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Similarities Or Differences In Religions


JosephM
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As PC's agreeing in principle to Point 2, (By calling ourselves progressive, we mean that we are Christians who recognize the faithfulness of other people who have other names for the way to God's realm, and acknowledge that their ways are true for them, as our ways are true for us.) what are some of the similarities that you see between major religions or what are some of the perceived differences that you have difficulty reconciling to your satisfaction. Perhaps someone else's view may assist you in the latter case and perhaps your view in the former may give insight to others. If you disagree with another that is perfectly acceptable to make your counterpoint. However after doing so, please respect the right for us to have differing views by refraining from accusations and refrain from ' beating a dead horse into the ground.' That is part of what PC is all about. See point 6 in TCPC. (By calling ourselves progressive,we mean that we are Christians who find more grace in the search for meaning than in absolute certainty, in the questions than in the answers. )

Open for discussion

 

Love in Christ,

Joseph

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As PC's agreeing in principle to Point 2, (By calling ourselves progressive, we mean that we are Christians who recognize the faithfulness of other people who have other names for the way to God's realm, and acknowledge that their ways are true for them, as our ways are true for us.) what are some of the similarities that you see between major religions or what are some of the perceived differences that you have difficulty reconciling to your satisfaction. Perhaps someone else's view may assist you in the latter case and perhaps your view in the former may give insight to others. If you disagree with another that is perfectly acceptable to make your counterpoint. However after doing so, please respect the right for us to have differing views by refraining from accusations and refrain from ' beating a dead horse into the ground.' That is part of what PC is all about. See point 6 in TCPC. (By calling ourselves progressive,we mean that we are Christians who find more grace in the search for meaning than in absolute certainty, in the questions than in the answers. )

Open for discussion

 

Love in Christ,

Joseph

 

I grew up in an environment that preceeded the Eight Points but shared the same values. When I saw them I said to myself, "thank goodness, we are back!!" That is when I returned to Christianity.

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Thanks for starting this:

 

I have been trying to do some reconciling between Christianity and the Eastern philosophies that "suffering is illusion" and that enlightenment is the goal, when Jesus calls us to help the suffering. Also the concept that "we are all gods" with the idea of monotheism. I read a Deepak Chopra book called "The Third Jesus," which I agreed with in principle, but kept getting caught up in the foreign language (for me) of eastern religion.

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Thanks for starting this:

 

I have been trying to do some reconciling between Christianity and the Eastern philosophies that "suffering is illusion" and that enlightenment is the goal, when Jesus calls us to help the suffering. Also the concept that "we are all gods" with the idea of monotheism. I read a Deepak Chopra book called "The Third Jesus," which I agreed with in principle, but kept getting caught up in the foreign language (for me) of eastern religion.

 

This is where I keep getting confused. So I'm a Buddhist monk and I walk around all day with my bowl asking to be fed. Now if everybody were a Buddhist monk, who would grow the rice? The answer is nobody and life ends as we know it. No food, no life, no suffering.

 

The "suffering is illusion" concept does not apply to the vast majority of humans. It sounds so much like a few elites telling us to wait to get your just rewards in heaven, "you were placed here to suffer for a reason". Baloney. The priests get fed, you suffer. Just a shell game, nothing more.

 

How about that as a radical message taught by Jesus?

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I'm not following the discussion from post#2 on, but I would like to try to comment on post #1.

 

Acknowledging that other people's ways are "true for them" is not the same as saying all ways are good. For example, the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa accepted apartheid at one time. It may have been true for them but it was wrong. But I do think there are many valid ways of relating to what folks see as transcendant, holy, or whatever. There are also ways of seeing oneself as religious without that relationship, as I think is the case for many U Us, and may be true of me as well.

 

But the foregoing aside, I have always thought of "obedience to the love commandment" as a universal religious idea. Similar to that is the notion that all people are "utterly unique and of infinite value." I don't even remember where these particular quotes came from, but I don't think I made them up. And as far as differences are concerned, I sense that my approach to religion is closer to some Buddhists, Jews, and Bahais, and maybe even some Muslims and Hindus, than it is to some fellow members of the PCUSA as well as members of other Christian bodies.

 

A somewhat off the subject comment for David: I was a student in the Religion and Society area at the GTU from 1985 to about 1990, and wondered if you were there at that time.

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A somewhat off the subject comment for David: I was a student in the Religion and Society area at the GTU from 1985 to about 1990, and wondered if you were there at that time.

I was at the GTU for M.Div and PhD work from 1999 until 2001. I miss Berkeley although it was kind of a "world unto itself".

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Interestingly, I read up a bit on the "suffering as illusion" thing. It was different than I thought. It doesn't really deny that suffering exists, but rather shows that it can be transcended through self-improvement. The idea that the origin of suffering is attachment sounds similar to Jesus' teachings to put God first in life, to not attach to things that are impermanent, but rather count on something permanent (God).

 

 

http://www.thebigview.com/buddhism/fourtruths.html

 

1, To live means to suffer, because the human nature is not perfect and neither is the world we live in. During our lifetime, we inevitably have to endure physical suffering such as pain, sickness, injury, tiredness, old age, and eventually death; and we have to endure psychological suffering like sadness, fear, frustration, disappointment, and depression. Although there are different degrees of suffering and there are also positive experiences in life that we perceive as the opposite of suffering, such as ease, comfort and happiness, life in its totality is imperfect and incomplete, because our world is subject to impermanence. This means we are never able to keep permanently what we strive for, and just as happy moments pass by, we ourselves and our loved ones will pass away one day, too.

 

2. The origin of suffering is attachment.

 

The origin of suffering is attachment to transient things and the ignorance thereof. Transient things do not only include the physical objects that surround us, but also ideas, and -in a greater sense- all objects of our perception. Ignorance is the lack of understanding of how our mind is attached to impermanent things. The reasons for suffering are desire, passion, ardour, pursuit of wealth and prestige, striving for fame and popularity, or in short: craving and clinging. Because the objects of our attachment are transient, their loss is inevitable, thus suffering will necessarily follow. Objects of attachment also include the idea of a "self" which is a delusion, because there is no abiding self. What we call "self" is just an imagined entity, and we are merely a part of the ceaseless becoming of the universe.

 

3. The cessation of suffering is attainable.

 

The cessation of suffering can be attained through nirodha. Nirodha means the unmaking of sensual craving and conceptual attachment. The third noble truth expresses the idea that suffering can be ended by attaining dispassion. Nirodha extinguishes all forms of clinging and attachment. This means that suffering can be overcome through human activity, simply by removing the cause of suffering. Attaining and perfecting dispassion is a process of many levels that ultimately results in the state of Nirvana. Nirvana means freedom from all worries, troubles, complexes, fabrications and ideas. Nirvana is not comprehensible for those who have not attained it.

 

4. The path to the cessation of suffering

There is a path to the end of suffering - a gradual path of self-improvement, which is described more detailed in the Eightfold Path. It is the middle way between the two extremes of excessive self-indulgence (hedonism) and excessive self-mortification (asceticism); and it leads to the end of the cycle of rebirth. The latter quality discerns it from other paths which are merely "wandering on the wheel of becoming", because these do not have a final object. The path to the end of suffering can extend over many lifetimes, throughout which every individual rebirth is subject to karmic conditioning. Craving, ignorance, delusions, and its effects will disappear gradually, as progress is made on the path

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To reiterate on the suffering deal. There's some good wisdom there. Suffering is a response to pain....but it's not the only possible response to pain. The illusion is that it's the only possible response. What was Jesus response to pain? Forgiveness. This is how he transcended suffering. He did not transcend pain.

 

Religions generally share the same basic ideas and intentions. But living things are not built on generalities. Life only exists in specifics...in this moment. Specifically, I'm attracted to Christianity because of the Christian face of God through Jesus. This God is a God who is willing to live among us...to know us and to be known by us...to suffer and become vulnerable out of love for us. The Christian God does not command us; rather, he lives in relationship with us....he undergirds us....he is the source of our living. The Christian God is to be known as you might know your father or brother or mother or sister. This is unique to Christianity. I'm not saying it's a better face of God to behold than another, it's just the one I'm drawn to.

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Interestingly, I read up a bit on the "suffering as illusion" thing. It was different than I thought. It doesn't really deny that suffering exists, but rather shows that it can be transcended through self-improvement. The idea that the origin of suffering is attachment sounds similar to Jesus' teachings to put God first in life, to not attach to things that are impermanent, but rather count on something permanent (God).

 

 

http://www.thebigview.com/buddhism/fourtruths.html

 

1, To live means to suffer, because the human nature is not perfect and neither is the world we live in. During our lifetime, we inevitably have to endure physical suffering such as pain, sickness, injury, tiredness, old age, and eventually death; and we have to endure psychological suffering like sadness, fear, frustration, disappointment, and depression. Although there are different degrees of suffering and there are also positive experiences in life that we perceive as the opposite of suffering, such as ease, comfort and happiness, life in its totality is imperfect and incomplete, because our world is subject to impermanence. This means we are never able to keep permanently what we strive for, and just as happy moments pass by, we ourselves and our loved ones will pass away one day, too.

 

Some people are reslient to suffering from birth and others are more vulnerable. Seperate sections of the brain control negative and positive affect. In times of distress it is possible, with some effort, to switch from negative to positive control. Both positive and negative emotion are natural. In addition, as I have noted on various threads, we have innate moral emotions and moral intuitions. As well, we have a host of innate survival strategies. When children are raised with a proper understanding of the positive value of these, they fair very well in later life and report a higher level of satisfaction with life. In recent years, researchers have focused on emotion regulation or modualtion. Suffering is natural, but nature did not design it to be long lasting. The point is to let emotions pass their normal course of minutes or hours and then switch to a more positive state. This can be learned. Sometimes natural systems in the brain malfunction and it is a mistake to correlate that with life itself.

 

There is no good reason to accept socially induced suffering as "just the way things are". That is why many Progressive involve themselves in matters of social justice.

 

2. The origin of suffering is attachment.

 

The origin of suffering is attachment to transient things and the ignorance thereof. Transient things do not only include the physical objects that surround us, but also ideas, and -in a greater sense- all objects of our perception. Ignorance is the lack of understanding of how our mind is attached to impermanent things. The reasons for suffering are desire, passion, ardour, pursuit of wealth and prestige, striving for fame and popularity, or in short: craving and clinging. Because the objects of our attachment are transient, their loss is inevitable, thus suffering will necessarily follow. Objects of attachment also include the idea of a "self" which is a delusion, because there is no abiding self. What we call "self" is just an imagined entity, and we are merely a part of the ceaseless becoming of the universe.

 

However, we are naturally designed to form attachments to other humans. We are social beings. Be very careful when you use the word "desire". We can desire positive things such as social justice and self-improvement. Passion is the old word for emotion and compassion is a positive moral emotion. Buddhism teaches compassion. Research indicates that "self" is far from a delusion. When the sense of self, a delusion or not, breaks down severe problems ensue.

 

3. The cessation of suffering is attainable.

 

The cessation of suffering can be attained through nirodha. Nirodha means the unmaking of sensual craving and conceptual attachment. The third noble truth expresses the idea that suffering can be ended by attaining dispassion. Nirodha extinguishes all forms of clinging and attachment. This means that suffering can be overcome through human activity, simply by removing the cause of suffering. Attaining and perfecting dispassion is a process of many levels that ultimately results in the state of Nirvana. Nirvana means freedom from all worries, troubles, complexes, fabrications and ideas. Nirvana is not comprehensible for those who have not attained it.

 

Dispassion is the opposite of compassion. "Dis" is without and "Com" is with. Given a wide repetoir of positve emotions and intuitions I have something of a problem with this point.

 

4. The path to the cessation of suffering

 

There is a path to the end of suffering - a gradual path of self-improvement, which is described more detailed in the Eightfold Path. It is the middle way between the two extremes of excessive self-indulgence (hedonism) and excessive self-mortification (asceticism); and it leads to the end of the cycle of rebirth. The latter quality discerns it from other paths which are merely "wandering on the wheel of becoming", because these do not have a final object. The path to the end of suffering can extend over many lifetimes, throughout which every individual rebirth is subject to karmic conditioning. Craving, ignorance, delusions, and its effects will disappear gradually, as progress is made on the path.

 

My comments in red are my views and offered as a counter-view only. I have discussed these points with Buddhists many times. I agree with the Dalai Lama. It is not always a good idea to mix two different psychologies.

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Dispassion is the opposite of compassion. "Dis" is without and "Com" is with. Given a wide repetoir of positve emotions and intuitions I have something of a problem with this point.

Minsocal,

 

Just a respectful disagreement in your use of the words compassion and dispassion as being opposites. It seems to me compassionate and uncompassionate may be considered opposites but dispassion as i understand it as relates to Buddhism does not indicate a non-compassionate view. It has more to do with equanimity and coolness and a detachment from passion so as not to cloud ones view to best help alleviate the suffering of others. In my view dispassion makes for compassion ( Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it. )

 

Just a different perspective to consider.

 

Joseph

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Minsocal,

 

Just a respectful disagreement in your use of the words compassion and dispassion as being opposites. Compassionate and uncompassionate may be considered opposites but dispassion as i understand it as relates to Buddhism does not indicate a non-compassionate view. It has more to do with equanimity and coolness and a detachment from passion so as not to cloud ones view to best help alleviate the suffering of others. In my view dispassion makes for compassion ( Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it. )

 

Just a different perspective to consider.

 

Joseph

 

This often comes up in discussion with my Buddhist friends. Suppose I am walking down the street and I see a mother slap her child across the face. I instantly experience one of two basic emotions: anger aimed at the mother or compassion for the child. It is unlikely I will experience both at the same. This is an example of the innate emotion (or passion) of compassion. Research shows that is universal and built into us. It is the primal source of "deep awareness". Using sophisticated brain imaging equipment, cognitive scientists have shown that there is not such thing as 'dispassionate'. The reasoning going on in the prefrontal lobes will always be accompanied by one of two parallel operations: 1. Activation of the emotional section of the brain directly or 2. Activation of a memory of an emotional experience. In other words, learning from our innate moral state of compassion leads to a higher level use of that capacity. Given the evidence, I accept this view. In application, it means teaching children to recognize the emotion and then how to act on it in a reasonable fashion.

Edited by minsocal
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This often comes up in discussion with my Buddhist friends. Suppose I am walking down the street and I see a mother slap her child across the face. I instantly experience one of two basic emotions: anger aimed at the mother or compassion for the child. It is unlikely I will experience both at the same. This is an example of the innate emotion (or passion) of compassion. Research shows that is universal and build into us. It is the primal source of "deep awareness". Using sophisticated brain imaging equipment, cognitive scientists have shown that there is not such thing as 'dispassionate'. The reasoning going on in the prefrontal lobes will always be accompanied by one of two parallel operations: 1. Activation of the emotional section of the brain directly or 2. Activation of a memory of an emotional experience. In other words, learning from our innate moral state of compassion leads to a higher level use of that capacity. Given the evidence, I accept this view.

 

It seeems to me one does not have to experience either. I have no knowlege of why the child was slapped and therefor can see no reason for anger or compassion without knowledge. I would have dispassion and perhaps I might observe something beyond perception. Also it may be as you say that scientists have shown that there is no such thing as dispassion but to me only that does not make it true but nevertheless, your view is well taken.

 

Joseph

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It seeems to me one does not have to experience either. I have no knowlege of why the child was slapped and therefor can see no reason for anger or compassion without knowledge. I would have dispassion and perhaps I might observe something beyond perception. Also it may be as you say that scientists have shown that there is no such thing as dispassion but to me only that does not make it true but nevertheless, your view is well taken.

 

Joseph

 

Nonetheless, the research shows that the event normally triggers a flash intuition that it is wrong and that intuition will be followed by an emotion. It happens in most people automatically and is present very early in life. Certainly you can teach someone what compassion is, but it has been found to be far more effective to link the innate substrate with reason. This, by the way, is a basic premise of Process Theology. Whitehead's theory is that it is impossible for higher level mental processes to take place without lower level emotions, even if unconscious. The primary emomtion being empathy, as we are social beings. We are not stand alone entities. Again, it appears we are pre-wired to connect with other human beings.

 

This is the difference between "bottom up" processing (what I have described) and "top down" processing as you appear to describe. This being a main feature of Kant's theory. Even in the "top down" mode, one is likely to trigger a brief emotional response that is captures in brain imaging experiments. Owing that we can now see what takes place in the brain I feel I have to make place for it in my worldview.

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Thanks for your comments about the suffering piece I copied from the internet, minsocial. I have enjoyed the debate back and forth about passion (com and dis). Christianity works better for me right now than Buddhism, because I was raised with that language and way of speaking about God. I, too, appreciate the Christian way of speaking of God in terms of human relationships, that we have a God who understands suffering, because Jesus suffered. However, I used to think that "suffering is illusion" was incompatible with Jesus' teachings to aid those who suffer and Jesus' blessings to those who suffer in this lifetime. For me, such a realization makes me feel like there may be more similarity between eastern and western religions that I had imagined before. For a person like me, who believes it is impossible to have perfect wisdom about God, I believe those of us who belong to various religions may each see God dimly in our own way.

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