The Five-Minute Buddhist Books

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Playing Mix & Match with Religion

Question:

Hello, I love the podcast and hope more come out soon. Any way I have a question. Is it legitimate to follow another religion and use buddhism as a philosophy? Thank You and All Blessings Be.

Answer:

Absolutely– People do it all the time. People follow Christianity or Judaism, for example, and still practice all the non-religious aspects of Buddhism as well. Since Buddhism doesn’t generally involve God or prayers, there’s no reason at all that one cannot simply add Buddhism as another “layer” to one’s own foundational belief system.

Many Christians practice Buddhism on the side, and so many Jews do it that they actually came up with a term for it, Ju-Bu (Jewish Buddhist Wikipedia Link). Depending on your specific local church, and how well they understand what Buddhism is really all about, your specific church may or may not support this.

From the wording in your question, however, I suspect you are not coming from a Judeo-Christian background. I suspect it may be even easier to fit Buddhism into one of the less dogmatic religions such as Wicca. If anyone would like to share their personal story on making Buddhism mesh with their pre-existing belief system, I’d love to hear it.

7 comments to Playing Mix & Match with Religion

  • Gambatte

    Talking with a friend they commented about the villages previous Anglican priest “He was a Buddhist”…. ?

  • i think its quite fascinating and exciting that we are seeing the birth of a new form of buddhism here in the west. as we all know, buddhism is practiced quite differently by different people in different locations; it has effectively adapted to and combined with many different cultures over the centuries, and it will certainly adapt and change as westerners continue to adopt the various buddhist traditions and combine them with their own existing ideas and philosophies. it is up to us modern practitioners to decide what this new ‘western buddhism’ will look like!

  • Mat

    I have been experiencing an increasing “distance” between myself and Buddhism in general – it feeIs like a natural process rather than some new, underlying spiritual dynamic I am “struggling” with though.

    Yoga has always felt more accessible and practical than Buddhism when it comes to practicing / engaging every day.

    Buddhists can stay “Buddhist” for longer than is healthy

    The trouble is that the most prominent teaching coming out of the Sangha,(“mindfulness”) is sometimes seen as the sum total of our aspirations (to be mindful) and fruit of the practice (the path to enlightenment) – rather than just a tool (ie. “try it for a bit – it might make you feel a bit better”).

    I have noticed that if one is “too mindful” (about being mindful) then this just leads to anxiety and fear and actually de-sensitises us to our relationships and community.

    I have decided to embrace mindlessness too as a practice – going to sleep with the radio on – doing loads of stuff all at the same time – not thinking about what I am saying – just doing stuff for no reason – going about my day creating Karma of different sorts – and I have to say I am learning much more than “staying mindful” – which can actually be quite a very refined, subtle and yet conceited state of mind ?

  • Meg

    Although raised Catholic, I have been a Unitarian Universalist for approximately 24 years. About a year ago I came across a very small, almost “storefront” Sangha not too far away. I have been following this website, and a few months ago began trying to meditate. I had been feeling that something was missing, and found Buddhism. But Unitarian Universalism is already a non-creedal religion, and encourages us to follow our own conscience in the search for religious truth. For most of us, we do not believe in a “god” to worship, so the leap is not that difficult in that respect. Even our minister has a “Buddhist” leaning in some of his sermons, and leads meditation one day a week. I continue to participate in the “UU” community, mainly because I feel it offers more for my school-aged children than the Sangha does, which is mostly adult, and rather small. Also, some UU churches and Fellowships have their own versions of what they call Sanghas in them, rooms for meditation, and I wanted to mention that you may look into that if there are no Sanghas in your area.

  • Jami

    There are links btwn Buddhism & Sufism. I practiced meditation and, in the past, joined Zikr gatherings. Zikr- i.e., the Remembrance of God & His attributes- tries to break into our mundane thoughts.

    The names of God are many in Arabic, with Consonants and vowels modifying breathing, and leading, slowly, to a calm, soothing feeling. Each name reflects something deep, often abstract, like ‘truth’, ‘reason’, ‘peace’. God is all these things; but all these things are, in ways, something more than ‘God’, as commonly and complacently understood. It can be a beautiful inner quest. And the empirical basis of the practice was developed in former Buddhist lands, with centuries of meditative traditions finding a home, though not always settled, in the scriptural monotheism of the Middle East.

  • Kristine

    I myself am a christian Buddhist. I was raised in a very catholic family and still get lectured to this day about my choice in beliefs. I will always believe in Jesus and God however I also honor Buddha and meditate daily even with male beads. You have to find what works for you, a label is not always what is needed rather a sense of higher consciousness, overall inner peace, confidence, and a secure feeling in your thoughts are more personal as well as understood and seeked. If you are happy with yourself then whatever you decide is right for you will work.

  • For a person seeking personal improvement or ethical postulates, Buddhism has little conflict with Western religions.

    Yet, for someone who understands the details behind Original Sin, Salvation, and the consequences of Covenant Peoples will know that Eastern religions are a non-historical, non-covenantal, essentially non-political belief structures.

    Western Abrahamic religions designate a particular ‘baptised’ or ‘chosen’ group to serve a particular purpose in history. Generally prophecy continues until a messiah or apocalypse. This is a fundamentally different concept of religion than in the east.

    In the east, kings were worshipped, which was probably why buddhism which only ‘reverese’ the teacher was tolerated. We didn’t worship terrestrial kings in the West.

    There is still the unresolved difference between truth being revealed by naturalistic beliefs, or revealed prophesy.

    Even Christian Deists belief in a different form of historical providence via covenant religions than would a Buddhist with similar metaphysics.

    Refer to Moses Hess and Oswald Spengler for an understanding of historical and non-historical peoples.
    Whereas Christianity is ingeniously secular, buddhism is mute when it comes to matters of state. This is a weakness as it pertains to the belief system being a guiding force for a group rather than for one initiate.

    Christianity has waged Crusades, Islam can motivate Jihad, yet, Buddhism has no political form in itself other than to perhaps infect and deconstruct other belief systems, as it originally was a deconstruction of Hindu beliefs. Essentially Nihilism, then and now.

    Metaphysics can be reconciled, or aren’t that important anyway. But, that the faiths have totally different systems of virtue and oral laws is something that cannot be reconciled.

    The Arthurian Legend has no parallel in Buddhism. King Arthur can not be a Buddhist.

    Schopenhauer was a Western Buddhist, and his disciple FWN who borrowed his metaphysic and perspectival model was culturally a Neo-Classicist rather than a Buddhist, even with the same “beliefs” in the reality of the world.

    He simply had a taste for the tragic, the cruel, and the intrepid.

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