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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 6:17 am 
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On converting from Buddhism to Catholicism – One convert's story

Btw...he's one of the well known modern 'Buddhist' scholars...

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 11:16 am 
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I am happy that he has found something that suits him.
It is too bad that after 20 years of studying the Dharma he really didn't understand karma.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 1:14 pm 
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:offtopic: The picture of Paul Williams reminds me of Robin Williams.

My observations of people lead me to believe, without confirmation from any other source (perhaps I'm totally wrong), that reasoning and recalling are two separate and distinct functions of the human brain. Professor Paul Williams appears to be one who can easily recall data (as a database) without much reasoning. On the other hand, I believe there are people whose reason is better than they recall. The story of "Rain Man" illustrates my point. One brother recalls everything, but needs a caretaker to help him with everyday things.

My concern is that to be a professor is biased toward being able to recall very well, and that those with strong recall and lesser reasoning abilities can lead their students the wrong way.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 3:08 pm 
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Rebirth is horizontal karma. It's purpose is to destroy ego-clinging.

Resurrection is vertical karma. It's purpose is to dervive joy and faith on the path.

These are both illusions.

Emptiness is to ontology as forgiveness is to morality.

The absolute truth is neither vertical nor horizontal.

Why can't people see this?

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 3:20 pm 
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As some of you know, I used to be Catholic. I actually found the website linked in the OP a couple of weeks ago which fueled a lot of doubt on my part because here I am, knowing practically nothing about the Pali Canon, Madhyamaka, Cittamatra, Tantra, etc., in the stages of accepting Buddhism and yet a self-proclaimed Buddhist, who has studied and taught the rich tradition of Buddhism for 2/3 of the years that I've been alive, is accepting a faith and tradition that I formally reject. While I think of myself as a somewhat smart individual, I'm not intelligent by any means, I don't have time to read like professors do, and as I've demonstrated on this forum many times, reasoning and formal logic is not my strong suit. After I read Dr. Williams' conversion story, I panicked -- which explains a good portion of the threads I posted last week expressing so much doubt and hopelessness about Buddhism -- and I imagined that I was going to have to pull out the ol' rosary and Bible and get myself to confession.

I e-mailed Dr. Williams, asking him some of the same questions that I posted here on the forum concerning the hopelessness of Buddhism, the fearlessness of right view, the virtuousness of the brahmaviharas, etc. to see what, if anything, I was missing or wasn’t understanding based on my discussions here on the forum or my private readings. He responded to my e-mail in only a matter of days. I won’t post our correspondence here since it’s not fully mine to share. However, I was shocked by how little Dr. Williams truly understood the spiritual levity of the Dharma and how superficial his knowledge of Christianity/Catholicism is. For those of you who have read any of his books on Buddhist thought, one of the hallmarks of his writing is that he, when he was a practicing Buddhist, would explain difficult philosophical concepts in layman terms with practical significance. In his e-mail to me, it was as if all of those practical explanations were nothing more than academic rote – which perhaps they were. In a timeless tale of samsara, everything he previously proclaimed as true, everything he had explained with precision to others, suddenly became false or impossible or untenable.

He seems to be a man who abandoned Christianity as a rebellious youth without ever truly considering the breadth and depth of its institutions and rich traditions, he latched onto Buddhism as a source of study, confused his knowledge of Buddhism as being actual practice, woke up one day and felt existentialist dread, and used his powers of intellect to finally discover the richness of the Christian/Catholic tradition through the likes of persuasive writers like G.K. Chesterton and Augustine of Hippo. This isn’t a slanderous critique of the man as I’ve walked in his shoes before. Oftentimes, we thinking types confuse intellect with practice and belief. As in my case, the ability to recite sections of the Bible and Catechism of the Catholic Church in addition to theological arguments from Aquinas in defense of the legitimacy of the Catholic Church and the infallibility of the Pope doesn’t always equate with actual faith in those things; rather, you’ve managed to convince yourself that these things must be true in order to reinforce a particular identity which you’re trying to cultivate. Perhaps the same was true for Dr. Williams during his Buddhist phase.

By the time Dr. Williams responded to my e-mail, I had decided for myself that I was a much more peaceful person as a result of practicing the Dharma. His e-mail to me barely questioned the direction I was heading even though it was about three pages long. It was simply a series of indirect ramblings about how he needed to know that he and his family were real, that this life was real, that there was hope, etc. I'm happy he's found that for himself finally - I really am - but it doesn't work for me.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 3:47 pm 
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It seems to me that it is possible to select a religious tradition on the basis of what kind of afterlife you want to believe in. Not on the basis of whether it seems true or not, or whether it holds up to scrutiny, but just on how closely it matches your desires.

On that basis, might it not make more sense to just invent a religion that suits your subjective impulses, and really believe in it?

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 4:46 am 
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 5:56 am 
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Just shows how important Faith and the right understanding is when practicing Buddhism. It's sad because he basically slanders the Dharma based on his own warpped perspective :(

It's like refusing to believe fire is hot for the fear of getting burnt.... :( :( :(

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 9:26 pm 
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"The Four Thoughts that turn the mind to Catholicism" - that's a new one.

Epistemes wrote:
confused his knowledge of Buddhism as being actual practice, woke up one day and felt existentialist dread, and used his powers of intellect to finally discover the richness of the Christian/Catholic tradition


Agree 100%. Things like death, the lower realms etc. should really have a very different effect on an actual practitioner.

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By the time Dr. Williams responded to my e-mail, I had decided for myself that I was a much more peaceful person as a result of practicing the Dharma. His e-mail to me barely questioned the direction I was heading even though it was about three pages long. It was simply a series of indirect ramblings about how he needed to know that he and his family were real, that this life was real, that there was hope, etc.


That's genuinely sad.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2011 1:53 pm 
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PadmaVonSamba wrote:
I am happy that he has found something that suits him.
It is too bad that after 20 years of studying the Dharma he really didn't understand karma.


Why do you say that? He seems to just really dislike the idea that he is gone when he dies. To him, that is hope-less and it appears he would rather live with a deluded hope that is against all reasonable thinking (Catholicism).

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2011 1:57 pm 
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Karma Dondrup Tashi wrote:
Emptiness is to ontology as forgiveness is to morality.


I wish I understood what this means. Emptiness is to ontology = theories are empty. Forgiveness is to morality = ???

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 10:53 am 
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Knowing very little is a great fault. :oops:

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 4:26 pm 
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He seems extremely confused.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 4:28 pm 
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plwk wrote:
On converting from Buddhism to Catholicism – One convert's story

Btw...he's one of the well known modern 'Buddhist' scholars...


I'm pretty sure once he made this transition, he must have put his blinders on about it. If I was him, I would intentionally avoid ever reading anything about myself on the internet ever again in order to remain convinced about the decision.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 7:39 pm 
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plwk wrote:
On converting from Buddhism to Catholicism – One convert's story

Btw...he's one of the well known modern 'Buddhist' scholars...


I asked Dr. Williams about Dzogchen once. His reply was: "Ah, I am very familiar with Dzogchen. And I very wary about spiritual guarantees."


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 7:42 pm 
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mint wrote:
plwk wrote:
On converting from Buddhism to Catholicism – One convert's story

Btw...he's one of the well known modern 'Buddhist' scholars...


I asked Dr. Williams about Dzogchen once. His reply was: "Ah, I am very familiar with Dzogchen. And I very wary about spiritual guarantees."

I doubt he is all that familiar with Dzogchen and clearly he isnt very wary of spiritual guarantees anymore.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 8:40 pm 
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padma norbu wrote:
I wish I understood what this means. Emptiness is to ontology = theories are empty. Forgiveness is to morality = ???

Forgiveness is to morality = moral principles are themselves forgiven.

Forgiveness does to justice the same thing that emptiness does to objects.


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