Shaolin and vestigium trinitatis

In Shaolin, there was a scene where Hou was baptized and he was officially received into the church. The priest baptized him in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit and gave him a new name afterwards.


Hou was initiated as a monk and he was officially received into the temple. The abbot said in his initiation, more or less,

The Enlightenment is the Buddha,
the teaching is the Dharma,
the community is the Sangha.

And he gave him a new name afterwards.

One is tempted to make a Buddhist analogy of the Trinity. Buddha, the Enlightenment, is the unknown one, like the Father. We can’t see the Father, as we can’t reach the enlightenment. On the other hand, Dharma, the teaching, is the known one, like the Son. Finally, Sangha, the community, is like the church. Fail. The analogy just crumbles. Yet, one still could argue that the birth of the church was on the Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came. Thus, this could be a valid vestigium trinitatis, no?

Well, not really. I am not sure how the three exactly relate to each other, though, but I have a feeling that they are different from what we understand of the Trinity. It is difficult to see how these three work in the light of the trinitarian concept of unity, persons, fatherhood-and-sonhood-bound-by-love-that-is-the-spirit, love, perichoresis, etc. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit remains the starting point of our trinitarian language. Buddha does not beget Dharma, and Dharma is not begotten by Buddha. Can Buddha, Dharma, and Singha exist in itself? So on and so on.

Nevertheless, it does make you to ponder how, then, we speak properly of the triune God whom we believe in. It actually compels us to criticize even further our own talk of God. We could not pretend that, since we are speaking from Christian background, we are assured of speaking more adequately of God. In fact, we might be speaking his name more profanely than the others!


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