Being a Buddhist in a Christian society

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

Re: Being a Buddhist in a Christian society

Postby mindyourmind » Tue Jun 29, 2010 2:12 pm

One of the ways in which I explain why I am a Buddhist in such a Christian environment is that I have practiced and investigated Christianity to a great degree, that I have found it to be completely unsuitable to me, and that I was then faced with the choice of either "faking" Christianity (which is quite impossible for me) or becoming an atheist or ... following this path which makes so much sense to me, which I respect, which has changed me so much.

I find that this explanation works quite well with the non-fundamentalists.
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Re: Being a Buddhist in a Christian society

Postby Sanjog » Fri Jul 02, 2010 6:13 pm

Most don't care as they assume it was the religion I inherited!
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Re: Being a Buddhist in a Christian society

Postby catmoon » Fri Jul 02, 2010 7:09 pm

The main effect I notice is that I am surrounded by people who have a Christian background. Thus, they think of holiness in Christian terms, they think of the sangha in terms of a Christian church, they think of themselves as members in the Christian way, on and on and on. Net result is many a Sangha has a pronounced "feel" of a conservative Protestant church.

Most strongly, you see the attitudes towards scripture grafted in.


I really don't know what to do about that, if anything.
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Re: Being a Buddhist in a Christian society

Postby mindyourmind » Sat Jul 03, 2010 7:40 pm

catmoon wrote:The main effect I notice is that I am surrounded by people who have a Christian background. Thus, they think of holiness in Christian terms, they think of the sangha in terms of a Christian church, they think of themselves as members in the Christian way, on and on and on. Net result is many a Sangha has a pronounced "feel" of a conservative Protestant church.

Most strongly, you see the attitudes towards scripture grafted in.


I really don't know what to do about that, if anything.


Yes, I experience that also. Talk of "sin" and "forgiveness" :tantrum:

Over time I have decided to just see it with some amusement, and try to change it in small, subtle ways where I can. It will take a long time to unlearn these things.
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Re: Being a Buddhist in a Christian society

Postby Devotee » Sun Jul 04, 2010 6:34 am

catmoon wrote:The main effect I notice is that I am surrounded by people who have a Christian background. Thus, they think of holiness in Christian terms, they think of the sangha in terms of a Christian church, they think of themselves as members in the Christian way, on and on and on. Net result is many a Sangha has a pronounced "feel" of a conservative Protestant church.

Most strongly, you see the attitudes towards scripture grafted in.


I really don't know what to do about that, if anything.


THIS SO TRUE LOL :p I was like that when I first started out. But usually, this attitude changes with time.
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Re: Being a Buddhist in a Christian society

Postby catmoon » Sun Jul 04, 2010 3:04 pm

Devotee wrote: I really don't know what to do about that, if anything.


THIS SO TRUE LOL :p I was like that when I first started out. But usually, this attitude changes with time.[/quote]


Yup, it's a process of absorbing new perspectives. Seems to me like rain falling in a forest, it takes quite some time for it to reach the deepest roots.
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Re: Being a Buddhist in a Christian society

Postby BFS » Sun Jul 04, 2010 3:18 pm

I have lived in the so called "Bible Belt" of America for 13 years, I have never been a Christian. I have had people come to my door to spread the Christian gospel, they have not had a problem with me when I said no thanks and told them that I was a Buddhist, they just thanked me and left. As of yet, I have not had a problem with Christians or other religions with regard to my being a Buddhist. I guess I am lucky, or perhaps they just write it off to me being "foreign" ? :tongue: :rolling: ( I was born in Johannesburg ) .
People generally speaking ,don't even ask. My one son is very active in his Christian church, I respect his choices, he respects mine. I have two old friends in Jo'burg who are Christians, and they respect me, I respect them, neither of us tries to change the other. I think Buddhism is the best, I love Dharma, I only take refuge in the Triple Gem, but I feel that is my business, I don't know what is best for anyone else but myself, so I do not proselytize. Certainly if someone asks and wants to know something about Buddhism, I will explain as best I can, or point them in a good direction.

I like and follow the Dalai Lama's sentiment: :bow:


"Our purpose is not to make more Buddhists, it is to make more enlightened beings. If teaching Buddhism, don't encourage people to become Buddhists; just encourage them to cultivate the qualities of love, compassion, universal responsibility and wisdom within themselves. If some people with strong karmic connections want to formally become Buddhist then that is acceptable; but in general the emphasis should be on a commitment to inner spiritual values, not to any specific religious tradition."

-- His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
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Re: Being a Buddhist in a Christian society

Postby mindyourmind » Sun Jul 04, 2010 4:57 pm

BFS wrote:I have lived in the so called "Bible Belt" of America for 13 years, I have never been a Christian. I have had people come to my door to spread the Christian gospel, they have not had a problem with me when I said no thanks and told them that I was a Buddhist, they just thanked me and left. As of yet, I have not had a problem with Christians or other religions with regard to my being a Buddhist. I guess I am lucky, or perhaps they just write it off to me being "foreign" ? :tongue: :rolling: ( I was born in Johannesburg ) .
People generally speaking ,don't even ask. My one son is very active in his Christian church, I respect his choices, he respects mine. I have two old friends in Jo'burg who are Christians, and they respect me, I respect them, neither of us tries to change the other. I think Buddhism is the best, I love Dharma, I only take refuge in the Triple Gem, but I feel that is my business, I don't know what is best for anyone else but myself, so I do not proselytize. Certainly if someone asks and wants to know something about Buddhism, I will explain as best I can, or point them in a good direction.

I like and follow the Dalai Lama's sentiment: :bow:


"Our purpose is not to make more Buddhists, it is to make more enlightened beings. If teaching Buddhism, don't encourage people to become Buddhists; just encourage them to cultivate the qualities of love, compassion, universal responsibility and wisdom within themselves. If some people with strong karmic connections want to formally become Buddhist then that is acceptable; but in general the emphasis should be on a commitment to inner spiritual values, not to any specific religious tradition."

-- His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
:bow:



Joburg? Same country then.
I am starting to see a change on this topic around here, more tolerance. Buddhism can still get you a scowl and a "I'll pray for you" around here, but that seems to be changing rapidly. I think my society is becoming a secular one at a rapid rate, one where Buddhism will have its little ray of sunshine.
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Re: Being a Buddhist in a Christian society

Postby BFS » Mon Jul 05, 2010 11:53 am

mindyourmind wrote:

Joburg? Same country then.
I am starting to see a change on this topic around here, more tolerance. Buddhism can still get you a scowl and a "I'll pray for you" around here, but that seems to be changing rapidly. I think my society is becoming a secular one at a rapid rate, one where Buddhism will have its little ray of sunshine.

:thumbsup:
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Re: Being a Buddhist in a Christian society

Postby uslic001 » Sun Aug 01, 2010 2:52 pm

I have been living in the "Bible Belt" for 19 years now. I took refuge formally 2 years ago. I do not feel comfortable telling people I am Buddhist as most are fundamentalist Southern Baptists around here and will try to convert you to save your soul from going to hell. I grew up Catholic and went to Catholic schools for 12 years so I also do not tell my friends from childhood I am now Buddhist. My religious beliefs are personal and I do no share them with most people. My family knows I am Buddhist and it causes some problems with those that are still Christian. I find being Buddhist in a Christian society difficult as most do not understand Buddhism. I have found that as the numbers of Hindus have grown in my county it is getting a little easier not to be a Christian.
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Re: Being a Buddhist in a Christian society

Postby Chaz » Sun Aug 01, 2010 4:38 pm

mindyourmind wrote:
So, how do you experience life and practice in such a Christian society?


Just like everyone else - one day at a time.

Do you feel outcast,


Not in the least. I pull my pants on one leg at a time, just like everyone else.

are you prepared / happy to speak up about your religion?


If somebody asks, yes.

Do you feel culturally disconnected, alien, out of the mainline, a bit of a loner as far as Buddhism is concerned?


If you mean my Buddhism being a factor in feelings of disconnection, etc., nope. I live in a society pretty much devoid of culture. There's not much to feel disconnected from.

Are you sometimes tempted to simply go with the flow and do as others do?


Nah, I've never been one for that. I do my own thing and leave others to do their's. As far as Buddhist society is concerned, I'm not one to toe the line either. I'm not what you'd call a typical Buddhist. My life and my karma is my own and how I deal with both is not always informed by what others think or do.

In my experience, Christians are generally more interested in learning about my beliefs instead of trying to convert me. Most people, Christian or otherwise, don't give a damn about your beliefs. If they do try to do that, it takes me about 5 minutes, explaining some of my personal history, and any attempt to evangelize usually goes down in flames. I've been there, done that, have a t-shirt to prove it along with a family utterly destroyed. I'm the LAST person a Christian wants to preach the gospel to.

For the most part, my life is pretty much the same as anyone else's. I don't hide my beliefs, but I don't make a big deal of it either. I find people, including Buddhists, who wear their beliefs on their shirt-sleeve to be boring as hell. I see it as shallow and inconsequential. "Oh, you're a Buddhist? Gee that's nice! Now, how about them Broncos?"

I also think that any feelings of disconnection or alienation we may have are more our own fault rather than the result of some external condition.
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Re: Being a Buddhist in a Christian society

Postby ronnewmexico » Sun Aug 01, 2010 7:44 pm

As to this....."that she feels so alone in the practice"...I have noticed surpriseingly a similiar thing(the initial poster mentions this later on in this thread about a friend)..

I first do not claim Buddhism, however my spiritual understandings(though they may be quite meager) almost soley derive From Buddhism, or specific Buddhist teachers, and I have participated in temples, been granted various empowerments, volunteered in temples of varying Buddhist sort, and attended Buddhist retreat houses probably more than most Buddhists have in their lifetimes I would assume.

But to this specific..... early on, with participation in temples in the WEst it seemed apparent to me a sense of community of Buddhists was really not present, absent from temple. If I saw Buddhists at a supermarket or some such, like or not they would not be very friendly or acknowledgeing even of my existance even though they had to know I was a member of their temple. Evangelicals or fervernt christians of any sort always invariably both acknowledgeing and acting friendly to the extream. So one in the west it seems may feel alone in the practice for reasons other than just being a minority.

My personal observation(and this may be construed as a hit since I don't consider myself Buddhist in a final estimation)..Buddhists in the west as evidenced by this board seem enchanted with the idea of compassion but little compassionate. Adding in kindness or with peace or love perhaps to posts, which display anything but compassion, (as example). I am no great example of compassion by any means, having not a singular Bodhisttava vow and by tendency was born in a environment not conducive to compassionate action.....but many do lay claims of such and behave entirely different. The behaviors of those exterior to temple bears this out as well. And this is varying experience as I have volunteered in the past extensively at zen and Tibetan temple and retreat house.

To the other....if I find purpose in it I will claim Buddhism. If the person I am talking to is not very advanced spiritually my way of things approximates a equality to believing in those things for them. So in such circumstance I will claim Buddhism, and not be lying. Also in some circumstances it can be very beneficial to tell some others by this statement there is another way of being spiritual without the addon of God.

Christianity pervades virtually every aspect of american society but to varying degrees. The pledge of alligence in the US does indeed state... "one nation under god" and all currency states on it "in god we trust". If you do not know or see this, I would contend you just are not looking.

So Buddhists....yes Buddhists are outsiders. YOu want to pretend you are not you may, nothing wrong with that. You want to pretend Buddhism is theism, nothing wrong with that as well.
And this society in america is by my take but one step away from replicating the human rights values of any extreeam theocracy or facist state by my take. On large terrorist attack and to there they will go.
Tolerence is unfortunatly not in the lexion. Right at this moment forces in America are rallying to prevent the building of a mosque because it is somewhere near the world trade center, blaming another religion for the attack. As if christians could be characterized by the acts of extreemists such as David Koresh or Jiim JOnes perhaps.

I fear them not.....where I live I have a Buddhist flag on pole and Tibetan prayer flags, this again in the interests of allowing for diversity in a mainly homogenous society. No one else does and I estimate this is much frowned upon. Even political signs of the slightest leftward leaning have in the past been uprooted and summarily garbaged. My area attracts the right wing survivalist society and/or the right wing upper burecrat want to be like the very very rich (used to be called burguois or some such)... subculture society.

But the flags speak to a other way of looking at things. If I was meak mild or easily intimidated I could do no such things.
But intimidate they would rest assured if they could. Occasionally I will be playful with them about things. If for instance they see me lifting a enormous weight at the gym and compliment me.....I will tell them it is nonexistant that weight. Something to my view to make them pause a bit. All to them is looked at from a theist/absolutist or a nihilist perspective. To have hint of other may serve some purpose.

So I have fun with it but real difference it cannot be denied, even for one who considers himself very similiar to Buddhist but ultimately not. Buddhists it seems are the particular enemy of a particular sort of theists being considered worse then those who are not of their faith but still theists. In India it is said one particular type of theists treated Buddhists very harshly due to their consideration as non god believers many years ago. This current blip in areas of the world in which one may be a Buddhist or of other faith without being summarily slaughtered is indeed a minor blip time wise in this place we have birthed. It is of karmic force of result that it occured, generally such cause does not occur in this foul place.

So enjoy it....nothing seems to state it will last.

As Larry KIng said to HHDL one time(and not in first interview)....well, you are a man of God......and HHDL said.....nothing to that.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: Being a Buddhist in a Christian society

Postby Bodhi » Mon Aug 02, 2010 2:26 am

I live in a Bible Belt, where Christianity is quite strong. But I have no problem being a Buddhist. I do have people come knocking on my door trying to convert me, friends at school trying to save me, elders trying to get me confess my sins, but none of it is my Business, I had investigate Christianity, and I know Buddhism is the right path for me and it worked wonderfully. I dont have any problem telling people Im Buddhist either, and many of my friends are fine with it. :]
Wherever you are, that is where the mind should be. Always be mindful, and be your own master. This is true freedom. - Grand Master Wei Chueh
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Re: Being a Buddhist in a Christian society

Postby Yonten Nyima » Wed Aug 18, 2010 10:24 pm

This is a touchy subject in my life so I feel I must contribute to this. But first Id like to thank the person who began this thread because its a serious issue facing Buddhist practitioners all over the world, and maybe more so in traditional buddhist cultures.
My father is an Evangelical christian, who believes HH Tenzin Gyatso and HH Ogyen Trinley are going to burn in hell, that Buddha will be there waiting, and we'll all have a seat with eachother there.
However he says it helps me so its good.
Every time I meet a buddhist, they ask about my practice and how I started, and it always comes to this.

Christians believe without accepting Jesus, no virtue we practice will matter in the eyes of god. I cant accept this, which is contrary to what bedhisattvas do, as buddhists we're taught its the correct path to accept all things and hold all things as possible as an antidote to the view of duality.
I dont understand these people, and I cant figure out how to reconcile these differences and uneasy feelings, other than feeling like, "well if that makes you happy, and makes you feel safe, then good for you. But its not for me." But its no good.
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Re: Being a Buddhist in a Christian society

Postby ronnewmexico » Thu Aug 19, 2010 3:19 am

YN no offense, theism is to me totally faulted but..."Christians believe without accepting Jesus, no virtue we practice will matter in the eyes of god".

I have known many christians and forms of christianity that do not believe that to be so. Evangelical christians perhaps and certain other specific faiths within christianity, but not all.

Catholics for instance... I believe people not exposed to jesus or not baptized but still good people or innocents like children.. will go to limbo which is a sort of nice place but not heaven and not hell and not purgatory.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: Being a Buddhist in a Christian society

Postby Jikan » Thu Aug 19, 2010 5:31 pm

I don't mind Christianity at all. In point of fact I have lovely relationships with people who are earnestly trying to put the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth into direct practice. They're wonderful people: kind, gentle, patient, generous, helpful.

It's the consumer capitalism that has me down, with the concomitant militarism, tension, constipation, &c. This is often expressed in religious terms in the U.S. And this is the dominant "religion" in our society: not Christianity, but capital, spectacle.
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Re: Being a Buddhist in a Christian society

Postby ronnewmexico » Thu Aug 19, 2010 5:47 pm

Well I personally disagree on that......I find all peoples suck so I would not discriminate one from another.
Christians buddhists hindus muslims they all suck sans enlightened which makes them awake and not human. Humans suck. The 12 links produce a sucky product which politely is called a ignorant product.

Ignorance sucks...humans suck. no doubt about it. Ever think of a mothers or fathers love so unconditional considered so pure....if so pure why not equal to all children....it is not. only extended to her/his child generally. Extends self as basis.

Humans suck all of them to my opinion.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: Being a Buddhist in a Christian society

Postby Yonten Nyima » Thu Aug 19, 2010 8:00 pm

I say that because Ive been told that multiple times by Christians, and I dont mean they all think like that, but I didnt feel the need to clarify that because the context I used it in was in reference to Evangelicals, the 79% of which do believe that, dislike homosexuals, and would have us all in jail if not church.
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Re: Being a Buddhist in a Christian society

Postby ronnewmexico » Thu Aug 19, 2010 8:07 pm

Again no offense YN but I find that all religions to include buddhism have those that hold such views as members and occasionally some may be found to claim such are foundational teachings. Some buddhists are actually very conservative perhaps filling the conservative nitch in the politic in which they present(some asian countries). Most in the US tend liberal but that differs depending upon nation and culture.

I personally find opposition to christianity in a pragmatic or rational sense, seeing that above to be fact, and not to form such basis of choice of which means to employ on such as result.

But that is a personal opinion.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: Being a Buddhist in a Christian society

Postby Bodhi » Fri Aug 20, 2010 3:24 am

Yonten Nyima wrote:I say that because Ive been told that multiple times by Christians, and I dont mean they all think like that, but I didnt feel the need to clarify that because the context I used it in was in reference to Evangelicals, the 79% of which do believe that, dislike homosexuals, and would have us all in jail if not church.



I really know what you meant here. and totally agree on.
Wherever you are, that is where the mind should be. Always be mindful, and be your own master. This is true freedom. - Grand Master Wei Chueh
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