C.S. Lewis and Buddhism


“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. "

I love this. Love is living life with, suffering with, being among. Part of our faith is to enter the world with open wounds and be broken by it.

There's a polemical edge to this quote, folks. I wonder if C.S. Lewis intended this to be heard to speak to the Buddhist philosophy of non-attachment, 'Nekkhamma is a Pali word generally translated as "renunciation" or "the pleasure of renunciation" while also conveying more specifically "giving up the world and leading a holy life" or "freedom from lust, craving and desires." (source: Wikipedia, emphasis mine)'

I desire deeply to see the will of God on earth, to see harmony and peace between each other and the earth.

Because I believe deeply in this social justice, my faith is wrapped up in a desire that, as I read, conflicts with non-attachment. I desire the transformation of my self and the transformation of the world, and I pray for it.

I seek to love the world deeply, to suffer her pangs and delight in her ordinary things. I seek to love life deeply, and I pray that God would pour out love on the earth in such abundance, that it transforms our personal, professional, and social lives. I pray that transforming love would replace currency. I pray that love would heal poverty and injustice.

I pray for this. I desire this.

Are there any thoughts from Buddhists out there on this? Am I misreading? Is this a translation thing? Any disagreement with me from Christians? Any way to harmonize these two ideas without doing violence to either tradition? It's been a number of years since I studied Buddhism in any formal way.

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About the Author

Hi. My name is Jeremiah John. I'm a sf/f writer and activist.

I just completed a dystopian science fiction novel. I run a website which I created that connects farms with churches, mosques, and synagogues to buy fresh vegetables directly and distribute them on a sliding scale to those in need.

In 2003, I spent six months in prison for civil disobedience while working to close the School of the Americas, converting to Christianity, as one does, while I was in the clink.