Can spiritual warfare explain some things in people's lives?
Lama Chuck Stanford, Rime Buddhist Center & Monastery: Some faiths refer to “spiritual warfare” as a battle between good and evil or between God and Satan. Buddhism is a nontheistic faith, therefore this idea or concept doesn’t really work.
In addition, from the Buddhist perspective, the concept of Satan is something that is not separate from our own mind and is referred to as “Mara.” Mara is known as the “tempter” and tempts us to act in less-than-virtuous ways. So the battle is not between any external forces, but the battle is really within our own mind.
The brilliant cartoonist Walt Kelly created the wonderful character of Pogo. One of Pogo’s most famous lines was, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” It is funny but true because our negative emotions are our worst enemy. In one of the sutras, the Buddha said: “Imagine you are on a battlefield with thousands of troops all around you.
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You must fight them all single-handedly, and you manage to conquer them all. Now imagine doing this a thousand times.”
The Buddha said doing that is an easier task than conquering one’s own mind. It is our duty to do battle with the enemy of negative emotions. If we truly wish to achieve any kind of ultimate happiness, we have to use the antidote of mindfulness to fight against this enemy. Meditation is an excellent method for cultivating this kind of mindfulness.
Pastor Raymond Davis Jr., Greater Corinthian Church of the Christ: Spiritual warfare is clearly addressed in Scripture to reveal that people have issues of inner struggle that can and usually do result in troubling circumstances. Spiritual warfare is God’s combative in-fighting against such things described as “methods of the devil.” Ephesians 6:10-18 describes the spiritual armor to be put on to protect against demonic forces.
The two most important readings are 2nd Corinthians 10:4-5 and James 4:1-6. Both texts illustrate the inbred strife provoking warfare. The major text that reveals human inner strife resulting from our own inner passions, even to possible criminal activity, is James 4:1-6, which puts the cause for such troubles as human pride.
But to be inclusive of the health care methods, these texts are not foreign to the concerns of the medical sciences that fit the profile of human troubles. Some may see these as alternative methods, but the warfare is yet spiritual because of where the problem positions itself. The Corinthians text describes a wrestling that takes place in the mind involving the thoughts and imagination. The medical fields of psychiatry and social sciences are in place to address the problems that Scripture describes as spiritual warfare.
But the ultimate goal is healing, wellness and wholeness. The ultimate answer is Ephesians 6:17-18.
Send your questions for one of our panels of religion columnists to Helen Gray at The Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64108. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.