Hi, all, it's Tania, from The Friendly Funnel. I recently took my Buddhist refuge and boddhisattva vows and was wondering about the experiences of other Buddhist Quakers were like. Personally, I've found that Buddhism complements Quakerism, and vice versa. Buddhist practices allow me to be a better Quaker; Quaker practices allow me to be a better Buddhist.

What are particular Buddhist practices you like? There are some aspects of Buddhist theology I'm ambivalent about (such as reincarnation, but I don't focus on what happens after death--I'm a lot more interested in what happens before), but Buddhist practice (the Eightfold Path, meditation, etc.) has really strengthened my ability to be compassionate and respond to that of God in others.

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This discussion has really come alive with your comment, Kevin-Douglas. Thank you!

My impression as a newish Quaker is that these various meditative traditions appeal to some Quakers because they give more precise instructions than traditional Quaker writings do. What does it mean to "center?" What does it mean to "dig deep?" These are mystical expressions, metaphors. Buddhism, on the other hand, tells you exactly what to do with your mind in order to settle into silence. I know a number of older Friends in my meeting who also attend a "centering prayer" gathering in my town. There, too, you receive directions that are easy to understand. I wish there were more writing about the practice of silent worship among Friends today (or that someone would point it out to me, if they know of it!) I have read Punshon's Encounter with Silence. Visitors to meetings could also benefit from more assistance. Still, what we practice is a mystery, so explanations could easily get in the way (no pun intended!)
Rosemary
Regarding; "but I humbly ask that we should identify ourselves as seekers, and perhaps not as hyphenated Quakers."

Why? There are indeed many hyphenated Quakers.
I went through a Buddhist phase in my mid-20s. Part of my rationale was that it could be the content and my Quaker meeting could be the community. Frankly, my meeting wasn't giving me anything. It was a large urban meeting that focused on process and avoided talk of faith. Hyphenated identities were the norm. They were a religious society that had given up religion. Looking back, I don't think they knew what they didn't know about Friends' ways. Nice people, faithful and courageous in their own ways, but there was a reason I felt I needed to look elsewhere for my spirituality.

It took me years to realized the Quaker tradition had it's own rich spirituality. It was a lot of small openings, like an unpeeling of an onion. I came to discover the spiritual nature of the practices I had come to appreciate--and vice versa, how the Quaker practices could work as paths to my spiritual growth and obedience. The Quaker-Quaker path is much different than the Quaker-Buddhist path or any hypenated Quaker path. It's not just words. But it's hard to get that across.

QuakerQuaker.org isn't the forum to fight over whether someone's definition of "Quaker" is too restrictive or two wide-open--that's the role of your yearly meeting. That said, it is also not a least-common-denominator Quaker website. When Geoffrey says that Buddhism and Quakerism are mutually exclusive, he is correct given his Conservative Friends identity (it could be pointed out that he's in agreement with most Friends alive today and 99.8% of Friends alive in earlier periods). Like it's name suggests, QuakerQuaker is a place for those who are ready to share the good news of unhyphenated Quakerism (aka primitive Christianity revived) with spiritual seekers of all persuasions.
My understanding of both Quakerism and Buddhism has changed since I posted this topic originally. I don't identify as a Quaker Buddhist or a Buddhist Quaker; I identify as a Quaker AND Buddhist. To deny that I'm a Buddhist would be a breach both of Right Speech and of the Quaker Testimony of Integrity. To deny that I'm a Quaker would also be a breach.

I've taken my Buddhist vows and I'm not going to pretend that I haven't or ignore those aspects of my faith when I'm with fellow Quakers. That being said, I know that Quakerism and Buddhism *are* different faiths. And complete faiths on their own.

All I know is that my Buddhist practice has made me a better Quaker and that Quakerism has given me the opportunity to be a Buddhist. To say otherwise, or to choose one over the other, would be dishonest and a betrayal of the two faiths I love.
Tania (Funnel101) wrote: 'Quaker AND Buddhist'. This seems to me like a way to respect the integrity of both Quaker and Buddhist traditions, not seeking to change Quakerism (or other Quakers) nor change Buddhism, but learn from the riches of both traditions. While, in a sense, some think of Quakerism as the Christian tradition which has most in common with Buddhism, the historical emergence of Quakerism from Christian traditions and culture is, I think, important to Quaker identity. This does not mean that Quakerism does not evolve and change, but it does so from it's Christian origins.
@Tania: I love the idea of the Quaker-Quaker Buddhist-Buddhist! I don't think it's easy to be deeply invested in two faith traditions but I've met people who seemed to do it with an integrity that respects both. In the end, all of us have multiple influences shaping who we are.
I thought I would take a few moments to comment on this topic, since it is one that is meaningful in my own life. I practiced Buddhism for decades before becoming a Quaker. My sense is that the two traditions are different in important, not just peripheral, ways. In regards to meditative practice, Buddhist meditation is primarily about mental discipline. It is a type of training similar in many respects to athletic training or training to be a musician. In contrast, my sense is that Quaker silence is not so much mental training as becoming receptive, or open to, the grace of the Lord. That is why Quaker silence is more relaxed and less regulated than Buddhist silence. To make an analogy; if a botanist is looking at a forest, the botanist, as a botanist, would focus on the specifics of the plant life. This resembles the mental training of the Buddhist practitioner. A hiker in the forest, though, would have a more relaxed interaction with the forest and perceive the forest differently. (Don’t take this analogy too literally.) The botanist and the Buddhist practitioner have cultivated particular states of mind, types of concentration. The hiker and the Quaker practitioner haven’t cultivated specific mental states, rather they are broadly open to the presence. The mark of success for a Buddhist meditator is the stabilization of particular mental patterns and attitudes; similarly a scientist stabilizes a particular mental attitude towards the world simply by being a scientist. In contrast, the hiker has not stabilized a particular mental attitude; while hiking attitudes and mental states will shift as conditions shift, say from relaxed appreciation to a heightened sense of danger when spotting a bear or other potential difficulties. Like the hiker, those entering Quaker silence are open to the landscape of the mind and the ebb and flow of events in the world around them. Thus Quaker silence is ‘porous’ while Buddhist silence is more tense in that it can be disrupted by intrusions from the world.

I think there are resources for a Quaker spirituality, but they are difficult to find. One that I highly recommend is “A Guide to True Peace”, a kind of manual of silent prayer. I have to note, though, that as a newly convinced Quaker I have had almost no assistance in finding this material. Instead the emphasis seems to be on the history of Quaker activism and social engagement as defining of the Quaker place in the world. I think this is unbalanced. I would really like to see more time and resources spent on reconnecting with the specifics of Quaker spirituality.

Best wishes,

Jim
Seems that a lot of people put more emphasis on the 'traditions' than on the 'faith'.

The traditions of being open to the Spirit, of affirming that God is strong, loving, and directly available, are intrinsically Quaker-- but never exclusively Quaker. The rest, in whatever religion, is... traditions.
I currently practice Buddhist meditation once a day (ideally) and I agree with your description of it here. But it seems like the core of Buddhist meditation is not just training the mind, but learning about the mind. The more one meditates, the more one becomes aware of the tricks one's ego will play to get noticed, the stories one's mind will try to use as a distraction, etc. And in Meeting for Worship, the knowledge I've gained through Buddhist meditation has helped me discern what is Real, from the Source, and what is from Me.

I don't practice Buddhist meditation throughout Meeting for Worship, but only in the first few minutes, as a way of calming my mind. Then I try to practice what can only be described as mindfulness or non-attachment: I let thoughts arise and let them go. If a thought is a Message, it will return... and return with the heart-pounding sensation of imminent explosion that I've come to associate with Messages.

I'm sorry you're having difficulty finding resources. You may want to check out Brent Bill's "Holy Silence" and Douglas Steere's "Prayer and Worship".
Thanks! I will look for them.
Rosemary
Hmmmm.....I was a Buddhist-Methodist for years. My pastor and congregation had no problem with this. Perhaps they were unusually in tune with Jesus's counsel to "not judge".
I did meet up with a quite angry gentleman in the church once who loudly insisted that "The Buddha can't get you into Heaven, no one but Jesus Christ can save your soul!"

I could only reply that The Buddha never claimed he could get anyone into heaven, or save anyone from hell. His claim was simply that he could teach willing people to become awake, to see life as it is without all the internal baggage we are forever attaching to things.

One thing Jesus and Buddha have very much in common is that they brought a simple and straightforward teaching, and after their deaths their followers added on chapter after chapter, book after book, until the original teaching is nearly buried under the weight of history and opinion.

As a seeker here my interest in Buddha, in Jesus and in Quakerism is an interest in the original teachings, and so far I find them completely compatible.

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