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stavros_388
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« on: December 12, 2010, 02:30:42 PM »

Any former Buddhists out there?

If so, I wonder what difficulties you have had in changing your mindset to an Orthodox Christian one. For instance, what helped you replace a do-it-yourself orientation with a without-ME-you-can-do-nothing orientation? Also, what obstacles (or even benefits), particularly in regards to the practice of saying the Jesus Prayer, did you bring with you from Buddhism? Lastly, why did you convert? Were you touched by the grace of God? Or did you find that holding the worldview of Buddhism was leading to nihilism? Or did you find, to paraphrase something Seraphim Rose once said, that 'Buddhism didn't go far enough'?

Just curious.
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« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2010, 03:07:10 PM »

An old Web page that has some of these convert stories:

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I am one of at least 8 people that I know who have become Orthodox Christians after having been Tibetan (usually Nyingmapa) or Zen Buddhists...
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« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2010, 05:57:37 PM »

I was a Buddhist (Kagyupa) for a while- I also explored Zen for a little. The Buddhism I experienced had nothing "do it yourself" about it at all- a lot of importance was placed in gurus or teachers, respect for tradition, humility, etc. In that respect I found the Orthodox tradition of the spiritual father was easy to accept- he's kind of like a Vajrayana guru, except you don't worship him or regard him as an emanation of some pure enlightened being.

Maybe the most difficult aspect of Christianity to accept was that the ultimate reality was a personal God.

What made me leave Buddhism is a complex problem. First of all I had more and more trouble trusting the gurus, the more I learned about them- some of these supposedly enlightened beings would squabble among themselves (e.g. the Karmapa controversy), have affairs with students, etc. Outside of Tibetan Buddhism, I also experimented with Zen. All the teachers I encountered were basically new agers with some outward Buddhist trappings. I don't think any them cared much about the actual Buddhist tradition but liked the apparently simple exterior of Zen because it gave them a void with which they could fill their own ideas that they picked up in the 60's and 70's.

I also felt that Buddhism had an attitude of indifference to the natural world- the association of Chan with nature poetry and landscape paintings I believe is really a reflection of Confucian influence more than anything else. Buddhism really doesn't have much positive to say about nature- it is essentially illusory and a distraction. It's a good crib for metaphors but that's about it.. Animals are merely viewed as suffering sentient beings- rather than admiring their beauty, we should be hoping they get a better rebirth.

I also didn't like the way Buddhism is often marketed as a religion totally compatible with modern science or even atheism by some of its teachers, when so much of what the Buddha taught is completely outlandish by those standards.
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« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2010, 08:35:46 PM »

An old Web page that has some of these convert stories:

Quote
I am one of at least 8 people that I know who have become Orthodox Christians after having been Tibetan (usually Nyingmapa) or Zen Buddhists...

Thanks! I've seen that page before. It does a good job of highlighting some of the similarities the traditions share.
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« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2010, 08:57:08 PM »

I was a Buddhist (Kagyupa) for a while- I also explored Zen for a little. The Buddhism I experienced had nothing "do it yourself" about it at all- a lot of importance was placed in gurus or teachers, respect for tradition, humility, etc. In that respect I found the Orthodox tradition of the spiritual father was easy to accept- he's kind of like a Vajrayana guru, except you don't worship him or regard him as an emanation of some pure enlightened being.

Maybe the most difficult aspect of Christianity to accept was that the ultimate reality was a personal God.

What made me leave Buddhism is a complex problem. First of all I had more and more trouble trusting the gurus, the more I learned about them- some of these supposedly enlightened beings would squabble among themselves (e.g. the Karmapa controversy), have affairs with students, etc. Outside of Tibetan Buddhism, I also experimented with Zen. All the teachers I encountered were basically new agers with some outward Buddhist trappings. I don't think any them cared much about the actual Buddhist tradition but liked the apparently simple exterior of Zen because it gave them a void with which they could fill their own ideas that they picked up in the 60's and 70's.

I also felt that Buddhism had an attitude of indifference to the natural world- the association of Chan with nature poetry and landscape paintings I believe is really a reflection of Confucian influence more than anything else. Buddhism really doesn't have much positive to say about nature- it is essentially illusory and a distraction. It's a good crib for metaphors but that's about it.. Animals are merely viewed as suffering sentient beings- rather than admiring their beauty, we should be hoping they get a better rebirth.

I also didn't like the way Buddhism is often marketed as a religion totally compatible with modern science or even atheism by some of its teachers, when so much of what the Buddha taught is completely outlandish by those standards.

Thanks for sharing!

Quote
Maybe the most difficult aspect of Christianity to accept was that the ultimate reality was a personal God.

Yes, I agree. I still have trouble with this sometimes (particularly when considering the condition of the world, amount of worldwide hunger, strife, mental illness, overall suffering, the Problem of Evil, etc).

Quote
I also didn't like the way Buddhism is often marketed as a religion totally compatible with modern science or even atheism by some of its teachers, when so much of what the Buddha taught is completely outlandish by those standards.

Well... I can see that being the case with Tibetan Buddhism, but as you probably know, in Theravada Buddhism (loosely my own background), Buddha's followers are actually instructed to be skeptical of traditions, holy books, holy people, logical arguments, even the Buddha's own teachings, until a teaching's value has been verified through practice. In the early Buddhist texts, more outlandish claims (cosmology, rebirth, etc) are not to be taken on faith, and are deemed ultimately unnecessary for liberation (from my understanding). I personally can see why this anti-authoritarian and empirical approach to religion is attractive to many Westerners. But you're right, many North American Buddhists have worked to secularize Buddhism for Western tastes by turning the path into more of a self-help regime and discarding what they deem to be superstitious baggage. I also hate how the Buddha has been turned into a fashionable kind of coffee table commodity (much like the Cross of Christ has been turned into bling).

In the oldest form of Buddhism, there is no one to help anyone, and the Buddha tells those who would follow him to work diligently to free themselves because no one else can do it for them. In Theravada, at least, salvation (in that context) is very much a do-it-yourself enterprise.

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« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2010, 09:37:55 PM »

In the oldest form of Buddhism, there is no one to help anyone....
I wouldn't say that's true, either in lived practice or in the texts. Most of what you find in Mahayana and the more devotional forms of Buddhism (including some Pure Land communities that emphasize the 'other power' of the Buddha, rather than the 'self power' of one's own body-mind) you can find, perhaps in a not-so developed form, in Theravada. Theravada, for instance, includes the bodhisatta (Sanskrit: bodhisattva) vow. And in the commentaries to Theravada scripture (like the Dhammapada) you can find stories about how the power of faith in the Buddha was able to counter some very negative karma that someone had performed.

And what is the Sangha, other than the community that 'helps' you?
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« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2010, 10:48:44 PM »

In the oldest form of Buddhism, there is no one to help anyone....
I wouldn't say that's true, either in lived practice or in the texts. Most of what you find in Mahayana and the more devotional forms of Buddhism (including some Pure Land communities that emphasize the 'other power' of the Buddha, rather than the 'self power' of one's own body-mind) you can find, perhaps in a not-so developed form, in Theravada. Theravada, for instance, includes the bodhisatta (Sanskrit: bodhisattva) vow. And in the commentaries to Theravada scripture (like the Dhammapada) you can find stories about how the power of faith in the Buddha was able to counter some very negative karma that someone had performed.

And what is the Sangha, other than the community that 'helps' you?

Quote
And what is the Sangha, other than the community that 'helps' you?

Right. Good point. I was referring more to the kind of help in the form of grace that you don't find in Buddhism (save the later devotional branches, like Pure Land). In Orthodoxy, we have the Church community, but also the cloud of witnesses, the Theotokos, and The Trinity. In Theravada Buddhism, there is no grace (that I've come across, at least) or divine assistance.

This conveys what I meant by 'no help':

In Buddhism - A Concise Introduction, Novak and Smith state that in Theravada: “Human beings are emancipated by self-effort, without supernatural aid.”

And the self-reliance theme is stressed in many places in the Dhammapada, verses 25, 160, and 276 just to name a few .

Quote
And in the commentaries to Theravada scripture (like the Dhammapada) you can find stories about how the power of faith in the Buddha was able to counter some very negative karma that someone had performed.

I'm curious if you can point to me where in the Dhammapada?

I am interested in this because there is such a difference in meditating to master one's own mind without (supernatural) assistance, and using the Jesus Prayer, which in essence, involves surrender, a plea for help, and an acknowledgment of the need for Divine Mercy. I am wondering if anyone here has experience with these two very different practices and orientations.


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« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2010, 12:03:32 AM »



This conveys what I meant by 'no help':

In Buddhism - A Concise Introduction, Novak and Smith state that in Theravada: “Human beings are emancipated by self-effort, without supernatural aid.”

And the self-reliance theme is stressed in many places in the Dhammapada, verses 25, 160, and 276 just to name a few .
I think the quote from Novak and Smith is a prime example of the Western tendency to 'de-supernaturalize' Theravada in particular, but also Buddhism in general (which is not to say that such 'de-supernaturalization' has not been encouraged by some Asian Buddhists as well). Along with de-supernaturalization, is an interpretation of Theravada as an Eastern version of American extreme individualism and 'personal freedom'.

In Theravada, someone can make a vow to become a Buddha only in the presence of a living Buddha. You can't become a Buddha 'on your own' -- your vow has to be verified by a living Buddha. Sure, self-effort is important, but the presence of a being who embodies freedom from dukkha is necessary.

Self-reliance is found in the Dhammapada, but one can't ignore the power of faith that commentaries on the Dhammapada emphasize. (The power of faith is also a major part of other Theravada texts as well, but I'll just focus on the Dhammapada.) A commentary on verse 2 of chapter 1 of the Dhammapada can be found here. (The original document that contains this commentary of the Dhammapada is here.) The commentary relates a story of the power of faith/trust, which is really the foundation of Buddhist practice:

"While residing at the Jetavana Monastery in Savatthi, the Buddha spoke this verse, with reference to Mattakundali, a young Brahmin.

Mattakundali, was a young Brahmin, whose father, Adinnapubbaka, was very misery and never gave any thing in charity.  Even the gold ornaments for his only son were made by himself to save payment for workmanship.  When his son fell ill, no physician was consulted, until it was too late.  When he realized that his son was dying, he had the youth carried outside on to the verandah, so that people coning to his house would not see his possessions.

On that morning, the Buddha arising early from his deep meditation of compassion saw, in his Net of knowledge, Mattakundali lying on the verandah.  So when entering Savatthi for alms-food with his disciples, the Buddha stood near the door of the Brahmin Adinnapubbaka.  The Buddha sent forth a ray of light to attract the attention of the youth, who was facing the interior of the house.  The youth saw the Buddha; and as he was very weak he could only profess his faith mentally.  But that was enough.  When he passed away with his heart in devotion to the Buddha, he was reborn in the Tavatimsa celestial world [i.e., a heaven realm]."



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« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2010, 08:01:35 AM »

Quote
I also didn't like the way Buddhism is often marketed as a religion totally compatible with modern science or even atheism by some of its teachers, when so much of what the Buddha taught is completely outlandish by those standards.

Well... I can see that being the case with Tibetan Buddhism, but as you probably know, in Theravada Buddhism (loosely my own background), Buddha's followers are actually instructed to be skeptical of traditions, holy books, holy people, logical arguments, even the Buddha's own teachings, until a teaching's value has been verified through practice.


I believe this refers to a passage from the Kalama Sutta. It seems to me that this passage is routinely misinterpreted, especially by Buddhists in the West who want to get around some of the crazier teachings. The key thing to remember is that the Buddha was not addressing his disciples but a group of people who had encountered many teachers and were trying to make up their mind which one to follow. This critical attitude would be important in selecting a teacher, but once the choice is made, faith comes in.

Here is an article by a respected Theravada monk-scholar on this question: http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/kalama1_l.htm

 
Quote
In the early Buddhist texts, more outlandish claims (cosmology, rebirth, etc) are not to be taken on faith, and are deemed ultimately unnecessary for liberation (from my understanding).

Having read many of these texts, I come away with a very different impression. The exhaustive detail with which the Buddha discusses karma and rebirth, and connects it intimately to his teaching of the Four Noble Truths, makes it plain that these are not extraneous or optional teachings for Buddhists. Without these teachings, the system collapses and huge portions of the Buddhist scriptures become irrelevant. The Buddhists who reject these teachings have really just created for themselves some elaborate kind of new age psychotherapy.

A vast amount of Buddhist literature details mentals states, the resulting karma, and the rebirths that can follow. The categories of hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, asuras and deities is pretty mind-boggling and it's obvious that this is no mere metaphor.

So I don't think genuine Buddhism has much to offer for the Western anti-authoritarian. It does however offer much for those of a scholastic/ rationalist disposition. I dare say Buddhism is the most scholastic religion in the world. Anyone who thinks Thomas Aquinas is hyper-rational would be maddened by the abhidarma literature or the lam rim literature of Tsongkhapa, Gampopa, etc.
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« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2010, 08:43:05 AM »

Any former Buddhists out there?


Two conversion stories from Tibetan Buddhism to Orthodox Christianity.

I imagine if you tracked down their e-mail addresses they would corresponed with you about their experiences.

See message 41 at

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,23747.msg470225/topicseen.html#msg470225
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« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2010, 10:22:53 AM »

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I also didn't like the way Buddhism is often marketed as a religion totally compatible with modern science or even atheism by some of its teachers, when so much of what the Buddha taught is completely outlandish by those standards.

Well... I can see that being the case with Tibetan Buddhism, but as you probably know, in Theravada Buddhism (loosely my own background), Buddha's followers are actually instructed to be skeptical of traditions, holy books, holy people, logical arguments, even the Buddha's own teachings, until a teaching's value has been verified through practice.


I believe this refers to a passage from the Kalama Sutta. It seems to me that this passage is routinely misinterpreted, especially by Buddhists in the West who want to get around some of the crazier teachings. The key thing to remember is that the Buddha was not addressing his disciples but a group of people who had encountered many teachers and were trying to make up their mind which one to follow. This critical attitude would be important in selecting a teacher, but once the choice is made, faith comes in.

Here is an article by a respected Theravada monk-scholar on this question: http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/kalama1_l.htm

 
Quote
In the early Buddhist texts, more outlandish claims (cosmology, rebirth, etc) are not to be taken on faith, and are deemed ultimately unnecessary for liberation (from my understanding).

Having read many of these texts, I come away with a very different impression. The exhaustive detail with which the Buddha discusses karma and rebirth, and connects it intimately to his teaching of the Four Noble Truths, makes it plain that these are not extraneous or optional teachings for Buddhists. Without these teachings, the system collapses and huge portions of the Buddhist scriptures become irrelevant. The Buddhists who reject these teachings have really just created for themselves some elaborate kind of new age psychotherapy.

A vast amount of Buddhist literature details mentals states, the resulting karma, and the rebirths that can follow. The categories of hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, asuras and deities is pretty mind-boggling and it's obvious that this is no mere metaphor.

So I don't think genuine Buddhism has much to offer for the Western anti-authoritarian. It does however offer much for those of a scholastic/ rationalist disposition. I dare say Buddhism is the most scholastic religion in the world. Anyone who thinks Thomas Aquinas is hyper-rational would be maddened by the abhidarma literature or the lam rim literature of Tsongkhapa, Gampopa, etc.

Great points. Yes the Kalama Sutta... I appreciate the Bhikkhu Bodhi article and the context he puts the teaching in. The westernization of Buddhism is hard to get away from while living in the west, I guess! However, even given the context, it still advocates a level of skepticism and freedom of questioning that few religions offer. People who were raised in fundamentalist Christian families could certainly find that approach attractive. And, perhaps, Bhikkhu Bodhi is more 'orthodox' than many other converts. But western converts aren't the only ones de-mythologizing Buddhism. Bhante Gunaratana, Sri Lankan Buddhist monk and teacher, has written two books that that take the essence of the Noble 8-Fold Path and the practice of meditation and explain them in simple English in a modern context. In a sense, he secularizes the N8F Path, but it still works as a noble and ethical way of being, and is far more practical than New-Agey (although I agree that much Buddhism marketed in the west is merely New Age fluff dressed in saffron, so to speak.

Quote
The categories of hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, asuras and deities is pretty mind-boggling and it's obvious that this is no mere metaphor.

A book called Thoughts Without Thinker by Mark Epstein places these ideas effectively into a Western psychological context. Whether or not these concepts were meant to be taken literally, they work very well outside of a faith context for understanding neurotic and pathological tendencies. I tend to think that's what their purpose has always been. It seems that the tools offered by the Buddha can be applied to one's situation rather flexibly, and sometimes to very good effect. Just google the mindfulness stress reduction clinics, where Buddhist meditation is used to treat all kinds of mental and physical pain, or Vipassana meditation used in prisons. The thing with Buddhism is, living outside of a Buddhist country like, say, Thailand, one can apply Buddhist principles to one's life without believing in rebirth, or without Taking Refuge, and certainly without ever having read the Abidhamma literature (I have never attempted them)! Maybe they can't call themselves Buddhists in the strictest sense, but they can certainly derive benefits from practices and ideas borrowed from Buddhism.

Quote
I dare say Buddhism is the most scholastic religion in the world.
Except for Zen. You can't possibly get more anti-rational than that!
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« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2010, 10:30:11 AM »



This conveys what I meant by 'no help':

In Buddhism - A Concise Introduction, Novak and Smith state that in Theravada: “Human beings are emancipated by self-effort, without supernatural aid.”

And the self-reliance theme is stressed in many places in the Dhammapada, verses 25, 160, and 276 just to name a few .
I think the quote from Novak and Smith is a prime example of the Western tendency to 'de-supernaturalize' Theravada in particular, but also Buddhism in general (which is not to say that such 'de-supernaturalization' has not been encouraged by some Asian Buddhists as well). Along with de-supernaturalization, is an interpretation of Theravada as an Eastern version of American extreme individualism and 'personal freedom'.

In Theravada, someone can make a vow to become a Buddha only in the presence of a living Buddha. You can't become a Buddha 'on your own' -- your vow has to be verified by a living Buddha. Sure, self-effort is important, but the presence of a being who embodies freedom from dukkha is necessary.

Self-reliance is found in the Dhammapada, but one can't ignore the power of faith that commentaries on the Dhammapada emphasize. (The power of faith is also a major part of other Theravada texts as well, but I'll just focus on the Dhammapada.) A commentary on verse 2 of chapter 1 of the Dhammapada can be found here. (The original document that contains this commentary of the Dhammapada is here.) The commentary relates a story of the power of faith/trust, which is really the foundation of Buddhist practice:

"While residing at the Jetavana Monastery in Savatthi, the Buddha spoke this verse, with reference to Mattakundali, a young Brahmin.

Mattakundali, was a young Brahmin, whose father, Adinnapubbaka, was very misery and never gave any thing in charity.  Even the gold ornaments for his only son were made by himself to save payment for workmanship.  When his son fell ill, no physician was consulted, until it was too late.  When he realized that his son was dying, he had the youth carried outside on to the verandah, so that people coning to his house would not see his possessions.

On that morning, the Buddha arising early from his deep meditation of compassion saw, in his Net of knowledge, Mattakundali lying on the verandah.  So when entering Savatthi for alms-food with his disciples, the Buddha stood near the door of the Brahmin Adinnapubbaka.  The Buddha sent forth a ray of light to attract the attention of the youth, who was facing the interior of the house.  The youth saw the Buddha; and as he was very weak he could only profess his faith mentally.  But that was enough.  When he passed away with his heart in devotion to the Buddha, he was reborn in the Tavatimsa celestial world [i.e., a heaven realm]."



That's interesting. But is it from the original teachings, or is it a more recent commentary?

Whether this is a western interpretation or not, I've heard many Theravada teachers explain that faith in the Buddhist context means confidence in the path and its effectiveness in alleviating suffering, rather than faith in, say, the supernatural status of the Buddha.
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« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2010, 10:32:43 AM »

Any former Buddhists out there?


Two conversion stories from Tibetan Buddhism to Orthodox Christianity.

I imagine if you tracked down their e-mail addresses they would corresponed with you about their experiences.

See message 41 at

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,23747.msg470225/topicseen.html#msg470225

Thanks for the stories! I have read the Nilus Stryker conversion story... very beautiful and encouraging.
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« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2010, 11:28:41 AM »

I detect by your jargon that you may have been a Nichiren Buddhist. Am I correct? Were you in the Soka Gakkai?

 It would help to know before I write anything too long.

The very best book for my money comparing Buddhism to Christianity is: "The Unexpected Way: On Converting from Buddhism to Catholicism" by Paul Williams

Even though he gives a strong plug for Rome, it is really only in one chapter. He is a Professor of Buddhism and tells his conversion story. He deals extensively with all the main theological points of comparison including rebirth and Karma. He does an excellent job.
Put it on your Christmas list.
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« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2010, 11:41:57 AM »

I detect by your jargon that you may have been a Nichiren Buddhist. Am I correct? Were you in the Soka Gakkai?

 It would help to know before I write anything too long.

The very best book for my money comparing Buddhism to Christianity is: "The Unexpected Way: On Converting from Buddhism to Catholicism" by Paul Williams

Even though he gives a strong plug for Rome, it is really only in one chapter. He is a Professor of Buddhism and tells his conversion story. He deals extensively with all the main theological points of comparison including rebirth and Karma. He does an excellent job.
Put it on your Christmas list.

That book is of great interest to me. I will look into getting a copy. Thanks!
Quote
I detect by your jargon that you may have been a Nichiren Buddhist. Am I correct? Were you in the Soka Gakkai?

Sorry. You're not correct.  Smiley
In fact, that is one sect I know absolutely nothing about.
I have never officially belonged to any specific Buddhist group. Most of my learning has been via the Theravada and Zen camps, though. I still sometimes practice basic mindfulness meditation for therapeutic purposes, by myself and occasionally with a non-religious meditation group. Most of my exploration of Buddhism has been through reading books and listening to thousands of hours of Dharma/Dhamma talks. And trying to practice meditation, of course.

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« Reply #15 on: December 13, 2010, 11:58:37 AM »

I detect by your jargon that you may have been a Nichiren Buddhist. Am I correct? Were you in the Soka Gakkai?

 It would help to know before I write anything too long.

The very best book for my money comparing Buddhism to Christianity is: "The Unexpected Way: On Converting from Buddhism to Catholicism" by Paul Williams

Even though he gives a strong plug for Rome, it is really only in one chapter. He is a Professor of Buddhism and tells his conversion story. He deals extensively with all the main theological points of comparison including rebirth and Karma. He does an excellent job.
Put it on your Christmas list.

That book is of great interest to me. I will look into getting a copy. Thanks!
Quote
I detect by your jargon that you may have been a Nichiren Buddhist. Am I correct? Were you in the Soka Gakkai?

Sorry. You're not correct.  Smiley
In fact, that is one sect I know absolutely nothing about.
I have never officially belonged to any specific Buddhist group. Most of my learning has been via the Theravada and Zen camps, though. I still sometimes practice basic mindfulness meditation for therapeutic purposes, by myself and occasionally with a non-religious meditation group. Most of my exploration of Buddhism has been through reading books and listening to thousands of hours of Dharma/Dhamma talks. And trying to practice meditation, of course.



Okay thanks, you lucked out  Wink

There is no notion in Orthodoxy of doing this to get that. So many repititions of the Jesus Prayer should get your wish answered or problem solved or cut your time in "Purgatory". There is no tit for tat.

There is much more of that kind of thing in Roman Catholicism but not so much in the Eastern Christianity. You perform a discipline for it's sake alone. You fast to pray better for example.

There is the idea of resolving Karma in Buddhism, we also seek a sort of purification ( Theosis). There is some similarity there I think though the concept of Karma through many re-births is flawed ( Read Prof. Williams book about that). Both religions seek personal transformation. We are different from Western style Christianity in that emphasis and a bit like Buddhism. I would say to you, if you liked Buddhism, you will love Orthodoxy.

You also need to keep in mind that there are many forms of Buddhism ( which I asked how you had practiced). Some forms are all about "Self help" here and now without the grace of a higher power. Some forms see a higher power that we bring into our life. Through faith/practice, the Buddha indwells in the ordinary person ( "Bombu" jap.). This is similar to Christian concepts of Grace and taking in the Lord via the Eucharist.
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« Reply #16 on: December 13, 2010, 12:14:07 PM »

I detect by your jargon that you may have been a Nichiren Buddhist. Am I correct? Were you in the Soka Gakkai?

 It would help to know before I write anything too long.

The very best book for my money comparing Buddhism to Christianity is: "The Unexpected Way: On Converting from Buddhism to Catholicism" by Paul Williams

Even though he gives a strong plug for Rome, it is really only in one chapter. He is a Professor of Buddhism and tells his conversion story. He deals extensively with all the main theological points of comparison including rebirth and Karma. He does an excellent job.
Put it on your Christmas list.

That book is of great interest to me. I will look into getting a copy. Thanks!
Quote
I detect by your jargon that you may have been a Nichiren Buddhist. Am I correct? Were you in the Soka Gakkai?

Sorry. You're not correct.  Smiley
In fact, that is one sect I know absolutely nothing about.
I have never officially belonged to any specific Buddhist group. Most of my learning has been via the Theravada and Zen camps, though. I still sometimes practice basic mindfulness meditation for therapeutic purposes, by myself and occasionally with a non-religious meditation group. Most of my exploration of Buddhism has been through reading books and listening to thousands of hours of Dharma/Dhamma talks. And trying to practice meditation, of course.



Okay thanks, you lucked out  Wink

There is no notion in Orthodoxy of doing this to get that. So many repititions of the Jesus Prayer should get your wish answered or problem solved or cut your time in "Purgatory". There is no tit for tat.

There is much more of that kind of thing in Roman Catholicism but not so much in the Eastern Christianity. You perform a discipline for it's sake alone. You fast to pray better for example.

There is the idea of resolving Karma in Buddhism, we also seek a sort of purification ( Theosis). There is some similarity there I think though the concept of Karma through many re-births is flawed ( Read Prof. Williams book about that). Both religions seek personal transformation. We are different from Western style Christianity in that emphasis and a bit like Buddhism. I would say to you, if you liked Buddhism, you will love Orthodoxy.

You also need to keep in mind that there are many forms of Buddhism ( which I asked how you had practiced). Some forms are all about "Self help" here and now without the grace of a higher power. Some forms see a higher power that we bring into our life. Through faith/practice, the Buddha indwells in the ordinary person ( "Bombu" jap.). This is similar to Christian concepts of Grace and taking in the Lord via the Eucharist.

Quote
I would say to you, if you liked Buddhism, you will love Orthodoxy.

I do love Orthodoxy! That isn't to say that I stumble over some of the concepts and articles of faith, and my conviction takes a beating here and there, though.

Quote
You also need to keep in mind that there are many forms of Buddhism ( which I asked how you had practiced). Some forms are all about "Self help" here and now without the grace of a higher power. Some forms see a higher power that we bring into our life.

Definitely. In fact I see a great deal of similarity between the Jodo Shinshu practice of saying the Nembetsu and reciting the Jesus Prayer. They are not the same, I know! But they both involve a similar way of focusing and asking for grace...



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« Reply #17 on: December 13, 2010, 12:17:39 PM »

I think the book: "Seven Years in Tibet" by Heinrich Herrar is a good perspective of a Buddhist society that is honest & dispells the "Lost Horizon" romanticism attached to at least the kingdoms of the Himalayas. Herrar was a Austrian mountain climber with a 1939 expedition that was to explore Tibet to trace some source of alleged Nazi Aryan mythology and ended up being  humanely detained by the British when the expedition disbanded & failed to escape back to Germany when WW II broke out. Herrar & Peter Aufschneider escaped from a British camp in India & fled to Tibet by 1945 & with great difficulty found refuge there. Since these men had useful construction &  agrarian  engineering skills they were found to be valuable & Herrar eventually became an advisor to a teenage Dalai Lama who understood that Tibet needed modernization but retain its integrity.

Herrar only discusses some basic aspects of tibetan Buddhism (think he remained a Catholic) but has acute observations of its varying levels within Tibetan society, a basic fusion with indigineous Tibetan Bam paganism among peasantry (overall fairly peaceful & reasonable but a few instances of cruelty when superstitious fears were aroused , a religious & penitent tendency in pilgrimages of common people, a religious cast of monks (some illumined others mired in secular power struggles), the somehwat bandit like society of the Khambas,even the problem of rodents at shrines because of rotting food offerings, the nobles of Lhasa etc. Overall, a somewhat static, moral, isolationist society later cruelly eradicated by communist tyranny. The Dalai Llama & Herrar (died 2006) remained lifelong friends and has his approval noted of Herrar's book as an honest account.

There is a movie version of "7 years" starring Brad Pitt that is somewhat romanticized & accounts differ (such as a slightly younger preteen Dalai Llama, a subdued rivalry between Herrar & Aufschneider over an attractive Tibetan woman etc.) still a worthy flick though the book should be read if one wants to establish a firm history.
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« Reply #18 on: December 13, 2010, 12:55:19 PM »

I detect by your jargon that you may have been a Nichiren Buddhist. Am I correct? Were you in the Soka Gakkai?

I think most people claiming to be Buddhists in England (or at least a high proportion) would be Nichiren ones. My wife and three of my daughters belong to this sect and hold regular meetings for members and those interested in our house. The basic practice is to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo thereby honouring the highest of Shakyamuni's sutras (the Lotus sutra). Repeating the name is enough to manifest the Buddha nature.

Now, since I introduced them to the practice twenty years ago why didn't I stick with it? I had previously been a Roman Catholic and was seeking something that slotted more neatly with contemporary life plus I met an attractive woman who was a member.This Buddhism is pure humanism; there is no transcendent element as a theist would understand. I discovered I am 'indelibly marked' (St John Chrysostom) by Jesus Christ and there is no point in denying it without jeopardising my eternal well being. It took a while for this fact to dawn
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« Reply #19 on: December 13, 2010, 01:30:23 PM »



This conveys what I meant by 'no help':

In Buddhism - A Concise Introduction, Novak and Smith state that in Theravada: “Human beings are emancipated by self-effort, without supernatural aid.”

And the self-reliance theme is stressed in many places in the Dhammapada, verses 25, 160, and 276 just to name a few .
I think the quote from Novak and Smith is a prime example of the Western tendency to 'de-supernaturalize' Theravada in particular, but also Buddhism in general (which is not to say that such 'de-supernaturalization' has not been encouraged by some Asian Buddhists as well). Along with de-supernaturalization, is an interpretation of Theravada as an Eastern version of American extreme individualism and 'personal freedom'.

In Theravada, someone can make a vow to become a Buddha only in the presence of a living Buddha. You can't become a Buddha 'on your own' -- your vow has to be verified by a living Buddha. Sure, self-effort is important, but the presence of a being who embodies freedom from dukkha is necessary.

Self-reliance is found in the Dhammapada, but one can't ignore the power of faith that commentaries on the Dhammapada emphasize. (The power of faith is also a major part of other Theravada texts as well, but I'll just focus on the Dhammapada.) A commentary on verse 2 of chapter 1 of the Dhammapada can be found here. (The original document that contains this commentary of the Dhammapada is here.) The commentary relates a story of the power of faith/trust, which is really the foundation of Buddhist practice:

"While residing at the Jetavana Monastery in Savatthi, the Buddha spoke this verse, with reference to Mattakundali, a young Brahmin.

Mattakundali, was a young Brahmin, whose father, Adinnapubbaka, was very misery and never gave any thing in charity.  Even the gold ornaments for his only son were made by himself to save payment for workmanship.  When his son fell ill, no physician was consulted, until it was too late.  When he realized that his son was dying, he had the youth carried outside on to the verandah, so that people coning to his house would not see his possessions.

On that morning, the Buddha arising early from his deep meditation of compassion saw, in his Net of knowledge, Mattakundali lying on the verandah.  So when entering Savatthi for alms-food with his disciples, the Buddha stood near the door of the Brahmin Adinnapubbaka.  The Buddha sent forth a ray of light to attract the attention of the youth, who was facing the interior of the house.  The youth saw the Buddha; and as he was very weak he could only profess his faith mentally.  But that was enough.  When he passed away with his heart in devotion to the Buddha, he was reborn in the Tavatimsa celestial world [i.e., a heaven realm]."



That's interesting. But is it from the original teachings, or is it a more recent commentary?

Whether this is a western interpretation or not, I've heard many Theravada teachers explain that faith in the Buddhist context means confidence in the path and its effectiveness in alleviating suffering, rather than faith in, say, the supernatural status of the Buddha.
A version of the Mattakundali story can be found in the Mattakundali Jataka, the Jataka being a collection of narratives describing many past-lives of the Buddha. The Jataka (in written form) date to around 2000 years ago. Another version of the story is found in the Dhammapada commentaries, written around 500 AD.

I think the word 'supernatural' is too easily dismissed, due to the negative implications 'supernaturalism' has in the West. But the Buddha did talk about two different paths: the lokiya (or 'mundane') path, and the lokuttara (or 'beyond-the-mundane') path. The lokiya path is the path that manipulates matter and mind, but matter and mind are never 'gone-beyond'. This is the 'natural' path, so to speak.

But nibbana is 'beyond-nature', 'beyond-matter-and-mind', and the path to nibbana is the lokuttara path, beyond the mundane. Nibbana is not 'nature', is beyond nature, and, thus, literally, 'super-nature'.

This does not mean that nibbana excludes nature, and insofar as the word 'supernatural' means the 'exclusion of nature', I agree that supernatural does not fully equate to lokuttara. But to deny the 'supernatural' status of nibbana ignores the fact that nibbana is in fact 'beyond nature'.

And the Buddha, who embodies nibbana, is likewise an embodiment of what is beyond nature, of what is 'supernatural'.

Trust/faith/confidience in the Buddha is trust/faith/confidence in the possibility of the cessation of dukkha, true.

But the cessation of dukkha, in Theravada, is synonymous with realization of nibbana, the 'beyond nature'. To say that the ending of dukkha is therefore not 'beyond nature', or not 'super-natural, lokuttara, is to attempt to 'de-lokuttara-ize' or 'de-super-nature-ize' Buddhism.

The Buddha founded his teaching on the reality of the 'super-nature', in other words, on the reality of nibbana, the cessation of dukkha.
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« Reply #20 on: December 13, 2010, 02:35:24 PM »

I was an ethical Buddhist for many years. I started our in Zen but was alienated, ultimately, by its indifference to humanity. The great Sufi, Hazrat Inayat Khan, once said that man is not wired to worship abstractions, and I believe that's true. We can't attain moral and ethical perfection in a void. So I started investigating Mahayana Buddhism. Mahayana Buddhism--for those unacquainted with it--posits that there exist certain humans who have reached enlightenment yet, nevertheless, refuse Nirvana and stay in this world to help others become enlightened. They are called Bodhisattvas. Their example is the Buddha, himself, who chose to stay in the world and enlighten others, rather than be selfishly satisifed with achieving only his own enlightenment. In a sense, they are like our saints.

From a Buddhist perspective, Christ is the ultimate Bodhisattva, sacrifing His own well-being for others out of great love and compassion. In addition, He shows us how to live: with love, forgiveness, gratitude, optimism, justice, belief, and acceptance of all of the mysteries of life, wherever they lead.  He also shows us how to die: with integrity, courage, grace, dignity, forgiveness, and the knowledge that, after this life, there awaits something greater. In other words, Christ actually explains to us what we are doing here. We have meaning and purpose.

In addition, both Christianity and Buddhism share a tragic view of mankind; that is, man is his own worst enemy and is alienated from God by his own ego-centrism. Eve's sin is to obey her own will--not God's. Balance, healing and reconciliation with God come when we rise above ourselves and concentrate on the welfare of others in love.

The fundamental ethics of Buddhism are entirely, or virtually entirely, compatible with Christianity and Judaism, so it's really not much of a leap, in my opinion.
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« Reply #21 on: December 13, 2010, 02:51:24 PM »

I was an ethical Buddhist for many years. I started our in Zen but was alienated, ultimately, by its indifference to humanity. The great Sufi, Hazrat Inayat Khan, once said that man is not wired to worship abstractions, and I believe that's true. We can't attain moral and ethical perfection in a void. So I started investigating Mahayana Buddhism. Mahayana Buddhism--for those unacquainted with it--posits that there exist certain humans who have reached enlightenment yet, nevertheless, refuse Nirvana and stay in this world to help others become enlightened. They are called Bodhisattvas. Their example is the Buddha, himself, who chose to stay in the world and enlighten others, rather than be selfishly satisifed with achieving only his own enlightenment. In a sense, they are like our saints.

From a Buddhist perspective, Christ is the ultimate Bodhisattva, sacrifing His own well-being for others out of great love and compassion. In addition, He shows us how to live: with love, forgiveness, gratitude, optimism, justice, belief, and acceptance of all of the mysteries of life, wherever they lead.  He also shows us how to die: with integrity, courage, grace, dignity, forgiveness, and the knowledge that, after this life, there awaits something greater. In other words, Christ actually explains to us what we are doing here. We have meaning and purpose.

In addition, both Christianity and Buddhism share a tragic view of mankind; that is, man is his own worst enemy and is alienated from God by his own ego-centrism. Eve's sin is to obey her own will--not God's. Balance, healing and reconciliation with God come when we rise above ourselves and concentrate on the welfare of others in love.

The fundamental ethics of Buddhism are entirely, or virtually entirely, compatible with Christianity and Judaism, so it's really not much of a leap, in my opinion.
Given that Buddhism holds that existence is a delusion, that there is no self but rather a ripple of a wave which suffers until it stops rippling, I don't see how the Buddha saved either the Theravada or the Mahayana, as his enligtenment consisted of just this cessation and the concommittant "realization" that there was neither teacher nor students, so nothing to teach.

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« Reply #22 on: December 13, 2010, 03:46:55 PM »

I did not intend to write an exhaustive point-by-point explanation of the differences between Buddhism and Christianity; my remarks were just a broad explanation of a couple of points of correspondence between them, as I see it. These observations led me on a journey that ended in the Orthodox church, so I thought they'd be apt.
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« Reply #23 on: December 13, 2010, 04:56:25 PM »

I detect by your jargon that you may have been a Nichiren Buddhist. Am I correct? Were you in the Soka Gakkai?

I think most people claiming to be Buddhists in England (or at least a high proportion) would be Nichiren ones. My wife and three of my daughters belong to this sect and hold regular meetings for members and those interested in our house. The basic practice is to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo thereby honouring the highest of Shakyamuni's sutras (the Lotus sutra). Repeating the name is enough to manifest the Buddha nature.

Now, since I introduced them to the practice twenty years ago why didn't I stick with it? I had previously been a Roman Catholic and was seeking something that slotted more neatly with contemporary life plus I met an attractive woman who was a member.This Buddhism is pure humanism; there is no transcendent element as a theist would understand. I discovered I am 'indelibly marked' (St John Chrysostom) by Jesus Christ and there is no point in denying it without jeopardising my eternal well being. It took a while for this fact to dawn

The quick answer is that SGI and NSS forms of Nichiren Buddhism are a fraud, they are not really based on the teachings of Nichiren Dai-Shonin. They are rather based on a popular metaphysical trend that appeared in Japan after Nichiren's lifetime called "Hongaku Shi So". In that philosophy we find all the basic elements of Modern SGI style Buddhism Which teaches that we are all Inherently a Buddha and only need to practice to "Manifest" or polish up, this already existing Buddhahood within us.

I know it  can be a shocker, but Nichiren would not recognize this approach. The  writings ( Gosho) that teach this ( some of them very dear to SGI Buddhists like the 'Sho ho Jisso Sho') are not authentic to Nichiren. There has never been a Gosho that preaches this inherency of Buddhahood ever found to be written by Nichiren himself, not one...not ever. They are all forgeries. A few are fragments of original writings with this Hongaku philosophy added in by later people.

They have also miss led people on the basic history of Nichiren Buddhism. Taisekiji ( Their main Temple) was the most minor of Temples and not even Nikko's ( one of Nichiren heirs) home temple. he lived at Honmonji and is buried there.

 Nikko was not in any way Nichiren's sole heir or even close to being his favorite.  Nichiren never laid eyes on the so called "Dai-Gohonzon"
 ( a supposed central Mandala). It was cooked up about 200 years after his lifetime.  

So it is no wonder to me that this does not often produce good results. I have known dozens of SGI/NSS members for a great length of time. Some folks are far better people 30 and 40 years later than they were in their youth. Some people are worse and some have stayed the same... Go figure.
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« Reply #24 on: December 13, 2010, 05:55:18 PM »

Marc1152
Your brisk refutation of the SGI and (current?) Nichiren schools would need some evidence and anyhow would leave most believers cold. Also the billions of dollars behind the organisation could easily be brought to bear against any refuter. Don't forget, they KNOW it's right.

Anyhow, I'm out, and have been for years. Jesus Christ as revealed in the Gospels and the Mysteries of the Church is good enough for me. But how to pass on the Good News to these people?
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« Reply #25 on: December 13, 2010, 06:08:08 PM »

Marc1152
Your brisk refutation of the SGI and (current?) Nichiren schools would need some evidence and anyhow would leave most believers cold. Also the billions of dollars behind the organisation could easily be brought to bear against any refuter. Don't forget, they KNOW it's right.

Anyhow, I'm out, and have been for years. Jesus Christ as revealed in the Gospels and the Mysteries of the Church is good enough for me. But how to pass on the Good News to these people?

We don't have to rehash all that but rest assured that I am just repeating what is known by the best scholars of Nichiren Buddhism. I'd be happy to discuss further with you in email if you would like.

The important part is that Nichiren Buddhism in it's authentic form, minus all the forgeries, teaches about an Eternally Living Buddha who actually exists ( not a metaphor for your own Buddha Nature). By having Faith in the Sutra ( by chanting it's title) that Eternally Living Buddha dwells within the ordinary person and transforms him.. Sound familiar?... Nichiren actually got quite a bit right.

Oh and, that is what most all the other Nichiren Schools teach to one extent or the other.
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« Reply #26 on: December 13, 2010, 06:26:44 PM »



This conveys what I meant by 'no help':

In Buddhism - A Concise Introduction, Novak and Smith state that in Theravada: “Human beings are emancipated by self-effort, without supernatural aid.”

And the self-reliance theme is stressed in many places in the Dhammapada, verses 25, 160, and 276 just to name a few .
I think the quote from Novak and Smith is a prime example of the Western tendency to 'de-supernaturalize' Theravada in particular, but also Buddhism in general (which is not to say that such 'de-supernaturalization' has not been encouraged by some Asian Buddhists as well). Along with de-supernaturalization, is an interpretation of Theravada as an Eastern version of American extreme individualism and 'personal freedom'.

In Theravada, someone can make a vow to become a Buddha only in the presence of a living Buddha. You can't become a Buddha 'on your own' -- your vow has to be verified by a living Buddha. Sure, self-effort is important, but the presence of a being who embodies freedom from dukkha is necessary.

Self-reliance is found in the Dhammapada, but one can't ignore the power of faith that commentaries on the Dhammapada emphasize. (The power of faith is also a major part of other Theravada texts as well, but I'll just focus on the Dhammapada.) A commentary on verse 2 of chapter 1 of the Dhammapada can be found here. (The original document that contains this commentary of the Dhammapada is here.) The commentary relates a story of the power of faith/trust, which is really the foundation of Buddhist practice:

"While residing at the Jetavana Monastery in Savatthi, the Buddha spoke this verse, with reference to Mattakundali, a young Brahmin.

Mattakundali, was a young Brahmin, whose father, Adinnapubbaka, was very misery and never gave any thing in charity.  Even the gold ornaments for his only son were made by himself to save payment for workmanship.  When his son fell ill, no physician was consulted, until it was too late.  When he realized that his son was dying, he had the youth carried outside on to the verandah, so that people coning to his house would not see his possessions.

On that morning, the Buddha arising early from his deep meditation of compassion saw, in his Net of knowledge, Mattakundali lying on the verandah.  So when entering Savatthi for alms-food with his disciples, the Buddha stood near the door of the Brahmin Adinnapubbaka.  The Buddha sent forth a ray of light to attract the attention of the youth, who was facing the interior of the house.  The youth saw the Buddha; and as he was very weak he could only profess his faith mentally.  But that was enough.  When he passed away with his heart in devotion to the Buddha, he was reborn in the Tavatimsa celestial world [i.e., a heaven realm]."



That's interesting. But is it from the original teachings, or is it a more recent commentary?

Whether this is a western interpretation or not, I've heard many Theravada teachers explain that faith in the Buddhist context means confidence in the path and its effectiveness in alleviating suffering, rather than faith in, say, the supernatural status of the Buddha.
A version of the Mattakundali story can be found in the Mattakundali Jataka, the Jataka being a collection of narratives describing many past-lives of the Buddha. The Jataka (in written form) date to around 2000 years ago. Another version of the story is found in the Dhammapada commentaries, written around 500 AD.

I think the word 'supernatural' is too easily dismissed, due to the negative implications 'supernaturalism' has in the West. But the Buddha did talk about two different paths: the lokiya (or 'mundane') path, and the lokuttara (or 'beyond-the-mundane') path. The lokiya path is the path that manipulates matter and mind, but matter and mind are never 'gone-beyond'. This is the 'natural' path, so to speak.

But nibbana is 'beyond-nature', 'beyond-matter-and-mind', and the path to nibbana is the lokuttara path, beyond the mundane. Nibbana is not 'nature', is beyond nature, and, thus, literally, 'super-nature'.

This does not mean that nibbana excludes nature, and insofar as the word 'supernatural' means the 'exclusion of nature', I agree that supernatural does not fully equate to lokuttara. But to deny the 'supernatural' status of nibbana ignores the fact that nibbana is in fact 'beyond nature'.

And the Buddha, who embodies nibbana, is likewise an embodiment of what is beyond nature, of what is 'supernatural'.

Trust/faith/confidience in the Buddha is trust/faith/confidence in the possibility of the cessation of dukkha, true.

But the cessation of dukkha, in Theravada, is synonymous with realization of nibbana, the 'beyond nature'. To say that the ending of dukkha is therefore not 'beyond nature', or not 'super-natural, lokuttara, is to attempt to 'de-lokuttara-ize' or 'de-super-nature-ize' Buddhism.

The Buddha founded his teaching on the reality of the 'super-nature', in other words, on the reality of nibbana, the cessation of dukkha.

Wow. You know your stuff, Jetavan (which I suspected you might)!  Wink
Interestingly, the Buddha was very tight-lipped about revealing anything about Nibbana. And for the most part, he likened it simply to a fire going out, the cessation of all thirst, or the cessation of suffering. Anyway, I listened to a talk no long ago that said people enter the path for different reasons. Some just want a few therapeutic results, and so never even think of Nibbana. They just want to get some distance from their thoughts, gain a little peace, stop being so reactive, and so on. Others enter it with the big picture in mind. They don't want the world anymore. Ajahn Chah, I think it was, taught that if you practice a little, you get a little peace. If you practice a lot, you get a lot of peace. If you make it your life's work, you may even become entirely liberated. Buddhism is peculiar in this way, I think. It's teachings can be pretty flexible because it can still function well with or without belief in anything supernatural.
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« Reply #27 on: December 13, 2010, 06:46:36 PM »

I detect by your jargon that you may have been a Nichiren Buddhist. Am I correct? Were you in the Soka Gakkai?

I think most people claiming to be Buddhists in England (or at least a high proportion) would be Nichiren ones. My wife and three of my daughters belong to this sect and hold regular meetings for members and those interested in our house. The basic practice is to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo thereby honouring the highest of Shakyamuni's sutras (the Lotus sutra). Repeating the name is enough to manifest the Buddha nature.

Now, since I introduced them to the practice twenty years ago why didn't I stick with it? I had previously been a Roman Catholic and was seeking something that slotted more neatly with contemporary life plus I met an attractive woman who was a member.This Buddhism is pure humanism; there is no transcendent element as a theist would understand. I discovered I am 'indelibly marked' (St John Chrysostom) by Jesus Christ and there is no point in denying it without jeopardising my eternal well being. It took a while for this fact to dawn

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I discovered I am 'indelibly marked' (St John Chrysostom) by Jesus Christ and there is no point in denying it without jeopardising my eternal well being. It took a while for this fact to dawn

Yes, I read somewhere - possibly even on one of the stories linked to above - that once one's heart has opened to Jesus Christ it will not open for anyone else (e.g. Amida Buddha, Krishna, Allah, etc). Nothing in Buddhism has ever spoken to my heart in the way that Christ does.
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« Reply #28 on: December 13, 2010, 07:04:03 PM »

Given that Buddhism holds that existence is a delusion, that there is no self but rather a ripple of a wave which suffers until it stops rippling, I don't see how the Buddha saved either the Theravada or the Mahayana, as his enligtenment consisted of just this cessation and the concommittant "realization" that there was neither teacher nor students, so nothing to teach.

The Buddha's concept of no-self idea was more of a teaching strategy than a dogma or faith tenet. In fact, in the Pali Canon (according to Thanissaro Bhikkhu... his article on the subject is linked to below), when asked if there was a self, the Buddha refused to answer.
"When later asked why, he said that to hold either that there is a self or that there is no self is to fall into extreme forms of wrong view that make the path of Buddhist practice impossible. Thus the question should be put aside."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/notself2.html
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« Reply #29 on: December 13, 2010, 07:18:59 PM »

Sort of....

I studied it for a little while as my primary religious preference. But that was only a year. And I didn't get that deep into it.
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« Reply #30 on: December 13, 2010, 07:30:10 PM »

Given that Buddhism holds that existence is a delusion, that there is no self but rather a ripple of a wave which suffers until it stops rippling, I don't see how the Buddha saved either the Theravada or the Mahayana, as his enligtenment consisted of just this cessation and the concommittant "realization" that there was neither teacher nor students, so nothing to teach.

The Buddha's concept of no-self idea was more of a teaching strategy than a dogma or faith tenet. In fact, in the Pali Canon (according to Thanissaro Bhikkhu... his article on the subject is linked to below), when asked if there was a self, the Buddha refused to answer.
"When later asked why, he said that to hold either that there is a self or that there is no self is to fall into extreme forms of wrong view that make the path of Buddhist practice impossible. Thus the question should be put aside."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/notself2.html

True.

Different people, philosophies, and religions have different definitions of what is a "self". Depending upon the definition, the Buddha would affirm, deny, or remain silent, on the question of whether the "self" was real.
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