The atraction of Buddhism
arcura asked this question on 3/31/2001:
I am aware of several former Christians who have switched to Buddhism. It caused me to wonder, "What's the attraction", so I decided to find out. I failed.
Where do Buddhist believe they wind up as a final spiritual place or state? Nirvana. Now that's an unusual word to apply to a place where living souls go. It means, "To be extinguished" as in to go out like a candle flame goes out or to become lifeless.
Nirvana is the Buddhist's most desirable state. It's a state of desirelessness, a place of total apathy, the greatest example of carelessness. It is believed that when one can achieve a personal state of inward extinction of self and the senses one culminates in a state of enlightenment beyond suffering and existence. A paradox? One comes from non existence into existence in order to exist to seek non existence. Really? If that's the case, it seems to me to be the pinnacle of purposelessness and uselessness. I asked myself, "What kind of an attraction to a personal belief is that? Where is the attractiveness?" I found no worthwhile or pleasing answer.
The Buddhists desire to have no desire whatsoever is that a paradox?
Buddha Sidhartha Gautama was asked the question "Does a saint survive his death?" And in answer another question, "Where does a flame go when it is blown out." Both questions are considered to be unanswerable. In reality where the flame goes is answerable, it dissipates. The heat and particles blend with the atmosphere and thus it loses its identity, but its residual energy and mass remains. The Buddhist saint, however, achieves something somewhat similar. He is no longer a saint or a Buddhist. He just isn't.
In Buddhist theology neither the saint nor the flame have an individual identity after they "go out".
Some Christian cults have adopted that thinking claiming that when one dies the soul blends with God and therefore losses it's individual identity, a state of lifeless individuality.
My question, "Where and what Holy Scripture refutes that loss of identity idea?"
The joy of the Lord be in your heart.
Your post made me reminiscence. There has been a time when I thought that this kind of spirituality was beneficial for me. I thought that especially Zen could be a way to enter in a deeper state of prayer. At long last, I found myself alone in the universe. I don't deny that there are benefits. There is certain equilibrium, a certain capacity to be patient, a capacity to concentrate. But you are alone. That's an other word for annihilation.
I remember an anecdote of a Buddhist monk who spent several months in a Catholic Monastery. When they asked him what was the strangest experience he had had, he answered: "I can't understand why they talk so much about God".
You see they have no interlocutor; there is no revelation of a loving God who wants his strayed children to come home.
Why is Buddhism so attractive? The one answer that every culture and generations is on the lookout for consists in finding how to cope with suffering. The Buddhist tenet that all suffering is caused really by our passions offers a very logic platform for the system. You have to annihilate your passions and then you will be happy. You won't suffer any more. The result of applying yourself to meditation is speedily obvious. You acquire rapidly a distance from all that makes you suffer. This gradual liberation is an enough to compensate the impersonal destiny of Nirvana.
Additionally there is an other human trait that influences strongly this kind of answer. Man wants to be in charge, to dominate himself and his life. Applying the Buddhist tenets you get what you are promise. You act. You are your own savior.
In Christianity, the process is totally different. It's based on faith, that is, acceptance of God who reveals Himself in His Son. And the most characteristic trait of this acceptance is visualized in the cross, total obedience. Christians don't try to eliminate suffering but they enter in a historic salvation. If your aren't suffering because of your own sins you're suffering because you complete in your body the sufferings of he Body of Christ, of His Church. Suffering is here to stay. I know it's kind of schematic but I think this is one of the principal characteristics that are a mystery for those that become Buddhists. The take their life in their own hand and don't surrender to a God that is beyond comprehension even if He is a loving God.
The whole Scripture is witness of a personal God who enters in communication with concrete persons. Remember that the history of salvation begins with a personal interlocutor: Abraham. All vocations are personal callings and the parables that describe the eschatological feasts center on persons like the guest who has entered without the nuptial garment. The calling to sanctity itself is a characteristic of the people of God but the Spirit inhabits everyone for the good of all. I could multiply the incidences. I would like to offer only one passage: (Is 49) " 15 "Can a woman forget her nursing child,
And have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.
16 "Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;"
The name is the individual person with all its attributes.
One obvious reason for Buddhist defections consists in that they haven't experienced in their life that Christ has risen and is present in every breath of your life. This all-encompassing experience is a gift from God and many times an effect of the announcement of the kerygma. Therefore, we shouldn't cease to proclaim Christ even to peaceful Buddhists that are happy with the Nirvana.