the spirit of Jesus and the Buddha nature

the spirit of Jesus and the Buddha nature September 20, 2013
jesus and buddha cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
“Jesus and Buddha” (drawing by nakedpastor David Hayward)

We believe what we want to believe.

We see what we want to see.

I remember when I first considered, as a Christian, the value of Buddhism. I read up on it. Studied it. Practiced some of it. At first I conceded that a Christian could incorporate some Buddhism. I could concede that there were good Christ-like Buddhists out there. I could even concede that many of the teachings of the Buddha and Jesus were strikingly similar.

Once I lived with this for a while, then I could move on to realize that there were strikingly different ideas presented in Christianity and Buddhism. Even their concepts of history and time are impossibly irreconcilable.

So I moved from we are different to we are similar to we are very different. Philosophically. Theologically. Etcetera.

It was when I had my waterfall dream and started trying to articulate the z-theory that I realized our unity with all others is not found ideologically. I discovered that at a very deep and fundamental level we are essentially one. Our ideologies are our own perspectives and articulations of the same. There is one event. There are billions of experiences and expressions.

So I moved from we are different to we are similar to we are very different to we are one.

I am passionate about providing a safe and supportive place for people to transition spiritually.

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  • Aviatrix

    Love this!

  • I’ve always simplistically looked at it like Christianity (and all Abrahamic religions) places God outside. Buddhism places God within.

  • Livin

    There is no God in Buddhism other than possibly the Dharmakaya or the which is in a way not compatabile with the snuffing out of existance of nibbana.
    The Buddha nature the “Tathagatagarbha” the luminous natural state of the mind used to achieve the snuffing out of nibbana.

    Humans started out not knowing good or evil. The sacred scriptures tells us that as we developed we gained this knowledge without realizing the downside of knowing evil and becoming entraped by it.

    Jesus who is God but also the human aspect of the Trinity said

    “John 14:19-20
    Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
    The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
    19 “In a little while the world will see Me no longer, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live too. 20 In that day you will know that I am in My Father, you are in Me, and I am in you. ”

    If you rely on Jesus he will not only give you the Tathagatagarbha but the physical existance to go with it.

    “Philippians 3:21
    Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
    21 He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject everything to Himself.”

    Not only are we to rely on the mental but the physical needs to be worked on also.

  • Differences make conversations more interesting.

  • And perhaps an atheist would respond with:

    Sure, if you don’t mind me saying that I see our commonly-fated shared humanity in you.

  • Hello David.

    I believe that the Budhist and Christian teachings about God and salvation are indeed irreconcilable and I would never include Karma beliefs within Christian practice.

    That said I’ve discovered mindfulness meditation stemming from Zen Buddhism and I really like that.
    It consists of becoming aware of your breath, thoughts, feelings, sensations etc. why aiming at distancing oneself from them and realizing they are NOT who you are.

    Interestingly one of the psalmists made a similar experience he interpreted in theistic terms:

    “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”
    Psalm 42.

    I feel kind of ashamed when some well-intentioned Christians say that concentrating yourself on your breath is an invitation for the devil to conquer your soul.

    Friendly greetings from continental Europe.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

  • BrotherRog

    Little known fact: Thomas Merton (Jesuit
    priest and Trappist monk) and his brother monks and the Dali Lama
    (Tibetan Buddhist) and his brother monks met on several occasions in the
    1960’s to engage in centering prayer and meditation respectively
    together at the same time in the same place (often in a cave). After
    each session, they compared notes and eventually came to the conclusion
    that they were engaging in the same practice and having the same

    Roger Wolsey, author, Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don’t like christianity

  • BrotherRog

    Merton eventually came to say, “I seek to be the best Buddhist that I can so I can be the best Christian that I can.”

  • Yes! Merton fan here.

  • Little known fact:

    Atheists who have had long deprivation tanks experiences
    Fantastic fishing trips
    Fantastic meals

    or great sex
    have often reported findings similar to the deepest meditators!

  • BrotherRog

    I’ve not seen the studies on that or even the anecdotal comparisons. Thanks for that info.

  • Livin

    Pentecostals also have similar brain scans
    “Andrew Newberg–Associate Professor of Radiology, Psychiatry, and Religious Studies and Director for the Center for Spirituality and the Mind, at the University of Pennsylvania —–We noticed a number of changes that occurred functionally in the brain. Our finding of decreased activity in the frontal lobes during the practice of speaking in tongues is fascinating because these subjects truly believe that the spirit of God is moving through them and controlling them to speak. Our brain imaging research shows us that these subjects are not in control of the usual language centers during this activity, which is consistent with their description of a lack of intentional control while speaking in tongues.”
    “We noticed a number of changes that occurred functionally in the brain. Our finding of decreased activity in the frontal lobes during the practice of speaking in tongues is fascinating because these subjects truly believe that the spirit of God is moving through them and controlling them to speak. Our brain imaging research shows us that these subjects are not in control of the usual language centers during this activity, which is consistent with their description of a lack of intentional control while speaking in tongues.”

    “These findings could be interpreted as the subject’s sense of self being taken over by something else. We, scientifically, assume it’s being taken over by another part of the brain, but we couldn’t see, in this imaging study, where this took place. We believe this is the first scientific imaging study evaluating changes in cerebral activity — looking at what actually happens to the brain — when someone is speaking in tongues. This study also showed a number of other changes in the brain, including those areas involved in emotions and establishing our sense of self.”

  • It appears that your frontal lobe was not in control of your copying and pasting as well 😉

  • Cecilia Davidson

    Beside the point, sir or ma’am. The whole idea is that everyone has Christ-nature or Buddha-nature within them – the goal is to live that nature to the best of our ability. For those without a preferred faith, it’s just trying to be the most decent human being to others.
    But the snuffing out of nirvana? I get that some believe that it happens that, once all are enlightened, the need for existence is no more, but you may want to reword that argument more carefully.

  • RelapsedCatholic

    And I would say to that atheist ‘Excellent, since I see our commonly fated shared humanity as a big part of God himself.’

  • Cecilia Davidson

    I’m just going to ask how the two are irreconcilable if we’ve never been able to experience exactly what heaven is … But on the rest I applaud your points. Let’s save the first half for another day.

  • Brigitte Mueller

    When C.S.Lewis first became a theist after his circuitous road to faith, he wasn’t yet a Christian. He set aside Buddhism because of the many contradictions in it.

    (Sorry, about all the replies I didn’t make last round/weekend. Disqus with with all the voting up and down just makes a mess of threads and I couldn’t really sort it out anymore since all my posts sat at the bottom.)

  • TLCTugger

    Gnosticism is the biggest threat to mankind. Just be good; because it feels good.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    It’s nice to see more people who can appreciate Merton 🙂

  • Cecilia Davidson

    As an agnostic, I appreciate that response because it’s honest and expressive. We won’t agree, but I can stand behind anyone’s finding a true connection with others on the physical and spiritual level.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    But that’s the fun in Buddhism and Taoism – the contradictions make you think. The koans confuse and force you to find the roundabout answer. The whole idea is to make you think and realize that there are many non-answers we say in the assumption that they are answers. To cite the movie “Patch Adams,” when Hunter is asked how many fingers are being held up and answers 4, he is rebuffed by the fellow asylum patient who says “YOU’RE LOOKING AT THE PROBLEM, NOT THE SOLUTION.” Only when he looks beyond the question does he see the absurdity of the question, and allows himself to focus on something other than the fingers, does he realize that the “answer” is 8. The idea of the contradictions is not to focus on the problem, but to realize that focus isn’t the only thing out there.

  • RelapsedCatholic

    This also reminds me of a book I read in college called ‘The Cloud of Unknowing’, by a Christian mystic in the fourteenth century, long before Buddhism could have influenced him. He describes a form of prayer that seemed so close to meditation and enlightenment I was deeply effected. It speaks to a shared religious experience and spiritual nature. Perhaps it only speaks to a shared neurology, but a commonality none the less.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    Great ideas affect all. 😛

  • Cecilia Davidson

    Better yet – here’s how Zen Buddhism works. Or just the Zen aspect.

    Zen is Brigitte Mueller.
    Zen is David Hayward.
    Zen is Livin.
    Zen is St. Louis, Missouri.
    Zen is Nova Scotia.
    Zen is Australia.
    Zen is Earth.

    Zen is quite confusing. All the better to get people to realize the absurdity of being obsessed with details and to just live a life to its fullest.

    Maybe Zen Buddhism’s magic answer is that there is no answer, and that’s okay.

  • Dorfl

    You know you can get Discus to order things chronologically instead of by popularity? Just click the menu on the above left that probably says ‘Best’ (next to ‘Community’ and ‘My Discus’) and change it to ‘Newest’ or ‘Oldest’.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    I forgot that was a thing.

  • Well, the story you told above was anecdotal, not sure why a higher level of evidence is needed the one you tell of contemplatives comparing their experiences.

  • I can’t tell you how many people embraced Buddhism
    after setting aside Christianity because of the many contradictions in it.

  • Wow, thanx for that Disqus pointer — didn’t know that.

  • A different approach:
    Though the teachings of religions may be different,
    the way people use religions is pretty similar
    Consider these three groups and how much closer they are to believers in other groups than to those within their same:

    (1) Contemplatives in all traditions have far more similarities
    (2) Conservative Doctrinal Believers in each tradition

    (3) Everyday, casual superstitious believers

    Thus, “religion” often tells us little about someone.

  • Ahh, I see you can edit comments on Disqus so that a person’s reply can look odd. Hmmmmm, I think I’ll try the same:

  • Imagine a group of 50 people sitting around doing this.
    Each belonging to a different religion.
    Each throwing in God, or Buddha, or Amida or ….. to flavor their felt emotions. And each time someone says something, the other religious persons says, “Yes, I agree, and I believe that X” where “X” is again something from their theology layer.
    This would go on forever until perhaps (and I am naive here),
    the group of 50 folks would all agree on using simple terms without abstractions, without theology and just report their feelings — then they’d find their true commonality.
    Religion could drop to the side, so that people could actually talk to each other. Religion talk works well when you are in the same clan but outside of that, it is largely counterproductive, I think.

  • Brigitte Mueller

    Most don’t think as well as C.S.Lewis.

  • Brigitte Mueller

    Thank you so much Dorfl. That looks so much better!

  • Indeed, many “don’t think as well as C.S. Lewis”,
    but many do, and some much better!

    [??really Brigitte?? — hard to imagine your tried the line!]

  • Cecilia Davidson

    okay, that was derisive :/

  • @ Cecilia:
    Were you saying Sabio (me) was derisive?
    Or that Brigitte was when she essentially claimed, without any evidence, that:
    ‘Anybody embracing Buddhism can’t be as smart as my favorite Christian”
    Or were you just being derisive? 🙂

  • Cecilia Davidson

    i mean the CS Lewis remark Brigitte made (hence my replying to her).

  • ah, right, these layered comment hierarchies, my paranoia and my stupidity came together into my error. Thanx. 🙂

  • @ Cecilia
    actually, this hierarchy stops layering at about 3 levels, so you can’t tell who a comment is made to without saying, “@”. Or at least, I think that is true

  • Cecilia Davidson

    Cecilia Davidson > Brigitte Mueller • 2 hours ago

    Either way, it is EXTREMELY insulting, what Brigitte said, and it disarms her own arguments.

  • Thank you for this. I seem to be in the midst of that struggle myself.

  • Happy struggles 🙂

  • Brigitte Mueller

    Cecilia read “Surprised by Joy” and you can see how he was trained by an atheist dialectician to be very logical. And read his other books and see why he is still read. He was a great thinker. One of the greatest. The other Englishman is Chesterton. He is gradually getting some respect but he is not as popularizable.

  • Brigitte Mueller

    See my response further up, whichever way your computer displays it. I’m off to a wedding. There is no denying that some of the most interesting authors and thinkers were Christian. And Lewis was one of them.

  • Brigitte — you seem clueless to the implications of your comment and just keep going bragging about your man.

    I’ve read most of Lewis’ stuff and thoroughly enjoy him.
    But that is totally beside the point. Re-read our comments.
    Maybe you are just in a rush going to you were distracted by the wedding. Or maybe, it is your Christian Exceptionalism showing.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    I’m sorry, but you really have missed why I’m not happy with your curt comment in re C.S. Lewis. I like the guy as well, but there’s absolutely no reason to attack someone’s beliefs just because they don’t mesh with a famous author’s.

  • Peter Hardy

    I feel the same way. I talk about ideological differences between the two here, but they don’t really matter in terms of our oneness on a social and metaphysical level.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    It really does look so much more organized, except for the tiering system

  • Al Cruise

    Fundamentalism will always produce that type of fruit, when you choose that something can never be questioned and in your mind you have the only right answer, those types of responses are commonplace. You are right in critiquing her arguments. Funny thing is, C S Lewis would be the first to critique her.

  • Shade Ardent

    sure, kind of like my english professor in college. one day he stood before us and said ‘some of the best writers of our times are white’. to a mixed-race student, this was a slap in the face.

    my heritage has given the world much in the way of beauty and writings. but it’s not in english. there are times christianity is the ameri-centric viewing point for the world, where nothing outside of that viewpoint could be called even ‘good enough’, let alone ‘best’.

    we see what we want to see.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    You would do well to read anything and everything by Thich Nhat Hanh, specifically “Living Buddha, Living Christ.”

  • paizlea

    You need to expand your reading list. There are brilliant theological and mystical writers from all faith traditions.

  • Sabby Pants

    I just want to say thank you. I am not christian, nor buddhist, but I have researched many religions and talked to many people. To find someone, especially a christian, willing to learn, willing to accept…. it brightens my day. You are what’s right with the world. Keep being awesome.

  • wow thanks sabby

  • Sabby, I agree. David is awesome.
    P.S. I like your gravatar image. I tried to shoo the fly away. 🙂

  • bill

    They’re only irreconcilable in the limited minds of limited humans. I have experienced heaven directly. Everyone will eventually. Absence of direct personal experience of God is a huge limitation as it inadvertently encourages reliance on second-hand reports as with theology. These intellectual pursuits often miss the SPIRIT of the law because they are so intent on following the LETTER of the law. Wars are fought and lives lost over these petty posturings that have nothing to do with God/oneness. Firsthand experience will show you this.

  • Jo Ann

    Well, no. John 14:17 You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. 14:20 I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
    15:4 Abide in me as I abide in you.
    Or Psalm 139

  • Jo Ann

    Centering Prayer is based on The Cloud of Unknowing.

  • awirereader

    Consider the Trinity:
    Father/creator = the really ineffable outside part;
    Son, the incarnation of creation itself = physical outside yourself part;
    holy spirit THAT IS THE WITHIN PART that is the part that connects you with God

  • Fair enough, but let me word it a little different. Christianity considers the holy spirit as something different and separate (from outside you) that comes inside you to whisper in your ear or warm your heart. Some Christians even consider us as empty vessels where either evil demons or the holy spirit can enter and control us like puppets – once one gets in , the other one can’t.
    I view Buddhism as considering Buddha Nature as inseparable and intrinsically part of you. As one can study and become more aware of their own hand, one can become more aware of their Buddha nature. I do see a notable distinction between this and the Christian holy spirit idea.

  • Kathleen Susanne Gallagher

    There are many gods in Buddhism, called devas. The devas helped Siddhartha inevitably witness the four sufferings according to legend. The devas reside in the heavenly realms due to mass amounts of good karma they accumulated. There is also a hell realm (and a ghost realm). The difference is even devas are subject to the cycle of samsara (suffering). Zen Buddhism (or Chan in China) is more focused on experience (as in…mindful meditation practices) than other Buddhist traditions which focus more on doctrine. Zen is what most Americans think of when they think of Buddhism, because it is popular in the United States. However, Buddhisms are very diverse. I think it’s safe to say most, if not all, believe in some form of these realms of existence (including the gods!). So to say Buddhism has no god/gods is an untrue statement. It isn’t simply a philosophy, but a religion as well. I’m no Buddhist, a Christian actually. But I enjoy myth-busting activities.

  • Jo Ann

    As a Christian, I consider myself born into God from the beginning. I am not God, yet I am inseparable from God, the One from whom all creation comes. In Jesus, this indwelling God is most clearly manifested to me. As Holy Spirit, this indwelling God is most clearly experienced by me.

  • Livin

    That is why I said “God” not “gods” 😉

  • Jo Ann, I think you have a healthy view of Christianity from what you have said here. I’m not really a Buddhist but if I had to pick a flavor of spirituality, I would probably be some kind of pantheist where there is really no difference between God and the world (inner and outer) that we perceive. There does seem to be some intersection of the various views. Where they start to differ dramatically is in notions of an afterlife and listing preconditions to go to this afterlife.

  • Duane

    What religions have you “researched”, sabby. The only thing worse than empty flattery is the one who actually accepts and appreciates it. If a “professional pastor’ …lol….is what is right with this world than the world is just right for you both….lol…….it would be frightening if it were not so funny.

  • Tom Estes

    So, you’re a pantheist. Got it.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    And you say that as if it’s a bad thing.

  • Tom Estes

    It is a bad thing because pantheists go to Hell when they die.

  • Brigitte Mueller

    Lookie here, Sabio, I’m a German Lutheran (well, German-Canadian) and here I am praising an Englishman who is not even a real theologian. Have I not been expansive?– Hm? — Fact is, C.S. Lewis was one “great thinker”, an outstanding man. As much as atheists like to claim that they are the only rational people with good sense, it is not true. There are plenty of Christians with excellent good sense and rational thinking skills.

  • Yeah, a Christian who doesn’t mince words.

  • Well you lookie here, Missy!

    See the comments of Cecillia and Paizlea also.

    Why don’t you just admit your mistake — whether intentional or not.

    And remember, I am not one of those Atheists you try to typify. I think Atheists can be just as stupid as Christians, and Christians can be just as smart as Atheists. But I think we partition our minds and are selectively blind/dumb about some things. All of us do it.

    Point is, Missy, your comment was horrible. Go back and read it again.

  • Gary

    There is NONE more ignorant than that one who believes they know.

  • Yet I “know” it is dangerous to stand on the edge of a building, or cut with a chain-saw toward myself. In somethings, it is very important to “believe you know.”

    The question is, in what areas is wishy-washy OK? Tom Estes feels soteriology and theology are not wishy-washy areas — I do of course. How about you, Gary?

  • PS:

    Disqus is so weird. When I view the comments in “Oldest” mode, my comment disappears — which was before Gary’s. When I flip to “Newest”, it is below Gary’s (being newer of course). It is weird that “Oldest” hides comments.

  • Gary

    I think my comment was pretty clear without your appeal the absurd extreme…don’t you?

  • Nope. I think it is important to watch the tools we use to accomplish our ends, lest they be turned against us or judged for what they are — rhetoric. But then, that is my preference and not everyone’s.

  • Gary

    And I stand by my comment exactly as it was posted.

  • You and Tom Estes can keep standing strong. For it is clear that you both believe you know! 🙂

  • Gary

    Fuck off Sabio. You know you are being disingenuous.

  • And this is why I believe that troll comments should be removed.

  • Tom Estes


    Your comment is insane. There are many things in life that we know, and claiming to know something doesn’t make you ignorant.

    Also, the you sound like the typical “seeker” in that you don’t have any problem with people claiming to search for the truth, as long as they never claim to find it.

  • Tom Estes

    Great argument, Gary. You showed him.

  • Tom Estes

    How is what I said trolling?

  • You are right, Tom, “troll” is simply a subjective, pejorative word taking on the disguise of objectivity — simply used to say, in a sanctimonious way, “I don’t like what you said or what you did.” It is used much like “Hell”.

  • @tom_estes:disqus
    We should be patient with Gary for I think he suffers from some variant of Turret’s syndrome. The question is: should we forgive him because he can’t help himself or chastise him because he should have enough free will to control it?Sounds like a religious question I’ve heard somewhere before. As for me, I let it slide — they are harmless spasms of irrationality.

  • I agree, Tom. Though I doubt there is any theology we agree on, this point of logic is clear common ground. I tried to warn Gary, but he did not want to hear it. (Matt 11:15)

  • Gary

    Sabio your arrogant and smug attempt at derision through humor reveals a tremendous lack of maturity. Frankly…it makes you look like a damn fool.

  • Gary

    Well when Jesus was addressing those just like you…He used the following words…

    “Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.”

  • Tom Estes

    Gary, Jesus was addressing those who didn’t believe He was the Messiah. I believe He is the Savior, and that all those who reject Him go to Hell. To say that I am like the Pharisees shows that you don’t understand who the Pharisees were.

  • Tom Estes

    I’m not mad at Gary, or the “naked pastor” I just believe in calling them out for their heresy.

  • Well, you come onto someone’s blog and tell them that they are going to hell. If that’s what you really think of the blogger and you are unable to keep from belittling him in such a way, then quite frankly it appears that your goal here is to stir the pot (trolling).

  • Gary

    Actually Tom…you are presuming to KNOW what Jesus was attempting to communicate with them. They did not know Jesus purpose. I don’t believe you do either or you would not continue running around thinking you have the authority to condemn everyone to hell.

  • irreverance

    I see the irony of spelling “irreverence” incorrectly and am sure it is intentional.

    But the ire-knee[sic] of contrasting with what you said above: “Differences make conversations more interesting.”

    With what you say here where you put down someone “stirring the pot.” Seems a bit unintentional or that, as I said before, you are using “troll” just for those you don’t like — pure rhetoric.

    BTW: When a pot is not stirred, the stuff at the bottom gets burned and the stuff at the top remains lukewarm. I don’t like burned stuff, and Jesus didn’t like the lukewarm stuff.

    So it seems both Jesus & I would want the pot stirred. Yeah, I am finally on the side of Jesus.

  • Psyclic

    First, there are mountains.
    Then, there are No Mountains.
    Then, there are mountains.

  • There is a difference between having a conversation and attacking someone by condemning them to hell for their beliefs. One entails an openness to dialogue. The other exhibits a form of emotionally abusive behavior. Healthy conversations respect people by respecting boundaries. When such belittling occurs, one steps outside of a conversational dynamic. In order to reenter that dynamic, boundaries have to be reestablished.

  • We have a couple of fundies here saying most of us are going to Hell. Another one is saying we should all cut our balls off. I’m sure some people come back to this site just to see the fireworks. That is all well and good as long as the sensational comments remain under a certain percentage so as not to distract too much from David’s message. A little trolling can be useful. Too much and the site bogs down. It will be up to David to decide how much is too much.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    How Christian of you.

  • Tom Estes

    The kindest thing I can do to a non-Christian is tell them if they’re going to Hell if they don’t trust Christ.

  • Well, the conversation started with Tom Estes calling David a pantheist. David has labeled Marcus Borg the same (on Z-Theory #8). And a few readers have wondered if David is a Pantheist before.

    The categories of heresy are very important in most Christianities since they are largely “beliefisms” where correct belief is important — and David has left all that behind. David is truly a heretic and in the theology of beliefists like Tom Estes, he is indeed going to hell.

    You don’t believe it and I don’t believe it, of course. And talk like that is just criminal, in my opinion. So we agree on all of that, I imagine. But I don’t think calling someone a “troll” gets anywhere. Besides, if you believe in trolls, is the real wisdom that you should not feed them? And now we are greedily gobbling down huge feasts under our lonely bridge before the sunsets. Yum!

    David is sort of a pantheist and sort of a panentheist and sort of an atheist. Can I offer any higher compliment?

    On another note:
    Right doctrine and right bible quoting and right hermeneutics are critical to liberal and conservatives alike — even when they pretend to say otherwise. People like Tom Estes brings out the linkering doctrine-lovers in liberals. I love watching the Bible Battles!

    On a last note:

    The conversation started with Tom Estes calling David a pantheist. David has labeled Marcus Borg the same (on Z-Theory #8). And a few readers have wondered if David is a Pantheist before.

    Tom Estes didn’t mention “Hell” until Cecilia (another troll feeder) asked if it is a bad thing, knowing fully well what the standard reply is. Tom then just told the truth. A more fun reply would have been for David to jump in say, “Yes, I have an inner pantheist bound for hell too.” Embrace the assault, and everything ends. But you see, many Christians still crave to be see as orthodox. The desire to be on the RIGHT side is ironically perverse and corrupting.

    BTW, troll can be fun, if you know how to handle the little fellows.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    Then you are no Christian.

  • I agree with you totally, Tom. You are very consistent in your beliefs. And it proves why I wrote this post that I am very glad most Christians don’t believe what they profess.

  • Tom Estes

    Then you don’t know what a “Christ” ian is.

  • @Cecilia,
    There are a huge variety of Christians out there — and each thinks they know what a “true” Christian is. So why pretend there is only one kind when you yourself are not one of those prescriptionist. Tom Estes is a Christian, and there are lots like him. They all go to heaven and the rest of us will enjoy a big party in Hell.

  • Tom Estes

    Well, I do.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    One who actually follows Christ. Your attacks do not follow anything Jesus would have said. Therefore …

  • Brigitte Mueller

    Sabio, tell me what is horrible about it. Buddhism does not try to have a logically tight system. It is not a dogmatic thing. This is why people like it. So when people leave Christianity for Buddhism they are not doing it for the greater consistency. In Buddhism / Hinduism there are many ways, or even all ways. It’s a completely different thing. If your village god does not work out, you can throw him on the trash heap and try another. If you don’t like ascetics you can try something more juicy. It’s not about thinking, so much, at all. Yes, no?

  • Brigitte Mueller

    paizlea, you jump to conclusions. You don’t know anything about my reading list. And I know there are many different kinds of brilliant people. And still–C.S.Lewis “thinks” much better than most.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    @Brigitte- “And still–C.S.Lewis “thinks” much better than most.”
    I’m sorry, but this is why I have a serious problem with you. You claim that Lewis is a better thinker, yet there have been many a great writer who have thought just as well, if not better. Carroll comes to mind, as well as Hesse and Machiavelli and More. There are the Taoists such as Zhuangzi who had brilliant discussions on how words can fail.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    The wisest know that they know not everything.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    Excuse me, but you are being just as much of a troll as Tom Estes. This is not the place to be an asshole to others.

  • Gary

    My point exactly.

  • Gary

    Laughing my fucking ass off at you now Tom.

    The arrogance of proclaiming other’s views as heresy is truly comical.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    the irony in that last remark …
    But, yes, at least in America, Zen Buddhism has the greater pull because of its being more mystical and having less focus on the gods.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    @Brigitte, that doesn’t at all respond to our objections that you put C.S. Lewis on a pedestal.

  • Brigitte Mueller

    There are nothing but objections, Cecilia. I cannot open my mouth, here, and it’s not “derisive” or whatever, and now putting Lewis “on a pedestal”. Wow. What a problem. Someone show me how Buddhism is in any way, shape, or form “consistent” or strives to be, let me know. That’s what we’d like to hear. How about it Cecilia. Does Buddhism even want to be logically consistent?

  • The difference here is that I was commenting on inappropriate behavior as opposed to condemning someone for their beliefs. I don’t know or care whether the label of “troll” would fit Tom personally. I imagine he is doing what he probably thinks is best. I have no issue with anyone believing what they believe. I do have an issue with how people treat others.

    I consider that an important consideration. It’s similar to this:

    Oh, and I think I’m really replying to a couple of things you said here.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    Who says it has to be consistent? You?

  • Cecilia Davidson

    I’m starting a new comment stack in regards to Brigitte mentioning that Christianity and Buddhism have a striking difference in that Buddhism does not necessarily stay consistent. If you want the TL;DR, the inconsistency is actually a commonality.

    Yes, local gods get assumed into Buddhism. Buddhism is an offshoot of Hinduism, and it took off in China and Japan alongside Taoist thought, but let’s take into further consideration that there are multiple sects within Buddhism, each of which thinks it’s the one that is most in line with Siddhārtha Gautama’s teachings. Such sects include my preferred area, Zen (Japanese Buddhism), and then there’s Mahayana, Vajrayana, Theravada, Tiantai, Chinese Chan, Pure Land, Nichiren, Shingon, Greco-, and Silk Road Buddhism.

    You may be getting an idea where we’re going, but don’t get ahead of me.

    Ever since Christianity started, there have been many debates on what is doctrinally and dogmatically correct, not to mention in alignment with a Jewish carpenter from the wrong side of the tracks. Just to note a few of the “heterodox” thoughts that were ultimately kicked out of Christian core doctrine –

    Arianism, which denies the divinity of Jesus and states that Son of God is a courtesy title.
    Docetism, which states that Jesus never had a human body.
    Manichaeism (which you may recognize if you know Augustine), which says that good and evil are equally powerful and that the material is evil.
    Donatism, which demanded that the Church only be made of saints, not sinners, and that anyone who, under threat of death, renounced Christianity, was unfit to offer the sacraments.

    Then there were the schisms.
    The Eastern churches left because of a squabble over the Holy Spirit.
    The Protestant movement started because of too many things needing to be changed in the Catholic Church.
    Then Protestantism broke into further parts.

    Then there are the liberal interpretations of doctrine (see liberation theology for one such in regards to Social Justice), the more hardline interpretations, the literal.

    So, do you want to dare say that Christianity can’t possibly have inconsistencies from area to area, from sect to sect?

  • The main inconsistent thing in my view about Christianity is the notion on the one hand of an all-loving God and on the other hand the notion that this God sets up a situation where choices within a short duration (ones life) have infinite consequences – spending eternity in heaven or either hell or a permanent separation from God.
    It would be like a parent telling their child to say they love you in the next five minutes and you will return that love for the rest of the child’s life but if they don’t express that love in the next five minutes, you will abuse (or neglect) the child for the rest of their life. I would not consider a parent doing such a thing as loving and I reject any definition of God that does the same thing on a larger scale.
    That in my mind is the main inconsistent thing about the flavor of Christianity that includes notions of eternal heaven and hell where once you go one place you can never leave – and they call such a God all loving.

  • Gary

    I have always struggled with the dichotomy you describe. I no longer do. Now I, like you, totally reject such a definition of God. I have come to believe that hell and eternal damnation are completely the product of religion.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    while not entirely related to my point, i cede that this is an important note.

  • Brigitte Mueller

    All I said was this, that C.S. Lewis set Buddhism aside, in his spiritual search, because of its inconsistency. That was the whole point from the beginning under discussion that I raised.

    Questions: If a faith does not need to try to be consistent, can one even call it a “faith”? Can you call it “logical”? Can you call it “well thought-through”? No. If you like it anyways, you like it for other reasons, not the “thinking” part of it.

    I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Japan and spoken with living breathing Buddhists and Shintoists. They can’t for the life of you tell you what their beliefs are. (Could be partially the language barrier. But my sister married one, and he can’t explain it either.) So, yes, they may be nice people, creative people, lovely people, even fit and healthy people, intelligent people, gracious people etc. but the thought system is not featuring large. It is a matter of the “practice”.

    Christianity is also a matter of the practice–thanking, praising, asking, seeking, communing, listening, forgiving, being forgiven, loving, receiving, hearing, sharing,thinking, praying, meditating… But no, your cognition need not be thrown out.

    C.S. Lewis is not the only one who has “thought” his way a lot of distance toward faith, taking note of many guideposts along his path, always gently and slowly being reeled in by the big Angler, as he says in “Surprised by Joy”. He had joy all along the way, but when he became a theist he realized that his joys were God and gifts from God. When he believed he let go of the search for joy, the trying to re-enact it, the “constant craving” as my fellow Albertan croons. His focus went from joy to the giver of joy, who IS Joy.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    You ignore the inconsistencies in Christianity, so you really have no place to say that CS Lewis was right

  • Brigitte Mueller

    Sorry, Cecilia, honestly (XXOO), (thanks for starting a new stack) but what you have written is very, very misleading. Like totally. As we said, Buddhism does not even want to try and be a system of thought. In Islam you “submit” to all the many rules. In Buddhism you “practice” somthing, anything, really. But Christianity does want to claim to speak the truth with a capital T, and speak of God as the utlimate reality with a capital R, and the struggles that have ensued were exactly to maintain this consistency.

    The question of Arianism was discussed, dealt with and settled. And so on with other controverted articles. The East West schism is really dumb and was more of a stupid goof by a bunch of polictics. (I go to church and often sit next to a former Russian Orthodox priest turned Lutheran. When he says the Nicene Creed, he leaves off the filioque. Am I even going to ever even mention it to him? NO.) We all confess the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Pretty sublime stuff, and not everyone has signed on to a particular phrase. We are just talking about the filioque, otherwise we ALL confess the Nicene Creed. Non-confessors I would not include in orthodox Christianity. Thus Mormons are not Christians. And I do wonder about some Pentecostal. Certainly, not those whose Christ is just another zealot / hippie / nice teacher… and what not. Anyhow. The struggle was to be on the same page, and what divides are not huge oceans of difference, finding our common ground always in Jesus Christ and his inestimable gifts.

    That God punishes and loves, at the same time, can be hard, but it makes the most sense when one become the parents of teen-agers. You have raised the little darlings, scrimped and saved and sacrificed, stayed up all night, and we do know how it goes. All the sudden, a switch gets flipped and they decide that you are an embarrassment, or worse yet, evil, ridiculous, to be ignored, etc. And at that time, the parent needs to be patient but also guard his or her dignity. You are still the parent and the teenager is headed into the most dangerous part of his life, in many respects, learning to drive, to work, to go out on his own, etc. still needing you while pushing you away. — I don’t know, that’s the time that I understood God best, in the parenting conundrum.

  • Gary

    Comparing God’s judgment to raising kids is an analogy that utterly fails the moment you ask yourself if you would ever be willing to lock your kids up and torture them for all eternity because they let you down. (Or simply obliterate them or send them away for eternity if you don’t believe in the Dante’s Inferno version of hell) Of course no sane parent would ever consider utter destruction with no chance of reconciliation. It is unconscionable to even imagine treating kids in such a way.

    If this is the true nature of God, then he is the most barbaric monster “parent” one could possibly imagine.

    That’s not my god.

  • Brigitte Mueller

    You insist on reading the opposite way of which it is stated. God says he wishes all to be saved and come to him. He has made the way himself. He has gone all the way. His door is wide open. The Father runs to meet the Prodigal, in without ceremony or demands. He is just so glad that the Prodigal is back. You know it Gary.

  • Actually, what Cecelia said is spot on from an historical and theological perspective. I know that there are some who say that there is a thread that runs through Christianity that all Christians have believe in all times and places, but historically that simply isn’t true. Indeed, I believe we are seeing another shift happening in Christianity today that is coming to see God very different than as a parent figure.

  • Gary

    Oh so you DO believe all will be saved after all? Cool!! I was under the impression you believed in hell. I am so glad to find out otherwise.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    And yet you’re the one who keeps falling into the NO TRUE SCOTSMAN fallacy by saying that Christianity can’t POSSIBLY have inconsistencies, or as many as the next.
    Major inconsistency – I love you, but if you don’t love me back, you suffer for all eternity

  • Cecilia Davidson

    All I’m seeing from you is that Christianity cannot, at all, be inconsistent, at least in comparison to other religions. Very bad move, playing a fallacy in this argument.

    Oh, and in regards to Shinto, a different beast, there’s the need to be ritually cleansed of bad deeds so to give one a peace of mind and have a better chance at good fortune, rather than the deed being wrong. There’s also regular purifications and incantations based on what’s being purified. See the annual festivals where temple priests and priestesses offer a purification for the year with a rather choreographed blessing ceremony. And, in regards to afterlife, think Hades and Elysium with spirits running the risk of becoming corrupt and having more human characteristics. To be part of the religion, be born into a family that has long practiced Shinto. If you die, you get to be a family spirit (ujigami) to protect or pester the family. Think of it like the Mormons trying to baptize you after you die, but less of the JOIN US AND MAKE OUR FAITH STRONGER aspect and more of a “Hey, you get to hang out with our gods and spirits, too! We have dragons!” sense.

  • Brigitte Mueller

    If we follow the Prodigal Son analogy we see that the Son has removed himself and demanded his rights. What is a Father to do? Wait. The Son put himself in the pigsty.

  • Brigitte Mueller

    Christ’s blood was shed for all, so their sins are already forgiven. Whether or not a person is interested in this forgiveness or not and goes for the reconciliation is the question. If you don’t want no reconciliation there is no reconciliation. You want to remove yourself from God’s love, you have removed yourself. If you want to be the Prodigal, you can go. You are not going to be imprisoned in the Father’s house. But you ARE always welcome.

  • Even after you die or is there a time limit?

  • Cecilia Davidson

    Jeff, I’m frankly tired of this “you remove yourself from God’s love” bullshit. Let’s just head off somewhere that has good drinks and food. I heard Jesus is the sous chef there.

  • I agree. The whole idea of an infinite afterlife and a Jesus Gift there for anyone to accept but only during the infintesimally short (by comparison) lifetime (in the here and now) reminds me of those infermercials that sometimes play on television.

    “If you call now, we will throw in a second XXX in addition. But wait, there is more. You will also get this YYY at no extra charge. Operators are standing by right now. This offer is only good if you call in the next 20 minutes.”

  • Gary

    Yes very typical churchy explanation for judgment.

    But what if I was raised in a muslim country and do not believe Yahweh is the real God? I would not be “rejecting” his love because to accept it would be to betray my faith.

    What if I was a sincere atheist? I would not “accept” what I honestly and sincerely believe to be nothing more than a myth.

    In both of these examples, individuals with a very sincere conscience and clear beliefs are acting in the way which seems the most honest to them. Yet it seems as if you are telling me they will face judgment and suffer an entirely different eternity simply because they were not born in the right country or because they have never known a god.

    Look Brigitte, if you believe in judgment or damnation then be honest enough to admit it and face the challenges of such a view. Don’t try to pretty it up with the silly “we choose hell” nonsense or the goofy parent analogies.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    There are plenty of things worse than empty flattery.
    The Holocaust is one of them.
    btw, the …lol… stuff is annoying

  • paizlea

    I see, you’re just a true fan waxing enthusiastic about your favorite writer. Cool.