Monday, January 17, 2011

The truth of Buddhism

An excellent article from the blog Pious Fabrications by David Withun


I want to begin this post with a bit of a confession. As a teenager, I was, as many American teenagers are, very interested by Eastern religions. The picture of reality, of humanity, and of the divine that religious systems like Hinduism, Taosim, and Buddhism presented seemed to offer a much more agreeable alternative to what seemed the spiritual dryness of the West. As they were commonly presented, these Eastern religions encompassed great mystical traditions, lacked the judgmental tyrant-in-the-sky view of God stereotypical of American "Christianity," and were much more amiable to modern science. While Christianity was the home of the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the fire-and-brimstone Baptist preacher, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and other related religions were about a deeper view of the nature of the world and of mankind, about peace and gentle spirituality. That is the viewpoint commonly propounded by apologists of Eastern religions for Western audiences, and that is the viewpoint I held to until I started to look deeper and found the Holy Orthodox Church and the wealth of spiritual heritage that it carries with it.

The point of this post is not to try to refute these common assumptions about either Eastern religions (which, however, are not quite what idealizing Western converts would like to think) or about Christianity (though I've done other posts on some of those topics and I think such an understanding of Christianity refutes itself with any knowledge about the Apostolic Faith and the Orthodox Church). I only mention these common misunderstandings of Christianity and Eastern religions to give a little background information for this post and why I am writing it.

Amongst the Eastern religions, it was especially Buddhism which attracted me. The Buddha himself was, for me, a very impressive figure in many ways: his determination and nirvana-or-nuthin' attitude in his search for spiritual truth, his all-embracing compassion for the world, his systematic, scientific worldview and guidance for spiritual attainment -- all of this was moving and fascinating to me. And it still is. Here's an even bigger confession: I still think that the Buddha was right. That's right, I'm a Christian and I still believe that Buddhism is correct in its view of the world and of man. In fact, becoming a Christian brought me to appreciate the depth and truth of Buddhism even more than I had as a teenage spiritual dabbler. I'll explain.

Buddhism is unlike other religions in many ways; perhaps one of the most obvious and noticeable of these differences is that Buddhism, unlike nearly all other religions, has no "creation story." Instead of a story about the creation of the world, of man, and of how the world and man got to be the way they are, Buddhism tells the story of the Buddha himself, of this particular man and his realization of the world as it is.

As the story goes, the Buddha was raised intentionally sheltered by his father, a king. The Buddha was kept by his father from seeing any decay, death, illness, or ugliness; he was instead surrounded with the young, the beautiful, and the pleasurable. On several successive trips outside of the palace, however, the Buddha came across four sights that shocked him and changed his life forever: a sick person, an elderly person, a dead person, and a Hindu ascetic. As he encountered each sight, the Buddha turned to his trusted friend with him and asked what they were. His friends replies shook the Buddha's world: "that person is ill, all people suffer from disease;" "that person is old, all people will someday grow old;" "that person is dead, all people will someday die;" and finally "that person is an ascetic, he is searching for the way beyond sickness, old age, and death."

This story of the Buddha is not only the story of one man who lived 2500 years ago. It is probably not even historically accurate. It is, however, not intended to be. The Buddha's story is the story of every person who grows up and looks at the world around him. Children are generally unaware of what we might called the "hard facts of life." For them, everything is play and the play seems like it will never end. But as they grow up, they begin to see that life is not all fun and games. They see their grandmother sick and they see that they too can and will get sick; they see that their grandmother is old and frail and, eventually, they realize that they too will one day be that way; and, finally, their grandmother passes away and they see this thing called "death" and, eventually, they realize that they too will one day die. These realizations might not come in great "sights" and profound realizations as they did with the Buddha, but these are realizations that every human being has as they grow up.

The creation story of Christianity, in the opening chapters of the book of Genesis, provides much the same effect and could act just as easily as an allegory for what we all experience while coming of age. Adam and Eve, the first humans, having lived thus far in innocence and simplicity, eat of the tree of the "knowledge of good and evil." As a result, they are expelled from Paradise; suffering, decay, pain, and toil enter their world. Eve, the woman, is told that she will have children only with much pain and that her husband will have authority over her; she has become an adult woman. Adam, the man, is told that he will only be able to provide food for himself and his family with never-ending and hard labor; he has become an adult man. The final and profoundest curse pronounced against them is death: "you are dust, and to dust you shall return" (Genesis 3:19).

The creation stories of Buddhism and of Christianity are very different in time, place, and setting, but the message is the same: now that we've grown up, we have to face facts: we're going to get sick, we're going to get old, and we're going to die. And yet in each of these creation stories there is also a ray of hope that shines through. In the Buddhist story, the Buddha sees the ascetic, the one who is looking for a way beyond illness, old age, and death. In the Christian story, God says to the serpent, the one who had brought all of this upon Adam and Eve by tempting them to eat of the tree, that he "will put enmity between your seed and her Seed. He shall bruise your head, and you shall be on guard for His heel" (Genesis 3:15). God has promised a Seed to Eve, One to come who will crush the serpent, undoing what he has done and saving humanity from illness, old age, and death.

The respective foundational stories of Buddhism and Christianity continue, each retelling events that are very different from the other and which nonetheless seem to each point to the same truth. If there is one uniting element in the stories of the Christian Old Testament, one particular facet that can be found in each of them, it is that man constantly reaches for the divine and yet falls short every time. Each of even the prophets and other great and holy men of the Old Testament eventually stumbles; each of them is eventually shown to be a sinner. The overarching theme of the various Old Testament stories, which span a period of thousands of years, is man's inability to bridge the gap between man and God.

The moral of the continuation of the Buddha's story is nearly the same. After witnessing the four sights, the Buddha departs from his pampered life in his father's palace and retreats to the forest to take up the life of a Hindu ascetic, seeking an escape from illness, old age, and death. During this time, he studies under various revered gurus and masters nearly ever ascetic practice available to him. He achieves profound mystical states. And yet he is satisfied with none of this. He still suffers, he is still bound to grow sick, to grow old, and to die. He reaches a breaking point. He has nearly starved himself to death and tortured his body in various other ways; the Buddhist texts record that he had become so emaciated from his extreme asceticism that he could touch his spine by poking his stomach. Finally, he sits down under a tree, swears that he will not move from that spot until he either dies or achieves enlightenment (the state of moving beyond suffering), and he meditates.

As the name "Buddha" ("enlightened/awakened one") indicates, he did indeed achieve his goal; he reached enlightenment and experienced nirvana, the state of cessation of suffering. Having achieved this goal, he went off to teach others how to achieve it as well. His first sermon, given to a group of fellow ascetics who had been his friends, lays out the profound truths that the Buddha had realized, truths which also form the foundation of the Christian life.

These foundational teachings of the Buddha are called the "Four Noble Truths" and the "Eightfold Path." The first of the Noble Truths is that suffering is implicit in all aspects of life; even the greatest joy will eventually fade because everything on earth is temporal. According to the Buddha:
Now this, monks, is the noble truth of pain: birth is painful; old age is painful; sickness is painful; death is painful; sorrow, lamentation, dejection, and despair are painful. Contact with unpleasant things is painful; not getting what one wishes is painful. In short the five groups of grasping are painful.
This, as we have already seen, is similarly the starting point of Christianity. Turning again to the third chapter of Genesis, we find nearly the same content in God's words to Adam and Eve after their fall (Genesis 3:16-19):
To the woman He said: "I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." Then to Adam He said, "Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat of it': "Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return."
After establishing this fundamental and foundational truth, both Buddhism and Christianity then look for the source of this suffering and both find it in the same place. The Buddha's second Noble Truth is that this suffering is caused by, in Pali, "tanha." The literal meaning of the word is "thirst" but most English translations translate it as "desire." Desire, however, is not nearly a strong enough word to convey the Buddha's full meaning; a better word might be "craving." The equivalent word used by the Christian fathers and ascetics is, in Greek, "pathos," which is translated into English as the "passions." Both tanha and pathos refer to the cravings and emotions that overwhelm the souls of human beings.

The Buddha listed three forms of tanha:
1. Craving for pleasure
2. Craving for existence
3. Craving for non-existence
The early monastic saints of Christianity similarly compiled a list of the passions, eight in number:
1. Gluttony
2. Lust
3. Covetousness
4. Anger
5. Dejection
6. Despondency
7. Vainglory
8. Pride
As we can see, although the content of the lists is expressed differently yet again the message is the same. These pathos/tanhas are the underlying reason for human suffering.

The Buddha's third Noble Truth is that there is a way that leads beyond suffering, beyond illness, old age, and death. With this again Christianity is in agreement. It is with the Buddha's fourth Noble Truth that Christianity and Buddhism finally find disagreement, or so it seems. Rather, I think that the Buddha's fourth Noble Truth, in which he lays out the means by which suffering can be overcome, is not incorrect but incomplete. The Buddha's fourth Noble Truth is that the way to overcome the passions and end suffering is the Eightfold Path:

1.Right view
2. Right intention
3. Right speech
4. Right action
5. Right livelihood
6. Right effort
7. Right mindfulness
8. Right concentration
In all of this, the Buddha was correct. Following these precepts can lead to nirvana, the state of cessation of craving and so of suffering. But it cannot lead one beyond illness, old age, and death in themselves. The Buddha himself, in fact, died at 80 years old from a sickness resulting from eating a portion of spoiled pork; in other words, he got old, he got sick, and he died. But, almost 500 years after the Buddha's lifetime something remarkable happened, a key and essential ingredient was added, which the Buddha, because of his time and place, was unaware of: God became man. He was born, crucified, died, and resurrected -- freeing us all from illness, from old age, and, ultimately, from death. We must continue to struggle with our passions, our craving, our tanha, but there is a new dynamic: the grace of God.

Buddhism, then, is not incorrect, it is incomplete. The Buddha was a remarkable man and he attained to the greatest measure of understanding of the world, of humanity, and of the unique human predicament of any of the ancient philosophers and wise man. This is a truly astounding achievement on his part, given that he was entirely cut off even from the revelation of God given to Israel in the Old Testament. It is no wonder that even the early Christian Church Fathers gave recognition to the holiness of the Buddha; just as were many of the Greek philosophers and the prophets of Israel, the Buddha can undoubtedly be counted amongst those who were "Christians before Christ." Jesus Christ, however, is the completion of the great dilemma that the Buddha attempted to resolve; ultimately, Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of Buddhism.
"Every individual instinctively strives for happiness. This desire has been implanted in our nature by the Creator Himself, and therefore it is not sinful. But it is important to understand that in this temporary life it is impossible to find full happiness, because that comes from God and cannot be attained without Him. Only He, who is the ultimate Good and the source of all good, can quench our thirst for happiness." - St. Innocent of Alaska,Indication of the Way into the Kingdom of Heaven

80 comments:

  1. Ever wonder what the tree of knowledge of good and evil was? Do a search: The First Scandal Adam and Eve.

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    1. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is an allegorical reference for mankind's autonomous ability to reason and think for themselves. In this personal power, it is WE, not some devil or god, that makes the choice to commit an action that is either morally correct or incorrect (good or evil). Human individuals make their choices, and suffer/enjoy the consequences of those actions. The tree in Genesis is a poetic symbol for humans achieving that ability to 'choose' to do evil actions, as opposed to good ones.

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    2. None of the Holy Fathers believed the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was allegorical or poetic (and they also never said the fruit of the tree was an 'apple' or any other fruit we have on the fallen earth in these days). If the Tree were simply a poetic device, there was no sin committed by Adam and Eve by partaking of it.
      Man's soul was whole (rather than broken, as it became through disobedience, and as it is before baptism)in these days, and had the potential for ever-rising perfection through willing and loving obedience to God. The Tree was placed by God in the garden because, only through using his free will could man grow in love for God, and only by the possibility of disobedience could man express his love for God by obeying.

      The Church of God is Spiritual and Historical, just as Christ incarnate was wholly Spiritual (God) and wholly Historical (man). Therefore, though there is a Spiritual reality behind the Tree in Eden, there is also a Historical reality. The spiritual reality of the Tree is not an allegory, but it exists just as fully as the historical reality of this event exists in the history of our Salvation.

      As Fr. Seraphim Rose said, the fall of man after partaking of the Tree "was a real, physical event, bringing about an actual change in man's spiritual and bodily condition." Just as Christ's death on the Cross, "was a real, physical event, not an image or an allegory; and through it comes an actual change in man's condition....It gives us salvation: not figurative salvation, but actual salvation."
      "Belief in Genesis as history is also bound up with faith in what will come into being in the future age, beyond the general resurrection. According to St. Paul and the Holy Fathers, the entire visible creation was incorrupt (without decay) before the fall of man, and this incorruption will be restored in Christ's Second Coming. Thus, belief in the incorrupt first-created world is linked specifically with belief in the future age of incorruption. "If we believe and think as the Holy Father's do," Fr. Seraphim affirmed, "then our future incorruptibility will be Real, as was that of the creation and of Adam before his disobedience." ---(this great book is a compilation of all the Holy Fathers have said/written on these issues, and would recommend reading: "Genesis, Creation, and Early Man: The Orthodox Christian Vision": http://www.svspress.com/genesis-creation-and-early-man/

      Much more could be said on this, but let the book referrenced speak instead.

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    3. Obviously they thought it was real, what else could they think in times when they were living? Today we know Torah is only early kind of theological treatise which was aimed at people's imagination, not literal truth. You can confirm that by asking any archeologist about historical events. Seraphim Rose had many weird ideas about the world, I wouldn't take everything he wrote seriously.

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  2. If I'm not mistaken, compassionate Buddha sanctioned owning human beings too. That's enlightening!!

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    1. I looked into it. No, the Buddha does not endorse slavery. He never did. I guess Buddhism once again scores a point against Judeo-Christian faith, which in fact approves of the pathetic cruelty of slavery.

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    2. If I am not mistaken, Buddha taught compassion for all living creatures, not just for fellow human beings, no where does he teach owning human beings. However, in the Bible, there are many passages sanctioning killing and enslaving.

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  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  4. You can remove my comments all you want. It still doesn't undo the tragedies committed to innocent people by Christians.

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    1. I find it sickening, because I honestly feel as if you are trying to hide this fact, for sake of your pride.

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    2. The other anonymous needs to just stop trolling people's website just so they can spew venom. I personally thought this article was very interesting.

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  5. Christianity is not based on war but on love. I spread out of love of Jesus Christ and His followers not by conquest or war. Politics must be separated from religion. You have killing in Buddhist Sri Lanka in modern times, but I would not attribute it to Buddhism, but to a political fight between differing ethnic groups. True Christianity seeks to bring peace in a fallen world where there is much pride that causes wars among various peoples just as Buddhism does.
    Crusaders were mercenary soldiers seeking gold and valuable relics to take home to this masters. They sacked and pillaged, killing a raping inhabitants, desecrating churches of major Christian cities, including Constantinople which was the center of Christianity at the time and occupied other major cities which were Christian like Antioch. Orthodox Christians in the East saw those coming from the West as invaders and occupiers and not followers of the truths of Christianity. People in those places had to defend themselves against foreign invaders but were frequently overrun by these mercenaries.
    You will find many moral teachings in Christianity similar to Buddha as mentioned above but there is the addition of hope through Jesus Christ for eternal life through love.
    I am sorry but your comments were removed because they are misguided and misleading. I respect comments about the nature of differing religions but not hate oriented dialogs based on misinformation. In my view Buddha is not someone to be disrespected but one who is a kind of precursor to the coming of God as man in the person of Jesus Christ.
    My view is that Buddhism is incomplete without Christ.

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    1. Incomplete without Jesus Christ!? That doesn't make any sense, and it demonstrates your ignorance of Buddhism. One of the most important qualities of Buddhism is self-reliance (we create our problems and solutions). The Buddha's dying words were "Seek out your own salvation with diligence". This completely contrasts the "Forgive me Lord, for I have sinned"-mentality. Buddhism is incomplete WITH Jesus Christ. Saying the opposite is a ridiculous falacy, that only a self-serving Christian apologetic would use to degenerate the image of Buddhism with invented beliefs that it is "incomplete without Christ", making it look bad to win favor for Chrisianity. Of couse a Christian would believe that, because Christians cannot stand the idea that their are equally valid (very likely more valid) religions other than itself. That is why early Christian theologians referred to Christianity as THE religion, and all other spiritual paths as "heathen" or "pagan" falsehoods. This whole blog is just a shotty attempt at removing that very prominent and age-old philosophy from Christianity (which never existed within Buddhism (which enjoys philosophical discussion and debate), so that they can win converts to the "True" religion that now convinces people with a polite wrapper of faked tolerance and forced kindness. Now all of a sudden I'm supposed to believe that a religion responsible for scientific suppression, the witch-hunts, the Crusades, and continuing cruelties via missionary practices world-wide is supposed to be peaceful, and "better" than religions like Buddhism, or even Islam. That is barbarism from beginning to end. Convince me otherwise, I want to be right, so correct me (if you can) if I'm wrong. :(

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    2. The Buddha taught a religion of reason, and encouraged his followers to put his teachings to the test (similar to the scientific method). The Buddha taught never to believe something based on blind faith. That is what Christianity desires, conning others on blind faith. Telling people that if they don't accept Jesus Christ that they will go to Hell is similar in every way to this analogy.
      Imagine a blind man who has never seen the sky being told that it is in fact made out of delicious ice cream. The blind man being a lover of ice cream wants to believe this. But others try to convince him otherwise using methods of reason as opposed to faith in the words of another. They put him in an airplane, go gliding, read texts on astronomy and aeronautics, etc. But the man of faith wants the blind man to believe that the sky is made of ice cream (a wonderful idea to the blind, ice cream loving man). So he tells the blind man that the second coming of the ice cream man in the sky will decide the faithful. Only those who believe that the sky is made of ice cream will get to eternally enjoy eating the ice cream sky. Those who do not will not get ice cream, and will only get a bowl of assorted nuts instead. What is the blind man supposed to do. Have faith in a virtually disproved "faith" that their even is ice cream (let alone a "sky" of it), and take the holy man's word on faith alone (he is blind after all, never having seen the sky for himself), or trusting in his concerned friends (nonbelievers) who discount the holy man's faith using reason, experimentation, and observation/experience. Make of this analogy what you will...

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    3. http://oca.org/questions/otherconfessions/buddhism-and-conversion-to-orthodoxy

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    4. A thought: I am not sure that, despite similarities, the Orthodox goal is the same as the Buddhists. This is not to devalue the good that is shared between them. As an Orthodox Christian my own understanding from the saints is that I am not doing any of this Christian path for reward. Essentially, its not to get to heaven. I am also not doing it as an escape, to avoid suffering. Both of these ideas at the core are pagan. I realize some of these ideas are woven into the whole view in their own way, and even well meaning Christians are caught up in it at times, but this is what is merely on the surface of the true faith. Also, craving is not the problem, desire and hunger are not the problem, this is far from the truth. The goal is drastically different, although we employ similar methods. The difference isn't apples and oranges either. Wanting that "person" , Christ, more than anything else is our path. I am not saying that Buddhists, even to many of us, offer lessens for us and should be teaching us some things.They may even surpass us at times, we should be humbled by those around us. I am not even saying one way or the other concerning their eternal destiny. I am just trying to to point out the great distance between them, in any way that it is "Christ" it is no small gap. The most important things are that gap, because its not a list of ideas. As one Fr. Elchaninov speaks of the spiritual journey in Orthodoxy, that once one finds it, even if it were to be revealed to him that the whole thing was a hoax and the devil were to win in the end and death reigns, he would still follow Christ. It isn't in that sense even about what's right, as much as it is Him. All that really matters in all our doctrine in the Church concerns Him. I do not doubt that Buddhists have seen Christ, have even spoken with Him, but the mystery of all of God's love and intervention is not so that we can boast of man's systems, but to humble us to repentance and fill our hearts with thanksgiving so that we boast of God. This is closer to Orthodoxy. - Mark

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  6. I appreciate the teachings of Christ, and possess great respect for Him. However the corruptions of his followers have killed many of my ancestors in pre-Christian Europe because the early Christians wanted to "purify" my people from their "false" religions. I love Jesus Christ and his message of kindness. But I can honestly say that if I possess sin as a Buddhist, it is my inability to cope with the intolerance of Christ's followers, who kill in His name. Christianity, as I understand, in not a faith of hatred, nor is Buddhism an "incomplete" religion. Does not God reveal himself to his children in the ways they can understand? And by the way, the Crusaders weren't mercenaries, they were "soldiers" of God, who were paid not only money, but pardoning from their sins by the Catholic Church. I can never forgive the Christian faith for their slaughters and fires, and tortures of the past of so-called "false", or as you put it "incomplete" religions and their faithful, but also to it's haughty arrogance to dare state that it is the only truth, and that anything without Christ's name on it is immediately "incomplete" or utterly wrong. Pardon me and forgive me for my impatience and disgust, but I tire of never hearing truly "good" news when ever Christianity is mentioned on the news, or in ancient history. I cry at the thought of how many souls supposedly burn in hell, because according to your faith, they chose the incorrect faith. And a weep at the mere thought of how many friends and members of my family that never began a generation, life, or future, because their ancestors and kin had to be burned, tortured, whipped, maimed, hung, torn apart, and excommunicated (spat apon) by the TRUE believers, who did not abide the teachings of peace (regardless of teacher, Christ or Buddha).

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    1. If your faith is "correct", it should be noted...I would gladly burn at the stake, and forever in Hell afterwards if only because I chose the faith of Buddhism. My only wish is that you, and all people regardless of their faith will find peace. One of the stories in Buddhism, about the Bodhisattva of compassion, Guanyin, suffered in a Naraka (hell) so that other beings may not have to at her expense. This story reaches to me deeper than the Crucifixion, because instead of dying a torturous death on the cross, she literally decided to burn and suffer immeasurable pain in the worst hells, if only to spare other beings the suffering. She later rose to Heaven, becoming a Xian and Bodhisattva for unflinching compassion. Even if this legend is untrue, like the story of Christ, it possesses great truth for all to learn from.

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    2. If your faith is so righteous, and the Bible is "complete", why does it have figures like Moses, literally telling his people, fellow Hebrews, to go into their houses and kill people because they worshiped a golden calf in his absence. He literally threw a fit, smashing the commandments on the ground, and told his followers to kill people for a mistake they could have solved, simply by being asked to stop. >:(

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    3. I've met more faithful Christians than this rabble, the ones who embody Christ truly with peace and compassion, and an open-mind, strong heart, and free spirit. I pity you, and wish you the blessings necessary to give you wisdom. I do not profess to know more than you, any of you. I simply want peace, and your views refuse it. If people who abide peace without Christ are "wrong", then I don't want to be "right". I'll just associate myself with more amiable, understanding brethren. I apologize for inconveniencing you with the ever burdensome reality. You really need Christ bad from what I see, and Buddha too.

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    4. Hey, Fluffy Bunny! Grow a pair, will ya? There's not a group on this planet that hasn't done something wrong, and what does what happened to your ancestors have anything to do with YOU right now in the 21st Century? Sounds like you're just looking for an excuse to attack others and feel sorry for yourself. You're just as self-righteous and hateful as you accuse Christians of being.

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    5. You must understand that the Catholic Church was at that time under the Franks, and that these were a people out for power. They made the Catholic Church into a more empirical-building tool and had already placed their own types of people on the 'throne' of the Pope.

      However, the Orthodox Church was killed alongside the non-believing by these 'soldiers' of God. Our altars were desecrated, our holy relics were mocked or taken away, our people had horrible things done to them. Only recently has a pope expressed apology for these things.

      Just because people say they do things in the name of God, does not mean they are doing these things in the name of God.
      The Catholic Church did these things under the influence of a conquering mentality where they were being used as an empire's political tool, while the people were brought into it by influence of those who thought they were doing the right thing.

      However, only when one truly obeys God (and not a God of the mind, or of the self, or of personal opinion--nihilism--) can one be justified by God. What one must understand is that man has free will. He can align this will with God's will, or he can align it with the devils.
      By aligning it with God's, he does what he was made to do: and he works Good, through God.
      By aligning it with the devil or by his own will, he works Evil: which is contrary to both his pre-fallen nature (which willed out of Love to be obedient to God) and to how he was made to be, and which goes against the Will of God (Who's Will is Good for everyone, as He is Good and can do no Evil).

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  7. By the way, modern science proves that Adam never existed, which means the doctrine of original sin and the Fall or Man is a deception, the Genesis is vastly incorrect because factual evidence and empyrical observation has revealed that the universe was in no way created in the fashioned described in the Bible. I should also note the contradictions in the Bible about peace and love. For example, Jesus stated that none could be his disciple if they did not hate their friends and family, and contradicted his stance on peace to all by requesting his followers to bring his enemies before him so that he could slay them. The Buddha never once in his actions or speech contradicted his teachings on morality. You're right, maybe my faith IS "incomplete". Thank you Deacon! I'm going to turn around on a religion that works and move to a religion of not-so-hidden deceptions and lies, that is no longer valid in an age (THANK GOD) of reason, freedom, non-biblical law, and an increasing genuine compassion for other human beings, not just Americans or Christians. How anyone can convert to such bigotry and hatred from a faith of peace, reason, and love, I will never understand. Good luck, you're gonna need it when science finally vanquishes your religion, and reason further reveals it to be what is is and always has been, a faith of hatred.

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    1. Modern science proves nothing of the kind. Stop parroting what you find on atheist activist websites and come up with something original on your own...if you can...lol. Now, get off the library computer and get back to the basement before your mother finds out you went out and didn't put your Star Wars action figures away LOLOL

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    2. Actually, many claims of modern science are shown to only be based off of personal philosophies. Several decades of scientists have already disproved the 'science' of many (and I am not talking about creation scientists, but even atheistic ones as well).

      Most scientists only 'disprove' their own opinions on Genesis. There is actually much that is misunderstood, misinterpreted (self-interpreted),or skewed in the Bible by modernists, that- if they were to truly read the book under the explanation of men who were taught by the Living God rather than self-intellect, or self-opinion, or self-emotion,- they would understand that Orthodoxy is different from forms of Christianity, and cannot by disproved by anti-theistical argumentations.

      If you would like to challenge your own views against Truth, then this book would be recommended:
      http://www.svspress.com/genesis-creation-and-early-man/

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    3. You're only finding contradictions in the Bible because you are self-interpreting rather than turning to God for the Truth of what He meant.
      When Christ says: "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple" (Lk. 14:26),He is not saying, 'feel the sin of hatred towards these people.' He is saying that we are to Love God above all else, and to pursue the Kingdom above all else, and to not put either family relationships/humanism ('father and mother'), nationalism ('lands'), and egotism/false-concepts/self-made concepts of who one is('self') before God (as putting these apart from or before God is only hurting/destroying all of these things).

      This hatred is not the passion/sin of Hatred, but is the love of others through clinging to God. When one clings to God and cleanses oneself, then they become a joy for others. The righteous can heal others (mentally, physically, spiritually), and show God to others and help them along in their path: and they keep rising and rising in perfection. As St. Seraphim of Sarov said: 'Aquire the spirit of Peace [the Holy Spirit] and thousands around you will be saved.'
      By spurning the world and turning to God: that is divine Love for God. And by Loving God and working acts of Love for God, one love His Creation far more than one who 'loves' it by itself (and usually out of egotism) rather than through the One Who makes it breathe and move and sing. By working acts of God, one becomes a friend of Creation, and the animals will flock to that one as they still do to the living Saints. The devil's will is evil and through obedience to the devil came the brokeness in man and his disobedience to God, and that death and decay and suffering would enter the world. However, by obedience to God, these things are counteracted. This is why the righteous still raise the dead, heal, and grant Divine Love and Light.

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  8. Is the way of the Buddha to attack hate with hate? Seems you have a misconception about the true nature of Christianity.

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  9. The crucifixion and resurrection of Christ is not just a story as you suggest but a historical fact.

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    1. I do not hate Christianity. I simply cannot forgive its organization for its attacks on liberties (such as that of homosexuals), irreligious people, science, and people of other faiths. So long as this continues, a harsh comment on a Christian blog is the least of your worries from my "hate". My faith doesn't tell me to stone people for not honoring the Sabbath, bash babies heads against rocks, ban homosexuality, contradict scientific fact, murder non-Christians, own and trade slaves, or rape prisoners of war and pagans. Nearly all of this is not only featured within the context of the Bible, it is, or was, encouraged, or by law demanded of Christians to do these (as I hope you'll agree) horrible acts. I simply cannot buy that whole "religion of love" concept when all Christians (the good ones) do now is chop out all of the loving/peaceful parts, ignore the horrible ones that are divine law, and associate with the tolerant, understandable parts as their religion. And my actions now are not ascribable to my being a Buddhist. I agree that what I'm doing is very non-Buddhist of me. The irony would be that my disgust of another persons faith, as advocated in the Bible, is a very Christian thing of me to do. If you disagree, then you are ignoring very real, and commonplace elements of the Bible.

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    2. Which for your information I read (out of curiosity) very often. I also happen to own a Koran, two different copies of the Tao Te Ching, the Dharmapada, and various books on paganism. I study comparative religion, theology, natural science, and philosophy as a personal passion of mine. And I have done so for over half a decade and happily-counting. My only disgust is not in any of your beliefs or views, but how most Christians (and don't doubt this fact) treat other people. I see it on television, on internet blogs, from historical accounts, among other things. It absolutely disgusts me. Sure, other religions have had their ups and downs. But the Abrahamic faiths, primarily Christianity and Islam, continue to beat down on "nonbelievers". It seems unrelenting. If you can not see the pain past my "hatred", then you are as lost as I am. :(

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    3. So you find disgust ONLY for Christians but no one else who does similar things? Do you know what you are? You are a self-righteuss anti-Christian BIGOT...and a hypocrite to boot!

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    4. It is simply a Law: you cannot begin to understand Orthodoxy if you do not enter into the Life of the Church and the Life of Christ. Studying it otherwise will not lead to any sort of understanding. That you can find only hate in the Bible only testifies to this fact: you have been self-interpreting Scripture, rather than seeing things as God has said them. Please attempt to understand.

      First, Orthodoxy is not against science. We are against philosophically-based, rather than truth based, science. More on this can be understood here: http://www.svspress.com/genesis-creation-and-early-man/

      As for Old Testament law:
      http://frmilovan.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/out-with-the-old-testament/

      As for homosexuality, the Orthodox Church has had several saints who have battled with homosexual feelings or lust or heterosexual lust, etc, however, we recognize that both of these are eliminated as one draws nearer to God. Everyone has different passions that afflict them on their path to Theosis, and this is all part of ancestral sin--the Orthodox never had the doctrine of original sin.
      Everyone is sick, everyone has some illness. Orthodoxy teaches man through God, to find out what sicknesses are within themselves, how to root them out, and how to become themselves and become like God: perfect, and an ever-increasing perfect.

      That homosexuality is not part of a person, but is a resulting sickness from a harmed soul (which is definitely deep within a person that it makes it feel it is natural, and which the devil will definitely want one to see as natural), is witnessed to by the fact that it is curable.
      Orthodoxy has had the ancient practice of Orthodoxy Psychotherapy that has cured not only homosexuality, but several other mental or spiritual diseases: all of which no modern psychotherapy has cured, but has only ever been able to cover the symptoms of for a time.
      Books on Orthodox Psychotherapy: http://www.amazon.com/registry/wishlist/2V0AMZ9KVKW7U/ref=cm_wl_rlist_go_o_T1-1
      So, you must understand: we are against homosexuality (not against those who believe they are homosexual) because we know it is spiritually harmful for a person, especially when they are taught to believe it is part of themselves. So, we are against the sickness of homosexuality, and like God: would like to heal the one afflicted with it, and made to like that affliction through the devil. When one is cured from it, then one never wants to go back, but lives in such God-given healing.

      Please, atleast attempt to understand why we believe so. It is one thing to believe oneself to be open-minded and to read many things, but to in fact be a self-prejudiced individual. It is also a sickness to read many things only for the stuffing of one's mind: as it leads one to self-satisfied pride. Seek the Truth in things and don't try to find only something that agrees with your views or to twist things to support your own views: or you will never find truth; just ego. It is a blessing to find the Truth in things, to take it to heart (in reality the 'nous'), and to use it to climb to God.

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  10. Where do you live? What is your ethnic background. Have you always been a Buddhist? Tell me more about your spiritual journey.

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    1. I became a Buddhist after a decade of religious study. I was never conditioned from birth in any religion. I began, unchurched, as something of an unorthodox Christian. I always saw God as something of a mother-figure, kind and nurturing. I knew very little of the majority of religion as a child. In ways I still believe in a loving mother-like God. In retrospective I see now that this was a childish misunderstanding of reality. The Absolute (God) exists everywhere in my view now. No one faith holds the monopoly on truth.

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    2. The reason why people turn to a personal God, is because they realize, and fear lack of control over their lives. To experience a feeling of comfort, they fabricate views of gods, or God, to watch over them. My question to you is why you do not believe in the divinity of Odin the Allfather. Or that Prometheus the Titan truly condemned himself to Tartarus attempting to steal fire from the gods of Olympus and give it to mankind. Why is you god so believable, and mine and that of others immediately false. Miracles have been performed in their names too. Historical accounts up the wazoo for spiritual teachers all over the world, not just Christ. I'm not questioning your religion. I'm just questioning why so many Christians, such as yourself, look at other faiths with contempt, saying "that faith is incomplete, and that faith is wrong." I honestly believe that by the actions of most Christians, if there is a hell, they are burning in it. I cannot see myself participating in such a faith of bigotry as the followers of Christ do.

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    3. There is much to respect in the world religions. Though we believe God revealed (as far as was able to be revealed at that time) His will fully to Israel, we also know He did not leave the world without His instruction as well. The Holy Spirit goes where He wills, and we do not always know where or how(paraphrase of John 3:8).

      We know that though not all religions are one truth, but there is some truths in all religions. Then, to these truths have been added human imaginings or influences, others have had many truths subtracted from them, then some have been corrupted. However, there is still those truths within that have been divinely revealed. By love of these revelations, men in these religions can find salvation. Many of these were able to heal by the grace they had recieved by God through these truths.

      Now, bear with me, and maybe I can explain the next few topics coherantly:

      Orthodox believe that Christ was the end to all religion, as He was the fulfillment of all those real truths in all religions. His Church is not a religion, as it is the Living Christ.
      The Church partakes of Life Who says, "I Am the Way, I Am the Truth, I Am the Life," and "I will build My Church and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it".

      The divine Traditions within the Church are not empty/though- outwardly-ornate traditions, but are actually filled and vivified by the Holy Spirit (I'm not just repeating words from a book; this is also experienced as well as revealed). There exist 't'raditions within the Church (for instance, ethnic ones like diving for the Cross on Theophany), but these are not seen like the actual Tradition, do not need to be kept: though they are not smashed as they do not contradict the Truth. You see, Orthodoxy is not about killing culture, like many others have been, but about bringing the Light of Truth into the center: and so the culture is made to have Life and is healed/illumined from within.

      We recognize that Christ was a fulfillment of the divine Logos of the Greeks, the Tao of the Chinese, the Unknown God to Whom the Romanians would devote themselves in virginity, etc. So, you see, He wasn't just an end and a fulfillment to all the world religions, but also to the Judaic religion: He was the Messiah, the Christ, the One Who would save them and make it possible for reunification with God.

      As Orthodox, we do not condemn others while we believe the fullness of Revelation and ability/means to bring Healing has been given to us.
      God cares for all and will help all: 'He makes the sun to shine on the just and on the unjust.' He does not withold His blessings from those who call on Him.

      Our reaction to God's love is what saves us. Those who know of Christ are saved by clinging to Him. Those who don't know of Christ, or only know of a misrepresentation of Christ, are saved by clinging to what they do know of God. They are also saved by the law of God within them: conscience.

      For instance, we know that even some atheists can be saved.

      Let's explain this more:

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    4. For instance, though we believe Orthodoxy is the Tradition, we know that there are non-believers who do not have the Tradition (or may have heard of it but do not understand it, understood it incorrectly, are ignorant of it, have witnessed only ill-representation of it, have not been open to Grace, etc) that still may go to Heaven. We have been given the full Truth, but some are only given little--but all are accountable for the Truth they have been given.
      Some protestants believe this as well, such as C.S. Lewis who was fond of Orthodoxy, and wrote in the last book of the Chronicles of Narnia about the one man who didn't knowingly serve Aslan, but unknowingly served his own god as if it were Aslan, and so gained Paradise (he said something like, 'you did not know it but you were serving me while you thought you were serving him').

      And then, even many atheists may serve God. For instance, by their hatred of 'God' (which may indeed be not against God at all, but against a god of society or a misrepresentation of Him--and so is actually an unknowing hatred of the misrepresentation of God instead), they show their divine longing for the True God and so may actually love him very much more than someone who knows of God but takes Him foregranted.

      Similarly, Fr. Seraphim Rose (who was a protestant by family, then an genius athiest by skill and choice, then an eager experimentor in Eastern religions such as Taoism, then finally an Orthodox convert and later a Monk and Priest/Hieromonk) wrote about atheists:

      "Atheism," 'Eugene [Fr. Seraphim's name before conversion] wrote in later years,' "true 'existential' atheism burning with hatred of a seemingly unjust or unmerciful God, is a spiritual state; it is a real attempt to grapple with the true God Whose ways are so inexplicable even to the most believing of men, and it has more than once been known to end in a blinding vision of Him Whom the real atheist truly seeks. It is Christ Who works in these souls. The Antichrist is not to be found primarily in the great deniers, but in the small affirmers, whose Christ is only on the lips. Nietzsche, in calling himself antichrist, proved thereby his intense hunger for Christ...."

      __________________________

      So you see, Orthodoxy's understanding about salvation is a bit different than the denominational Christian understanding....
      and so is our understanding of Heaven and Hell.

      The Orthodox understanding of Heaven and Hell (not what you've probably been hearing your whole life):
      http://orthodoxhealing.blogspot.com/2010/02/flame-of-divine-love.html

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  11. Aim of a Christian life is union with God. This is a personal relationship. We experience His grace and receive His comfort. Belief in Christ began with the first disciples of Christ. They knew Him, they witnessed His Crucifixion, they saw Him after His Resurrection, Then, after He ascended to heaven, they were sent the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost and empowered by His grace to give their lives in a pagan world to carry the good news of His resurrection and teachings of love and the kingdom to come, a heavenly kingdom. All these original apostles except one faced persecution and were killed. For 300 years the word of God's coming to earthly world as both man and god was spread, not by violence, but by faith and love with many giving their lives to cruel persecutors.
    Orthodox Christians have learned that by following Him we too find a relationship, a union, and receive His grace. The way of life can be found in the following link: http://www.stgeorgegreenville.org/TenPointProgram/TenPointProgram.html
    When one follows this way, he is able then to act without violence and with love and humility. He is at peace within himself. He becomes capable of living according to the virtues as taught by Jesus Christ.
    I believe in Jesus Christ, The Holy Spirit and the Father, the Holy Trinity, one God in three persons, because I know my God. He is a living God, a personal God, a loving God.
    The incredible mystery of our faith is the incarnation of God through a virgin mother. God took on flesh and became man while retaining His divinity to show all mankind the way to be joined with Him in union. Not in an impersonal way, but in a most intimate and personal way. This is the faith of Orthodox Christians.
    When we have faith, we do not look on others with contempt. We do not judge them. We hope and pray that they too will find the same personal relationship with God. This is why we say that some have an incomplete view. They have not yet found that personal relationship with God. God was incarnated as Jesus so this could be possible for all human kind. No, a true Christian does not condemn others. There are many in Western Christianity who seem to take this approach, but for Orthodox Christians this is a mistake. Like Jesus, we are called to love even our enemies, even in the face of death as the martyrs demonstrated time and time again. Hatred is a major sin that will block a person from this personal relationship. With the slightest hatred in their heart they are a Christian only by name and not in truth.
    To understand fully the view of Orthodox Christians you have to also know something about history and how various groups split from the original teachings of the Church. This led to significant changes as is manifested mainly in the Western Christian Churches. The Western mind becomes too rational, turns to philosophy, and denies the mystical aspects of this union with God.
    I hope this helps you to understand a little about the nature of Christianity as taught by Jesus Himself.

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    1. Then it seems you are a bearer of true faith. I apologize. Sometimes I cannot hold back my pain for those who were swept away by the tides of those who killed in the name of their faith. But there are still so many who are intolerant, in many faiths. Christianity's size only enables it to have more often, the cruel members of their faith. I cannot believe they call themselves Christian. I appreciate your clarity.

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    2. A true Christian has no enemies. To love enemies is ridiculous. If indeed we are all children of God, and are all a part of God's magnificent Creation (i.e. everything), then all are loved by God. Like a father, or mother's, children, sometimes we stumble. But I'm sure that if God is there, and personal, there is not a faith on this earth that can entirely be addressed as incorrect. All are just shots in the dark to find God (or whatever the Absolute may be called). Buddhism is one of those. As a Buddhist, I have not turned my back on Christ, or any teacher and philosophy/religion. I've simply explored a different path than others. If God wishes to condemn me for that, so be it. I can only hope his infinite love and wisdom can personally and immanently be expressed in me, and all other beings (faithful or other). I apologize sincerely for my ridiculous and pathetic attitude towards you and your faith. Buddha and Christ alike would have expected better of me.

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  12. I am confident if you pursue your Buddhist practice with sincerity and humility you too will eventually find Christ. The path you have chosen is a very difficult one as it depends on your own efforts. It's known as the way of knowledge. The way of Orthodox Christianity is a path of love.

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    1. I'm Orthodox and it sure doesn't seem like the path of love. My dismay with Orthodoxy is the talk is big but the action is tiny. If we are to know Christ followers by their fruit what does that say about Orthodoxy.

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  13. From E. O. Wilson, The Social Conquest of Earth.
    Some might think that the influence of pacific Eastern religions, especially Buddhism, has been consistent in opposing violence. Such is not the case. Whenever Buddhism dominated and became the official ideology, whether Theravaˉda Buddhism in Southeast Asia or Tantric Buddhism in East Asia and Tibet, war was tolerated and even pressed as part of faith-based state policy. The rationale is simple, and has its mirror image in Christianity: peace, nonviolence, and brotherly love are core values, but a threat to Buddhist law and civilization is an evil that must be defeated. In effect, “Kill them all, and Buddha will receive his own.” In the sixth century Chinese rebels, under the Buddhist title “Greater Vehicle” (Mahaˉyaˉna), set out to eliminate all the world’s “demons”—starting with the Buddhist clergy. In Japan, Buddhism was modified as an instrument of feudal struggles, creating the hybrid “warrior monk.” Only at the end of the sixteenth century were the powerful monasteries broken by the central military government. Buddhism was then modified as an instrument of feudal struggles. After the Meiji Restoration in 1818, Japanese Buddhism became part of the nation’s “spiritual mobilization.”

    Wilson, Edward O. (2012-04-02). The Social Conquest of Earth (Kindle Locations 1059-1068). Norton. Kindle Edition.

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    1. That is some interesting history about Buddhism. But if you're so interested in religious persecution, maybe you should take a gander at historical facts about the Inquisition. I thought we made peace, but if you want to reopen the wounds, so be it. :(

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    2. May I ask a question concerning the error of Christian morality as cited in the Bible? I assume as a Christian teacher, you are aware of the 10 Commandments, and that they supposedly come from God Himself, yes? The Sixth Commandment states "Thou shall not murder/kill". Why then does God contradict himself by killing off human beings in genocidal masses, and ordering his followers to do the same? Don't you think this is an interesting paradox? Wouldn't it be more accurate to say "Thou shall not kill...unless I say otherwise, in which case you can justify any murder by stating that it is My (God's) will. As for Me, I love all of you, accept the Jews when my Jewish son Jesus is born for not believing in his Sovereignty, and people who pick up sticks on the Sabbath. For people who pick up sticks, they shall be stoned with stones, and for harlots they shall be burned with fire. Other than that don't kill whatsoever." Makes perfect sense to me (*sarcasm*). I also particularly love the story of when Moses receives the stone tablets bearing upon them the 10 Commandments. You know...the part wherein he notices people worshiping a golden calf in his absence, and he throws the stone tablets (shattering them), and orders his followers to kill their loved ones for their heresy. Wouldn't it make sense for Moses not to shatter the stone tablets in a violent fit of childish, genocidal rage, and instead show the Hebrews the error of their ways by reading for them the Commandments? Nope...because that would make sense, wouldn't it? You can site facts about loopholes in my religion all day long. But in the end, I can prove your religion incorrect, not with science or facts, but by your own Bible. You literally have two extremes of Christianity to follow from the Bible, God-approved violence, or God-approved pacifism and love. In the end their have been followers of both. But you cannot be following the "True Religion" if you are being both pious and heretical at the same time by following one extreme or the other. And it is incorrect to just pick and choose the parts of the Bible you agree with (like pacifism), and leave behind the obvious hate crimes that would inevitably remain, that would mean you are only half-Christian. Your thoughts?

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    3. Yet Buddhism has shining examples of peace found no where else in the world. You are purposely ignorant how in Thailand, during the Communist era in Asia and Europe, was the only country in the world who peacefully resolved the conflict with the Communists dissidents. They did this through non-violence, by being patient and accepting back former Communists dissidents into mainstream society. This is in stark contrast to what happen to many Christian Orthodox countries such as Russia and Greece for example. Buddhism is the most peaceful religion/philosophy/way of life on this planet which is way it is never on the news with regards to terrorism, jihad nor crusades.

      I would propose to you that one night instead of talking in prayer, try listening in meditation you might be pleasantly surprised.

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  14. Point is not to open old wounds but to be realistic about how political figures use religion in a way that is not in agreement with their beliefs or practice. It's unfair to condemn any religion based on political actions.

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    1. I agree with not condemning religions because of individual actions. However, I do not agree with approving actions that are immoral, simply because a religion dictates that an action should be carried out. For example, many Christians condemn homosexuals, and disapprove of the rights deserved to homosexuals, using the Bible as their reason for their disapproval (THEIR ONLY REASON). By that logic, they should also approve of slavery, religious oppression, tribalism, and many actions that are considered hate crimes in our modern day, secular, society.

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  15. The Old Testament must be viewed through the eyes of the new testament.

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    1. Half-Christian it is then. That is like saying that Mein Kampf should be view through the eyes of The Souls of Black Folk.

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  16. May I ask you some questions? Do you approve of the rights of women? Do you also approve of the rights (any of them) of homosexuals? Do you doubt the feasibility of other religions, simply because they are different from your own?

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    1. The fact that you have to defend your religion is only an attribute of its falsehoods. I neither approve of slavery, oppression of others rights, or human sacrifice. If you are more than half-Christian, you must approve of these things. Not to is heresy...

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    2. The fact that you brought up Buddhist history only demonstrates a desire to judge and debate my religion. I am honoring you wish by doing the same to yours. Is that not fairness. I am behaving in this most non-Buddhistic manner because I am personally very interested in religious history, comparative religion, theology, philosophy, and generally every field of science and thought. So you must forgive me if I wish to harass your harassment, and judge your judgement, for it is in my nature.

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  17. You ask many questions. I assume they are questions. We do not condemn anyone. We are all imperfect, sinners. Only God is the judge. Christians are called to love all mankind. But to live the life Christ showed us we need to follow the path he gave us, one that transcends things of this world and units us with His will in what we call Theosis. Only then can we effectively understand the meaning of Scripture. This is why we teach the need for a guide, a spiritual father to help us along the lifelong path of spiritual growth.

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  18. If you condemn no one, then why do Christian preachers from other authentic Christian denominations, and I assume your own as well, who condemn homosexuals? That is an authentic question. And one you have been beating around. Do you not approve of the inalienable rights of all people. You do know we live in a free nation, don't you?

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    1. I couldn't help but notice that instead of attempting to disprove me with examples of my incorrectness (as you state I possess), you've only given (or re-given)statements like "We do not condemn anyone", when very obviously I cite facts and example that practitioners of your religion (the "We" in your statements) do in fact condemn others (often to the point of malcontent and open ridicule). I suggest that if you want to prove me wrong (and I sincerely hope you can), you should start giving me reasons to believe you. Not just "because we're nice people, and anything you say is wrong because...weeeelll just because.

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  19. Orthodox Christians have quite different views than most Protestant denominations. Our theology is unchanged from the time of the Apostles.
    All men are creatures of God. We all have shortcomings we need to work on. God created us as man and woman. This is essential fot procreation. Homosexuality is not the plan he had for us but neither is many other kinds of sexual practices.
    We respect freedom of religion but true freedom only comes when we are united with God.
    You can't confuse Orthodox Christianity with many branches you probably have in mind. For us the aim is union with God, it's a way of life that invoves surrender, controlling our passions, and detachment from worldly cares. The Scriptures and the Church Fathers are therapeutic in nature to lead us toward this aim. It accepts all, even the greatest sinners who are willing to examine their lives and seek help from God to become one with Him.

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    1. You are wrong to speak for your entire religion, God, Christ, or people in general, when saying that you are compassionate, liberal, and tolerant (unlike other branches you are obviously scapegoating). You can only speak for yourself, and I can only speak for myself. I cannot say that all Mexicans are mestizo, or that all Buddhists are Asian. I can say only truths about my self. What do you know of God that exceeds another man's knowledge, regardless of religious preference or faith? Absolutely nothing, and I if I'm not mistaken, there are passages in the Bible that state that. Homosexuality is made taboo by a primarily heterosexual society who feels that anything beyond its norms is immoral and unnatural. Homosexuality exists in nature beyond, and even before civilized man. If this is God's Creation, it is therefore (as you must admit as you are clearly referencing the outdated Natural Law theory of morality as used by Thomas of Aquinas), homosexuality is not immoral, it is not wrong, and it is not unnatural (IT EXISTS IN NATURE). Saying that sex is only for reproduction is foolish in its assumption that every egg within a female's ovaries, and every sperm cell in a man's testes, should be used for conception. It is IMPOSSIBLE. Animals in nature will have sex, or engage in sexual stimulus for pleasure only, so that to is not capable of being "unnatural". Believe in lies all you want, it would appear that your God certainly works in "mysterious ways" when Creating nature and all things. Your opinions on sexuality are not only just that (opinions), they are provably incorrect, and really quite childish if looked at with maturity. How is a man who is supposed to be abstinent from all sexual activity supposed to have a just, unbiased opinion on sexual morality. Rather curious don't you think. And its easy for a white, heterosexual, religiously Christian man (the majority) to preach about the immorality and "unnaturalness" or others like homosexuals and atheists (the minority). You are abusing power.

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    2. I dont know what you mean by power. ALso I am a married man. I have two children and four grandchildren. I only preach and practice the natural order God gave to us. Marriage is one of the first sacraments found in Scripture. Yes, God does work in mysterious ways. He is unknowable yet we can know and join with Him through His energies. But as His creatures we can never know His essence, no more than a pot can know its potter.

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  20. In regards to women, Jesus taught to men and women alike. Both were His disciples. In the Church all are equal in the eyes of God. The MOther of God, Mary, is seen as the greatest of all the saints of the Church. In daily life of the Church it often seems that the women are the most faithful. We have differing roles according to Tradition but no difference in our status with God or our ability to become united with God.
    In regards to other religions we see that the revelations we have received from God show us a path to union with Him and eternal life. The Incarnation of God in His Son is a most significant event in the history of mankind. God became man, took on human flesh, to renew mankind, so he could be united with God with eternal life. He showed us the way for our own renewal as well. If one follows this path he can become united with God forever. I cannot speak for other religions. In our faith we know we have all we need to be united with Him.

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    1. What do you mean by becoming "united with Him". The difference of your meaning can determine whether or not you speak of a Christian heresy, or that you are simply being metaphorical. Secondly, not only did Jesus Christ technically start a cult of idol-worship (God or no, he claimed divinity and desired auspicious devotion from his followers), which not only broke the First Commandment, but shattered the understanding that God is One, without equal, ineffable, and ultimate (which was and is the most important theological point in Judaism as well as Islam). Judaism is, in my opinion, a superior theology compared to Christianity. That's not to say that Christ's establishment of the Golden Rule, not judging others, and loving all (even enemies) isn't a necessary addition to the seeming corruption of the Judaic priests/rabbis at the time, but that the Jewish understanding of God does not include a "fire-and-brimstone" dichotomy of good and evil, wherein God condemns nonbelievers. It is within the unseen Almighty's judgement of others actions that determines their status as good, not professing a belief in the Sovereignty of a man (Jesus, even if a demigod or prophet) that he is your savior that determines the status of one's soul. If the faithful Jews do not believe in the heresy of Jesus Christ's profession of divinity, why should I? Why can't I be free to choose my path to God, as He provides it for me (who's to say that another path is less than the teachings of Christ, no one but God). After all it's my autonomy, freedom, rationality, reasoning, and thought that God has blessed me with. If God truly loves me, He understands me and my decisions (which I try to make wise, benevolent ones), not some preacher or man.

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    2. I really hope that God, Brahman, Allah, Buddha, Tao, Dharmakaya, Bondye, Great Spirit, the All, the One, or whatever name you have for the higher power blesses you with wisdom and compassion. As a Buddhist, I try to open my mind and heart to all beliefs and paths, knowing the ascend the same mountain, come from the same desire to aspire to a greater good, and to answer the myriad questions concerning existence. I, not being a hypocrite, do not doubt the possibility of truth of Christianity, I simply wish to question its beliefs and how it has been used to attack reason and abuse power. If Christ is the impetus for you to be good to others, I almost pity you. For good alone and its righteousness that compels happiness and love from others is what drives me to be kind...not belief in a God who demands this from me. Look around, the world is naturally inhospitable, primal, and filled with fear, death, suffering, and even injustice. Many of these qualities have been compelled from religion like your own. If their is a God, he is apathetic or truly mysterious in His/Her/Its motives towards man and the universe. Your views within Christianity are not only unrealistic and blind, they are impossible and wrong. Beyond that your belief is your own. My stance on this comes from an unbiased realism, not religious or personal beliefs. My views of the religion of Christianity are shared by some of the greatest minds of history, I'm not alone (and I think God could agree, having created this Universe and all).

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    3. Welcome back my friend anonymous. I am not sure there ismuch I can add to help you with your intense dislike of Christians. Your view seems quite distorted to me but I am glad to hear you belive in God who is the creator of the universe and all. Orthodox Spirituality is not based on reason but on a way of life tha t purifies the heart to have a direct relationship with God, a personal relationship, a loving relationship. Also one of the basic tenets is that of free will. It is only through our choice that we can have this relationship with God. We can also choose to reject him. If we freely choose to follow Him out of love, not out of obligation, then we have the hope of being united with him forever. Christainity is not a ethical system but a way of life to Follow God and out our love for Him to willing choose to do His will.

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    4. My dislike for Christianity comes only from its attempts to control people's lives. Homosexuals have the exact same rights that you or I (presumably both heterosexuals) have. Repressing those rights is just an example that the majority of Christian Americans (the majority by a vast percentage) demonstrating their power against a smaller group of people, putting them in their place as it were. After all, why should Christian Americans tolerate a potential threat to their ideologies and faith, which is what they see heterosexuals and non-Christians as. Atheists, non-Christians, and homosexuals have been fired from their jobs by Christian bosses, publicly ridiculed, and told that they are "abominations" and a "disgrace". You continue to tell me that I demonstrate a "dislike" for Christians. Am I immoral or unkind for pointing out injustices advocated by YOUR RELIGION and its faithful to other people? You would tell me that I am persecuting you (THE IRONY), when Christians constantly attack others with verbal and public acts of mistreatment and hate. Homosexuals are denied many opportunities that heterosexuals have, where is the justice in that? It would appear to you that I am hateful, indeed, in the midst of the stubbornness and pride of people like you, I must be cruel in order to be kind. You desire to be righteous, yet you will not look at the errors of your own ways. HYPOCRISY! At least I can admit my flaws, and I fully support the rights owed to others. You have demonstrated your apathy to the plight of a persecuted group of people (homosexuals), and you would dare speak of peace, love, and kindness to all men. It's disgusting! If I come across as mean, it is only because I abide a morality that you are clearly willing to forsake in your self-righteousness. It must be easy for a man in power, amidst a vastly larger group of people, sharing the same views, to say that something another person does is wrong. Who do you think you are. I can criticize your religion, and you mine, until the cows come home. But I will never condemn a group of people being who they are, and tell them that they are "abominations" and that what they do which comes naturally to them as your sexual preference does to you is wrong.

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    5. Needless to say my views are relative. I happen to have a homosexual friend (my best friend), who's mother is a Christian. From my observation, not only is she really genuine and loving, but accepting of her son despite his sexual preference. I can honestly say, that her views are more acceptable than those you apparently advocate. God's love is truly present in her.

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    6. You seem to want to put words in my mouth. I explained earlier view on this subject which differs from what you describe. You have experience with certain people who say they are Christians but they may be what Orthodox would say have deviated from the original teachings of the Apostles. In the Orthodox Chirch we do not control people. We believe in free will and know we all struggle with tendencies that are not in line with what Christ has shown through His love. You can't make everyone into your image of a few you may have met.

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    7. But you haven't refuted me. You tell me not to put a group of people into a category that I describe they belong to, yet you do the exact same thing with non-Orthodox Christians and yourself as well. You are using the same "us as opposed to them" dichotomy you claim I am using when stating historically provable deviations made by Christians, that you use to say "no, Christians don't do that, we're different". You can't say that I am being unfair and biased when you are as well. Can you really speak for every Orthodox member of your church, let alone your denomination? I do not assume that all Christians are "bad" people any more than might assume Buddhists, Hindus, etc. are "good". Like I said, I'm a relativist, these arguments are not absolute (that would be impossible). But you have to use a more sound argument than saying that I can't do exactly what your doing (namely labeling people in "bad" or "good" groups). You certainly use the same biblical teachings and general religious faith as the other ("less gentle") denominations (you are both Christianity after all). You can't say that Orthodox Christians are good, at that what I'm saying about Christianity's shortcomings belongs in accusation to other denominations or none at all. You are just as guilty of labeling them as you say that I am. Part of me still loves the Christian culture of my childhood. But having matured and learned more in my younger days, I see the pains inflicted on other people by many a Christian. I don't hold it against you. I come off as though I do to be sure, but I must admit that even I let my emotions get the best of me sometimes. I try not to be a hypocrite, or label people. Part of my belief in Buddhism is to identify with a tradition. Buddhism makes sense to me in a way that Christianity never could, or will. All I want now is for people to stop abusing others' paths, and historically and currently Christians in their vast numbers do this more often than should be acceptable (sadly, being a "Christian country" it is acceptable here).

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    8. It should be noted that I still have a fondness for many aspects of Christianity. God, the angels, Christ's moral philosophy, and of course, church/cathedral architecture in all its glorious beauty. I apologize for my persistent unkindness in expressing my current and almost aggressive view of the Church. I think deep down I still love Christianity, and that part of my fussiness is trying to prevent it from marring itself. I don't think belief in a God or religion is particularly important, when God and His Spirit exist within all of His Creation, especially mankind. This could be coming from an intermix of Christian and Buddhist theology though. Currently I'm continuing to study religion in all its forms. Christianity is one religion, that despite being part of a culture familiar with it, I still have a great deal to learn about. Once again, I apologize sincerely for my unacceptable behavior towards Christianity and you.

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    9. Keep searching my friend out of love. Check out Orthodox Christian spirituality along the way. God will lead you.

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    10. Thanks, I'll look into that.

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    11. I consider Orthodox Christianity to at least be better than Catholicism. I've been conversing with Catholics, and I've tried being just when voicing my opinion, even friendly, but they insist on childish name-calling and attacks without any information on me or my background. It's saddening to see so many people affiliating themselves with Christianity and Jesus behaving in such an un-Christian way. You at least have been patient and tolerant of me, and tried to educate me in my wrongness. They could use a teacher like you. :)

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    12. Once again I would like to apologize for my unkindness. No one deserves to be talked to that way. I now understand how you must have felt when I harassed you by my false words. It is a demonstration of shameless cruelty, and the fact that you tolerated it at all is a demonstration (undoubtedly) or your spiritual attainment. You deserve more than kindness for my unwholesome comments.

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    13. I accept your apology and send you many blessings for your continued progress in your spiritual journey.

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    14. Thank you very much. That means a great deal to me. I wish the very same to you as well. :)

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  21. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Problem_of_evil

    Copy, Paste, and enjoy. :)

    If anything, it's food for thought. But not just any thought...free thought.

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  22. Hello from the future.

    I was just reading this and then a good portion of the comments. One thing I notice here and elsewhere is people's tendency to think of themselves as experts on things they haven't studied. Buddhists are misunderstanding Christianity and Christians are misunderstanding Buddhists.

    So you have Buddhists thinking Jesus wants people to hate their families and Christians maybe not understanding the different types of desire in Buddhism.

    It is not good to form opinions on things from what those opposed to it say. I will not learn Buddhism from a Christian or Christianity from a Buddhist. I think it is best to assume, in situations where beliefs seem irrational, that there is a rational explanation (especially if the belief is an old one that continues) because we are all people and everyone is not stupid besides me.

    So then we learn, for example, that Jesus did not mean to hate our families in the sense that we think, but was using the word to make a powerful point. Then it makes sense. Or maybe, after much grace and patience, it fails to come up as rational. Only then should we start calling it stupid and form an opinion, after we've given it a chance.

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    1. Good Point Phillip. But there is a huge difference between Buddhism and Christianity. Christians believe in a Trinitarian God which includes God who became man, the Son of God, who was born of a virgin, taught and performed miracles, Was unjustly crucified, Resurrected, Ascended into heaven, then sent the Holy Spirit empowering his disciples to establish churches. Christians believe in a personal relationship with this God. They struggle in live to live His commandments seeking his help in overcoming their inability to do so (Sinfulness). This relationship comes as a gift of God through His grace. We engage in ascetic practices along with our participation in the sacramental life in the Church to purify our heart so it can receive this grace.

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  23. Great text!There is a story of Saint Nicholai from the book ABOVE THE SIN AND DEATH, titled SERMON ABOUT PRINCE GAUTAMA, also Buddha and Nirvana are mentioned in PRAYERS BY THE LAKE. Teaching of the Buddha is misunderstood by the western people and eastern alike. To be a Buddha is to be awaken for the truth , for the experiencing of the truth, To find Nirvana is to find liberation of the Self that is non verbal in its essence .There is no emptiness or extinction of the Self in that state, Nirvana is just indescribable with words.The path to the liberation is openness to Truth /Logos so that it can be incarnated in our lives.In that sense Buddha is a prophet of the Christ.God Bless.

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