Abrahamic religions and Buddhism

General forum on the teachings of all schools of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. Topics specific to one school are best posted in the appropriate sub-forum.
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coldbeer
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Abrahamic religions and Buddhism

Post by coldbeer »

Can one be a Christian, Muslim or Jew and still practice Buddhism? I'm asking this as I'm currently in a relationship with a woman in one of these religions and the only way I can get married to her is to convert to her religion.
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FiveSkandhas
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Re: Abrahamic religions and Buddhism

Post by FiveSkandhas »

Depends who you ask.

Most Japanese Buddhists are also Shintoist. Doctrinally, most Japanese schools of Buddhism allow interpenetration with Shinto and Confucianism in particular. Abrahamic faiths is a bit of a stretch but I have a feeling most sects would be OK with it these days, although Christianity was strictly banned for several centuries. Things are rather more...relaxed...these days among most sects, however, in reality if not on paper.

I have specifically heard some teachers from other countries say on occasion that one can be both Abrahamic and Buddhist. However, most more doctrinally strict teachers and sects would definitely disagree. After all, the Abrahamic faiths posit an eternal soul, and fundamentally Buddhism does not. Aside from a few outliers like the Naths, even Hinduism is usually seen as incompatible with Buddhism. If so, how much more so the montheists?

I am also fairly sure the Abrahamic religions would not tolerate synchretic heterodoxy with Buddhism. They are rather exclusivist.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
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SonamTashi
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Re: Abrahamic religions and Buddhism

Post by SonamTashi »

No. You could be a cultural or secular Jew, but that would be the only exception. The way I've been taught, you can be a Buddhist hanging out with the Christians/Muslims/etc. or you could be a Christian/etc. hanging out with the Buddhists, but you can't be both.

Anyone can benefit from Buddhist practices, but at the end of the day you have to decide which horse you want to ride. You can't ride two horses going different directions.
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Abrahamic religions and Buddhism

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

One can practice Buddhist meditation, live ethnically according to Buddhist teachings, practice generosity, patience, and compassion towards others, regardless of their faith.
But from my own personal experience, even if the other person respects your Buddhist beliefs, if they aren’t also following the Buddhist path (or you don’t really believe in their religion) at some point there will be a feeling in one of you or both of you of a kind of sadness that you have something amazing that can’t really be communicated to the other. If you seriously study and practice, you will advance in ways the other person won’t (likewise, they’ll be miserable that you aren’t really saved and going to heaven). If you develop a calm and more stable mind, but they don’t, that may create emotional issues between you later. When you have something really big in your life and you can’t truly share that in a relationship, that’s a very lonely feeling. If you can do it, if you want to be with the person that much, go ahead, do it. Just be really honest with yourself.

Myself, I would not be able to convert to something I don’t actually believe in. From a purely worldly, modern perspective, being forced to do something like convert doesn’t sound like a good way to launch a long term relationship.
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Könchok Chödrak
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Re: Abrahamic religions and Buddhism

Post by Könchok Chödrak »

Religion shouldn't get in the way of your Love. The Dharma is here to teach us how to Love. If you openly knew who Buddha was you wouldn't even be asking this question.
amanitamusc
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Re: Abrahamic religions and Buddhism

Post by amanitamusc »

coldbeer wrote: Sat Dec 12, 2020 11:58 pm Can one be a Christian, Muslim or Jew and still practice Buddhism? I'm asking this as I'm currently in a relationship with a woman in one of these religions and the only way I can get married to her is to convert to her religion.
Who says thats the only way you can marry?
shaunc
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Re: Abrahamic religions and Buddhism

Post by shaunc »

My wife is a practising catholic and I've been practising Buddhism since before we met. Next august we've been married for 20 years.
I go to mass with her at Christmas and Easter and she occasionally accompanies me to the Thai buddhist temple.
Neither of us has ever been the recipient of any animosity from either the clergy or lay attendees at either church/temple.

Does let internet Buddhists dictate terms to you
Good luck with your relationship.
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Shotenzenjin
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Re: Abrahamic religions and Buddhism

Post by Shotenzenjin »

I've met a Catholic Buddhist before. And a Buddhist wiccan

Just because something exists doesn't mean it should.

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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Abrahamic religions and Buddhism

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

coldbeer wrote: Sat Dec 12, 2020 11:58 pm Can one be a Christian, Muslim or Jew and still practice Buddhism? I'm asking this as I'm currently in a relationship with a woman in one of these religions and the only way I can get married to her is to convert to her religion.
That's a tough one. I'm married to a Jewish woman but she has always respected my Buddhism, and while I've had a couple awkward social moments at her temple, there was never any expectation of conversion.

Is your fiance honestly religious? Does she want you to believe or do something else? I mean, it's one thing to convert due to a sort of cultural expectation, another because your partner is actually fervently religious and wants you to share her beliefs. Frankly, there are a lot of Catholics and Jews I've known who aren't very religious at all, but for whom it is still a looming set of cultural expectations. I imagine if this is the case - if it's more about appearances than individuals religious practices and tenets - there might be a way to make it work. If it's actually about beliefs held with conviction, daily religious practices and such, then it sounds like it might be a rough ride.

Anyone can practice Buddhist meditation and learn from it, but being a Buddhist in religious sense kind of precludes practicing other religions.
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SonamTashi
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Re: Abrahamic religions and Buddhism

Post by SonamTashi »

shaunc wrote: Sun Dec 13, 2020 3:01 am My wife is a practising catholic and I've been practising Buddhism since before we met. Next august we've been married for 20 years.
I go to mass with her at Christmas and Easter and she occasionally accompanies me to the Thai buddhist temple.
Neither of us has ever been the recipient of any animosity from either the clergy or lay attendees at either church/temple.

Does let internet Buddhists dictate terms to you
Good luck with your relationship.
Have you converted to Catholicism? If not, then your situation has nothing to do with the OP. Also, many of the answers given here, including mine, are based on Buddhism on the ground, not internet Buddhism.
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shaunc
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Re: Abrahamic religions and Buddhism

Post by shaunc »

SonamTashi wrote: Sun Dec 13, 2020 6:51 am
shaunc wrote: Sun Dec 13, 2020 3:01 am My wife is a practising catholic and I've been practising Buddhism since before we met. Next august we've been married for 20 years.
I go to mass with her at Christmas and Easter and she occasionally accompanies me to the Thai buddhist temple.
Neither of us has ever been the recipient of any animosity from either the clergy or lay attendees at either church/temple.

Does let internet Buddhists dictate terms to you
Good luck with your relationship.
Have you converted to Catholicism? If not, then your situation has nothing to do with the OP. Also, many of the answers given here, including mine, are based on Buddhism on the ground, not internet Buddhism.
No I didn't convert to Catholicism, I was born catholic but hadn't practised since I was about 12 years old.
My answer was also based upon Buddhism and Catholicism on the ground and I believe that I mentioned attending churches and temples
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tkp67
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Re: Abrahamic religions and Buddhism

Post by tkp67 »

Yes they can but most people don't understand either well enough to understand why.

Yet our reality is such that all these fine belief systems and the true aspect of buddhism already coexist. The conflict or harmony between them are reflective of the minds that utilize them as vehicles.

All phenomenon have a true aspect, however it appears to the mind perceiving it according to the realm that mind adheres to.

Thus the lotus sutra statement on such things.

It denigrates the buddhist teachings to dismiss religion as nonsensical and irreverent (this is not to say that there should be comparative dialog allowed here).

There is an analogy I have been refining for use in dialog regarding the Lotus Sutra but I think it will work here as well.

All non buddhist teachings can be see as some sort of north star. That is, when used for navigation they all point to the same general direction but they do no lead to the same destination because the destination is provisional to the individual.

The buddhist teachings are like a specific destination on a map. They don't lead to a variable destination determined by an individual's desires and perception. The appeal of the path may appear as such but the destination by the definition of boundlessness cannot be defined by such subjectivity.

It is important however to note that religion is often used as a provisional means of societal advancement but do to the subjectivity of such practices it lacks equanimity in manifestation over the term. On a societal basis, religion is a developmental tool to help a given population understand and operate within the scope of perceived benefit within a given environment.

As such religion is very reflective of mind, environment and the desire for development of moral code. The failings thereof do not diminish the underlying nature of mind, environment and ultimately desire. Rather they reveal the need for and prepare the populace for buddhism.

This is why I feel theism and atheism should both be treated with open arms as a cause for buddhism but neither propagated as buddhism.

The Devadatta chapter comes to mind here.
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Re: Abrahamic religions and Buddhism

Post by KathyLauren »

Certainly a person can be nominally a Christian/Jew/Muslim and a Buddhist at the same time. Most people who claim allegiance to one of those traditions do so only loosely anyway, so one's adherence to them might be no different from that of the majority.

But it is only by leaving out the hard parts (which most people do) that this is possible. Some specific beliefs are mutually exclusive. For example, one cannot simultaneously believe in a Creator God and in dependent origination. The one excludes the possibility of the other.

Om mani padme hum
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karmanyingpo
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Re: Abrahamic religions and Buddhism

Post by karmanyingpo »

shaunc wrote: Sun Dec 13, 2020 3:01 am My wife is a practising catholic and I've been practising Buddhism since before we met. Next august we've been married for 20 years.
I go to mass with her at Christmas and Easter and she occasionally accompanies me to the Thai buddhist temple.
Neither of us has ever been the recipient of any animosity from either the clergy or lay attendees at either church/temple.

Does let internet Buddhists dictate terms to you
Good luck with your relationship.
Hello Dharma brother Shaun I am happy to hear of your strong relationship!!
I am curious if you both participate in each others religous practices when you visit each others places of worship for example do you pray Christian prayers and does she prostrate and chant along etc? Thanks.

KN
karmanyingpo
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Re: Abrahamic religions and Buddhism

Post by karmanyingpo »

KathyLauren wrote: Sun Dec 13, 2020 1:57 pm Certainly a person can be nominally a Christian/Jew/Muslim and a Buddhist at the same time. Most people who claim allegiance to one of those traditions do so only loosely anyway, so one's adherence to them might be no different from that of the majority.

But it is only by leaving out the hard parts (which most people do) that this is possible. Some specific beliefs are mutually exclusive. For example, one cannot simultaneously believe in a Creator God and in dependent origination. The one excludes the possibility of the other.

Om mani padme hum
Kathy
Hello Dharma friend I definitely agree with you here!!!! Good key points: NOMINALLY (no different from that of the majority - very true) and ONLY BY LEAVING OUT THE HARD PARTS.
You can practice both but once you get to deeper levels of either one you realize that you have to make hard choices that keep you from fully agreeing with traditional views on one or the other.

KN
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Abrahamic religions and Buddhism

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

shaunc wrote: Sun Dec 13, 2020 3:01 am My wife is a practising catholic and I've been practising Buddhism since before we met. Next august we've been married for 20 years.
I go to mass with her at Christmas and Easter and she occasionally accompanies me to the Thai buddhist temple.
Neither of us has ever been the recipient of any animosity from either the clergy or lay attendees at either church/temple.

Does let internet Buddhists dictate terms to you
Good luck with your relationship.
It’s certainly possible and also not unusual at all for people with different religious convictions to be happy together.
Having to convert, that’s a different issue.
The only thing I tried to point out was that where the two views are incompatible, that’s likely to cause some unhappiness within. If one is okay with that, then no problem. Marriage is full of challenges. And if it never creates an inner or outer conflict, all the better!

But it’s something to give a lot of consideration to, especially if your belief system is central to your personal experience, if it plays a strong role in your day to day life.
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Artziebetter1
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Re: Abrahamic religions and Buddhism

Post by Artziebetter1 »

You can be a Gnostic christian and a Buddhist,following the gospel of Thomas or the Phoenix journals,but not much else.
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Re: Abrahamic religions and Buddhism

Post by Soma999 »

Converting to a religion you have no faith in seems a lack of respect of yourself, a lack of respect of the religion, and forcing someone to convert, is it really love ? What will be the next expectation then ? What will you HAVE to do after this ? It can goes on and on... conditions can be endless.

I know cases of people who are mature enough to have each a different religion and live together in peace.

Some cultural expectations are about strategy, not about love at all.

True nature has no religion. The Heart has no religion.

Now, some people convert and don’t practice and don’t study, but they have now a concept to be identified with and they are part of a group.
shaunc
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Re: Abrahamic religions and Buddhism

Post by shaunc »

karmanyingpo wrote: Sun Dec 13, 2020 2:04 pm
shaunc wrote: Sun Dec 13, 2020 3:01 am My wife is a practising catholic and I've been practising Buddhism since before we met. Next august we've been married for 20 years.
I go to mass with her at Christmas and Easter and she occasionally accompanies me to the Thai buddhist temple.
Neither of us has ever been the recipient of any animosity from either the clergy or lay attendees at either church/temple.

Does let internet Buddhists dictate terms to you
Good luck with your relationship.
Hello Dharma brother Shaun I am happy to hear of your strong relationship!!
I am curious if you both participate in each others religous practices when you visit each others places of worship for example do you pray Christian prayers and does she prostrate and chant along etc? Thanks.

KN
No. When we attend the temple my wife spends most of her time in the kitchen with the other women preparing dana.
At the church I just stand and kneel at the appropriate times
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Re: Abrahamic religions and Buddhism

Post by Knotty Veneer »

There have been several Catholic religious who have received transmission in the American Zen traditions. Robert Kennedy SJ Roshi comes to mind (a Dharma heir of Bernie Glassman I think).

That said, I think they been questioned on both sides as how Catholic or how Buddhist they really are. And some forms of Buddhism are more consumable with other faiths than others. Can't really see how one could combine Tibetan Buddhism with other religions but maybe someone does. Similarly, only the more liberal Christian or Jewish denominations seem to contain adherents willing to also try practising Buddhism too.
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