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Christian Wisdom Tradition

As we enter Christmas, the day Santa was born as a marketing ploy :p , we may wonder if Christianity is a dharma/wisdom tradition.

It is.

Obviously just as there is New Agey Buddhism, there is also shallow Christianity and mystical Islam.

We can find the ongoing dialogue with Buddhism:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism_and_Christianity

Where are the quality/Gnostic or inner teachings? For me they are in prayer and contemplative practices. They are in developing humility and other virtues such as service.
http://christianmystics.com/basics/whatis.html

Amen or Aum for those so inclined ...

Comments

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    edited November 2016

    I used to do "silent worship" with the Quakers, sort of gnostic I think, experiencing "the God within" ( or something ).
    I have heard people talk about Christian mysticism, though I'm not sure what that involves.

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    As a child the bits of Christianity that I found the most worthwhile were the parables and stories, which conveyed a real salt-of-the-earth feeling of how people lived two thousand years ago. There are some good life lessons in there.

    I mostly came across them in the tradition of anthroposophy, which is based on Rudolf Steiner's attempt to modernise religion in the early 20th century, and which is still popular in Dutch schools today. Basically you take Christianity as a starting point, remove hell and the devil and Christ and the crucifixion and much of the thou shalts, but you keep angels and god and a lot of the stories. It's an interesting offshoot, and their schools are good.

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    But I have to wonder what the Buddha might have said about worshipping an almighty creator deity as a method for spiritual advancement. The parable of the poisoned arrow comes to mind.

    Even if you take into account that we are talking about the wisdom tradition aspect of Christianity, there is the fact that you are taking a whole range of Christian concepts with you while in prayer or contemplation, and that while you might come close to the experience of meditation, at the same time you are changing the nature of that experience by focusing on an almighty creator.

  • I feel a useful example of the way that mystical Christianity works and is perhaps understable to Buddhists is Meister Eckhart.
    http://www.eckhartsociety.org/eckhart/his-teachings

    The idea of passivity is something I recognise. In Buddhism it might be to the three jewels or a Tantric Guru.

    @Kerome is right about the 'god thing'. I personally would feel totally at home meditating with Quakers or an empty Church. I do on occasion visit C of E and Catholic Churches. Always find there is room to be quiet in ...

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    @Kerome said: But I have to wonder what the Buddha might have said about worshipping an almighty creator deity as a method for spiritual advancement.

    I think the Buddha might say "whatever floats your boat". He advised the Kalamas to take whatever teachings they felt to be true honourable and trustworthy. He didn't exclude himself from criticism, nor did he suggest they discard teachings simply because they didn't like whence they came.

    As an about-face anecdote, some time ago, a couple of young men, highlighted some rather inflammatory comments in the OT, and disguised the Bible as the Qu'ran. They then showed these passages to evidently non-muslim people* and asked them what they thought. To a man (and woman) they were horrified, but imagine their surprise when they discovered these were not the teachings of Islam, but of historic Christianity.

    (I will add more American Christians* tend to take the Bible as a whole as a Christian Handbook, whereas it's fair to say that British Christians focus more on the NT....)

    So I think it does matter whether we accept or reject something simply because it's Christian/Buddhist.

    Frankly, that feels to me like biting off your nose to spite your face.

    dhammachickFosdick
  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran

    Jesus himself had a lot of good to say and teach (he wasn't called Rabbi/Teacher by his followers for nothing). I think if you taked what he said directly and take out all the added parts, there are pearls of wisdom to be found. I find that when I read the Talmud and Mishnah in regards to the Torah, there are many pearls of wisdom there too. Like I said on another thread, you can find wisdom in most traditions if you look closely enough.

    _ /\ _

    lobster
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    edited November 2016

    @lobster said:> @Kerome is right about the 'god thing'. I personally would feel totally at home meditating with Quakers or an empty Church. I do on occasion visit C of E and Catholic Churches. Always find there is room to be quiet in ...

    "Silent worship" with the Quakers had a good feel, it's a sort of group contemplation. But it isn't actually silent, and eventually I got fed up with people talking in the middle of it. There is a tradition of "ministry" in silent worship, like you have a connection with the divine and are then inspired to speak. Unfortunately most of the "ministry" I heard in silent worship didn't seem inspired at all, it was mostly self-indulgent waffling. Not much awareness there I'm afraid.
    I ran a silent day retreat for them but they didn't ask me to do another one. :p

    DavidKerome
  • Self indulgent waffling is my contribution to right speech :3

    Some of us have an aversion to Christianity and God as do superficial Christians to 'Atheist Buddhists', 'evil Muslims' and [insert stereotype] ...

    However it is our emotional attachment or rejection [another manifestation of attachment] that can be a teaching ...

    ... meanwhile ...
    http://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/christian-contemplative-tradition

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

    Going back to the whole definition of wisdom tradition in its context in perennial philosophy, it is interesting to note that Christianity does seem to be included. But then perennial philosophy on the whole is a bit odd for not taking into consideration the negative aspects - yes, religions can be an expression of an underlying truth, but some religions also contain elements leading away from that truth. So far as I know, people like Aldous Huxley in his famous book The Perennial Philosophy went into the unifying elements, but not the contradictory ones.

    lobster
  • Maybe a Tibetan makeover would increase palatability and applicability for some?

    personKerome
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator
    edited November 2016

    @Kerome said:
    Going back to the whole definition of wisdom tradition in its context in perennial philosophy, it is interesting to note that Christianity does seem to be included. But then perennial philosophy on the whole is a bit odd for not taking into consideration the negative aspects - yes, religions can be an expression of an underlying truth, but some religions also contain elements leading away from that truth. So far as I know, people like Aldous Huxley in his famous book The Perennial Philosophy went into the unifying elements, but not the contradictory ones.

    This definition form The Online Greater Oxford English Dictionary:

    Philosophy fɪˈlɒsəfi

    noun: philosophy
    1. the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, especially when considered as an academic discipline.
    a particular system of philosophical thought.
    plural noun: philosophies
    "the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle"

    the study of the theoretical basis of a particular branch of knowledge or experience.
    "the philosophy of science"
    synonyms: thinking, reasoning, thought, wisdom, knowledge
    "a lecturer in philosophy"

    1. a theory or attitude that acts as a guiding principle for behaviour.
      "don't expect anything and you won't be disappointed, that's my philosophy"
      "I'd like to see your philosophy in action"

    synonyms: beliefs, credo, faith, convictions, ideology, ideas, thinking, notions, theories, doctrine, tenets, values, principles, ethics, attitude, line, view, viewpoint, outlook, world view, school of thought; Weltanschauung.

    That's why negative aspects are not taken into consideration.
    Because Philosophy seeks the common good, the ground upon which different Religions and callings come together, unify and have similar foundations.
    Something it appears you have failed to consider.

    So one would presume that your Philosophy would be, "If it has a God, it's no good."

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

    Where in that definition does it say anything about the 'common good'? A "theory or attitude that acts as a guiding principle for behaviour" can work on exclusions or evasions just as much as on an attempt to find unifying principles. Not-this, not-that as well as this, that.

    I actually think the Hindu's have a better grasp of God than Christianity, Judaism and Islam, so I wouldn't immediately rule out God-based religions. But devotional paths in themselves are fraught with the difficulty that they are so intertwined with worldly power structures - the religions which represent them have become quite divorced from the pure service of God, which is where they started.

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    edited November 2016

    @Kerome said:> I actually think the Hindu's have a better grasp of God than Christianity, Judaism and Islam, so I wouldn't immediately rule out God-based religions.

    Certainly more sophisticated. I like some of the Advaita stuff, which is perhaps somewhat similar to Christian mysticism, the theme of union?

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

    Yes, I think that is the perennial philosophy bridge between god-based religions and Buddhism. Buddhism seeks, I believe I read somewhere, unity with nirvana according to some, which can be equated with the advaita vedanta standpoint of realising the atman is identical to the Brahman. I really must get around to reading Aldous Huxley's book sometime...

  • smarinosmarino florida Explorer
    edited November 2016

    It IS perverse how the virgin birth of a de facto deity somehow morphed into a fat man who flies through the air in a contraption that is pulled along by flying animals. But that end of it is a fairy tale for children, and of course a marketing ploy, so that's not really what Christianity is about.

    My take on it is that there is not necessarily anything wrong w/ Christianity, or in being a Christian, just try and find one! The whole thing should be solely about what Jesus is alleged to have said (leaving aside the miracle end of it which was clearly inserted to prove his god status). His teachings are at the same level as the Buddha. Love your neighbor is what it's all about. But for whatever reason, they combined pre-Christianity w/ Christ in that book of theirs and made a mish mash of the whole thing, The scriptures are just problematic in so many ways, what w/ questions of authenticity, far too many translations made by people that openly had an agenda, etc. It's that attachment to written words rather than the spirit of Christ that has led to all the dogmatic problems amongst not only them and other religions, but amongst their own groups.

    A lot of Christians aren't what you would call serious about it too. It's a once a week thing to them. Occasionally you do meet real Christians though. They're usually busy running a soup kitchen somewhere or a homeless shelter, stuff like that. I like them a lot, they do good work and seem very grounded in their faith. But it's their faith that makes it hard to have a real relationship w/ them because it's not mine I guess. Any god based religion that has a "personal" god tends to put a wall of wall up, and you either believe what they believe, or you don't. It's hard to get past that whole heaven and hell thing too. It's what leads a lot of us to Buddhism perhaps. Whenever we bring up prayer, I always think, OK, but prayer to who? To a saint like the Catholics? To a Father God? To a Creator God? To Allah? Too many choices, and they all compete w/ each other.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @smarino Santa Claus has nothing to do with Christianity, it is, as usual, just a mixing of folk and religious traditions that were melded together because old day Christian leaders were terrified of Pagan/folk people. It is interesting that a Nordic celebration has taken such hold of much of the planet, guided by Coca Cola, LOL. My great, great grandfather was a reindeer farmer in Lapland and it was told he provided Joulupokki (Finnish Santa, basically) with his Rudolph.

    But I wouldn't call it perverse. It was never intended to replace or joke about Jesus' birth. It was more a case of country people trying to hold onto their traditions when the church tried to take them away. The celebration of Christmas is just a very individual thing, and it gets beyond tiresome when people (not you) think the only thing that happens at that time is Jesus' birth and those of us who don't celebrate or recogize it correctly are heathens. We celebrate it as a combination of a more Pagan Yule and family traditions from Finland.

  • @smarino Santa Claus has nothing to do with Christianity

    N o o o o o o . . . . .
    [lobster calms] o:)

    Dear Santa, Satan, Brahman, Batman, Buddha and Hotei,
    
    Please bring Peace, goodwill and happiness.
    (I haz been good)
    
    Lobster  
    
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    edited November 2016
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    edited November 2016

    @Kerome said:
    Yes, I think that is the perennial philosophy bridge between god-based religions and Buddhism. Buddhism seeks, I believe I read somewhere, unity with nirvana according to some, which can be equated with the advaita vedanta standpoint of realising the atman is identical to the Brahman. I really must get around to reading Aldous Huxley's book sometime...

    If you view Nirvana as a transcendent reality which one connects with, then it is somewhat comparable to the idea of union in Advaita. A lot of people don't think of Nirvana like that though.

    I'm not convinced by the perennial philosophy approach, I think that attempts at universalism and syncretism usually lead to misrepresentation of individual traditions, the banging of square pegs into round holes. There may be common themes, but I think it is also important to recognise and respect differences.

    Kerome
  • Before I was a bad Buddhist, I was a bad dervish :3
    http://www.arcane-archive.org/religion/satanism/lobster-of-satanism-and-sufism-1.php

    My teenage Christian heroes, the Albigensian and Cathar heretics were wiped out by a devout group especially set up by the Pope, The 'Holy' Inquisition ...
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catharism

    Dharma Creed (based on Nicene Creed)

    I believe in the Buddha, the Father of the Sangha, Maker of Dharma that ends suffering.
    
    And in the Eight fold Path, created to end Dukkha, created for the welfare of all sentient beings; Path of Refuge, Light of Light. Very good in the beginning, in the middle and in the end.
    
    Buddha for our welfare, came down from Nirvana, and taught skillful means for all Beings and died as do all arisings. The Buddha suffered and practiced under the Bo Tree. On the third day The Buddha sat again, according to the Sutras and entered enlightenment and sits eternally in the Purelands. The Buddha shall come again as the Metta Ray, with understanding and wisdom, to offer teachings
    
    And I believe in the Enlightenment, the Giver of Dharma Wisdom which proceeds from the Practice and the Application. With the Bodhisattvas, dharma is called on for inspiration.
    
    And I believe in nothing holy or profane as separate. I acknowledge my flaws and I look for the arising of virtue, and the moment of awakening.
    

    Original Nicene Creed

    I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

    And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

    Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    So you are going to tell Christians they are really Buddhists, and Buddhists they are really Christians?
    Good luck with that. :p

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

    @SpinyNorman said:

    @Kerome said:
    Yes, I think that is the perennial philosophy bridge between god-based religions and Buddhism. Buddhism seeks, I believe I read somewhere, unity with nirvana according to some, which can be equated with the advaita vedanta standpoint of realising the atman is identical to the Brahman. I really must get around to reading Aldous Huxley's book sometime...

    I'm not convinced by the perennial philosophy approach, I think that attempts at universalism and syncretism usually lead to misrepresentation of individual traditions, the banging of square pegs into round holes. There may be common themes, but I think it is also important to recognise and respect differences.

    I would largely agree with that. Perennial philosophy perhaps over-reaches quite a bit by saying that "religions are a reflection of a common truth", I think it is more correct to say they share a common core.

    But it is like paths leading up a mountain. Not every path is equally direct in reaching the summit, and some get stuck in the foothills. And some seem determined to waste your effort while others provide wonderful views from along the ridges.

    It is unfortunate that one common theme seems to be the creation of power structures which become gateways or intermediaries between man and the divine, either under the mum of necessary authorisation or the transmission of secret knowledge.

  • @SpinyNorman said:
    So you are going to tell Christians they are really Buddhists, and Buddhists they are really Christians?

    No.

    Good luck with that. :p

    Thanks.

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    edited November 2016

    @Kerome said:

    @SpinyNorman said:

    @Kerome said:
    Yes, I think that is the perennial philosophy bridge between god-based religions and Buddhism. Buddhism seeks, I believe I read somewhere, unity with nirvana according to some, which can be equated with the advaita vedanta standpoint of realising the atman is identical to the Brahman. I really must get around to reading Aldous Huxley's book sometime...

    I'm not convinced by the perennial philosophy approach, I think that attempts at universalism and syncretism usually lead to misrepresentation of individual traditions, the banging of square pegs into round holes. There may be common themes, but I think it is also important to recognise and respect differences.

    I would largely agree with that. Perennial philosophy perhaps over-reaches quite a bit by saying that "religions are a reflection of a common truth", I think it is more correct to say they share a common core.

    But it is like paths leading up a mountain. Not every path is equally direct in reaching the summit, and some get stuck in the foothills. And some seem determined to waste your effort while others provide wonderful views from along the ridges.

    It is unfortunate that one common theme seems to be the creation of power structures which become gateways or intermediaries between man and the divine, either under the mum of necessary authorisation or the transmission of secret knowledge.

    I'm not sure about the path up the mountain analogy, if it includes the assumption that all religious paths lead to the top of the same mountain. The goals of the different religions vary widely, it might be eternal life, heaven, union with God, a better rebirth, enlightenment, and so on. Some paths might be analogous to climbing a mountain, others might be analogous to crossing an ocean. But there are many mountains and many oceans, and many different ways to travel.

    As you have probably guessed I am not a fan of woolly syncretism or lame universalism. ;)

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I guess it depends what you think the top of the mountain, is. To me the end goal is to understand one's self and the place we fit in in life. And I think we don't truly understand that until we die, so in that case, the mountain top is the same for everyone, lol.

    dhammachick
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