Sainthood in our Global Village?

(previously shared with “Tapestry” and “Spark”, via their respective emails found on show’s website.)

I picked up Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s “Crazy Wisdom” again this last week. A few paragraphs right-off got me thinking.

I have typed those paragraphs and share them below (at the end), but, what’s basically offered is a quick description of how a “saint” differs in the Christian tradition as compared to a Buddhist understanding. Recent conversations came to mind and I wondered if the CBC programme “Tapestry” had produced a show recently, exploring a spectrum of what a “saint” is, or could be, today.

It further occurred to me that through some exploration of my own, I have found similar patterns woven into many of the conversations I hear in other places, including much of what I hear broadcast on CBC’s “Spark”. Consider, for instance, that switch which when flipped, “allows” someone to understand what Marshall McLuhan’s son said about how his dad did/might respond to someone saying he was “ahead of his time”; that he “would have said he was of the time!”, or something like that.

Also consider the conversations with Big Data, Net Neutrality, Privacy and Security (health records, corporate information, grocery purchases, sexy photos with your loved one, whatever); and then this wide-reaching Internet-of-Things: the gadgets, built environment, community engagement, disaster response, revolution reporter…. For those who believe or understand, much less direct and/or use all this to be an extension of our own neurology, or for those who are simply along for the ride and think Wii, Skype or gaming is fun; or for those who practice a disciplined faith to trust any “Powers That Be” with their private information,…I hear them speaking, really, in terms of “saints” and “sainthood”.

On Monday morning, 11/11, “Q” replayed Jian Ghomeshi’s interview with Virginia Heffernan (“Why I Am A Creationist”). Passionately, she got to speaking of “Super Mystics” in regards to those wise in the ways of technology: “Canada’s own Marshall McLuhan was a Catholic Mystic of the First Order”,… and I couldn’t help but be brought back into the thought of teasing apart the nature of what it is we hold to aspire to as we move through our lives, communities, climate shifts, political unrest, the Boomers ageing, etc.

Horizontally (religious, spiritual, sects, practices, etc.) as well as vertically (access to tech./web, use of tech./web, First World vs. Rest of World, refugees, immigration, languages, etc.) , what is a “Saint” in the “Global Village”. Who are our “Mystics”? What is a “Mystic” for a “Global Village”, for what this “Global Village” we seem to? have t?

If so moved, I’d love the chance to hear the result of what your team would produce on this curiosity.

Cheers,…and thanks for what you do!



“…The idea of a saint in the Christian tradition and the idea of a saint in the Buddhist tradition are somewhat conflicting. In the Christian tradition, a saint is generally considered someone who has direct communication with God, who perhaps is completely intoxicated with the Godhead and because of this is able to give out certain reassurances to people. People can look to the saint as an example of higher consciousness or higher development.

The Buddhist approach to spirituality is quite different. It is nontheistic. It does not have the principle of an external divinity. Thus there is no possibility of getting promises from the divinity and bringing them from there down to here. The Buddhist approach to spirituality is connected with awakening within oneself rather than with relating to something external. So the idea of a saint as someone who is able to expand himself to relate to an external principle, get something out of it, and then share that with others is difficult or nonexistent from the Buddhist point of view.

A saint in the Buddhist context,…is someone who provides an example of the fact that completely ordinary, confused human beings can wake themselves up; they can put themselves together and wake themselves up through an accident of life of one kind or another. The pain, the suffering of all kinds, the misery and the chaos that are part of life, begins to wake them, shake them. Having been shaken, they begin to question: ‘Who am I? What am I? How is it that all these things are happening?’ Then they go further and realize that there is something in them that is asking these questions, something that is, in fact, intelligent and not exactly confused.” (p.4-5)


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