Our Teenage Buddhist Exchange Students experience Hindu Temple & Muslim Mosque tonight

Interesting experience tonight. Our Buddhist Exchange Students visited, observed and learned about Hindu Religion at a Hindu Temple & then about Islam at a Muslim Mosque. I asked after which they liked better and they said the Hindu Temple.

In the car on the way home we discussed what we learned tonight that Hindu Religion has over 30,000 gods and Islam has 1 God.

Then I inquired if there were 1 God in Buddhism, but was told Buddhism has a ‘mountain’ of gods because there are so many. I inquired if Buddha was a god and they answered ‘yes’.

Then they asked me how many gods my religion has. I answered them 1 God, 3 Persons: Father, Son & Holy Spirit, but they are not 3 gods, but 1 God. One of our students speaks English better than the other and my answer had to be translated to the other to be understood, after the translation loud bursts of laughter explode out of my backseat along with Japanese…which was translated by a girl laughing so hard she could hardly speak, ‘That is so funny, your religion has 1 God with 3 faces.’ I answered while laughter continued, that not 1 God with 3 faces, but 1 God 3 Persons. While laughter continued, I have to be honest, I recognize how crazy it sounds and I wasn’t about to go further that one of the Persons of our 1 God came down from heaven and was born to a human woman, was crucified, buried and then rose again and now we eat Him in the Eucharist. If I had, I am convinced that this may have caused so much laughing they would stop breathing and passed out. After they were able to control their laughter, they did realizing I’m sure that it’s not polite to laugh about their host-family’s God. They’re just teenagers and had an honest response to something they’ve never heard of before.

A very interesting experience that I thought appropriate to share here. Thoughts anyone?

What a rude bunch of people. If they were consistent, they would have died of laughter upon hearing about the hindu god Brahma who literally does have three heads, or Krishna, who has a title called ‘Sahasraakasah’, which means ‘Thousand Eyed Lord’.

Note: I’m not advocating laughter at any person’s religion-- I’m just showing the idiocy of these people (the exchange students).


I agree. Very rude. I don’t think they should be excused just because they are teenagers. Why did they show respect for Hinduism but not the OP’s religion? Not to mention the OP was their host.

Yes, that was a very rude response.

Their behavior seems to mirror that of many an American atheist. They are very quick to mock and ridicule any and all aspects of Christianity, but won’t breathe one negative word about Islam, Hindu, or any other religion. On the other hand it sounds like these are Japanese kids, and Japanese people use laughter somewhat differently than we do, so they may not have intended derision.

Very rude. But next time they ask, if they do. Either us the Shield of the Trinity or do things the way St. Patrick did and use the shamrock. :thumbsup:

The students learned about the other religions in a religious setting… meaning they had a prepared program to listen to, plus “visual aids” in the actual temple or mosque.

They learned about your religion while riding in a car.

They didn’t actually understand what you said. One student translated as best as possible for the others. What they now understood is your God has 3 faces.

Yes, a three faced being could sound funny. The way the child translated it to his friends, could sound funny. The conversation that followed in Japanese may have been funny.

We shouldn’t take it personally that they found this idea funny. For one reason, we aren’t sure what exactly they thought.

Our Catholic religion can actually be very strange to someone who happens to hear our beliefs.

Cultural differences also will affect what someone finds as funny and when it is acceptable to laugh at what we find as funny.

You can helps these students learn more about Christianity while they live with you. Stress with them God is Love. You can see if they can join the parish youth group.

Invite them to Mass. Show them around the church either after Mass or arrange to go there at another time. Invite the priest to give them a short presentation.

Thank you for investing in these youth and being willing to share your home, family, and faith with them.

Since they have visited a Hindu Temple and a Mosque, are you planning a trip to a Catholic church and a Jewish Temple, too? Might as well be thorough :slight_smile:

Going to a Catholic church and speaking with a priest (would be totally awesome if he spoke Japanese or another adult there did) might help them better understand the 1 God, 3 Persons concept.

Also, totally agree with RoseMary131.


I think from my own reading and study that Hindus don’t hold the understanding of a “three faced God” or a “Thousand Eyed Lord” as absolutely physically literal…something which most Christians fail to understand. However most conservative Christians take their own mythology literally, not simply a limited vehicle to house the Ineffible, Unameable, Indescribable Reality other faiths use.

Those Buddhists I know while speaking of various Gods, do not believe these “God forms” literally, but as “word pictures” to provide insight into one ascpect of the Eternal Reality we all seek to understand the best we can.

Even Christians use such iconic images as friend Rossum so aptly showed in the post above. How many here actually believe such a pictoral representation of the Trinity is literal? Yet there it is as bright as day.:shrug:

Welcome to the wonderful world of Interfaith dialogue…

And this is where the various clerical and monastic figures I’ve known who actively engage in this bang their heads against the Wall whenever i guess you’d call it “the laity” start talking amongst themselves.

Hmm… how to put this.

Your faith… you’ve grown up in a particular social/moral/cultural horizon where the ideas of a Trinitarian God make “sense”… or at least is accepted as a baseline fact. I mean lets be absolutely honest here, attempts to “rationalize” the Trinity (or issues relating to Christology) in either the Orthodox or Catholic traditions usually end up in highly heated exchanges and/or excommunication.

Even the Protestants who reject any sense of doctrine of a Trinity have a reference point to what you are talking about.

I’m guessing, like me, your Buddhist exchange student is not a Westerner nor has any kind of background with Christianity. So when you speak to him of 1 God / 3 Persons, he or she is not thinking in terms Homoousios right?

The 1 God / 3 Persons, given their specific social/moral/cultural reference point probably does look a lot like 1 God with 3 Faces.

Heck, even when I present this idea to my extended family (who are Hindus), they use their reference point in their heads and say to me point blank, “Oh…so… the Christians… I guess Christ must be like Vishnu?”

actually, if i recall correctly, there are a number of Hindus who believe Christ (like the Buddha) must be in fact yet another Avatara of Vishnu.

But the point i’m trying to make is that many of the things which seem obvious to you, do not to them.

Just in the same way that Westerners (and esp. some of the folks on CAF), have some rather…odd… ideas about Reincarnation.

You lack their context in the same way they lack yours.

Every religion looks funny from the outside.

I dont fully agree, they just dont understand, I think once they are educated about the Catholic religion, they would then understand more. If you introduce catholicism to a new person, they dont really understand and it takes patience and understanding to introducing it to them, thats my thought.

Um the OP is Orthodox not Catholic but I get what you are saying.

I reflected on my first response and wanted to add, I suppose it is strange for someone who has no idea about the Trinity which lets face is one of the most difficult mysteries for christians to attempt to understand and explain, let alone someone who has never heard of it.

Also, their parents may not have taught them that it is rude and akin to mocking to laugh at another person’s religion.

Which Buddhist school of thought do they follow? I’ve never known any Buddhists nor read any Buddhist texts that claim Buddha is a God. Some Hindu’s on the other hand view Buddha as an avatar of Vishu.

I don’t know about that. Do a search on Google Images and type “brahma statue” and you’ll see that, indeed, he does have three heads. Hindus worship a three headed statue, Brahma, whilst believing that Brahma doesn’t actually have three heads? I find that hard to believe.

Perhaps you’re right about the title of “Thousand Eyed Lord” being metaphorical, but even if that is true, there is still the case in the Bhagavad Gita where Krishna shows his Universal Form to his student, Arjuna. Arjuna sees all of Vishnu’s incarnations at the same time, which means that Arjuna is seeing a multiple headed, multiple bodied god.

And here i thought the Christians were the only ones with some mistaken viewpoints.

Mea Culpa Christians…perhaps i’ve been a bit too hard on you all.

Let’s try it this way friend Drac:

Show me the form of Brahman. This ब्रह्मन्, not ब्रह्मा (Brahma).

Brahman is the fundamental reality behind all the various Hindu gods, including Brahma their Creator Deity.

So… where is the form or statue of Brahman, this most Fundamental of things. What Christians might dub, “The Ground of All Being.”

During a discussion with a Hindu lady friend of mine at work, I told her that Jesus rose from the dead and she told me that was the craziest thing she ever heard. End of discussion. :cool:

I don’t believe they were intentionally being rude but I can see how someone who is completely foreign to the concept would find it funny. Good thing you didn’t go into the other details with them.

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