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What is "Western Buddhism"
We haz plan, HA LA LU LAH
. . . Eh no he did not . . . sorry @vinlyn I is being tempted by 'Mr Naughty', aka Ms Lucy Fair, aka Mr DeVille, Ye Olde Nick etc . . .
yours in Christ Buddha
and now back to the wild, wild, West . . .
I've banged on about this but as has been said in the past:
Christianity + Buddhism - works.
Buddhism + Christianity - DOESN'T work.
(For Christianity, please read any typical Deity-led organised religion.)
Yes, I'd broadly agree if we're talking about individuals mixing and matching. A Christian might well benefit from some aspects of Buddhist practice like meditation, but it's harder to see how a Buddhist would be able to engage with the theist content of Christianity.
Understand that JuBus (me being one myself) are different from Christians who practise Buddhism. Being a Jew is not strictly a religious affair. A LARGE chunk of being Jewish is a cultural thing. Most JuBus might adhere to kosher eating, aspire to being a mensch,believe in Israel's existence and right to defend itself, but not even believe in a God. Being a Christian means you believe that Jesus is the son of God and you will go to hell if you don't believe it.
Personally, I don't think you will see Buddhism in the West being influenced by Christianity at all. I don't think current Western Buddhists would accept any of that "superstitious mumbo jumbo" in "their" path. If anything, I think Western Buddhism wiill be fiercely guarded by the atheists in the ranks. If the regular espousement of aforementioned mumbo jumbo on threads on this forum is anything to go by.
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Well, our wonderful, esteemed and much-respected member, Simonthepilgrim claims to be able to do so, but then I don't believe he's actually bound his flag to any specific mast. I believe he takes every bit of good he can from various religions and philosophies and lives according to his own particular recipe of 'Right Everything'.
I personally followed Catholicism for the greater part of my life, yet when introduced to Buddhism tried as much as i could to correlate the two, but ultimately decided that I had to choose and go one way or the other, and abandon one raft.
For me, it was a total no-brainer.
Thomas Merton stated at one point that he wanted to be the best Buddhist he could, which, even when practising another religion to the depth he did, is not difficult.
Being the best Christian you can be, while being a Buddhist, is nigh-on impossible.
It might work for a non-theist Christian ( there are a few around ), but even then I think there would be tensions.
I tend to agree, and, even allowing for the traditional emphasis in some schools, I would expect western Buddhism as a whole to become more secular over time.
I don't see how it could ever incorporate a belief in the monotheistic god of the Abrahamic traditions.
Quite right. Today, anyway.
A couple centuries down the road, who can say?
The Christianity of today is nothing like the early Christianity. Today, it is shot through with artifacts from the various cultures is passed through.
The same applies to Buddhism. The differences between the various traditions is as much cultural as it is doctrinal.
You can already see these influences at play in the west. I was in a Chinese pure land temple where they used kneelers just like those found Catholic churches. I've been in two Jodo Shinshu temples where they were led by a paster of sorts, wearing vestments similar to those worn by Christian ministers. Everyone sat in chairs rather than cushions. A Christian would feel right at home. My sangha has an annual reception for new members. It's held in mid-December. We don't have a social hall, so the soiree is held in the shrine room. The room is decorated for the holidays.
Just the same, both the Christian and Buddhust traditions have many changes to go through as assimilation continues.
Resistance is futile.
Chairs? Kneelers? Monks looking like pastors (nothing new, just a mild alteration in the sartorial finish)...? A hall decorated with (largely pagan) symbols?
All purely cosmetic.
many Buddhists decorate their homes for Christmas, let's be honest....
However, when people start saying "In the name of the Buddha, the Father, the Son, his brother, and the Holy Ghost...." then I'll review my opinion...
Many of the artifacts of Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter have distinct pagan roots. They may be somewhat tangental to the basic message, but still so deeply ingrained as to be inseperable. What would Christmas be without a Christmas Tree?
Of course. It's a part of our culture. Those artifacts found in the Pureland groups I mentioned come from Christian influences. It's become cultural over time.
Breathe easy. THAT probably won't happen. Regardless, neither you nor I will live long enough to see that day.
Nope, not monks, per say. They don't go to a monastery.
I met a woman who presided over a JS congregation in Fort Collins. She was, originally, a student of Reggie Ray. She went to a seminary for her JS credentials.
They're addressed as Reverand, too.
There are a few concept that wouldn't seem to mesh such as a creator deity. Brahman is said to be the ultimate reality, not the creator of it. Brahma is the creative aspect of Brahman and Shiva, the destroyer but their dance is an eternal one.
If Hinduism could work with Buddhism then I'm sure Christianity could as well in pretty much the same way.
From my view however, it seems like people are kind of getting sick of religion.
The spread of Buddhism from India to China wasn't without some huge hurdles, chief of which was an occasional attack by the authorities because Buddha was foreign, and this was a foreign religion and that really bothered a lot of Chinese. They had their own native, traditional religions their ancestors worshiped already. Nationalism ran deep even then. It's hard to remember that Buddhism isn't native to the far East any more than it's native to the West.
And in my opinion any form of religion is better and more honest when things are removed, rather than things added....The more whistles, bells, rituals, add-ons and ceremony you add, the further away you get from the 'core message'...
Sure, who knows? But based on current trends I can't see any prospect of Christianity assimilating Buddhism, or vice versa.
I think a lot of us get hung up on what deity even means. "God" doesn't mean the same thing to everyone, and I know many Christians who have a very different view of God compared to what a typical church might teach and how the bible explains things. They consider themselves Christians, because they follow the teachings of Christ. Often they are people who spend much more time with books like "A Course in Miracles" rather than the Bible. They aren't hung up on God, or who God is or isn't and even whether God exists. It's often more so a larger consciousness they believe in. Their beliefs fit pretty well with Buddhism, and I know several people who blend them successfully. And I'm not just talking about people who identify as Christians who meditate. They are people who take on and fully accept the teachings of both Christ and Buddha and do not find them to conflict. It works for them, and quite well at that. One of them is the wife of our Sangha leader. My ideas of Christianity and God and Jesus are quite different from hears, because of the church I belonged to. I am grateful to her for explaining her beliefs. She attends church, but it's a more universal type church (I cannot recall the name right now) so they are quite a liberal group.
When a lot of us talk about Christianity, I think we largely mean Catholics, without considering the extremely wide berth of Christians that exist. Some Buddhists believe in deities and realms, but not all of us do. Christians are no different, and that includes those who have widely varying beliefs on God.
I'm not saying that all Christians will eventually fall into this and thus Buddhism and Christianity can successfully unite as one. I don't really see that happening. But I think we will probably see sects of people who do it successfully.
Yes, that's true, Christianity is quite diverse these days. As I mentioned I have some Quaker friends, a few of whom are non-theist. On the other hand it sounds like there are still quite a few traditionalists in your "Bible belt"!
Right now they may be, but that can and most likely will change in time. A pendulum swings both ways. People may be turning away from religion right now, but eventually, they'll turn back.
You may feel that way, but the process of evolution in culture is one of nearly constant addition and subtraction. Aspects of influences that are helpful or useful are added and those things that have outlived usefullness are removed. As individuals, we have almost no control over this, it's the needs of culture thats important.
I'll comfort IS with that thought.
I don't think people are getting sick of religion. I think they are getting sick of organized religion.
Take a look, for example, at the change of attitude toward gay marriage. It was always unaccepted for -- to a large extent -- religious reasons. Now many people are saying they just don't agree. Many Catholics simply don't agree about the Church's position on birth control, and to a lesser extent abortion. Or to the silence around clergy abuse of children. Or ....
But it's not restricted to Catholics. I asked my Methodist friends when was the last time they remembered hearing scriptures from the Old Testament. They thought for a long time, and couldn't remember any time in recent memory. And yet, as a boy in the Methodist Church, I clearly remember 2 scripture readings each Sunday service -- one OT, one NT. But people are increasingly rejected OT teachings and focusing on NT...in other words, the people led the church, not the other way around.
I grew up in the Methodist Church as well and what you say about the liturgy is true. Same with accepting LGTB as well. A minister at my parents church came out. There was some furor with one or two individuals. They are no longer members.
Churches change policy because the members want it that way, like with the OT readings. It's not done. I know Catholics who use birth control and are against the church's stand on abortion or have left parishes because the priest was too active in that arena. Religion don't lead people arround by the nose, it's the other way around.
Sometimes I get the impression that some people think that religion is dictating belief like it was some sort of sentient being being. Religions are collections of ideas. ideas come from people.
Early Christain teachings say nothing about celbrating the birth of Jesus. That was added as the church was romanized and was made into a holiday that coincided with the biggest festival in the Roman calendar - Saturnalia. It allso says nothing about observing the Winter Solstice, but as the Roman church moved into Northern Europe an important pagan ritual involving the burning of conifer trees was adopted that became the so-caalled Christmas tree. Same applies to Santa Clause. People added these traditions and because they served the culture, they have been retained ever since.
Interesting post, Chaz!
I also think you're right about people and organized religion, but I'd go a bit farther and say they're tired of organized religion that doesn't meet their needs and those needs change. They want their org to take a kinder stance towrds LGBTs and if the org won't budge, they leave. It's like voting with your pocketbook. Enough people want the change and things happen.
Your math doesn't support you. Try this.
Christianity = c = 1
Buddhism = b = 2
c + b = 3
b + c = 3
Either way the result is the same.
Actually no. There is a difference, a subtle one, but it is there.
When Christianity is the main belief and Buddhism is the "side dish" then that's ok because the main tenet of faith in the person is Christianity and it's cool to have Buddhism on the side because the philosophy is in harmony with the Christian ethos of doing good works and deeds and treating others as you would like to be treated. But your main belief is in a creator God who made a 6000 year old world in 6 24hour days and had an RDO on the 7th day. It's just nice that those deluded Buddhists have good morals and ethics......
When Buddhism is the main belief and Christianity the "side dish" there will be issues because Buddhism is non-theistic. Anatta and no creator is almost impossible to reconcile with Christianity's Creationist beliefs, eternal soul and Saviour or go to hell choice. So when your main belief is in dependent arising, taking responsibility for your own karma and no eternal afterlife with white fluffy clouds, kickarse wings and unicorns farting rainbows (ok I don't know if they do, it just sounded cool ) then you're going to look at the Christian belief system and go "Dude wtf drugs are you on?" or find it restrictive, repressive, possibly offensive and inplausible.
Coming from a religious background and still finding myself questioning it at times, I can say that, from my experience and from other Christian background Buddhists I know personally, @Federica has a good point.
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But people are increasingly rejected OT teachings and focusing on NT...in other words, the people led the church, not the other way around.
So Christianity is gradually modernising? I still don't see how there could be an organised hybrid of Christianity and Buddhism though, the assumptions are just too different.
We humans will always want that short cut. Pseudoscience, as it were, is not much different in its INTENT than the wisdom teachings of Jesus or Buddha. We just have trouble seeing the frills and furbelows of self and papanca we attach while contemplating said wisdom, and then have even more trouble remembering what the frills and furbelows were for. God must have put them there.
The present 'organic' life style is quite 'religious' in its purity and sanctity, and so are a lot of 'secular' ideas that grab hold of the collective conscious. Vampires, then zombies, alternative medicine, yoga . . . maybe they are just evidence we are built with a 'lens' we can't NOT look at the world through . . . I agree with you, religion, as it were, is here to stay.
That's all fine, assuming that these things won't change over time.
How that changes and what changes are wrought remains to be seen.
Keep in mind that Buddhism recognizes gods. A god suplicated the Buddha to turn the wheel of dharma. The Buddha is said to have taught the Dharma to gods. It's written that gods rejoiced at the teaching of the Heart Sutra. The difference lies in the role those gods play in the world.
Archtypically, there are similarities in the way the stories of the lives of Jesus and Buddha. There's at least one book dedicated to similarities in teachings.
All that's needed is some changes in the narrative. You don't have to change the message. The biggest hurdle would be to change views on the deity of Jesus. They did that once before at Nicea. It can be done again.
That won't happen any time soon or even in our lifetimes, so don't worry. You will never have to endure a hybridized Buddhism.
And a damned good thing, too.
Religion is an important and, dare I say, neccessary support of the structure of a culture. If that support were to be removed without an adequate replacement (none has been proposed), the structure would be weaken and may even collapse.
It's called culture shock.
If you want to see what culture shock does, look at the history of the last 300 years of Native American peoples.
That's true of traditional Buddhist cosmology, but western Buddhists are increasingly sceptical about such things, or at least agnostic. Most western Buddhists are not polytheistic.
There are a few non-theist Christians but I still don't see how a Buddhist-Christian hybrid could work. As I mentioned I have involvement with the local Quakers, and this possibility is something I've considered. From what I've seen and heard such a formal hybrid would be very difficult to achieve, even for a liberal non-creedal tradition like the Quakers. Even if theism were put to one side, the assumptions and methods for Christianity and Buddhism are just too different.
That makes a lot of sense . . . 'religion', the universal human intention that gives rise to 'religion', is pretty darn helpful in the formation and support of identity, and meaning, it's like an organizer.
I think this 'intent' can be aimed at darn near anything. Calling it 'religion' might even become a misnomer over time. Maybe the essence of this intent is just knowing we are part of some thing compared to which we are puny on one hand, and participating in the grandeur on the other. Heck I get that feeling watching a 2004 episode of NOVA, I can totally see how Carl Sagan got a bit 'religious' in his book "Contact". Just the study of the physical world as done by Einstein and Hawking and the guys at CERN is drawing on this same 'intent'. It's too bad the traditionally 'religious' and the guys at CERN look at each other in disgust (I'm being very general here), cuz they do seem to be riding the 'religious intent' but at different points on the continuum.
Yes, the human search for meaning, and a sense of awe. Though I still think a naturalistic approach is quite different to a religious one.
I'd put western Buddhism closer to the naturalistic approach rather than the religious one.
Really? Based on which study?
Assumptions and methods can and do change. Give it time.
Probably this was not OP's intent, but when I first saw the title of this thread, I was tempted to answer, "Stoicism."
"Freedom is secured not by the fulfilling of men's desires, but by the removal of desire."
"Man is disturbed not by things, but by the views he takes of them."
"If, therefore, any be unhappy, let him remember that he is unhappy by reason of himself alone."
"Get rid of the judgment, get rid of the 'I am hurt,' you are rid of the hurt itself."
Marcus Aurelius was one of the finest Buddhists who ever lived, IMHO.
What's even better is that he didn't even know it....
It's an observation based on my experience: 35 years of involvement across a wide range of Buddhist traditions in the UK, conversations with Buddhists from other European countries, also long experience of Buddhist discussion forums.
Do you know of any studies that contradict what I'm saying? And what experience are you basing your opinions on?
A lot of people are Christian non-affiliate in my sangha.
Incidentally I find it ironic that many believe Christians cannot be Buddhists whereas they bristle when you say you have to have a teacher.
The mind is the same nature for a Christian or a Buddhist. The teachings are just the raft so they don't have to be non-contradictory. For example if your yogic experience says that there is a self then that is the experience.
I became involved in Christian Gnosticism after belonging to and practicing Dharma for some years. There are many forms, most in essence are empty . . . think I read that on a fortune cookie . . .
. . . and now back to the Dharma . . .
To me, what we call Western Buddhism is simply the Western mind grappling to come to terms, assimilate, the alien flavours of an Eastern ethical philosophy a.k.a. religion such as Buddhism.
And there's nothing new to the task: T.W. Rhys-Davids and Max Müller were already doing that over a hundred years ago.
Could you explain this further, Jeffrey? You said there were ex-Christians in your sangha but I don't understand the point about having to have a teacher.
I love it when people willfully take the most offended POV they can. I'd elaborate, but no point when they're "on hiatus"
THIS ^^ I agree wholeheartedly. I find it interesting in this particular thread that some are so keen to force the hybrid theory when a lot of "Western Buddhists" go to great pains to distance themselves from "that superstitious mumbo jumbo". I respect that some atheists hold a high disdain for anything remotely resembling the "supernatural" but sometimes I think "well FFS, YOU'RE the one who chose Buddhism so what did you expect?" Even moreso when they start off on a path like Tibetan Buddhism which is infused with deities.
DISCLAIMER - I have said "a lot" as I have not met every Western Buddhist (obviously) and I am not claiming to know every Western Buddhist on this thread, Ditto with "some atheists"
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Indeed, and the objections can sound rather sour-grapish at times. I think it's a good thing that more secular forms of Buddhism are emerging, it means that there is a wider range of options and less need for people to react against the more traditional strains of Buddhism.
^^^ @dhammachick I too am a theistic dharmaist, I believe in many Buddhas and an AIN SOPH that trancends being and non being.
As I said to the Buddha only this morning, 'I can not believe I am talking to you' and you know what he said?
I luvs the Buddha
Oh don't get me wrong, I'm not AGAINST secular Buddhism at all, I just find it amusing that some people decide to follow a path and then object to certain elements like it's a revelation. I view it as akin to eating ice cream and not expecting it to be cold.
Secular Buddhism is, IMNSHO, a Buddhism we have to have in the West. And you know what? Vive la difference!
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@SpinyNorman not ex-Christians rather non-affiliated
I find the irony in making a big deal that Christians cannot be Buddhists which is not in scripture whereas it is in scripture that a teacher is part of the path at least for my school of Buddhism there is a teacher and it is in basic scripture. The teacher can be yourself though because you are a future Buddha and have clarity of mind by nature. But that is a harder road by far. At least to reach enlightenment it is harder.
Both of the above: reacting to Christians and reacting to teachers are due to biases. A bias against theism and a bias against a teacher. Many have these biases. Of course there is rationalization of the bias and they could be right, but I am just identifying a bias. Everyone has a bias in some way or other.
Oh I see. I suppose I have a bias against theism, in that I think it's putting comfort over truth, and I can't take it seriously as a belief system. As for the emphasis on teachers, I guess that varies according to the school?
I have exactly the same bias, for the same reason.
Yes and my point was that that bias is not universal and Christians are in my sangha. I personally love both comfort and truth! And it depends what one means by comfort. I would say it is the nature of mind to seek truth and the most important thing is understanding your own awareness. If a Christian looks at their awareness in meditation they will see the same thing as anyone will should they exam their awareness.