Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
I, like you, felt I was out of place once. But I was among fundamentalist Baptists. I, like you, thought, 'this is supposed to be a Christian group'. But what I heard preached was nationalism, hate, and bloodlust. The letter, which kills, was the law, rather than the Spirit, which gives life. I literally became a quaker in that church, trembling and having to speak out every time God's love was turned into hate. And I, like you, decided I would wait on Christ alone before sitting in that church again.
I also know that the One who speaks within us and leads us from our sins is Christ Jesus. But I recognize a brother or sister in Christ not from professions of Christ but from expressions of Christ.
I will wait on the Lord with Gentiles who know the Eternal Christ inwardly, even if they don't know Him by name, before waiting on the Lord with Scribes and Pharisees.
Thank you, Kenneth. Your comment has been a breath of fresh air to me.
I sometimes feel like an assumption is made that because I'm both Buddhist and Quaker, I deny Jesus's relevance or am ignorant of him. The truth is that this is the first year in 6 that I haven't started reading the New Testament on Christmas with the intent of finishing it by Easter. (I'm taking the year off because I think I need to come at the NT with some "new eyes".) I've read the Bible--as a whole.
I am very much a fan of Jesus's. I think the world would be a better place with more people like him. The reason I usually don't identify as a Christian is I am not sure of my beliefs about the Resurrection, which is very much--as you well know--integral to most Christians.
You wrote: "nor am I claiming that Jesus is the only way to salvation." But remember that Christ himself claimed that "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, if not through me." If we are his followers, even his Friends, should we be ashamed of his words?
Of course, Friends believe that Christ does provide everyone with light sufficient to lead them to salvation, if they follow him, even if they have never heard of him outwardly.
Here are my thoughts on that quote from John:
Greetings Friends, I know I am a little late in a reply to this topic but I do feel a leading to share with you all on this. To be a Buddhist Quaker is really saying that you are anything but a Conservative Quaker. I do not say this in anyway to offend folk on here that see themselves as such but in truth it is impossible. We only need to look at scripture and writings of Friends back in the 1650s onwards to know that the two world views are way apart from each other. Our tradition as Conservative Friends is steeped in a knowledge and presence of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega of our faith, all else is just secondary to this truth. When we feel a need to take on another world view to somehow prop up our Quaker world view, I worry that we may not have understood the all encompassing gift that was given to us through Christ, which is life, and not just this one, but salvation that brings us to eternal life. Jesus told us He is the way, truth and the life and all that come to Him have eternal life. No other has made the claims He has made, we need look no further than Him. As far as gaining insight from other world views I can see many benefits. I have a couple of close friends who are both Apache and Lakota and live a traditional life. Over the last forty years I have gained many insights from both these cultures but in no way do I see myself as an Apache or Lakota Quaker, its just not possible because there are very fundamental differences, one of the greatest being neither recognise the truth of the Christian message, being the truth of Christ. Can Buddhists, Apaches, Lakota and all other people of different religious beliefs come to a belief in Christ while seeking through their own religious world view, yes, I believe they can even if they don't realise it is Christ in the Christian context who they have found. But why would we, who know the truth in Christ through our Conservative Quaker religious world view feel we need to attach another religious world view to our own to somehow make it better? By all means let's learn from other sources of good religious thoughts but let's also keep in mind we have the full Truth which is in and through Christ, shown to us from the
beginning. As Conservative Friends we do what our name suggests, we "conserve" the old Quaker beliefs which in truth is primitive Christianity as our Creator laid out for us. We do not need to add another idea to our full Truth to make it better. These are my feelings Friends, and I in no way intend to offend anyone with them. I would end in saying we are told that Christ is sufficient for all our needs. The truth is, Jesus is the way and the only way to eternal life, so we are told in scripture. Sorry Friends if I have rambled on but I do pray it is helpful in some way.
Shane, I just wanted to thank you for your thoughts and your testament. Amen--Christ is sufficient, and we have indeed been blessed with the full and complete Truth through him.
I spent 5 years as a practicing Buddhist (I studied for 2 years in China before coming back stateside) and it was the path that lead me to become more interested in Quakerism.
In general, one can follow the Buddha Dharma and another religion quite nicely. The Buddha Dharma is a teaching and holds no views of an afterlife and never speaks of a deity. There are many people who follow the teachings of the Buddha and are Christian, atheist, etc. because you don't have to compromise your ideals to be both. (in most cases anyway. I am sure there are exceptions.)
I loved that where as other religions I had studied or practiced tended to focus on the afterlife, Buddhism said "Hey! What about today?" It taught me to stay in the moment and to realize that we all are suffering (the Buddist's favorite word. ha) and a little lost. It taught me compassion for myself and for others. There is a saying in Buddhism: "Every sentient being as the Buddha nature with in them." All that means is that everything has the ability to be enlightened. It's so simplistic but kind of brilliant. I like to realize that all sentient beings have the light of God within them. When I am having a hard time with people I think about that and it helps me.
The five remembrances I also hold very dear, They are:
I am of the nature to grow old. I cannot escape growing old.
I am of the nature to have ill-health. I cannot escape having ill-health.
I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death.
All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.
I inherit the results of my actions in body, speech and mind. My actions are the ground on which I stand
It sounds really depressing, and at first glance it may be, but they are not. I read them every morning because they remind me that life is impermanent. I can spend today in a tizzy, upset and focusing on me but when I realize those 5 things I also realize how short life is and do I really want to spend my time here upset about petty things? No, I want to be happy, be with those I love, and spread love, peace and community to others. When I realize that I can, in any moment, be separated from who I love I tend to treat these people better.
One giant misconception about Buddhism is that Buddhists hate life and are horribly depressing. I mean, who talks about death, suffering and what not without being depressed? Well, it's untrue. In general Buddhists tend to be pretty darn happy because they think of these things. They realize that life is here and now, so live it! Life is good, people are good, and just because we cause internal suffering doesn't mean we can't grow and be happy.
Now, learning about Quakerism, I realize that the Buddha Dharma as a place in this path too. I love that.
Van de Wettering asked the resident Master at his Zen Monastery whether he was a Buddhist, and was told, "No."I loved reading that. It is a very "Zen Buddhist" thing to say. =]
I also find the Five Remembrances to be a profoundly helpful contemplations. I have used them for many years.
I question, though, your statement that the Buddhadharma holds no view of an afterlife. I think that is a very recent, and specifically Western, invention. Rebirth is a major topic in all Buddhist scriptures; including the Theravada, Mahayana, and the Vajrayana. It is difficult to go for more than three pages without rebirth being mentioned or implied. An entire section of the Buddhist Canon, the Jataka Tales, is devoted to the previous lives of the Buddha.
In many ways rebirth is the dominant view of the ordinary Buddhist in traditional Buddhist cultures. Westerners tend to take a very cerebral approach to Buddhism, but in traditional Buddhist cultures laypeople go to the temple, make offerings, attend lectures, etc., for the purpose of acquiring merit and the purpose of acquiring merit is to obtain a better rebirth next time around. The largest yearly celebration of East Asian Buddhism (Ullambana, or in Japanese Obon) has the purpose of generating large quanitites of merit which can then be transferred to one's ancestors so that one's ancestors can also obtain a better rebirth in the future.
Pure Land Buddhism is the numerically largest Buddhist tradition in East Asia; it dwarfs the number of adherents to Zen or any other tradition. The purpose of this tradition is to attain rebirth in Amitabha's (Buddha of infinite light and life) Pure Land, a land of bliss where it is possible to practice the Buddhadharma and become enlightened.
I do not know of any Buddhist tradition where rebirth is not a central teaching and reality. Again, the idea that one can have Buddhism without rebirth is very, very recent; I would say in the last 20 to 30 years, and it is a view that one finds primarily in the West, and among Asians influenced by western secularism. But it is a completely ahistorical interpretation and does not represent the view held by countless of ordinary Buddhists today, or any (and I do mean any) Buddhist teaching from the past.