It’s been almost three weeks since we have been to church. I absolutely love our church. I think it’s really important to find a place to discuss what you believe in, reinforce what you believe in, have a better understanding of your beliefs, and challenge your thinking and behavior. I would say It’s important to have a place that you love and respect where you can worship, but not everyone has a belief that entails worshiping. I honestly feel that it is one thing to say that you believe a certain thing, but to not continue to learn about that belief, or learn about the opposing beliefs, you are leaving yourself willfully ignorant, and if you haven’t noticed by now I do not respect the willfully ignorant.
Anyway, I love our church because they preach what I feel are the most important aspects of Christianity, love God, preach the gospel, and love people. I love they they preach humility and mission work (both of which challenge me, I’m not so great at speaking about the gospel to those around me). I am pretty good at humility, but I credit this more to who I was before I became Christian.
Which (in a long about way) brings me to what I want to discuss. Today’s sermon was about worshiping for the glory of God and not for the glory of man (meaning we should do things because God sees them not because we want others to see how great we are). One of the examples given was about Buddhists and how they strive to be “the best Buddhist” and puff themselves up. I really wanted to say, “If you honestly think that then you don’t understand Buddhism at all”. I was a Buddhist for 11 years. I think i understand Buddhism quite well. I have learned more about humility from Buddhism that I have from Christianity. Here is the interesting thing about Buddhism, yes there is a religious aspect to it, but there is also a deep philosophical aspect too. You can be a different religion and still learn a lot about your own religion by studying Buddhist philosophy. I honestly believe I am a better Christian because of it. Buddhist teach that we are all the same, I am no greater than the ant at my feet, I am no greater than my neighbor, or my enemy. I’m amazed at how many of my Christian friends are shocked that I still study Buddhist text. One of my favorite books is one written by the Dalai Lama on ethics. After the book was written he did a tour talking about some of the ideas in the book and I was fortunate to see him speak in Louisville. I had several friends approach me about their fear that I was converting back, to which I replied with this story:
One of the first books I ever read by the Dalai Lama had a story about a woman who had grown up her entire life as a Buddhist. After the death of her husband she was introduced to Christianity and was wanting to convert but she was afraid of what would happen if she did, both in life and after death. The Dalai Lama replied to her with this: that she must follow what she is compelled to follow. That if converting to Christianity will ease her soul that she should follow in that path. I have great respect for him because of that.
He has also said that his goal in writing books and doing tours and talks is not to convert people. I have great respect for him for that too. He is an amazing person and we can learn a lot from his teachings. I think many times we become defensive about our own beliefs when we are around those that believe differently than us, but what I have learned from Buddhism (and also my mother) is to step back from yourself and listen to the other person. Find a common ground and go from there. We do not have to be enemies with those that are different from us.