokuraku, the Land of ultimate bliss) is an action of Other-power (Amida's power) and could be called as 'jinenhoni (naturalness)'. But Amida does not give grace to sentient beings. Other-power has no personality. Nevertheless, the essence of faith lays in ‘entrustment’ (omakase) in Amida. Entrustment is the fruit of absolute mediation of Absolute Other-power. Actually, the compassion of Amida can only materialize through sentient beings' practice and faith in this world.
It was believed that at that time Jesus confessed to Nicodemus his decision to be crucified in order to mediate God's power (Other-power). Although his disciples deserted and fled when Jesus was arrested, Nicodemus and Joseph, a rich man from Arimathea, took Jesus' body away after his Crucifixion and placed it in Joseph’s personal new tomb that he cut out of a rock. (see Mat 27:57-60 / John19:38-42)
Interestingly when Jesus confided his decision to proceed to Jerusalem for Crucifixion, The Twelve Apostles, except Judas, misunderstood Jesus, and even tried to restrain him. But it seems that there were a great number of followers among the main ruling factions such as the Pharisees and Sadducees in Jerusalem. When Jesus made a whip out of cords and drove out all the merchants, who were selling cattle, sheep, doves and exchanging money, from the temple area, these followers seem to have prepared two donkeys according to the scriptures of the Old Testament, spread the branches of palm trees on the road and mobilized their children to chorus "Hosanna".
The Acts of the Apostles, on which Christians have set great store, also reveals that there were a large number of Pharisees and Sadducees who participated in the Early Christian church soon after Jesus’ Crucufixion. Therefore it seems that Jesus' followers were not only young Apostles and people from Galilee, but a complex combination. Incidentally Paul belonged to the Pharisees too. His mentor Gamaliel protected the arrested Apostles in the Sanhedrin after Jesus’ Crucifixion.
The writers of the Gospels did not disclose the names of the important associates who had prepared the donkeys and the venue of the Last Supper. It should also be mentioned: When John the Baptist was with two of his disciples near the Jordan River, he saw Jesus passing by and said, "Look, the Lamb of God!" When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. These two, who heard John's testimony that Jesus would be crucified as the Lamb of God and later became Jesus’ first disciples, might have been directed by John to provide aid to Jesus. The writer of the Gospel of John disclosed the name of one of them. He is Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, and is frequently mentioned in the New Testament. But the other disciple’s name is curiously not provided in the scriptures.
Cross point between Self-Power and Other-Power
Jesus preaches that salvation lies in one’s own practice when one devotes one's whole soul, obeys God's Will and fulfills God's Plan, as he did himself. Regardless of whether the Amida prayers, who depend on other’s power, or the Zen priests, who depend on the ‘power of Self’ to do good, the importance is to grasp this point and keep hold of it. Dogen Zenji (1200-1253), the founder of the Japanese Soto Zen School, also said, "To carry yourself forward and experience myriad things is a delusion. That myriad things come forth and experience themselves is awakening.”
Gates of Hades
However if one misunderstands God's will or Heaven's command, even Buddha or Jesus will have to fall into hell. Jesus said, "I will build my church on this rock, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it."(Mat 16:18) Jesus appears to have made the following resolution. “Although I have a limitation as the Son of man, who is born of flesh in this world and cannot avoid faults, I will listen to my inner voice and execute my mission as the Son of God. If it goes wrong, I will acquiesce to be burned with unquenchable fire.”
Even though Jesus made such an unflinching resolution, he was still sorrowful and troubled to the point of death at Gethsemane and said, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” And when he was on the cross at Golgotha, he cried out in a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Eko-an Hensho-koji 2006/12/29)
What is "Baptism with The Holy Spirit"?
According to the dialectic of the Gospel of John,
【thesis】 "A man can possess eternal life through accepting testimony of the Son of man and being baptized by him." (John 5:24)
【anti-thesis】 But "The one who comes from the earth cannot accept the testimony by one from heaven."(John 3:32)
How then can a man possess eternal life?
【synthesis】 "If you want to be baptized with the Holy Spirit, you can just go back to the word which was with God in the beginning (John 1:1) and certify that God is truthful. (John 3:33)"
When he said, "You are Huichao," Zen Master Fayan thrusted vivid Self in Huichao in front of his eyes. (The Origin of Christianity P.171)
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