Good Morning world.
I don't know if there is ever a good time to discuss religion. There are so many diverse religions.
While speaking to a Christian one day they commented to me that "Because I am a Buddhist that worships gold idols didn't I realize that I am going to go to hell for not believing in God instead?"
So I commented back "Did you know that Buddhists believe in God? We not only believe in him we love him with all of our hearts and we do not worship Gold idols, we honor the teachings of a man that didn't consider himself a God, a son of God or anything else other than a fellow student for most of his life then when he learned all that he could he began teaching what he knew to others. That is all they need to know.
There were tiny parts of me that wanted to be angry and say "Just where did you get your information so we can go talk to all of the ill informed and set the record straight?" But being a Buddhist means not telling anyone anything while mad or setting any record straight because that in itself is an act of revenge.
Sometimes in our practice we encounter people that really push our buttons and trigger something inside of us that is still wild and untamed. It causes us to question ourselves with thoughts like "Do I make a good Buddhist?" or "Should I remain a Buddhist?" because their words have stripped us bare to the core and now we feel vulnerable. As a Buddhist we know this is the most open and alive that we will ever feel. And scary.
Our reflection of our religion and of our self can only reflect what we have learned from our teacher or mentor. Our glass can only be filled from what we learn by our Dharma teacher. Until this point we have a warped image of what is inside and outside of us. It isn't until our teacher removes the world viewed rose colored glasses for us that we see things differently. Like the scale in the pic above it can only give us one reflection or view. It can't measure our self worth. Our view of the world is what our teacher has shown us that it is. What we now perceive it to be. Later we see it for what we can make it to be. With encouragement from our teacher. By how we can shape it and make it a better place for our self and for others. By sharing what we have learned from our Dharma bringer with others in a kind and gentle manner and not forcing our will or our ideals on them. They each have to find their own steps on the path ahead of them. We can only show them the direction. We cannot walk the path for them. That would defeat the purpose of our helping.
If it is only one strong willed person we save then we are still just as blessed as someone that saves an entire village of souls. Spirit doesn't see the difference between one and hundreds. The karma kudos might still be the same if all of the others are just blind followers not really knowing what or why they are following.
When I am with Christian friends they think I am Christian because when I am with them we speak of God and of Jesus. I don't try to throw Buddha into every conversation with them. When I am with my Hindu friends I am the same way about Shiva and Ganesha. There is no need to try to show one better than other.
In my life Buddha knows he is loved. And he knows Jesus is loved. It isn't a game of "my deity is better than your deity" and by doing this I consider myself blessed because I have made friends from all religions. I have gone with just as many Hindu friends to worship in satsang as I have with Christian friends and Buddhist friends. It is good to always keep an open mind and an open heart with religion. It makes a good learning experience. Just don't get freaky or preachy ;)
A few weeks ago in my circle of social contacts someone lashed out with an insult about being a Buddhist and turned it into a running joke that most of his other friends laughed at. I think most true Buddhists at heart would have also un-friended him. I not only un-friended him I blocked him as well so I didn't have to encounter him again afterward because he triggered a defense mechanism inside of me. It does no good to be friends with someone always talking trash talk or negatively. I felt like I had to defend myself and Buddhism but I caught myself before I acted by saying something back to him defensively in retaliation. Whew, that was a close one! I almost said something that would have hurt my self later.
For the first time in my practice I felt deeply hurt and ashamed that someone could be so cruel with their words. I blame it solely on him being Godless. I don't know did I ask for it by putting my self out there to be insulted? When we run the risk of putting our self out there and our self can be hurt by the words and actions of another. Our self takes it as a personal threat to our well being. We hold it inside or lash out.
Buddha teaches us to be self-less.
When God is in our life it makes us better people. Whether we worship Buddha, Krishna, Allah or Jesus Christ. I grew up and my Aunt used to take me to the Catholic church. I learned from a young age to have respect for the teachers, pastors, mentors and followers of all religions and to keep my self out of it. Don't make anything personal. Don't form an attachment to it. Don't form a judgement without knowing all of the facts first. A Hippie would say "Just sit back and chill man. Don't take everything so personal."
As an adult I learned about different religions and got a PhD and a Masters in Religion so I am not ignorant in the ways of all other religions besides my own. I chose to become a Buddhist because a wonderful teacher came into my life when I needed it most. She was very firm and very straight to the point. There was no room for error in judgement. She also lived her life privately and solitary worshiped later in her life and never told anyone she was a Buddhist because she said it causes too much hurt to just "throw your religion preference out there" into every conversation. She was right because it does cause hurtful feelings in other friends that aren't of the same faith. They get suspicious that you are trying to "convert them" or "make them see your point of view" But Buddha was right on a similar note by saying "be with friends of your own faith so you don't have to hide who you are"
It seems like now more than ever people's faith is being not only tested but also insulted. what a strange world we are living in. Do people like living in this way where we are all might have to start being afraid for our lives because of what we believe in or because of who we worship? Does it even matter anymore that our rights are not only being taken away a little at a time or eventually stripped completely away from us?
Do you make a good Christian? Catholic? Mormon? Muslim? Buddhist? How do you know if you are faithful enough to your sovereign Lord? Praying every day at home alone but not doing anything else isn't really being all that faithful. Or do you go out drinking all night Friday then go to Church Sunday morning bright eyed and bushy tailed? Then you aren't really accomplishing anything with your religious life now are you? Everyone awakens at their own time. There is no rush. Get there when you are able to. Right?
People in Europe today (2013) are burning witches again. In some places they are burning Christians too.
It is only a matter of time before all other religions are tested in this way. What is happening to the world when our leaders allow this to happen and do nothing to protect us from this madness? Are they Godless as well? Are they turning a blind eye to the violence that is now being created because of their doing nothing?
There will always be people that test our faith.
There will always be people to poke fun at Buddha, Allah, Krishna, Jesus and what they stood for. For how they lived their lives. For who they "hung around with." For what they did and what they said.
There will always be people that feel we are not this enough or that enough, or our robe isn't black enough, or gold enough, we are not bald enough or faithful enough. When does it all end?
I pray that I am enough.