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Author Topic: Buddha - What would you do if there was a Buddha in a Chinese Restaurant?  (Read 6095 times) Average Rating: 0
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Maria
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« on: September 17, 2012, 12:56:44 AM »

I have a very devout Catholic friend who has asked me to post here as she does not have Internet service.

To put mods at ease: she has never been a member here.

Anyway, sometimes she asks me to accompany her to visit a fellow Catholic who is in the hospital (more in than out due to ongoing health issues).

We usually stop at a restaurant on the way back home, but the pickings are not that great.

The food at Denny's and Coco's is not even freshly prepared except for the salads and those are GMOs, which she cannot have. So, all we can have there is tea.

However, Chinese food seems to be the only place where one can get freshly prepared veggies that taste good. The only problem she has is that the Thai and Chinese restaurants around here seem to have a Buddha prominently displayed. Some even have food offerings placed in front of it.

She wants to know if there are any Holy Canons in the Church (Catholic and/or Orthodox) which forbid one from entering those restaurants because of the Buddha.
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« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2012, 03:08:07 AM »

Make the sign of the cross and eat. The Buddha statue is probably just a decoration anyway without any real meaning.
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« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2012, 04:19:38 AM »

Well, I love Japanese food, I'll say that.

The other thing is, I'm fairly sure none of the food we have been eating is intended as an offering to a/the Buddha (or however it works). Otherwise, wasn't it St. Paul who said "Ask not for conscience's sake"?

Maybe I'm getting this wrong. I am just an Inquirer trying to go deeper into Orthodoxy. Please correct me if I am.
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« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2012, 05:00:50 AM »

I wouldn't worry about it and enjoy the meal.  If it were a problem there wouldn't be an Orthodox Christian who could eat anywhere in China, Japan or a similar nation.
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« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2012, 07:56:36 AM »

Make the sign of the cross and eat. The Buddha statue is probably just a decoration anyway without any real meaning.
^ This, the Sign of the Cross can defeat any pagan ritual.
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« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2012, 08:24:10 AM »

I have a jade laughing Buddha which I brought back from
China before I was Orthodox.. My Spiritual Father
said that it was primarily an ornament...and suggested that
I lift it from its position and scratch a cross on to its base.
It now sits where it was and it doesnt bother me...its one of
the more ludicrous type the  'laughing Buddha'
I have done that to a few Buddhas I have encountered
in settings such as restaurants..just a small scratch..I
always feel better for it... Cool
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« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2012, 08:27:40 AM »

By the way....the query seems a bit weird to me...like
how does that person cope with a 'world' where the
more clearly satanic...for example in the form of overtly
semi pornographic sexual advertising or adverts which promote
greed etc exist??
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« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2012, 09:26:13 AM »

My favorite Chinese restaurant in Philadelphia has a rather large Buddha with dollar bills affixed to it at the back of the restaurant. 

I pray before I eat, asking God to bless the food (thereby making it holy and clean in a spiritual sense) and keep my eyes and soul on my food and my wife (and anyone else we happen to be eating with when visiting) and don't worry about the Buddha. 

Far more distracting are the huge Chinese families that eat at the big tables.  Although their presence is always a good sign, some families can get quite loud just because there are 15+ people eating and talking at the same time eight feet away from you. Smiley
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« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2012, 09:30:15 AM »

Don't worry about it!  The food they place on their altars are not the same food they will serve to you.  So no matter how you interpret St. Paul's writings, rest assured you are not getting any food sacrificed to idols.

Most Chinese restaurants I go to has the Lucky Cat instead.  My kid loves them.  Well, he likes all kinds of cats both real and fictional.
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« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2012, 10:57:22 AM »

Good responses. Please keep them coming.

I will go to an internet cafe with her so that she can read your responses.
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« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2012, 12:05:33 PM »

Sounds like you have a choice between less fresh food and eating in the presence of idols. 

Which one bothers you more, the fact that the pancake might have been frozen or that you have to share your dining experience with a leering Buddha?

For what it's worth, I eat at both sorts of places on a regular basis. 
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« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2012, 12:14:32 PM »

I would suggest looking up David Withun's video on Buddha and Buddhism on YouTube. Definitely worth a gander.
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« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2012, 12:26:00 PM »

This isn't the same as halal meat (or meat offered to idols), right?
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« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2012, 01:32:12 PM »

Uh, the Buddha is a saint.
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« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2012, 02:00:48 PM »

Uh, the Buddha is a saint.

Proof? I am sure the statue depicts him as a saint with a halo and all.  Roll Eyes

What would Father Vasily of 18th Century Holy Russia say? Is outrage!
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« Reply #15 on: September 17, 2012, 02:53:37 PM »

Uh, the Buddha is a saint.

Even if Buddha was St. Josaphat, contemporary Buddha statues have nothing to do with St. Josaphat.
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« Reply #16 on: September 17, 2012, 02:55:21 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Order the Pepper Chicken Wink

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #17 on: September 17, 2012, 03:09:10 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Order the Pepper Chicken Wink

stay blessed,
habte selassie

That's the best advice.
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« Reply #18 on: September 17, 2012, 03:13:21 PM »

Make the sign of the cross and eat. The Buddha statue is probably just a decoration anyway without any real meaning.

And don't forget to rub his belly for good luck.
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« Reply #19 on: September 17, 2012, 03:27:15 PM »

Make the sign of the cross and eat. The Buddha statue is probably just a decoration anyway without any real meaning.

And don't forget to rub his belly for good luck.

And what do y'all think of this practice? A group I'm in (school play) has a little idol of Buddha they bring around to do this to before every show. Thus far I've excused myself from rubbing it.
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« Reply #20 on: September 17, 2012, 03:28:49 PM »

Make the sign of the cross and eat. The Buddha statue is probably just a decoration anyway without any real meaning.

And don't forget to rub his belly for good luck.

What if it is one of those thinner Buddhas? Tongue
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« Reply #21 on: September 17, 2012, 03:31:59 PM »

A thin Buddha is like a beardless priest or Ganesh without his mouse - it's just wrong.

Make the sign of the cross and eat. The Buddha statue is probably just a decoration anyway without any real meaning.

And don't forget to rub his belly for good luck.

What if it is one of those thinner Buddhas? Tongue
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« Reply #22 on: September 17, 2012, 04:17:08 PM »

Make the sign of the cross and eat. The Buddha statue is probably just a decoration anyway without any real meaning.

And don't forget to rub his belly for good luck.

And what do y'all think of this practice? A group I'm in (school play) has a little idol of Buddha they bring around to do this to before every show. Thus far I've excused myself from rubbing it.
The round Buddha is actually a Chinese Buddhist monk, Budai (Hotei, in Japanese), who is often identified with the future Buddha Maitreya. In any event, Shakyamuni Buddha, the historical Buddha of circa 500 BCE, is never depicted in a "round" manner, and His belly is never rubbed for good luck.
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« Reply #23 on: September 17, 2012, 04:33:35 PM »

I wouldn't worry about it and enjoy the meal.  If it were a problem there wouldn't be an Orthodox Christian who could eat anywhere in China, Japan or a similar nation.
Your 666th post! Shocked

Anyway, --Subscribed--
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« Reply #24 on: September 17, 2012, 04:36:37 PM »

I would suggest looking up David Withun's video on Buddha and Buddhism on YouTube. Definitely worth a gander.

Oof! Disagree!
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« Reply #25 on: September 17, 2012, 05:35:51 PM »

I wouldn't worry about it and enjoy the meal.  If it were a problem there wouldn't be an Orthodox Christian who could eat anywhere in China, Japan or a similar nation.
Your 666th post! Shocked

Anyway, --Subscribed--

Proof:

Quote
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« Reply #26 on: September 17, 2012, 07:47:27 PM »

I wouldn't worry about it and enjoy the meal.  If it were a problem there wouldn't be an Orthodox Christian who could eat anywhere in China, Japan or a similar nation.
Your 666th post! Shocked

Anyway, --Subscribed--
Oops!  I hadn't realized, but now it's fixed.
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« Reply #27 on: September 17, 2012, 08:09:08 PM »

I wouldn't worry about it and enjoy the meal.  If it were a problem there wouldn't be an Orthodox Christian who could eat anywhere in China, Japan or a similar nation.
Your 666th post! Shocked

Anyway, --Subscribed--
Oops!  I hadn't realize, but now it's fixed.

Good job, but now I cannot edit my post with your profile quote.  Roll Eyes  LOL
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« Reply #28 on: September 25, 2012, 07:44:09 AM »

I wouldn't worry about it and enjoy the meal.  If it were a problem there wouldn't be an Orthodox Christian who could eat anywhere in China, Japan or a similar nation.
Your 666th post! Shocked

Anyway, --Subscribed--

Well that's scary.
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« Reply #29 on: September 25, 2012, 07:46:37 AM »

I have a very devout Catholic friend who has asked me to post here as she does not have Internet service.

To put mods at ease: she has never been a member here.

Anyway, sometimes she asks me to accompany her to visit a fellow Catholic who is in the hospital (more in than out due to ongoing health issues).

We usually stop at a restaurant on the way back home, but the pickings are not that great.

The food at Denny's and Coco's is not even freshly prepared except for the salads and those are GMOs, which she cannot have. So, all we can have there is tea.

However, Chinese food seems to be the only place where one can get freshly prepared veggies that taste good. The only problem she has is that the Thai and Chinese restaurants around here seem to have a Buddha prominently displayed. Some even have food offerings placed in front of it.

She wants to know if there are any Holy Canons in the Church (Catholic and/or Orthodox) which forbid one from entering those restaurants because of the Buddha.

Does your friend have qualms about it even in the cases where there aren't food offerings placed in front of the Buddha?
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« Reply #30 on: September 25, 2012, 01:30:09 PM »

Uh, the Buddha is a saint.

Proof? I am sure the statue depicts him as a saint with a halo and all.  Roll Eyes

What would Father Vasily of 18th Century Holy Russia say? Is outrage!

"The royal son of India teaches my soul to empty herself completely of every seed and crop of the world, to abandon all the serpentine allurements of frail and shadowy matter, and then in vacuity, tranquillity, purity and bliss to await nirvana. Blessed be the memory of Buddha, the royal son and inexorable teacher of his people!" --St. Nikolai Velimirovic
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« Reply #31 on: September 25, 2012, 02:07:09 PM »

Uh, the Buddha is a saint.

Proof? I am sure the statue depicts him as a saint with a halo and all.  Roll Eyes

What would Father Vasily of 18th Century Holy Russia say? Is outrage!

"The royal son of India teaches my soul to empty herself completely of every seed and crop of the world, to abandon all the serpentine allurements of frail and shadowy matter, and then in vacuity, tranquillity, purity and bliss to await nirvana. Blessed be the memory of Buddha, the royal son and inexorable teacher of his people!" --St. Nikolai Velimirovic

Wow. Is there some context to this, or was St Nikolai really being a complete syncretist here? I know he had an early liberal ecumenist phase until after WW1, when he turned around and became very conservative and traditional. Is this quote from one of his early writings?
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« Reply #32 on: September 25, 2012, 02:15:58 PM »

Uh, the Buddha is a saint.

Proof? I am sure the statue depicts him as a saint with a halo and all.  Roll Eyes

What would Father Vasily of 18th Century Holy Russia say? Is outrage!

"The royal son of India teaches my soul to empty herself completely of every seed and crop of the world, to abandon all the serpentine allurements of frail and shadowy matter, and then in vacuity, tranquillity, purity and bliss to await nirvana. Blessed be the memory of Buddha, the royal son and inexorable teacher of his people!" --St. Nikolai Velimirovic

Wow. Is there some context to this, or was St Nikolai really being a complete syncretist here? I know he had an early liberal ecumenist phase until after WW1, when he turned around and became very conservative and traditional. Is this quote from one of his early writings?
It's not syncretism to note that a non-Christian can inspire you in your Christian walk.
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« Reply #33 on: September 25, 2012, 02:22:48 PM »

Uh, the Buddha is a saint.

Proof? I am sure the statue depicts him as a saint with a halo and all.  Roll Eyes

What would Father Vasily of 18th Century Holy Russia say? Is outrage!

"The royal son of India teaches my soul to empty herself completely of every seed and crop of the world, to abandon all the serpentine allurements of frail and shadowy matter, and then in vacuity, tranquillity, purity and bliss to await nirvana. Blessed be the memory of Buddha, the royal son and inexorable teacher of his people!" --St. Nikolai Velimirovic

Wow. Is there some context to this, or was St Nikolai really being a complete syncretist here? I know he had an early liberal ecumenist phase until after WW1, when he turned around and became very conservative and traditional. Is this quote from one of his early writings?
It's not syncretism to note that a non-Christian can inspire you in your Christian walk.

Two things:

1) There is no mention of Christianity or Christ in that quotation.
2) He is looking forward to experiencing nirvana, which is not the goal of the Christian life.

That's why I was hoping for some context, since otherwise this quote makes St Nikolai out to be a complete Buddhist, not a Christian.
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« Reply #34 on: September 25, 2012, 02:33:12 PM »

Uh, the Buddha is a saint.

Proof? I am sure the statue depicts him as a saint with a halo and all.  Roll Eyes

What would Father Vasily of 18th Century Holy Russia say? Is outrage!

"The royal son of India teaches my soul to empty herself completely of every seed and crop of the world, to abandon all the serpentine allurements of frail and shadowy matter, and then in vacuity, tranquillity, purity and bliss to await nirvana. Blessed be the memory of Buddha, the royal son and inexorable teacher of his people!" --St. Nikolai Velimirovic

Wow. Is there some context to this, or was St Nikolai really being a complete syncretist here? I know he had an early liberal ecumenist phase until after WW1, when he turned around and became very conservative and traditional. Is this quote from one of his early writings?
It's not syncretism to note that a non-Christian can inspire you in your Christian walk.

Two things:

1) There is no mention of Christianity or Christ in that quotation.
2) He is looking forward to experiencing nirvana, which is not the goal of the Christian life.

That's why I was hoping for some context, since otherwise this quote makes St Nikolai out to be a complete Buddhist, not a Christian.
St. Nikolai says: "The royal son of India teaches my soul...." St. Nikolai is clearly pointing to the Buddha inspiring his own practice of Christianity.

"Nirvana" has many meanings, the most basic meaning being the abandoning of lust, anger, and delusion. It seems to me that one of the aims of theosis is the abandoning of lust, anger, and delusion.
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In order to become whole, take the "I" out of "holiness".
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« Reply #35 on: September 25, 2012, 02:51:09 PM »

Uh, the Buddha is a saint.

Proof? I am sure the statue depicts him as a saint with a halo and all.  Roll Eyes

What would Father Vasily of 18th Century Holy Russia say? Is outrage!

"The royal son of India teaches my soul to empty herself completely of every seed and crop of the world, to abandon all the serpentine allurements of frail and shadowy matter, and then in vacuity, tranquillity, purity and bliss to await nirvana. Blessed be the memory of Buddha, the royal son and inexorable teacher of his people!" --St. Nikolai Velimirovic

Wow. Is there some context to this, or was St Nikolai really being a complete syncretist here? I know he had an early liberal ecumenist phase until after WW1, when he turned around and became very conservative and traditional. Is this quote from one of his early writings?
It's not syncretism to note that a non-Christian can inspire you in your Christian walk.

Two things:

1) There is no mention of Christianity or Christ in that quotation.
2) He is looking forward to experiencing nirvana, which is not the goal of the Christian life.

That's why I was hoping for some context, since otherwise this quote makes St Nikolai out to be a complete Buddhist, not a Christian.
St. Nikolai says: "The royal son of India teaches my soul...." St. Nikolai is clearly pointing to the Buddha inspiring his own practice of Christianity.

"Nirvana" has many meanings, the most basic meaning being the abandoning of lust, anger, and delusion. It seems to me that one of the aims of theosis is the abandoning of lust, anger, and delusion.

I don't see how you get from "my soul" to Christianity. Buddhists believe in souls, too, and in fact they are thoroughly dualistic in a way Christians are not, e.g. they believe in the possibility of reincarnation.

Nirvana means loss of personal existence. It's more than just purification from passions. You might get away with saying the method is the same for Christians and Buddhists, but the aims are radically different. In this quote, I see no reason to think St Nikolai has specifically Christian aims in mind.
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« Reply #36 on: September 25, 2012, 03:23:21 PM »

Uh, the Buddha is a saint.

Proof? I am sure the statue depicts him as a saint with a halo and all.  Roll Eyes

What would Father Vasily of 18th Century Holy Russia say? Is outrage!

"The royal son of India teaches my soul to empty herself completely of every seed and crop of the world, to abandon all the serpentine allurements of frail and shadowy matter, and then in vacuity, tranquillity, purity and bliss to await nirvana. Blessed be the memory of Buddha, the royal son and inexorable teacher of his people!" --St. Nikolai Velimirovic

Wow. Is there some context to this, or was St Nikolai really being a complete syncretist here? I know he had an early liberal ecumenist phase until after WW1, when he turned around and became very conservative and traditional. Is this quote from one of his early writings?
It's not syncretism to note that a non-Christian can inspire you in your Christian walk.

Two things:

1) There is no mention of Christianity or Christ in that quotation.
2) He is looking forward to experiencing nirvana, which is not the goal of the Christian life.

That's why I was hoping for some context, since otherwise this quote makes St Nikolai out to be a complete Buddhist, not a Christian.
St. Nikolai says: "The royal son of India teaches my soul...." St. Nikolai is clearly pointing to the Buddha inspiring his own practice of Christianity.

"Nirvana" has many meanings, the most basic meaning being the abandoning of lust, anger, and delusion. It seems to me that one of the aims of theosis is the abandoning of lust, anger, and delusion.

I don't see how you get from "my soul" to Christianity. Buddhists believe in souls, too, and in fact they are thoroughly dualistic in a way Christians are not, e.g. they believe in the possibility of reincarnation.

Nirvana means loss of personal existence. It's more than just purification from passions. You might get away with saying the method is the same for Christians and Buddhists, but the aims are radically different. In this quote, I see no reason to think St Nikolai has specifically Christian aims in mind.

Here's the quote from St. Nikolai:

"The royal son of India teaches my soul to empty herself completely of every seed and crop of the world, to abandon all the serpentine allurements of frail and shadowy matter, and then in vacuity, tranquillity, purity and bliss to await nirvana. Blessed be the memory of Buddha, the royal son and inexorable teacher of his people!" --St. Nikolai Velimirovic

It seems pretty clear that St. Nikolai is saying that the royal son of India (the Buddha) teaches St. Nikolai ("teaches my soul"), or inspires St. Nikolai, to renounce the trappings of worldly bondage. Since St. Nikolai is a Christian when he wrote this, it's thus also clear that St. Nikolai felt that the Buddha could teach him something. Still, this doesn't mean that the Buddha can teach St. Nikolai everything that St. Nikolai might need to know.

One of the terms for nirvana is the "highest happiness". Theosis also involves "the highest happiness." To note that both Buddhists and Christians are aiming for a goal that has some degree of similarity, is not to say that both of them are aiming for a goal that is exactly the same. St. Nikolai recognizes that both are aiming for the highest happiness, and he believes,  naturally, that only theosis can truly give the highest happiness -- but that doesn't mean that the Buddhist aspiration for that highest happiness cannot inspire St. Nikolai or any other Christian.

As a side note, when you say nirvana is the lost of personal existence, I note that you did not refer to any Buddhist source when you said that.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2012, 03:25:09 PM by Jetavan » Logged

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« Reply #37 on: September 25, 2012, 03:41:04 PM »

Uh, the Buddha is a saint.

Proof? I am sure the statue depicts him as a saint with a halo and all.  Roll Eyes

What would Father Vasily of 18th Century Holy Russia say? Is outrage!

"The royal son of India teaches my soul to empty herself completely of every seed and crop of the world, to abandon all the serpentine allurements of frail and shadowy matter, and then in vacuity, tranquillity, purity and bliss to await nirvana. Blessed be the memory of Buddha, the royal son and inexorable teacher of his people!" --St. Nikolai Velimirovic

Wow. Is there some context to this, or was St Nikolai really being a complete syncretist here? I know he had an early liberal ecumenist phase until after WW1, when he turned around and became very conservative and traditional. Is this quote from one of his early writings?
It's not syncretism to note that a non-Christian can inspire you in your Christian walk.

Two things:

1) There is no mention of Christianity or Christ in that quotation.
2) He is looking forward to experiencing nirvana, which is not the goal of the Christian life.

That's why I was hoping for some context, since otherwise this quote makes St Nikolai out to be a complete Buddhist, not a Christian.
St. Nikolai says: "The royal son of India teaches my soul...." St. Nikolai is clearly pointing to the Buddha inspiring his own practice of Christianity.

"Nirvana" has many meanings, the most basic meaning being the abandoning of lust, anger, and delusion. It seems to me that one of the aims of theosis is the abandoning of lust, anger, and delusion.

I don't see how you get from "my soul" to Christianity. Buddhists believe in souls, too, and in fact they are thoroughly dualistic in a way Christians are not, e.g. they believe in the possibility of reincarnation.

Nirvana means loss of personal existence. It's more than just purification from passions. You might get away with saying the method is the same for Christians and Buddhists, but the aims are radically different. In this quote, I see no reason to think St Nikolai has specifically Christian aims in mind.

Here's the quote from St. Nikolai:

"The royal son of India teaches my soul to empty herself completely of every seed and crop of the world, to abandon all the serpentine allurements of frail and shadowy matter, and then in vacuity, tranquillity, purity and bliss to await nirvana. Blessed be the memory of Buddha, the royal son and inexorable teacher of his people!" --St. Nikolai Velimirovic

It seems pretty clear that St. Nikolai is saying that the royal son of India (the Buddha) teaches St. Nikolai ("teaches my soul"), or inspires St. Nikolai, to renounce the trappings of worldly bondage. Since St. Nikolai is a Christian when he wrote this, it's thus also clear that St. Nikolai felt that the Buddha could teach him something. Still, this doesn't mean that the Buddha can teach St. Nikolai everything that St. Nikolai might need to know.

One of the terms for nirvana is the "highest happiness". Theosis also involves "the highest happiness." To note that both Buddhists and Christians are aiming for a goal that has some degree of similarity, is not to say that both of them are aiming for a goal that is exactly the same. St. Nikolai recognizes that both are aiming for the highest happiness, and he believes,  naturally, that only theosis can truly give the highest happiness -- but that doesn't mean that the Buddhist aspiration for that highest happiness cannot inspire St. Nikolai or any other Christian.

As a side note, when you say nirvana is the lost of personal existence, I note that you did not refer to any Buddhist source when you said that.

And I note that all these Christian thoughts you attribute to St Nikolai nowhere appear in that quotation of yours. Please stop putting words into his mouth. Can you provide some context for this quotation where he himself demonstrates how he relates this to his Christian faith? I still maintain that the quotation makes him out to be a Buddhist.

For the record, I believe St Nikolai was a saint, and obviously that means he didn't die as a syncretist. I suspect this quotation is from some early work of his, when he was still influenced by ecumenist thought, and is not representative of his later, Orthodox thought. If you can provide any relevant information I think it would be appropriate.

Personally, I find the sentiments expressed here confusing and scandalous. Firstly, Christians don't need Buddhism to learn about purification from passions; we have the Fathers for that. The only effect this syncretism has is to make Christians think that Buddhism is just the same thing, that you can be Buddhist and still be saved, and so on. I'm sure St Nikolai, even at his most ecumenist, would have denied that he was making Christ out to be unimportant, but it's hard to see what other effect there could be, when you talk about how much Buddha teaches you about how to achieve nirvana, with no mention of Christ!
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« Reply #38 on: September 25, 2012, 05:17:29 PM »

Uh, the Buddha is a saint.

Proof? I am sure the statue depicts him as a saint with a halo and all.  Roll Eyes

What would Father Vasily of 18th Century Holy Russia say? Is outrage!

"The royal son of India teaches my soul to empty herself completely of every seed and crop of the world, to abandon all the serpentine allurements of frail and shadowy matter, and then in vacuity, tranquillity, purity and bliss to await nirvana. Blessed be the memory of Buddha, the royal son and inexorable teacher of his people!" --St. Nikolai Velimirovic

Wow. Is there some context to this, or was St Nikolai really being a complete syncretist here? I know he had an early liberal ecumenist phase until after WW1, when he turned around and became very conservative and traditional. Is this quote from one of his early writings?
It's not syncretism to note that a non-Christian can inspire you in your Christian walk.

Two things:

1) There is no mention of Christianity or Christ in that quotation.
2) He is looking forward to experiencing nirvana, which is not the goal of the Christian life.

That's why I was hoping for some context, since otherwise this quote makes St Nikolai out to be a complete Buddhist, not a Christian.
St. Nikolai says: "The royal son of India teaches my soul...." St. Nikolai is clearly pointing to the Buddha inspiring his own practice of Christianity.

"Nirvana" has many meanings, the most basic meaning being the abandoning of lust, anger, and delusion. It seems to me that one of the aims of theosis is the abandoning of lust, anger, and delusion.

I don't see how you get from "my soul" to Christianity. Buddhists believe in souls, too, and in fact they are thoroughly dualistic in a way Christians are not, e.g. they believe in the possibility of reincarnation.

Nirvana means loss of personal existence. It's more than just purification from passions. You might get away with saying the method is the same for Christians and Buddhists, but the aims are radically different. In this quote, I see no reason to think St Nikolai has specifically Christian aims in mind.

Here's the quote from St. Nikolai:

"The royal son of India teaches my soul to empty herself completely of every seed and crop of the world, to abandon all the serpentine allurements of frail and shadowy matter, and then in vacuity, tranquillity, purity and bliss to await nirvana. Blessed be the memory of Buddha, the royal son and inexorable teacher of his people!" --St. Nikolai Velimirovic

It seems pretty clear that St. Nikolai is saying that the royal son of India (the Buddha) teaches St. Nikolai ("teaches my soul"), or inspires St. Nikolai, to renounce the trappings of worldly bondage. Since St. Nikolai is a Christian when he wrote this, it's thus also clear that St. Nikolai felt that the Buddha could teach him something. Still, this doesn't mean that the Buddha can teach St. Nikolai everything that St. Nikolai might need to know.

One of the terms for nirvana is the "highest happiness". Theosis also involves "the highest happiness." To note that both Buddhists and Christians are aiming for a goal that has some degree of similarity, is not to say that both of them are aiming for a goal that is exactly the same. St. Nikolai recognizes that both are aiming for the highest happiness, and he believes,  naturally, that only theosis can truly give the highest happiness -- but that doesn't mean that the Buddhist aspiration for that highest happiness cannot inspire St. Nikolai or any other Christian.

As a side note, when you say nirvana is the lost of personal existence, I note that you did not refer to any Buddhist source when you said that.

And I note that all these Christian thoughts you attribute to St Nikolai nowhere appear in that quotation of yours. Please stop putting words into his mouth. Can you provide some context for this quotation where he himself demonstrates how he relates this to his Christian faith? I still maintain that the quotation makes him out to be a Buddhist.

For the record, I believe St Nikolai was a saint, and obviously that means he didn't die as a syncretist. I suspect this quotation is from some early work of his, when he was still influenced by ecumenist thought, and is not representative of his later, Orthodox thought. If you can provide any relevant information I think it would be appropriate.

Personally, I find the sentiments expressed here confusing and scandalous. Firstly, Christians don't need Buddhism to learn about purification from passions; we have the Fathers for that. The only effect this syncretism has is to make Christians think that Buddhism is just the same thing, that you can be Buddhist and still be saved, and so on. I'm sure St Nikolai, even at his most ecumenist, would have denied that he was making Christ out to be unimportant, but it's hard to see what other effect there could be, when you talk about how much Buddha teaches you about how to achieve nirvana, with no mention of Christ!

I agree with Jonathan Gress.

Jetavan, do you have a reference for this quote that includes the date when it was first published, spoken, or written? That would answer our questions. Thanks.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2012, 05:18:42 PM by Maria » Logged

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« Reply #39 on: September 25, 2012, 05:20:53 PM »

The St. Nikolai quote is from Prayers By the Lake. The entire poem is a praise of various pre-Christian prophets who reinforce aspects of the Christian worldview. There is nothing syncretistic about this poem, IMO, and what he does for Buddha is no different than what the Fathers did for Plato.
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« Reply #40 on: September 25, 2012, 05:30:03 PM »

The St. Nikolai quote is from Prayers By the Lake. The entire poem is a praise of various pre-Christian prophets who reinforce aspects of the Christian worldview. There is nothing syncretistic about this poem, IMO, and what he does for Buddha is no different than what the Fathers did for Plato.

Exactly. You guys want to assert like closed-minded buffoons that nothing can be learned from non-Christians? Then go throw away your Justin Martyr, Athanasius, Cyril, Basil, Maximus, John of Damascus, etc., all of whom incorporated the thought of pagan philosophers into their theology.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2012, 05:32:05 PM by Cavaradossi » Logged

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« Reply #41 on: September 25, 2012, 05:32:07 PM »

The St. Nikolai quote is from Prayers By the Lake. The entire poem is a praise of various pre-Christian prophets who reinforce aspects of the Christian worldview. There is nothing syncretistic about this poem, IMO, and what he does for Buddha is no different than what the Fathers did for Plato.

I really think it needs context, though. If St Nikolai is not intending anything by "nirvana" other than something like "virtue", your point would be valid. When it comes to Plato, for instance, the Fathers accept what's true and reject what isn't. With Buddhism, the same should apply. Maybe someone of St Nikolai's stature can say these things about nirvana without falling into error, but I think ordinary people are likely to be misled. As far as I know, the Buddhist conception of nirvana, understood in its entirety, is not compatible with Orthodox teaching about purification, illumination and theosis. So endorsement of nirvana in the way St Nikolai put it needs some qualification.
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« Reply #42 on: September 25, 2012, 05:36:16 PM »

The St. Nikolai quote is from Prayers By the Lake. The entire poem is a praise of various pre-Christian prophets who reinforce aspects of the Christian worldview. There is nothing syncretistic about this poem, IMO, and what he does for Buddha is no different than what the Fathers did for Plato.

I really think it needs context, though. If St Nikolai is not intending anything by "nirvana" other than something like "virtue", your point would be valid. When it comes to Plato, for instance, the Fathers accept what's true and reject what isn't. With Buddhism, the same should apply. Maybe someone of St Nikolai's stature can say these things about nirvana without falling into error, but I think ordinary people are likely to be misled. As far as I know, the Buddhist conception of nirvana, understood in its entirety, is not compatible with Orthodox teaching about purification, illumination and theosis. So endorsement of nirvana in the way St Nikolai put it needs some qualification.

The fathers didn't reject everything that isn't true, they rejected everything that contradicts the Scriptures. In many cases, however, they accepted plenty of philosophical conjectures made by certain pagan philosophers which are nowhere mentioned in the Scriptures, and may or may not be true.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2012, 05:36:45 PM by Cavaradossi » Logged

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« Reply #43 on: September 25, 2012, 05:37:10 PM »

Perhaps St. Nikolai is connecting nirvana to apatheia (another pagan concept incorporated in Orthodox spirituality.)
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« Reply #44 on: September 25, 2012, 05:44:18 PM »

Perhaps St. Nikolai is connecting nirvana to apatheia (another pagan concept incorporated in Orthodox spirituality.)

That would certainly make sense. But is that all there is to nirvana? I thought nirvana implied something more, such as a kind of abrogation of the will to exist, which I think is a strange and foreign concept to Orthodoxy.
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