Buddhist Social Work & Christian Evangelism

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Re: Buddhist Social Work & Christian Evangelism

Postby Konchog1 » Fri May 31, 2013 6:55 pm

Nilasarasvati wrote:but people generally do not choose their religion.
So according to you, conversion never happens. According to you, all religious people have the same amount of enthusiasm about their religion.

Nilasarasvati wrote:There are Christians out there far, far more openminded, wise, and compassionate than many of the Buddhists I know.
No, there aren't. Imagine a Christan who lives in a one room apartment in order to donate most of his paycheck to charity. Imagine this Christan also spend all his free time doing community service and regularly donates blood.

This is Christan compassionate? No, of course not. His actions aren't caused by compassion but by a desire to please his god and win paradise. It's a business transaction. An objection might be raised that Buddhists feel a similar way. However Buddhism condemns such as a motivation as being the lowest of possible motivations. Mahayana furthermore insists that such a motivation for virtue be abandoned if spiritual development is to be expected.

Furthermore, imagine a non-Christan does the same things as the Christan. According to Christianity, this second person is a sinner who will be tortured for eternity. How compassionate. And how compassionate is the first person who believes this? How openminded? How wise?

It is clear that in Christanity virtue, compassion, and wise are meaningless. All that matters is pleasing some god.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-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."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Buddhist Social Work & Christian Evangelism

Postby JKhedrup » Fri May 31, 2013 7:00 pm

You are sticking to the letter of the word, as compassion being the wish to free beings from suffering, perhaps?

Sometimes rather than strict adherence to definitions we need to appreciate the bigger picture. I have heard both HH Dalai Lama and HH Karmapa praise the compassionate service of the Christian nuns on several occasions personally.
A foolish man proclaims his qualifications,
A wise man keeps them secret within.
A straw floats on the surface of water,
But a precious gem placed upon it sinks to the depths
-Sakya Pandita
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Re: Buddhist Social Work & Christian Evangelism

Postby Konchog1 » Fri May 31, 2013 7:32 pm

JKhedrup wrote:You are sticking to the letter of the word, as compassion being the wish to free beings from suffering, perhaps?

Sometimes rather than strict adherence to definitions we need to appreciate the bigger picture. I have heard both HH Dalai Lama and HH Karmapa praise the compassionate service of the Christian nuns on several occasions personally.
Polite chatter I would think. As leaders of their schools and of the Tibetans they have to make friends.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-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."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Buddhist Social Work & Christian Evangelism

Postby Nilasarasvati » Fri May 31, 2013 7:45 pm

Konchog1 wrote:
Nilasarasvati wrote:but people generally do not choose their religion.
So according to you, conversion never happens. According to you, all religious people have the same amount of enthusiasm about their religion.


I said generally, not always. I have chosen my own religion several times in this life. I am, however, an exception to my generalization. As for all religious people having the same amount of enthusiasm, I'm not sure where I implied that, and again I was making a generalization, not an absolute statement.

Konchog1 wrote:
Nilasarasvati wrote:There are Christians out there far, far more openminded, wise, and compassionate than many of the Buddhists I know.


No, there aren't. Imagine a Christan who lives in a one room apartment in order to donate most of his paycheck to charity. Imagine this Christan also spend all his free time doing community service and regularly donates blood.

This is Christan compassionate? No, of course not. His actions aren't caused by compassion but by a desire to please his god and win paradise. It's a business transaction. An objection might be raised that Buddhists feel a similar way. However Buddhism condemns such as a motivation as being the lowest of possible motivations. Mahayana furthermore insists that such a motivation for virtue be abandoned if spiritual development is to be expected.

Furthermore, imagine a non-Christan does the same things as the Christan. According to Christianity, this second person is a sinner who will be tortured for eternity. How compassionate. And how compassionate is the first person who believes this? How openminded? How wise?

It is clear that in Christanity virtue, compassion, and wise are meaningless. All that matters is pleasing some god.


Konchog, you're kind of flying off the handle as if I said "ALL CHRISTIANS" and "ALL BUDDHISTS." I said Many of the Buddhists I know. I don't know H.H. Dalai Lama. I've never met the Karmapa. I've never met you. My scope is pretty narrow. My own mother, I would argue, has more of the four boundless attitudes than I do and she is a very simple, uneducated woman who is a practicing Mormon. It's relative compassion, relative lovingkindness, but it's more than I've got. Her inability to fathom absolute Bodhicitta doesn't even enter into it because, for me and many Buddhists I know, we're just as ignorant and hopeless when it comes to the view as the most radical Muslim, Christian, or Nihilist.

Furthermore, your example of this hypothetical Christian...how can you know what his motivation is? Can I take this as a confession that you've realized?
The Bodhisattva can appear as a hooker, a maggot-eaten dog with a broken spine, the bridge you're walking over, Padre Pio, or the cheerios you ate this morning. For all you know, your own hypothetical example exists in some parallel universe and is secretly an emanation of Akashagarbha.

There are constant rhetorics in Christianity that tell you to "think of your mansion above" of course...but I think many Christians who do good deeds are just trying to help what they believe to be a truly existing person. Out of the same empathy that is the basis of relative Bodhicitta. There are nondual aspects of the Christian religion. Nondual in that they teach all humanity is, actually, to be treated and seen as Christ. Every person you encounter deserves your absolute compassion, devotion, etc. Few Christians emphasize this in their daily lives, but likewise so do few Buddhists circumambulate dogs because they have the Sugatagarbha.

Also, just because Christians believe there is a Hell (and some don't. My mother doesn't. Mormons do not, actually, as a rule) does not mean they believe people should go to that hell. Many (not ALL!) Christians believe, very similarly to us, that one goes to hell because one is constrained by ones actions. Dante was guided through heaven and hell by a virtuous pagan. Many (not ALL!) moderate, educated Christians revere Gandhi as much as Hindus or Jains or Buddhists do.

Your vitriol and absolutes resemble the extremist rhetoric that characterizes the worst fundamentalists of any religion, but I don't think that's your intention. I was raised in an incredibly f*cked up religion with really, really weird stupid beliefs and I empathize with anybody who has animosity toward Christian fundamentalism, evangelical craziness, and chauvinism...maybe this is what you have in mind when you're launching into this judgement of the whole Christian religion, but I have other aspects of that religion in mind.
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Re: Buddhist Social Work & Christian Evangelism

Postby Nilasarasvati » Fri May 31, 2013 7:51 pm

Calling anything the Dalai Lama says "polite chatter" is repugnant.

"With Joy I celebrate
The virtue that relieves all beings
from the sorrows of the lower realms
and places those who languish in the realms of bliss."
Bodhicaryavatara 3.1

The relative compassion, generosity, discipline, diligence, patience, and concentration of even the most deluded beings--even the tiniest virtue that leads to freedom from lower realms is a cause of immense joy, worthy of praise and celebration.

It is not polite chatter.
Konchog, sit down.
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Re: Buddhist Social Work & Christian Evangelism

Postby mandala » Fri May 31, 2013 9:25 pm

Nilasarasvati wrote:Calling anything the Dalai Lama says "polite chatter" is repugnant.


Why?
The Dalai Lama is a master of skillful means and being able to speak to all kinds of people in a pleasant manner.
I've seen him joke with a TV presenter about blessing his football team to win. What's wrong with a polite chatter?!
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Re: Buddhist Social Work & Christian Evangelism

Postby Nilasarasvati » Fri May 31, 2013 9:44 pm

If it's polite chatter that's used as a sublime skillful means, it's a sublime skillful means.
Not the triviality connoted by "just polite chatter."

In English speaking traditions of Buddhism, moreover, the word Chatter really only gets used in one context: worthless chatter. It struck my ear as pretty dismissive of His Holiness, I'm sorry.

My main point is the Santideva quote that further justifies why I think it's harmful for us to minimize or hold disdain for virtuous Christians; in the aforementioned example with His Holiness, he was praising the relative virtues of those Nuns.
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Re: Buddhist Social Work & Christian Evangelism

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri May 31, 2013 10:53 pm

There are for sure Christians, Jew, Muslims, Atheists, and others who I'll bet I have more in common "spiritually" with than some Buddhists..but they are few and far between.

The problem with the "big 3" religions (don't tell my practicing Jewish wife lol) is that at heart the philosophy is...a little schizophrenic from a Buddhist standpoint, even the forms of mysticism that say man, God, and the world "are one" still spend an inordinate amount of time referring to and interacting with God as an outside force, talking about how man comes from God and is eternal etc..I feel like eventually one's concept of causality gets so messed up that it's hard to relate the basic ethical reasoning to the rest of the belief system.

Mystical Judaism does a pretty decent job, but it stops short, it takes basically the concept of emptiness, and applies it to "God's divine connection with humans" and similar things..it's almost like a partial understanding of dependent origination - at least that's what i've gotten from the bits of it i've read. I don't know much about Christian mystic tradition but i've always imagined it's the same, there are some real paralells..but at heart from my perspective there are some fatal flaws that constitute wrong views. Then again, they think i'm an idol worshiping sinner, a gentile with no real connection to God, or whatever. Views are views..

The real question about "good works" is just whether or not they are done with a big expectation of something in return, or whether they are done with altruistic motivation, even a shoddy one. Not all Christians, Jews, and Muslims do good works solely to get into heaven, Judaism as an example has a whole tradition of altruistic thought...it is not the same as Buddhist altruism...but it is not just desire for one's own eternal salvation or anything like that either, in fact it's specifically to "fix the world" - something which of course Buddhists believe is not really possible..views again.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Buddhist Social Work & Christian Evangelism

Postby Nilasarasvati » Fri May 31, 2013 11:21 pm

Yeah I mean, by no means am I arguing that Christianity or Christians are equivalent to Buddhism or something. I'm not a syncretist.

You just can't draw a line in the sand and say, "these people's goodness and good deeds are worthless," or especially "we're so much better."
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Re: Buddhist Social Work & Christian Evangelism

Postby Konchog1 » Fri May 31, 2013 11:39 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:a partial understanding ... there are some fatal flaws that constitute wrong views.
I think that's a good summary. For example, wanting to fix the world isn't as base as desiring good results for one's own benefit, but it is still desiring a result.

Remember what happened to Avalokiteshvara when he wanted to fix the world? :tongue: He broke into pieces.

The twenty-sixth practice of the bodhisattva:
Someone who, without behaving morally, thinks he can help others is an object of fun, since without sila he cannot even bring about his own well- being. Therefore to keep moral standards without a samsaric wish or aim – this is the practice of the bodhisattva.

http://www.lamayeshe.com/index.php?sect=article&id=646
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-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."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Buddhist Social Work & Christian Evangelism

Postby Karma Dorje » Fri May 31, 2013 11:48 pm

This is all pointless chatter and viciousness. We should rejoice in the good actions of all beings.

The first yana is the Vehicle of Gods and Men.

How on earth do we justify criticizing sentient beings trying to do the right thing to the best of their capabilities?
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Re: Buddhist Social Work & Christian Evangelism

Postby kirtu » Sat Jun 01, 2013 12:07 am

Karma Dorje wrote:We should rejoice in the good actions of all beings.

The first yana is the Vehicle of Gods and Men.

How on earth do we justify criticizing sentient beings trying to do the right thing to the best of their capabilities?


Exactly!

:anjali:

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“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
Hevajra Tantra
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Re: Buddhist Social Work & Christian Evangelism

Postby kirtu » Sat Jun 01, 2013 12:14 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:Mystical Judaism does a pretty decent job, ...


As does Islam (IMHO). I have often thought that Engaged Buddhists should be forging alliances with Jews, Muslims and some Christian groups in order to help fix the world - IMV explicitly fix the world, something I would argue is in fact found in Buddhism at least through the Kalachakra teachings (although I also get this through the example of our teacher Shakyamuni Buddha in his previous lives...).

I once met an Imam and a Rebbe who were working together on an education project (this had been going on for years when I met them). For these two, it was a natural fit. We can follow many such examples.

I think that Glassman Roshi's activities need to be expanded and I'm very favorably inclined to the Dharma Bums out in San Diego. For Western "convert" or "convert related" Buddhism, engaged work is still pretty much in it's infancy.

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Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
Hevajra Tantra
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Re: Buddhist Social Work & Christian Evangelism

Postby greentara » Sat Jun 01, 2013 12:55 am

Konchog 1, I agree with you but you have to be able to see the other side of the picture. "Jesus said: Remove the beam from your own eye, and you will see to remove the mote from your brother’s"

or 'Correcting oneself is correcting the whole world. The sun is simply bright. It does not correct anyone. Because it shines the whole world is full of light. Transforming yourself is a means of giving light to the whole world'
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Re: Buddhist Social Work & Christian Evangelism

Postby Konchog1 » Sat Jun 01, 2013 1:52 am

greentara wrote:Konchog 1, I agree with you but you have to be able to see the other side of the picture. "Jesus said: Remove the beam from your own eye, and you will see to remove the mote from your brother’s"

or 'Correcting oneself is correcting the whole world. The sun is simply bright. It does not correct anyone. Because it shines the whole world is full of light. Transforming yourself is a means of giving light to the whole world'
I don't understand what you're saying...
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-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."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Buddhist Social Work & Christian Evangelism

Postby Nilasarasvati » Sat Jun 01, 2013 2:05 am

I never have. :shrug:
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Re: Buddhist Social Work & Christian Evangelism

Postby greentara » Sat Jun 01, 2013 4:09 am

konchog1, What I'm saying are your views are too narrow. Even in Christianity, in the sayings of Jesus there's immaculate truth being revealed but you have to open your mind to see it.
I understand you are enamoured with buddhism and indeed that is wonderful but the truth doesn't just exist under the label 'mahayana' or any other 'yana'
If you say that the 'roadmap' is more clearly defined in Buddhism and Eastern religion I'd agree with that but I don't agree with you being so sectarian.
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Re: Buddhist Social Work & Christian Evangelism

Postby Konchog1 » Sat Jun 01, 2013 4:23 am

greentara wrote:konchog1, What I'm saying are your views are too narrow. Even in Christianity, in the sayings of Jesus there's immaculate truth being revealed but you have to open your mind to see it.
I understand you are enamoured with buddhism and indeed that is wonderful but the truth doesn't just exist under the label 'mahayana' or any other 'yana'
If you say that the 'roadmap' is more clearly defined in Buddhism and Eastern religion I'd agree with that but I don't agree with you being so sectarian.
Oh, well then we'll agree to disagree.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-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."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Buddhist Social Work & Christian Evangelism

Postby Nilasarasvati » Sat Jun 01, 2013 4:24 am

The deep confusion for me is that I initially went off on my whole rant about people trashing Christianity because of your comment about them all being selfish, greentara. :toilet:
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Re: Buddhist Social Work & Christian Evangelism

Postby greentara » Sat Jun 01, 2013 5:22 am

Nilasarasvati, Please reread my post, I never said all Christians were selfish. I was simply making a point that some Christians that evangelize and want to 'spread the word' are often misguided; I could say much more about Christian proselytising but enough said.
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