Buddhism Dialogue at our church

A monk from a local Zen Buddhist Temple is coming to give a lecture on his faith to the youth of our Basilica which is home to around 17,000 members. I feel like our church is getting close to Universalism with the I’m OK your OK attitude among neighboring religions. I feel like we should be evangelizing to the Zen Buddhists who have no savior beyond themselves. What do you think?

I would never feel comfortable with such a lecture in the church. It should be made absolutely clear that there is no equality between Catholicism and Buddhism.

The concept of a saviour is characteristic of Christians who believe that they need a saviour to save them from their sins in order to facilitate their entry into heaven.

The main goal in Buddhism is not to be saved from their sins, but be righteous enough in this life to be able to reach nirvana in the next life.

American Zen author Brad Warner states that in Buddhism there is no concept of sin at all.[2][3] The Buddha Dharma Education Association also expressly states “The idea of sin or original sin has no place in Buddhism.”[4] Zen student and author Barbara O’Brien has said that “Buddhism has no concept of sin.”[5][6]
Chögyam Trungpa specifically disagreed with the notion of “original sin”[7] saying
The problem with this notion of original sin or mistake is that it acts very much as a hinderance to people. At some point it is of course necessary to realize one’s shortcomings. But if one goes too far with that, it kills any inspiration and can destroy one’s vision as well. So in that way, it really is not helpful, and in fact it seems unnecessary.[7]

Yeah…if you firmly believe you get a few more chances after this life and can risk making a mess of your life and your loved ones.
What’s the problem with recognizing sin and working to avoid it? Sounds like good sense to me and it can open a person up to true inspiration and vision, not the illusion of such.
A hindrance? To avoid killing, stealing others’ things or spouses, slandering, coveting actually sets us free. Acknowledging our human nature and its weaknesses is a big step toward becoming a finer human.
And putting a Savior, our Higher Power, above our own limited consciences makes good sense in keeping it honest and real.
Many Western Zen practitioners are simply running from their consciences, while claiming they are seeking a “higher consciousness”. A clear and good conscience will get you to a higher consciousness quicker and deeper than a higher consciousness can get you to a clear and good conscience. Even a true Buddhist knows that.

Greetings, fellow pilgrim, and all blessings be upon you in Jesus Christ. I am not surprised that you are troubled, I am troubled too. However, I ask myself, “what would The Blessed Mother do?” I perceive that Our Lady would not be troubled, in that, while this form of religion boils down to little more than self centered self improvement, it still has potential to bring a man far closer to God than many of our own brothers and sisters are today. Does not Sacred Scripture teach us that every man shall be judged by his works? And perhaps this mans works are pure and beautiful and God has sent him to your parish to put some among you to shame - because that this man, who neither knows God or hears his voice, has shown himself to be far more advanced than those of the faith who are idle and careless. I do not say it is fitting for a Buddhist to teach a Catholic about God but perhaps one man can teach another man most anything about the ways of man. Again Sacred Scripture tells us that even an evil man can give good gifts to his children. So what then? You say to evangelize the Buddhists but I say to evangelize the Catholics. For perhaps you may see one who is deceived by satan to believe that the way of Zen has more to offer him than The Church. God forbid, but if it was so then you would need to remind that man how the path to God lies in Jesus Christ. You always have choice to attack that which is wrong in order that it can be shown as such, or, being peace loving, you can strengthen the mind of the hearer so that they can easily see for themselves what is right and wrong. Remember the cardinal virtues - Prudence, Fortitude, Temperance, and Justice. Which virtue do you practice closing off your mind to God’s purpose? Or do you think this monk comes by accident, somehow slipping through the fingers of Our Lord and entering his body unawares? So practice only love, my dear Christian, and you will do well. And you never know, perhaps God brings this man so that his own heart, though coming as a teacher, can learn the ways of God Almighty.

May Christ himself pour out his blessings upon you -

Zachary

I just pointed out the futility of trying to evangelize a Zen Buddhist. Originally Buddhism was established before Christianity. In the time of the Buddha, he was focusing on trying to reduce the suffering by not repeating the life-death-birth-suffering-death endless cycle that he saw around him. Being righteous was the most direct way to achieve this.
Achieving nirvana would eliminate the suffering. Rather than assuming that we are all sinners and therefore have to atone for our sins, the focus is being righteous from the get go. Focus on a positive approach toward life rather than trying to make amends for our imperfections.

In Zen the focus is on the present. Also, the focus is on practical life. Saving us from non-admission to Heaven in an after life because of our sins makes no sense.

Buddhists do not believe in God nor in being saved nor in having a saviour. I don’t see the point of trying to introduce these concepts to a person who does not know what you are talking about.

This entire thread goes against Catholic teaching.

If the Sikhs can perform their holy rituals in a Catholic Church then a Buddhist can present Buddhist teaching also :slight_smile:

youtube.com/watch?v=S3avfSkLzB8

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Sikhs and Zen Buddhists speaking in Catholic Churches encourages mutual understanding. But trying persuade them that they are wrong and you are right is counterproductive.

Auntie Yeah…if you firmly believe you get a few more chances after this life and can risk making a mess of your life and your loved ones.

Actually, I think this belief might make one’s endeavors toward spirituality more genuine (not that I am saying one is true and the other not). I wonder how many Christians would care much about Christ if there was no promise of heaven and no threat of hell. If Christ said “love one another, but when you’re dead you’re dead” how crowded would the churches be? To be honest, I think many if not most Christians do their best simply for attainment of rewards and avoidance of punishment, and to be even more honest, a domesticated dog is capable of the same. If anyone is inclined to take exception to that, I would ask that they make sure they are in truth doing better than that before objecting. I just want some honest dialog on this point.

What’s the problem with recognizing sin and working to avoid it? Sounds like good sense to me and it can open a person up to true inspiration and vision, not the illusion of such.
A hindrance? To avoid killing, stealing others’ things or spouses, slandering, coveting actually sets us free. Acknowledging our human nature and its weaknesses is a big step toward becoming a finer human.

Feeling that we are ugly and sinful is not necessarily a prerequisite for introspection and a desire to be good and to love others. It is possible to see ourselves as beautiful and good and deserving of love while at the same time doing our best to grow. How many people, I wonder, go through life missing the opportunity to live fully because they have been taught that they are by nature worthy of less?

Many Western Zen practitioners are simply running from their consciences, while claiming they are seeking a “higher consciousness”.

I am Catholic, but I know something about other religions. Buddhism teaches right action and right thought. It teaches people to be good. This requires a lot of work for a Buddhist as it does for anyone else. How is seeking such things a matter of hiding? Or could it be said that we as Christians are simply hiding behind the idea that we are by nature sinful and were born with original sin as an excuse for falling short of these goals repeatedly? In truth, I’m not seeing how one is more or less sincere than the other.

A clear and good conscience will get you to a higher consciousness quicker and deeper than a higher consciousness can get you to a clear and good conscience. Even a true Buddhist knows that.

I’m not sure I understand. Are you saying that a true Buddhist less intelligent than a true Christian, or less able to perceive truth than a Christian? If we are looking to attain a higher consciousness, we need to start with being truthful and honest. And if we are truthful and honest, the only reason we can say that we as Catholics are right and everyone else is wrong is because we have been taught to believe we are right, just as everyone else is taught the same about their faith traditions. If there was anything definitive one way or the other, there would be only one belief tradition. But instead there are many, and each believes they have the truth, while everyone else simply has a belief system. And this in turn is simply a belief system.

Thanks,
Gary

Which is exactly why this would be in conflict with Catholic teaching, right?
mlz

Yes, you are correct and although it is good to know how other faiths think it is essential to make sure our Catholic youth who are so impressionabel know what the Catholic faith is before looking at other faiths.

My prayers,
mlz

Not exactly true. While Buddhism may not speak toward the existence or non existence of God, there are many Buddhists who do believe in God or Gods. I know many of them personally and have witnessed numerous Buddhists praying. The concepts definitely exist among Buddhists, after all, Buddhists are also intelligent and are certainly aware of theistic concepts, and many Buddhists know exactly what you are talking about when you mention “God.” I think a lecture from a Buddhist in a Church where the setting is about interfaith dialog is perfectly fine as long as it is not a missionary exercise. Dialog is in no way an attempt to equalize faiths or beliefs. It is an attempt to understand where and why a person believes as he does in order to help us understand the dynamics of our own faith. Be confident in your faith and you should be fine listening to another person talk about their faith.

You are very disappointing. It is truly sad to see a man tear apart his own sister in The Faith, nitpicking every word like some tabloid critic, simply to pad his own feelings of intellectual superiority. Tell me, what good have you done with these words? Who have you helped or where is there joy? Does intellectual knowledge bring peace to ones soul? Our dear sister spoke honestly and simply: you sound like one who beloved St. Paul warns about. And what’s worse, you insult and put down your fellow Catholics as selfish phonies seeking only rewards. (Perhaps you have fallen into the trap of believing other people think the way that you do.) Even if that is true, that some are lacking in their spiritual progress, who are you to point that out? And why? Does it make you somehow feel good to point out the faults of others? You say most Christians are no better than a domesticated dog - shame in you. Do you even know Our Lady? All this in front of non-believers… So then, since you correct your sister intellectually in front of all I will correct you spiritually in from of all.

May The Holy Spirit lead you into all truths -

Zachary

:thumbsup: to you, Vianneyizer.

I was also disturbed by Gary’s post. I can’t blame him, since many Catholics today don’t really understand their faith. He seems to be talking in the “spirit of Vatican II,” rather than what Vatican II actually said.

Gary sounds like he supports indifferentism-- he went out of his way multiple times to express that Buddhism is just as salvific as Catholicism. He also talked up how great and noble Buddhists are, and how Catholics just act out of rewards/punishment. That’s absurd. One could easily argue that Buddhists do good acts out of fear of living another 1 million lives as slugs or roaches, and only do good works to get to Nirvana and escape this wretched world of suffering.

Regardless, Gary seemed to be expressing indifferentism. Indifferentism is a heresy. There is no salvation outside of the Church. Vatican II didn’t change that teaching. If a Buddhist is saved it’s not because he’s a Buddhist, but because he or she was joined to the Catholic Church by assenting to the truths and graces that were available to him-- truths and graces that came from Christ, the Creator of truth and grace-- and which flows into the world through His Church. Error is always dangerous, because it leads us away from the truth. Yes, it may be possible that a Buddhist is saved-- though keep in mind the Church has never declared any non-Christian or non-Catholic to be saved, excepting for Jews who lived before Christ-- and with this in mind the Indifferentism expressed earlier is at least heterodox, if not worse.

As Servant highlighted, I think what is important to understand is that there is no prohibition on a church being used for the purposes of interfaith or ecumenical dialogue, so long as it isn’t during the Holy Mass. Many Catholic Churches host interfaith events.

Allowing a Buddhist monk to speak in a Church, provided his intention is not to convert us but rather to enhance our knowledge of his faith, is hardly “indifferentism”.

Catholics have an understanding that our faith possesses the Fullness of Truth, nevertheless we do not believe that it possesses the fullness of truth in “isolation”. The Holy Spirit is active outside the Church, “planting seeds” and there are many whose hearts are spiritually with her even if bodily they are not. From this theological standpoint, Catholics can appreciate the truths and beauty present in other world religions, as genuinely arising from the presence of the Holy Spirit. We reject nothing that is true and holy, no matter what source it may come from.

Is this indifferentism? Does it undermine the fact that “outside the Church there is no salvation”? Hardly.

KEP1983thumbsup: to you, Vianneyizer.
I was also disturbed by Gary’s post.

Good Morning Kep and Vianneyizer: My post may have disturbed you, but I think the matter at hand is more a question as to whether there is truth in it. If there is no truth in it, then it shouldn’t be disturbing, because I would simply be just another person with an opinion, and I’m sure you’re not disturbed by the fact that people simply have opinions. Therefore I am wondering if perhaps you are simply disturbed by the ideas I have offered.

I can’t blame him, since many Catholics today don’t really understand their faith.

I agree with you. The question is whether or not it is most Catholics who don’t understand their faith or just some Catholics who don’t understand their faith, and the follow on question to that question is to ask ourselves in which of those camps we ourselves belong. Simply put, is it me or is it you? Serious self exploration and introspection is required before we answer.

Gary sounds like he supports indifferentism-- he went out of his way multiple times to express that Buddhism is just as salvific as Catholicism.

I think I that took due care to express that I wasn’t putting one over the other. And that is the point. My sense is that you, like many Catholics, are taken aback at the audacity of putting anyone on equal terms with you, and in turn, this sounds to you like making others superior. I have only offered that they are equal, and this would be especially true in the eyes of God. Do you think God gave Catholics a special appetition for truth and uncanny powers of reason that He withheld from everyone else, and if He did, why then do we suppose He made everyone else? To serve as a dull backdrop to the effulgence of Catholics? I am suggesting that the road to hell is paved with notions like that. The road to heaven starts with the realization that Catholics, Buddhists, Protestants, Hindus, Atheists and the like are all branches of the same vine, expressions of the same source, and the true presence of Christ is seen in every face you meet.

He also talked up how great and noble Buddhists are, and how Catholics just act out of rewards/punishment.

Again, I don’t think you are reading carefully. I said that I wasn’t suggesting that one was right and one was wrong.

That’s absurd. One could easily argue that Buddhists do good acts out of fear of living another 1 million lives as slugs or roaches, and only do good works to get to Nirvana and escape this wretched world of suffering.

There are many sects of Buddhism. Most do not believe that you can move backward in evolution. For instance, humans come back as humans for the most part.

Regardless, Gary seemed to be expressing indifferentism. Indifferentism is a heresy. There is no salvation outside of the Church.

There is no salvation inside of it if our motives aren’t straight. I have simply called upon readers to examine their motives. It is not a heresy to think nor is it heresy to ask questions, and if what we believe is really true, then surely none of it is threatened by thinking and straightforward questions. I think such things would be especially welcomed by those who hold the truth. Those who do not hold the truth might recoil in horror and call you such things as a heretic. I am asking you to remember who you say you are, and then to think about whether or not you are in fact what you have said. These are disturbing questions, yes, but only if the answers are disturbing.

Vatican II didn’t change that teaching. If a Buddhist is saved it’s not because he’s a Buddhist, but because he or she was joined to the Catholic Church by assenting to the truths and graces that were available to him-- truths and graces that came from Christ, the Creator of truth and grace-- and which flows into the world through His Church. Error is always dangerous, because it leads us away from the truth. Yes, it may be possible that a Buddhist is saved-- though keep in mind the Church has never declared any non-Christian or non-Catholic to be saved, excepting for Jews who lived before Christ-- and with this in mind the Indifferentism expressed earlier is at least heterodox, if not worse.

Again, you are worrying about who is saved and who is not. I think you are worried about the wrong things. I think we should ask ourselves about our motives. Would we love Jesus if He couldn’t save us? Do we love the people who suffer everyday because of our sins in the same way and to the same extent that we love the one who died for them? If the answer is no, then I am suggesting that we don’t know Christ. Those among us who are such as this will be left to ask “When did I see you hungry, Lord?” Those among us who are such as this have profoundly missed the point. Do we love Jesus because through His teachings and His example, we have transformed our lives to the extent to which love has become the principle aspect of our nature, or do we love Him because He has a goodie bag and a stick? Why are you so focused on salvation and being right? If you would, please ask yourself this before you answer. I am suggesting that we explore our motives. Carefully.

Thank you,
Gary

The point is not what we think but what we do. That was what I was trying to express in my original post as well (but nobody seemed to notice). I will instead paraphrase a parable laid out by Christ in Mathew 21:28 -

A man had two sons. He went to his eldest son and says, “go and tend the field,” but this son he does not want to. However, later, he goes ahead and does it anyway. The man then says to his youngest son, “go and tend the fields,” and the boy say he would love too. However, later, he forgets his promise and goes about his way without doing his fathers bidding. So then, which of these sons is justified before his father?

Likewise, it does not matter what heterodoxical beliefs our brother Gary thinks. What matters is what he has done, and does. And what he has done is bring accusation against The Church. He forgets The Communion of Saints (like protestants) and assumes that the Christians of this current age are the only Christians that are still living. I am moving on because that I will not be drawn into slandering or assuming anymore about Gary than I have already perpetrated. You are loved, my fellow convert, in that together we have been called out of a destructive path. But be wary that the Protestant inclination of loving to be better than his fellow does not still linger in your soul.

Be well dear Christian and may God bless you -

Zachary

Please do not group me with this man. I have nothing to so with his post other than he saw an opportunity to strike and took it upon my heels. Either way you two deserve each other. Two sides of the same coin spinning through the air and squabbling to see who lands on top.

Good day -

Zachary

Vianneyizer;

Likewise, it does not matter what heterodoxical beliefs our brother Gary thinks. What matters is what he has done, and does. And what he has done is bring accusation against The Church. He forgets The Communion of Saints (like protestants) and assumes that the Christians of this current age are the only Christians that are still living.

Zachary

Good Evening Zachary: What I have done was to reply to the idea that was offered here which suggested that the motives of other faith traditions are less genuine than our own. In reply, I offered a mirror to those who would think so, and asked some very simple questions about their motives. It is not an accusation against the Church to ask people to examine their motives on the occasion of them questioning the motives of others. As far as what anyone has done or not done, my view is that no one has accepted the invitation to answer the questions. Is the mirror I offered such a hard one to look into?

Thank you,
Gary

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