So what is common between the two texts is their similar implorations to the reader. They both explain to the reader the value of taking certain risks and letting go of preconceived beliefs. Both Salzberg and Wallis propose keeping faith in faith. It is not until we tread the unknown path through trust that new vistas of wisdom are opened up. In the case of Salzberg it is her spiritual path through the practice of Vipassana meditation. She had to negotiate various challenges and moments of doubt before seeing for herself the universal truth that Vipassana unveils. Likewise, speaking from the experiences of a Christian cleric, Wallis urges readers to reach God through community service. His pitch is that if we are not fully functional social beings then we cannot aspire for God’s grace. In their own fashion, both Salzberg and Wallis make powerful cases for self-development by way of connection with community.
To conclude, I would admit that I concur with both authors. Their propositions might vary in terms of their nuts and bolts, but the essence remains the same. Despite the fact that I am neither Christian nor Buddhist, I can see the universal appeal of their arguments. In effect, what they say is that, for individuals to mature and expand their consciousness, it is necessary that they break the mould. We have to shed those roles, habits and activities that we are comfortable with. In their stead we have to participate in community activity. In the case of Salzberg it is through the method of compassion meditation. In fact, inspired by Salzberg’s example, I am mulling the idea of practicing meditation myself. Likewise, Wallis’ examples are those of alleviating the problems of the meek among us. Again, as a measure of respect for the author’s imploration, I am making conscious efforts to participate in community activities in the coming months.
Jim Wallis, Faith Works, Lesson 2: Get out of the House More Often, Published by PageMill Press, 2001.
Sharon Salzberg, Faith, Chapters 1-4, Published by Riverhead Trade, 2003