Buddhism at odds with Abrahamic religions.

Discussion in 'Eastern Philosophy' started by Thoreau, Dec 17, 2012.

  1. Thoreau Valued Senior Member

    I'll spare you the details of how or why I ended up attending a Mayahana Temple for two years of my life (it really isn't all that interesting), and instead just jump right there to the point:

    The founding principle of almost any school of Buddhism is that of compassion. Buddhists are to turn the other cheek, help everyone when able, be polite, kind, and respectful toward all, and to live a life which is beneficial to the human condition. But I have failed to uphold this teaching in a few areas.

    One of said areas is my outlook toward Abrahamic religions. I find myself literally unable to develope any kind of compassion to those who would gladly condemn, eliminate, harass, or otherwise wish or cause harm to those whom do not share their world views. I cannot sit idly by as men in white sheets attempt to impose their beliefs on others, or threaten rejection or punishment (whether in this life or the next) if one does not follow their tenets.

    This behavior, on behalf of religion, I find to be the most threatening to individual freedom and societal harmony. It goes against the very grain of compassion, and even so much as inhibits it.

    Sidhartha said that not even death is a threat to a man who has unconditional admiration for his fellow man; that enlightenment is gained when one accepts the varying states of being in this world. From my understanding, I can interpret this as simply accepting that not everyone is the same, and - in reference to this topic - everyone is sure to have varying religious views. I further interpret this to mean that I am to show compassion to all, regardless of faith, regardless of actions, regardless of condition.

    But this is where I take issue with this. The entire purpose of Buddhist teaching is to eliminate suffering.

    How can one both allow the fundamentalist religiosity that plagues society with condemnation, rejection, judgement, and threats of torture while also trying to (and teaching others to) overcome suffering, when the very actions of the religious cause suffering to millions, if not billions, around the globe?

    I have posed this very paradoxical question to my former teacher, years ago. And as extremely wise as he was, he was unable to provide a concise answer. His best amounted to, "To love even those who wish you harm is the greatest love one can achieve. To lower your sword as another approaches to destroy you, that is altruism."

    So, my question is this:

    How does one find a middle ground, i.e. how can one honestly be compassionate when they are allowing beliefs that can result is any type of suffering for others? It seems to me that compassion and religious tolerance cannot go hand in hand in this situation.

    I meditated every day for two years on this one question. And 10 years after, I still have no answer.

    For the record, I'm not a very good Buddhist. Technically, I'm not a Buddhist at all since I never took my vows. I was urged not to due to having enlisted in the military. But I spent nearly every weekend for two years at a temple, studying Buddhism. Again, this was a decade go.
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  3. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Where did the Buddha say that?
    Can you provide a reference?

    You might simply been working with distorted hearsay, and not with the actual teachings - so it's no wonder you're skeptical.

    Do you believe in karma and rebirth?

    I think it is a matter of practicing the Four Sublime Attitudes (ie. the Four Brahmaviharas) in line with the Dharma.

    As far as I know, they don't focus so much on this in the Mahayana tradition, as much as they do in the Theravada traditions.
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  5. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    I find it easy to have compassion for those who make the world shittier with their fundamentalism. It's just so sad that the world could be better, but their narrow minds won't let it. Of course that isn't the only emotion I feel about it, there is also hatred and disgust.
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  7. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Actually, I think he has given you a very good answer, considering your circumstances then. Back then, you were pursuing two mutually exclusive paths: on the one hand, you were in training to kill people, and on the other hand, you pursued the path of non-violence. But apparently, you were not aware of how contradictory your pursuits were.

    There are some standards instructions in the Pali Canon for this:



  8. Thoreau Valued Senior Member

    I appreciate your response. Thank you!
  9. kwhilborn Banned Banned

    This Religion sprouted while Catholics were the government and military throughout many lands. The Catholics Conned their way into ruling Rome which had already acquired Egypt as a province. In the First Crusades They Captured Germany and France. They were a "Kill them all and let god sort them out" mentality.

    Is "Kill them all and let god sort them out"
    a) a USMC Motto
    b) A Catholic edict
    c) A funny leftist t-Shirt slogan.

    It is actually Catholic. A monk who was an Emissary from the pope said it in France, "Kill them all, God will know his own" was the original translation with the same meaning. They were attacking a Christian City where some were Catholic and others were Cathars. Cathers were Christian but did not recognize the pope as leader. Pity for them. It would be like your local Catholic church attacking a United church down the block and killing everyone (Men, Women, and children), and letting god sort them out. Remember that the United Church being attacked also has Catholic Men, Women, and Children, and the entire city praised Jesus.

    History has tamed the Catholics and everyone has forgotten the many Crusades and Inquisitions and millions of deaths they caused in Gods name, and we must look at Islam and say "What a horrid Religion". It was the Catholics who battled them many times that made them have war clauses in their beliefs. When Salidar retook Jerusalem for the Muslims he was much more merciful than the Catholics had been. The Catholics killed everyone and blood was rumoured to be knee deep on the horses (check google). Salidar at least sold the Catholics as slaves which seems much ,more merciful if you ask me. I'd rather be a servant than butchered.

    I don't understand why everyone does not hate Catholics. Seriously. They were HORRID!

    I also do not recognize any wars in gods name or the religions that partake. I would be Buddhist first followed by Hindu second. Hindu does fit with my belief systems quite well.

    You should never meditate on war. Try to meditate instead on peace.
  10. Stoniphi obscurely fossiliferous Valued Senior Member

    Uh, not so much.

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    Buddhism, like Christianity, has many different incarnations. While there are those who attach to a small set of antique principles or blinder themselves into a tightly defined definition of "Buddhism", I assure you that Buddhism is actually a vast set of religions, philosophies and beliefs.

    Buddhism was the 'official religion' of the Samurai for about 700 years. This because Buddhism allowed the Samurai to dispatch his enemies with great efficiency and compassion. If you were to slap a Samurai, he would most likely slap you right back (respectfully and politely) a little harder than you slapped him. If you drew your katana he would (compassionately) cut your head off (to the benefit of others that you may have disrespected as well). What survives of Samurai Buddhist practice is well exemplified by the Bushido.

    Meditation has proven emotional and physiological benefits to the regular practitioner. Stuff like "karma" or "reincarnation" are beliefs based on the 'ghost in the machine' or the concept of 'spirit' and serve no practical purpose other than to reassure the believer. Kind - of like the xtain belief in 'heaven' and 'angels'.

    Regular Buddhist practice can deliver great benefits to the practitioner, but it ain't necessarily a religion or a spiritual belief system. It can also serve to annoy those with minds tightly closed against new knowledge.

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  11. Stoniphi obscurely fossiliferous Valued Senior Member

    Double post, no delete box.

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    Last edited: Dec 20, 2012
  12. wellwisher Banned Banned

    To get one step closer to the middle, the trick is to not stereo-type everyone in the group, based on actions of the worse case. Racism is based on lumping all together with a common stereo-type. This feeling and attitude is an illusion of the mind, and projects something outward, that is not real. This needs to be addressed from the inside.

    This bias may actually come from western education and statistics. If we have a phenomena, like hair color, we can average this occurrence, over a population, using the assumption of a random distribution. In this mythology, the god of chaos permeates the group and because he is the source of random, population will be touched by him in a random way. This creates a math stereo-type, so we can make predictions.

    This math stereo-type is an oracle for reality, when you don't know cause and effect. Cause and effect knows the genes will play a role in hair color, so that random is not even real, since many are excluded by cause and effect.

    Empirical science may say there is a risk of X for eating Y. This creates the illusion the lord of chaos floats over everyone, like a mist. and can randomly pounce on anyone, so we all need to be mindful. But in reality, some will never get Y based on cause and effect. Reason dispels this math myth. Your mind is unconsciously trying to worship the God of Chaos and he is making the stereo-type seem valid based on randomness. Try to meet a nice Arab person to see chaos is a myth that is used as an oracle.

    Each year the statistics for the flu appear and everyone is encouraged to get the flu shoot. The Lord of Chaos floats over the nation and throws dice with everyone subject to getting hit by the dice. Everyone should get the flu shot. I never get the shot, since cause and effect acts like a shield so the lord of chaos is not able to enter my mind. So far my score is reason 25 chaos 0. There is peer pressure to worship the god, but I pass. For some, there is a real cause and effect for the flue. For other many people, who are safe, but still believe in lord of chaos, they get the flu shot, but not for cause and effect. Rather it is for the appeasement of the god of chaos; fear projection has to be appeased.

    Don't get me wrong, statistics in the hands of scientists is very useful. But when it is given to the layman, marketeers, media, etc., it becomes a modern chaotic mythology for the masses. It creates extra stress to help lead the sheep to shear.
  13. Stoniphi obscurely fossiliferous Valued Senior Member

  14. Thoreau Valued Senior Member

  15. The Marquis Only want the best for Nigel Valued Senior Member

    Now if you'd said "Abrahamic religions at odds with Buddhism" I might have said something.

    Well, actually, maybe not.
  16. kmguru Staff Member

    "Buddhism at odds with Abrahamic religions. "

    It is more like Knowledge Management against Dumb Luck....wait and see who wins the process in 30 years, 50 years and 100 years...
  17. Thoreau Valued Senior Member

    But... you did say something....
  18. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    Very simple. If one were successful at promoting Buddhist enlightenment then people would be free to admire what you perceive as "suffering". The only suffering inherent in these examples is the belief that these have some impact on you. Since Buddhism largely teaches purging oneself of such beliefs, your only issue is with your commitment to Buddhism (or lack thereof), rather than some perceived conflict.
  19. Stoniphi obscurely fossiliferous Valued Senior Member

    I would add that it is not the elimination of suffering that is the goal, rather it is a measure of control over your own suffering.

    Simply stated:

    1) Each of us in our lives experience both pleasure and pain.

    2) Much of our pain comes from the attachments we make.

    3) We can control our choice of attachments.

    4) Buddhist practice can help us to do that.

    "Enlightenment" comes with continued practice and mindful living.

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    Last edited: Jan 7, 2013
  20. The Marquis Only want the best for Nigel Valued Senior Member

    Yes, I often say something, when I'm the mood to do so.

    The point being, of course, that if we all said something only when there was something earth shatteringly specific to say, this site might be more the "intellectual" hangout it... almost claims to be.
    Are you accusing me of using this place as a chatbox?
  21. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    It can be argued that causing harm to or eliminating people who do not share the world views of the Abrahamists is not truly a tenet of Abrahamic doctrine.

    Within Christianity and Islam there are large congregations of peaceful people who claim that their more violent brethren have misinterpreted the words of their prophet.

    Judaism has been the persecutee rather than the persecutor for most of its existence so its members have had little opportunity to contemplate violence, although their current quarrel with the Palestinian Muslims is a scary harbinger of things to come. As for the Rastafarians, they fight over drug delivery routes rather than religious doctrine.

    Nonetheless, both Christianity and Islam include evangelism in their doctrine. They both urge their followers to bring the joy, peace and salvation of the True Word of God to everyone who doesn't have it yet. This often turns into condemnation, but even more often into harassment, since they're sure we'll eventually thank them for saving us from an eternity in hell and forgive them for what, at the time, we erroneously regarded as harrassing.

    Judaism is not an evangelical religion; in fact according to their own legends they got in serious trouble with Yahweh for not spreading his word throughout the land, and they don't even encourage voluntary conversion except in special circumstances (if a Jewish man takes a Gentile wife his children will not be Jews unless she converts, which is often made rather easy for her), and (for men) the conversion ritual is quite onerous: a Bar Mitzvah with the circumcision, the recitation from the Torah in Hebrew, the mitzvah, and the whole mishegaas. I think we can safely say that the Jews do not fall into your category. They do not harass us, and they certainly don't kill us, for not being Jewish.

    I don't know enough about the Rastafarians, but I met quite a few of them in Jamaica and none of them even talked to me about their religion unless I asked.

    Some scholars regard Baha'i as an Abrahamic religion, but some don't and in any case I don't know enough about it to comment on it, much less judge it. They do seem to place a high value on peace and harmony.

    If that were the extent of it I'd probably be happy. I proselytize for the things I believe in, such as music, education and dogs, and I'm sure some people think I'm a pain. In fact I hold religious evangelists one step above certain financial marketeers, because they only talk to me when they happen to encounter me in person, rather than interrupting me during dinner with a phone call.

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    You can't. Don't try. These people need to be rounded up. But please mellow out a little on your definition of "suffering." Perhaps you can set the impositions of the United States government as a reference standard. Anyone who causes us less suffering than those folks can be forgiven. If you can abide the depredations of our government, you can certainly endure a little religious evangelism from somebody you actually know personally and can talk back to.

    Most Americans who identify themselves as religious are not as intolerant and bothersome as you make out. They don't look at their faith intellectually, so they're nor prepared for an academic discussion of it, but in my observation they unconsciously recognize the woo-woo part of it as metaphors. They don't really believe in them as facts, just nice stories that help them understand the world and make their way through it. I personally love Winnie the Pooh, Frodo Baggins and Kermit the Frog, all of whom have "said" profound things that have helped enrich and untangle my life. I've got no problem with people who feel the same way about Jesus--in fact I feel that way about Jesus too. If there's one thing I wish I could do reliably, it's "turn the other cheek". I long ago realized that the old playground lament is true: "It all started when he hit me back."

    There's truth, there's lies, and there's metaphor. People who don't understand metaphor can still benefit from it.

    My wife never took any vows but she calls herself a (Vipassana) Buddhist. The other Buddhists she hangs out with call her one too. They can't all be wrong, since they spend so much of their time searching for the truth.

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    Buddhists were not always the love-and-peace hippies that they are today. There were plenty of wars between Buddhists and other peoples. Talk to some well-educated Indian or Chinese people.

    My wife says that all the Buddha ever wanted anyone to do is search for the truth. He's not vain and proud (like some prophets!), he doesn't care if you follow his exact methods, or if you've even ever heard of him. Well actually he doesn't do anything, because (again) unlike most prophets he's quite irrevocably dead.
  22. Stoniphi obscurely fossiliferous Valued Senior Member

    Your' wife, as is often the case, is quite right in that statement.

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    I get the stinking religious people AND the stinking financial people both calling me during dinner.

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    I compassionately read them the riot act before hanging up on them.

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  23. rodereve Registered Member

    I don't think your qualm is with religion, but with its followers. After all, the Christian doctrine does have some merits and values, the bible alone is just a piece of literature. What people decide to do with that literature and ideals is of their own doing. It's like saying Darwin's 'On the Origin of Species' was a bad book, because it was used to justify Hitler's actions or bring about social darwinism. There are good people and bad people in every religion, including Buddhism. The problem you have is not with religious people, but stupid people that are religious.

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