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Religion and Christianity and world religions
September 7, 2001
12:58 pm
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Cici
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Reading some other threads, I got to wondering about religion. I've spent most of my life seeking answers, experiencing, researching, always with an open mind and the knowledge that just because someone says it is true, it ain't necessarily so.

I grew up going to Catholic School, reading the bible, learning prayers and catechism, doing stations of the cross every day after school during lent, and going to mass twice a week, fridays and sundays, and also on holy days of obligation.

But my Mom was raised Mahayana Buddhist, in Vietnam, and my Dad is admittedly agnostic. He always told me that there are many paths to the same end, that humans by nature reach for divinity, or what they perceive as sacred, and that it is different for each individual. He told me to learn to think for myself, rather than following what others told me merely for comfort or acceptance.

I have always believed that Faith cannot exist unless that faith is tested. Otherwise, it's just part of life, a routine, like brushing your teeth or locking the door. In my old church I saw hypocrites all around me faithfully attending mass every week, people who were cruel, or greedy, or filled with hatred or anger, people who obviously didn't follow the teachings of Christ. I mean, didn't Christ say it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven? Yet we have so many people happily hoarding material wealth, and objects, and things...

In Christianity it is a given that if you don't follow the teachings of Christ, you go to hell and burn like the evil sinner you are. Hah! Take that, you evil sinners! Sit on it!

So....someone like my grandmother, Buddhist and pious in her own faith, will either burn in hell or waste away in limbo. Great. Great, God, thanks a pantsfull. I mean, what an autocrat! "I love you, but...FEAR ME!!!"

I don't know where I'm going with this....it's just that I see so many inconsistencies between what church doctrine preaches and what Christ actually taught. So much I just cannot agree with. I mean, if I obey God's law out of fear of retribution, I let fear rule my life...I'm not being a good person from my heart, I'm being good from my mind. What's the good in that? Isn't the motivation for the behavior just as important as the behavior itself?

In the end, I finally returned to my Mother's roots and have comitted myself to a path, studying the sutras, the sacred story of the Buddha, and meditating on the three basic precepts: impermanence, detachment and no-self. I study the eightfold path, of right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration. I seek Nirodha, cessation of suffering, through Magga, the path.

So...am I going to hell?

September 7, 2001
1:01 pm
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Cici
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Oh, BTW, there are stiriking similarities between the doctrines of Christianity and Buddhism, for those who bother to study any faith other than their own.

I still believe in God, but I don't think I can merely put faith in God, whatever Being God may be, and be saved. I believe that only through my own effort can I cultivate the mindfulness to be a truely good person.

September 7, 2001
1:40 pm
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sue2001
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I often think that to fear God could not make sense but I know that in my heart that our Creator of which I call God, Father and Jehovah. Is and that he formed me and you and every one else He alone is the reason that we are here now.... in fact from what I have read in the bible....He gives us all a choice. we can choose or not to choose...to have the faith in him.... and I am not saying I know cause i have not even come close to read enough of it to be any thing more than an observer of it,,, and I have looked into other relgions and faiths my heart always comes back to We have a creator I call him God and his son is the only way home...one church that I went to said that fear is not an emotion from God... Adam and Eve didn't fear God untill saten tempted them and they knew they were naked.... as a child I was not scared my parents would do any thing to me unless I had disobeyed them ... then I was scared... with out sin we have no reason to fear God... and since we were born of sin we have reason to fear him... oh dang it that just came to me... 🙂 I had not thought of that before...

September 7, 2001
1:47 pm
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Molly
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Good reading, Living Budda Living Christ, came out about 4-5 years ago, comparing the two.
I was taught in my junior year of high school that religion was a tool to controll the people!!!! DUH, look at what the C. church has done!! Look at the churches of Mexico, how the Spaniards forced the people to become practicing Catholics, down to the scull and cross bones over the door.
I had studied with a group called ASTARA, don't know if they are on line or not, but they seemed to have researched back to the beginning, prior to most of the modern day stuff.
A concept was that the truth to being, religion, was mostly destroyed, gain by a group that wanted to controll, and what we have today, is what the people were able to salvage, and has become distorted. That religion, was more of a science, based on all the truths, ugh ugh that folk try to disburse with the adapted agenda's.
They believe that all of the masters, Christ, Budda, and everyone else are equally signifigant.
Tez, is into the study, and has been sharing his lessons on the other thread.
Going to hell? Sometimes I think this is the hell. Gotta go, catch up with ya Monday. What I can't get is the whole mayrter thing, like what is up with that???????????????

September 7, 2001
2:19 pm
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Cici
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Weeeeelll, I seem to recall many, many, many hours of religion class and bible study for 9 years (God help me, ha ha ha)...always driven into my head that Christ's way was the only way and if you chose another, you have the free will to do it, but you're going to hell, so suck on it.

I found myself seeking. Because I had felt a touch of the sacred in my life, but it wasn't enough. That was the problem. A momentary vision does not a happy life make.

Only in college, after minoring in religion and taking academic courses where we studied multiple religions, religious traditions and sacred stories did I realize how little I knew about the world. About faith. About Truth, or lack thereof.

Maybe my own experiences with Christianity made me repulsed, and I'm mixing up personal issues with big-picture existential dilemmas.

September 7, 2001
2:37 pm
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Ladeska
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Fear.....ah yes.....that manipulative weapon in the hand of the ones in religious robes... Ancient of days - that one.

,,,the rituals,,,,the traditions of "man",,,,for man's purposes,,,controlling the masses, political power, greed, etc. We feed at their watering trough and wonder why - we are not satisfied? hm,m,m....whaz up wid dat?

September 7, 2001
3:53 pm
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janes
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It's always easy to blame God for the evils that men do....

Organized religion..while ordained by God is run by men...(and usually JUST men) and so is fraught with bad stuff.

God is a God of Love....but what good parent refuses to discipline their children?

You have seen those kids around....the ones who seem to only need a good swat...so what's to say the human race doesn't need a good swat or tow.

God is a God of love and a God of Judgement. shit...why shouldn't we fear a being that can simply SPEAK and create all that we know here on earth...a being totally outside space and time who has ALWAYS existed....this is a fearful thing.....

We can whine that it's not fair...and don't we sound like children...."Daddy. I didn't MEAN to break his arm...skip school, crash the car.." What happens we we have no consequences for poor behavior?

Life on earth is short....we can all believe different things...we have a choice.

My choice...God rules above...He cares for me..I believe He sent His sone Jesus to bear my sin to the Croiss so that if I CHOOSE to accept Christ as MY Savior...I can enter Heaven. I can even still screw up here on earth. (and I am gonna I tellya)

We all get upset when parents do not care for thier children, let them run wild and don't give the "rules" we should live by...well for all adults..the rules are there...in the Bible...and they really aren't all that hard.

Love your neighbor as yourself
Do unto others ... etc.
Do good to those that hurt you
Forgive....
Get toghether to worship
Don't lie,
don't steal,
don't commit adultry or murder
Believe that Jesus is the Son of God
Pray

It's not that hard...why whine about not going to "heaven" if you don't want to follow some rules.

As far as all the different religions go....I don't even want to guess. We humans seem to have a penchant for devising ways for everything to be confusing.

September 7, 2001
6:02 pm
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"Mind is not born and does not die. It is the essence of thought. It is the perfectly awakened wisdom inherent in all sentient beings. ... It holds all virtue and can never be tarnished by delusion.

All sentient beings have mind, but due to their attachment to delusion, the wisdom and perfection of mind is concealed from them. The moment that anyone so much as glimpses pure mind, awesome forces are released and everything is changed for the better. The question is then: How are we to know our own mind?" - Ch'an (Chinese Zen) Master Hsing Yun (2000) "Lotus in the Stream." ISBN 0-8348-0441-7

Speaking of the Christian concept of 'eternal heaven' and 'going home to God', professor John Wren-Lewis, after having a NDE, says:
"...when the word “home” is used to describe eternity, there is an almost irresistible temptation to think of life as a journey of return, whereas mystical awakening for me has been like Dorothy’s in The Wizard of Oz: the realisation that I never really left home and never could. Here too T.S. Eliot has the word for it: “Home is where one starts from.”...Finite life is a continual instant-by-instant voyaging out from the “eternal Home” into the time process to discover new “productions of time” for eternity to love as they arise and pass away."

The illusion of time is just that an illusory 'survival' game that causes suffering if we try to cling to the passing stream of impermanent projections of mind as if they have inherent existence as separate things.

No-mind, that is mind freed from all preconditioning, is the awakened state of 'being'. It's all here and now - it always has been and it always will be!!!

September 7, 2001
6:05 pm
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Ladeska
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Tez...*smile*

September 8, 2001
5:00 pm
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Ladeska.

I fear I've done it yet again. I've killed another thread.

But like the finger pointing to the moon not being the moon itself, my words are not the things of which I speak.

But who is the 'I' who did the thread killing?

September 10, 2001
1:33 pm
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Cici
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Hah! Good one. My Buddhist Meditation Professor mentioned the finger pointing at the moon analogy.

The source of my conflict stems from my origins. My Mother was raised Buddhist, my father was raised in a community of Baptist fundamentalists, although he himself was agnostic. See, my great-grandmother was excommunicated from the Baptist church of their community because she insisted on drinking her hot toddy every day - made from mooshine, of course.

I was raised in the Christian mindset, but from a very early age, as far back as I can remember, I doubted that such a confusing God could really be God at all - just the poor, misdirected ramblings of teh very finite human understanding of the world.

Scholarly study of the content of the Bible (strangely enough, few Christians bother to do this, while Buddhists while away many a monastic year analyzing and re-analyzing ancient writings about the Buddha...hah) reveals that there are two different concepts of Godhead in the traditions of the culture from which Christianity grew - ancient Israelites. One was a stern punisher, the other a gentle and forgiving figure of Love.

My question isn't why people are punished. My question is why God would think that punishment is a proper way of curbing behavior. Psychological study of the application of the concept of punishment finds that punishment is actually the LEAST effective method of curbing undesireable behavior. If God is omnipotent, God would be able to discern motivations for behavior rather than simply the physical act. And God being infinite, why would God understand the world through very human eyes?

Are we physically created in the image of God, or spiritually?

I believe in God, I just don't think that putting my blind faith in God will really help me at all. Or anyone. I personally believe that it is only the personal effort that gives merit to the soul.

September 10, 2001
1:53 pm
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pill
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Are you going to hell?

How's the state of your heart? Do you hold everyone and everything in forgiveness and love?

They say you get what you gave in life, and in the same percentages.

September 10, 2001
3:45 pm
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Tez....you didn't kill anything. People just choke on their cheerios sometimes. Nothing fatal - just a hairball thing.

I just crack up sometimes because to me - some things are so clearly "there" that it surprises me how much we can beat the bushes saying - we don't see....when all the time - it sits in the open field...

September 10, 2001
6:38 pm
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Ladeska.
Exactly...

September 10, 2001
7:05 pm
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Cici.

You posed these excellent questions, "My question is why God would think that punishment is a proper way of curbing behavior. Psychological study of the application of the concept of punishment finds that punishment is actually the LEAST effective method of curbing undesireable behavior. If God is omnipotent, God would be able to discern motivations for behavior rather than simply the physical act. And God being infinite, why would God understand the world through very human eyes?"

I'm sure that you well know that many religions have naively conceptualized their god in anthropomorphic form. I believe that some believers do not even see how they are selling their god so far short of omnipotence, omniescence and altruistic love; the characteristics that the attribute to their god.

I like the Buddhist response to me when I asked them: "Who made the universe?" They replied:"Is the question relevant? If you were shot through with an arrow would you first want to know who made the arrow feathers before accepting medical treatment?"

Our problem as humans is first recognising that all of life inherently involves suffering and/or dissatisfaction (Dukka)no matter how great it seems at times. We then need to find the cause of this suffering/dissatisfaction and the 'cure' for same rather than 'copping it sweet' on the vain hope of getting some reward in the hereafter from some anthropomorphic god for doing so.

September 10, 2001
7:11 pm
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Pill.

You said, "They say you get what you gave in life, and in the same percentages."

I think this called the law of karma; "So as ye sow, so shall ye reap."

September 11, 2001
8:10 am
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so then are all the different sects the same belief, believed in different ways?

September 11, 2001
5:10 pm
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Sue2001.

You asked: "...so then are all the different sects the same belief, believed in different ways?"

Are you talking about Christian sects? No, I suspect that some beliefs between sects of Christianity do differ. The Coptic Christian Church,perhaps the oldest and least adulterated, has differing beliefs to main stream Roman derived Christianity, Gnostic Christians yet other differences.

But I'm not sure exactly what statement has prompted this question of yours. To what point of mine are you referring?

September 12, 2001
7:36 am
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sue2001
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not really anything I was just wondering. doesn't almost all beliefs believe that there is a supirior being a Head of them? and that basically we have to be good to each other and obey the laws of the head and that would lead to what ever everlasting life?

September 12, 2001
12:36 pm
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Cici
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Not at all. Most every religion that developed on the Asian sub-continent goes against that line of thinking, barring Hinduism. And the western conceptualization of worship ain't got nothin' on those who practive Sanatana Dharma (we call it Hinduism).

Buddhism never really addressed the idea of who created the universe, why we are here, or God. In fact, in the sacred story of the Buddha (somewhat like Jesus), he was born after many lifetimes of building up good karma, in Tushita heaven. It is there that he ordained the date, location and family of his next lifetime, so that he could return to earth to teach his doctrine to people still struggling in Samsara, the endless cycle of birth and death and re-birth.

The same is true for Taoism and Confucianism, although the latter has become more culturally engrained and isn't really a separate religious practice anymore. Jainism also neglects the idea of God. I guess their point is that it is only through the effort of the individual that they will achieve enlightenment. Perhaps the western equivalent to enlightenment is "grace."

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