Ruben L. F. Habito: Christianity, Buddhism, and Silence (Part One)

How does silence form and shape the life of person who is both Zen roshi and a Catholic spiritual director?

Ruben L. F. Habito is both a former Jesuit and a master of the Sanbo Kyodan lineage of Zen. In his early youth the Society of Jesus sent him from his homeland in the Philippines to Japan, where he began his Zen practice under the guidance of Yamada Koun-roshi. Koun-roshi was a Zen master who taught many Christians students, an unusual practice for the time. In 1988, Habito received Dharma transmission from Yamada Koun. He left the Jesuit order shortly after that, and in 1991 founded the lay organization Maria Kannon Zen Center in Dallas, Texas. He has taught at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University since 1989 where he continues to be a faculty member. He is married and has two sons.

Silence for me is not so much a set of external conditions, but more of an inner state of mind. — Ruben L. F. Habito

Dr. Habito is the author of several books, all of which explore various aspects of Buddhist-Christian dialogue, including Be Still and Know: Zen and the Bible, Zen and the Spiritual Exercises, and Living Zen, Loving God

In his conversation with the Encountering Silence team, he speaks about the relationship with silence and the fullness of a joyful life, as well as how his engagement with both Christianity and Buddhism has shaped his own relationship with silence.

I felt some kind of unspeakable joy of just being in the middle … if you are at a place within you that enables you to be at home where you are, that’s where you can find that interior silence that can connect, and enable you to really open your heart in a warm embrace. That’s what silence is for me. — Ruben L. F. Habito

Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:

Episode 68: Christianity, Buddhism and Silence: A Conversation with Ruben L. F. Habito (Part One)
Hosted by: Carl McColman
With: Cassidy Hall, Kevin Johnson
Guest: Ruben L. F. Habito
Date Recorded: May 3, 2019

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Carl McColman
Author of Befriending Silence, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Answering the Contemplative Call, and other books. Retreat leader. Speaker. Professed Lay Cistercian.

1 Comment

  1. Ruben’s talk is rich and insightful. I greatly appreciate his honesty and self-reflection in being bilingual in spiritual traditions. It is lovely to hear his thoughts on the fluidity and language to fit whom he is speaking to. I look forward to part 2.

    I would like to add that it’s my understanding Christianity and Buddhism do not have to be viewed as conflicting. The Buddha taught enlightenment and the Christ taught salvation. It seems to me both (especially if one is consciously practicing non-dual) are just fine. It always seems peculiar and off putting to me to criticize someone on the spiritual path. What does that say about your own path? Perhaps Silence is the answer after all 😉

    Many blessings,

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