Statesboro, GA, USA
Thanks. I don't know quite how to approach this because of the first commandment. In so many ways it makes discussion of other paths and how they relate to the varieties of the judeo-christian path very very difficult. The proscription against Idols and having no other Gods before God cuts deep.
Yes, that's true. But I've also recognized (like you) truth in other religions / philosophies. Despite the monotheism of my religion, I can't say rashly that the insights of other religions are all wrong. Truth is liberally scattered throughout our world. The story about Paul and the altar to "The Unknown God" illustrates this. Though the Athenians didn't know God per se, they had insight enough to unwittingly acknowledge him in their Pantheon. There is both beauty and truth in other traditions, including Buddhism. The rub, I think, is the Christian assertion that the "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" are found in Christ, and that redemption is found in him alone. But even with this exclusivity in mind, I find myself free to recognize truth anywhere I might find it.
Faith is our attempt to transcend the difficulties. I shouldn't speak for others; it is my attempt.
You have spoken well. Who ever imagined it was supposed to be easy?
These things are the province of religion and of faith. People have been trying to apply logic to religion, especially to Judiasm and to Christianity, for thousands of years. The proofs of God's existence are definitive for believers.
I have a slightly different take on this. In my lay study of Western Philosophy I have seen the weaknesses of Rationalism as well as Empiricism. The insight of postmodern thinking was to realize that modernistic boasts of watertight certainty is fluff. In other words, nearly EVERYTHING involves an ingredient we might call faith. If not faith in the religious sense, it is very akin to it. I don't think it is wrong for people of the Christian faith to appeal to logic, reason, evidence, or any such thing ... simply because it is within the Telos of the Judeo-Christian Revelation that such things retain their significance. That doesn't mean that these things are not always limited. They are. But will one make the inference that such things are a chance product of an irrational nature, or a part of some meaningful design? To me, the inference which trivializes inference itself is most questionable.
It's not that the Christian faith doesn't have its cognitive and practical difficulties. It most certainly does. The question is, which set of difficulties is merely mystifying, and which is damning? As G.K. Chesterton once wrote (paraphrase): We all argue in a circle, but which circle is the best circle? Which explanation holds the most explanatory power for who we really are?
For doubters, they haven't been very convincing on the whole, perhaps because doubters are seeking something more substantial than logic alone can supply: Something perhaps of surity and comfort that logic has not been engineered for.
True, this is the experiential part of faith ... or the existential part, if you will. But it holds its own difficulties. It was like pulling teeth for me to come to God, not because of intellectual difficulties, but because of hardness of heart. The doctrine of original sin is a dogma for Theologians to discuss; But practically it is a personal rebellion against God that is closer than breathing. And it is one that we can hardly even explain ... that we ourselves are even unconscious of much of the time. I believe that honest doubt exists, but I also know that much intellectual contention about the faith is a kind of smokescreen. To use a children's tale of C.S. Lewis; No one wants to come to Aslan at the first. And even those who have will not mitigate the idea of Divine danger, but only add the epithet "but he is good".
Buddahism has a longer history than Christianity, so its practice has become quite heterodox, and it has in some of its iterations at this time picked up its share of Gods and Goddesses. I don't think they are central to the path, however, which is at its heart fairly basic.
I agree with this. The religious aspect is somewhat extraneous to the central thrust of Buddhism.
It addresses the Problem of Pain in as direct a fashion as it has ever been addressed. And it offers a solution to it, and a method for implimenting the solution that works.
The greatest difficulty with the Buddhistic philosophy I have is the stance it takes toward "desire". It seeks to transcend desire completely. But so much of our humanity is rooted in desire. It seems to me that the Christian answer is better in proposing a dualism in the area of desire. Good versus bad desire or (if you prefer) proper desire versus improper, inordinate affection, too much of a good thing, uncontrolled impulses, unruly passion etc ... I think this is truer to human nature and the problem we have at its most basic level. It is not desire that is intrinsically bad. Its that we do not know how to possess it without letting it possess us. It is a problem of the spirit, of not knowing how to wield the glory for which we were created. Opposing desire, to me seems to be tossing the baby out with the bath.
Does that mean that suppressing desire is wrong? No, I'm sure it is a practical way to avoid mayhem in many cases. I simply need a philosophy which encourages some desires and discourages or keeps in check others.
I see nothing in the Buddhaist approach that needs to incompatible with a Christian world view.
Well for one, the Christian worldview celebrates individuality, and the uniqueness of one's soul. Isn't it true that the Eastern Hindu-Buddhist paradigm views individuality as illusory, or as the root of the whole problem? Or the distinction could be put this way: While Christianity is about the abolition of the sinful self, Buddhism is about the abolition of the self.
That's why the resurrection and the Christian "Heaven" is quite different than Nirvana. One is restoration of all things, and the other seems to be (as far as I understand it) the dissolution of all things. Paradise versus a kind of Oblivion.