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Through my study and participation in Orthodox Christianity I have learned that the root of suffering derives from a belief or attachment to the notion of an intrinsically existing ego centric self which is actually transient. For the Orthodox Christian overcoming this attachment is movement toward well-being and fulfilling what it means to actually be a person. This is accomplished by way of self-emptying love in that the transient self is abandoned by no longer existing for itself. In contrast movement towards existing for the self is actually movement towards non-being.
Buddhism seems to be a movement toward negation of the notion of an intrinsically existing ego centric self by direct insight and wisdom gained through the realization of Emptiness. The existence of the self and phenomena are not negated but rather that they are ultimately seen as being empty of intrinsic existence, so it is not the self which is annihilated but rather just a mistaken view.
However, many Christian commentaries I read and Christians I speak with about the subject seem to interpret the doctrine of Emptiness as meaning a literal annihilation of the self and that enlightenment means just that where not only the self-negated but the person is also swallowed up and is absorbed in the absolute with a loss of its own uniqueness.
I recently read a story about a Chinese Buddhist who converted and became an Orthodox Christian monk on Mt Athos. He seems to support some of the Christian perceptions I hear about Buddhism in saying that "one is very much alone as your entire struggle is with yourself”, and “that one is totally alone on the path".
Additionally, the interviewer of the story posited an idea that “Even these Buddhists, who are from a non-theistic religion, created various deities. Even in dream language and worlds. But they have a need to refer to someone, to something, someone beyond and outside themselves, even if it’s dreamy.” He made this point in conveying an innate communal nature present in man and his need to express it.
Given the fact that there are many Buddhist traditions, some of which have no reference to deities, has me wondering if those traditions that do arose as perhaps a reaction to an over emphasis in a literal interpretation of annihilation of the self and phenomena, or if the Christian perspective presented is a correct analysis in that both the self and person are swallowed up or absorbed in the absolute, a state of non-being if you will.