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A question to parents

RichdawsonRichdawson Anthem, Arizona Explorer

My wife and I come from two different cultural and religious backgrounds. Prior to getting married neither one of us identified with any organized religion, but we did share a very similar agnostic view.

As a result, prior to having children we both felt very strongly about allowing our children to make up their own minds about religion.

We have always been very open with our children about our views and have an open door policy for questions. When questions do arise, we typically approach answering in a very academic fashion and have always offered to take them to church/temple or what have you if they wanted to experience things first hand.

With that being said, my older daughter (11) has lately been interested in my practice. I have tried to answer very simply so far.

So now I am torn, as I would like to offer her an unbiased view as we have done in the past and allow her to make up her own mind. I feel that might not be possible for me at this stage.

Anyone have any suggestions or possible resources for approaching the subject with my daughter? How have you approached this with your own children?

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Comments

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    My kids are too young (3 & 6) so I haven't had to go through this yet.

    My local library has some Buddhist books aimed at kids that I one day plan on reading to them or that they can read. That might be a good place to start?

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator

    Have you discussed your daughter's apparent increased interest with your wife?

  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited September 2016

    At 11, she can handle a lot of info. Many kids are like sponges at that age. You could go to the library with her, and look up books on Buddhism together. Something basic that covers the 4 Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, discussing wisdom and insight (meditation) would be good. If she reads a book and comes up with questions, you could sit down at the computer with her, and look up the things she has questions about, showing her how to do internet research, or how to use the internet as a dictionary. It can be a good encyclopedia, too, if you don't have one in book form at home.

    And then, if she still has questions, you can discuss together the info she's found. Could be a great thing to bond over. An adventure in exploring info sources together.(Best to steer her away from complex concepts like "emptiness" in the beginning. She'll have plenty to chew on with just the basics, and maybe some info on the Buddha's life, and other beginner stuff.)

    Vastminddhammachick
  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie gal Sydney, Australia Veteran
    edited September 2016

    @federica said:
    Have you discussed your daughter's apparent increased interest with your wife?

    This is actually really important ^^^

    My (now ex) husband and I were of the same opinion prior to our daughter's birth. After she was born, he assumed she would have no interest or schooling by us on any faith. I wanted to raise her as Wiccan (as we both were back then). This caused a LOT of arguments.

    Fast forward to now (she's 15) and she is very interested in Wicca and Paganism. She also asked me a lot of questions about Buddhism and I gave her books to read. She's very focused and scholarly so I gave her Lama Surya Das' Awakening The Buddha Within and she loved it. But she feels Paganism is her calling. I support that but will also give her information on other paths if she feels the desire to learn - as a self confessed bookworm and information junkie I have no right to do otherwise.

    But if you sit and talk about it with your daughter and glean where her interest is coming from and what aspects are the most appealing, it will give you a better idea of what books to give her to read.

    Hope this is useful.

    _ /\ _

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I don't believe in raising children in the faith of the parents, whatever it happens to be. Kids shouldn't be indoctrinated into their parents beliefs just because. I have 3 kids, they are 19, 14 and 8. They all have their own beliefs about various things in life, which evolve constantly of course, Our main focus at home has always been values without religious labels. When they ask questions, I answer honestly. When they express interest in a different belief set, I help them find resources for their information whether it be myself, the library, the internet, videos, or other people I know that know more than me.

    That said, there is nothing wrong when them knowing you are happy and excited about your beliefs. Just make it clear you don't expect them to adopt what you believe. And realize that even if they are interested now, they might drop it later. Or, they might keep some of what you believe and "reject" some of the other things you believe. Just don't put expectations on their interest. Help them find resources.

    Whenever questions come up where beliefs come into play, I explain what i believe, and then include what other belief sets believe (such as, what I think happens when someone dies). All 3 of my kids are very different as far as what they believe in their own lives. The most important thing to me was to #1 not try to force them to adopt any tradition and #2 let them know they are loved and fully treasured and accepted no matter what beliefs they have or don't have. They are completely free to choose what works for them even if it's not something I believe.

    I think being afraid to show bias can lead to kids feeling like they aren't anchored though. I talk about my beliefs and my practices, but participation was never required. I invite them, and leave it at that. But knowing that what I try to teach to them in anchored in something seems to help them accept and grasp things better. so that I'm not just pulling things out of the air but rather there is a basis for what I tell them. Kids do talk about this stuff with their friends, and when the friends start asking "Why don't you ever go to church?" having answers, whatever they may be, was important to my kids. When I didn't talk about my beliefs and practice with them, they just felt like there wasn't anything. They seek that connection in wisdom to others. We all do.

    Vastmind
  • RichdawsonRichdawson Anthem, Arizona Explorer

    @Vastmind
    Thank you for the book suggestions!

    @federica @dhammachick
    I have discussed this with my wife, and nothing has changed as far as our views and desire to have the children make up their own mind. My wife also suggested we go the book route as we normally do.

    @karasti
    It sounds like you and I are much of the same mind when it comes to this topic.

    She has as of yet to ask more than a few probing questions, so we really haven’t gone more in depth into the subject. I am just trying to prepare myself for the eventuality of the question of why I choose to start practicing Buddhism.
    I guess it really isn’t so much of a fear of her seeing / understanding my bias as it is my desire to present her the information in a non-biased manner first. I don’t want my choice to influence hers. I have always stressed with my children for them to do their own research, so I guess this should be no different.
    Maybe after I know she has had a chance to digest some basic information the more personal questions of “why I … “ would be better addressed.

    lobster
  • What a wonderful example you have set @Richdawson that your child would express interest in your practice. It doesn't hurt that your daughter loves and admires you enough to want to share your experience. If your wife and you are in agreement, start slowly but share fully the compassion and loving kindness that is the basis of both family life and the Dharma. It can't hurt, no matter what concern any may express. It's not as if you are initiating a child in to a cult or abandoning her to monks in a mountain monastery. Children have an enormous capacity to absorb and integrate complex theory just at their level, upon which maturity may grow. What a sublime building block for maturity. Again, if your family is all in agreement, make every source available for your young one to know of Dharma. She may walk away from it for something else but having filled the space there is in her for Dharma is a parenting job lovingly well done.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @Richdawson I checked out Buddhism when I was younger but dropped it after misunderstanding the whole suffering bit. I picked it back up a number of years ago when my oldest child brought his interest to me. At that point, I wasn't "subscribed" to anything. I went back to remember what I had learned to help him out and shortly after jumped in with both feet. When we were cleaning his room when he left for school, I found a notebook where he had taken notes on the 4 noble truths and some other things. He opted to keep it because he refers back to it often.

    So far, my 2 other kids have little to no interest. My youngest does meditate with me, and they also do meditation in school so being able to have those benefits is really nice. It makes a huge difference. But convincing them to try was difficult. I never wanted to push or argue, so I let the results speak for themselves and waited for them to ask. If it came up, I might mention "Meditation can help you with that...i can show you if you ever want." but even that was noted as something you can do without religious labels.

    I have a good book I was given by a friend when I asked how to introduce Buddhism without being pushy. We still read from it now. It is called "Kindness: A treasury of Buddhist Wisdom for Kids and Parents" by Sarah Conover. I found them helpful to explain the basics in story form, without trying to complicate matters by introducing suffering or whatever in too complex of a way.

    Kerome
  • RichdawsonRichdawson Anthem, Arizona Explorer
    edited November 2016

    Thank you for all the input!

  • I don't know if this will help or not, but keep in mind many of us were made to go to church a lot as children and it didn't stick, myself included. I'm in an unusual spot where both of my sons are active Boy Scouts. Recently the Boy Scouts of America has revised it's "duty to God" requirements and I'm torn if I should take the boys to some church services to get the requirement checked off or challenge them by taking them to sit with some local Buddhists(sitting still is not preffered acivity by 12 and 14 year old boys). I really don't want to inflict my own worldview on them, but I don't want others to tell them what to believe either. My older son is probably the most mindful person i know. He might come to it on his own...

  • In the past I've thought about how to bring my kids up in terms of religion but decided to just bring them up well behaved and well mannered. I wasn't brought up with any religion although I was christened as a child; more because it's the 'norm' than because my parents had any religious persuasion. My children aren't christened.

    I've found my own way through life and Buddhism found me eventually at the age of about 30. I assume my children will also find their own and follow their own curiosities. I'll just be here to answer any questions they have along the way.

  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie gal Sydney, Australia Veteran
    edited November 2016

    @Lee82 said:
    I assume my children will also find their own and follow their own curiosities. I'll just be here to answer any questions they have along the way.

    I'm going to preface this by saying that Lee's comment only prompted the following thoughts. These are not directed at anyone on the thread.......

    I was loosely raised in my father's faith (Catholicism). As a small child it was church every Sunday morning, religious classes at school (a Catholic primary school) and I went through and did the Sacraments as I grew. When I got to high school (again a private Catholic girls' school) the religious stance became much more relaxed and we learnt about all faiths (which led me to explore my mother's faith - Judaism - and also to Buddhism so it's not all bad :wink: ).

    However, I was quite secure in my beliefs as a child because of the religious input. I wasn't scared of God, didn't spend all my time obessessing over God (neither did my parents), but I knew what we all believed and life went on. As a teenager when I needed something to cling to (very non-Buddhist but very angsty-teen), I had nothing because I had no reinforcement or anything to question. I was just there.

    Now I know not all teenagers feel that way and I'm only speaking from my own experiences, and those of my closest friends who felt the same, but what if not giving a child some system as an anchor is a cause of the questioning, self doubt and angst? I'm not talking about fundamentalist, evangelising and scaring the bejeezus out of your kids as they grow up, but taking them to Shul/Church/Temple/Circle/Sangha as part of their growing up experience. With my own daughter, I have raised her within the Jewish framework as best as possible, but I have never stopped her from learnng about other faiths, in fact I strongly encourage her to learn as much as she can and then when she does make her decision on her beliefs, she is as well informed as possible.

    Am I contradicting myself, am I crazy? Am I blowing smoke out of my orifices? Who knows. Just my 0.02 on Lee's post - which I found very thought provoking (which is good)

    _ /\ _

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    edited November 2016

    I have had the same thoughts, @dhammachick. I'm sure it depends on the kids and parents, like everything else. But there are some types of people who really do benefit from that sort of anchor or security and not having it could be really hard for them, especially as kids who don't realize they need it. I've heard from more than one teacher that introducing kids to a wisdom tradition, no matter what it is, is very important. That's been a cause of concern for me. I do share my beliefs a lot, and I frequently offer them to come to meditation or sangha. We talk a lot about traditions of all sorts. One of the could care less, but I suspect my middle one would have benefited from a belonging of that type of group, the grounding and stability that can come with it. Now he's 15 and not interested. I just didn't know how at the time. When he was younger, I wasn't involved in anything and was still much more averse to Christianity.

    It was a case of my experience with my parents causing me to swing too far the other way with mine. I didn't want them to experience what I did, so I thought I was protecting them from it when I should have been offering experiences to them no matter what I thought of those same experiences. I would do it differently if I had a do-over, I think.

    Anyhow, long story short I think it's an important question, ,and I think it takes parents being extremely aware of who their kids are to know what they need when they aren't old enough to know. And that we can't assume that because a kid doesn't express an interest that they don't need it. Because they don't even know what to express an interest in until they are exposed to it a few times.

    dhammachickSteve_B
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    @karasti wrote:
    I've heard from more than one teacher that introducing kids to a wisdom tradition, no matter what it is, is very important.

    So would you consider Christianity a wisdom tradition, or an anti-wisdom tradition? My feelings tend towards the latter...

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I think the teachings of Jesus are a wisdom tradition. I think a lot of Christianity as it exists today is not nearly the same, but it does seem to depend greatly where you are going. I know some very lovely, very open, very wise people who are Christian. But they almost entirely attend Universalist churches.

    dhammachickKerome
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator

    Christianity is a Wisdom Tradition. Some Christians process and propose it in very anti-wisdom tradition ways.

    karastidhammachick
  • It's worth considering that Christianity in Europe may be different to Christianity in Africa (pre-European occupation) and Asia (also pre-European influenced).

    In the Donhuang caves in China, they found scrolls which map the Buddha's teachings with Christ's.

    A scholar of Aramaic said that African Christianity is about following the path. Not hell fire and damnation.

    Also, the verb 'to sin' is an archery term which means 'to miss the mark', i.e. you don't hit the bull's eye. So you do something that wasn't so skilful. In Buddhism, this is called unskilful behaviour.

    dhammachick
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran
    edited November 2016

    You can make all kinds of viewpoints from it by considering the fringe data and opinions, but looking at the way the majority teach that religion I don't feel tempted to shift my opinion in this case :) Although I do think it's true that all religions contain nuggets of the truth, some also persist in some very dangerous and unhelpful misconceptions.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @Kerome The wisdom is contained in the teachings themselves, not the input or skewed perceptions of the men who misinterpret it. People frequently misunderstand what "suffering" is in Buddhism. This is a problem with their understanding, not with Buddhism. Same with Christianity.

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    Absolutely so. But in context with the thread and the question of letting kids interact with Christian teachers in order to 'introduce them to a wisdom tradition' I think the majority opinion is important to take into account... After all it is likely to govern the information kids just 'pick up' in the environment. I suppose it would depend whether you could find what you consider to be an appropriate Christian teacher, but even then I would consider concepts of hell and the devil to be intrinsically damaging to minds too young to understand the wider world.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Wisdom is inherent within all of us, sometimes we can find guidance without a teacher, just depends on the person. I actually understand the fundamentals of Christianity much better now. The "majority opinion" completely depends where you are from, as well. I guarantee you'd get different opinions from the majority of Europe versus the US, as Europe has dropped a lot of religious trappings while the US has not. My 2 older kids lost their dad at young ages-12 and 6. Over the years (they are now 20 and 14) i wished more than once they had a foundation of some sort of wisdom teaching to go to to help them. They don't. For my oldest it doesn't matter, for the other it does. I wish i had put aside my own feelings to allow for his but I was so averse to christianity at that point that I completely refused to consider it. I should have. Kids also understand things on a different level. A more innocent level at some points, but also a deeper level. They can understand things on a compassionate heart level much better than logic. And indeed, a person would have to be cautious of any teacher they exposed their child to. I've been on retreat with several teachers, some I would be thrilled to have teach my children. Others not so much. The latter were some of my favorite teachers, however.

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    Here in the Netherlands it's Christianity at about 40% of the population, Islam at about 5%, and then lots of smaller religions like Sufism Buddhism and Hinduism at about 0.5-1%. New Age is quite big but it's not included in the census, and anthroposophy has quite a big following in education. There are very few people following shamanistic or esoteric traditions, although you can find organisations such as the Theosophical Society.

    So if a European parent were to pick a wisdom tradition to introduce your child to, there actually isn't that much choice. Personally I consider myself fortunate to have been in the New Age & anthroposophy streams but even then I picked up some damaging influences from Christianity, and I think a lot of the Moroccan youth who like to cause trouble here aren't particularly well served by an introduction to Islam.

    I am having a similar discussion with my cousin, who has three lovely kids aged from 3 to 8. I'll pass your comments along, maybe it will do some good. :)

  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie gal Sydney, Australia Veteran
    edited November 2016

    @Kerome I think you are letting your biais towards Christianity rule - it's quite obvious in your tone. And that's your choice and all good, but you need to acknowledge it for what it is.

    I find pearls of wisdom in Jesus' teachings, but I also love the Eddas and the Sagas and find Asatru has wisdom within it too. Wisdom can be found in most traditions if you look without blinkers.

    _ /\ _

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran
    edited November 2016

    Is a bias a bias when you have good reasons for thinking as you do? I too find pearls of wisdom in Jesus' teachings, but I also find hallmarks of psychosis in half the stories of the prophets. Do a few pearls of wisdom make a religion as large as Christianity a wisdom tradition? It could equally be argued that I might find a few pearls of wisdom in Star Wars too. I would expect a wisdom tradition to do a good job of discerning wisdom from just woo.

    It is very tempting to only display positive opinions, as it tends to make people like you, but a well-reasoned negative opinion in the proper time and place for saying such a thing can also be valuable.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator

    @Kerome said:
    Is a bias a bias when you have good reasons for thinking as you do?

    That would depend on your reasons and why you find them 'good'.
    "There is nothing either good or bad but that thinking makes them so." (Good ol' Shakespeare strikes again!)
    Every curve you hit is a learning one, and even the bitterest medicine can do us good.
    I bet your 'good' reasons are founded on Anger, resentment and former intimidation.
    And that's not religion's fault, but your cross to bear.
    And your choice, how you bear it.

    I too find pearls of wisdom in Jesus' teachings, but I also find hallmarks of psychosis in half the stories of the prophets.

    Then lay them aside as not useful to you. Just because 'You' find psychoses therein, doesn't mean the prophets were psychotic.

    Do a few pearls of wisdom make a religion as large as Christianity a wisdom tradition?

    You greatly underestimate and devalue something that has been going on for more than two millennia. If all you see in Christianity is 'a few pearls of wisdom' then your blinkers are thicker than I thought....

    It could equally be argued that I might find a few pearls of wisdom in Star Wars too. I would expect a wisdom tradition to do a good job of discerning wisdom from just woo.

    And just where do you thing Star Wars got its pearls of wisdom? They didn't invent them. Just as the Matrix is a lesson in Buddhism. Star Wars contains the tenets of ancient teachings... Nothing new there, no matter how 'space-agey' you might deem it to be...

    It is very tempting to only display positive opinions, as it tends to make people like you, but a well-reasoned negative opinion in the proper time and place for saying such a thing can also be valuable.

    No, negative opinion is never wholesome, constructive, valuable or beneficial. Rather, it serves to underpin, division, prejudice and conflict. Rather than walking away form something (making it negative) find a path towards it that sits well with you. And if you can find nothing, then that merely feeds your separatist ideology.
    HHDL and TNH both found much value and merit in examining Christian scriptures. I'm sure if they can see value in such teachings, there is no reason why you should be so disdainful of them.

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    Relevant or not, I'm not sure:

    I once asked my Zen teacher what role hope and belief played in Zen practice. "For the first four or five years, belief and hope are necessary," he began his reply.

    What I heard may not, in fact, have been what he said, but it is what I heard. The beginnings of spiritual questing are found in belief and hope. Much of the Abrahamic leanings rely on belief and hope, but so do others. Belief in God, hope for heaven, a crediting of something called "enlightenment" ... the list is pretty long. The more youthful spiritual persuasions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc.) enhance their numbers with belief and hope. Belief and hope inspire action and simultaneously provide some framework within which to feel at home. Tripping and stumbling and sometimes sensing great joy, students move forward with belief and hope....

    For the first four or five years.

    "And after four or five years?" I pressed my teacher. And he replied, "After four or five years, belief and hope are not so necessary." And again what I heard may not be what he in fact was saying; nonetheless, it is what I heard. Belief and hope separate things. Belief rests its case in doubt; hope is most at home when something needs to be improved. In this realm, there is a separation between man and God, however he/she/it is conceived. But practice/experience trumps belief and hope. There is, by way of example, no need to believe or hope you can ride a bicycle when in fact you can ride a bicycle. Four or five years infuses experience that dispels the fairy tale of both separation and of union. (And what anyone would do with 77 virgins in heaven has always left me confused at best. :) )

    Just because there is a weaning phase to belief and hope does not mean anyone might not refer to them from time to time. Texts, temples, teachers and all that lovely incense ... when the shit hits the fan, a little support may be called for. But bit by bit ... well, keeping things separated just doesn't taste right and the experience of spiritual practice bolsters this suspicion. Belief is nothing but doubt reclothed; hope is the separation between this and that. To speak of "same" and "different" is not as useful as once it was. But it is well to remember that those separations and doubts are crucial in the early going ... and who knows, perhaps for a whole life. There are more people who believe God will swat them with a rolled-up newspaper if they're naughty than there are those whose patient persistence insists on the truth of experience. Yes, you will get it wrong. But you've survived getting it wrong in the past: Is there some reason to suspect you won't endure in the face of this failure as well?

    Best wishes.

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran
    edited November 2016

    @federica, my reasons for disliking Christianity are many, and you've probably heard them before. It has done much damage worldwide, the crusades, the inquisition, it has indeed been going on for millennia. It continues to damage children by telling them about original sin and that Jesus died on the cross to save them, hell, the devil, that you have to obey in order to be saved. Seen objectively, it is a highly damaging and disempowering piece of indoctrination, when taken as a whole.

    It has a few redeeming features: the teachings of Jesus, the Song of Solomon, a basic morality. In a way it is sad, because the religion Christianity has hijacked the words of a man who might have been a enlightened teacher. It is possible to build a wisdom tradition out of these elements but that isn't how the religion is taught in most parts of the world.

    I have not yet found a Christian who was willing to debate how the bible should be re-evaluated in the face of what we now know about mental health. After all you either accept that the people in mental health wards claiming to hear the voice of God may be prophets, or you accept that Moses seeing the burning bush may have been psychosis (plus however many others).

    On the subject of negative opinion, it can most definitely be useful and appropriate. Half of the Four Efforts are based on negative opinion, as are the Five Precepts. Sometimes it is necessary to reject that which is not valid or skilful, and renounce it and warn against it.

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator
    edited November 2016

    You make the classic error of mistaking Christians for Christianity. Just as people make the classic error of mistaking ISIS for Islam.

    Bear in mind that the OT and the NT are vastly different, and most modern Christians do not take the OT into account. The first 5 books of the OT are the same as the Torah. Therefore, the OT is more to do with ancient Judaism.
    Christianity has hijacked nothing. Christianity IS Christ. Christians - or those purporting to be Christ's followers - have done the hijacking.
    Your mission - should you choose to accept it - is to shun those who twist and reform the teachings to suit their own prejudices - and instead take the essential, fundamental teachings of The Man and use them to supplement what you know to be Good and True. And a lot of Christians do that. I know many.

    If you were a Christian person, going to Church, but holding such thoughts, how instead would you teach Christianity to your children? Think about this for a moment. Then you'll see what I mean about you not seeing the wood for the trees....

    (I can see nothing 'negative' regarding the 4NT or the 5 Precepts. I guess it's another angle on the glass 'half full, half empty' thing....)

    karastidhammachick
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran
    edited November 2016

    I don't see where I am mistaking Christians for Christianity? On average most Christian children's establishments teach Christianity in a certain way, including creationism, God, Christ dying for your sins, and so on, and the teachers call themselves Christians and consider themselves part of the larger 'christianity'. The relationship is clear, i would think?

    @federica wrote:
    Christianity IS Christ.

    Even if that were true, you are still adhering to most of the narrative around "Christ saves". Including the whole business of original sin, the story of Adam and Eve and so on. Which, to be honest, is less than plausible to most right-thinking educated people.

    But we are side-tracking a long way from the original question, which was, would you introduce your children to a Christian milieu if you were to choose a wisdom tradition for them to get used to? I think we as Buddhists could do a lot better.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator

    And with that last statement, you successfully shoot yourself in the foot....

    dhammachick
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    It may be a little too flip, but I think any conversation of this sort could not possibly be complete without George Carlin's take on religion ... lord I do love that man!

    KeromeShoshinlobster
  • George Carlin - yup!

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @Kerome but you are trying to determine what is right for everyone, and that Christianity cannot be right for anyone, especially children. I think you are wrong. I do agree with @federica that you seem to be mistaking Christianity and its teachings for the ills of man and how they tend to mess up so much. Also, there is plenty of crazy stuff in Buddhist reading as well, lol.

    Christianity isn't for me, either. I knew it wasn't from a young age. But that doesn't mean it isn't for anyone. And it doesn't mean that the wrongs done in its name are a result of the Christian teachings. They are a result of humans and their errors. Just like that Buddhist guy who terrorizes Muslims and orders their shops burned to the ground etc. They call him the Buddhist Bin Laden. The problem is him and his skewed understanding. Not Buddhism.

  • I used to work with someone who was raised in Cambodia. He said that in the refugee camp as part of the escape from the Khmer Rouge regime, the 7th day Adventists came and gave him and his family an enormous amount of support. The Buddhists collaborated with the Khmer Rouge. He found support with the 7th Day Adventists, and had no truck with the Buddhists.

  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie gal Sydney, Australia Veteran

    @Kerome said:

    It is very tempting to only display positive opinions, as it tends to make people like you, but a well-reasoned negative opinion in the proper time and place for saying such a thing can also be valuable.

    ??? People like me? I don't get your above statement.

  • like - 'feel favourably towards'

  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie gal Sydney, Australia Veteran

    Well I can hardly be accused of that. Have you read other threads of mine? :wink:

    Kerome
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    @federica said:
    And with that last statement, you successfully shoot yourself in the foot....

    Well honestly that baffles me. Having reached Buddhism as a personal philosophy you have a choice as to which wisdom tradition to introduce your children to, and can be expected to do so with a clear and unindoctrinated view. As opposed to a Christian deeply embedded in the faith who in fact has little real choice.

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    @karasti said:
    @Kerome but you are trying to determine what is right for everyone, and that Christianity cannot be right for anyone, especially children. I think you are wrong.

    Peoples paths are their own to walk, and I'm certainly not being prescriptive. What I try to do is encourage people to think a little more deeply about things, and present another point of view. It seems this calls up a certain level of resistance, and I'm asked to defend my views.

    Introducing children to Christianity in my opinion does not serve them well. It introduces thinking and a form of indoctrination which are hard enough to avoid in a majority Christian nation, and which are not beneficial in the long term. Significant parts of it are incompatible with science, make little sense and it often lays on burdens of guilt and obligation.

    As far as conflating Christians and Christianity is concerned, I think that is fair if we are talking about a situation where you are going to hand over your kids and ask these Christians to introduce them to the faith. I have met some nice Christians, and have debated some sensible ones, the people are fine.

    However, the core of the belief is, again in my opinion, beyond saving. In order to make something good of it you have to carefully cherry pick a small minority of statements from the bible, and that is not how most Christians regard their faith.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator
    edited November 2016

    @Kerome said:

    @federica said:
    And with that last statement, you successfully shoot yourself in the foot....

    Well honestly that baffles me. Having reached Buddhism as a personal philosophy you have a choice as to which wisdom tradition to introduce your children to, and can be expected to do so with a clear and unindoctrinated view. As opposed to a Christian deeply embedded in the faith who in fact has little real choice.

    It smacks of a superiority that borders on patronising. "My faith is better than your faith, so there." As an ex-Roman Catholic of some 40-odd years standing, I feel amply qualified to take issue with your opinion, but for all that, purely from my experience and PoV.

    I chose to switch boats mid-stream, because Buddhism resonated with me in a far closer, more definite and determined way. But please don't think for one moment, I rejected everything I had personally gleaned and learnt along the way.
    I learnt and absorbed a great deal in my time as a practising Catholic. And no way will I abandon the basic tenets and foundations of what I was influenced by.
    Did I agree with all of its premises? Of course not.
    Do I agree with every premise Buddhism - in its manyfold guises - puts forward? Heck, no.

    Remember, just as there are several branches all purporting to propagate Christ's teachings, so there are many different Schools and Traditions, all putting themselves forward as legitimate Buddhism.

    It's not Cherrypicking. It's sorting the wheat from the Chaff; gleaning what serves, supports, underpins and perpetuates the Right Notion of such a calling.
    You cannot in all logic determine that an upbringing in a Christian environment is all bad, and condemn such a history out of hand as progressive scaremongering falsehoods.
    You cannot, logically tar everything about Christianity, with the same brush.

    Thomas Merton, HHDL, and TNH are all living testimonies to how building a bridge between Faiths, works. Jim Pym was simultaneously both a Zen Master AND a Quaker Minister.
    In his book, "You Don't Have to Sit on the Floor" he states that if anyone rejects, reviles, hates or bears resentment and animosity towards anything/one, you hold them as close to your heart as if you loved it (or them) with all your heart and might.

    You may, in view of my testimony, wish to reconsider your stance on the 'evil ways' children are indoctrinated into Christianity. Is it any different to young 2-year-old tulkus being taken from their families (on what can sometimes amount to scant and dubious evidence) and being brought up in a Monastery as ordained Lamas? Or any different from women being excluded from ordination, because they are women, and the lineage died out so they have no further rights to serve their faith as Bhikkunis? But that's ok, because it's Buddhism. Right?

    dhammachicklobster
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran
    edited November 2016

    @federica, I still find it difficult to think of myself as having a faith, although I have been studying Buddhism for a good two years now. I consider myself more a seeker than anything else still, but I do admire anyone, man or woman, who chooses the Buddhist path, it is a beautiful one.

    Anyhow, I do respect your background and that you have many years invested in it. If you say that you've gotten something out of being brought up religiously, then that is wonderful. But you should really be comparing yourself to the self you might have been without Christianity - can you even imagine her?

    So while I agree that everyone does a certain amount of sorting the wheat from the chaff, there are some things that are core to following a belief. You cannot be a Buddhist without believing in enlightenment, the Four Noble Truths, and the benefits of meditation. Similarly it is hard to call yourself a Christian without belief in Christ, that he died to save you, and by implication original sin, heaven and hell, judgment, God and related topics. And the question is, is that central core of the faith a sound and sensible one? Especially for a child.

    Of course you are right, bringing up young tulku children, or even young monks, in a monastery is also not ideal, and I'm not happy with that either, although I recognise the cultural context is different. And there is a difference in educating people about the functioning of their own minds, and installing in them a belief in an essentially fictional all-powerful man in the sky who watches everything you do.

    It seems that for a Buddhist forum there is a fair bit of attachment to the Christian beliefs :)

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator

    @Kerome said:
    @federica, I still find it difficult to think of myself as having a faith, although I have been studying Buddhism for a good two years now. I consider myself more a seeker than anything else still, but I do admire anyone, man or woman, who chooses the Buddhist path, it is a beautiful one.

    Anyhow, I do respect your background and that you have many years invested in it. If you say that you've gotten something out of being brought up religiously, then that is wonderful. But you should really be comparing yourself to the self you might have been without Christianity - can you even imagine her?

    This is a red herring. Imagine a good person who has been an atheist all their lives. That's me brought up without Christianity. Incidentally, there are many people brought up as atheists who are pretty rotten, bigoted, prejudiced, nasty people. What might they have been with a Christian upbringing such as the one I had?

    So while I agree that everyone does a certain amount of sorting the wheat from the chaff, there are some things that are core to following a belief. You cannot be a Buddhist without believing in enlightenment, the Four Noble Truths, and the benefits of meditation.

    Yes, you can. I know some Buddhists who do not subscribe to their own Enlightenment in their lifetime. I meditate perhaps once a month. If that. The 4 Noble Truths are a pointless inclusion. The 4 Noble Truths are Noble because they are utterly indisputable.

    <Similarly it is hard to call yourself a Christian without belief in Christ, that he died to save you, and by implication original sin, heaven and hell, judgment, God and related topics. And the question is, is that central core of the faith a sound and sensible one? Especially for a child.

    You miss the point of my discussion entirely. The point is not what one is taught, or what one believes. The point is how one lives one's life, in accordance with the basic tenets of one's Faith.

    .

    Of course you are right, bringing up young tulku children, or even young monks, in a monastery is also not ideal, and I'm not happy with that either, although I recognise the cultural context is different.

    No different to being in a dominantly Christian Culture and baptising children at a young age, and putting them through Holy Communion and Confirmation ceremonies.

    And there is a difference in educating people about the functioning of their own minds, and installing in them a belief in an essentially fictional all-powerful man in the sky who watches everything you do.

    So indoctrinating children into believing they are reincarnations of a dead person, is 'different'...?

    It seems that for a Buddhist forum there is a fair bit of attachment to the Christian beliefs :)

    No. On the contrary: There is detachment from being judgemental, patronising and superior.
    While you hold that Christianity is Wrong View, your own perception of Life and the people therein will be tarnished by separatist Views. Which are Wrong Views.
    It is you, I believe, who is attached to believing that Christianity as a Calling, is a poisonous doctrine to instil.
    It is not the Calling that is flawed. it is peoples' perceptions of the teachings therein, which is.

    dhammachick
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    It's not an attachment to Christian beliefs. It's a defense of people who believe differently and choose differently and doing so doesn't make them lesser, unintelligent or anything else. And I really don't know anyhow who has ever "handed over" their child to leaders of Christianity.

    Christianity is a very broad place, just like Buddhism. It's unfair to disregard the whole bunch. Or really any one. Disregarding people and their values and needs is how you end up with Trump as a president. It is like when Vajrayana or Mahayana disregard Theravedans, or the other way around. It is only divisive and hurtful and not helpful in any way. There is no need to school anyone. Quit taking it on as your job to teach people and open their eyes and make them see other (aka your) point of view. Live your practice, the rest follows without having to preach or force people to see things you'd prefer they see rather than the choices they've made for themselves.

    The wife of our sangha leader is a Christian. She teaches meditation at church. She has a better grasp of Buddhism than most and participates fully in our sangha meetings and retreats. She was, for a long time, married to a Muslim man and lived in India. She is literate in 7 languages. She has traveled the world. I guarantee she knows more about most cultures and religions than almost anyone here. And she is a Christian. It's not because she's stupid. She's not anti-science. She is actually a brilliant woman. And it's a shame you would put her, and many others into such a box because you take issue with their faith as a whole.

    Keromedhammachicklobster
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    @federica wrote:
    The point is not what one is taught, or what one believes. The point is how one lives one's life, in accordance with the basic tenets of one's Faith.

    So you think that most people have basic tenets of faith which differ from what they are taught? Most adults, let alone a child would find that difficult. And your belief inevitably influences how you perceive the world and what you do in many subtle ways.

    I don't dispute that there are good Christians, or very talented ones. I'm very happy to meet them, work with them, and send them metta when their lives are difficult. But I think some of the views they hold are incorrect, and people spreading incorrect views is not beneficial.

    Children are a different matter. I think religion per se is a dangerous thing to programme children with, I believe that most adults would be happier discovering religion when they felt called later in life. It's probably best introduced at a very basic level as a kind of perennial philosophy.

    Anyway, I'm happy to leave the discussion there, I don't think it would be beneficial to continue yappering on without changing our comparative positions, and the OP might want their thread to continue on-topic...

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator

    So you think that most people have basic tenets of faith which differ from what they are taught? Most adults, let alone a child would find that difficult. And your belief inevitably influences how you perceive the world and what you do in many subtle ways.

    No. People hold tenets and beliefs according to what they calculate and conclude for themselves.
    For example, I dispute the sometimes-held belief that women are less able to be enlightened than men, but that's what some Buddhists would have you believe. They latch onto this comment by the Buddha - that the Dhamma's 'lifespan' will be shortened by a value of time, because of the inclusion of women. I hold that to be an addition to the scriptures and suttas by those who wished to perpetuate the notion of men's superiority over women, and I discard it, after thought, research and study, as being un-authentic. I can discriminate, after cogitation, contemplation, study, examination and research, what works for me and what doesn't. That doesn't make me any more or less Buddhist than any other dedicated practitioner.
    Similarly, there are Christians who hold extremely fundamental views (Westboro Baptist Church seem good candidates!) and whose grasp of Biblical scriptures is warped, distorted, aggressive, and totally skewed.

    I don't dispute that there are good Christians, or very talented ones. I'm very happy to meet them, work with them, and send them metta when their lives are difficult. But I think some of the views they hold are incorrect, and people spreading incorrect views is not beneficial.

    I'm sorry, who the hell are you to dictate who is correct and not correct? You may dispute what they say, but you cannot place yourself in any position to judge them as either right or wrong. Their views differ. You do not agree with them. But please do not presume to hold yourself up as judge, Jury and executioner. You have every right to discuss your PoV and explain your stance. But it is most certainly not required - or wise - of you, to presume you have the right to correct them.

    ... Anyway, I'm happy to leave the discussion there, I don't think it would be beneficial to continue yappering on without changing our comparative positions, and the OP might want their thread to continue on-topic...

    I think, as the OP's wife is Christian, we have kept entirely to topic. I just hope his Point of View regarding his wife's beliefs are more open and tolerant than yours.

    dhammachick
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    There are things within Buddhism (specifically things my teacher teaches) that I have not taken on as my beliefs at this point. Christians aren't really any different.

    I think with some kids it can be equally dangerous to leave them with no anchor, which is what wisdom traditions really do for us. They give us a way to understand and cope with the hard things in life, and the questions that are hard to answer. If you think kids don't ask those same questions, you must not spend much time with them. They start asking from a very young age (almost as soon as they start putting sentences together) what happens when we die. Where their grandma went when she died. Why are we alive? Who was the first human born? And where did THEY come from? Kids ask that stuff a lot. As a parent you cannot tell a little kid "20 years from now you'll figure out what you believe, then you can worry about it." You don't have to indoctrinate them. Like I said early on I don't do that with my kids. But they trust you and they want to know what your answers are. Kids take on their parents beliefs even if the parents don't talk about it much, it's what happens when you live your beliefs/practice. Sometimes that's good, sometimes it's not. But refusing to acknowledge that many kids have spiritual needs as well is failing them miserably.

    federicadhammachicklobster
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    Since our beloved moderator has ruled we are on topic, I'll chance a few more posts :)

    @karasti wrote:
    They start asking from a very young age (almost as soon as they start putting sentences together) what happens when we die. Where their grandma went when she died. Why are we alive? Who was the first human born? And where did THEY come from?

    So do you think children are well served to be given christianity's answers to those questions? There are better answers, scientific ones which can be proven, to a lot of them. I'd favour a humanist approach for a lot of the others.

    I am willing to accept that some people feel they are not damaged by a Christian upbringing. Other people, perhaps more sensitive, are. I have examples of both in my immediate surroundings. And perhaps the specifics of the case - better teachers, a more sophisticated understanding - will shift the chances of coming out unscathed.

    But in terms of choosing how to educate ones children, why take the chance? There are people who eat food off the floor once in a while and don't get ill. Doesn't mean that challenging the odds is a good idea...

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