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Why the hang up on, thou shalt not?

I'm a former Catholic, who almost became a Franciscan priest. Over the years, I have wondered, and, this is one of the reasons for my rejecting the Christian faith, seeking a better path. Why, do Christians, Catholics in particular, favor the enforcement of what I call, thou shalt not, commandments; especially when their own founder gave them many more 'thou shalt commandments?
.
I have sought this answer for so many years, and still come up empty. Am I wrong that we should be living a life of those beatitudes, instead of crying and stagnating over the thou shalt not's?
blu3ree

Comments

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    Why does it have to be one or the other?
    Kundo
  • JohnG said:

    I'm a former Catholic, who almost became a Franciscan priest. Over the years, I have wondered, and, this is one of the reasons for my rejecting the Christian faith, seeking a better path. Why, do Christians, Catholics in particular, favor the enforcement of what I call, thou shalt not, commandments; especially when their own founder gave them many more 'thou shalt commandments?
    .
    I have sought this answer for so many years, and still come up empty. Am I wrong that we should be living a life of those beatitudes, instead of crying and stagnating over the thou shalt not's?

    It is okay if you are a sheep and in need of a shepherd. If it does not lead you astray, why not?
  • JohnG said:


    I have sought this answer for so many years, and still come up empty. Am I wrong that we should be living a life of those beatitudes, instead of crying and stagnating over the thou shalt not's?

    Most people are not training to be Franciscans priests, they need to know what to do, what not to do, get their sins forgiven. Go to church once a week to get into eternal heaven. Obey church as much as is convenient. Confession for other behaviour. Religion done. Simple.

    In Buddhism, bow to monks, light a bit of incense, become vegetarian, stroke the cat. Religion done until next life. Simple.
    :o
    anatamanKundoDharmaMcBum
  • HamsakaHamsaka goosewhisperer Polishing the 'just so' Veteran
    I have sought this answer for so many years, and still come up empty.
    I never got the impression a majority of followers ever listened much to what Jesus actually said. Perhaps that's the answer.
    Am I wrong that we should be living a life of those beatitudes, instead of crying and stagnating over the thou shalt not's?
    Hmph. NO. I'm a little biased, though, having been excommunicated (terrible at the time) and given up on by a very lovely and earnest Presbyterian (apparently, I was NOT 'chosen'). Heck, I tried hard to believe Jesus' crucifixion had something to do with little ole me, so my bias is well meaning.

    It may have something to do with the human brain's conditioning to flag every negative and let positives pass through the sieve? Have you ever read anything by Rick Hanson, best known for "The Buddha's Brain", I think? He has a buddy who he speaks and writes with, a neurologist, and they are both 'of the Buddhist persuasion'. They have done a lot of work in the 'new' neuroplasticity/mindful meditation scene, and consider Gotama waaaayyy before his time; what we're discovering now via modern measurement backs up Buddha's psychology and wisdom from two and a half millenia ago. About the human mind and interfacing with the All That Is, that is :D

    Evolutionarily speaking, human brains are conditioned to flag life's negatives (hungry lions, marauders), and give them huger significance than nice, lovely things. We share this orientation with all living beings who want to stay alive. Maybe ancient humans-to-be who tended toward quietly experiencing the Oneness got eaten before they reproduced.

    But seriously, people do tend to remember and abide by the painful lessons, and what promises future pain. A whole lot of conditioning going on!

    Obviously, our conditioning can be transcended by intention. The Buddha and hopefully millions of others over time deconditioned themselves and uncovered the Noble Path, whatever they happened to call it, however they unpacked it according to the prevailing culture they rose from.

    I found the Christian mystics many years ago, as well as Gotama the Buddha, kind of around the same time. The words they speak to us are ALWAYS encouraging, always reassuring, insisting that everything is 'gonna be alright'. But it's so sad, isn't it? That so many people suffer in the confines of conditioning that is either never questioned, or worse, hijacked by the powerful to oppress the rest? It's definitely worth years of wondering why.

    Gassho
    LG



    lobster
  • Established religions invariably stop being about spirituality, which is what you are seeking, and become about regulating the population. The teachings of Christ are useful to some extent - he is after all the figurehead of the religion, so some attention must be paid to what he said - but his emphasis on peace, forgiveness and love is at odds with the empire building aspirations of society's upper echelons so that part is downplayed in favour of the Ten Commandments and Old Testament retribution.
    lobster
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    I occasionally go to a Methodist Church. In 3 years I have yet to hear one reading from the Old Testament. Thinking that I probably just missed those Sundays, I asked my friend, who never misses a Sunday. She said that no, they virtually never read from the Old Testament anymore.

    I'm not saying that's universal, but this is a pretty standard Methodist Church.
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    @JohnG....

    Catholicism, eh...?
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    I would just like to point out to those who say the Ten Commandments leave one no choice...gee...I see Christians choosing to ignore commandments every day.
    Chaz
  • Thank you all for your comments, advice and teachings; they are all well received. It's just something I needed an answer for now, and just couldn't see any on my own. :D
    anataman
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran
    JohnG said:

    Why, do Christians, Catholics in particular, favor the enforcement of what I call, thou shalt not, commandments; especially when their own founder gave them many more 'thou shalt commandments?

    It seems people need to be told what not to do. Actually Buddhism seems quite similar, there's lots of discussion about the precepts but very little about Right Intention for example.
  • True, but none so violently intent on the obedience of the thou shalt not's then those of the Abrahamic tradition.
  • KundoKundo Sydney, Australia Veteran
    vinlyn said:

    I occasionally go to a Methodist Church. In 3 years I have yet to hear one reading from the Old Testament. Thinking that I probably just missed those Sundays, I asked my friend, who never misses a Sunday. She said that no, they virtually never read from the Old Testament anymore.

    I'm not saying that's universal, but this is a pretty standard Methodist Church.

    Namaste @vinlyn,

    Christians aren't supposed to take teachings from the Torah/Old Testament as Jesus' death on the cross made the covenant with Abraham null and void. I'd hazard a guess that church is more Christian than most ;)

    In metta,
    Raven
    vinlyn
  • KundoKundo Sydney, Australia Veteran
    vinlyn said:

    I would just like to point out to those who say the Ten Commandments leave one no choice...gee...I see Christians choosing to ignore commandments every day.

    10 Commandments is a doddle. Try 613 commandments - oy vey! :D
    MaryAnnevinlyn
  • SilouanSilouan Veteran
    edited November 2013
    The term catholic is not reserved just for the Latin (Western) Church. The Greek (Eastern) Church is also considered catholic, and in fact the two churches were one and shared the same Apostolic Tradition officially until the Great Schism of 1054.

    I have not found or witnessed teachings of such a rigid legalistic nor of a fire and brimstone approach to the commandments in my involvement in the Eastern Church, of which the New and Old Testaments are also both part.

    It is recorded in the Gospel that Christ said he did not come to destroy the law, or the prophets, but to fulfill them. This is how the church understands the Old Testament, so it is not entirely true that Christians don’t use or value the Old Testament as part of their canon, but it is true that some things are no longer practiced, such as animal sacrifices and the anointing of blood for the atonement of sin.

    In order for one to truly understand scripture it is necessary for one to acquire the mind of the church which the saints reveal through their life, teachings, commentaries, treatises etc. The following are commentaries by two Latin saints shared by both churches:

    Saint Bede [Homilies on the Gospels]: “The law was indeed given through Moses, and there it was determined by heavenly rule what was to be done and what was to be avoided, but what it commanded was completed by the grace of Christ… Moses foretold that if they observed the things of the law they would enter the land of promise,… but if they observed other laws, they would be laid low by the enemy. Grace and truth came to be by Jesus Christ because, when the gift of the Holy Spirit was given, He granted also the ability to understand and keep the law spiritually, and He introduced those who served it into true blessedness of heavenly life, which is what the land of promise expressed.”

    Saint Leo [Sermon 63, The Fruits of Passion]: “Everything belonged to the law, whether as to circumcision, or to the different offerings, or to the observance of the Sabbath, all gave testimony to Christ, and foretold the grace of Christ. And He is the end of the law [Rom. 10:4], not in that He brings it to nothing, but in that He fulfills it. And though He is the Author of both the New and the Old, He brought the mystical significance of the figures and promises to an end, in that He fulfills the promises, and caused the prophecies to cease, since He Who had been foretold had now come. But in the moral order there was no change in the precepts of the old law; rather were many of them enlarged through the Gospel teaching, that they might be clearer and more perfect, teaching us salvation than they were when promising us a Savior.”

    Blessed are the clean in heart, for they shall see God. This vision is the reflection of the image found within one’s soul, which means life, but the mirror is stained and must be cleaned, and the passions are in disorder and must be put in order. Once that is accomplished then agape love is possible and the reflection of God is then seen in one’s life and embraces all.

    So to enter the land of promise, the Kingdom of Heaven, where God is seen a pure heart is required. It is as simple as that, but we are slow to understand and are slaves to many passions, but there are those who say that the law infringes upon their freedom or is threatening, but this is really rooted in pride. The very same pride revealed in the story of the garden and the fall. The root of the passions is self-cherishing pride.

    If one attempts to abstain from something they are very passionate about for a time they will easily see how much freedom is truly lacking and with it the realization that the law is freedom begins to dawn.

    One doesn’t lament over wrong doing for fear of punishment, but because it is abundant love that has been transgressed against.


  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    edited November 2013
    genkaku said:

    @JohnG -- I have several disaffected Catholic acquaintances -- some priests and ex-priests -- who express similar misgivings, not always in the same format as yours. Christianity can go pretty heavy on the rules and regs, but if it hadn't, how could the Vatican have become the richest corporation in the world? :)

    But there are some who take aspects of the Dharma - the so-called 5 Precepts come to mind - and apply that as one would apply something like the 10 Commandments.

    Most of these people are found on-line in my experience.
    Some Christians come to Buddhism with a sense of relief. Buddhism is not threat-based: You won't go to heaven if you do it and you won't go to hell if you don't.
    Well, you can take birth in a Hell Realm if your karma sux badly enough .....
    What a relief! But far from making things easier, at first this can make things worse: If there are no chiseled rules and regs, guess what -- it's your responsibility! For anyone who dares to practice, this can be pretty daunting and pretty scary stuff ... where's my back-stop?! Where's my support system?! Where's my god?! Where's my virtue?! Where's my ticket to heaven?!
    Too true. The "personal responsibility" factor in Buddhism is, in my mind, one of it's most attractive qualities.

    For my money, it is meditation practice that breaks this good-dog-bad-dog cycle.


    Same here. Meditation practice is the key to all the things we might make rules about. The N8FP and the 5P all arise from practice. They're not rules we must follow. Besides, anyone can follow a rule, but following rules won't lead to enlightenment and the cessation of suffering. Practice will.
    Not overnight, perhaps, but a bit at a time. Sit down, shut up, erect the spine, sit still and focus the mind ... day after day and week after week and year after year
    And yes, it takes time.



  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran
    JohnG said:

    I'm a former Catholic, who almost became a Franciscan priest. Over the years, I have wondered, and, this is one of the reasons for my rejecting the Christian faith, seeking a better path. Why, do Christians, Catholics in particular, favor the enforcement of what I call, thou shalt not, commandments; especially when their own founder gave them many more 'thou shalt commandments?
    .
    I have sought this answer for so many years, and still come up empty. Am I wrong that we should be living a life of those beatitudes, instead of crying and stagnating over the thou shalt not's?

    You're not wrong. I guess it's different ways of reaching different people. For most of us, "love thy neighbor as Jesus" pretty much implies we shouldn't steal from others, raid their livestock or crave their mates.

    Then there are those of us who fail to grasp the logic of compassion and use others for their own gain. Perhaps it's just easier to make these people fear a grisly afterlife then trying to reach them in this one.

    Personally, I think the commandments and rules are all too complicated. Instead of the 10 commandments, I'd just have one... Don't harm anybody. It could even work in the legal system if we instilled something like 10 degrees of harm.

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran
    ourself said:

    .... I'd just have one... Don't harm anybody. It could even work in the legal system if we instilled something like 10 degrees of harm.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahimsa
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    ourself said:


    Personally, I think the commandments and rules are all too complicated. Instead of the 10 commandments, I'd just have one... Don't harm anybody.

    That's the Wiccan Rede: If it harms none, do what you will.

  • Thank you all for your advise and comments; they are all helping clear the spirit. Silouan, my mother is Rusnock, (one of the two orthodox sects who choose to come under the rule of Rome.) So, the Orthodox way's are very familiar to me :D. But, alas, I have witnessed the opposite of what you have said; the painful death and summation of damnation in eternal fire for the slightest of transgressions.
    .
    Silouananataman
  • @JohnG As you know no religion is free from negativity, and obviously in many ways your experience with Christianity has been negative, but through it you were able to come to Buddhism, so perhaps ultimately your experience has turned out to be a blessing.

    That being said, outwardly there would not be much difference between the Orthodox Catholics and Eastern rite Roman Catholics to the naked eye, including the administering of the sacraments, but the theology behind them is very different, so Eastern rite is not considered Orthodox by the Orthodox.

    Most theological difference stem from the Roman assertion that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son. The assertion changes the hypostatic relational dynamic of the Trinity and as such they way God as person, man as a person, and how their relationship is approached and then experienced.

    Additionally, Orthodoxy does not recognize Roman doctrines such as Purgatory, Transubstantiation, or the Immaculate Conception to name a few.
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