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how to...leave a church or not

Hi, I hesitate to post this, as I feel many cannot relate. I am in an awkward position, I am a church member for want of a better description, but have many....reservations. Anyhow, for the past 6 months or longer I have changed I would honestly describe myself as a practising YOGI interested in buddhism, interested in Spirituality and realising that spirituality is not blinkered or just christian. Of course. lol.(ironic lol).
I have witnessed many things that cannot be explained by a vicar. humm.
So, the situation is I have friends in the christian church, and I am part of that church, I have duties that means i have to go to church a few times a month, trying to leave but wanting to stay friends with the churchgoers....I don't have a wide circle of friends so I feel I need to stay in church to keep these friends but they don't know I feel like a total hypocrite and how can I develop myself when I feel tied to the church but know that they would not understand my new perspective. sorry for long ramble. maybe someone can help. .....or offer some comments.

Comments

  • Hmm... well, one thing you could do is to research the parallels between Buddhism and Christianity. I think someone wrote a book about it some years ago, collecting parallel quotes of Jesus and the Buddha. That might at least give you some common ground to share with your friends, and help resolve some of the "hypocrite" feelings. You can focus on those commonalities when you serve in church, and move to a back burner the dogma you don't agree with.

    Focus on the common values, like: Christian charity and Buddhist compassion, Christian humility and Buddhist humility/no-self doctrine, and so forth.

    lobster
  • thanks Dakini

  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited October 2016

    You're welcome. :) I just did a quick search on Amazon, the online bookseller in the US. There are 4 books on this topic, 3 different authors:
    Jesus and the Buddha: The Parallel Sayings
    Jesus and the Buddha: Friends in Conversation
    Living Buddha, Living Christ (by Thich Nhat Hanh)
    Going Home: Jesus and the Buddha as Brothers (Thich Nhat Hanh)

    Here's one more:
    https://www.amazon.com/Buddha-Jesus-Insiders-Buddhism-Christianity/dp/1854249568/ref=sr_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1476737042&sr=1-8&keywords=Jesus+and+the+Buddha

    Also, if you're in the UK, this may not be helpful, but in the US, there's a Catholic priest who's a gifted, inspirational speaker, and weaves Buddhism into his lectures, brilliantly. He broadcasts on radio for about 6 months every year. He's very popular with ecumenical types, as well as with Catholics in his home state of NM. Here's some info on him. He may have some books or lectures available online. I think you can buy his podcasts.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Rohr

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    I believe @federica may practice the two in conjunction.

    I'm sure she'll be able to offer some help.

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    That's one of the most beautiful things I've seen you write, @Federica.
    Appreciate the share.

    Bunks
  • So much of this depends on your church and their attitudes. Some churches and congregations are more accepting than others. If it's an evangelical "Buddhists are going to hell and yoga and meditation are tools of the devil" type church, you might have to make a painful decision. That decision might be to stay because of the friends there and limit your Buddhism to reading and private study. That's not a wrong decision. You practice Buddhism if you show compassion and effort to live the 8-Fold Path, and nowhere does that say you must join a Sangha.

    There's all sorts of platitudes I can spout off, but in the end you have to do what seems right for you, even if it's painful. I wish you success and happiness whatever your decision.

    ShoshinsilverWalkerVastmind
  • @Per4umer said:
    I have witnessed many things that cannot be explained by a vicar. humm.

    There are some great vicars out there, don't be so sure. Some practicing vicars are openly atheists. :o
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/393479.stm

    Thomas Merton you might find interesting. Very much a Christian.

    Outstanding post from @federica

    The difficulty you are experiencing is imaginary ... may need a shift of emphasis, some Christian friends may be very interested in your journey into yoga and Buddhism. They might be willing participants in a joint retreat to a Christian, Buddhist or Yoga retreat. Christian meditation and yoga exists.

    The Church for some is fellowship. Seems friendly enough ...

    Per4umer
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @Per4umer said:
    Hi, I hesitate to post this, as I feel many cannot relate. I am in an awkward position, I am a church member for want of a better description, but have many....reservations. Anyhow, for the past 6 months or longer I have changed I would honestly describe myself as a practising YOGI interested in buddhism, interested in Spirituality and realising that spirituality is not blinkered or just christian. Of course. lol.(ironic lol).
    I have witnessed many things that cannot be explained by a vicar. humm.
    So, the situation is I have friends in the christian church, and I am part of that church, I have duties that means i have to go to church a few times a month, trying to leave but wanting to stay friends with the churchgoers....I don't have a wide circle of friends so I feel I need to stay in church to keep these friends but they don't know I feel like a total hypocrite and how can I develop myself when I feel tied to the church but know that they would not understand my new perspective. sorry for long ramble. maybe someone can help. .....or offer some comments.

    I would suggest exploring other groups while maintaining a connection with your church, broaden your horizons, meet new people.

    lobsterCinorjerVastmindPer4umer
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Don't feel the need to make a choice right now. Often when we feel the need to do something drastic, what we need most is to take some time to let things settle and go from there. When I first started getting interested in other religions, I was a teenager and not allowed to "leave the church" because my parents insisted on it. Because I wanted to cut that tie, I wanted that symbolic, forceful leaving. I wanted to write a letter or something to say "Hey, I'm out of here." But in the end, it simply became less a part of my life until I stopped going and never went back.

    There are people who successfully combine the 2. There is nothing wrong with being a meditator, a yogi, a spirtually developing person while keeping your church ties. You might find some conflict when you start to investigate things within your church teachings, but you might not, either. It just depends where you focus, as all religions foundations are the same as far as qualities to develop it's just the details of how and why that each religion specializes in. My sister is a Buddhist Pagan who follows the teachings of Christ. But she is unwilling to consider herself a Christian because of the overall assumptions that are made about what they believe. She doesn't believe in heaven or hell or even sin. But she believes in the foundations of what Jesus taught. Try not to get overly caught up in the label part.

    Don't worry about feeling like a hypocrite. You are free to set up your life however you choose, and you are under no obligation to share that with your church friends. Sometimes when we start exploring new things, we feel the need to shout it from the rooftops, to announce a major change in our identity, in the mask we are currently wearing. But don't worry about it. Just enjoy not wearing a mask. Don't feel like you have to be a yogi before church, and a Christian during church and something else after.

    For what it's worth, I didn't lose a single friend or family member when I stopped going to church. Or when I was flirting with Paganism. Or when I took my Buddhist refuge and Bodhisattva vows. There have been people in my life who have naturally fallen away as both of our lives took different paths and our interests brought new people into our lives. But there was never any sort of shunning or forceful ending of relationships. I also did not make a point to "come out of the closet" in any case.

    lobsterCinorjerPer4umerShoshin
  • thanks for all your posts.
    I will muse over them and find them very useful. Will comment more in a few days when I have more time. <3

    DakiniCinorjer
  • Steve_BSteve_B Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran

    Mother Teresa doubted the existence of God and they made her a saint, so it's apparently OK to have some doubts. If a stranger showed up at the church and said they didn't really know what to believe but would like to hear what the church has to say, would they be welcomed?

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    edited October 2016

    I can't help but feel that people often get things backwards: It's not you who are for the church, but the church that is for you. It's sort of like a treasure hunt -- the church/temple/religion/philosophy provides a clue to how anyone might come home. It is not that home itself, no matter how much chitter-chatter surrounds it.

  • RoberbroRoberbro Kentucky New

    I also grew up in a Christian church (my father was a minister for over 30 years), and I still sometimes attend a local Episcopal Church. There's a part of me that loves the ritual and the liturgy, especially receiving The Blessed Sacrament, and this particular church is extremely liberal and accepting. The main stay of my practice these days is Buddhism. However, I live in a small, rural town with no Sangha or Buddhist community to speak of, so the fellowship at church is nice from time to time. Many of the people there are openly LGBT, animal right's activists, gardeners, artists and there's even one Gi Gong practitioner.

    There's a part of me who doesn't want to completely give up on Christianity (believe me, I've tried), because it's been such a force in my life that I feel like it's ingrained in my DNA. Even though I can't really call myself a Christian and don't really believe all the theology, going to church often feels like going home to me. After all, I've lived 48 years in a Judeo-Christian society and grew up in a Christian family. Over the years I've sat through somewhere in the neighborhood of 1500 Sunday School lessons and approximately 4500 church services. One doesn't simply walk away from that much indoctrination without it profoundly effecting the lens through which he or she experiences the world.

    As some commenters already suggested, I focus on the similarities between the two traditions...compassion, kindness, generosity, love, contemplation. And I mostly exist somewhere in the tension between the two spiritual paths without exclusively claiming to be one or the other. And it seems rational enough to me that both The Buddha and The Christ were Englightened Beings with lots to teach us. Don't know if that helps any.

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

    I think leaving any long-time tradition is a process of gradual letting go. You first let go of the least convenient aspects, then slowly things that meant a bit more. There is always a new perspective that comes with it, you reflect and perhaps find that things were not exactly as you thought they were. And some aspects of the old tradition you keep respecting after you've left.

    Either way, you cannot deny that the period of your life spent with that tradition has shaped you. However much you try to deprogram yourself, to free yourself from its edicts, you will find that it has left its impressions and traces even though you may no longer be captive to its forms. That is something you can try to compensate for, but you can't erase.

    Ultimately I think these things are part of a process of growth. You grow through one stage, and the next comes along and builds on it. You learn and constantly extend yourself further. The trick is when you come to a turning point, a crisis in your adherence to a tradition, to find your next step and be inspired to new progress.

  • @Per4umer said:

    I don't have a wide circle of friends so I feel I need to stay in church to keep these friends but they don't know I feel like a total hypocrite and how can I develop myself when I feel tied to the church but know that they would not understand my new perspective.

    Being a 'a total hypocrite' is one of my hobbies. o:)

    Or to put it another way, 'Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner'. O.o Tsk, tsk what am I babbling, what I meant to say is, 'I take refuge in the Buddha, Bodhisattva Sangha and Sutras'.

    Better? Jesus just happens to be a Boddhisattva incidentally ...

    You also mention being a yogi.
    http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/hby/hby11.htm

    You may be a yogi, like JC but are you a Buddhist yogi? Not yet? Tsk, tsk ... <3
    http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/05/before-buddha-became-a-buddhist-he-was-a-yogi/

    You are doing fine. No worries.

    Per4umer
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