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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:45 am 
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How is your personell view on Christianity? Do you see it as a way to enlightment too?

I got into a discussion about the similarities between Buddhism (Theravada point of view) and Christianity.
My Theravadin friend tried to figure out similarities or parallels between "Buddha, Dharma and Sangha" and the Holy Trinity of "Father, Son and holy Ghost" - and he has many more such mixing up ideas. Sounds good, but in the details i feel it as false. He calls it interreligious understanding - i call it jumble.
Also he tried to point out the necessity of the "Evel" as a counterpart for "Good". He tried to tell me, there is also a God as creator (Brahma) and a devil (Mara) mentioned in the Palikanon.
I argued, that Brahma is no Creator, because he is not outside of Samsara, and that Mara is something different than the Christian "devil"...

In this discussion we found out that i have a big feeling of refusal against Christianity. I don't believe it functions and i, for myself, don't like to mix all these beliefs and assumptions together. Also it is my impression that this Theravadin friend brings himself to mental confusion, because he doesn't really stand against "Black Magic". He doesn't like this word, he calls it "left path" and he also refuses this for himself, but he says it is a possible way.

I don't like this kind of self-invented teachings. So he calls me ignorant. :smile: He argues, my absence of open-mindedness is not buddhistic and is a hindrance on my path. I suspect, i hurt his feelings with my point of view.

But i don't think that this kind of open-mindedness (accepting EVERYTHING even black magicians) is helpful for me right now.

Any ideas or experiences? Thank you.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:19 am 
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Maybe you could see Father, holy ghost, and son in terms of dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, and nirmanakaya emanations, and evil as dualism?

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:25 am 
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futerko wrote:
Maybe you could see Father, holy ghost, and son in terms of dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, and nirmanakaya emanations, and evil as dualism?

Yes, right. He tried to explain it from this side also.

My argument is that dualism is much more than "good and bad", and that the view on a world of good and evil is not helpfull - at least for me. I would never argue with a Christian about his beliefs. May they become happy.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:30 am 
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Ayu wrote:
futerko wrote:
Maybe you could see Father, holy ghost, and son in terms of dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, and nirmanakaya emanations, and evil as dualism?

Yes, right. He tried to explain it from this side also.

My argument is that dualism is much more than "good and bad", and that the view on a world of good and evil is not helpfull - at least for me. I would never argue with a Christian about his beliefs. May they become happy.
I guess from my own side, struggling with Christian concepts lead me in that direction, until I eventually found the Buddhist explanation which reconciled the huge gaps that I saw in the Christian explanation. There are some very advanced Christian theologians who tend in that direction, and also from Modern Continental Philosophy, such as Hegel, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:10 pm 
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Ayu wrote:
How is your personell view on Christianity? Do you see it as a way to enlightment too?

The problem with Christianity lies in its popularity. Because of that, teachings are watered down, and hard to find.
Try reading The "Cloud of Unknowing", a late medieval text, for better view on the gnosis of Christianity. If you replace "God" with "Buddha" in this text, it will share quality with greatest Buddhist teachings. Down to earth issues, like good and evil, are also clarified there.

You can find first 15 chapters here : The Cloud of Unknowing

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:15 pm 
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Ah, now i see, i was arguing about normal christian people in daily life and he was talking about Christian mysticism. Puh, that's a difference. Thank you for opening my mind. :thumbsup: :tongue:

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:23 pm 
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:good:

Excellent response from Oushi. There is an inner Christianity..Its found in medieval works like " The Cloud " and in modern teachers like Thomas Merton, and Dom John Main.

What is much more problematic is to try to find that inner Christianity in the maze of contradiction and fiction known as " Gnosticism "..which compounds the problem rather than clarifying it..starting as it does with the idea that the world was created by an evil demi--god, and that subsequently the physical world is evil. The fact that they appear to accept some kind of reincarnation should not blind us to its essential duality.

Thats the bit that adherents of Gnosticism neglect to mention..


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:28 pm 
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Ayu wrote:
Ah, now i see, i was arguing about normal christian people in daily life and he was talking about Christian mysticism. Puh, that's a difference. Thank you for opening my mind. :thumbsup: :tongue:

There is a parallel between exoteric Christianity and " folk " Buddhism..which is largely about fortune telling and amulets and folk rituals..just as the former is about socialisation and the reinforcement of conventional roles.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:32 pm 
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Ayu wrote:
Do you see it as a way to enlightment too?


Sure, inasmuch as it is limited to Jesus's core teachings about ending suffering by knowing God, and being compassionate. Remove the stuff-and-nonsense about divinity and miracles, such as the Jefferson Bible and Jesuism do, and Jesus's teachings are rife with Buddhist philosophy. The difference being references to God. That's closer to Hinduism.

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I don't believe it functions and i, for myself, don't like to mix all these beliefs and assumptions together. ...

Any ideas or experiences? Thank you.


It stopped functioning by 100 CE; it's deathknell came in 325 CE at the Council of Nicaea.

Experience: I was raised Roman Catholic and find the Christianity of today totally untenable and alien to what it was originally, per the "red letter" verses of the gospels. Christianity today is a misnomer; it is Paulism. Paul totally usurped and corrupted Jesus's message, for what agenda, I don't know.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 5:36 pm 
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Well..I live in America, which as you can imagine colors my view.

I grew up with things like being forced to go to high school assemblies where we got forcibly preached at by angry ignoramuses calling themselves Christians - at public schools no less!

On the whole I think that while there are obviously traditions and people within Christianity that are beautiful, and authentic types of mystical experience, that often share some affinities with Buddhism. However mainstream Christianity is a shallow, ugly, myopic viewpoint for the most part. When I say "mainstream Christianity" I pretty much mean that in terms of what I see of it in America which is really not good - sort of religion of vague nationalism, reactionary thought, and a very claustrophobic view of the world and history on the one side, and on the "lighter" a very simple belief about doing good and serving God- which I guess is good, but obviously not too similar to Buddhism.

I don't really even see how what most people who call themselves Christian do is a spiritual practice, just going around feeding some homeless people (a great thing of and within itself of course), listening to some vague sermon once a week, and if it's the really exasperating ones worrying about gays, abortion, and all the other "causes" they have here.

All that being said, there are of course wonderful people who are Christians, they just aren't the ones in the limelight here, but I have met a few truly selfless people who are Christians. For some reason though, the mainstream variant avoids all the stuff Jesus said that could lead to a turning around of consciousness, while embracing all the stuff that reinforces a sense of self, and of "The Great Self" - i.e. God.

If you read parts of what Jesus said they really do share some similarity with Buddhism when put in the right light, but only in places, frist corinthians is always a stereotypical example, and of course people always compare Gnostic traditions. However, it seems there is also so much there that seems fundamentally opposed to Buddhist ideas...

PS looking forward to reading the Cloud of Unknowing bit!

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 5:48 pm 
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Yes its worth remembering that there are many Christianities. Thomas Merton was an American Christian monk and HHDL described him as having a deeper grasp of Buddhism than any westerner he had met up to that time..this was in the 60's.
Today another Christian monk, Lawrence Freeman, co-leads retreats with HHDL.
There are many others of a similar ilk teaching today.

Of course if you are raised in a culture dominated by Baptists and other fundamentalists your view will in variably be shaped by that.


Just is if you were raised in a Thai village your view of Buddhism is likely to be shaped by amulets and merit making.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 6:26 pm 
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I have a copy of Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hahn. I'm looking forward to reading it.

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flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 5:02 am 
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I have generally found Christianity the most foreign/alien system, and basically had an attitude of "don't care/not interested/not relevant."

But then I realised, you can't actually understand 'the west' without understanding Christianity; and if you can't understand 'the west' - not only its history, but also the history of its ideas - then you can't really hope to understand your engagement with Buddhism. That is, if you are a westerner.

I know that sounds like a long bow, but I think it is true. I am happy to be pressed on that a little if anyone thinks it's a bit of loose claim - and I'll try and qualify it more.

Anyway the point was to acknowledge, like the OP, that I have had a resistance/ refusal to understanding Christianity - at the detriment of my understanding per se, and particularly, in my understanding of Buddhism.

Pursuing a more open-minded relationship may not lead to equivalences, but it can only be fruitful in other ways.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 5:19 am 
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HHDL has referred to Jesus Christ as a boddhisatva. That's good enough for me. If a person does good or bad maybe it's best for everyone if we judge them by that action & not on their religious label.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 6:49 am 
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@shaunc: Hm, but Jesus was no Christian... My doubts where about Christianity as a functional way leading to freedom and authentic, non-artificial compassion. But now i see it is wrong, even in a hot discussion, to judge about people or phenomenons one-for-all.

@tobes: Good reason to try to understand christianity for to understand oneself better, as westener.
tobes wrote:
...
I know that sounds like a long bow, but I think it is true. I am happy to be pressed on that a little if anyone thinks it's a bit of loose claim - and I'll try and qualify it more.
...

How do you accomplish that?

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 7:02 am 
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I have dwelt on those questions a lot. I am from a culturally Christian background, although my parents and near relatives were not religious and 'post Christian'. I went to a Church school and we used to go to services several times a week, but I was not confirmed and never considered myself formally Christian. However as life passed I realised I still have some Christian beliefs. However I have read a lot of comparative religion, have been practising Buddhist meditation for about 30 years, so my views are not like those of most mainstream Christians.

The form of Christianity that I have a lot of respect for is contemplative or mystical Christianity as represented by the Eastern Orthodox. They have avery profound theology. But I have discovered many Christian writers and teachers for whom I have respect, from many different denominations. I instinctively relate to the Teachings of Jesus, in fact any dharma student can find some resonances there. The secret is to hear the inner teaching, the inner word, not concentrate on the external manifestation and the religion as it appears in history. All religious point at something beyond themselves, they are asking us to shift our gaze, to see things differently.

So I don't find any real conflict in myself in regards to the two faiths.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 7:43 am 
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The cloud of unknowing is worth a read and very good. One of my favourite Christian teachers is Meister Eckhart: "When I preach, I usually speak of detachment and say that a man should be empty of self and all things; and secondly, that he should be reconstructed in the simple good that God is; and thirdly, that he should consider the great aristocracy which God has set up in the soul, such that by means of it man may wonderfully attain to God; and fourthly, of the purity of the divine nature"
I'd just like to add that Jesus Christ was born a Jew and died a Jew. Chritianity as we know it was constructed by the Romans under the Emperor Constantine and as they say the rest is history.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 7:55 am 
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I'm with you on that. I suppose having had the opportunity to approach Christian teaching through those kinds of sources has given me a different perspective on the whole question. Had I gone on what is said from the pulpit in many churches, I would have a completely different and much less sympathetic view.

'God is One' does not equal 'there is one God'

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 9:46 am 
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Ayu wrote:
@shaunc: Hm, but Jesus was no Christian... My doubts where about Christianity as a functional way leading to freedom and authentic, non-artificial compassion. But now i see it is wrong, even in a hot discussion, to judge about people or phenomenons one-for-all.

@tobes: Good reason to try to understand christianity for to understand oneself better, as westener.
tobes wrote:
...
I know that sounds like a long bow, but I think it is true. I am happy to be pressed on that a little if anyone thinks it's a bit of loose claim - and I'll try and qualify it more.
...

How do you accomplish that?


Are you asking for more qualification?

I'm not really trying to accomplish anything, but I'm happy to flesh out what I mean if you like.

:anjali:


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 10:09 am 
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tobes wrote:
Ayu wrote:
tobes wrote:
...
I know that sounds like a long bow, but I think it is true. I am happy to be pressed on that a little if anyone thinks it's a bit of loose claim - and I'll try and qualify it more.
...

How do you accomplish that?


Are you asking for more qualification?

No, not for qualification, if I understand this word right. Sorry, it was a difficult question within too simple words. My English...

Quote:
I'm not really trying to accomplish anything, but I'm happy to flesh out what I mean if you like.

Yes, i meant: how to DO that practically? I would also like to overcome my inner refusal and become more open in order to understand evrything in a clearer way. :smile:

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