Author Topic: As a Buddhist, what do you do at Christmas?  (Read 1166 times)

Offline 0118401

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As a Buddhist, what do you do at Christmas?
« on: December 31, 2012, 01:00:00 pm »
This question may have been asked before, but as a Buddhist what do you do at Christmas (and New Year), do you celebrate and take part or not? Of course it is an opportunity for us to cherish others and to practice giving and so forth.  Perhaps just as importantly it is an opportunity for others (non-Buddhists) to practice giving, cherishing others etc. as this allows them to receive merit and sow virtuous karmic seeds and to overcome miserliness etc.  However, I think the community in my local Buddhist centre may have had a (vegetarian) Christmas dinner which I must admit find a little strange if true   

As Buddhists (in my tradition at least- the NKT) part of the practice is to comply with the conventions of society (obviously without breaking any vows and commitments).  On the one hand I am astounded with the beauty and subtlety of Dharma which allows us to take part in a Christian celebration but with the correct intentions present in our minds to still be practising Dharma perfectly.  On the other hand I think may add to the confusion non-Buddhists have regarding Buddhism.  I do not think any non-Buddhists that I know could understand how Dharma could work like this as it so unlike any other religion, in fact not like a religion at all to many peoples minds. I also worry ever so slightly that to partake in Christmas may break refuge vows, although as long as one did not actually go for refuge to Christ or Jesus then we would not actually be breaking our refuge commitments.

I feel that my self-cherishing would like to abandon Christmas and New Year altogether, but actually partaking in these festivities enables me to continue and possibly deepen my practice. What do others think?   

Offline alanpeto

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Re: As a Buddhist, what do you do at Christmas?
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2012, 06:22:34 pm »
Great question!

I've actually written some articles that may help answer these for you :)

New Year, New Buddha Mind:  http://www.alanpeto.com/articles/2012/new-year-new-buddha-mind/
Five Things a Buddhist Can Do at Christmas:  http://www.alanpeto.com/articles/2011/5-things-a-buddhist-can-do-on-christmas/

These two are mainly for those who are not Buddhists, but may help also:
Understanding a Buddhist at Christmas:  http://www.alanpeto.com/articles/2012/understanding-a-buddhist-during-christmas/
What Gift or Present to Get a Buddhist for Christmas:  http://www.alanpeto.com/articles/2012/what-to-get-a-buddhist-for-christmas/

With Metta,

Alan

GoGet

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Re: As a Buddhist, what do you do at Christmas?
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2012, 08:16:54 pm »
This question may have been asked before, but as a Buddhist what do you do at Christmas (and New Year), do you celebrate and take part or not? Of course it is an opportunity for us to cherish others and to practice giving and so forth.  Perhaps just as importantly it is an opportunity for others (non-Buddhists) to practice giving, cherishing others etc. as this allows them to receive merit and sow virtuous karmic seeds and to overcome miserliness etc.  However, I think the community in my local Buddhist centre may have had a (vegetarian) Christmas dinner which I must admit find a little strange if true   

As Buddhists (in my tradition at least- the NKT) part of the practice is to comply with the conventions of society (obviously without breaking any vows and commitments).  On the one hand I am astounded with the beauty and subtlety of Dharma which allows us to take part in a Christian celebration but with the correct intentions present in our minds to still be practising Dharma perfectly.  On the other hand I think may add to the confusion non-Buddhists have regarding Buddhism.  I do not think any non-Buddhists that I know could understand how Dharma could work like this as it so unlike any other religion, in fact not like a religion at all to many peoples minds. I also worry ever so slightly that to partake in Christmas may break refuge vows, although as long as one did not actually go for refuge to Christ or Jesus then we would not actually be breaking our refuge commitments.

I feel that my self-cherishing would like to abandon Christmas and New Year altogether, but actually partaking in these festivities enables me to continue and possibly deepen my practice. What do others think?

My wife (a Wiccan) and I decorate the house in a traditional fashion, prepare or obtain christmas foods that go along with our ethnic background - Scandanavian and Finn - put presents under the tree (fake) and go out for dinner with friends on Christmas eve.  We get up late on Christmas day and open presents.

I'll eat heartily, drink single malt, maybe take a couple bong hits, fall madly into bed with the woman I love and generally make merry!  Why not?  'Tis the season .....

If we're in Minnesota visiting family we'll go to church with my mother (Methodist) on Christmas Eve.  We'll bow our heads and say amen to my sisters excellent meal prayer before Christmas dinner.

The Romans celebrated this holiday by what the called Saturnalia.  It was marked by feasting, gift-giving and a certain amount of drunken debauchery.  I rather like that idea.  My ancestors would burn great logs and pine trees on the night of the solstice, or "Yule" as they called it, to warm the night sky in the hope of bringing the return of the sun, the lengthening of days and seasons of plenty.  It is a time worthy of our celebration and why hold back?

My Sangha has often held a new member's reception around Christmas and they usually decorate the shrine room for the holiday.

Yeah, I know, I'm the worst Buddhist ever.  So what?

Offline ground

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Re: As a Buddhist, what do you do at Christmas?
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2012, 11:07:27 pm »
Quote
As a Buddhist, what do you do at Christmas?

I is not buddhist although both I and buddhist are conciousnesses. Now how about you?  :fu:

Offline Monkey Mind

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Re: As a Buddhist, what do you do at Christmas?
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2012, 11:13:42 pm »
Christmas day is the anniversary of the first time I accepted Triple Gem Refuge, so it carries all the significance of some of the other Buddhist holidays I celebrate. Some meditation, some chanting, some generosity and volunteering.

I've played it both ways: celebrate Christmas and abstain from celebrating Christmas. The older I get, the more I swing towards abstaining. I don't shop in stores, I don't really engage in gift exchange except for my closest friends. For those people, I only gift services (gift certificates for restaurants or massage therapy) instead of products or merchandise. I especially prefer to gift group activities, something we can do together.

My two favorite Christmas's of all time: One year I was working for student housing at a university, and I volunteered to work over the Christmas break. On Christmas day I was "babysitting" an empty dorm building, my sole job duty was to perform security checks and respond to fire alarms (none occurred). Paradise! A couple of years ago I went on a silent meditation retreat from December 22 - January 2. I wish I could do that every year.

Quote
Understanding a Buddhist at Christmas:  http://www.alanpeto.com/articles/2012/understanding-a-buddhist-during-christmas/


Wonderful, where have you been all these years!

Offline 0118401

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Re: As a Buddhist, what do you do at Christmas?
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2013, 12:49:24 pm »
Great question!

I've actually written some articles that may help answer these for you :)

New Year, New Buddha Mind:  http://www.alanpeto.com/articles/2012/new-year-new-buddha-mind/
Five Things a Buddhist Can Do at Christmas:  http://www.alanpeto.com/articles/2011/5-things-a-buddhist-can-do-on-christmas/

These two are mainly for those who are not Buddhists, but may help also:
Understanding a Buddhist at Christmas:  http://www.alanpeto.com/articles/2012/understanding-a-buddhist-during-christmas/
What Gift or Present to Get a Buddhist for Christmas:  http://www.alanpeto.com/articles/2012/what-to-get-a-buddhist-for-christmas/

With Metta,

Alan


Thank you Alan.  I will take a look at these articles with interest  :namaste:

Offline 0118401

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Re: As a Buddhist, what do you do at Christmas?
« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2013, 01:04:39 pm »
This question may have been asked before, but as a Buddhist what do you do at Christmas (and New Year), do you celebrate and take part or not? Of course it is an opportunity for us to cherish others and to practice giving and so forth.  Perhaps just as importantly it is an opportunity for others (non-Buddhists) to practice giving, cherishing others etc. as this allows them to receive merit and sow virtuous karmic seeds and to overcome miserliness etc.  However, I think the community in my local Buddhist centre may have had a (vegetarian) Christmas dinner which I must admit find a little strange if true   

As Buddhists (in my tradition at least- the NKT) part of the practice is to comply with the conventions of society (obviously without breaking any vows and commitments).  On the one hand I am astounded with the beauty and subtlety of Dharma which allows us to take part in a Christian celebration but with the correct intentions present in our minds to still be practising Dharma perfectly.  On the other hand I think may add to the confusion non-Buddhists have regarding Buddhism.  I do not think any non-Buddhists that I know could understand how Dharma could work like this as it so unlike any other religion, in fact not like a religion at all to many peoples minds. I also worry ever so slightly that to partake in Christmas may break refuge vows, although as long as one did not actually go for refuge to Christ or Jesus then we would not actually be breaking our refuge commitments.

I feel that my self-cherishing would like to abandon Christmas and New Year altogether, but actually partaking in these festivities enables me to continue and possibly deepen my practice. What do others think?

My wife (a Wiccan) and I decorate the house in a traditional fashion, prepare or obtain christmas foods that go along with our ethnic background - Scandanavian and Finn - put presents under the tree (fake) and go out for dinner with friends on Christmas eve.  We get up late on Christmas day and open presents.

I'll eat heartily, drink single malt, maybe take a couple bong hits, fall madly into bed with the woman I love and generally make merry!  Why not?  'Tis the season .....

If we're in Minnesota visiting family we'll go to church with my mother (Methodist) on Christmas Eve.  We'll bow our heads and say amen to my sisters excellent meal prayer before Christmas dinner.

The Romans celebrated this holiday by what the called Saturnalia.  It was marked by feasting, gift-giving and a certain amount of drunken debauchery.  I rather like that idea.  My ancestors would burn great logs and pine trees on the night of the solstice, or "Yule" as they called it, to warm the night sky in the hope of bringing the return of the sun, the lengthening of days and seasons of plenty.  It is a time worthy of our celebration and why hold back?

My Sangha has often held a new member's reception around Christmas and they usually decorate the shrine room for the holiday.

Yeah, I know, I'm the worst Buddhist ever.  So what?

Sound like you have an interesting time GoGet! Thanks for sharing it. Maybe I just need to lighten up or pehaps not. Alan's articles should be interesting. 
 

Offline 0118401

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Re: As a Buddhist, what do you do at Christmas?
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2013, 01:09:36 pm »
Christmas day is the anniversary of the first time I accepted Triple Gem Refuge, so it carries all the significance of some of the other Buddhist holidays I celebrate. Some meditation, some chanting, some generosity and volunteering.

I've played it both ways: celebrate Christmas and abstain from celebrating Christmas. The older I get, the more I swing towards abstaining. I don't shop in stores, I don't really engage in gift exchange except for my closest friends. For those people, I only gift services (gift certificates for restaurants or massage therapy) instead of products or merchandise. I especially prefer to gift group activities, something we can do together.

My two favorite Christmas's of all time: One year I was working for student housing at a university, and I volunteered to work over the Christmas break. On Christmas day I was "babysitting" an empty dorm building, my sole job duty was to perform security checks and respond to fire alarms (none occurred). Paradise! A couple of years ago I went on a silent meditation retreat from December 22 - January 2. I wish I could do that every year.

Quote
Understanding a Buddhist at Christmas:  http://www.alanpeto.com/articles/2012/understanding-a-buddhist-during-christmas/


Wonderful, where have you been all these years!


I wish I could do a silent retreat evey year too.

Offline Caz

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Re: As a Buddhist, what do you do at Christmas?
« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2013, 02:09:02 pm »
This question may have been asked before, but as a Buddhist what do you do at Christmas (and New Year), do you celebrate and take part or not? Of course it is an opportunity for us to cherish others and to practice giving and so forth.  Perhaps just as importantly it is an opportunity for others (non-Buddhists) to practice giving, cherishing others etc. as this allows them to receive merit and sow virtuous karmic seeds and to overcome miserliness etc.  However, I think the community in my local Buddhist centre may have had a (vegetarian) Christmas dinner which I must admit find a little strange if true   

As Buddhists (in my tradition at least- the NKT) part of the practice is to comply with the conventions of society (obviously without breaking any vows and commitments).  On the one hand I am astounded with the beauty and subtlety of Dharma which allows us to take part in a Christian celebration but with the correct intentions present in our minds to still be practising Dharma perfectly.  On the other hand I think may add to the confusion non-Buddhists have regarding Buddhism.  I do not think any non-Buddhists that I know could understand how Dharma could work like this as it so unlike any other religion, in fact not like a religion at all to many peoples minds. I also worry ever so slightly that to partake in Christmas may break refuge vows, although as long as one did not actually go for refuge to Christ or Jesus then we would not actually be breaking our refuge commitments.

I feel that my self-cherishing would like to abandon Christmas and New Year altogether, but actually partaking in these festivities enables me to continue and possibly deepen my practice. What do others think?

Taking part in Christmas doesn't break the refuge vows :)
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Offline dhammaseeker51

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Re: As a Buddhist, what do you do at Christmas?
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2013, 07:13:06 am »
For Christians it's Christmas, but long before the Christian era Britons have celebrated the midwinter solstice or shortest day with gift giving and feasting. Most of my family are either Wiccan or Pagan so I usually draw a picture of a little wicker man burning on their gift labels, makes it a little bit more personal so it does...  :teehee:

with Metta

Offline lienkuang

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Re: As a Buddhist, what do you do at Christmas?
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2013, 08:27:52 pm »
This has been a struggle for me over the years. My family (not Buddhist) celebrates Christmas, but I don't really get into it, especially the commercial side of it. Thankfully, my children are old enough I don't have to pretend about Santa anymore. Instead, I have adopted the Budai (big fat monk) as the cheerful, giving, spirit of the season. So, it's kind of like celebrating New Years, but only longer than most people.

GoGet

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Re: As a Buddhist, what do you do at Christmas?
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2013, 09:16:52 pm »
This has been a struggle for me over the years. My family (not Buddhist) celebrates Christmas, but I don't really get into it, especially the commercial side of it. Thankfully, my children are old enough I don't have to pretend about Santa anymore. Instead, I have adopted the Budai (big fat monk) as the cheerful, giving, spirit of the season. So, it's kind of like celebrating New Years, but only longer than most people.

Interesting.

Incorporating Ho-Tai (a name for big fat monk) into the Santa myth is wonderful!

He carried a bag full of treats for the children he'd meet along the road much like Santa and toys.   He is always depicted has happy/jolly again, just like santa.  He brings good fortune.

Although usually depicted clean-shaven, visualize him with long hair and beard isn't unreasonable.

Don't forget to rub his belly!


Offline 0118401

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Re: As a Buddhist, what do you do at Christmas?
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2013, 12:12:26 pm »
For Christians it's Christmas, but long before the Christian era Britons have celebrated the midwinter solstice or shortest day with gift giving and feasting. Most of my family are either Wiccan or Pagan so I usually draw a picture of a little wicker man burning on their gift labels, makes it a little bit more personal so it does...  :teehee:

with Metta

I like the idea of the little Wicca man gift label.  I might have to buy some as I'm hopeless at drawing  :wink1:

 


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