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From Buddhism to belief in God?

SattvaPaulSattvaPaul South Wales, UK Veteran

I have been practising Buddhism for over 20 years but am realising I'm drawn more and more to the belief in God and "religion".
Why? Here are some reasons (I'll try to keep them short).
1. In Buddhism I feel alone and everything is kind of meaningless and unreal. Yes, I can possibly find meaning in Buddhahood and following Bodhisattva path. But there is no inherent purpose in the universe. In contrast, God created the world and humans on purpose, and they are good.
2. I doubt more and more whether Buddhism is a viable "life path". It encourages too much detachment. It doesn't have rules and everything is too subjective. No objective right and wrong
3. It is too easy to use meditation and Buddhism as spiritual bypassing, something that I think is my case.
4. Belief in gurus/teachers and all the pitfalls of that.
5. Encouraging questioning everything may lead to self-doubt and inability of making decisions.
6. I feel often meditation for me leads to lack of motivation and a kind of disorientation.
I could possibly go on.
I'm not really writing this to argue those points, more to see if there any people on here who feel or felt similar, and resolved them by either re-committing to Dharma in a new way or embracing another faith like Christianity or Islam.

Ren_in_black
«1

Comments

  • Cool.

    There is an alternative. Believe in a God who does not exist but is nonetheless Real! Ay caramba how so?

    Well … We could call it the AdiBuddha
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adi-Buddha
    but what the hell … Let us call it the A-Void
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fana_(Sufism) or Mx Yahweh
    or … or … Ore Alchemical Gold

    or? More Real giddy goddiness to follow shortly <3

    God as a box with no Face …

  • FleaMarketFleaMarket Newbie, not Veteran
    edited February 17

    @SattvaPaul said:
    I have been practising Buddhism for over 20 years but am realising I'm drawn more and more to the belief in God and "religion".
    Why? Here are some reasons (I'll try to keep them short).
    1. In Buddhism I feel alone and everything is kind of meaningless and unreal. Yes, I can possibly find meaning in Buddhahood and following Bodhisattva path. But there is no inherent purpose in the universe. In contrast, God created the world and humans on purpose, and they are good.

    What do you feel alone from? People? God?

    1. I doubt more and more whether Buddhism is a viable "life path". It encourages too much detachment. It doesn't have rules and everything is too subjective. No objective right and wrong

    Where does detachment become too much for you? At what point does this occur?

    1. It is too easy to use meditation and Buddhism as spiritual bypassing, something that I think is my case.

    Meditation is merely a genre of tool. Like gardening equipment, or a computer.
    The way in which it is used is of great importance.
    What way are you meditating? How are you meditating in that way? Why are you meditating that way?

    1. Belief in gurus/teachers and all the pitfalls of that.

    Why do you have concern for your own practice in regard to belief in gurus and other pitfalls? Are you concerned you will believe them in a manner that causes you difficulty?

    1. I feel often meditation for me leads to lack of motivation and a kind of disorientation.

    Similar to above, what kind of meditating leads to your lack of motivation and disorientation? What does your lack of motivation feel like prior to meditating, during, and after? What does your disorientation feel like?

    I could possibly go on.
    I'm not really writing this to argue those points, more to see if there any people on here who feel or felt similar, and resolved them by either re-committing to Dharma in a new way or embracing another faith like Christianity or Islam.

    Why not both?

    lobster
  • AlexAlex UK Veteran
    edited February 17

    Hi Paul, I haven’t been here for a month or so, just checked in and saw your post. Very much resonated with me, as I go through the same thought processes. I’m in North Wales, incidentally.

    My sometimes difficulty with Buddhism is like yours. The absence of God. And sometimes, maybe I feel there’s a dourness and absence of joy (notwithstanding the joy that can derive from non-attachment etc).

    How do I combat this ? Take the best things from different practices. I talk with and pray to God. I chant with a Hare Krishna friend and group. I meditate and attend online Buddhist meditation groups. Pure land Buddhism has a deity, a realm and chanting. There’s a temple in Malvern - Bright Earth - online zoom meetings and ceremonies.

    In short, I can be all things, there’s no obstacle to this, make your own rules.

    Ringo Starr described himself as a Christian Hindu with Buddhist tendencies.

    Try reading ‘Faithfully religionless’ by Timber Hawkeye, a former Buddhist monk.

    lobsterrocala
  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran
    edited February 17

    I know of someone who after a long period of buddhism suffered a major episode of desillusion, which motivated him to seek his own kind of Christianity. A very intelligent and erudite guy.

    It’s a difficult question. I think Buddhism is closer to the heart of spirituality than most forms of Christianity, and so even though all paths lead up the mountain it may feel like a retrograde step. But if you feel you remain a seeker, you may find it is not the end of the road.

    Personally I am not tempted by a Christian God and his army of priests and believers. If you want warmth and an experience of God, perhaps Hinduism or Advaita may serve.

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    Hi @SattvaPaul

    Are you familiar with Pure Land Buddhism?

    It’s apparently the most practiced tradition of Buddhism but is virtually unknown in the West.

    It may resonate with you. It has with me. In fact in recent times I’ve received some signs from Amitabha Buddha encouraging me to practice. It’s very motivating!

    Alexlobster
  • AlexAlex UK Veteran
    edited February 17

    Not much PureLand in the UK, but that Malvern temple :-

    http://www.brightearth.org/

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @Alex said:
    Not much PureLand in the UK, but that Malvern temple :-

    http://www.brightearth.org/

    Yes, it's hard to find much of anything Pure Land that is English speaking. The temple in Melbourne is all Mandarin speaking.

    But more and more online English speaking resources are appearing :)

    Alex
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    I recommend checking out Without Buddha I Could not be a Christian.

    BunksAlexJeroen
  • @FleaMarket said:
    Why not both?

    oh at least … perhaps on Tuesdays.

    @Alex said:
    How do I combat this ? Take the best things from different practices. I talk with and pray to God. I chant with a Hare Krishna friend and group. I meditate and attend online Buddhist meditation groups. Pure land Buddhism has a deity, a realm and chanting. There’s a temple in Malvern - Bright Earth - online zoom meetings and ceremonies.

    Ah ha! You can have your pie and slice it anyway you like … though sideways would be a little strange …
    As a farmer former Muslim, I still pray like so:
    Allah yAk-bar which means 'COD is Grated' … from what I remember.

    I like god, she is a fine woman Real Imaginary Friend of Ms Allah. I consider myself a dreadful Buddhist and a hopeless Dread. I & I.

    JeroenAlexFleaMarket
  • @SattvaPaul said:
    I have been practising Buddhism for over 20 years but am realising I'm drawn more and more to the belief in God and "religion".

    I'm not really writing this to argue those points, more to see if there any people on here who feel or felt similar, and resolved them by either re-committing to Dharma in a new way or embracing another faith like Christianity or Islam.

    @SattvaPaul

    Hmm from what I gather number "5" (Encouraging questioning everything may lead to "self"-doubt and inability of making decisions) ....is a good thing, one could say a breakthrough if this happens....

    How has the twenty years of practice been ? Would you say for the most part you have benefited from practice, or has it been twenty years of no improvement/no experiential understanding, twenty years of doubt leading to more doubt ?

    When reading your post I'm reminded of this..

    "Great Faith and Great Doubt are two ends of a spiritual walking stick. We grip one end with the grasp given to us by our Great Determination. We poke into the underbrush in the dark on our spiritual journey. This act is real spiritual practice—gripping the Faith end and poking ahead with the Doubt end of the stick. If we have no Faith, we have no Doubt. If we have no Determination, we never pick up the stick in the first place."
    ~Sensei Sevan Ross~

    AlexFleaMarketlobster
  • SattvaPaulSattvaPaul South Wales, UK Veteran

    Friends, thank you so much for all the replies. I would like to address each point but right now I feel drained, even though it's morning here.. Perhaps I'll come back later.

    JeroenAlex
  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    @SattvaPaul said:
    I'm not really writing this to argue those points, more to see if there any people on here who feel or felt similar, and resolved them by either re-committing to Dharma in a new way or embracing another faith like Christianity or Islam.

    Recommitting, I find that a tricky word. It implies that there is something to adhere to, which seems to me attachment and clinging. It also sounds like there was something wrong with your original commitment, as if “commitment” is something that keeps you on the path. Something to consider.

    Similarly it sounds from what you say that you value the feeling that religion gives you, which is also a form of attachment. The whole process of clinging, of not being relaxed, that is something real that I think we can learn from the dharma.

    I believe that we should learn from Buddhism, but it’s best not to be attached to being a Buddhist. The spiritual path is in reality freeform, identification with a group is illusory, and as people walking the path I think we can feel just as comfortable visiting a church as we do in a Buddhist temple.

    Switching to being part of a new religion or tradition sounds to me like adopting just another view, another identification. It may give you a certain freshness, but that sounds to me like it would be temporary. Do you then want to keep switching? Is it not better to acknowledge your independence from any group, your uniqueness, and develop your motivation from there?

    Alex
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @SattvaPaul said:
    Friends, thank you so much for all the replies. I would like to address each point but right now I feel drained, even though it's morning here.. Perhaps I'll come back later.

    No need to respond to everyone mate. Just hope you got some things to think about 🙏

    Shoshin1
  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran
    edited February 18

    @Jeroen said:
    I know of someone who after a long period of buddhism suffered a major episode of desillusion, which motivated him to seek his own kind of Christianity. A very intelligent and erudite guy.

    I looked him up on WhatsApp (his name is Isaac) and asked if he wanted to contribute something to the discussion. He said that he isn’t into convincing other people of his path but that he hasn’t been able post-buddhism to connect to a normal Church congregation, and that although he considers himself a Christian his views on God and Christ diverge from the usual. He has read widely in other religions, including Taoism, Hinduism and Advaita, yoga and tantra, so he has been on a bit of a search after a long period of buddhism.

    Your mileage may vary as usual but I suspect that we are continually building on what we have learnt before, and it would be difficult to just erase twenty years of buddhism.

    Bunks
  • … Perhaps I'll come back later.

    I hope you do return after fixing the drain.
    Hopefully something will resonate.

    Dharma can be stoic, pessimistic as you mention. However it can also rejuvenate and replenish … :)

    Bunks
  • SattvaPaulSattvaPaul South Wales, UK Veteran
    edited February 18

    Ok so to try and describe it in a different way.

    Perhaps I like the idea of God because it is more meaning-ful than emptiness/mind/nirvana. It is the creative Source that is personal and cares. While Buddha is kind of supremely detached. I don't know how to describe it.
    Also, with God, there is a certain direction or intention behind what is happening, in my life and generally. I don't know.
    Christianity also aligns with some of my views on social matters. (and I am a fan of Jordan Peterson :)
    I see folks who have a strong belief in God that are humble, have a clear sense of what it's all about, they can cope with setbacks with their trust in God.
    And here I am constantly questioning and just getting more and more confused.
    Ok, I've had some sense, in meditation, of awareness and some sense of equanimity. But I want passion. Direction, purpose. Not just living in the moment but living in hope as well. Does this make sense?
    I started practising Buddhism when I was in my early 20s. Now I realise, I should have spent time building my "self" rather than trying to dismantle it. I mentioned spiritual bypassing. Well, I can say meditation has kept me sane in a way, but I'm miserable, depressed and lost. I think I have misused Dharma.
    Also to add. I have serious reservations about some teachers and I can't help thinking that it says something about the teachings, I can't separate it. Ironically I am now part of a sangha that has Trungpa Rinpoche as one of main teachers. I don't think I buy the crazy wisdom stuff. If Trungpa is an example of living without self, I don't want it. I doubt it's possible anyway.
    Sorry about the rant.

    JeroenlobsterShoshin1
  • FleaMarketFleaMarket Newbie, not Veteran

    To me, religion appears as a teacher/student relationship. One leads, one follows. The leader provides much of what the follower needs. The follower is given enough of what they need so they do not need to figure out how to get it elsewhere. The follower then follows the rules of the leader so to stay near and receive the gifts. Like loving parents and loved children.

    Buddhism comes across less like a teacher/student relationship and more like a partnership. You don't get much of what you need right away, but you are provided the tools to help you go get it for yourself. Those tools come with difficult to understand instructions which everyone seems to use differently. I see it as venturing forth from the home, the safety of the parents, into the unknown with these tools.

    It would appear there is no warm embrace of God on this path, no parental love to the child. However it does appear that by practicing, failing, practicing again, and gaining skill with these tools, you can become the embracer of others in the way you once desired to be embraced yourself.

    Shoshin1
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    What about the afterlife? Have you given any thought to where your soul / consciousness goes after death? Should that have any bearing on your practice?

    rocala
  • SattvaPaulSattvaPaul South Wales, UK Veteran

    @ShanJieshi2 said:
    the idea of a creator God is a rather ingenious attempt at reunification, after man fell into Duality.
    When you make Refuge, you actually go for guidance to your own Nature to restore the balance between the world of the senses and this Nature. And you live in this world as a Bodhisattva because it is healthy and natural for you, for your environment and for all things.
    That's enough of a plan, isn't it?

    This is beautiful and succinct. Thank you.

    ShanJieshi2
  • SattvaPaulSattvaPaul South Wales, UK Veteran

    @Bunks said:
    What about the afterlife? Have you given any thought to where your soul / consciousness goes after death? Should that have any bearing on your practice?

    Yes. The traditional Buddhist teachings about rebirth make sense to me, intellectually.

    Sometimes the thought about death and preparation for it motivates me, but when my mood is low, it can actually have the opposite effect.

    In terms of other religions, I suppose I could make sense of it as Heaven being merging with God and Hell being ultimate separation from God. I would find it difficult to believe they are literal places. But who knows? I find it interesting that people can make sense of them as fairly literal and base their life on that.

    Bunksrocala
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited February 19

    I started practising Buddhism when I was in my early 20s. Now I realise, I should have spent time building my "self" rather than trying to dismantle it. I mentioned spiritual bypassing. Well, I can say meditation has kept me sane in a way, but I'm miserable, depressed and lost. I think I have misused Dharma.

    Miserable, depressed and lost? No fun? Jesus Christ! It will soon be Easter and we know how that turned out … however to be fair we also get Easter bunnies and chocolate eggs. <3

    As we know dharma, god and angels can be digested (aka transubstantiation) or chewed out of existence. What is a gal to do? :o

    Well … and every well has a bottom and clear water … You are not alone. <3

    The Passion of Christ v the asceticism of pre-Buddha. Bunny v Buddha m mmm ….

    We are not binary creatures. We can be contradictory, paradoxical and shellfish selfish and selfless … all in one day or less.

    It is not an ordered path we are on. Well I for one did not order it …

    Happy Easter.
    https://yinyana.tumblr.com/post/44362026231/cult-of-the-dead-cow

  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    If you don’t mind me asking @SattvaPaul were you brought up in a Christian tradition? Often in times of low mood or energy we go back to the earliest traditions we know, it’s a piece of programming of the collective mind.

    Bunks
  • @SattvaPaul said:
    Ok so to try and describe it in a different way.

    Perhaps I like the idea of God because it is more meaning-ful than emptiness/mind/nirvana. It is the creative Source that is personal and cares. While Buddha is kind of supremely detached. I don't know how to describe it.

    Also, with God, there is a certain direction or intention behind what is happening, in my life and generally. I don't know.
    Christianity also aligns with some of my views on social matters. (and I am a fan of Jordan Peterson :)
    I see folks who have a strong belief in God that are humble, have a clear sense of what it's all about, they can cope with setbacks with their trust in God.
    And here I am constantly questioning and just getting more and more confused.
    Ok, I've had some sense, in meditation, of awareness and some sense of equanimity. But I want passion. Direction, purpose. Not just living in the moment but living in hope as well. Does this make sense?
    I started practising Buddhism when I was in my early 20s. Now I realise, I should have spent time building my "self" rather than trying to dismantle it. I mentioned spiritual bypassing. Well, I can say meditation has kept me sane in a way, but I'm miserable, depressed and lost. I think I have misused Dharma.
    Also to add. I have serious reservations about some teachers and I can't help thinking that it says something about the teachings, I can't separate it. Ironically I am now part of a sangha that has Trungpa Rinpoche as one of main teachers. I don't think I buy the crazy wisdom stuff. If Trungpa is an example of living without self, I don't want it. I doubt it's possible anyway.
    Sorry about the rant.

    @SattvaPaul

    Glad to hear that meditation is helping in some way....

    Have you heard of Professor Mark Williams?

    Prof Mark Williams is Emeritus Professor of Clinical Psychology and Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and the UK Academy of Medical Sciences.

    The main focus of his research and clinical work has been to understand how best to prevent serious clinical depression and suicide. With colleagues John Teasdale (Cambridge) and Zindel Segal (Toronto), he developed Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for prevention of relapse and recurrence in depression. Research has shown MBCT to markedly reduce the rate of future depression in those who have suffered the most serious and persistent forms of major depression.

    It would seem you have been trying to throw the baby (self) out with the bathwater...which is a common error...

    In a sense when one is practicing the Dharma one is not trying to get rid of the self, one is becoming more familiar with what makes this psychophysical phenomenon (AKA the Self) tick...

    One of the Tibetan words for meditation is Gom which means "to familiarise"

    Hope things settle down for you and you find the peace of mind you're looking for...

    Metta 🙏🙏🙏

    Bunkslobster
  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran
    edited February 19

    Thank you for sharing and I know you didn't want to argue any points but your post begs quite a few questions from my perspective.

    I have been practising Buddhism for over 20 years but am realising I'm drawn more and more to the belief in God and "religion".
    Why? Here are some reasons (I'll try to keep them short).
    1. In Buddhism I feel alone and everything is kind of meaningless and unreal. Yes, I can possibly find meaning in Buddhahood and following Bodhisattva path. But there is no inherent purpose in the universe. In contrast, God created the world and humans on purpose, and they are good.

    That all depends on who you ask. Some theists believe we are all born in sin and need to be saved from our evil nature. Some Buddhists believe our inherent purpose is awakening and helping through cooperation. Sangha is actually very important in Buddhism so there is no need to feel alone or displaced. You say you have been practicing Buddhism for 20 years. How have you been practicing?

    1. I doubt more and more whether Buddhism is a viable "life path". It encourages too much detachment. It doesn't have rules and everything is too subjective. No objective right and wrong

    Which Buddhist branch teaches there is no objective morality? We detach from harmful practices but we learn new ones.

    I've also learned that "let it be" is more productive than "let it go". We detach from outcomes, not each other.

    1. It is too easy to use meditation and Buddhism as spiritual bypassing, something that I think is my case.

    I don't even know what that means but spirituality is not lacking in my practice.

    1. Belief in gurus/teachers and all the pitfalls of that.

    Again, it really depends on the school/branch. But now I an curious... What theist belief system has no teachers?

    1. Encouraging questioning everything may lead to self-doubt and inability of making decisions.

    On the contrary, I have found that teachings that encourage experimentation and practical results lead to growth and a progressively better understanding of myself which leads to a greater conviction behind my decisions.

    1. I feel often meditation for me leads to lack of motivation and a kind of disorientation.

    Interesting. Again, my results differ.

    I could possibly go on.
    I'm not really writing this to argue those points, more to see if there any people on here who feel or felt similar, and resolved them by either re-committing to Dharma in a new way or embracing another faith like Christianity or Islam.

    Have you ever read any Thich Nhat Hanh in regards to this blending?

    "Do not try to use what you learn from Buddhism to be a Buddhist; use it to be a better whatever-you-already-are.”

    -H.H.The Dalai Lama

    Shoshin1lobster
  • I hope we are helping?
    Not me of course, I could not help a chicken cross a road … but some great replies everyone … <3

    BunksShoshin1
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @lobster said:
    I hope we are helping?
    Not me of course, I could not help a chicken cross a road … but some great replies everyone … <3

    Don't sell yourself short @lobster

  • I can relate @SattvaPaul I grew up in a secular home, and then was a Buddhist for about twenty years before being received into the Eastern Orthodox Church.

    Whereas Buddhism is the way of the mind and emptiness of self, Orthodox Christianity is the way of the heart and emptying of self.

    In his search for spiritual truth, Jordan Peterson appears to be moving towards this Christian tradition.

    Two books that might help you better understand what you are experiencing and what might lay ahead are “God’s Revelation to the Human Heart” by Father Seraphim Rose, and “The Hidden Man of the Heart” by Archimandrite Zacharias.

    In the introduction of Father Seraphim Rose’s book, conversion is described as “when something in the heart is touched, when the heart begins to “burn” at being in contact with God-revealed truth. Before this can take place, however, the person often has to feel the absence of this truth, and to actually experience suffering as a result of this want. People in the Western world often have this feeling suppressed from their consciousness, so occupied are they with physical comforts and stimulations.”

    lobsterSattvaPaulBunksFleaMarket
  • SattvaPaulSattvaPaul South Wales, UK Veteran

    Thank you for this @Silouan , I have great respect for Orthodox Christianity and I admire its depth. I will look into these books.

    And just to say I haven't abandoned this thread, will try to come back in a while :)

    Currently reading "Progressive stages of meditation on emptiness" by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso. Perhaps it will correct my negative view of emptiness. I haven't seen anything so direct and refreshing in a while.

    A thought occurred to me on a walk yesterday, that in Buddhism it feels like it's all "up to us". It can seem overwhelming, particularly if we're up against obstacles. God-language allows me to relax. It's all being taken care of. Perhaps I'm looking for comfort in my loneliness and confusion, I don't know.

    BunksSilouan
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    It is a misconception that it’s always up to us in Buddhism.

    We can receive help and guidance from Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

    Just need to open our hearts and minds.

    Shoshin1
  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    @SattvaPaul said:
    God-language allows me to relax. It's all being taken care of. Perhaps I'm looking for comfort in my loneliness and confusion, I don't know.

    Even great sages like Ramana Maharshi used this view to maintain distance, so I would say its totally valid to integrate that into your belief.

    Bunks
  • SattvaPaulSattvaPaul South Wales, UK Veteran

    @Jeroen said:

    @SattvaPaul said:
    God-language allows me to relax. It's all being taken care of. Perhaps I'm looking for comfort in my loneliness and confusion, I don't know.

    Even great sages like Ramana Maharshi used this view to maintain distance, so I would say its totally valid to integrate that into your belief.

    What do you mean by "distance"?

  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    @SattvaPaul said:

    @Jeroen said:

    @SattvaPaul said:
    God-language allows me to relax. It's all being taken care of. Perhaps I'm looking for comfort in my loneliness and confusion, I don't know.

    Even great sages like Ramana Maharshi used this view to maintain distance, so I would say its totally valid to integrate that into your belief.

    What do you mean by "distance"?

    I came across a quote by Ramana where he says something like, “God takes care of the world, you don’t need to concern yourself with it”, which I interpret as a view that maintains a certain distance between total personal responsibility for everything and being the owner of just one body’s actions. Because his belief includes the view of non-duality, non-separateness, there is a possibility that one may feel that because one is all, one is also responsible for all. But one does not act for all. Hence the idea of God.

  • You’re most welcome @SattvaPaul Whatever path you follow, I hope you find peace and happiness.

    In the Genesis narrative, we see that the fall of man effects all of creation. This shows that man is an active participant and influences creation.

    Though God’s essence is unknowable, He is wholly present in His grace or energy. He is the author and sustainer of creation and of the laws governing it.

    Man, in his spiritual freedom, decides how he interacts with and participates in God’s grace or energy. God does not violate man’s spiritual freedom.

    And though each of us is personally responsible for our own words, thoughts, and deeds, we are communally bound to humanity; the consequences of our actions not only effects ourselves but also to some degree others too.

    FleaMarketBunks
  • @SattvaPaul I thought of your feelings and what I have heard from reading this thread when I saw this today. For me it seems to be a positive hopeful side of Buddhism that we hope to have happiness for others and also to feel happiness in our own minds or non-selves or however to bring it forth in English.

    “At the heart of the Buddhist teachings on Love and Compassion is a Pranidhana [powerful aspirational prayer] for radical happiness: ‘May all beings be happy!’
    It’s very bold isn’t it? One hardly dares even think it, it’s so outrageous – ALL beings, may they ALL BE HAPPY! It’s a very happy thought isn’t it? Even for a tiny moment. If you don’t ever even wish for it, even think of it, or believe in it, or hope for it, or aspire to it, we’re not ever going to get there are we?
    What is a hope, what is a wish, what is an aspiration? What is it? It is something actually, it’s something more real than just a thought… there’s tremendous energy in it.
    But we don’t dare think of it. We might think ‘oh, beings aren’t happy, they’re miserable, it’s too much, and I can’t do anything about it’ – all this other thinking comes in doesn’t it?
    So, the important thing about the Apramanas practice is to really break through that thinking and dare to wish all beings to be happy and free from suffering, because that is actually what you’re wishing for, and you do wish it to be radical happiness, where they’ve realised what is the cause of suffering and what causes happiness, and they’re just abiding by that, so they’re not going to fall back into suffering.”

    • Lama Shenpen Hookham
    Bunks
  • SattvaPaulSattvaPaul South Wales, UK Veteran
    edited February 25

    @Jeffrey thanks for this, I actually follow Lama Shenpen teachings too.

    What I would say is, how to get there and what is the cause of suffering? Now I question the whole thing, you see. Because to me it seems like vast emptiness might be freedom, but again, it's a "negative" kind of view. No matter how I look at it and how many "corrective" views I read (about emptiness), it all seems to come down to the fact that Buddhism is about a kind of escape. It's a whole worldview based on undesirability of suffering and presumption that removing the cause (ignorance of no-self) will bring about happiness. I don't know.

    As for the aspiration to liberate all sentient beings, it seems to me just a "tool" to get there, and the "there" is actually the realisation that sentient beings don't exist (as "selves") at all.

    Silouan
  • Though some may think me a failed Buddhist, I came to similar conclusions @SattvaPaul

    Additionally, I discovered that things like love, compassion, forgiveness, prayer etc are personal and not something abstract or impersonal.

    Though I don’t deny the transitory nature of this world and that caused things are known from their laws, from their state of dependency where time is measured by change, for me, love isn’t the by product of some transpersonal reality, born out of ignorance, or the result of some accidental evolutionary process.

    Love without beginning is above the plane of existence and therefore of a spiritual order and not temporal. To say that which is eternal is temporal is a contradiction.

    The Divine commandments of love, or will of God, are eternal life and not some moral or ethical system. Therefore, when they are resisted it is the sign or mark of death.

    Some may say that Christianity is easy or wishy washy, but this is actually not the case. The self-emptying love that Christ calls us to requires ascetic striving and entails much suffering, because we are full of self-love and often prefer our own way.

    This suffering is not worldly suffering, because when man is touched by the Spirit of Love, he is touched by eternity. He begins to be taught love and starts on the path of loving God with all his heart, soul, and mind. In doing so, through prayer and the sacraments of the Church, he begins to know God and himself. As he begins to know himself as he truly is, the life of his neighbor begins to dawn in his heart and he starts to see and accept his communal bond with humanity and of all creation. He begins to pray in the Spirit of Love for the whole world.

    St Silouan the Athonite says this about love:

    The greater the love, the greater the sufferings of the soul.

    The fuller the love, the fuller the knowledge of God.

    The more ardent the love, the more fervent the prayer.

    The more perfect the love, the holier the life.

    However, one mustn’t fall into despair thinking it is all pain and suffering. There is also peace, joy, and even bright sadness.

    lobsterperson
  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran
    edited February 25

    Not all Buddhism is "the Dharma." It's better someone be Christian than be a Buddhist bereft of the Dharma. Buddhism bereft of the Dharma is a lonely hopeless system. I agree with the OP there. That being said, a lot of the problems identified by the OP, such as "I feel alone and everything is kind of meaningless and unreal," will not be helped by conversion to Christianity. "I feel alone and everything is kind of meaningless and unreal" is ultimately IMO depression, a hopeless depressive mind-state, that will return eventually to you even if you are a Christian and not a Buddhist. Buddhism, IMO, is misrepresented when it is framed as "the science of the mind," a science that can scientifically crush depression and loneliness and sadness no matter what. There are some who market Christianity as such. They say things like "Christianity can cure your poverty!" and "Christianity cured my depression!" To these, one need but only point out the words of Jesus, when he said "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world."

    Your depression will return, even if converting to Christianity proves to be something that works in the short-term.

    When God spoke to Saint Silouan, he said "Keep your mind in hell and despair not." "Keep your mind in hell" is a difficult and advanced teaching, and when it says "hell," it means a hell of the emotions, of the passions, a hell of "normality" even. IMO, this is one of the moments where Christianity comes very close to Bodhisattvayāna, and I appreciate it.

    Around the 9-10 minute mark, Archimandrite Zacharias will recount the story of the deep depression related to vainglory that Saint Silouan, the very saint another member of NewBuddhist has as his avatar, struggled with while trying to live the holy life. The quote "keep your mind in hell" comes from here.

    SattvaPaullobsterperson
  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran
    edited February 25

    It is up to you @SattvaPaul, there are numerous doors open to you. But depression and loneliness are poor guides for spiritual direction, they tend to leave you chasing some imagined state where you think things will be better. I think you would be better off to examine why depression and loneliness are in your life, what is at the root of them. And also to look at the interconnectedness of things which leads us to believe we are all part of a greater whole. It’s an important facet of overall understanding.

    BunksShoshin1
  • FleaMarketFleaMarket Newbie, not Veteran

    @Silouan said:
    In the introduction of Father Seraphim Rose’s book, conversion is described as “when something in the heart is touched, when the heart begins to “burn” at being in contact with God-revealed truth. Before this can take place, however, the person often has to feel the absence of this truth, and to actually experience suffering as a result of this want. People in the Western world often have this feeling suppressed from their consciousness, so occupied are they with physical comforts and stimulations.”

    We do have many things that cost money shoveled into our spiritual emptiness-space here in the west, and we do like our butter. I have shopped multiple times for the best looking mala beads yet i do not chant mantra nor know how to use them. Only those thoroughly consumed by the season of Spring Cleaning will realize the space is not utilized as it should be.

    I believe that to feel this kind of sorrow deep enough to cause one to seek requires great emotional sensitivity. Sensitivity is callused over from a young age in the west and its difficult to go back to being sensitive when you've already built up such a callus. The more callus, the more blindly self centered, since we do not feel things as readily which causes more callused behavior. It perpetuates itself. It prevents the deep sorrow or joy helpful in an experience to expand ones emotional range and stir the desire to seek out a deeper understanding of things.

    I've read Buddhism can lead to a flattening of emotional range but I see it exactly the opposite. It is a full allowance of the actual experience on the emotions but instead of carrying that experience along as baggage after the emotion has been had, one with practice is able to set it down and carry on lightly without it.

    @Jeroen said:
    But depression and loneliness are poor guides for spiritual direction, they tend to leave you chasing some imagined state where you think things will be better. I think you would be better off to examine why depression and loneliness are in your life, what is at the root of them. And also to look at the interconnectedness of things which leads us to believe we are all part of a greater whole. It’s an important facet of overall understanding.

    I like what this brings to my mind...
    I believe we grow up learning certain states of being. States of mind, emotional states. Usually from our parents and our environment. We attach our identity to those states of mind. Bullied in school, great at math, the loud one with the funny ears, strong one always standing up for his younger brother, etc. Even your name and how people feel about your name. All of this, plus many more factors, creates fragments of view that reflect on you and who you are caused to be as you grow.
    When you can trace yourself back to this origin and understand what it means, you can see how to break free of that mold and allow a more free-flow nature of being which is not beholden to the states of mind like a train is to a track. When you can free yourself of this track-mind, you can free yourself of the mentality it set you in, and choose to be a better state such as gaining wholesome joy from giving others happiness.

  • SattvaPaulSattvaPaul South Wales, UK Veteran

    @Jeroen yes, I agree.

    However. When I look at the sense of meaningless or loneliness and lack of direction. The sense of a caring God speaks to me.

    I've been watching videos where Westerners talk about embracing Islam. Real down to earth stories. I'm astounded how they found trust in God in their life.

    Also, on external level, there is a sense of community. I don't have that in Buddhism very much. Esp. with Muslims there is a real sense of brotherhood. I like that.

    Bunks
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @SattvaPaul said:
    @Jeroen yes, I agree.

    However. When I look at the sense of meaningless or loneliness and lack of direction. The sense of a caring God speaks to me.

    I know what you mean.
    I felt the same way at times until I embraced Amitabha Buddha and the Pure Land practice

  • Tee hee!
    Sometimes we need to be cared for, sometimes we care. Being careful is careless … or is it the other way around …

    Give and take are not the only options.

  • Hell is a spiritual state experienced by the soul; it is the absence of God’s love.

    The teaching of “Keep thy mind in hell and despair not” that the Lord gave to St Silouan can be better appreciated in the context of the saint’s life and his spiritual practices.

    Also, the importance of the living relationship he had with Christ toward the healing of his soul shouldn’t be overlooked or discounted, because it is very much applicable to those that pick up their cross and follow Christ.

    This first video lecture provides a background on the life of St Silouan.

    This second video lecture provides detail about the teaching “Keep thy mind in hell and despair not.”

    lobster
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran
    edited March 3

    Hell is a spiritual state experienced by the soul; it is the absence of God’s love.

    The teaching of “Keep thy mind in hell and despair not” that the Lord gave to St Silouan can be better appreciated in the context of the saint’s life and his spiritual practices.

    IMO, what you've provided in your post is all the more reason to consider "keep your mind in hell" a difficult, complicated, and fraught teaching, liable to rapid and wild misunderstanding. You, a Christian, have defined hell as a separation from, or "absence of," God's love/presence. I've added "/presence," because I have it on good word that God's true "presence" is true "love." That is why it is all the more difficult that God himself says "Keep your mind in hell."

    "Hell" is "absence of (love of) God." Why would God give you "advice?" Because he's there "with you." For God himself to talk to you, like he talked to Moses, like he talked to the prophets, means that he is "with you" in some way. He's there. He's "talking (to you)." That's "the presence of God."

    So what does it mean for "Him" to say that young saint-to-be Silouan ought to "keep" his mind in hell? Very interesting, from my non-Christian POV.

    Surely, we can explain this away with the doctrine held by some Buddhists of "momentaryism." The moment of God speaking was not the moment of the cognition of God speaking. Thus, it (God's speech) was impermanent, compounded, and ultimately suffering. The "moment" of God speaking (i.e. "prophethood") was not the same as "presence of God" in the way that Moses "walked with God." Sure, this can be construed to "work" from a certain POV, but IMO it is an utterly foreign hermeneutic to Abrahamic religion. In Abrahamic religion, as far as I am familiar with it, this is a profound paradox: for God himself to tell you to "keep" your mind in hell. When God appeared to Moses, he said "this is holy ground" (Exodus 3:5). When God speaks, IMO, "this is holy ground." Perhaps this is ungrounded through. I am a non-Christian with random ideas about Christianity. Anything I think is suspect, because I do not have an "insider's perspective."

    Precisely because I do not have an "insider's perspective," my reading of the meaning of "keep your mind in hell" is a "random speculation of a nobody." Because I am familiar with Buddhism more than Christianity, I see this as a "Bodhisattvayāna-esque" teaching. I see it as saying, "Stay where you are. It's coming." Like Hosea, who was instructed to marry an unfaithfull woman, "keep your mind in hell" is a wild and inintuitive statement. Whether we "agree" with such a teaching or not, (whether we interpreted it the same or not so much as to "agree" at all!), it is difficult, complicated, unintuitive, and worthy of more than one look at before dismissal. Like the paradoxes in the Dàodéjīng, like the paradoxes of the Buddhas even, it is "conventionally unsolveable."

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    I liked @Vimalajāti post. If we experience from a multitude of perspectives, we gain an impossible depth.

    Here be dragons.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Here_be_dragons

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