Date: 2/6/2010 10:32:29 PM
Subject: [CASonline] Straight Talkwww.casotac.com
Dearest Friends @ CAS,
We are sending to you all, a very interesting interview bb @ CAS conducted with a Buddhist friend.
( He has requested to be known as Maggy and to remain disguised as such for personal and other reasons )
I hope it will not be misconstrued as some cheap replica cum limbo tactics already wielded in the claws of some religious groups.
I pray that Buddhists shall never stoop to such low grounds.
Nevertheless, after much extensive raw talk, we decided to go ahead to share this with you guys for the sake of keeping you all aware of such cute little ploys and as motivation for you all to give rise to every Bodhicitta, for the fastest attainment of Buddhahood for all our mother sentient beings.
We remind ourselves that the Dalai Lama considered Himself a "pilgrim" to the sacred shrine in France of the Lady of the Lourdes and also Chenrezig's commitment to appear in whatever divine aspect for the highest good to the world, be it a Buddha, the great noble God or Brahma who first entreated our Lord Buddha to turn the holy Wheel of Dharma, or even as the King of Maras, the Devil himself.
"Namo Amituofo !!"
bb @ CAS of Thousand Arm Chenrezig
p/s: We have deliberately ellipted our beautiful CASonline logo for 2010 in this issue as we strongly feel that it should be reserved for something more beautiful and auspicious. It's our first issue in 2010 after all !!
Kunga: Hi Maggy, thank you for agreeing to share your valuable past experience as a former devout Christian with our Friends @ CAS. We hope that your sharing will be of help to our friends in understanding some matters: naive, bewildering, sensitive, twisted at times, but definitely worth knowing. Pertinent.
M: Sure. However, I hope we will not become what have put me off so much when I was with a fundamentalist church: "testimonies" of ex-believers of the Catholic Church, "testimonies" of an ex Hindu priest, of a temple medium and recently, I heard, they manage even to instigate "testimonies" of supposed ex Buddhist monks or nuns !!
Well, truthfully, I am not surprised, at all, I will say, because I have seen and sat through so many of these so-called "testimonies" in the past when I was with the church. What I am surprised about, is the apparent shock and disbelief of so many Buddhists upon knowing these recent "testimonies"
Actually, being a very committed and active ex-church youth leader, I knew of the pastors preparing and rehearsing these "testimonies" with their ex-this or ex-that for hours, weeks and even months before !!
Kunga: Will you be able to share with us some encounters of what you have seen
M: Well, there was one very "memorable" incident. They persuaded one ex-Catholic priest to talk about his very "traumatic" experience in the Catholic Church. But, of course, we do not know whether what this ex-priest said was true, or even whether or not he really is an ex-priest !!
This happened more than 15 years back in one of the then biggest churches in
What followed is punctuated with much emotional ejaculations of "Hallelujah !!", "Say it !!", "Preach it !!" and some of my ex-church friends standing up to, as I just said, to cheer or to jeer ( sighs ).
Now, it reminds me of American talk shows, where people go up stage to cry, to share on how their husband has cheated on them, how they finally find salvation in this or that, all with a supposedly cheering, fawning audience base !!
Ok, ok ..... sorry, sorry, going back to this particular session. The pastor guided this "ex- priest" into recounting some really pretty amazing allegations: the Pope is said to wear a ring with funny engraved Egyptian words, the church fathers are almost all lusting after young meat of their poor altar boys, how many Catholic miracles are fake, as opposed to their church's ones etc etc etc .....
Kunga: Do you believe in what you witnessed in the "testimony" ??
M: Of course, at that time, under what Hitler so despised and dismissed as a "herd mentality", we were all fully convinced, or what you could say, completely and absolutely convinced that the Catholic Church is decadent, is rotten inside out and that they are agents of the Devil and how pitiful and deluded and how crazy people are to ever believe in the Catholic church. In other words, we were all easily bought over under the circumstances then: the die-hard confidence of the pastor, the ENTIRE congregation of easily, I think, a few hundred or thousands even, all worked up and emotional, the apparent "coming home" of a redeemed hero. Wow !!
Kunga: Do you still believe in these allegations ??
SD: Ok .... we have all read news of unfortunate sexual transgressions in the Catholic Church. But, then, we find the same things in the Protestant Churches, the Hindu Ashrams, the mosques and closer to home, we have the recent case of the Ren Ci Hospital.
Later on, I had a good friend as a colleague in my work place. She is a very devout Catholic. I politely clarified with her on many of the wrongdoings of her church because I am truly baffled as to why she, a normal, intelligent human being, and somewhat pretty ( hey hey ) is so blind to all the grievous wrongs of her church !!
To my great shock, I find her explanations reasonable !! The Pope's ring is not a relic of the Devil. The venerable Fathers do not all go "gaga" over every young boy. They are not "idolaters" who believed in weeping clay statues. These statues are tactile representations of whatever timeless, noble values their church is teaching.
Especially, I really started to question all these so-called "testimonies" from my church. Did they present half-truths to bluff you to buy your loyalty ?? How much of their version of other religions is true ?? Why am I learning about other religions from their mouths ??
As I later found out, many of their alleged misguided lies of other religions are what they want us to believe so we can pat ourselves on our back to say that only we are right while all others are wrong.
The Buddhists do not kill not because they are afraid of eating their reincarnated mummies. They do not kill or are vegetarian because they do not want to harm creatures, to EVERY appearances and considerations, are so much like themselves: they look for happiness and they avoid suffering.
Kunga: Can you share with us what is claimed in these testimonies about Buddhism ??
M: A lot, a lot, a lot, a lot of twisted .... Let think of a word, cheap trash. Cheap dirt to woo the gullible or naive or the self-deceived.
Kunga: For example ??
M: They claimed that Buddhists are strange idolators of a eunuch: Guan Yin ( Chenrezig in Tibetan ). They quoted some sutra, now I know, is the Avatamsaka, which stated that Guan Yin abides in spiritual glory and splendour on Mount Potala, teaching His myriad multitudes of great Bodhisattvas, in the form of a heroic male. Then, the testifying "ex-Buddhist" said that all the "idols" of Guan Yin they have in his temple are all females !! He testified that Buddhists are all bizarre worshippers of this man-turned-woman. Some more, he said that Guan Yin is demonic as all she holds in her frightening thousand arms are all scary weapons. He further mocked that if Guan Yin is to modernize, she will now be holding nuclear weapons and would be listed a "terrorist" !!
Kunga: Are you sure they hold "testimonies" like these in the church ??!! This must have been so offensive !!
M: Well, yes and no. The church members all appeared appalled at the Buddhists' supposed craziness in worshipping such a monster and there were the "Amen", the "Hallelujah !!", "Praise the Lord !!" and even a "Down with the Devil !!"
I was blind then. Of course, every Buddhist knows that Guan Yin can appear in any forms to be of help to those in need: man, woman, worm, spider, or even as the divine gods in heaven, or for that matter, their own God .... if it is going to help people !!
For the church pastor, however, the more he is able to twist whatever half-truths he could jump on to convince his faithful congregation how wrong, how perverted other religions are, the better !! It doesn't matter at all whether what he managed to extract from his precious "testimonies" are true or mere malicious lies.
Now, I see the abject perversity, cunning and wickedness in presenting twisted half-truths to willfully and mischievously mislead and put others down in so unfairly and ignoble a manner.
Needless to say, my good Catholic colleague was abhorred to hear of all these dirty mud slings. She said she would do more rounds of "Hail Mary !!" for my church.
Now, I complete more "Om Mani Pemay Hung" for the church too ..... ha ha !!
Kunga: The "testimonies" are beginning to sound like communist "Struggle Sessions" ... where children are encouraged by the senior communist cadres to tell on and condemn their own parents how they have not fully reformed their bourgeious mindset and how they have been secretly hoarding treausres at home !!
M: We were all so blind then. Even now, some of my friends are still in there. They all fasted and prayed for me, a "back-slided" Christian. One or two, I suspected, could see that they have been made fools of, but could not find the courage to stand up and tell them to "Stop it, please. You do not have to put others down to say you are great."
Kunga: Do you have anything else you think will be so fascinating to most of us ?.... members of the so-called "general public" ??
M: Then, of course, there are many sessions of some senior members, talking about their lives. Inevitably, it will involve how bad or wicked he or she is in the past, how they have cheated on their spouse, how they have been cruel to their parents, in short, how their life is wicked. But, later, thanks to Christ and the church's support, they have walked out of their past problems and how they have become perfectly happy. Now they are "saved", now they have found "salvation". Most importantly, how they could live happily forever and frolic eternally in heaven with their creator.
Of course, there will be very touching music, fellow church mates tearfully hugging each other, guitar strumming, people standing up and applauding etc etc.
Kunga: How do you feel in general ??
M: Of course, I was relatively young then. Everything appeared so beautiful, so lovely, so touching !! A God which loves you and forgives you no matter what you do. He loves you so much He even divinely arranges for His own son to die on the cross for you so you could live forever and have all your sins purified through his death and blood.
However, no one will ever be able to explain adequately or convincingly why God cannot simply just forgive an old wrong, starting with that of His first 2 created humans eating the forbidden fruit, now we all eat and buy in Cold Storage or the Indian "Mama" shop downstairs.
About these little dramas, if they are indeed salvaged from whatever personal desperate despair they are facing in their lives, well and good. I am happy for you. But, do you need to line-up week after week of such testimonies ?? One begins to smell something fishy after a while. Genuine spirituality do not cheapen themselves with antics like that !!
Kunga: Thanks .... but before we stray into making judgements upon other spiritual system's core beliefs, can I check if you have any other things to share with us ?? After all, what anyone believes is that "anyones'" business. I am sure the world is large enough to host all of us !!
M: I cannot agree with you more. What pushes me away from the church is their unflinching claim to nothing but the sole and whole truth, while all other religions are works of the Devil, misguided, foolish, false. All members from my church are taught like this. Even other churches are many times seen as wrong and non-Christian !!
Kunga: Ok ok ..... Thanks .... but I think we really need to refrain from making value judgements upon anyone's core doctrine.
M: Sorry but I was hoping to let your friends know about what I know and learn ? the hard way !! To continue, there is one particularly interesting session where the pastor, as usual, starts talking about stories of this or that member. What I find a bit funny or suspicious was that he talked about how an ex member of his church had withheld monthly 10% contribution of her salary from the church. As a result, she lost her job, lost her boyfriend, then later died from brain cancer. He even told the church to pray for her and keep her in their prayers.
I was momentarily jolted awake. Here I have, one seemingly highly respected and educated man exhorting for contributions but telling us scary tales and feeding us not-so-subtle hints of what await us if we do not give him money !!
All these appear to be not unlike the horror tales our kindergarten teacher scared us with: The boy who cried "Wolf !!",
The difference maybe is that it now involves your monthly contribution of hard-earned money, your time and a lot, a lot of commitment. Oh yes, you are supposed to offer your very soul too.
Kunga: Will you like to tell us how you decided that "Enough is enough !!", and that you want to seek greener spiritual pastures somewhere ??
M: Many ex-Christians who discovered, to their very, very great disappointment or disillusionment, never return, once they left their church.
It took me years before I could muster up enough courage to leave the church. I have spent so much time in it, I have condemned and ridiculed my parents' Taoist-Buddhist folk belief in front of relatives and friends and church and many times, in my church cell group, I had "testified" and was a "witness" to how Christianity saved me and how I was tortured by the "Buddhist-Devils"
Some of these guilt include loafing off, even a bit, at work, gossiping, even a bit, indulging in that one extra cup of expensive coffee, or, ha ha, indulging in adult man's little "pleasures", you know what I mean !!
Kunga: Err.... alright .... I think we do not need further details here.
M: Ok .... continuing .... I finally mustered up enough courage to own up that I am constantly trying to find excuses to explain away what appears to be absolutely irrational.
I am supposed to have been "saved" after baptism. But why do I still feel insecure ?? Why am I still unhappy ?? Why do I still have problems in life ??
When I told my church elders, they told me that I should NEVER doubt. That I should be grateful for what God has already given me. The problems are all part of God's grand plan and his "mysteries". Who are we to question God ?? How do we, mere creations, ever understand God ??
Their solution is to whole-heartedly worship God, accept problems as they come because they are all trials and tests God gave to test our faith in Him. After all, you are already "saved" once you accepted Christ.
Privately, I know all these to be excuses. Excuses cooked up because they have nothing else to fall back on or to continue fooling themselves. Don't forget, I was in their own shoes.
I know they themselves could not explain why God gave their mother cancer, how a kind and loving God who can give His son to the sinners could create millions of people who suffer from leprosy, AIDS, cancer and all the horrible debilitating diseases, why an omnipotent and omniscient God needs to test to know the faith of His followers, if he is truly omnipotent and omniscient !!
What prompted me to leave decisively is not all these ideological impossibilities but that the church seems to be so different from Christ as depicted in the New Testament. Yes, they do charity, but they make sure always to include condemnation of the peoples' folk beliefs and how only they offer the one true way.
Their help appears conditional, very very much conditional and not the selfless love Christ preached in the Bible.
Sometimes, I wonder whether they are aware of the great pain and anguish they are causing to all these families of the innocent tribal folks in Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, in our case, naive youngsters who want to belong to any group which pays them attention, gives them fun and dance and belonging !!
Yes, they are so desperate for believers they have tried to convert cannibals in Papua New Guinea, they have wiped out entire civilizations - the Incas and Mayans in Latin and Central America - they have kidnapped Australian aborigines' children to brainwash them in Christian "orphanages" and they have even attempted to convert Tibetans and the Dalai Lama's sister, not stopping to consider how the Tibetans are already downtrodden, having had their culture and religion squashed and cut up.
The current day's Irish sectarian violence, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as Bush's bungled entanglement in
Kunga: This is extremely sad.
M: Yes, I am afraid I felt really lousy and confused and felt that I need to keep on reassuring myself of God's love and having to return to the church every time so often to convince or should I say deceive myself that God loves me and is taking care of me even though I am so unworthy of him.
Kunga: Well, I suppose, in the end, every religion has their, let me think of a word, "idiosyncrasies" ?? Many a time, the "truth" lies in the head of its adherents. It's best not for any religion to criticize another because, in the end, what appears solid truth will look downright impossible to the other !! Ignorance, petty arrogance, lack of communication, too, are all fertile breeding grounds for all the religious wars and bigotry in the world !!
M: Allow me to add ... by extension, gender bias, cultural bigotry, racial discrimination and all are similarly unhealthy outgrowths.
I am so relieved and feel so refreshing to have found my teacher, the late Dudjom Rinpoche, who openly declared to all His seniormost disciples and several thousands of His highest-ranking monks that one incurs a Root Tantric Precept to criticize other religious beliefs, because the Founders of all these great religions of the world are all manifestations of the Great Bodhisattvas !!
Then, also, I find the Dalai Lama to be extraordinary and in so many sense, a truer and better Christian than so much manipulation, scheming, hypocrisy and real nastiness in the church, behind all the fake facades of hugging, tearful fellowship, charity and all.
A few of my former church mates told me that, for them, Christianity belongs only during Sunday Services. Please don't talk to them about forgiveness or kindness at work when they are swimming with the crocodiles !!
I hope I am not offering another "testimony" I myself have now found so distasteful, ugly and childish even.
Kunga: Why do you think some of these Christians appear to be so desperate to win converts ??
M: Perhaps, it is due to their amazing ambition to want to win more converts and very scarily, in interpretation of some of their teachings that they are the sole truth and medicine to all ills. All others are evil.
Doctrine wise, there are exhortations to do good AND to win converts. These 2 are besides necessarily having to embrace Christ as the one and only saviour. Since they are essentially bestowed "everlasting life" just upon accepting Christ, what is left for them ?? They have no need to do anything else. What is left is to win converts !! To become "saved", to enjoy "eternal life" like they believed they will enjoy at death !!
You see, after their "salvation", it seems that they are now using ALL their efforts into evangelizing, fighting for this or that "social cause", rehabilitating the homosexuals, blackening the Catholics, the Buddhists and what not !! A chaotic mixture of good and bad.
On the other hand, the good side may be that many mainstream Christian organizations, upon having received Christ as their saviour, focused their attention upon social work, helping the poor and downtrodden, fighting for this or that cause.
But, of course, some other more evangelical churches, after believing that they have been "saved", throw in all their energies, time and money into winning more and more followers into their church.
Mind you, I have personally seen how mean members of different churches could be to each other !! They unleash what they are so "good" at, blackening others, this time, ironically, against each other instead of at non-Christians !! Essentially, they are competing with followers between themselves !!
Also, you see, security in numbers; numbers bring prestige, money, influence.
Kunga: From what you have so honestly shared with us, I believe we all felt horrified, yes, horrified is the word, at the extraordinary happenings in some radical churches. But, why do you think some of these fundamental groups are so blind to the fact that they are blatantly, ruthlessly hurting other fellow human beings' very personal and dear beliefs, beliefs which have shielded and sheltered their respective cultures and contexts for generations upon generations, through wars or boon ?? What have caused them to become the sad state in which they have run their own churches into ?? Why are there the few hundreds or thousands of people hounding their leaders on ?? How could this ever have happened ??!!
M: This is the pathetique state they have so painted themselves into.
What I can think about, is their very teaching: they are the only one true path, others are all devils. You are either with us or you shall burn in hell. Forever. There is no third way. No.
I am tempted to question many times. This cannot be the teaching of a loving Godly Father in Heaven !! All these sound so human and so flawed. There is nothing divine about the whole thing.
Beneath the medieval cathedrals, the majestic symphonic works or the modern day multi-million dollar mega churches, all of which influenced either in part or wholly by the biblical teachings, buried within its very heart and soul lies this fundamental tenet: accept Christ or you burn in hell. Forever. But, don't forget to be grateful to God even if your grandmother was raped at
Kunga: I am sorry to interrupt, but I think we shall not go further appraising this great religion which, in all fairness, has brought both its fair share of bane and boon to the world. It inspired some of Bach's greatest works, given hope to Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, both of whom the Dalai Lama's staunch allies.
M: True. Let's not overlook, too, its committed persecution of scientists, its current opposition to stem cell researches, its denial of women's freedom, well, some of them, during significantly long periods of human history.
I need to let all know that in order to distract people from their core belief: "love-and-believe-
All these invariably add in so much colours, fun and definitely distraction from the basic, inescapable core principle: "love-and-believe-
Unfortunately, they have sometimes forgotten what their fanatical zeal has many times slapped them with so much bad advertisement. The ugly takeover of the secular women's group is but one recent notable blunder here in Singapore.
Then, we hear the hyper successful tele-evangelist being caught with a hunky male gigolo and on sex drugs while condemning all gay and anything gay the night before... in front of his millions of adoring, screaming congregation !! His wife, last wekk, went on TV to declare that her husband has now been "successfully cured" of any homosexual tendencies .... ha !!
Unbelievably, people buy into them here although western European churches are declaring bankruptcies by the hundreds and thousands all across. Humanist ideals certainly rings saner than arcane insistence on divine exclusivity !!
Where some discard, others hoard and swallow, by the mouthfuls ..... with glee !!
Kunga: Compared to the ancient spiritual classics of the world, the church elders could be privately, painfully aware of their own lack of philosophical depths, beauty or even history. But, then, one man's meat is another man's poison. At the risk of triggering a holy war of words or swords and of becoming a Buddhist bigot, I will truly want to beg for peace and understanding and please, no bitterness.
M: Right on, mate !! I am never a sour man and I still miss the camaraderie and closeness of all my church mates who dropped me in droves after they have failed to move me back into the church. People, I love you and miss you all. See you all again in this life or the next. Be assured of my "Om Mani Pemay Hung !!"
Sorry, but I now believe in what you guys thought was a transsexual Buddha. Ha ha !!
Kunga: "Amituofo !!"
M: Take care, mate !!
A die-die must bookmark website to protect against misguided, disgruntled fanatics:
Recently, there is an uproar in forums and cyber about this controversial clips about a local pastor Rony Tan interviewed the ex-buddhist monk follower to criticise and mocking Buddhism. The entire stage interviews have been uploaded in U-tube.
Anything we could do to high light to the respective authority?
Another side of the coin .... see:
What avowed atheist are saying:
( Disclaimer: they do not necessarily represent CAS's viewpoints !! )
"The Top 10 Reasons Why the Bible is Repulsive"
"How do we know that Christians are delusional?"
"God the Psycho"
The cartoon !!
"10 questions that every intelligent Christian must answer"
The below fully represents the opinion of bb @ CAS :
The concept of karma, inter-dependent principles, omniscience ( versus omnipotence ) are so starkingly missing from Christianity, it has tossed itself into a necessarily impossible, yes, IMPOSSIBLE position.
They need look no further than the thin cutting slice of beautiful videos above to realise how many black holes they could easily be dumped into. Why not tackle these nagging headaches first before creeping out to con the innocent or naive ??
The only hole to creep out of is to establish missionary schools to distract juveniles with tales, colonise people with superior weapons - conquer their souls, not just their bodies. These days, give fun camps, intimate comradeship ( with its attendant blackmail ?? ), to offer "testimonies" of questionable individuals ..... sad.
Of course, twisting others' beliefs always come in handy as dirty little tools to further their desperate craving for continued existence, for followers and all the concurrent money, influence and name !! ....
All these smacks of desperation ....
All in all, what is probably undeniable are the truly fearless, seflelss great work of the many faceless, brave Christians giving water, food or tent to the lost in spite of the underlying ridiculous principles they are supposedly toiling upon .... one wonders if this is what Mother Theresa finally, honestly concluded: no god; just plain, black voidness ??