Buddist on Catholic answers?

Tell us why your religion(in your opinion) is more logical than ours and the right one? Christian free to participate.

I can just sense the Buddhists shaking their heads at the suggestion that they should argue that Buddhism is “the right one”.

I know, right? :thumbsup:

Buddhism is not a religion. Buddhists neither deny nor confirm the existence of God.

My future is now!

Best wishes,
Padster

Timi, could you really be wanting to learn about Buddhist practice?

I don’t know if anyone would want to come to CAF to tell others why their thoughts are more logical than Catholic ideas or Catholic faith.

Tim, as an aside. Why do you call yourself a “Christian Catholic”? :confused: That is redundant. As a Catholic, of course you are a Christian.

Why am I a Buddhist?

The short answer is that Buddhism works.

The long answer is the same but takes more words. I was brought up as a Christian. When I hit my teens I dropped religion entirely and switched to atheism. This was mainly because I objected to the rather too common, “anyone who does not agree exactly with us is damned for eternity,” attitude I found. After a few years I moved away from atheism, I felt that while it did avoid many of the problems with Christianity it was not itself a solution. I looked at different religions to find something that would work for me. None of the Abrahamic religions attracted me – as a hangover from my atheism I still had a problem with the concepts of God and soul. Initially I was interested in Hinduism: the background of Indian religion provides a very different world view: less exclusive – everyone achieves liberation eventually, the concept of karma and a much more relaxed attitude to other religions. Of the Hindu texts the Bhagavad Gita and Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras were the ones that attracted me most. In particular there is hardly any mention of gods in the Yoga Sutras. This seemed to be an interesting direction to explore.

Reading round Hinduism I inevitably came across Jainism and Buddhism. Jaininsm has souls but no gods, or at least no important gods. Buddhism has no souls and its attitude to gods was very casual – like any other living being they need to become enlightened. A mere god is far inferior to a Bodhisattva, let alone to a fully enlightened Buddha. Buddhism seemed to have the elements I was looking for: non-exclusivity, no soul, morality and while it did have gods, they were unimportant and could easily be ignored. So I tried Buddhism. I studied more on it, went to groups and to meditation classes and found that everything fitted together well and it suited the way I wanted to go.

A frequently quoted Buddhist text is the Kalama sutta which says that if we are to accept something then we have to try it first to check that it is correct:

[The Buddha said:] “Kalamas, when you yourselves know: ‘These things are good; these things are not blameable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,’ enter on and abide in them.”

This advice applies to the Buddha’s own words just as much as to anything else. I followed the Buddha’s advice. I tried Buddhism, found that it worked and I have followed it ever since.

There is even some scientific evidence that Buddhism works: see Buddhists ‘really are happier’.

Buddhism is a very practical religion. It is a sustained attempt to alleviate the suffering of a less than perfect world. Generally it succeeds. Buddhism works.

rossum

I find it very intriguing that you associate “being more logical” with being right, as if implying that the human intellect is the proper tool to be used in understanding the Divine.

There is a reason I bring that up, and it’s not to be annoying or patronizing. It’s to draw attention to the mental context of the question itself. The way that Christianity (and especially Catholicism) has developed itself is as a philosophical system. By that, I do not mean to imply that Catholicism is a “philosophy and not a religion” (which many people–I believe erroneously–say about Buddhism), but rather that the emphasis of Catholic theology has been on developing a series of logically consistent arguments to establish certain points. Even when I come to this website, I often see advertisements at the top of the page about “how to win arguments” (or something along those lines).

Philosophy has become so central to Catholicism that many major seminaries require a large number of philosophy credits, if not a whole degree in philosophy, as a prerequisite for entry.

Furthermore, Catholicism focuses a lot of attention on belief, that is, on the concepts that an individual holds in their mind.

Both of these factors contribute to a way of approaching religion that is not necessarily universal. And the question is seeking to understand a religion that does not share the mental environment as the question itself.

Granted, I am not trying to say that Buddhism lacks philosophy or belief. Both of those are present, in greater or lesser degree depending on the lineage. However, there is also a great deal of learning how to overcome and move beyond the mind.

In order to understand something completely different from what we already know, we often must call into question the very mental framework that we bring to the table, and that includes questioning how we determine what Truth is.

I do not mean to imply that your framework is “wrong” or flawed, but rather I draw attention to the assumptions underneath your question, in order to help people overcome a common hurdle we often have in understanding things that exist outside of the mental environment we grew up in. “The fish never sees the water,” so to speak.

Awesome question Tim. I know that our church teaches that we can believe in our faith from the perspective of rationality or logic, but I am not too much interested in logic as that too is a western construct.

In my work I am trying to find that bridging theology between indigenous spirituality and catholicism because I am both aboriginal and catholic. I have always believed that what we call the Holy Spirit (the source, the energy, whatever) is where God is working among us on a daily basis. I firmly believe that the Spirit does not need the church’s permission to work with a people. And so I have a concept of the Native American Testament to which I compare to the Christian Old Testament. I believe to disregard aboriginal spirituality would be to deny the work of the Spirit and our people prior to contact.

I am saying this cause one of the things that I believe Christianity to be weak on is an eco-theology as well as balancing the looking in to ourselves and drawing on the gifts from our own being that the Creator has given us WITH the validity of looking outwards towards a Creator of which are part but also of which is much greater than our collective. I believe that Buddhism, Hindi and Indigenous Spirituality have a lot to contribute to our experience as Catholics and we don’t have to be afraid of “the other”.

So, I haven’t answered your question I just want to acknowledge the wisdom of Buddhism from an Aboriginal Catholic perspective and I am happy you posted.

Trickster (an aboriginal symbol for transformation - conversion)
Bruce Ferguson

Hi rossum,

Why were you actively seeking a religion which does not acknowledge a God or a human soul?

I’m intrugued by your post above :slight_smile:

Because of the lack of substantial evidence for either. If I am going to rely entirely on Durga for my salvation, then I want to be very sure that Durga really exists. Buddhism does not rely on any external salvation, it is an “enlightenment by works” religion. I know that I exist, and I can see the effects that my actions have. In a small way those actions are moving me in the right direction.

Souls again lack evidence and logical coherence. If a soul is unchanging then it is not possible for a soul to change from “saved” to “unsaved”, or vice versa. An unchanging soul destroys the basis of morality and eliminates hope for a proportion of people. If the soul changes, then it is not a unitary thing, but can be analysed into different parts. Buddhist philosophy is very keen on analysing things into different parts, and determining the properties of those different parts.

HTH

rossum

Totally agree. A brief study of ALL religions acknowledges some form of “Durga” but never is there proof for our finite minds. How can the painted comprehend the Painter. It is only by deduction one can have faith in a Durga. What else is the reality of being able to have faith for?

Wonderful! Wonderful indeed :slight_smile:

Is not the true purpose of ALL religions to carry out deeds that are of evidential benefit for others?

No religion can be seen to have any validity were it not to produce “goodly fruits”, however, the supreme source of that “teaching” or “instruction” cannot be dismissed by way of the fact that “it can be done without the existence of the Durga”.

May I ask, what is your understanding and definition of “external salvation”?

Is it possible that this may well have been a valid mantra that the Buddha had taught during a time when “worship of things” had over-ridden the real and tangible reality that man was made, FIRST AND FOREMOST, to carry out goodly works? This was His Mission?

Again, this is wonderful, for what is the purpose of the human ability to analyse and disect things rationally, founded on an observation of empirical reality?

May I ask, what is the source of your understanding the “the soul is unchanging”?

From observation there are many different faiths, and at least some of those faiths are exclusive – “only if you believe the same as us will you get to heaven”. Hence at least some of those many faiths are wrong. Mere faith is not enough. “Proof” is for logic and mathematics, not for the real world since we have incomplete knowledge. That is why, strictly, science does not do proof.

Is not the true purpose of ALL religions to carry out deeds that are of evidential benefit for others?

I do not like your use of the singular, “the true purpose”. There are many purposes, and in the final analysis the difference between self and other is not real: “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”

No religion can be seen to have any validity were it not to produce “goodly fruits”, however, the supreme source of that “teaching” or “instruction” cannot be dismissed by way of the fact that “it can be done without the existence of the Durga”.

Many religions have many different claimed sources: gods, prophets, the enlightened and others. I judge by what works for me. I am not selfish enough to insist that what works for me must also work for all other people.

May I ask, what is your understanding and definition of “external salvation”?

Salvation/enlightenment/moksha other than by one’s own efforts. Relying on an external power to do the work.

Is it possible that this may well have been a valid mantra that the Buddha had taught during a time when “worship of things” had over-ridden the real and tangible reality that man was made, FIRST AND FOREMOST, to carry out goodly works? This was His Mission?

Good works, and the avoidance of bad works, are a preparation; necessary but not sufficient. The real “work” of Buddhism is meditation.

May I ask, what is the source of your understanding the “the soul is unchanging”?

The Christian version of the soul is described as permanent. Anything that is permanent is ipso facto unchanging. Change means that the properties of an object are different at certain times. Permanence means that the properties of an object are the same at all times. One thing cannot be both the same and different simultaneously. Change and permanence are incompatible. Much of what we think of as permanence is an internal mental projection onto impermanent external objects. One of the aims of meditation is to let us separate our internal projections from the actual external objects.

rossum

Well put, Rossum. I always find your posts to be very lucid and thoughtful, even when I disagree with you. One thing I wasn’t sure about from the above argument is how change necessarily implies that something has many parts.

And just to clarify, I don’t disagree with your conclusion here. Personally I am of the opinion that 1) the soul changes (just like everything else in manifested reality), 2) it is made of many parts (again… just like everything else). I just wasn’t sure how you jumped from change to composite nature. Maybe my brain is just broken today. :o

No. The purpose of Christianity is the union of God with man; the reparation of a lost relationship; Salvation.

…and how would that be achieved Steve?

I start from the premise that one thing cannot have incompatible properties. Something can be spherical and blue; it cannot be both spherical and cubical. Colour and shape are not opposed, whereas different shapes are opposed.

Consider something, X, that changes. If it changes then there are two different times, T1 and T2 where the thing is different: change just means difference over time. Hence X(T1) =/= X(T2). In order to see the difference some properties have to change, perhaps a change from blue to green. By the rule above that cannot be a single thing, but must be two things: one blue and the other green. If we had blue and blue then there would be no change and X(T1) == X(T2) which defeats our premise that X changes.

Since these two things, X(T1) and X(T2), are different they cannot be one single same thing. There are parts present at T1 that are not present at T2, or vice versa or possibly both. It is possible that some parts remain the same but there must also be parts that either disappear or that appear.

If there is change then there is difference. If there is difference then we cannot have a single object, but we must have at least two objects. A single object cannot contain difference within itself.

rossum

Have you considered the possibility that all faiths have their time and their audience for which they are exclusive, “at that time”? maybe there is progessive education and progressive teachings from the Durga? Maybe this exclusivity is based on the development of the human populations at a specific time and/or place. No doubt place and time are strongly emphasised in all religious scripture.

So, maybe exclusivity relates to bringing a population out of heedlessness and towards enhanced material and spiritual capacity? Maybe that is the definition of salvation?

When I am at 5th grade, my teacher is EXCLUSIVELY my teacher, yet one day, I will move on and will have the 6th grade teacher as my exclusive teacher. Does that make my 5th grade teacher irrelevant. Does what my 6th grade teacher teaches me become “non-truth”…do all my class mates say “BOOOO! the grade teacher is wrong, we want to stick to the 5th grade teacher”?

The headmaster is the same for all teachers, Mr. Durga :wink:

Fair enough, maybe the use of the word true purpose is a subjective analysis. What do you mean by “the difference between self and other is not real”?

Wouldn’t you agree that truth must work for all?

What is the purpose of meditation? Wouldn’t you say that it is “self” orientated? While very important to develop ones inner and outer being, wouldn’t you say that there is an equal importance to look after the inner and outer being of the society in which one resides in? Man is very much organic with its environment. Man can impact society, and society can impact man. What therefore is the benefit in spending years, decades meditating on finding inner peace, yet one lives in a society which is totally devoid of inner peace?

Can you please provide a reference to this permanence in Christian theology?

I would also add that permanence does not necessarily equate to “non-changing”.

I could easily leave an orange “permanently” on my window sill, it will still change over time, even until only an atom may remain, yet its permanence in that spot has resilted in dramatic change with time

Exclusivity tends to breed violence: “You must believe as I do or else God will torture you”, all to easily becomes, “You must believe as I do or else I will torture you.”

The headmaster is the same for all teachers, Mr. Durga :wink:

Mr. Durga?

http://www.sivadurga.com/images/maaDurga.jpg

That is Ms. Durga, the Headmistress.

What do you mean by “the difference between self and other is not real”?

I mean that there appears of be a difference at a superficial level. When analysed more thoroughly the difference disappears.

Wouldn’t you agree that truth must work for all?

No. It is a truth for cats that fresh meat is an essential component of their diet so directly killing their food is not a wrong action. For humans, fresh meat is not essential, so directly killing your food is a wrong action.

There is also the problem that there are many more claims to truth than there are actual truths. We also have the problem of how to express truth. The three expressions: 1 + 1 = 2, 1 + 1 = 10 and 1 + 1 = 1 are all true given different sets of underlying assumptions: base 10 arithmetic, base 2 arithmetic and logic.

What is the purpose of meditation?

Try it and find out for yourself. Zen is Boring contains a good description from a Soto Zen perspective.

Man can impact society, and society can impact man. What therefore is the benefit in spending years, decades meditating on finding inner peace, yet one lives in a society which is totally devoid of inner peace?

The Buddha spent six years training and 45 years out preaching in society. His preaching would not have been as effective without the six years training.

I would also add that permanence does not necessarily equate to “non-changing”.

Yes it does. If something is permanent then it is present at all possible times. If something changes then there are times when it is present and times when it is not. A thing cannot be both present and not present at a given time. At best we can analyse it into separate parts, some of which are present while others are missing.

I could easily leave an orange “permanently” on my window sill, it will still change over time, even until only an atom may remain, yet its permanence in that spot has resilted in dramatic change with time

It is not the same orange, it is different. Difference excludes sameness. Buddhism sees the world as basically changing with a veneer of apparent permanence overlaid. The world flows, like Heraclitus’ river or your changing orange.

rossum

Cool. I got it now. Thanks for explaining it to me. :slight_smile:

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