knickers in a twist over nothing?

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knickers in a twist over nothing?

Postby Karma K Sonam » Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:21 am

Sometimes, being a Buddhist in a predominately Christian country can bring it's own challenges...

My children go to the local primary school and I have always been keen on them choosing their own path (whilst secretly hoping they will choose Buddhism). This worked well for my daughter and she took refuge about 2 years ago. This was entirely her own choice. She has made herself a small shrine in her room and whilst she doesn't meditate, she is a better and more compassionate human being at 10 than I am at 3x her age!

So, I decided to take the same approach with my son (he is 5) He has less contact with Buddhism than my daughter had at his age as our local group broke up about 3 years ago, but, he sees my shrine. I didn't push it and we never really discussed religion in the house as I wanted it to flow naturally - he would come to it when he was ready.

Then one day he came home from school and proudly showed me "how we speak to God" and put his little hands together. He spoke of Jesus and God and how they live in heaven. When I asked him how he knew all this, he said that some people had come to the school assembly to show them how to do it.

And I have come to the conclusion that I am quite upset about this; not that he has chosen to be a christian. That is absolutely his choice and I respect that. What I am upset at is that the school took it upon themselves to let these people in to talk to the children before I had a chance to speak to my son about any of this. Had I known in advance they were coming, I probably would have let him go to the assembly as I think it is important that he hears all the different options, but I would have spoken to him openly and honestly about religion and belief before the assembly and would have tried to do it without an agenda.

Am I being an a£$@ about this? :shrug: I know that he (and my daughter) will probably change their minds a thousand times before they settle (if they even do settle) on one path, but I wanted to choose the time to discuss this with him.
don't forget to stop and smell the daisies.
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Re: knickers in a twist over nothing?

Postby Yudron » Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:59 am

I don't know what country you are from. In the U.S., this would be completely inappropriate in a public school.

I think it is good to let the principle know how you felt about it.

I'm not a parent. I have an opinion that is good to raise children as Buddhists. They can always change their minds later. But why would they?
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Re: knickers in a twist over nothing?

Postby tomamundsen » Tue Oct 30, 2012 6:12 am

As yudron said, this kind of thing isn't allowed in the US, so yea I think It's reasonable to be a little upset. But consider that it his karma ripening. There was some reason why he has this connection. I don't think Christianity is bad... They have the same views on the 10 unwholesome deeds. So, even if he does stick with it, he won't be straying far from the path.

On the other hand, he's really young and will likely change his mind many times. I was an undoubting indoctrinated catholic at that age. Then I became atheist about 6 years later, and Buddhist another 6 years or so after that. Also, perhaps this is a good opportunity to show him how the main reason there are so many Christians is because they indoctrinate youth, that there is no proof they are correct, that you will let him decide on his own, and that you personally are Buddhist.
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Re: knickers in a twist over nothing?

Postby Konchog1 » Tue Oct 30, 2012 6:35 am

Buddhism is a means, not an end.

But, if you worry about your son, then disprove the propaganda with questioning arguments.

ex: "Where is heaven?" "what is it made of?" "how can God hear you speak?" etc.

tomamundsen wrote:I don't think Christianity is bad... They have the same views on the 10 unwholesome deeds. So, even if he does stick with it, he won't be straying far from the path.
My understanding is different. I will present it for consideration.

Divisive Speech and Harsh Words are merely implied in Christianity.

Idle Talk is not a nonvirtue or a virtue.

Harmful Thought is often practiced under the label of humility. "I won't get angry, because God will send him to hell". I had a fundamentalist Lutheran as a roommate in university, he once said he thought we would all go to hell. Just the once, but under his polite coolness whenever we talked to him, he clearly wished we would all be tortured for eternity.

Wrong Views. Christianity doesn't teach cause and effect and often contradicts it. Christianity teaches rebirth is false. Christianity is eternalist. etc.
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-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

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Re: knickers in a twist over nothing?

Postby lobster » Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:32 am

Your turn of phrase and use of £
indicates you are in the UK.
When I was at school we were given books on how wonderful
the Royal Family were and another time the Gideons with bibles turned up.

Your upset is understadable.
What if they had turned up to teach the virtue of the 3 jewels though . . .
tricky one eh . . . :smile:

Perhaps you can arrange a visit by a sangha member used to addressing children
and maybe the local mosque can send a Mullah.
Who can the local atheists rustle up?
Maybe there are pagans with talks for muggles . . .

The real situation is, religion is important to you.
Kids have other concerns . . .

You could certainly write to the head and suggest alternative
assembly speakers . . .

Hope that is helpful :soapbox:
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Re: knickers in a twist over nothing?

Postby DharmaKitty » Tue Oct 30, 2012 1:57 pm

I can certainly understand your concerns. I have 2 kids who are very strong Christians, despite my Buddhist beliefs. This is their choice and I am happy with it as it makes them happy and in some way brings them some sense of peace and joy. My daughter will still however assist me in cleaning our meditation room with the utmost respect and care.

I believe that children should make their own choices about faith and other subjects - and that even pressure to be Buddhist would be a bad thing. The school my daughter attends still has a prayer during assembly and a "devotion" on the 1st and last assembly of the term. Personally I don't think it's necessary, and I guess if the kids were "taught to pray" or some such thing I would be unimpressed.

However, at 5 I guess your child hasn't really made up his mind yet - and perhaps it is still a novelty! As you say the kids may very well change their minds a few times before "settling" with one faith.

I think that perhaps mentioning your concerns or suggesting an intro to all the faiths is a good idea - however, it wouldn't necessarily be welcomed with open arms.

Good luck though :smile:
The essence of a real practice is to bring our intellectual understanding to the level of our heart - so as to feel it - to live it!
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Re: knickers in a twist over nothing?

Postby DharmaKitty » Tue Oct 30, 2012 2:00 pm

But, if you worry about your son, then disprove the propaganda with questioning arguments.

ex: "Where is heaven?" "what is it made of?" "how can God hear you speak?" etc.


Just to add, I'm not convinced that this is a great idea with a 5 year old - but that's just me!
The essence of a real practice is to bring our intellectual understanding to the level of our heart - so as to feel it - to live it!
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Re: knickers in a twist over nothing?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Oct 30, 2012 2:10 pm

Personally I would not get upset, I would (after having checked on the legislation about these sort of things in the state where I live) make a beeline for the office of whoever is in charge (principal, head administrator, etc...) and politely inform them of the law regarding these issues whilst insinuating that the next time something like this happens again that I will make a formal complaint (or even take legal action).
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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