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13 August 2005

Comments

Dharmavidya

The question whether there is compatibility between Buddhism and Christianity begs the questions "Which Buddhism" and "Which Christianity" and I do not really mean "Which school of..." I mean "Which take on..." As you point out, those who think of religion in terms of practice not principle can always make room to practise more than one thing. Many Christians practise yoga without any sense that they are crossing a religious divide - and Buddhists do too. One can then also even "guide people to a deeper understanding of the benefits of Christian/Buddhist practice". But are the benefits of prayer really what Christianity is about? You can pray and meditate, for sure. Christians have long done so. Buddhists also do so. But this reconciliation seems to rely somewhat upon transforming a religion into a set of techniques that can be retailed independently of the metaphysical ground that they point out. I sense that a real reconciliation needs a deeper understanding than that. As a Pureland Buddhist I don't meditate much and don't highly rate the fruit of doing so. Buddhism is not, to me, a methodology, it is a way of entrusting one's life, hook-line-and-sinker in a commitment of total faith. Now I do meet Christians who recognise that and I sense that there is a reconciliation to be had at the level of naked faith that is quite different from the one to be had at the level of peforming many different compatible yogas.So there are reconciliations to be had at the level of practice, at the level of ethics and at the level of faith. The last I find by far the most interesting.

mpwalter

What a wonderful post. Thank you for discussing this, and for keeping the commonality or bridging of these two great religions as a central theme to this site.

For some people, as the post implies, it is not in their calling to stray outside the boundaries of thought that their particular religion represents. We need to be respectful of their needs. Yet, clearly, there are people whose needs and/or development transcend the boundaries of one particular way of thinking and view of the eternal. We need to be respectful of their needs and points of view, as well.

And then there are the people whose persective allows them to see the function of religion, and the point that all religions are aiming out. They understand the "game" and strategy that is being played out. They incarnate to help adjust and improve awareness.

Our greatest respect should be for these people... although, sadly, they are the ones who often have the least amount of respect, often only getting it long after they are gone and after their teachings have become distorted and watered down.

In all groups and religions, and in all levels and classes of people we have leadership. But in the case of these rarest leaders, I hope we can find a strong enough sense of rapport and commonality that we recognize their message and find ways to integrate it.

Viewing religion through the lens of our differences, we lose sight of the most important common point of all.

steve

A fascinating news story -- thanks for posting it here! Unfortunately, Bro. Mize's viewpoint in the story is all too common, and tends to be the one most often encountered in the media. Personally, however, what I often find is that "the folks in the pews" of Christianity -- as opposed to some (not all) clergy and academic theologians -- will agree with Fr. Kennedy, the Jesuit priest in the story. Orthopraxis and such terms probably won't be in their vocabulary; but from the heart, those affirmations *will* be. I know very few Christians, honestly, who believe non-Christians are "unsaved." It tends to get expressed at a joking level, but the "jokes" go something like: "Oh, in Heaven there'll probably be a Buddhist neighborhood, a Hindu neighborhood ..." and many of them, if egged on just a bit, might even add: "And who knows, there might be even a room or two at the inn for Presbyterians
:-P" (I'm Presbyterian). We Protestants -- and Catholics and Orthodox too, I'm sure -- certainly have our very angry, very foul, very small- and mean-spirited "renewal" movements and groups; and conservative churches are growing rapidly (as these "renewal" movements constantly remind us); and the Bro. Mize's are a dime a dozen, especially in the so-called "mega-churches" at least here in the U.S. -- the shopping mall churches which soft-pedal Christianity so as not to offend potential "buyers" (the whole damned thing, forgive me, is market-driven) and so *easily* take the form of a Sunday morning entertainment industry. (Am I bitter or what?) But those groups aside: just as I'm convinced ordinary Muslims are stereotyped almost into invisibility by the media, aided and abetted by the rhetoric and actions of audience-grabbing leaders, so too are ordinary Christians. Even for every Pat Robertson who openly calls for something as stupid and demonic as the assassination of a national leader, there are -- I'd wager -- 3 active participants in his own organization who are quietly appalled. As with people in *all* organizations (at least those I have encountered thus far), a lot of personal compromises will be made for the supposedly greater value of maintaining group cohesion -- so they may not speak up -- but they are there.

As an aside -- and it's an aside that probably should have been the focus of this whole comment -- I *strongly* agree with the comment above, that Buddhism (Pure Land at least) certainly seems to me to be, and Christianity *ought* to be, a "way of entrusting one's life, hook-line-and-sinker in a commitment of total faith." It is that aspect of entrusting -- in response to the Primal Vow, and the Name that calls -- that has drawn *this* Christian so very very powerfully to Pure Land faith; and has done so very much for *me*, at least, in opening unsuspected dimensions of my own.

best,
steve

steve

Ooops ... in my comment above I think I implied Pat Robertson might have 3 whole members of his organization ("The 700 Club") who disagree with him. I meant to say I wager that for everyone in "The 700 Club" who agrees there are 3 who quietly disagree. Of course, I'm guessing, and think so little of Mr Robertson and his gang that I'd never bother to find out
:-P ... who knows, maybe there *are* only 3.

zyrius

Are all religions the same? Here is a concise answer from the Buddhist perspective - http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=8,2019,0,0,1,0

Sam

Discussions such as this strike a chord with me. I am a Christian (I refrain from identifying with any particular denomination for various reasons), as well as a practitioner of Bushido, the basic idea of which I'm sure most of you are familiar with. However, I also have, and have always had an enormous respect for Buddhism, even going so far as to say that if I weren't Christian, I'd almost certainly be Buddhist.

That said, however, I have recently been going through a period of some spiritual turmoil. I don't know why, but my heart has suddenly started to struggle against my beliefs which only a short time earlier were so solid and well-grounded, or so I thought. I still basically believe in Christ, but in the past few months I have been compelled to explore other beliefs outside of the standard Christian doctrine.

In any case, my point is that it helps ease my restlessness to see that others far more grounded in their faith have successfully found truth outside of the bounds of "traditional" Christianity. I can only hope and pray that I will be able to do the same.

nomoslogos

As George Grant states, "Orthodoxy invariably begets orthopraxy". What you believe determines what you do. To claim that you can believe one religion and practice another (certainly at least in the case of Christianity &) would imply that either your not being truthful with somebody or you don't understand the religion. To say that one's Orthopraxy determines what one does is to say that what ones does is detemerned by what one does. That just non-sense. Belief begets practice.

samuel  welsh

as a christian I have no conflict with buddists

raisin mountaineer

I am exploring how Buddhist teachings can enhance my life as a Christian.

One poster says "Belief begets practice" to say that Christianity and Buddhism cannot walk together. But I must counter. I have read the Bible end to end a number of times, participated deeply in the life of the church in a number of denominations, pray daily, etc. I have been a practicing and believing Christian all of my life, with a full list of experience from being born again to being baptized in the Holy Spirit etc. etc.

And yet I have also had a life-long struggle with anxiety, fear and anger. The Bible says "don't be angry" and discusses the ramifications of anger for oneself and others, but it doesn't provide much practical advice for overcoming anger or anxiety.

It says "consider the lilies" but doesn't say just how.

I was sinking into a life of anxiety and fear, with anger as its outward manifestation. I continued to go to church, to pray, to read the Bible, but my belief did not free me from those overwhelming feelings and the damage they caused in my life.

So a few years ago I learned through a wise counselor how valuable the power of being present and learning to focus on my breath are. He did not suggest that I renounce my religious faith in order to explore this aspect of Eastern religion. For the first time I was able to step away from my fear and anxiety and appreciate the present moment for what it was-- not constant vigilence (sp) but a moment to be where I was.

And only recently I was led to a book by a Buddhist priest on Anger, which applies in a very practical way the teachings of Buddhism to what Christianity teaches is a besetting sin.

The practical teachings of Buddhism on meditation, being present, appreciating each moment, detaching oneself from the outcome of each action (and the fear, anxiety and anger attendant on that outcome) saved my life and my relationships.

These teachings make me a better Christian. I believe Christ taught these things in concept, but my church, at least, has failed in teaching its members how to apply things like "be not afraid" to real life.

I have not, and don't presently intend to, explore Buddhism's theology too deeply. Frankly, it doesn't appeal to me-- I have a religion that I know inside and out! But I am grateful for the teachings of the monks on how to live in grace in this present age, and I do not believe that my salvation is in danger because of them.

Online Yoga Guide

The benefits of yoga through meditation are stress corrections, it protects our body system from symptoms and allows us to lead a healthy and happy life.

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