Author Topic: Interfaith and Buddhism  (Read 464 times)

Offline ZenFred

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Interfaith and Buddhism
« on: September 17, 2017, 06:47:08 pm »
Dharmaflower has sent me multiple messages about the wisdom of Pure Land, which I've appreciated. I thought it would be best to respond in a public thread so others can contribute as well.

I am definitely not the first theist who is favorable to Buddhism and tries to incorporate the Buddhist religion into a greater theological scheme. Though because Buddhism isn't really a "religion" in many ways and often itself rejects religion and God this can be tricky.

I thought I'd start the thread with how I've seen various approaches to encorporate Buddhism into existing theistic worldviews and the problems with these approaches.

The most common I think it is taking surface aspects of Buddhism out of context and ignoring any real theological conflict. Our episcopal church just started a series on Zen meditation and wants to combine it with Christian, scriptural devotions. It's taking specific meditation practices because they feel good or look spiritual or whatever and appropriating them completely out of context. Perhaps someone is looking at the ethical components of Buddhism and the example of loving kindness and equanimity of Buddhist practioners (especially famous ones). That is fine, but just because the Dali Lama is a good person doesn't mean he is somehow Christian. Perhaps it proves not all non-Christians are wicked people but that's a seperate issue!

Then there is taking ones worldview are artificially imposing into Buddhism. The opposite of the above. Roshi Kennedy is a Catholic Jesuit priest and also a Soto Zen Master. I watched an interview and what he seemed to be saying is when he sits zazen, he encounters Jesus. That's imposing a Christian experience on Buddhism. The Roshi could very well be encountering Jesus, but he can't say all Buddhists are.

Then there is the Muslim/Baha'i perspective that the Buddha was a prophet and messenger of God. The original message of the Buddha, according to this view, is the same message of love of God and love of neighbor that Moses, Jesus and Mohammad preached. Just overtime it became corrupted. I suppose this view, especially among the Baha'i, might say the Buddha taught only the levels of truth he knew would be understood and received at the time so that's why maybe he didn't go into much theistic stuff and just focused on right action. I get the sense that people say that have never read the Pali Cannon and don't really know what the Buddha actually said.

I still think there is a way to explain the merits of Buddhism and the effectiveness of its spiritual teaching within a larger theistic worldview without white washing the Buddhist teachings. I'd love to hear your thoughts before I take my own stab at it.


Offline ground

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Re: Interfaith and Buddhism
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2017, 09:42:12 pm »
...
I thought I'd start the thread with how I've seen various approaches to encorporate Buddhism into existing theistic worldviews and the problems with these approaches.
Trying to incorporate emptiness into emptiness is the path of busyness.  :fu:

Offline Pixie

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Re: Interfaith and Buddhism
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2017, 11:37:07 pm »
Hi Zenfred,

I don't think its a good idea to try to combine Buddhism with another religion because one is likely to end up with watered down versions of both, as well as general confusion.

There's already quite enough to study and practice in the Buddha's teachings.

So in general, to me it just seems like straying away from the path in an already over- busy and increasingly complex world.



With best wishes,


Pixie _/|\_
May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May they all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May they never be deprived of true happiness devoid of any suffering.
May they abide in great impartiality, free from attachment to loved ones and aversion to others.

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: Interfaith and Buddhism
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2017, 01:21:06 am »
I still think there is a way to explain the merits of Buddhism and the effectiveness of its spiritual teaching within a larger theistic worldview without white washing the Buddhist teachings. I'd love to hear your thoughts before I take my own stab at it.

There is no reason why you can't incorporate Buddhist practices into your own path, though such practices may well challenge your existing assumptions ( that is what they are for! ).

How about sitting down with a blank piece of paper and writing down what you know, what you believe, and what you really want from a spiritual path?

It's possible that you come up with won't easily fit into any of the major religious traditions, but that's OK.  Beware though of digging many shallow wells, you could spend a lifetime "seeking", but never really going deep enough.

Thich Nhat Hanh, Hinduism and Quakers might be worth checking out if you haven't already done so.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2017, 01:23:09 am by Spiny Norman »

Offline ZenFred

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Re: Interfaith and Buddhism
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2017, 04:43:20 am »

Trying to incorporate emptiness into emptiness is the path of busyness.  :fu:

 This is exactly what I think is wrong with the approaches I listed above. They don't take the Buddhist view of emptiness very seriously. Any interfaith system needs to take emptiness and deslusion and nature of self (or non-self) head on.

Offline ZenFred

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Re: Interfaith and Buddhism
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2017, 04:54:08 am »
Hi Zenfred,

I don't think its a good idea to try to combine Buddhism with another religion because one is likely to end up with watered down versions of both, as well as general confusion.

There's already quite enough to study and practice in the Buddha's teachings.

So in general, to me it just seems like straying away from the path in an already over- busy and increasingly complex world.



With best wishes,


Pixie _/|\_

  I would also agree with you. I need to be careful what I mean by "incorporating" and it's probably a poor choice of words. First off, I'm not a Buddhist. I am a theist with a fullfilling prayer practice and I don't need to add bits of other religions because I think they are cool. That's spiritual materialism and yes I end up with lots of shallow wells.
Also, what I really shouldn't do is to have some sort of evangelism as a hidden agenda. I don't want to try to say that Buddhists are really worshiping my conception of God even though they don't know it. I would love to talk to Roshi Kennedy, but he's older now. I do know one of his students who is also Christian and a Roshi. I met with her multiple times when first studying Buddhism. Maybe I could reach out to her, but I suspect the answer I'll get is that Buddha nature is Jesus is Allah is Shiva, etc.  I actually think that's true but not really the point. I'll explain in a little bit. I wanted to lay out the past mistakes first before I gave my attempt.


Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: Interfaith and Buddhism
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2017, 11:18:07 am »
Why do we need theism? There is no creator in Buddhism, since it's taught the universe has always existed in some form.

If you want a connection to a power greater than yourself, then you can call on the names of celestial buddhas and bodhisattvas. Buddhism doesn't require a theistic god.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2017, 11:35:49 am by Dharma Flower »

Offline ground

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Re: Interfaith and Buddhism
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2017, 09:56:45 pm »

Trying to incorporate emptiness into emptiness is the path of busyness.  :fu:

 This is exactly what I think is wrong with the approaches I listed above. They don't take the Buddhist view of emptiness very seriously. Any interfaith system needs to take emptiness and deslusion and nature of self (or non-self) head on.
What's the use of 'interfaith'? All faiths are emptiness. Proliferation of simplicity into complexity.

Offline IdleChater

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Re: Interfaith and Buddhism
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2017, 02:46:01 am »

Trying to incorporate emptiness into emptiness is the path of busyness.  :fu:

 This is exactly what I think is wrong with the approaches I listed above. They don't take the Buddhist view of emptiness very seriously. Any interfaith system needs to take emptiness and deslusion and nature of self (or non-self) head on.
What's the use of 'interfaith'? All faiths are emptiness. Proliferation of simplicity into complexity.

sHEESH ......

What's next, "Just Sit"?

Offline ground

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Re: Interfaith and Buddhism
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2017, 04:27:36 am »

Trying to incorporate emptiness into emptiness is the path of busyness.  :fu:

 This is exactly what I think is wrong with the approaches I listed above. They don't take the Buddhist view of emptiness very seriously. Any interfaith system needs to take emptiness and deslusion and nature of self (or non-self) head on.
What's the use of 'interfaith'? All faiths are emptiness. Proliferation of simplicity into complexity.

sHEESH ......

What's next, "Just Sit"?

Irrelevant. Anything or nothing. As you like.

Proliferation into complexity always starts with asking due to having lost sight of simplicity.

« Last Edit: September 19, 2017, 04:45:15 am by ground »

Offline IdleChater

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Re: Interfaith and Buddhism
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2017, 05:28:29 am »

Trying to incorporate emptiness into emptiness is the path of busyness.  :fu:

 This is exactly what I think is wrong with the approaches I listed above. They don't take the Buddhist view of emptiness very seriously. Any interfaith system needs to take emptiness and deslusion and nature of self (or non-self) head on.
What's the use of 'interfaith'? All faiths are emptiness. Proliferation of simplicity into complexity.

sHEESH ......

What's next, "Just Sit"?

Irrelevant. Anything or nothing. As you like.

Proliferation into complexity always starts with asking due to having lost sight of simplicity.

What is your vacuous nonsense proliferation cased by?

Offline ground

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Re: Interfaith and Buddhism
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2017, 06:07:08 am »

Trying to incorporate emptiness into emptiness is the path of busyness.  :fu:

 This is exactly what I think is wrong with the approaches I listed above. They don't take the Buddhist view of emptiness very seriously. Any interfaith system needs to take emptiness and deslusion and nature of self (or non-self) head on.
What's the use of 'interfaith'? All faiths are emptiness. Proliferation of simplicity into complexity.

sHEESH ......

What's next, "Just Sit"?

Irrelevant. Anything or nothing. As you like.

Proliferation into complexity always starts with asking due to having lost sight of simplicity.

What is your vacuous nonsense proliferation cased by?
There you are ... asking questions.  :fu:

Offline ZenFred

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Re: Interfaith and Buddhism
« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2017, 06:38:34 am »

Trying to incorporate emptiness into emptiness is the path of busyness.  :fu:

 This is exactly what I think is wrong with the approaches I listed above. They don't take the Buddhist view of emptiness very seriously. Any interfaith system needs to take emptiness and deslusion and nature of self (or non-self) head on.
What's the use of 'interfaith'? All faiths are emptiness. Proliferation of simplicity into complexity.

sHEESH ......

What's next, "Just Sit"?

Actually, I'm starting to agree with ground :)

I was setting up for using the blind men and the elephant example for how Buddhism looks at an aspect of reality but no one tradition can grasp the totality of Reality.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_men_and_an_elephant

 But I've realized that any attempt to understand God in totality is futile. It's even impossible to discern with certainty true revelation from false prophets. I think the answer is to be before God alone in prayer (the Muslims would say submit to God alone). I am greatful for the scriptures and teachings of wisdom which I embrace, but I let go of the certainty or total understanding that has never been mine to possess. So it may not be just sit, but for me it definitely is just pray.


Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: Interfaith and Buddhism
« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2017, 01:57:23 pm »
I think the answer is to be before God alone in prayer (the Muslims would say submit to God alone).
Why do we need theism? There is no creator in Buddhism, since it's taught the universe has always existed in some form.

If you want a connection to a power greater than yourself, then you can call on the names of celestial buddhas and bodhisattvas. Buddhism doesn't require a theistic god.
Quote
Juseige (Verses Reiterating the Vows) appears in the first volume of the Sutra on the Buddha of Immeasurable Life.

Bodhisattva Dharmakara, who became Amida Buddha in the beginningless past, appears and sets forth his all-surpassing Forty-Eight Vows with which to save all beings, and promises to fulfill them all without fail.

This gatha (hymn) is so named because Amida Buddha reiterated in his Vows, that should all beings wallowing in the sea of delusion not be saved and that should there be any place that his Name, Namu-Amida-Butsu, not be heard, he will not attain Buddhahood.
https://www.nishihongwanji-la.org/teachings/sutras/
« Last Edit: September 19, 2017, 03:42:51 pm by Dharma Flower »

Offline IdleChater

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Re: Interfaith and Buddhism
« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2017, 06:58:36 pm »

Trying to incorporate emptiness into emptiness is the path of busyness.  :fu:

 This is exactly what I think is wrong with the approaches I listed above. They don't take the Buddhist view of emptiness very seriously. Any interfaith system needs to take emptiness and deslusion and nature of self (or non-self) head on.
What's the use of 'interfaith'? All faiths are emptiness. Proliferation of simplicity into complexity.

sHEESH ......

What's next, "Just Sit"?

Actually, I'm starting to agree with ground :)

That, I think, is a mistake.

Quote
I was setting up for using the blind men and the elephant example for how Buddhism looks at an aspect of reality but no one tradition can grasp the totality of Reality.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_men_and_an_elephant

Not true.



This is an image of the Refuge Tree used in the Kagyu lineage.  The peole seated above and around Vajradhara, the ones with halos?  These are enlightened being that were lineage holders as well.  They grasped the totality of reality.  The Gelug, Sakya, and the Nyingma have such people as well, as to Zen Patriarchs and so on.

The only reason it vccan't work for you right now, is because you don't believe it will.  Belief is a powerful thing.  In another trhead I mentioned quitting smoking after 40 years.  No mean feat.  I was able to do it, because I believed it could be done - really believed.

No matter what others here may say, you can mix different faiths and have them work.  You can be both a Buddhist and Christian, if you really believe it will work.  Read the work of Thomas Merton.  He was a Franciscan who was very successfull is creating a fusion of Roman Catholic and Buddhist contempative practice.  Worked with the Dalai Lama.  He believed it could be done.  Not only that he believed it should be done.

Another way to look at is as confidence.

I trained as a racing driver.  I learned pretty quikly is that some things on the track are damned-near impossible unless you absolutely believe you can do it.  If you go into a turn at racing speed with even the slightest hestiation, born of doubt, you'll fail.  You'll end up in the weeds, the hospital, or morgue.   If you doubt, you're dead.

The same applies to spiritual practice.  If you believe, you can accomplish the impossible.

 


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