Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Asian Journeys

Bee Theng introduced us to Lawrence Ko of Asian Journeys, and was delighted to see a ministry geared towards "engaging the world, viz., the Asian marketplace as a social enterprise committed to help professional lay people intelligently reveal the gospel in their ordinary daily lives as witnesses." He has worked with Bishop Hwa Yung on a project to "document the historical contributions of believers in both Singapore and Malaysia before and after the War."

We would be very eager to invite him to do an Agora forum later this year, and I found these Reflections by Lai Wan Chung fascinating: (Read in full)

The pertinent question is, how did the Tao come to be perceived? It certainly wasn’t through revelational propositions and neither did God send prophets as in the biblical accounts. It was a different way that the Tao came to be perceived — through an astute observation of speechless nature and its attributes. Paul affirmed this manner of perceiving God when he wrote in Romans (1:20) “… since the beginning of the world, the invisible attributes of God — his eternal power and divinity — have been plainly discernible through things which he has made and which are commonly seen and known, thus leaving men without any excuse of not knowing Him....” In other words, the Taoists simply had no chance of missing God as they contemplated His handiwork! Elizabeth Barrett Browning put it this way,

“Earth's crammed with Heaven,
And every bush aflame with God.
But only those who see take off their shoes,
The rest stand around and pick blackberries.”

The ultimate activity and goal of Taoism is the practice of seeking after and abandoning oneself to the Truth, or Tao. Thomas Merton, in drawing a parallel to Jesus’ radical call to deny oneself and take up the cross, defines the man of Tao as ‘one in and through whom the Tao acts without impediment’. It seems a reasonable, even compelling, speculation that the Taoist mystics would have very much identified with the mystics of our faith. Their lives and convictions beckon us to seek a deeper walk with God.

Gene Edwards, beloved Christian storyteller and foremost translator of Madame Guyon’s spiritual classics, laments the present state of spiritual experience in the Church in the following candid terms — “Since the end of the first century, no century has excelled in spiritual depth. In fact, most centuries since then have been very, very shallow indeed with only a handful of gloriously shining lights to illumine the darkness. This era — the one you and I live in — has proven to be unquestionably, the most-Bible-centered age since the days of the Pharisees; it also rivals their age for being one of the least in emphasizing spiritual depth! From a purely historical viewpoint, we must be categorized as the most universally shallow believers ever to cross the pages of church history”.

For me, what started off as a noble quest to discover and recover harmonies between our Christian faith and our Chinese roots for the glorious purpose of winning the Chinese for Christ, became a humbling call to re-examine my own spirituality, and then, to accept an invitation to ‘come away’ on a most amazing journey to experience the depths of Jesus Christ.

The Chinese soul longs for its Maker, and the ancient sages’ utter pursuit of the Tao is the ultimate testimony. The heartcry of the Taoist is a very touching one, and is perhaps best expressed in the following verse of the Tao Te Jing — “Before the world exists, there is mystery - silent, depthless, alone, unchanging, ubiquitous and ever moving - the mother of the world. I do not know its name, so I call it Tao…"

1 comment:

kentanjim said...

In Japan people commit hara-kiri if they have erred. Here Malaysia we have half past six ministers pointing fingers at each other. See the big difference? Our ministers here their skin is thicker than Kobe beef.