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Thoughts On Buddhism


Mike
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Hi all,

 

I just mentioned in another thread how interesting it is that Buddhism manages to creep up in conversations on this forum so often. No doubt some of these are due to my own input -- I keep my interest in Buddhism no secret here. But it seems to pop up in (seemingly) strange contexts.

 

Having delved into Buddhist philosophy over the past 5 years, I see that there are many misconceptions about what it is and means. Some of these misconceptions might make it favorable to PCs and perhaps some not. I say this being aware that Buddhism is enormously varied in philosophical thought, practice, culture and history. Yet, I think these generalizations stick pretty well. So...

 

contrary to many presentations, I have found that,

 

Buddhism is a traditional religion in that it shares many things we would recognize in Christianity: beliefs and practices, myths and cosmogonies, and is traditionally quite conservative on issues of morality and sexuality.

 

Buddhism makes certain exclusive claims about the nature of reality and truth.

 

Buddhism does not sweepingly state that "reality is an illusion" and does not seek to be "one with everything" (it would see this goal as dualistic and perhaps a little impractical). Rather, it seeks to break through the "self" and touch the pure nature of the mind, which spells the end of suffering and the attainment of liberation. The best way I can explain this is from something I've read elsewhere, that 'one' does not mean 'one as opposed to many', but 'one without a second' -- 'suchness'. This is why it is called 'nonduality' and not just 'oneness'. While it is not-two, neither it is 'one'.

 

 

Buddhism tends to adopt (with a few interesting exceptions) a very different stance on things than theistically oriented metaphysics. Because Buddhist philosophy is so well developed and (in my view) profound, I have enjoyed comparative studies between it and Christianity. Often they each approach a question from very different starting points...and it's interesting to see where they go with them.

 

Yes, Buddhism does root itself in embodied practice and epistemology. This has been of great appeal to me. But traditionally it is not what you would call 'new age' or 'liberal'. It's just different. It simply has its own questions and concerns (many of them which seem to readily resonate with the modern and postmodern sensibilities, or which might readily form a core for liberal and/or new age thinking), and seeks to answer them with a combination of insight and meditation, teaching and practice that form the core of its philosophy and worldview.

 

Just thought I'd throw this out there.

 

Peace,

Mike

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Every religion and philosophy has its conceptions and misconceptions. I am essentially ignorant of Buddhism because 1) I don't have enough life left to thoroughly study all of its flavors and 2) I find the language used by Buddhist to be utterly confusing to me. When I ask for clarification "in my own tongue," I often receive the response, "It can't be described in words, it can only be experienced." Fair enough. Most spiritual experiences are this way. But, as you say, Mike, it is different. And unless those who hold to Buddhism can find a meaningful, constructive way to explain it to us Westerners it terms that translate, it will probably remain different to most of us.

 

As a result, many of us are left with the conceptions (or misconception) of Buddhism as Buddhist monk sitting on the top of a mountain in a lotus position, his eyes closed, contemplating his Oneness with the One. He is detached from the world, uninvolved in order to maintain his Oneness. And if anyone wants to know anything from him, they have to go to him and interrupt the bliss that he has attained were, at least for him, suffering no longer exist.

 

In way of contrast, though Jesus claimed oneness with the Father, that oneness sent him deeper into the world, not away from it. He exhorted people to open their eyes and ears, not to close them. He came down from the mountains to the people where they were to alleviate at least some suffering. In fact, some Christians claim that they see in Jesus a God who suffers.

 

I'm not Jesus, nor am I Christ. Still, I do feel called to minister where I can and to alleviate whatever suffering I can. Therefore, the Buddhist paradigm that seems to be the most prevalent here in the West - detachment, denial of reality and suffering - just doesn't appeal to me. Granted, all religions have their distortions. But if those adherants can find a way to clear up or clarify those distortions, the distortions remain. And things like, "While it is not-two, neither is it 'one'" just confuse me more, almost as bad as the Christian doctrine of the Trinity i.e. three persons but one God. Riiiiiiight. :D

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Hi Bill,

 

Strictly speaking, it is against the spirit of Buddhist philosophy to posit that there is a 'one' behind the universe. That's a Hindu metaphysic, not Buddhist. I don't think there is anything intrinsically confusing about Buddhist philosophy any more than Kant or Plato. It just takes getting used to. True, experience is paramount in Buddhism more than purely intellectual artifices, yet Buddhist philosophy is very well developed and diverse. It is certainty not anti-intellectual. Buddhist philosophy seeks a way to articulate a pure affirmation about the nature of reality. This affirmation, naturally, will not be a simple equation, Reality is x, y, z. For that is to compare reality to something else, to give it an identity, to distance yourself from it.

 

Buddhism also doesn't deny reality or suffering -- nor the reality of suffering. In fact, the facts of reality and suffering form the very core of Buddhism straight from the historical Buddha to present day. Nonduality, also, is a philosophical statement, not a dogma like the trinity. Buddhism doesn't really deal with dogmas. It is subtle, like many philosophical ideas, but that doesn't mean it is nonsense (holy nonsense or otherwise). Of course, I did not understand what Buddhism was trying to say at first. It took me a few years for it to sink in. Take postmodernism...which tends to make some very peculiar statements about truth and reality. But it must be understood that this is not because of dogma. It sounds peculiar without any context -- it sounds peculiar from where one is standing. Within the context of postmodernism -- once its presuppositions, goals and purposes (its whats, hows, and whys) are understood -- it becomes readily more accessible. Buddhism, like postmodernism, has a learning curve. I'm sure many Buddhists might look at Christianity and find it just as incomprehensible as Westerners may find Buddhism. The solution? Dialogue and study.

 

Peace,

Mike

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Mike,

 

If it’s okay with you (but feel free to decline), I’d like to take this conversation in a slightly different direction. Rather than discussing the concepts and metaphysics of Buddhism, I’m interested in the pragmatic side of the religion. Jesus said that a tree would be known by the fruit that it bears. So I’m interested in what kind of fruit that Buddhism has born in the world in the past couple thousand years.

 

I would be the first one to say that the Christian religion has had trouble bearing good fruit. It has, at times, brought great harm to our world. I think this happens when Christianity is interpreted as a head-trip, a set of beliefs such as we find in the Nicene creeds that don’t say one thing about what Christians do or should do. When Christianity becomes conceptual, imo, it ceases to be a blessing to the world. But when it becomes the “Body of Christ”, the hands and feet of God to the world, then it has and can do great things.

 

With this is mind, what kind of good fruit has Buddhism borne? I know it builds temples. But does it also build hospitals? Does it build institutes for higher education to further human knowledge? Does it participate in or have its own version of “Feed the Children”? Does it participate in or have its own version of “Habitat for Humanity”? Does it fight for justice? Does it strive for gender equality or for inclusion of all sexual preferences? Does it have prison ministries? Does it have para-temple organizations that help with widows and orphans? Does it seek, as Christianity has as its best, to be a blessing to the world? Or is it a religion that focuses only on one’s own internal bliss? Buddhism is at least as old as Christianity. How has it blessed the world in the past 2000 years?

 

ws

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Bill,

 

There is a five minute introduction HERE. I think from reading it you will see that Buddhists are people just like you and me and that many of them do not consider it a religion but more a way of life. The ones i know indeed bear good fruit on an individual basis and do their part in bringing social justice, equality, and the like, avoiding harm to others. Christianity, i feel has given Buddhist a bad rap so to speak. They are mostly quiet people, not pushy but always willing to help. Christianity being one of the largest religions gets a lot of credit for good works but i think you will find the Buddhist doing all those things you consider "right action" working toward the welfare of others without all the pomp. Just my own experience.

 

While i identify as a Christian, i think there is much commonality and things to be learned from other religions that can make one a more tolerant, understanding and better equipped Christian. BTW, an 84 year old Buddhist woman just stopped by as i was typing this at my camper here in Florida to say hello. She is a retired doctor and a wonderful and kind human being that has and is contributing much to others in this world.

 

Joseph

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Thanks for the link, Joseph. That seems to me to be a pretty good quick overview.

 

But, still, I would appreciate answers to my specific questions:

 

1. Does Buddhism build hospitals?

 

2. Does it build institutes for higher education to further human knowledge?

 

3. Does it participate in or have its own version of “Feed the Children”?

 

4. Does it participate in or have its own version of “Habitat for Humanity”?

 

5. Does it have its own versions of "Salvation Army" or "Goodwill Industries"?

 

6. Does it fight for justice? If so, how?

 

7. Does it strive for gender equality or for inclusion of all sexual preferences? If so, how?

 

8. Does it have prison ministries?

 

9. Does it have para-temple organizations that help with widows and orphans?

 

10. How has Buddhism change the world for the better in the past 2000 years?

 

ws

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wayseeker, from my own perspective, "isms" have never changed anything, nor "ologies" or even "ainities". It is people.

I am sure you find that many of the organisations you have listed include those who would identify as "buddhists". And yes, those countries deemed "buddhist" do have hospitals etc etc.

 

And to speak of Thich Nhat Hanh is to speak of a humanitarian, if we wish to put labels on people.

 

:)

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Thanks for the link, Joseph. That seems to me to be a pretty good quick overview.

 

But, still, I would appreciate answers to my specific questions:

 

I think Derek has answered your questions suffiently in his post above. Yet since you want more.....

 

1. Does Buddhism build hospitals?

Yes, of course they do. They also build hospitals here in America. They however don't walk around with signs saying i am a Buddhist, i build hospitals nor do the ones i know boast about their good works.

 

2. Does it build institutes for higher education to further human knowledge?

My Buddhist friend stopped by today and not only worked her whole life in hospitals as a doctor but is a firm believer in higher education. I didn't ask here how much she gives to build institutes for higher education because that is an individual thing.

 

3. Does it participate in or have its own version of “Feed the Children”?

Buddhists are a small minority estimated at 6% but if you google Buddhist Global relief the answer to your question is definitely yes.

4. Does it participate in or have its own version of “Habitat for Humanity”?

Yes. Google tsunami reconstruction project and others.

 

 

 

5. Does it have its own versions of "Salvation Army" or "Goodwill Industries"?

 

Yes they have a Salvation Army and also they donate to the US Salvation Army

 

 

6. Does it fight for justice? If so, how?

 

7. Does it strive for gender equality or for inclusion of all sexual preferences? If so, how?

 

8. Does it have prison ministries?

 

9. Does it have para-temple organizations that help with widows and orphans?

 

10. How has Buddhism change the world for the better in the past 2000 years?

 

 

You can Google the answers for yourself. They do all of the above and the ones i know, don;'t measure themselves against others or other religions.

 

Joseph

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Bill said...

In way of contrast, though Jesus claimed oneness with the Father, that oneness sent him deeper into the world, not away from it. He exhorted people to open their eyes and ears, not to close them. He came down from the mountains to the people where they were to alleviate at least some suffering. In fact, some Christians claim that they see in Jesus a God who suffers.

 

I don't think the life of Jesus and the one known as the Buddha were in contrast as you seem to imply. Siddhartha (the Buddha) was born the son of a King but left it all as he was perplexed by all the suffering in the world and went off, leaving all behind to seek meaning. While he took the monk route at first, he later abandoned it in favour of a life of extreme asceticism . Then after some time Siddhartha felt he had failed to achieve true insight and rejected such practices as dangerous and useless. After he resolved himself to meditate until he died or was awakened to truth trying, he awakened or was enlightened and from that point on, he spent the rest of his life travelling and preaching and teaching. He is recorded performing many miracles, and converted his family and many followers not dissimilar to Jesus who came after. By the time he reached the age of 80, he visited all of the monasteries he had founded and prepared to meet his end.

 

Whether this is all factual or not, i do not know anymore than i know the facts of the recorded life of Jesus. However, many of the same qualities that are recorded of his life teachings and work are not dissimilar to those seen in Jesus who came some 500 years after. Siddhartha is recorded spending many more years out in the world helping people to alleviate suffering than Jesus did as Siddhartha lived a long life after his enlightenment. I think a 1 hour reading of his life story would certainly change the opinion you expressed of his life in contrast to Jesus. Perhaps Jesus also spent much time alone away from the world before starting his ministry?

 

Just something to consider,

Joseph

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I really hope for this thread not to become either an apologia for Buddhism or a debate over which is superior, Christianity or Buddhism. My thoughts here were really in response to some of the interesting and peculiar ways Buddhism manages to surface as a topic of discussion on this board, being cited here and there as teaching x, y, and z, even though x, y, and z may be mutually exclusive. I'm not talking singly about any one person here; I've noticed it brought up, as I said, in unexpected contexts.

 

Onward...

 

 

 

Bill writes,

 

If it’s okay with you (but feel free to decline), I’d like to take this conversation in a slightly different direction. Rather than discussing the concepts and metaphysics of Buddhism, I’m interested in the pragmatic side of the religion.

 

That's fine. I hope that metaphysics ultimately has a practical side. But personally I also hope that practice has a metaphysical side.

 

With this is mind, what kind of good fruit has Buddhism borne? I know it builds temples. But does it also build hospitals? Does it build institutes for higher education to further human knowledge?

 

Like Christianity, Buddhism is a world religion, in that it can (and has) quite easily cross cultural and state boundaries. India, Southeast Asia, China, Japan, and now the West. In Buddhist cultures, Buddhism's ideas have informed the lives of those among whom it has been assimilated. Buddhism, of course, is also reshaped in turn. Among the common people, Buddhism serves a recognizable role providing a system of values and a religious worldview. It is a religion of high-culture, like Christianity. Yes, Buddhist cultures have had their hospitals and places of learning. Buddhism is almost ridiculously voluminous in its philosophical discourses, treatises, commentaries, commentaries on commentaries, and so on ad nauseum. That sort of sophistication doesn't arise in a vacuum, obviously.

 

3. Does it participate in or have its own version of “Feed the Children”?

 

4. Does it participate in or have its own version of “Habitat for Humanity”?

 

5. Does it have its own versions of "Salvation Army" or "Goodwill Industries"?

 

I assume that you're referring more or less to modern humanitarian enterprises. Buddhism seems readily suited for the task. Engaged Buddhism is one such grassroots movement.

 

6. Does it fight for justice? If so, how?

 

7. Does it strive for gender equality or for inclusion of all sexual preferences? If so, how?

 

Historically the Buddha rejected the Hindu caste system and the metaphysical basis that was used to justify it. This basis was the belief that all social classes -- all beings -- are just where they ought to be by virtue of the unchanging identity (or soul) behind things. The Buddha denied the caste system and that there is any such identity girding it. The sangha (community) was open to people of all classes and genders. He denied that there was any intrinsic identity rooting ourselves in the present conditions we find ourselves to be, that when conditions change, so do we. This means that spiritual progress truly is possible.

 

Ultimately the Buddha's intention was intensely practical: how to deal with the fact that life is fleeting and painful. He was acutely aware of that all beings deal with suffering and misery, and therefore that all beings are equal in this regard. Like Christianity, historically this ideal was not really realized (20th century imperial Japan is a stark example of this), but it has been there none the less. And even more so than Christianity, non-violence has been unequivocally and irrevocably at the core of Buddhist teaching and practice. Note that this extends not only to the human realm but also the animal. Not even Christianity has historically had much awareness that animals are feeling beings too.

 

8. Does it have prison ministries?

 

I'm aware that there are a couple, no doubt more. Look up 'Dhamma Brothers' on youtube.

 

9. Does it have para-temple organizations that help with widows and orphans?

 

The institutions of Buddhism have provided dispossessed women and children with an alternative to the streets through involvement with temples and monasteries. I couldn't say to what degree however.

 

10. How has Buddhism change the world for the better in the past 2000 years?

 

This is a very subjective question, but I'd think through some its radical views on the power of human choice to overcome its 'karma' and attain the highest religious realization. This has served as an inspiration for countless individuals. Just look at the iconography to gain a sense of what 'realization' means and how pervasive an inspiration it is in various Asian cultures. It has also given us an incredible array of meditation techniques, religious/spiritual masterpieces, several unique and penetrating systems of philosophical thought -- and I wouldn't underestimate the power of ideas here as opposed to 'practice'. It has affirmed compassion and non-violence toward humans and nonhumans.

 

Of course there are a couple of areas in which Buddhism is often cited to be lacking. It has a cyclical view of existence, unlike the Judeo-Christian tradition's clear conception of linear time and history. Though it cannot be said that this cyclical view of time is 'objectively' a wrong view -- obviously it could very well be correct -- nonetheless if there is a fundamental hang up in Buddhism it's probably this. Yet it's also true that because Buddhism does not see reality as 'going anywhere' particular that it does not seem to produce all the troublesome anxiety that we find in the "Western" orientation toward life. As one scholar noted, unlike Western tales, in Buddhism you don't really find heroes being defined by their willingness to smash themselves against the stone wall of necessity, but rather by having achieved self-knowledge and enlightenment. Whether this is a strike against Buddhism probably depends on one's worldview and one's mood.

 

Peace,

Mike

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Living in Buddhist countries I found spiritual and materialistic Buddhist just like spiritual and materialistic Christians. The same with the monks and ministers, the good the bad and the ugly. The Buddhist were always open to help me when I was in need physically, but more important spiritually. They had the patience to let my immature musing play themselves out. Fortunately, I didn't meet the strict monks who hit you on the back to make you aware. I guess I didn't need that as I already had enough pain. I am thankful for Buddhist and Christian compassion otherwise I would still be a renegade angry at the world.

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Mike,

 

I have long been in agreement with the Dalai Lama in that Buddhism is primarily psychology before philosophy or religion. Its focus is on emotion that is afflictive or, in Western language, unconscious negative conditioned responses that narrow consciousness and inhibit both cognition and behavior. As psychology, it would be natural for Buddism to appear most anywhere in these threads as people grapple with questions and would like, at least once and a while, a few answers.

 

Myron

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Living in Buddhist countries I found spiritual and materialistic Buddhist just like spiritual and materialistic Christians. The same with the monks and ministers, the good the bad and the ugly. The Buddhist were always open to help me when I was in need physically, but more important spiritually. They had the patience to let my immature musing play themselves out. Fortunately, I didn't meet the strict monks who hit you on the back to make you aware. I guess I didn't need that as I already had enough pain. I am thankful for Buddhist and Christian compassion otherwise I would still be a renegade angry at the world.

 

Soma,

Thanks for your wisdom. I think we all have different and sometimes specific experiences that color our perceptions of people of different religions. Thanks for reminding us of that. It seems we get closer to the way things are my sharing our own unique experiences even when they seem to vary widely.

 

Joseph

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  • 2 weeks later...

This topic brought up several points that have been on my mind –one, as Mike wrote--

 

“Buddhism has a cyclical view of existence, unlike the Judeo-Christian tradition's clear conception of linear time and history. Though it cannot be said that this cyclical view of time is objectively a wrong view, if there is a fundamental hang up in Buddhism it's probably this. Yet it's also true that because Buddhism does not see reality as going anywhere particular, it does not seem to produce all the troublesome anxiety that we find in the Western orientation toward life.”

 

To me this is one of the most profound differences between the Christian and Buddhist perspective. Would Buddhism say there has been vast technological progress through history, but little or no change in human nature?

 

Another thing that stands out, for me, is that Buddhism is not personal– there is no one to pray to, no embodiment of God’s love to relate to. I’m probably being too simplistic about this.

 

A third idea that intrigues me is Minsocal saying that Buddhism is primarily a form of psychology rather than philosophy or religion. Thought and emotion are considered the same.

 

Also, it seems significant that neither Siddhartha nor Jesus wrote their teachings down.

 

Don’t know what to make of these comparisons/contrasts, but find them interesting and relevant.

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Another thing that stands out, for me, is that Buddhism is not personal– there is no one to pray to, no embodiment of God’s love to relate to. I’m probably being too simplistic about this.

Rivanna,

 

While i would agree from my study that their is no one to pray to, i think many Buddhists do bow in respect and admiration to the Buddha and his teachings in recognition of the peace and compassion for others he represented not dissimilar in a sense to the love showed others by Jesus. As far as the word God.... I think that Buddhists avoid the word God and for good reason. I very much agree with one Yin De Shakya writes .....

"It is my belief that all religions, and all spiritual traditions are based on a common but unspoken theory that there is something remarkable going on behind or above the level of human consciousness. There is some principle or some "thing", which is not really a thing that underlies all that is, was, or ever will be. This principle or "thing", which is not a thing has been variously labeled as God, Brahma, Vishnu, Krishna, Ein Sof, Yahweh, The Tao, The Way, The One, Universe, Collective Consciousness, and the Dharmakaya among other labels. These labels have created all the division and trouble within and between all religions of all times."

 

Perhaps for many the existence of God as a question is asked from an invalid point of view. That being that there is one common accepted definition for what "God" is. Perhaps one cannot have a valid personaql definition of God without direct experience and then words can only .. as many Buddhists say "point" at best.

 

Joseph

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While i would agree from my study that their is no one to pray to, i think many Buddhists do bow in respect and admiration to the Buddha and his teachings in recognition of the peace and compassion for others he represented not dissimilar in a sense to the love showed others by Jesus.

 

One of the characteristics of religion is the belief in immaterial beings with personal awareness and immortality (including the soul). A religion need not have a central god.

 

I know virtually nothing about Buddhism, so I don't know if it includes any ideas such as the soul or other immortal beings.

 

George

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Joseph,

 

thanks, I didn’t mean to imply that Buddhists would use the word God or recognize a monotheistic deity.

 

My gut feeling is that despite the conceptual differences, when Buddhism and Christianity are truly understood, the human attitudes and behavior which are instilled toward life and toward others, are very similar in both.

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I have to a certain extent ceased to try to understand "Buddhism". More now just what it is for me. And as many in the West insist that Pure Land is NOT Buddhism at all, then that's fine by me.........

 

Having said that, I think the distinction must be made between Theravada and Mahayana. Theravada relies heavily on its own Scriptures (The Pali Canon) which purports to be the closest we can get to the actual words and teachings of the historical Buddha, and which has as its bywords........Buddha's can only point the way, each has to walk the path themselves.

 

As far as the Mahayana is concerned, there would seem to be many to walk the path for us, and when talk is made of the Dharmakaya - at least by great Buddhist scholars such as D.T.Suzuki - oft-times we come close to ideas that suggest it is not a hopeless thing to "pray". I would also offer the fact that Nagarjuna, the originator of the Madhyamika - the central philosophy of Buddhism, in some ways very austere and "impersonal" - actually wrote hymns of devotion to Amida and seemed to see nothing incongruous in doing so.

 

Which makes me think of the little zen story......it concerns a newly enlightened Westerner, who was being escorted through the Zen monastery by the old master, who spoke only broken English. At every statue of the Buddha the old master passed, he stopped and prostrated himself. The Westerner looked on with a distinct look of disdain, and at the third or forth statue he said to the old master, "I say, don't you think we are a bit above that sort of thing now? Speaking for myself, I think I would rather spit at those statues than bow to them." To which the old master replied...."OK. You spit, I bow."

 

I would just like to insist that this story has nothing whatsoever to do with "tolerance", but concerns "enlightenment".

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Very interesting dialogue. I confess, what I know of Buddhism could barely create a meaningful paragraph. I know enough to know what I've borrowed from Buddhism makes sense to me. For many years I was called a "cafeteria Catholic", picking and choosing what made sense to me. I suppose I'm also a cafeteria Buddhist. :rolleyes: I do find, however, that I have more in common with certain followers of Buddhism than I have with certain followers of Christianity.

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Either way, spit or bow, is to acknowledge?

 

Jenell

 

I think to come to some conclusion about any zen story is to perhaps miss the point. For me "truth" is not an accumulation of "wisdom" that "grows" in us, and which we access each time we make a decision and act. Such decisions and actions can only come from "self". Christianity speaks of following the way of Christ, kenosis, the emptying of self for the sake of all. So "truth" for me is just that spontaneity of pure freedom, pure love that is the heart of Reality-as-is. Expressed in many ways, "Love God and do what you will" (St Augustine), the earth bringing forth fruits of herself ( a Parable of the Kingdom from St Marks Gospel), the "effortlessness" and "no-striving" contained in the Buddhist words Anabhoga-Carya, or as is said in the Pure Land, made to become so of itself, where "no working (our own) is true working (Amida's)."

 

So as I see it, the Westerner is acting and speaking from self. He still discriminates, and having done so, reacts accordingly. The old master is "empty" and therefore still lives in the real world.

 

And as a slight counterpoint, I think of the words of the Buddha, when asked why he still meditated, even though he was enlightened. "Out of compassion for the world, for future generations."

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Very interesting dialogue. I confess, what I know of Buddhism could barely create a meaningful paragraph. I know enough to know what I've borrowed from Buddhism makes sense to me. For many years I was called a "cafeteria Catholic", picking and choosing what made sense to me. I suppose I'm also a cafeteria Buddhist. :rolleyes: I do find, however, that I have more in common with certain followers of Buddhism than I have with certain followers of Christianity.

 

Well, I would hazard a guess that what I know about Buddhism never creates a meaningful paragraph..... :D

 

And I have a long history of being accused of "picking and choosing" and mixing apples and oranges.

 

Maybe we are ALL "cafeteria human beings" whether we know it or not?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hornet,

 

I think it depends on ones perspective. If you read and study it a bit you might find.... the Buddha himself rejected metaphysical speculation as a matter of principle, and his teachings focused entirely on the practical ways to end suffering. On the other hand, the Buddha did not explicitly rule out the existence of a God. Of course most scholars and Buddhist followers tend to describe Buddhism as atheistic in the sense that it denies an eternal creator God. Having said that one might ask the question, Is the rejection of an EXTERNAL creator God as described by some religions a denial of a creator God? I personally think not. It also seems to me that the image often described and held by many people within the Christian religion, of the word God, in my experience, is not God but rather a vain image.

 

Just my own thoughts and view on the question,

Joseph

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Thanks for starting this thread - it has inspired me to find out more about Buddhism. I find some of the teachings of Buddhism strengthen my own practice or Christianity. Like I said, I pick and choose, but I wisdom for living in the 8-fold path, the 5 precepts and the virtues.

 

1. Right View Wisdom 2. Right Intention 3. Right Speech Ethical Conduct 4. Right Action 5. Right Livelihood 6. Right Effort Mental Development 7. Right Mindfulness 8. Right Concentration

source: http://www.thebigview.com/buddhism/eightfoldpath.html

Moral conduct for Buddhists differs according to whether it applies to the laity or to the Sangha or clergy. A lay Buddhist should cultivate good conduct by training in what are known as the "Five Precepts". These are not like, say, the ten commandments, which, if broken, entail punishment by God. The five precepts are training rules, which, if one were to break any of them, one should be aware of the breech and examine how such a breech may be avoided in the future. The resultant of an action (often referred to as Karma) depends on the intention more than the action itself. It entails less feelings of guilt than its Judeo-Christian counterpart. Buddhism places a great emphasis on 'mind' and it is mental anguish such as remorse, anxiety, guilt etc. which is to be avoided in order to cultivate a calm and peaceful mind. The five precepts are:

1) To undertake the training to avoid taking the life of beings. This precept applies to all living beings not just humans. All beings have a right to their lives and that right should be respected.

2) To undertake the training to avoid taking things not given. This precept goes further than mere stealing. One should avoid taking anything unless one can be sure that is intended that it is for you.

3) To undertake the training to avoid sensual misconduct. This precept is often mistranslated or misinterpreted as relating only to sexual misconduct but it covers any overindulgence in any sensual pleasure such as gluttony as well as misconduct of a sexual nature.

4) To undertake the training to refrain from false speech. As well as avoiding lying and deceiving, this precept covers slander as well as speech which is not beneficial to the welfare of others.

5) To undertake the training to abstain from substances which cause intoxication and heedlessness. This precept is in a special category as it does not infer any intrinsic evil in, say, alcohol itself but indulgence in such a substance could be the cause of breaking the other four precepts.

Moral conduct for Buddhists differs according to whether it applies to the laity or to the Sangha or clergy. A lay Buddhist should cultivate good conduct by training in what are known as the "Five Precepts". These are not like, say, the ten commandments, which, if broken, entail punishment by God. The five precepts are training rules, which, if one were to break any of them, one should be aware of the breech and examine how such a breech may be avoided in the future. The resultant of an action (often referred to as Karma) depends on the intention more than the action itself. It entails less feelings of guilt than its Judeo-Christian counterpart. Buddhism places a great emphasis on 'mind' and it is mental anguish such as remorse, anxiety, guilt etc. which is to be avoided in order to cultivate a calm and peaceful mind. The five precepts are:

1) To undertake the training to avoid taking the life of beings. This precept applies to all living beings not just humans. All beings have a right to their lives and that right should be respected.

2) To undertake the training to avoid taking things not given. This precept goes further than mere stealing. One should avoid taking anything unless one can be sure that is intended that it is for you.

3) To undertake the training to avoid sensual misconduct. This precept is often mistranslated or misinterpreted as relating only to sexual misconduct but it covers any overindulgence in any sensual pleasure such as gluttony as well as misconduct of a sexual nature.

4) To undertake the training to refrain from false speech. As well as avoiding lying and deceiving, this precept covers slander as well as speech which is not beneficial to the welfare of others.

5) To undertake the training to abstain from substances which cause intoxication and heedlessness. This precept is in a special category as it does not infer any intrinsic evil in, say, alcohol itself but indulgence in such a substance could be the cause of breaking the other four precepts.

source - http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/budethics.htm

 

The ten deeds of goodness are: (1) Not to kill any living being; (2) Not to take anything that does not belong to oneself; (3) Not to look at the other sex with an unclean heart; (4) Not to speak falsehood; (5) Not to calumniate; (6) Not to use vile language; (7) Not to make sensational utterances; (8) Not to be greedy; (9) Not to be out of temper; and lastly, (10) Not to be confused by false doctrines. Later Buddhists, however, make ten affirmative propositions out of those just mentioned, thus: It is good (1) to save any living being, (2) to practise charity, (3) to be clean-minded, (4) to speak truth, (5) to promote friendship, (6) to talk softly and gently, (7) to be straightforward in speech, (8) to be content with one's own possessions, (9) to be meek and humble, and (10) to think clearly and rightly.

source: http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/zfa/zfa08.htm

 

There is definitely no conflict with Christianity, and IMO it complements Christianity. I wish I could say I've successfully mastered all this, but I'm trying and that's really the point, after all.

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