My Christian Buddhist holiday!
It’s November 27!
And with that, again, the blessings of the saints Barlaam and Jehoshaphat are upon us!
This is absolutely my favorite of all Christian holidays.
And I like to remind people of the details of this original Christian Buddhist mashup. So, please forgive the repetitions of this little sharing. I add bits pretty much every time I rate this festival from the heart.
In the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church as well as those of the Eastern Churches that follow the Revised Julian Calendar, today November 27 is the feast of Saints Barlaam and Josaphat.
Orthodox Christians who continue to use the Julian calendar observe this holiday on August 26. That’s why I like to mention this holiday again at the end of August.
I must say they used to celebrate this day.
For the most part, this holiday is no longer actually observed.
The story of Prince Josaphat and his conversion to the true faith under the hermit Barlaam appears in the West in the eleventh century, apparently composed by the monk Euthymius, although attributed in the seventh century to John of Damascus.
In fact, the story is a bit older than the 11th or 7th century. Variations on this appear everywhere, from The Golden Legend to Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. It’s what you might call a classic.
However, in the 19th century, scholars realized the true source of the story. The name Josaphat ultimately derives from Sanskrit and means bodhisattva, “being of enlightenment”. They understood that the story, through some interesting turns, was really that of the Buddha.
I like this. So many…
While we can say with near certainty that Jesus never visited Tibet, or for those who want to quibble about distance, even India, there has actually been lots and lots of cross-fertilization. Ideas and people have followed this Silk Road back and forth for a long time. So, of course, the story of the Buddha would make it the West, even if only a faint echo.
Today there is real juice in Buddhist and Christian dialogue. They have practically nothing to say to each other, and from this nothing beautiful things have emerged.
So little to say. So many things to live.
Corn. As well. I love mash-ups. And, I thought a lot about what a Buddhist Christian church might look like. My little fantasy. But, if such a thing should happen, it should be one of the first dates to be entered in the liturgical calendar of this church.
And with that a piece of glass to the saints.