Buddhism + Christianity = Enlightenment

Discussion in 'Eastern Religions and Philosophies' started by JP0325, Jul 2, 2004.

  1. JP0325

    JP0325 New Member

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    Buddhism + Christianity = Enlightenment

    Growing up in a world of many religions and many God's creates massive confusion.

    I am simply curious about the religion of Buddhism.

    I was always told growing up that you could be Buddhist and Christian at the same time because Buddha is not taking worship from God. Richard Gere is a prime example of a Christian Buddhist he is very adament in his beliefs of Christianity whether public or not and he upholds his Buddhist lifestyle of enlightenment. Alanis Morisette is another christian Buddhist.
    These are from direct interviews and public statements.

    Is what I state about Buddhism correct?
    I am curious?
    JP
     
  2. Avinash

    Avinash New Member

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    Namaskar,

    I think it's possible to combine the two upto a point.
    In the same way you could say that:

    Yoga + Christianity = Enlightenment
    Tantra + Christianity = Enlightenment
    Mysticism + Christianity = Enlightenment

    In these cases also, you are simply adding back spiritual practices to Christianity that were lost after the end of the mission of Jesus. Of course it takes a certain degree of openmindedness to make such a combination.
     
  3. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste all,


    hmm... this is originally the path that i tried to walk as i had been a Christian first... however....

    it is my opinion that as one becomes aware of the Buddhadharma inherent conflicts arise in the two traditions... for instance...

    Christianity wouldn't be a valid religious view were there not a soul that is judged and so forth. Buddhism completely refutes this notion and says that there is no soul or permentenly existing self.

    and of course, the biggie... the Creator God in Christianity is also refuted in Buddhism.

    now.. if you are asking if you can mix the practices of both... say be a Christian in belief and a Buddhist in method, then i think that you could probably manage it.

    i should say, however, that the majority of Buddhist teachers and teachings on these issues indicate that a multi-disciplinary approach is good at the beginning, however, once we've determined our path, we should persue it exclusively.
     
  4. Kagaya

    Kagaya New Member

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    Hi,

    If this concoction can be simplified to Enlightment, i wouldn't mind trying, but frankly... it is rather tough...

    In fact, i'm now currently having an interest with a girl of Christian background, but i'm personally a Daoism+Confucianism+Buddhism practitioner...

    in general, i'm more of an Atheist rather than a Buddhist for the combination of the 3 stated "philoshopical" religion aren't a religion traditionally... but these three teachings had indeed enlightent me to become a sceptical person...

    In another words, i can't accept Trinity, neither one of 'em seems to make sense to me, but the girl aforementioned is a pious person, so pious that she is actively involved with Christianity activity in the college... i've thought of embracing Christianity, i've already got a combo of 3 so another extra wouldn't makes much difference :D

    The problem is, i can hardly believe someone could die for other to repent their sins,

    Neither do i believe Jesus is the son of the God... yes, he is Saintly in nature and deserves appraisals in human history more like Confucius, Mencius, Siddartha Gautama, Mother Teresa but calling him the Son of God is rather...obscure...

    And the last thing that bugs me alot is these thinking of mine where i have to accept all the mentioned things in order to become a Christian while my wisdom had directs me to the right direction, i just couldn't cheat myself into this...

    And i kinda disagree with those "insurance premium package" style of enticing other to converts... "If u convert, u'll be... condoned for the sins u repent, lifetime stays in Heaven, and your soul is safe...blablabla..."
    This is like "selling" Christianity and they tend to make full use of the word "LOVE" to entice lovelost people into converting...

    I might be lost, but ain't that serious...

    Wise guys and girls, help me, what am I suppose to do now? Forget all the great wise man teachings and embrace Christianity whom i have doubt at my sincerity myself? or forget about the girl and look for other?

    I'm madly in love with her but then, i'm afraid that beliefs are what building an obstacle like the Israeli erecting the wall in Palestine...
     
  5. Abogado del Diablo

    Abogado del Diablo Ferally Decent

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    Those aren't essential parts of Christianity. First, in Gnostic Christianity, the sages go beyond the idea of God judging the immortal soul. This view is apparent from a careful reading of the New Testament Canon as well even though it is not reflected in the dominant literalist Christian tradition. Gnostic's read the same "scriptures" and see a teaching about reconnecting with the Oneness through enlightenment rather than avoiding an eternal judgment of the soul for its sins.

    Second, the Gnostic tradition does not depend on a personified creator god. Rather, Gnostic Christians are more concerned with what that "creator god" represents in a psychological/philosophical manner than in the truth or falsity of the existence of a personified creator. In many Gnostic Christian traditions, this character is referred to the "Demiurge" and is viewed as a manifestation of our own ego. That was one of the central Cathar beliefs that the literalist Christian Church took offense with - that the "God" of the Bible was not meant to be taken as the supreme creator being of the universe. Gnostics in the Valentinian tradtition believed that everything, including the God of the bible, was part of the unknowable One, or "Monad", a term some Gnostics borrowed from Pythagoras.
     
  6. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Kagaya,

    thank you for the post.

    well.. .this could be an issue as your relationship moves forward... depending on her and you, of course.

    if she is convicted of her beliefs and is a sect that is likeminded, she will have little option but to go away from you or change her sect. your position is a bit more flexible in this regard.

    having said that... let me say this... we don't "choose" belief. we are presented the evidence and we are persuaded to belief or disbelief, depending on our own capacity for such things. as a way of continuing the relationship, if that's what you choose, you can focus on the action aspects of her tradition and yours as they will tend to overlap quite a bit.
     
  7. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Abogado,

    thank you for the post.

    you are correct. however, they are essential for the Orthodoxy and the Protestant versions of Christian thought. the entire process of Grace and Sacrifice are rendered meaningless without a soul to be freed.

    which isn't an ongoing concern, last time i checked :)

    well... this is correct to a certain extent. depending on the Gnostic school being referenced, this could be a reference to the Unnameable or the Demiurge. if you wouldn't mind clarifying, i'd appreciate it.

    i've read it fairly carefully in the past... i must have overlooked this part. do you happen to have a cite for reference?

    that's not entirely accurate. whilst they do read the nomitive canon, they also read extra-biblical sources.. such as the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Thomas et al. they derive most of their belief in the Demiurge and so forth, from non-canonical sources as mentioned.

    here's a great online resource for the interested reader:
    http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/nhl.html

    agreed, especially the Valentinians.

    well... here you have already addressed my post :)

    however, when we are speaking of Christians the term is usually meant to be indicative of the main stream Christian view. of course, specifics are necessary to get to the heart of the matter, though not all discussion is condusive to such.
     
  8. Abogado del Diablo

    Abogado del Diablo Ferally Decent

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    Agreed. It is part of my mission since re-discovering Christian myth after my own epiphany to be sure that everyone understands that Christianity doesn't have to be the dogma of literalism embodied in Catholicism and Protestantism. It requires a little effort because of the alteration of the texts and the dogmas of 2000 years embedding themselves in modern translations but there is a different way to read, see and hear the gospel.


    Oh, but it certainly is! I walked by the bestseller table at Costco and saw a stack of Elaine Pagels' books. My local Barnes & Noble featured not only the "Gnostic Bible" but "Beyond Belief" and several books on the Dead Sea Scrolls right in front of the religion/inspiration section - in TEXAS no less! There are many active Gnostic Christian discussion groups on the Net and even new Gnostic congregations in San Franscisco and Seattle. I have become friends will several Universalist Unification members ("UUs") and they are very Gnostic in their approach to Christianity. The local UU congregation here (getting back on topic) has a Buddhist study and meditation group and nobody there sees any inconsistency in the two "faiths."


    I clarified below. I agree that there are a great variety of Gnostic traditions and teachings. My point in raising the question is just to introduce people to a different way of viewing the Christian myth in an age of a lot of knee-jerk Christian bashing. I engaged in ten years of that behavior myself. Having been a camel (a fundamentalist christian), I became a lion to kill that dragon and then metemorphosed into a child to rediscover my self.

    Romans chapters 2, 3, 6 and 7 for a start. Matt 7:1 also.


    Neither is accurate. They derive their beliefs from Gnostic experience and find that expression in a wide array of places including Platonic and Pythagorean philosophy and studying the mythology of other wisdom traditions. Early Gnostics considered the actual Pauline epistles, the Gospel of John and even the Gospel of Mark as valid Gnostic sources. Having read them once through the eyes of a literalist, I have read them again through new eyes and now I see what the Gnostics saw in them. That is not true of everything in the New Testament Canon. Moreover, some of these texts have definitely been altered.

    I agree. I hope we can change that. Those who prefer the expression of elementary idea in the Christian myth are no less valid in their views than those who prefer to express it in the language of Tao, or Baha'i or Buddhism. Like any tradition, there is a wide path and a narrow path and the followers of the "religion" may not be interested in its meaning. That does not invalidate the experience of those that do penetrate the religion to experience the Mystery.
     
  9. Abogado del Diablo

    Abogado del Diablo Ferally Decent

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    I meant "Universalist Unitarian.":eek:

    Doh!
     
  10. Zenda71

    Zenda71 New Member

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    Greetings Kagaya.

    I have been in a relationship with a Christian man for 15 years. Of course, I haven't been a Buddhist the entire time, but he knew going into it that I had different ideas about religion than he does. We respect and participate in each other's traditions, so it has never been a huge issue for us. (Although, I'll admit, that it has been an issue with his family.)

    Mutual respect and skillfulness have been important. And for the most part, it's worked out for us. Have you talked to your girlfriend about this?

    Also, regarding the blending of Christian beliefs ... I've found this tremendously difficult because the central tenets of Christianity ... resurrection, soul, one God/trinity ... are emphasized over the parts that overlap more with Buddhism (right action, right speech, kindness, loving thy enemies, etc.) The biggest hurdle is the idea of "no Self", which is not found anywhere in Christian beliefs or doctrine. It is a point that I've found has no congruence in Christianity. Indeed, it's one of the most difficult things to explain about Buddhist belief (sometimes even to Buddhists! :p )

    Yes, and Unitarian churches can be very accomodating for Buddhists. My husband and I tried going to one, but because they accept everything, my hubby didn't feel his Christian beliefs were being nourished as they would be in a traditionally Christian church. (I don't know how common this is, but the UU church in our area seemed to avoid Christian practices and scripture with special vigor. Even I, as a Buddhist, found it uncomfortable. But hopefully this is the exception, not the rule.)

    Many blessings, Kagaya!
    Zenda
     
  11. Abogado del Diablo

    Abogado del Diablo Ferally Decent

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    That is certainly true of the dominant western Christianity that most people are familiar with.

    In "The Gnostic Gospels", Elaine Pagels remarks on the different view of Jesus embodied in Gnostic Christianity:

    "Instead of coming to save us from sin, [Jesus] comes as a guide who opens access to spiritual understanding. But when the disciple attains enlightenment, Jesus no longer serves as his spiritual master: the two have become equal -- even identical"

    Thus, you see the following in the Gospel of Thomas:

    "He who will drink from my mouth will become as I am: I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will be revealed to him."

    and

    When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty."


    Jesus said, "The person old in days won't hesitate to ask a little child seven days old about the place of life, and that person will live. For many of the first will be last, and will become a single one."

    and

    And he said, "The person is like a wise fisherman who cast his net into the sea and drew it up from the sea full of little fish. Among them the wise fisherman discovered a fine large fish. He threw all the little fish back into the sea, and easily chose the large fish. Anyone here with two good ears had better listen!"

    and

    Jesus said to them, "When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter [the kingdom]."

    Sound kinda Buddhist? Some scholars have suggested that this is no accident because Thomas Christians were regularly in contact with Buddhists in South India. According to historian Thomas Conze, trade routes actually brought Buddhists into Alexandria, Egypt generations before the period regarded as the lifetime of Jesus. As I've noted elsewhere, Gnostic Christianity - and possibly the original Christian mythos - may have its origins among Hellenized Jewish scholars living in Alexandria, Egypt.
     
  12. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Abogado,

    thank you for the post.

    from what i hear, this literalist phenomena is more prevelant in American Chrisitianity than in other countries.. i'm quite curious to know why that is.. though it is possibly something that i'll never know.

    i'm not saying that the literature isn't available or that there is a growing interest in the Gnostic view. i am saying that very few self identify as a Gnostic Christian when asked. in any event, i think that it's a positive development for main stream Christianity to embrace the Gnostic view.

    naturally, i've a different view of this :) no worries though.

    fortunately, this forum doesn't really lend itself to any type of religious bashing.. one of the reasons why i enjoy it so, i'd surmise.

    often, it seems, that people aren't bashing Christianity, per se, rather their cultural interpetation that they've been raised with. it almost seems like the logical extension of the rebellious time of a young persons life.

    and these are showing that there is no soul or self to judge?

    i would beg to differ.

    ROM 2:5
    But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.

    ROM 3 doesn't really appear to be on point.

    ROM 6 is going on about being sinful and doesn't mention souls or judgement.. though it does mention Grace.

    ROM 7 doesn't appear to be on point either.

    Matt 7:1 simply says "judge not lest ye be judged" which doesn't have any bearing on the "what" that is judged.

    what is it that would bear the judgement from God? perforce, it must either be a soul or a self that is judged.

    http://www.blueletterbible.org/
    is a great resource for view various translations of the Bible.

    i don't understand what this means... can you elaborate?
     
  13. Abogado del Diablo

    Abogado del Diablo Ferally Decent

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    No. They are showing that the only place "judgment" comes from is yourself. Recognizing that your own perception of yourself is the author of your own judgment means you are the origin of "sin" and guilt. They aren't demonstrating "no self" though there are non-Canonical Christian sources that do. They are saying there is no judgment outside our own.

    It should be Romans 1 and 2 rather and 2 and 3. My mistake. Romans 6 and 7 are little more esoteric. If you think I am mis-reading Romans 2 then you won't see any relevance in chapters 6 and 7.
     
  14. Zenda71

    Zenda71 New Member

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    Greetings.

    Yes, I have read both the above book and the reports of scholars regarding Buddhist/Christian interaction. Do you know whether it the Essene teachings, which Jesus was influenced by, that had a lot of Buddhist elements to them?

    Here is something I found via Google: http://essenes.net/budinchrist.html

    My trouble with explaining "no self" to Christians usually has to do with Christians generally not understanding or accepting Gnostic beliefs.

    With metta,
    Zenda
     
  15. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Vaj pointed me in the direction of Thomas Merton (thanks again Vaj!). I've only read one book by him so far but I did find it very interesting in how he finds connections/places of common understanding between Christianity and Buddhism. You might also want to look up St. John of the Cross, a Christian mystic. Personally I think the idea of no Self fits very well with the idea of Gal 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me."
     
  16. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    I recommend K. Armstong's The Battle for God to learn more about this phenomenon (sorry to keep mentioning this book but I am still in the middle of it so it is "on top" for me). Her hypothesis is that the advent of rationalism and enlightenment in the west had at least these two effects on Christian thinking for some people:

    1) the effectivness of the scientific method for material progess caused people to lose respect for myth and so as a recourse scripture started to be viewed as factual, rather than mythical. In her terms, mythos (timeless, mythical) was turned into logos (rational, pragmatic, scientific). A few quotes from her book: "Because by the end of the nineteenth century science and rationalism were the watchwords of the day, religion had to rational too if it was to be taken seriously." "The New Light Presbyterian seminary at Princeton, NY, became the bastion of this scientific Protestantism....In 1873, Charles Hodge,..., published the first volume of his two-volume work Systematic Theology....(the) title reveals its scientific bias. The theologians' task was not to look for a meaning beyond the words, Hodge insisted, but simply to arrange the clear teachings of scripture into a system of general truths. ...Archibald A. Hodge (his son) and Benjamin Warfield (said)...Every word of the Bible was divinely inspired and must be taken seriously; it should not be distorted by allegorical or symbolic exegesis....'All the stories and statements of the Bible were absolutely errorles and binding for faith and obedience.'"

    2) Many people were adversely affected by modernization and were alarmed by events that left them feeling powerless. At the same time that the scriptural literalism was taking place another movement was Christian liberalism and The Higher Criticism (new theories about the bible). Conservatism was a backlash against this liberalism and it was rooted firmly in fear: "Things were not getting better, as the liberals believed; they were getting worse every day." The influx of immigrants and increasing number of Catholics was threatening to many people. "A paranoid fear of conspiracy would continue to charaterize the response to the upheavals of modernization..."

    All quotes from K. Armstong, The Battle for God, pp141-146

    In my words, the Enlightenment and modernization emasculated a mythological reading of the Bible while at the same time the historical/factual basis of the bible came under attack. This really pulled the rug out from under people, so naturally there was a rebellion against it. I think that, ironically, a literal reading of the bible and extrabiblical sources like Darby have created a new futuristic mythology (like the Left Behind series).

    This is an inadequate summary, but I thought you might find it interesting.
     
  17. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste lunamoth,


    thank you for the reply and the explanation.

    as an aside... the post Enlightenment period of Europe is why, in English, we call what happened to Siddharta Gotama "Enlightenment" rather than "Awakening".

    again.. the approach to a rational religion caused the apolegists to present Buddhism as a "religion of Enlightenment". perhaps correct in some sense, it rather distorts some of the fundamentals of the tradition, in my view.

    again.. thank you for the reply.
     
  18. Zenda71

    Zenda71 New Member

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    Interesting quote! Thanks luna. I've tried reading Merton a few times at the urging of many people who love his writing, but I'm afraid that I don't find his style engaging. :) I will look up St. John though.

    Be well!
    Zenda
     

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