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Religious Americans view others

In this Rosh Hashana greeting card from the ea...

In this Rosh Hashana greeting card from the early 1900s, Russian Jews, packs in hand, gaze at the American relatives beckoning them to the United States. Over two million Jews fled the pogroms of the Russian Empire to the safety of the U.S. from 1881-1924. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

It is only human for most people to think more highly of themselves and the groups (academic, professional, social, religious, political and national) that they identify with, than they think of others. It is only natural to notice more of your own and your own groups virtues than the virtues of others; and it is only normal to to be less aware of your own groups vices and prejudices than those of others groups.

Thus, it is not surprising that a survey last week by Pew Research, found that Evangelical Protestants, who are confident that they are going to Heaven, score a warm rating of 79 with people who called themselves “born-again” or evangelical, but only receive a rating of 52 from others, a 27 point difference.

Catholics also give themselves a similar warm 80 score, while non-Catholics give them a six point warmer score than Evangelical Protestants rating at 58. but that still is a 22 point difference.

And Jews, who do not fear original sin and eternal damnation, rate themselves at a very warm 89, while non-Jews rate Jews as a warm 63, which is 5 points warmer than Catholics, and 11 points above Evangelical Protestants, but still a 26 point difference between self and others ratings.

On the other hand while Atheists gave themselves a 62 rating, others gave them a cool 41 rating, a 21 point difference.

White Evangelical Protestants rank Buddhists at 39, Hindus at 38, Muslims at 30, and atheists at only 25; the lowest score of any group.

Atheists give evangelicals an equally low overall rating of 28. But Atheists give much warmer ratings to Buddhists 69, Jews 61 and Hindus 58.

Americans are somewhat polarized about evangelicals. The survey found that, “roughly as many people give evangelicals a cold rating (27 percent) as give them a warm rating (30 percent).”

The most important results for Jews in this study is the very positive views Americans have of Jews and Judaism. Jewish anxieties about religious anti-semitism are greatly exaggerated.

On the other hand, many Jews need to examine their own negative attitudes toward evangelical Protestants who clearly differ with us in as many areas as we differ with them, yet still have a warmer view of us then we have of them.

White evangelicals rated Jews at a very warm 69, while Jewish respondents gave evangelical Protestants a very cool 34. Most people explain this as due to their ‘southern style’ and Evangelical Protestant Missionary efforts to convert Jews; which acts to offset their support for Israel.

Jews and Catholics have warmer views of each other than Jews and evangelical Protestants have because Catholics have no active missionary activities directed toward Jews, and Jews are more likely to know Catholics then they are likely to know evangelical Protestants.

Thus, Catholics are viewed more warmly than evangelical Protestants (58 vs 34), and this is only a little less than the Catholic view of Jews at 61.

These ratings are not a fluke. The Pew results match closely with a similar study in 2007 by political scientists Robert Putnam and David Campbell for their 2010 book, ”American Grace.” The overall order of warm-to-cold views for religious groups is unchanged between the two studies.

Rabbi Maller’s web site is: rabbimaller.com


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Jesus and Buddha; brothers from another mother

Thich Nhat Hanh at Hue City, Vietnam (2007)

Thich Nhat Hanh at Hue City, Vietnam (2007) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Brother Christopher

What I am about to share with you is not endorsed by my church. Nor is it endorsed by my order.  It might even be considered heresy by many.  And up until a couple hundred years ago I may have been put to death for even mentioning what I am about to share, or at the very least excommunicated from Rome. Even today there are Christian-based church hate groups that may end up coming to my door to picket and demonstrate against me as this thought reaches their ears (and I will say now, that these groups are so far removed from the teachings of Jesus I cannot fathom how they call themselves Christian).

I learned more about true Christianity from a Buddhist monk then all my years of catechism.  Thich Nhat Hanh has written a number of books on regaining our spiritual connection; but to me his two most important books in the life of a Christian were ‘Going Home: Jesus and Buddha as Brothers’ and ‘Living Buddha, Living Christ’.  In short the Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh takes the two most pivotal characters in our worlds spiritual history and draws the correlations between the two through their lives and their teachings. In essence he looks for the similarities in the two, which in the end discards the petty differences and prejudices man places on the subject and see the beautify of both.  I reminds me of the saying that, and I paraphrase, ‘we all attempt to climb the same mountain; some take the cleared and worn path, others narrow and dangerous trails. While others even bushwhack upward. At times we all slip, stumble and fall, only to get up and continue to move forward. Upon reaching the summit, no matter our path or vehicle to get there… we all experience the same glorious view of the moon.

In referring to the context of Hanh’s teachings it has been pointed out, that the he association between Jesus and Buddha can teach us to ‘practice in such a way that both Buddha and Jesus the Christ is born every moment of our daily life.’ For at the junction of compassion, mercy, benevolence, and holiness at which the two traditions meet lies the understanding of both. Regardless of our spiritual or religious tradition if we see the similarities in all things we then live like true Christians is our case, with tolerance and coexistence.

I want to stretch your mind a bit… What if the there is more to the story of Yeshua ben Yosaf (Jesus, son of Joseph)?  I agree that the bible is Divinely inspired by men (and we have to think that quite possibly women had a hand in it as well) who recorded the events of His life for the particular groups the represented and were in turn trying to teach. I also acknowledge that these chronicles were recorded several decades after the death of the Son of man. (During his earthly ministry, Jesus was referred to Himself as Son of Man. Think about this… why did He represent to himself as the Son of Man? The cause for this is evident? He lived like a man during this time; fact is he died like a man. He lived with us as a real human being. He was the Son of Man.  It is not until after his human death when he was reunited with the Father that he became the Son of God. And it will not be until his return to this earth that He will take on the role of king. It will be then that He will be called ‘Son of David’.) The aspects of the readings that were canonized and excepted by the newly emerging Christian leadership of its time (hundreds of years after the death of Jesus) in regards to the life of Jesus (as they wanted to portray that life) include little of his infancy, childhood, and even his adult life but focuses mainly on his three-year ministry and demise. So what happened leading up to those events? None of us know for sure what was left out of the story, or why it was not included. What I do what you to consider is this Buddhist tale out of Hemis Monastery, Ladakh (a region of India in the state of Jammu and Kashmir that lies between the Kunlun mountain range in the north and the main Great Himalayas to the south. The area is inhabited by people of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent with a culture and history very much related to that of Tibet.). To most theologians this is controversial territory to enter, but I am going to ask you put aside your prejudices and read on with an open mind before considering this a hoax and inconceivable. It has been established there were well-established trade routes that included the Roman Empire through this territory.  So it would not be impossible to conceive someone venturing from the Holy Lands coiuld have traveled to the region and back… even Jesus in his younger pre-ministry days. Now I am not stating that He did, nor that this is fact, merely an unrecorded canonized possibility. We do know there were many temples in the area of the regions indigenous spiritual traditions, one spiritual practice being Buddhism or Buddhism derived. And if Buddhism was alive and well in the region (remember Buddhism is a philosophy of love, mercy, benevolence, and compassion toward enlightenment more so than an actual religion taking on the traits of the culture it inhabits) why is it so hard to expect that travelers along these caravan routes would not come into contacts with the priestly cast of these traditions.

This particular tale tells of splinter sect of area Buddhists who speak of a manuscript about a man named Issa or Isa. Interestingly enough the name Isa is an Arabic name is commonly paralleled to the name for Jesus. Within the words of this manuscript the person Isa is revered as a Boddhisattva (a Buddhist term signifying an enlightened (bodhi) being (sattva); traditionally, a bodhisattva is anyone who is motivated by great compassion). Though the actual manuscript has never been produced the region tells of stories of this Isa, this living saint and Boddhisattva and of his compassion and miracles. Could this Isa be our Jesus? Before you answer this remember the three year ministry of Jesus was built on a love of our Father, a Divine Source of Love. Remember that throughout the ministry of Jesus he preaches about acts of love, mercy, benevolence, and compassion in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (AKA enlightenment).  I cannot say yes, nor will I say no that this is not our Jesus.  But the similarities are interesting to say the least. … I’m just saying.

The Buddhist tale of Isa ends with him leaving the region returning to his homeland sharing those teachings of love. I believe we must expand the narrow minded view that Buddhism and Christianity separate; the fact is that Buddhism and Christianity have more in common than their believers are willing to admit. The story of Isa may or may not be true. This Isa may or may not be our Jesus, and there may or may not be an ancient manuscript in some remote monastery in Ladakh that tells the truth of Isa. Regardless of your belief and your personal truth on the matter of the Buddhist Isa (be it that you feel there is truth in the story or be it that you feel it is all a hoax, we cannot deny that there are many points of similarity between the first millennium religious movements of Christianity and Buddhist India which persist to be studied and investigated.

In theory as Christians we follow the New Covenant of Jesus the Christ. Those who call themselves ‘Christian’ must have the character and actions that define the term as set by the New Covenant. That make-up includes becoming Christ-like. Living a life of charity, compassion, love. Living a life of of non-judgment toward others. Living a life of peace and honesty. Living a life deserving of entering the Kingdom of God. (Starting to sound similar to being a Buddhist doesn’t it? Amazing!).  My purpose and how I define myself as being a Christian is to love God and to love others as I love myself. Remember Buddhism is a philosophy of enlightenment (touching God, being with God,) it is not per say a religion, as it can be adopted by the culture that accepts it without changing the spiritual traditions of said culture but enhancing them.  Thich Nhat Hahn teaches us in his books the essence of the Kingdom of Heaven as defined by our own bible:

Romans 14:17 ESV

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

 

Matthew 6:10 ESV

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

 

Matthew 5:10 ESV

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 

1 Corinthians 15:50 ESV

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

 

John 18:36 ESV

Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.’

So, I leave these questions with you… Is the Kingdom of Heaven a place or a state of being we achieve through our thoughts, actions, words?  Is the Kingdom for those who practice only the Abrahamic religions (A religion is defined as an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence based on the people of the culture practicing it that include but are not limited to their beliefs about the cosmos and human nature, morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle.) or can those who live the life of these teachings of love and compassion and found enlightenment, even those who have never heard of Jesus the Christ enter heaven?  Before speaking read Thicht Naht Han.  Then look within for the answers.

Be well on your spiritual journey.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/religion-articles/jesus-and-buddha-brothers-from-another-mother-7032977.html

About the Author

Brother Christopher Bashaw OFD, RN, M.Div. is a professed Brother in the Franciscans of Divine Mercy, an Old Catholic Tradition within the Independent Catholic Church of the Americas. He is also enrolled in the Independent Catholic Church of the Americas Seminary studying for the permanent deaconate. Brother Christopher has worked as a RN since graduating nursing school in 1984, with nursing experience including drug and alcohol recovery/detox, psychiatric nursing, physical rehabilitation, pain care, military nursing, occupational health, nursing home care, and pediatric/camp nursing. He has brought these skills into the developing his ministry the Mother Mary Society and Franciscan Pastoral Counseling. In addition to holding a M.Div., he holds certificates in Biblical Counseling, Marriage and Family Counseling, and Alcohol & Drug Addiction Recovery (Level 3) with a Christian approach.  


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Letter to God: Anagarika eddie and Michael Clark on Interfaith Unity

Sky and Earth

This interview was first published in 2006 as “Letter to God: E. Raymond Rock and Dr. Michael Clark on Interfaith Unity.”
E. Raymond Rock now goes by the moniker anagarika eddie, and I like to just be called Michael Clark or MC

Anagarika eddie: Is there any possibility of humanity going beyond its opinions and beliefs, or are we destined to fight with each other forever? If God commanded you to come up with something that would satisfy all beliefs, yet enlighten all minds, what would you suggest?

MC: That’s an interesting question. I don’t know the answer for sure. Some believe that, as the New Testament suggests, there ultimately will be a period of peace. But in my view it’s hard to know if this is just prophetic symbolism or something that will actually happen on Earth. It seems our human personalities inevitably come into conflict with one another. But as free beings we have a choice as to how to deal with that. We can see conflict as an opportunity for mutual understanding and growth. Or we can just react like an animal would. Worse, we can plot and scheme like devils. And don’t laugh. Because it’s no joke and many people do.

I don’t think we can always go beyond our opinions and beliefs. But I think during moments of grace we can. So if we continually turn to God for guidance, we might become better and better servants of the Divine. Some say that too much introspection is a bad thing. But I think that if you don’t know your true inner core then you’re going to be acting on the basis of some personality fragment or tangent; or perhaps on the basis of a socio-cultural, transpersonal or negative spiritual influence. If you don’t act from the center, then whatever bad you do will likely come back on you. If you act from the loving center, informed by Grace (or as Catholics would say, the Holy Spirit), then good will come back.

Anagarika eddie: You mention that too much introspection is bad. Could you expand on that a little – where does that attitude come from? Perhaps introspection is bad for those who don’t want their flock to see too clearly. The contemplative saints regarded contemplative prayer highly, discovering that the state of grace could be enhanced by Orison, which is similar to Eastern thinking that meditation creates fertile ground for enlightenment.

Since nothing else has worked throughout history (we are still killing ourselves in the name of God!) could it actually be that introspection; Orison, recollection, the dark night and unison, would enlighten our minds? And could it be that the second coming of Christ (Christ translated as enlightened mind) might be a universal enlightening of many people, instead of an individual Christ this time around?

Thank you for your answers. I’m trying to find a common denominator among all religions that would transcend beliefs, yet not disparage any religion. What other hope do we have? A Muslim will rarely become a Christian; or a Buddhist a Muslim. Perhaps introspection – meditation and contemplative prayer – could be an answer. Perhaps Christ was trying to teach us how to go within, but the original Church Fathers (no different from today), perhaps stressed the emotional side of Christianity, feeling that the deeper teachings should only be reserved for monks, thinking that the masses weren’t ready. Maybe it was more important to build a religion in those days than free their flock from the fear of God, and the fear of themselves, both of which are laid bare by deep prayer.

MC: Ah, but I said that “some say” too much introspection is a bad thing. That’s a little trick I learned over the years. It doesn’t necessary mean that too much introspection is bad. It’s just a useful way to bracket a statement. It means that some people believe it’s bad, those people not necessarily including myself.

However, I do believe that in my own life, anyhow, it’s good to keep some kind of working and flexible balance between contemplation and outward activity. Although I tend to be more contemplative and less visibly active than most. I think everyone has to strike their own balance here. And also, to keep renegotiating it.

My feeling on the Christian saints is that most of them reached very high levels of Godly awareness. But it came with such a price. They suffered for every grace received. And of course, their suffering wasn’t only for their own purification, but also for the redemption of other souls. St. Faustina Kowalska’s Divine Mercy Diary is an excellent book about the power and importance of (contemplative) prayer. If you haven’t read it already, I would recommend it.

As for the differences and similarities among world religions when it comes to mysticism, this is a rich and fascinating topic. It’s really hard to know for sure what another mystic experiences. Some believe they all come to the same type of “ah-ha” experience. Others, like Rudolf Otto and C. G. Jung, stress that the grades and qualities of encountered numinosities may differ. Myself, I find that the most intuitive folks in my hometown are scattered across the board. It could be a woman working in a dollar store. It could be the postman. It could be a businessperson with whom I just have a passing conversation. And it could be a priest too. While the vast majority of priests adhere to the standardized approach, I sometimes wonder if in private they have their own thoughts on certain issues. Would they be human if they did not?

I think you’re right that most people will not convert from their own path. And why should they? These religions, when they work, serve to nurture the soul while keeping an individual’s cultural underpinnings in place. I tend to see religions as flowerpots. You need a pot to hold the soil. Every pot is a little different. But each grows a plant (and hopefully a flower). And just as flowers may also differ, so the look and feel of souls in heaven may differ too. Difference isn’t a bad thing at all. How boring heaven would be if it contained ten trillion daisies, and daisies only! As one person whom I spoke with through the web once put it, “there are many different flowers in the Garden of Eden.”

And this brings me back to the idea of getting in touch with the core, the center. I believe that it’s here that the heavenly flower grows. This isn’t necessarily the Jungian self where the self is an aggregate or a totality of all observable elements. I tend to think that ultimately, after all the lesser elements are pruned away through eons of purification, we shine (and mediate grace) in heaven. But I also think this takes a very long time for most of us. Hence the importance of the idea of Purgatory.

To close, I should add that I haven’t passed yet, so all this is mostly reasoned speculation. A theory. I don’t claim to really know what happens at death. Because other issues come into play, such as the nature of space, time and eternity-both on Earth and within other realms.

Thank you for an interesting question. Feel free to follow up on any of this. I generally enjoy talking about the soul and metaphysics.

Anagarika eddie: Thank you Dr. Clark for your “enlightened” discussion, rare to find these days!

As you renegotiate your personal inward and outward balance, and venture inwardly a little more, do you find yourself less interested in worldly pleasures? And when you do revisit them, just to test their power over you, do you find that they don’t hold the same mystique that they once did? What was it that Thomas Wolfe once wrote, “You can never go home?” which to me indicates the unrelenting changing nature of things, and how we can’t really count on anything in the world? It’s confusing, isn’t it, that a new reality is developing, but you can’t grasp it as you have grasped things in the past. Definitely a bittersweet experience.

MC: Yes, it can be bittersweet because for everything valuable that we gain it seems we first must lose something. This might be a golden rule. But I find that the gains really do outstrip the losses. And as we mature in the path we, as you say, don’t really want those things we once craved. Moreover, they may reappear in subtler ways. With regard to sexuality, for instance, see my article: Celibacy, Sex and Spirituality.

I also believe that most people do revisit past pleasures and interests from time to time for various reasons. Doubtfully does it ever go in a straight line. Some say that the ego dances around the self, that is, it doesn’t always rest there nor is it always perfectly aligned with it. Still, most world religions advocate – and this might get back to your initial question about syncretism – that the ego ideally is a servant of the self. But again, the understanding as to just what constitutes the self varies dramatically, I think. So one has to choose the path that’s right for him or herself. And also consider the possibility of embracing new paths.

Anagarika eddie: I read a story once about a man entering a strange house and finding a staircase, which he was compelled to climb. The further he climbed, the more fearful he became until he decided to climb back down – but all the steps had disappeared! A Great analogy of the spiritual quest.

Enjoyed your article – very well thought out and complete. My experience with Catholicism is like yours, but backward. I spent the first 35 years as a catholic, and then the next 26 meditating!

All religions seem to have their scripture as a basis, accompanied by individual experience, or the deeper side based on that scripture. I am at a point where I’m taking a worldview of it all, beyond my personal viewpoint, and I see that something is amiss. Wars are still being fought over differences in religious beliefs.

My first experience of meditation was at Shasta Abbey, a Zen monastery. The monks there didn’t teach me Buddhist scripture, only insisted that I meditate and practice silence most of the day, and because of that simple practice, my whole life was turned upside down with no teachings whatsoever. Boy, was I surprised!

Is it possible that contemplative prayer or meditation could do the same thing for others? But how do you encourage people to pray deeply, that is listen to God instead of talking? You would think that everybody would want to personally communicate with the Ultimate, but usually, we are shy in this area. Few dare to venture into St. John of the Cross’s dark night of the soul, or experiment with enlightenment.

Is it fear of seeing through our illusions, our concept of self, our beliefs? We attach to these notions and feel comfortable in them, not wanting to lose them, which is what happens when we achieve that ineffable that can only be described as the unborn, the undying; beginning less and with no end. How would you ever introduce such a practice and concept to everyday people? I don’t know the answer to this, but I tirelessly attempt to find a way to introduce contemplative prayer and meditation into everybody’s hearts.

There is that which is underneath all the divisive beliefs, and to touch that is the key. It can be touched when all our thoughts, opinions and knowing dissolves into that mysterious realm where we lose ourselves to that which is.

MC: You know, I would keep asking God for advice. I’m not sure as a practicing Buddhist how you envision the Godhead. Words and concepts can get in the way. But I tend to regard God as the creator, somehow other but immanent.

From my experience, Buddhists tend to deemphasize individuality while Catholics feel that individuality is important. But it seems that you still have some sense of an individual self, yet one which is more fundamental than the intellectual, the conceptual, the desirous and so on. That’s the core that I feel is the important commonality among all paths. As to how to get people to meditate, to contemplate, to know the Divine… this is something that I personally don’t try to rush. I see the entire spectrum as important to the total picture. So I tend to look at individuals and try to determine where they’re at, what external factors are influencing them, and so on. I guess as a doctor and educator that’s my role. I don’t see myself as a mass preacher or contemplative exemplar. But maybe someone else is! As Saint Paul put it, one body… many different members.

—–

Original dialogue: March 11-13, 2006.

Afterword

Anagarika eddie and Michael Clark welcome your responses regarding the question: Is there any possibility of humanity going beyond their opinions and beliefs, or are we destined to fight with each other forever? If God commanded you to come up with something that would satisfy all beliefs, yet enlighten all minds, what would you suggest?

Anagarika eddie is a meditation teacher at the Dhammabucha Rocksprings Meditation Retreat Sanctuary and author of A Year to Enlightenment. His 30 years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Thervada Buddhist monk.

Michael Clark is the admin. of Earthpages.org and Earthpages.ca. He also maintains a personal blog, Michaelwclark.com.  His studies include a Ph.D. on Carl Jung’s concept of synchronicity (UOttawa), an M.A. in Comparative Religion (Visva Bharati, India), and an Honours B.A. in Psyc/Sociology (Trent U).

 


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The Three Poisons of Buddhist Psychology or Christian Teachings Left Ignored

Temptation via Tumblr

By Brother Christopher

There are what is known as the three poisons in Buddhism, ignorance, attachment (greed), and hatred. This concept of the three poisons is important whether you consider yourself Buddhist or not, and by understanding this concept of the Three Poisons both your pastoral practice and the client will benefit to wholeness.

Greed, anger and ignorance are treacherous toxins which can build and destroy our life, are noted as the cause of human suffering. Buddhist psychology reveals that not only are these ‘poisons’ the source of our material greed in wanting more and more possessions, and the root cause of all of our harmful illusions of the ego, but they are also painful pollutants, which bring both physical and mental illness.

From the Christian angle, the core definition of greed or attachment defines the term(s) as the obsession with accumulating material goods; a greedy person values material goods more than they value God.

Luke 12:15 New International Version (NIV)

15 Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’

Greed’s buddies are desire and lust; these appetites and attachments cause us to want to ‘get hold of’ things, and to have more and more of them. Leading to never being satisfied. In essence greed and his entourage separate us from the One True God; Greed is that Golden Calf of the Old Testament.

Hate, simply put from a ‘Jesus perspective’ is when we stop considering another’s welfare. Hate is when we simply don’t care. Hate includes ‘when my thing is more important than your thing’.  Hate kills harmony. Hate kills inspiration. Hate kills others. Hate is suicide.

1 John 2:11 New International Version (NIV)

11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.

God&Window

God&Window (Photo credit: Tallapragada)

Hatred’s cohorts are anger, animosity and loathing, which trigger us to reject that which displeases us or infringes upon our ego. Again we create and divide the separation to the Divine as we promote hatred.

Matthew 22:36-40 New International Version (NIV)

36 ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’

37 Jesus replied: ‘‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’

Ignorance, which is ‘not knowing,’ our true nature, sets the path for delusion or in our believing something that is false when it is not or in believing lies in order to support our ego and avoid hurt.

Mathew 7:21-23 New International Version (NIV)

21 ‘Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

With ignorance we breed fear, co-existence with others diminishes, our intolerance of people, ideas, and practices grows. Out of ignorance we have bigotry, lack of understanding, lack of compassion. Ignorance is a choice that can be overcome through acceptance and education, and is something that is continual in our human life- ever evolving. Ignorance does not allow us to live in God’s Light.

Christ and the devil via Tumblr

Countless numbers of us are most likely to be dominated by at least one of the poisons. These poisons fill our lives with suffering, unhappiness and our ability for tolerance and co-existence.  They are the reason we make poor decisions that upset our future.  They are the source of our self-serving and dishonest intentions, which lead us to act both unethically and immorally.  They are the roots of not only our own pain and misery, but the cause of the pain and suffering to those who love us. They bring ruin upon society itself.  Fortunately, there is an antidote, a treatment, a cure to these three poisons.  The practice of loving kindness and compassion and the connection to God, serving God,  is the medicine.

If we become aware of the Three Poisons, their causes and their cures, we can bring about a wonderful metamorphosis to those we serve as well as to our self.  Through the practice of loving kindness and compassion poison is transformed into nectar. And from the nectar evolves true happiness and righteousness that God intended each of us to behold.  When we realize our interdependence on each other, our connectedness to each other and to the Divine Source, as well as our unique oneness, we rid ourselves of the poisons that keep making us sick.  With pastoral counseling guidance can be offered, lessons can be given, but each one us must take the hand reaching out to us, embrace the tools being given to us, and then use those tools. This is God’s way.  As pastoral counselors we must look at how these poisons are affecting our clients… and unlike many other counselor types use the teachings of the Master, Jesus the Christ to teach our clients how to rid themselves of the poisons and bring harmony and wellness back into their life.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/mental-health-articles/the-three-poisons-of-buddhist-psychology-or-christian-teachings-left-ignored-7021341.html

About the Author

Brother Christopher Bashaw OFD, RN, M.Div. is a professed Brother in the Franciscans of Divine Mercy, an Old Catholic Tradition within the Independent Catholic Church of the Americas. He is also enrolled in the Independent Catholic Church of the Americas Seminary studying for the permanent deaconate. Brother Christopher has worked as a RN since graduating nursing school in 1984, with nursing experience including drug and alcohol recovery/detox, psychiatric nursing, physical rehabilitation, pain care, military nursing, occupational health, nursing home care, and pediatric/camp nursing. He has brought these skills into the developing his ministry the Mother Mary Society and Franciscan Pastoral Counseling. In addition to holding a M.Div., he holds certificates in Biblical Counseling, Marriage and Family Counseling, and Alcohol & Drug Addiction Recovery (Level 3) with a Christian approach.  


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Where did meditation originate?

Saint Padre Pio stated: "Through the stud...

Saint Padre Pio stated: “Through the study of books one seeks God; by meditation one finds him”. The Rosary: A Path Into Prayer by Liz Kelly 2004 ISBN 082942024X pages 79 and 86 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Christopher Lloyd Clarke

Like many researchers, I believe that meditation has been a part of human life since the very beginning of human existence. Since man first became self aware, that is to say, when he first became conscious of himself as a being that can think, that can act out of conscience, that can remember the past and visualize the future, since he became aware of his own mental faculties, he has been driven by a innate urge to better understand his place in the universe and the essential nature of his own mind.

When we try to imagine the origins of meditation, most of us tend to picture it being practiced by followers of the earliest religions, such as Buddhism or Hinduism. As human civilization gradually developed, mans search for meaning blossomed into a variety of spiritual practices throughout the East, many of which included meditation. The earliest recorded evidence of meditation in written form is found in Hindu scriptures that date back approximately 5,000 years, and plenty of evidence is found in other religious texts, including those of Christianity, Judaism, and Taoism. These are the first texts to describe meditation as a formal practice with defined methodologies and objectives.

However, it is extremely likely that meditation played a part in the life of many human beings from a much earlier stage in the spiritual and sociological development of our species. The history of meditation probably goes back to a time well before we were capable of producing documentation to describe it as a systemized form of practice, and as a result, archaeological evidence of meditation is unlikely to provide us with the complete story. For example, scriptural records of meditation in countries such as India, Japan and China is plentiful, but very little recorded evidence of meditation in Australian Aboriginal culture exists, even though it is generally accepted that the Aboriginal inhabitants of Australia were practicing a form of meditation many tens of thousands of years ago, and they were certainly no exception at the time. Tribal rituals and ceremonies that involved trance-like states were common to a variety of ancient indigenous tribes around the world, and still are in some places.

It is almost certain that meditation has been practiced “informally” by man since the earliest of times. If one broadens one’s definition of meditation to take into account any form of silent awareness, any gaze of wonder, any form of focused introspection, then it is not hard to imagine early man slipping into states that we would happily define as “meditation” by our current standards. Since man first became self aware, he has had cause to look within, to become conscious of his own mind, and to rest peacefully in the space between his thoughts.

About the Author:

Dr. Christopher Lloyd Clarke – Meditation really is one of the most powerful ways to experience inner peace and to improve your quality of life. For more information about guided meditation and to learn how to meditate for free, please visit www.The-Guided-Meditation-Site.com.

Article Source: Where did meditation originate?


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Krishna, Buddha and Christ: The same or different? (Part 5)

The Holy Spirit as a dove in the Annunciation ...

The Holy Spirit as a dove in the Annunciation by Rubens, 1628 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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A Final Word on Violence

In Christian mysticism, peaceful living and spiritual growth go hand in hand. As the believer increases in perfection and becomes closer to God the soul usually experiences an overall increase in heavenly graces.

The ideal Christian washes not just the outside but the inside of the proverbial cup to receive the pure waters of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 23:26). In this metaphor the cup represents the self, the soul, and the person who ultimately is bound for heaven.

So Christian mysticism never justifies violence but rather, gentleness and humility.

One might object to this claim by citing Joan of Arc, her inner voices apparently coming from God and urging her to lead the French army into battle. But it was the Catholic Church which eventually canonized St. Joan. The New Testament Gospels, themselves, never condone violence.

God or no God?

As noted earlier, religion can get complicated. Whenever one forwards a given assertion, an exception usually arises. On the issue of violence, we might point out the notion of the Just War and, for the matter, the bellicose Old Testament which Catholics embrace as originating in God. Having said that, the New Testament and Buddhist ideals about non-violence clearly differ in the sense that Buddhists do not believe in an ultimate, omnipotent, omniscient and eternal God, while Christians obviously do.

To repeat, Buddhists do not believe in God. Instead, Buddhists normally contextualize the idea of God saying “God” is just another cultural idea to surpass on the road to Nirvana, a journey involving the belief in reincarnation.

In Christianity, however, an unselfish love of one’s enemies arises from inviting the living presence of God to dwell in one’s heart. Happiness isn’t just inside, as so many non-Christians (and even some Christian pop singers) say. Rather, happiness is having a good relationship with God, who ultimately exists beyond the self but also immanent.

Unlike Buddhism, Christian salvation cannot entirely rely on one’s own contemplative efforts because God, and not oneself, is seen as the source of all goodness and being. Some see this ultimate dependence on God as a weakness but from a Christian perspective it’s just the way things are. One can only go so far through one’s own initiative. And that, for many Christians, is a significant limitation for Buddhists and for any New Age thinker who thinks they can reach the highest high through their own efforts.

To complicate things, Buddhism does speak of compassionate and intervening bodhisattvas who dispense graces to seekers along the way. But these exalted beings are not regarded as God. A monotheistic God is never present in Buddhism and at some point even bodhisattvas must be surpassed to enter into the nothingness/fullness of Nirvana, a place where the apparently illusory idea of individuality also vanishes.

Granted, some Christian mystics do talk about losing the self in a boundless ocean of God’s love, but God never disappears from the picture. And it’s doubtful that Christian mystics are advocating a complete loss of individuality. Instead, their metaphors seem more like happy fish in a boundless, beautiful ocean instead of the more Asian notion of drops of water dissolving in the sea.

Heaven and Hell

The Buddhist perception of heaven and hell is related to a discussion about violence and non-violence. Hell isn’t eternal for Buddhists. It’s more like a stopover in a lousy hotel room where one eventually checks out. Likewise with heaven. Heaven is described as a sort of ‘spiritual health spa’ enjoyed between lifetimes. So the reincarnating soul eventually departs from heaven to become fully enlightened. In fact, in Buddhism one encounters numerous heavens and hells before attaining full enlightenment.

Upon attaining enlightenment, Buddhists say the soul realizes it, itself, doesn’t exist. And at this point, even the idea of past lives becomes illusory. After all, how can you have a past life if you never existed?

These are interesting philosophical ideas but a Christian hoping to reach everlasting heaven might wonder if the Buddhist heavens could be astral realms and not heaven as understood within Christianity.

Since Buddhist hells are not eternal, they perhaps would be closer to the Catholic notion of purgatory because for Christians hell is eternal. Nor is the Christian hell a mere way-station or, for that matter, trendy or humorous Hollywood fantasy as portrayed in movies and video games. “See you in hell!“¹

For the vast majority of Christians, hell is just hell, forever and ever. And when it comes to the opposite, namely paradise, the Christian understanding of grace as a living presence that guides believers to everlasting heaven is relativized and absent in Buddhism. True, different Buddhist schools speak of emptiness, fullness and enlightenment. And they mention transitional grace and temporary heavens and hells. But Buddhist do not believe in everlasting heaven and hell as articulated within Christianity. So it stands to reason that the graces that Buddhists speak of are not the same thing that Christians talk about.

Conclusion

This brief comparison indicates that the scriptures and beliefs emerging from Krishna, Buddha and Christ have points of similarity but are not equivalent. As we’ve seen, the Mahabharata speaks of peace but in the Gita Krishna emphasizes holy warfare. By way of contrast, Christ, as part of the Holy Trinity is said to be co-equal with God and the Holy Spirit and, rather than engage in violence, is willing to sacrifice himself on a cross. While non-Christians may see this as misguided and some Buddhists (like D. T. Suzuki) say it’s “distasteful,” for Christians it is the ultimate point. This world is not it, and fighting and killing for material gain is not the way to get to eternal happiness.

We’ve also seen in the above that the Buddha doesn’t believe in God, and Buddhists say that the Buddhist nirvana surpasses the Christian understanding of heaven and hell.

The Hindu Krishna and the Buddha each speak of many lifetimes and associated opportunities for salvation through reincarnation, whereas the Christ of the Gospels entreats disciples to get it right the first time because (presumably) there is no such thing as reincarnation.

To overlook these and other differences may be well-intentioned but it’s also imprecise. And it’s doubtful that a fuzzy, misinformed belief in religious homogeneity will contribute to meaningful dialogue and genuine interfaith harmony. Promising commonalities can be discerned among today’s faith groups, but it will take clear and honest thinking for humanity to walk peacefully into the 21st century and beyond.

¹ http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SeeYouInHell

© Michael Clark

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Krishna, Buddha and Christ: The same or different? (Part 2)

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Reclining Buddha

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Violence and the Just War

With so many different schools, holy books and interpretations of scripture within Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity, one might wonder how anything meaningful can be said about Krishna, Buddha and Christ.

No matter what we say, it seems there’s always an exception. If we claim that Jesus is about love, one could cite the Catholic Church’s teaching about the so-called Just War. If we say Krishna is all about killing as outlined in the Bhagavad Gita, one might refer to the following passage from the Mahabharata (the epic in which the Gita appears):

This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you. (Mahabharata 5, 15, 17)

One should not behave towards others in a way which is disagreeable to oneself. This is the essence of morality. All other activities are due to selfish desire. (Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva, 113.8)

Also, a popular Hindu myth tells of a peaceful Krishna sporting with milkmaids, symbolizing the playfulness and love through which God enters the soul.

Buddhist scriptures speak of peace and non-violence, and Buddhism is often hailed as a non-violent path. But Moojan Momen points out that scriptural, philosophical and folkloric justifications for violence are found in the Buddhist tradition.† Bernard Faure also maintains that Buddhist doctrine has been adapted to justify war.

While some theological overlap can be found among Krishna, Buddha and Christ and their respective religions, clear differences are also present. I don’t intend to outline a detailed and comprehensive analysis of these three religions. This would take up several volumes and, even then, would be incomplete. But a few main points can be made.

Let’s begin with Krishna as he appears in the Bhagavad Gita.

The sacred scripture of the Gita is often hailed as the Hindu Bible, located, as I’ve noted, within the larger epic of the Mahabharata. Some scholars see the Gita as a later addition to the Mahabharata, although nobody knows for sure just how or when the Gita originated.

Hindus and many non-Hindus around the world love and admire the Gita. Some enthusiasts say that, like a jewel in a crown, the Gita synthesizes and elevates all previous aspects of Hinduism within a meaningful and coherent system. By the same token, it would be a bit misleading to say that the Gita epitomizes a religion as multifaceted as Hinduism. But it certainly represents a central part of the vast array of beliefs and practices that comprise Hinduism.

Various attempts have been made to define Hinduism. Some say Hinduism has no dogma nor creeds, but this is questionable. The Himalayan academy summarizes three leading definitions of Hinduism:

In all definitions, the three pivotal beliefs for Hindus are karma, reincarnation and the belief in all-pervasive Divinity.

Again, this article looks at Krishna as depicted in the Gita and not Hinduism as a whole. Along these lines, one definition of Hinduism, a judicial one drafted by the Indian Supreme Court in 1966 and affirmed in 1995, asserts the necessity of believing in the sanctity and truth of the Vedas, not the Gita.

While aspects of the Vedas affirm the ancient caste system and animal sacrifice, they’re intrinsically non-violent when it comes to human affairs. The Gita, on the other hand, is mostly about good people being cheated by bad and the restoration of political, ethical and cosmic balance through the idea of sacred warfare.

If we interpret the Gita literally, it might appear that, in some instances, killing for God is acceptable. All peaceful attempts to resolve a disagreement have failed, and the deity Krishna urges the reluctant hero, Arjuna, to fight. And Arjuna eventually becomes a slayer, par excellence.

However, psychological interpretations of the Gita emphasize interpersonal dynamics and self-growth instead of physical violence. The non-violent Indian hero, Mahatma Gandhi, for instance, once said that the Gita could “untie any spiritual knot.” Here, the warfare depicted in the Gita is really about the struggle between light and dark, good and evil, superior and inferior. This is a healthy interpretation that doesn’t advocate violence but addresses the realities of developmental struggle.

The psychiatrist C. G. Jung upheld a similar perspective in an entirely different context with his intensive psychological study of alchemy. For Jung, the inferior parts of the self are purified through suffering, symbolized by the intense heat applied to raw materials as the alchemists searched for the so-called “philosopher’s stone,” the apparently eternal aspect of the self.

A non-violent, psychological interpretation of the Gita and Jung’s take on alchemy both point to the idea of purification through suffering. However, the Gita could also be seen as legitimizing Holy War (or in Catholic terms, The Just War), and the idea of alchemy doesn’t really fit with some kind of justification for physical violence. So the similarities between Jung’s take on alchemy and psychological interpretations of the Gita end there.

† Moojan Momen, The Phenomenon of Religion: A Thematic Approach, Oxford: Oneworld, 1999, p. 410. For more on world religions and violence, see Crosscurrents.

© Michael Clark

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