Earlier this week, I watched a podcast of a recent Larry King Live interview with Sharon Stone, and I have not been able to stop thinking about two things she said.
Responding to King's question about how she is handling the fact that she does not have custody of her older son,
Stone responded by saying, "Well, I’m a Buddhist. I think that helps. I
think that in my way of
understanding life, that I understand that everybody has their own
destiny, even Roan. And so I recognize that Roan has his path in life.
When he’s with us, we try to love him up as much as we possibly can."
Interestingly, later in the interview, King asked her about a medical
scare she had a few years ago, when her vertebral artery tore and she
hemorrhaged into her brain. "At first,
they missed it. So I ended up bleeding into my brain for a very long
time, nine days, in fact, before they understood what was happening to
me. And it was just really very much by the grace of God that I
I was still contemplating her earlier comment about how her Buddhist
beliefs helped her accept her son's destiny when I heard her refer to
the fact that "it was just really very much by the grace of God" that
Now, before I go on, I want to point out two things: first, there is no God in Buddhism. And secondly, there is no grace in Buddhism.
So, with that in mind, I began to think about a conclusion I have been mulling over, which this interview strengthened: regardless of their profession of faith, everyone wants to believe in the God of the Bible. They don't often
realize it, but at humanity's fundamental core, we all want the God of
the Bible to be our God. And I believe that even people who insist they
don't believe in the God of the Bible, do.
We want a God who believes in and exercises actual grace.
If you really take time to seek, logically and honestly, you will find that the
God of the Bible is the only God who believes in and exercises grace.
The irony (and I'm not trying to pick on Sharon Stone here - she just
happens to be the one who got me thinking about this) - the irony here
is that, Buddhism isa non-theistic religion . That means, they don't
even believe in God. At least, they're not supposed to believe in God.
But they do. We all do. Atheists believe there is a God. And when push
comes to shove, every single one of us wants it to be the God of the
Bible, because that is the only God of grace.
When times are hard, we want the God of the Bible - all powerful, all
knowing, loving, grace-filled, slow to anger, quick to forgive, healer,
redeemer, savior. And regardless of what faith we profess to have, our
core instincts - every human being, I say - is to return to the God of
the Bible, in whose image we were made. Just look at how otherwise
faithless people respond when there is a tragedy, health scare, custody
battle, natural disaster, or the like. We either turn to him in prayer,
or we blame him in anger - but either way, we believe. We have to; it's
in our DNA. We all know God is there.
I came across this article
from the Rime Buddhist Center while I was refreshing my memory about
Buddhist teaching today, and I found it to be very enlightening. The
writer, drawn to the presence of grace in Christianity, wanted to find
such grace in Buddhism. He tried hard, and gave many suggestions about
where grace might be found in Buddhism. But then the whole thing fell
apart at the end of the article, when he wrote this:
"So you see, we have many examples of “grace” – the big difference in
Buddhism is that it is not “unmerited” as in Christianity. As Pema
Chodron is so fond of pointing out, us westerners often operate from a
sense of poverty. We feel we are not deserving of this or that – and I
believe this is especially true when it comes to grace."
You see, Buddhists believe you always get what you deserve, in this
life or the next. The only way one could possibly discover "grace" in
Buddhism is to change the very definition of grace, and thus be calling
a thorn "a rose." Grace is undeserved favor. Grace is the exact
opposite of getting what you deserve. And this fellow, this Buddhist,
God bless him - he wants that so desperately. We all do. The problem
with what he writes here is that he is so utterly mistaken.
Buddhists believe that we always get what we deserve, so when something
good happens, we earned it. Likewise, when something bad happens. And
while I have been in many conversations with Buddhists, trying to
understand their faith, trying to understand their thinking, I have
come to the conclusion that even they don't really believe that, and in
fact, when they are tested, they revert to their innate DNA - the
innate DNA of every human being, made in the image of the God of the
Why did you survive your brain hemorrhage, Sharon Stone? "It was by
God's grace." Not because you deserved to keep living. You know it, I
know it - every human being knows it, whether we acknowledge it or not.