I don’t see much difference between the message of Buddha and Jesus but there’s night and day difference in the delivery. I’ve always been intensely curious about religion. Fortunately, my parents were Agnostics. They allowed me to make up my own mind and I’ll be eternally grateful. (perhaps eternally damned but the pun still works)
My best friend’s family were deeply devoted Baptists. They weren’t Sunday Christians. They attended church 3-5 nights a week. Even as teenagers, the kid’s social life centered around the church. As good Christians, they were always interested in saving stray souls when they found them. Naturally, they couldn’t help noticing a religiously unattached child. They often invited me to attend church and I was happy to go. My own family had no social life. No road trips, no overnight vacations. My mother didn’t join clubs or have friends. My father belonged to a barbershop quartet which held Monday night meetings but we weren’t invited. So when my neighbor invited me to church, I was glad to go. The only time I ever went to summer camp was with my friend to the Baptist Bible camp. It didn’t stick for me but it’s hard to criticize something that has worked so well for them. To this day, my friend, her siblings and their spouses, (who they met through church) remain deeply involved with their religion. I can’t help but believe it works for them is that they are rare people who believe what they say they believe and so really live by it. I don’t understand how folks can believe the bible, literally but I have to respect anyone who says what they mean and means what they say. I love integrity.
Then there was my Uncle, my mother’s brother, who married a Catholic girl and agreed to raise his children (my cousins) as Catholic. It drove my grandfather nuts. I was curious enough to attend church with them too. I went more than a few times but it didn’t take long to figure out why it bothered my grandfather for his son to be Catholic but it wasn’t until I grew older that I understood the whole story. My grandfather had been raised in the Catholic Church. A natural skeptic, he had nonetheless been dutiful and raised his family in the church. They worked hard and have a little to show for it except for his 12 children. This same uncle had been a twin and they were the pride of my grandfathers life. When the boys were about seven, scarlet fever took my Uncle’s twin brother. My grandfather was distraught. He sought help from the priest told him it was God’s punishment but the child could be released from purgatory for a sum. Now this was during the great depression when even a small sum was an impossible feat. My grandfather felt betrayed and out raged by the extortion. As often happens with people who’ve reformed, it’s hard to see loved ones who haven’t seen the light.
When I was about seven, I came home from school to find a nice lady sitting at the dining room table. My mother introduced her saying “This is Miss Lear. She’s a Jehovah’s Witness and she’s going to come every week to study with you.” Turns out, Miss Lear had knocked on the door and my mother, uncomfortable saying no, pawned her off on me. She came weekly for seven years. It wasn’t all bad. jehovah’s Witnesses have annual conventions and she took me on my first trip to New York where I learned to use the automat. A few years later the convention was in Alantic city where I ate my first hoagie.
I think I’m more objective than most when it comes to religion. I know there’s something more than what we know but I don’t for the life of me understand how people can be sure they know exactly what. Seems to me, when we die we will know everything or nothing so why waste all our time arguing over who’s guess is right. Since we can’t prove it, we have no choice but to wait and see so why not try being nice to each other?
OK, Here’s what I want to know –
- Why did Christianity allow the church to wedge itself between Jesus’ message and the people it was meant for?
- How has Buddhism been able to (more so than Christianity) prevent that?
- Is it a cultural thing?
- If so, what part of the cultural difference is it ?
By Anita Moorjani – Dying To Be Me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing… https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HTJTZMO/ref=cm_sw_r_sms_api_GxEyxb…