Kevin Thew Forrester was recently elected bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan on February 21, but is also a Buddhist practitioner in the Soto School of Zen Buddhism and practices at the Lake Superior Zendo. Some claim that this is somehow at odds with being Christian or Episcopal. I can't speak for Episcopal folk but as someone who is intimately familiar with Zen and Soto Zen in particular I don't see Christianity and Zen as being at odds with each other. But they can complement each other.
We're not talking Tibetan Buddhism here. That most Catholic of all Buddhist sects. In Zen, Buddha is not revered as a god nor is he asked to intercede with god. He's a teacher. Revered and honored. But nothing more.
Anthony de Mello (Jesuit), Meister Eckhart (Dominican) (surely not knowing it as zen but just as surely it was) and Thomas Merton (Trappist) and many other devoted Christians have explored the Zen path. It is a contemplative path that takes its practitioner to a place where one confronts two mysteries: the Self and the unnameable and ultimately unknowable essence of the universe; a/k/a the Trinity.
Is there a bigger, unnameable, unknowable or more mysterious thing than the Triune God? If Zen practice helps one to experience the Triune God, then what's the problem? Zen is not the problem. In fact there is no problem. Christ made sure of that. Zen is not the worship of Buddha but the search for self.
As Thomas Merton said:
"What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous."
As Meister Eckhart said:
"He who would be serene and pure needs but one thing, detachment."
"To be full of things is to be empty of God. To be empty of things is to be full of God."
"There exists only the present instant... a Now which always and without end is itself new. There is no yesterday nor any tomorrow, but only now."
As Anthony de Mello said:
"Obedience keeps the rules. Loves knows when to break them."
Truly, a Soto Zen Master could not have said it better.