My night with the Buddhists (in Pittsburgh)

This eve was interesting to say the least. West met the East, Grove City encountered the Buddha. Several members of my World Religions class went on a field trip to the Zen Center of Pittsburgh tonight. (it was Zen Buddhist) The priestess taught us how to and the purpose of meditation. It was honestly an attempt to try to convert us, and some students tried to convert them. Or at the least reveal their foolishness.

I spent the 10 minutes in meditation reciting Psalm 22, and focusing on the beauty of Christ. It was a great exercise in the Spiritual discipline of renewing our minds. At the conclusion, the priestess led in asking people what they got out of it. One girl remarked that she was at peace, and boy did the priestess latch on and following up, seeking to led this girl and others to a lie. Afterwards there was a short Q and A and here are the top questions.

What is the purpose of this [meditation]? To become more human.
What do they mean by this? Buddhists believe that every person has part of god within us, and to be human is to fully realize this. It is a skewed view of God and mankind all in one dose. It even effects their epistemology - how does one know things. But that is the next question.

Skewing #1 God: God is not within everyone or everything, this is pantheism. It makes no sense and does not and cannot answer the problem of good vs. evil.

Skewing #2 Man: Umm.. we are not God nor will we ever be. To claim so is robbing God of His glory and rebellion vs. the true king.

Is there ultimate truth or is truth up to the individual? Yes. That is all I will say.
Epistemology - How one is able to know things. Truth is whatever means to you. When you meditate you consider the things that matter most to you, and those things are different for every person. Priests and priestesses won't tell you what you need to learn - because your experience is different than theirs. Instead they are there to guide you. One knows truth by searching within oneself, emptying your mind and focusing on the. (purposefully ended with the.)

in their own words:
Dharma refers to the absolute truth or reality (as opposed to our ideas or beliefs about truth or reality) or to the teachings of those who have awakened to this. Buddhism is not a system of religious dogmas. Rather, it presents a way by which all can awaken to their own Buddha-nature. Buddha Shakyamuni's teaching states that the outstanding characteristic of the human situation is frustration, which arises because of our difficulty in accepting the basic fact of life that everything around us is impermanent and transitory. Our wish to divide the perceived world into fixed, individual, and separate things does not fit with the fluid and indefinable nature of reality. In manifesting enlightenment, one is freed from these notions.
Do you notice how self centered this is? Emptying ones mind to focus on the, to focus on you, to focus on whatever matters to you. There is not hope, there is no grace. How can one find freedom by looking to oneself? I know myself, I am a sinner and apart from Christ I would revel in that fact. Christianity offers love, grace, hope, joy, forgiveness, righteousness, justification, all that we might know and taste eternal life with the Creator. He is personal, not some impersonal force scattered throughout all of the creation - pantheism. No, Christ came to die for sinful mankind, He came to redeem us, to restore ourselves to God. We cannot do that by searching our hearts and minds, only discover a need for a savior.


sdesocio said...

Good post man

Sabre Bum said...

It is not looking to oneself that is Buddhist practice, it is looking past the self. The self is only a construction. Is your soul your self? No of course not, you are a manifestation of your soul. An imperfect manifestation. In Christianity I believe you look at these imperfections as sin. In Buddhism we don't really call it sin but an unenlightened being instead. I believe if you can see your true self (i.e. soul) you can lead a more perfect and enlightened life. The practice of zazen (zen meditation) is a faith based practice much like prayer. Anyone of any religion may practice it without converting to Buddhism to deepen their religious practice. You are simply trying to become your purest and best self. What else is worship? Belief is not practice. Know.

Robbie said...

Zen Buddhism teaches that when you meditate one must push all thoughts away and focus, the first thoughts that come to you are reflections of truth, and those are the absolutes. You must seek to live by what you discovered.

Christianity and Buddhism are two irreconcilable belief systems, being two foreign worldviews. We are not a mere manifestation of our soul, instead our Soul is ourself, Scripture teaches that. Our heart (soul) is spoken about numerous times throughout Scripture. A portion of that teaching is that "The heart is deceitful above all things" because of that reason we must not meditate on ourself, but who Jesus is in all his glory. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

The Apostle James teaches that religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the World."

In the sermon on the mount and in Jesus' interactions with the pharisees, it is clear that the source of "undefilement" is not in ourselves, instead that is the source of defilement, but in Himself. Jesus is the source of everlasting life who changes our hearts.