God won in the religious showdown I created between Him and the Buddha.
He rose to the top. Well, actually . . . He “remained” at the top, having never been “toppled,” so to speak.
That is, for “this” life time. Next one, I’m coming back as a Buddhist, hell-bent on obtaining Enlightenment.
Of all the devout Buddhists I met, none could say with any certainty that God, the Creator, could be found in any Buddhist teachings or writings from their religion. God, can however, be “found” or “cherished” in Buddhism, the philosophy, which provides practitioners with a path to, not only follow the 10 Commandments — the Torah — but gives you the basic tool to seek the highest of moral grounds. And that is through the daily practice of meditation.
At least, that is the understanding I reached following a talk given by avowed Buddhist Floyd Platton, who spoke Sunday at the Chenrezig Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia He drew a comparison between Buddhism and Theism and struck a chord with me when highlighting the lives of spiritual mystics from both the Jewish and Christian Faiths. These mystics were “tolerated” by their respective religions, he said, as long as no one started a “movement” around them, and away from the traditional and/or conventional beliefs of the two major belief systems. I felt teachings from these mystics were the closest thing to what is called an “experiential” Buddhism as anything I have ever encountered. (Are there Muslim mystics? I wondered about this, but failed to ask. Would they have more in common, and be more like, those mystics in Christianity and Judaism than with their own conventional or fundamentalist Islāmic brethren? Was I afraid to ask after hearing about the near annihilation of Buddhism in India when Muslims took over, forcing it to “go underground,” only to see it surface and flower in neighboring Tibet and other Eastern countries?)
One mystic described God as the “Nothing” that has always existed, Platton said. You could not come up with a label for such a God, because it would be too limiting. “Nothingness” is the closest thing to the Buddhist Nirvana then anything Platton had indicated he had ever heard. And the love and compassion that Buddhists seek through complete immersion in their Dharma, something called the Dharmakaya, is similar to the Christian belief that “God is Love,” another Buddhist leader said. That’s my take on it, too.
I felt there’s almost a difference in emphasis that is placed when practicing in the two belief systems. Christianity, to me, is often passive, while Buddhism, despite some stereotypical beliefs to the contrary, is more “active.” Buddhist are always talking about “being.” By focusing on the precise moment, they remove the causes for pain and suffering and simply “be” alive in, and with, their physical surroundings, the objects directly in front of them, and not thoughts and/or feelings about them, their history or their future. Seeking peace and calm within is an “active” engagement, not one you can cause to manifest without, I don’t know, a “joyful effort.”
So, what does this all say about me? I’m a Christian who could easily be a Jew, a Hindu or a Muslim with the shared belief in God the Creator. We would differ on other beliefs, but still hold fast to honoring the “One God,” unlike those of the Buddhist religion. (On the other hand, couldn’t God have “caused” the first causation in Buddhist thought? Where did the first “cause” that led to the first “effect” come from? Who other than a Spirit, Energy Force or lack of a better word, “God?” These questions are largely still unanswered.)
I feel more “centered” and confident in the direction I am now headed. I am on a Journey along a walk that has been surveyed by eyes, land-marked by guides, and mapped out in words by a wonderful path-finder, one called the Buddha.
(These following words, shared with me long after the Buddhist meeting, may shed a brighter light on the subject:)
His Holiness, the Dalai Lama has said:
“My true religion is kindness.”
Mata Amritanandamayi, Divine Mother has said:
” My religion is love.”
— Ordinary Sparrow, 2010
Michael as i understand it, Sufism is generally understood to be the inner, mystical dimension of Islam. Nowadays people can be Sufi without being Muslin, but the trunk of the tree is Islamic.
Just last week i watched a documentary on Netflix. It was the Dali Lama giving a indepth discourse on the Four Nobel Truths. On the first Truth he spoke of branches of Buddhism that incorporated the “belief” ( belief is not the right word here.) Maybe i can say “holds the space for Source of God” both outside and inside. He spent quite bit of time in comparing the concept of creator God with his branch of Buddhism which does incorporate and both. . . The Documentary is called The Four Nobel Truths with the Dali Lama. . . .
I started out Southern Baptist Fundamentalist and spent a few years on Mission fields in Africa and Mexico. So many layers i have peeled through to get to that which i hold dear these days, God Loves. . . . One of my favorite quotes by my teacher from India is; ” To experience love one must express love.” The path for me has been one of subtraction rather than acquisition. . . .
For me only by letting-go of beliefs and frames programmed with judgments and fear was i really able to enter in direct relationship. I attended seminary after coming back from Africa, for wanted to return and work with the indigenous peoples. . .but after two years (phew, it really was so much Southern Fried Christ for this one.) left seminary with one line of poetry by a Native American poet; ” We are all in the belly of a laughing god, swimming the heavens in a spiraling circle and perhaps some day that which we haven’t even imagined will spit us out simple and magnificent.” Joy Harjo
I wiped the slate clean and made the resolve that i believe in the Holy Spirit is with us and it is impossible to call on that source and not receive assistance. In prayer i claimed that one teaching, and informed the Source, “you are going to need to teach me directly from within”.
First there were many layers of the old removed, but the deeper i moved into meditation,and mystical openings, the deeper i have come to love Christ based on his direct teachings which resonates not with my old fundamentalist path, but illuminates the direct experiences for the path i am on now with Eastern Divine Mother practices. For me the Western teachings of Jesus created many blocks where as the Eastern teachings opened my eyes to see Christ Jesus with a depth of beauty and goodness i never knew before as a “Christian,”
Hope you don’t mind me sharing my own experience here. Just wanted to reinforce that you can trust your path, your heart, your Source to bring forth that which will set you free. . .
When i started going to Hindu teachers and priests. The first thing they would tell me was; “there is One God but many paths.” When i was in seminary and studied religions, they always said that Hinduism and Buddhism was polytheistic. . . But the talk to people that are truly Hindu and they always say; “There is only one God.” Hinduism and Buddhism as i have come to understand. Hinduism could be symbolized by a large mirrored discos party ball. One ball with many tiny mirrors reflecting different aspect of the One. Whereas Christianity could be a triangle with three sides representing the Triune God of Christianity. Both are One but Hinduism and Buddhism speak to many more aspects of the One. . .
Blessings to you Michale and your path. . . Thanks for sharing it with us. . .Truly you are being held by the One. . .
I had just wrote to a Muslim sharing how much I long for my “Beloved” when you made my day. . . nay, my lady, you made the moments of “all of my days,” by informing me of the Sufi, of whom I have come to love as much as I do Buddhism, and how I want to incorporate both under am umbrella made by the Judaeo-Christian manufacturers. (Union employees, I might add!)
Let’s look at Jesus through the eyes of the Buddha, the Hindu, the Muslim, even the Democratic Party.
(Sorry. Went a bit overboard, there. The Woody Allen in me came out. We share the same Biorhythm being born on the same day, different years.)
You, my Little Sparrow. are helping my spirit fly.
At the end of the day, religion is a very personal thing.
The Personal, in the end, is all that really matters, isn’t it?
I’d like to think so.
Not being very evolved along the religious path, I really can’t say whether sticking to the path of one religion is the way to nirvana.
But Gandhi, one of the most spiritual men of recent times, always borrowed from all other religions. Here, our gurus always say each one has to find their own path.I do think you are closer to an answer in the end of your post. Goodluck to keep going on your own path.
Gandhi, what a wise man and leader!
He was a lawyer, I heard. But I don’t hold that against him. I “embrace” him for it. Divine Mother too, if I could ever learn who She is.
michael j, esq.
“Nothing” or “the All”…I think it boils down to the same thing. Both can be all-encompassing, caressing, powerful, like love itself. The water that creates waves out of those who open themselves up enough to allow it so that it can have a voice among us. It can be anyone, of any faith; the message is always the same, however it’s expressed.
I’m glad that you’ve resolved this for yourself, Michael–that you’ve gotten through this one confusing “door” and no longer have to be distracted by it. I think it’s one more step toward the “open, unwalled country” that I keep getting told about.
‘ “Nothing” or “the All”…I think it boils down to the same thing. Both can be all-encompassing, caressing, powerful, like love itself. The water that creates waves out of those who open themselves up enough to allow it so that it can have a voice among us. It can be anyone, of any faith; the message is always the same, however it’s expressed. ‘– Saradode, aka, “Nancy,” 2010
I can see this being quoted by someone, somewhere years from now when another seeker asks questions like mine. All they will have to do is Google your pen name and find these many words of wisdom being collected by persons of all faiths.
Felt waves of love flowing toward me while I read this. Thanks,