Date: 15/7/2012 12:25:28 AM
Subject: [CASonline] East goes West
Lady & Monk
Dearest Friends @ CAS,
The Nobel Peace Laureates share more than their faith in Lord Buddha, the Teacher of Gods and Men.
Fighting oppression for freedom and happiness of their people against autocratic and frequently brutal regime, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Aung San Suu Kyi finally met in Europe, an event completely unthinkable merely months back. They instill and restore so much faith in the eventual triumph of justice over crookedness, hope over despair and the indomitable power of love-sacrifice over the blind lust of prejudice, fear and hegemony.
To illustrate this, the Dalai Lama spoke of his bird ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=paygl25Qy-E&feature=related ).
The juxtaposition ensues with East meeting West: the Dharma Boom.
Holy Tara bless.
"Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha !!"
bb & so many frens @ CAS
American Buddhism’s numbers are booming. Published just over three years ago, an American Religious Identification Survey survey showed that from the years 1990 to 2000, Buddhism grew 170 percent in North America. By all indications that remarkable rate of growth continues unabated. Why is a faith founded under a Bodhi tree in India 2,500 years ago enjoying a newfound popularity in America today? ..... ( The Washington Post: http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=60,10952,0,0,1,0 )
The KARMAPA with the Great Black Coat
Mahakala expressing His enlightened activities
were the among the earliest pioneers of the Dharma in the west
A national census has revealed that while most Australians profess Christianity as a belief, the religion as a whole in the country has been on a steady decline, while the number adherents of Eastern faiths like Buddhism and Hinduism has grown.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics recently revealed its first set of findings for 2011, which showed that Christianity remains the dominant religion among Australia's 21,507,717 population, and was claimed as the faith of practice by 61.1 per cent of respondents – although that figure was down by almost 3 per cent from 63.9 per cent in 2006.
Of those Christians, 25.3 per cent identified themselves as Catholic, 17.1 per cent as Anglicans, 5 per cent as Uniting Church (a union of the Congregational Union of Australia, the Methodist Church of Australasia and the Presbyterian Church of Australia) and 2.8 per cent as Presbyterian and Reformed – meaning that every major Christian denomination in Australia has suffered a decline in membership from 2006.
What is more, between 1986 and 2006, the number of Hindus in Australia increased sevenfold, while the number of Buddhists has fivefold. The number of Australians with no religious affiliation rose to 22.3 per cent in 2011 from holding 18.7 per cent of the population in 2006 ...... ( Christian Post: http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=49,10957,0,0,1,0 )
“The Christians think that Buddhists are devils and that you only have to believe in God to be saved! In Korea, Buddhism was the original teaching but now they think of it as the devil. I used to follow my younger sisters to church when I first got here because I wanted to learn something about Christian beliefs.
But now, even though I don’t go to church anymore, my sisters still thnk I believe in Christianity. They don’t know that I go to temple because I don’t tell them. If they knew they would keep asking me why I didn’t believe in God and they would keep on bothering me. But my belief is my own choice, so I don’t want to hear any protests. I don’t say a word: I just fo along to temple diligently and think of the Buddha inside my heart.” [Mrs Oh, a fifty-one year old Buddhist woman living on her own in Los Angeles]
That a woman should find it necessary to hide her Buddhist identity from her own sisters (themselves previously Buddhist) illustrates what many Korean Buddhists encounter on a daily basis: the ubiquity of church affiliation among Koreans living in America ....
Dr. Jin’s comments illustrate why some Buddhists choose to hide their religious identiy or seek out the social comforts and benefits offered through the churches. But these Buddhists are “not real Buddhists, for real Buddhists who have a knowledge of the philosophical tenets of Buddhism, an understanding of the sutras, and a desire to attain enlightenment could never convert!”
… James remains confident about the long-term success of Buddhism, for he believes that eventually more and more people will become disillusioned with Christianity:
“I think at a certain point… the Christian community is going to get smaller. As science and technology develops even higher and higher, then Christians are going to lose interest. There are a lot of unbelievable things states in the Bible by Christians. There are always those things that cannot be backed up by science. As science grows even further and further and the sense of philosophy embedded in individuals grows deeper and deeper, they are going to start looking for other religions that do not revolve around following direct orders. They will look for a religion that revolves around finding yourself, finding your innermost feelings, and finding what you should do instead of listening to what you should do.”
Thus, for this Korean American student, “being a true Buddhist, you create your own life,” which James considers a much better option than relying on others to tell you how to live your life.
Witnessing to Buddhists
While Christianity is hardly on the radar of young people in Western countries, Buddhism is growing in popularity.
In fact in the 90s, as people were leaving the church in their thousands, it was the fastest growing faith in the UK. Today, there are over 500 Buddhist centres and meditation sites in the country.
There is in Europe, the sense that Christianity has been “tried” and now it is time to try something else, Li-Anne Piwonka of WEC International told young European Christians at the Mission-Net Congress in Erfurt, Germany.
“And there are things we didn’t do so well so they open themselves up to other streams,” she said.
In fact, Buddhism is enjoying a surge in interest as a result of the popularity of New Age spirituality among young Europeans.
While it was “almost impossible” to find a Thai or Burmese temple in her native Germany 30 years ago, today they can be easily found in many of the larger towns and cities.
“They know how to come in as our societies are becoming more frustrated with Christianity,” she said.
Around the world, there are around 400 million people who describe themselves as Buddhists, most of them living in countries where it is the dominant belief system, like Thailand or Burma.
In addition to devotees,
there are millions who have adopted some aspects of Buddhist
belief or practice, such as yoga or transcendental meditation.
When these practitioners are taken into consideration, there
are no less than one billion people worldwide “influenced”
Far better, he believes, is to be prepared, to understand what Buddhists believe, and to learn how to communicate the Gospel effectively to them.
Piwonka agrees: “We need to know the basics to reach out to Buddhists.”
The first thing to understand is that Buddhism is not so much a religion as a philosophical belief system which understands life as suffering that can only ultimately be overcome by destroying negative thoughts and reincarnating to better and better life forms until nirvana – or a state of nothingness – is reached.
Its philosophical nature and emphasis on being peaceful are part of its broad appeal, as is the idea that nirvana can be reached without God. No God means no one to boss me around and no need to go to church, says Piwonka.
“With Buddhism, God is within me, you don’t need to go to a temple,” she explained. “So I can cherry pick and do what suits me.”
Dig a little deeper into the faith and it becomes apparent that some traditional approaches to mission will not work in Buddhist contexts.
For one thing, Buddhists have no concept of God so telling them that God loves them will have little meaning.
Desire – both positive and negative – is regarded as the root of all suffering, so the Christian concept of longing for or desiring God above all else does not have the natural appeal for them that it might have for those from Judaic or Islamic backgrounds.
John 3:16 and “For God so loved the world” might be an obvious starting point in other mission contexts, but for Buddhists “it’s not only irrelevant, it’s a turn off”, Braschi said.
Similarly, the Buddhist understanding of life as suffering would make the Christian concept of eternal life a terrifying prospect.
It is not that these things can never be shared with Buddhists, Braschi and Piwonka stress. It is simply better to introduce some tenets of the Christian faith – like eternal life – at a later stage in the relationship.
For Buddhists, the best way to introduce the Christian faith is to start somewhere like Proverbs or Ecclesiastes, the books of wisdom.
Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount also resonate well with Buddhists, as do the parables in the Gospel of Luke.
From their experience of mission among Buddhist communities, Braschi and Piwonka have found it helpful to first present Jesus as a wise man and the Prince of Peace, before later introducing him as the Son of God.
They have also had positive responses when they have explained that Christians too have a form of meditation – meditation on Jesus and His word.
The most important thing for Piwonka, however, is to love the people.
“In witnessing to Buddhists as with any person, see that person. Don’t see that person as an object of evangelism but get to know what’s happening in their life.
“It’s a relational thing, not just filling your head with knowledge about how to witness to them.”
Karoen Poot, of the Netherlands, shared his experience as a mission worker in Thailand with the Mission-Net delegates.
He said that many Buddhists relate to idea of Jesus as someone who will take them out of bondage and captivity, and bring an end to all suffering.
Some Buddhists want to “try” Jesus in the sense of “What can he do for my problem?”, he said.
“It’s shallow faith initially, and it’s patient work, getting alongside.”
The love of Jesus Christ is something that he too saves for later. While many Buddhists know Jesus the man, it takes a long time for them to really accept Jesus as their Saviour – on average seven years.
He concluded: “You need a lot of love and a lot of patience. We must incarnate into the society and genuinely be interested in the society.”
What they say in Germany:
Be socially engaged.
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