How do others see your buddhist toughts?

Discuss your personal experience with the Dharma here. How has it enriched your life? What challenges does it present?

How do others see your buddhist toughts?

Postby Nosta » Wed Jun 27, 2012 6:49 pm

If you live in a country where buddhism is the religion of a very small minority of population, how do others look at you OR how do they look to your toughts regarding buddhism?

In my case, most of my colleagues and family dont even know that i am buddhist. They just think that probably i am not a religious person, and thats because most of them would see me as somewhat crazy. Besides, nothing good would come from saying that i am buddhist. I couldnt discuss with them (discuss, in a healthy way). I know them very well and i know, from other kind of discussions, that most of them get really attached to their point of view and will try very hard to convince me that i am wrong and they wont hear me. I am used to that in most of discussions.

Worst: some of them claim that they are opened to other religions and/or that they have a sympathetic feeling for buddhism, but when i expose buddhist ideas (karma, rebirth, four noble truths, vipassana way of seeing life (dont think, note), etc, etc) they will raise their eyebrow and ridicularize such way of thinking. They will try to prove thats a silly way of life ("not thinking??"), boring ("meditating all day and doing nothing?"), based on crazy ideas with no scientific background (rebirth, karma, etc) and sad (the 4NobleTruths give to mucch attention to suffering). Even if i try to explain the reasons behind such toughts, they will ridicularize me. Such actions will occur even with people i never met, like in portuguese forums any kind (even in forums about ufos, etc where people are supposed to be more open minded).

I feel myself as a lonely buddhist, not in a sad-self-pitty-way, but in the sense that i cant speak about buddhism with anyone, only here!

This is my karma for sure, and for sure i dont have the gift of teaching Dharma to others. My path is more like the path of a Pratyeka Buddha.

What about you, how is your buddhist life, about these subjects?
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Re: How do others see your buddhist toughts?

Postby Virgo » Wed Jun 27, 2012 7:04 pm

My brother is a Scorp ascendant so if you even tell a joke about the Dalai Lama ordering a hot dog with everythign on it and saying "make me one with everything" as he orders it, he freaks out and thinks it is some kind of ploy to turn him into a Buddhist. Thankfully, not everyone is as intense. My one friend Ron just calls me "monk" ( I used to be a monk). Some people apologize to me after telling a dirty joke in a group, as if they shouldn't say such things around "religious people". I respect their trying to be respectful, but I don't mind if they tell dirty jokes all day long...

Of course, many people are rather interested, not knowing much about what the Buddha taught.

In the end, I sometimes feel one is better of just saying they are "spiritual" rather than identifying with a religion in most cases, but that's just me.

By the way, I am very sorry you feel that you can't speak to anyone irl about Buddhism. Just spend more time here! :)

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Re: How do others see your buddhist toughts?

Postby Ogyen » Wed Jun 27, 2012 9:15 pm

When I first encountered the dharma, I had no one to talk to IRL. My interactions with others are still limited, as where I live there are primarily Catholics or Jehovah's Witness. The country I'm in has a TINY Buddhist population.

Like you, most of my friends here don't really know I'm Buddhist, I don't advertise it. I remember when I asked about if I should tell people about the dharma, the instruction was to let someone ask. That is, if they want to know, they will ask you. If not, offering can incur hostility from monotheistic mindsets that have the conversion-path. Buddhism is not about conversion really, so there is no need to put it on people who don't ask.

That being said, I talk about the dharma to everyone. I just don't use Buddhist terminology. I use language that includes simple words and I talk about things as basic human kindness, compassion for the other. They may not assume I'm particularly religious, but they know I really care about the state of my world, which is perhaps more important in demonstrating than just talking about the 4 noble truths. You can demonstrate the 4 noble truths in your interactions with friends without ever using the words of dharma that might sound religious to a non-buddhist. I also do what I say, which helps your credibility immensely.

I did a television interview here on Buddhism, and I knew my audience was NOT Buddhist at all but Catholic. There is no need to get 'technical' about rebirth or any of that. Most Catholic people aren't looking for a different version of what happens after death, but introducing basic elements of dharma is not harmful... I talked about caring for those who are around you, and practicing staying responsible for the actions you take. Everyone likes to breathe, I incorporated the idea of being relaxed in how you live your life as the basic of joy of living, so when discussing this with a Catholic audience, it did not clash with their Catholic beliefs, it simply gave some basic additional insight on how they could be more present in their own lives, living every day. This was very well received and not perceived as 'Buddhist.' But I spoke only of dharma. So really I got my point across without making a big fuss about it being another religion/philosophy because I talked about it at a practical human level.

Keep going, make what connections you find online, and conditions will come together where you will encounter someone on the same path in real life. That's been my experience.

:namaste:
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Re: How do others see your buddhist toughts?

Postby Nosta » Wed Jun 27, 2012 11:10 pm

Thank you both for your kind answers and for sharing your experiences.

Ogyen, even when i am speaking about Dharma teachings without giving any hint that i am talking about buddhist/eastern ways of life, they will reject.
Also, i never try to make conversion, sometimes it just happens that we are speaking about such matters; sometimes it may be me raising the themes (rebirth for instance, or others) trying to create some nice conversation, but even so, things go wrong (so to say). They have their minds closed to such ways of life.

I decided that i will never speak again of such matters, unless needed or requested.

Buddhism is not for everybody. If people dont want a diamond but prefer a rusty piece of iron, i wont give them the diamonds..
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Re: How do others see your buddhist toughts?

Postby odysseus » Wed Jun 27, 2012 11:18 pm

Nosta wrote:... They just think that probably i am not a religious person, and thats because most of them would see me as somewhat crazy.


Hi, I found this a bit funny. I don`t consider myself religious because I like Buddhism, but I consider my religious acquaintances as a bit crazy since they´re religious. Don´t worry about it!
It´s our duty as sentient beings to fight evil!

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Re: How do others see your buddhist toughts?

Postby Quiet Heart » Thu Jun 28, 2012 1:47 am

:smile:
That's what this, and other "buddhist" forums are for.
My problem is that I live in a supposedly Buddhist country....Thailand.
(Ignore for now the question of whether it's really Buddhist or not).
In Thailand it's easy to see the Buddhists....they all (or so the majority of the population thinks):
1. Wear robes and live in a Wat.
2. Are not married.
3. Speak Thai....and are born in Thailand (or at least are Asians).

But I am clearly not any of those three....I'm married, I live with my wife, and my Thai is limited....(I'm a foriegner .... a "farang or falang...however you choose to pronounce it) living here in Thailand.
Therefore, to many Thais I clearly can't possibly be a Buddhist....and any opinions I have on Buddhisim can be ignored.
Cutural preconceptions at it's extreme....not because Buddhists here are a minority....but brcause they are the majority.

But I pay no real attention to that....I'm still just me....and I live my life my way, and practice my own way.
:smile:
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Re: How do others see your buddhist toughts?

Postby Son » Thu Jun 28, 2012 4:54 am

Ogyen wrote:When I first encountered the dharma, I had no one to talk to IRL. My interactions with others are still limited, as where I live there are primarily Catholics or Jehovah's Witness. The country I'm in has a TINY Buddhist population.

Like you, most of my friends here don't really know I'm Buddhist, I don't advertise it. I remember when I asked about if I should tell people about the dharma, the instruction was to let someone ask. That is, if they want to know, they will ask you. If not, offering can incur hostility from monotheistic mindsets that have the conversion-path. Buddhism is not about conversion really, so there is no need to put it on people who don't ask.

That being said, I talk about the dharma to everyone. I just don't use Buddhist terminology. I use language that includes simple words and I talk about things as basic human kindness, compassion for the other. They may not assume I'm particularly religious, but they know I really care about the state of my world, which is perhaps more important in demonstrating than just talking about the 4 noble truths. You can demonstrate the 4 noble truths in your interactions with friends without ever using the words of dharma that might sound religious to a non-buddhist. I also do what I say, which helps your credibility immensely.

I did a television interview here on Buddhism, and I knew my audience was NOT Buddhist at all but Catholic. There is no need to get 'technical' about rebirth or any of that. Most Catholic people aren't looking for a different version of what happens after death, but introducing basic elements of dharma is not harmful... I talked about caring for those who are around you, and practicing staying responsible for the actions you take. Everyone likes to breathe, I incorporated the idea of being relaxed in how you live your life as the basic of joy of living, so when discussing this with a Catholic audience, it did not clash with their Catholic beliefs, it simply gave some basic additional insight on how they could be more present in their own lives, living every day. This was very well received and not perceived as 'Buddhist.' But I spoke only of dharma. So really I got my point across without making a big fuss about it being another religion/philosophy because I talked about it at a practical human level.

Keep going, make what connections you find online, and conditions will come together where you will encounter someone on the same path in real life. That's been my experience.

:namaste:



Amen!
You see, that's what the Buddha would have done. What could be more Buddhist than that? In that way, you identified yourself more as a Dharma Follower than you could possibly have in any other way. Bless you my friend. That is just so nice to hear.
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Re: How do others see your buddhist toughts?

Postby Son » Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:09 am

Nosta wrote:Thank you both for your kind answers and for sharing your experiences.

Ogyen, even when i am speaking about Dharma teachings without giving any hint that i am talking about buddhist/eastern ways of life, they will reject.
Also, i never try to make conversion, sometimes it just happens that we are speaking about such matters; sometimes it may be me raising the themes (rebirth for instance, or others) trying to create some nice conversation, but even so, things go wrong (so to say). They have their minds closed to such ways of life.

I decided that i will never speak again of such matters, unless needed or requested.

Buddhism is not for everybody. If people dont want a diamond but prefer a rusty piece of iron, i wont give them the diamonds..


The best thing to do is put the diamond on display, bright and shining for all those around you to see. That's how you benefit them. In the many circles of people I have known, all through middle school, high school, and going through life for 3 years--only one of these people really accepted Buddhism and tried to benefit from the teaching of the Buddha. He only lasted half a year before he fell into complacency about spiritualism, and his practice simply dissolved. He still called himself Buddhist, but it meant nothing. He became as selfish and unwholesome as ever--the Dharma was lost to him, a wilted lotus in his heart.

Recently, my friend Paige and her 13 year old step-cousin took interest in my Buddhistic thinking. We are friends together, and I try to let them learn from my examples daily. I see little benefit from it, but I do see benefit. They reject the stark idiocy of religion in America, and they sympathize with Buddhist ideas. They at least care about the meaning of living, dying, and being born, and for them to be thinking about that at all is precious to my eyes. She has even encouraged me to do chanting for her dog to become human, and I prayed for all the dogs. They take interest in the difference between miserable existences and pleasant life, and they want to avoid purgatory, preta-life, animal life, and asura life. The fact that they can even understand that is important.

My boyfriend's family is Jehova's Witness, but he has the sensibility to reject focusing his life on something like that. Mostly what brought us together was the positive way I thought, and my living advice to him, which was purely based on the teaching of the Buddha. He learned about Buddhism from me, and I'm happy to he's with me for that. He doesn't practice anything, but he benefits from me. And he is such a kindhearted person, he's sure to become a magnificent god. What's to be sad for in that? It's good! Hopefully this is the beginning of his path to the Dharma.

My point is, keep being Buddhist, and eventually you'll genuinely help someone. Even if it takes your entire life. But you know, we're all alone, whether we have Buddhist friends, Jehova's Witness friends, or no friends... We are all alone. And it's not so bad, because everyone's alone we all have the will to come together.
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Re: How do others see your buddhist toughts?

Postby seeker242 » Thu Jun 28, 2012 1:01 pm

I think it's possible to speak about Buddhism without actually speaking about Buddhism. :) For example, when you speak of love, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, you're speaking about Buddhism. When you speak about letting go of longing, anger, hatred and coming to acceptance, you're speaking about Buddhism. Of course some people will always reject these things, but many can see that they are appropriate things.
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Re: How do others see your buddhist toughts?

Postby muni » Fri Jun 29, 2012 8:58 am

seeker242 wrote:I think it's possible to speak about Buddhism without actually speaking about Buddhism. :) For example, when you speak of love, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, you're speaking about Buddhism. When you speak about letting go of longing, anger, hatred and coming to acceptance, you're speaking about Buddhism. Of course some people will always reject these things, but many can see that they are appropriate things.

Oh wonderful! This draws no biased borders and indeed is clearly expressing body-speech-mind. :anjali:
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Re: How do others see your buddhist toughts?

Postby Jikan » Fri Jun 29, 2012 3:09 pm

At first I had a lot of friction. This is because, at first, I wasn't very good at walking the walk... and even though I was talking a lot of talk, I wasn't getting much of that right either.

Time passed and I stuck with it. I'm a slow learner, but I've noticed that I get along with people better. I make new friends more easily. I get in fewer arguments and just generally struggle less. Everyone I know knows I'm a Buddhist and no one bothers me about it; the ones who were bothered about it are no longer in contact with me anyway. Some people respect me for it, and one or two have gotten interested in practice because they've seen the changes in me.

When I lived in Idaho, it was a bit weirder, as the religious culture there is much more homogenous. I endured some ugly jokes. But I never had difficulty in the workplace or in any public institution, even there.

On the whole, the US is a pretty good place to be a Buddhist.
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Re: How do others see your buddhist toughts?

Postby Nosta » Sat Jun 30, 2012 12:14 pm

Once again, thank you everybody for sharing your experiences.

Buddhism is a very different path. If we look to Western way of life, we can see why people reject Buddhism, since its very different from what people is used to see. Even when they think that they are sympathetique towards Buddhism, they are not.
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Re: How do others see your buddhist toughts?

Postby Son » Sat Jun 30, 2012 9:57 pm

Nosta wrote:Once again, thank you everybody for sharing your experiences.

Buddhism is a very different path. If we look to Western way of life, we can see why people reject Buddhism, since its very different from what people is used to see. Even when they think that they are sympathetique towards Buddhism, they are not.


Unfortunately, this is true. This is where I seem to inherit my "strictness" from. I don't allow others to misconstrue the teaching of the Buddha. Someone, upon being told I was a Buddhist, mentioned that the Noble Eightfold Path is kind of like the Ten Commandments. I didn't argue with her, but I made a point to disagree. Obviously, that's a ridiculous notion. Many Americans would be happy to combine these two utterly different concepts for the sake of Unitarianism. I think it's important to defy this.

The commandments are religio-cultural demands based on a communal covenant with a god. The Noble Eightfold Path is an interconnected system of guiding principles that support each other and give rise to degrees of enlightenment, and who's end is to achieve nirvana. These two concepts are not even comparable at all. Semetics and Dharma couldn't be any more different. Not to say that Christianity is the same way.

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Re: How do others see your buddhist toughts?

Postby Ogyen » Sun Jul 01, 2012 12:30 am

Jikan wrote:At first I had a lot of friction. This is because, at first, I wasn't very good at walking the walk... and even though I was talking a lot of talk, I wasn't getting much of that right either.

Time passed and I stuck with it. I'm a slow learner, but I've noticed that I get along with people better. I make new friends more easily. I get in fewer arguments and just generally struggle less. Everyone I know knows I'm a Buddhist and no one bothers me about it; the ones who were bothered about it are no longer in contact with me anyway. Some people respect me for it, and one or two have gotten interested in practice because they've seen the changes in me.

When I lived in Idaho, it was a bit weirder, as the religious culture there is much more homogenous. I endured some ugly jokes. But I never had difficulty in the workplace or in any public institution, even there.

On the whole, the US is a pretty good place to be a Buddhist.


It's not that 'things' ever really get easier... we do! :consoling:

I think at the end of the day you just have to really apply the teachings... what IS a big deal, and what is just sufficient to let rise and fall and watch go by? I'm finding less and less is the BIG deal I used to make it out to be... Sounds like you might have experienced something a bit similar... :heart:
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Re: How do others see your buddhist toughts?

Postby dharmagoat » Sun Jul 01, 2012 12:58 am

Only those that know me well know that I am buddhist, otherwise there is no way to tell. When I discuss the things that I consider important, such as mindfulness, equanimity and compassion, I never find the need to use terms or concepts that are exclusively buddhist. Family members will sometimes chide me for being too "buddhist" about some issue being discussed, and occasionally criticise me for not being buddhist enough, along the lines of "I thought you buddhists always..." My parents are generally very pleased that I follow buddhism, and other than having the concern that I might start shaving my head, feel that I am on a healthy path.
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Re: How do others see your buddhist toughts?

Postby Indrajala » Sun Jul 01, 2012 2:50 am

Nosta wrote:If you live in a country where buddhism is the religion of a very small minority of population, how do others look at you OR how do they look to your toughts regarding buddhism?


At the moment I live in Taiwan where Buddhism is clearly present and influential. Here it is actually seen in a positive light in general. To say you're Buddhist is perfectly normal. Religion is quite common. At the government office the agents have images of the Virgin Mary or Guanyin, and this clearly isn't an issue. Mainland China of course is whole other story of course.

Actually my Taiwanese friends are quite open to hearing about Buddhism. They seem to think well of it, even if they don't practice it. It is seen as a wholesome way to overcome problems in life and lead a meaningful life.

In Canada, however, I had mixed experiences. My immediate family is fine with it (not hostile, but not interested themselves). My extended family, I suspect, thinks I'm a bit weird, but then in real life I am kind of weird and always have been.
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Re: How do others see your buddhist toughts?

Postby KeithBC » Sun Jul 01, 2012 4:41 am

I live in an unusual community (lots of old hippies) where "non-traditional" (i.e. non-Christian) religions are considered normal. At least in terms of public perception, Wiccans are the majority, followed by Buddhists, then atheists, then Christians. So revealing that I am a Buddhist draws no particular reaction at all. It is pretty much considered mainstream.

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Re: How do others see your buddhist toughts?

Postby Nosta » Sun Jul 01, 2012 1:14 pm

dharmagoat wrote:Only those that know me well know that I am buddhist, otherwise there is no way to tell. When I discuss the things that I consider important, such as mindfulness, equanimity and compassion, I never find the need to use terms or concepts that are exclusively buddhist. Family members will sometimes chide me for being too "buddhist" about some issue being discussed, and occasionally criticise me for not being buddhist enough, along the lines of "I thought you buddhists always..." My parents are generally very pleased that I follow buddhism, and other than having the concern that I might start shaving my head, feel that I am on a healthy path.



I really like to protect bugs from being killed. For instance, if a friend is ready to kill a spider i will protect the spider. On such occasions people will ask me if iam a buddhist, otherwise they will not notice.
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Re: How do others see your buddhist toughts?

Postby Son » Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:23 pm

Nosta wrote:
dharmagoat wrote:Only those that know me well know that I am buddhist, otherwise there is no way to tell. When I discuss the things that I consider important, such as mindfulness, equanimity and compassion, I never find the need to use terms or concepts that are exclusively buddhist. Family members will sometimes chide me for being too "buddhist" about some issue being discussed, and occasionally criticise me for not being buddhist enough, along the lines of "I thought you buddhists always..." My parents are generally very pleased that I follow buddhism, and other than having the concern that I might start shaving my head, feel that I am on a healthy path.



I really like to protect bugs from being killed. For instance, if a friend is ready to kill a spider i will protect the spider. On such occasions people will ask me if iam a buddhist, otherwise they will not notice.


I often protect bugs from murder, and rescue them from pools and other precious situations.

Once my friend, who knew I've been Buddhist for years, tried to kill a small roach in her home. I showed that I didn't think she should try to do that, and she said, "sorry I know that makes you uncomfortable."

"No, it's the bug you're making uncomfortable, not me."
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Re: How do others see your buddhist toughts?

Postby tomamundsen » Tue Jul 03, 2012 1:57 am

KeithBC wrote:I live in an unusual community (lots of old hippies) where "non-traditional" (i.e. non-Christian) religions are considered normal. At least in terms of public perception, Wiccans are the majority, followed by Buddhists, then atheists, then Christians. So revealing that I am a Buddhist draws no particular reaction at all. It is pretty much considered mainstream.

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