Philip Johnson alerted me earlier today to the cover story in The Bulletin magazine this week: The Buddha Business. It highlights the booming of Buddhism in Australia and a must read for us surfers of the spiritual currents.

Although I’d dispute its identification of Buddhism as Australia’s fastest growing religion (Wicca is actually growing faster but is often overlooked due to its smaller numbers) I agree the growth and impact of Buddhism on our society is significant by any measure.

Given my own explorations into Zen back in the 90s I can well understand the attraction. I still have a soft spot for Buddhism even though I’ve embraced the way of Jesus as my preferred pathway.

What I learned through the experience though is that Christianity needs to wake up to the wisdom and meditation teachings in its own sacred texts if it hopes to speak into this emerging spiritual shift.  Ecclesiastes, 1 Corinthians 1, Proverbs …  this is a gold mine for fruitful conversation … but we’ve forgotten where we left our shovels.

An important lesson in my own journey was the Christian message of hope. Buddhism offers no hope for harmony in this world of samsara; it only offers detachment, nirvana. But in Jesus I found hope, not only for personal transformation but also for world transformation. Suffering is not an illusion to be transcended, its a reality to be transformed through love.

Note: The Dali Lama’s 2007 Australian Tour kicks off in Melbourne next week.

5 thoughts on “Buddha Boom

  1. I’ve found that when I’ve read Buddhist scriptures, or talked to Buddhest friends, the closer it seems to come to Christianity. They get c loser and closer and closer the deeper you go, and just when you think your’re about to touch the bottom, they suddenly spring apart like magnets with the same pole, and go to opposite ends of eternity.
    The root difference is that Christianity affirms the person. God is personal, we are personal, and our relationship with god is personal. But ultimately Buddhism affirms that there is no one home — consciousness is an illusion like any other.

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  2. It is almost impossible for westerners brought up, or rather thoroughly brain-washed, into/within the rigid argumentative either/or, black and white reductionisdt dichotomies of the left brained “reality” model, to even begin to understand the subtleties and paradoxes of Buddhist philosophy, practice and Realization.
    This reference (perhaps) explains the fundamental differences at the root of the western and eastern understandings and approaches to Reality and Truth—both of which are equally valid within the parameters thus defined—neither is superior to the other—merely different.
    1. http://www.dabase.org/alphomeg.htm
    And have you also noticed that generally speaking Buddhists are not really, and have never been, interested in aggressively trying to convert others into clones of themselves—which is what “true believer” missionaries always do.
    Buddhism: Here are some propositions—think about them, try them out, and see if they provide any resonance with you. No “righteous” hell and damnation messages.
    No aggressive self-righteousness.
    In Steves comments re God being personal is another way of describing the self serving, Mommy-Daddy, parental,santa-claus, good luck, “creator”, god whose job it is to protect and console us in our mortal, fear based, moment to moment ACT of separateness.
    It is also a description and affirmation of his own separation from the Divine Radiance, the world process, and all other sentient beings.
    It is also another way of saying that the process that religion is about us as mortal meat-body humans, rather than a moment to moment self-transcending response to the Conscious Light in which all of this is arising.
    It is also strange that he mentions consciousness, when consciousness is a word, theme, or topic that is seldom even mentioned in the usual exoteric chit-chat of the Christian blogosphere–or even theology with its dreadful left brained weightiness–the gravity of sin—no pardoxes and subtleties allowed.
    Why? I would suggest it is because the exoteric Christian “world”-view is entirely limited to the mortal meat-body “vision” of reality. Fear & Trembling rules!
    Put in another way exoteric Christianity reduces, and limits us to the dreadful fear based “vision” of meat-body mortality.
    No ecstasy or the Always Already ETERNAL Divine Radiance allowed in this lifetime—let alone moment to moment. Only, perhaps, afterwards or when “jesus” comes again. Adi Da points out that if the ecstatic (ETERNAL) Divine Way is not true of you while you live, it certainly wont be true of you when this body-mind dies. In fact He points out that you will automatically be “re-incarnated” as the same bewildered, fear based craven “personality” as you always are right up to the moment of your death.
    He also points out that such recycling is an immutable process governed by the unbreakable laws of psycho-physical existence—perfect “justice” always prevails.
    This may sound rather grim and dark, but it is not really, because we always have the capacity to choose—there is no “original sin” or “satan” preventing that choice—it is entirely self-chosen.
    We do quite literally “create” our own dreadful destiny—until Divine Grace intervenes, and the being responds from the Heart to that freely Given Divine Grace.
    This essay addresses the nieve delusions of the parental diety.
    1. http://www.aboutadidam.org/readings/parental_deity/index.html
    These two related essays provide a unique understanding of what we are (potentially) as human beings. The first one, in particular, addresses the motive(s) behind the resort to the parental deity god-idea.
    1. http://www.dabase.org/dualsens.htm
    2. http://www.dabase.org/unique.htm
    Plus a quote:
    ” The usual “god” of exoteric and conventional religion is an ego-consoling icon, made by man, for man—and, therefore, the usual “god” represents, and is intended to serve, the human aspiration toward self-fulfilment, or the fulfillment of gross ego-based desires.”
    True religion is the esoteric science of TRULY knowing, and thereby, BEING the Unbroken Light of Real God”.

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  3. Steve, yes that’s certainly one of the key differences from my own experience. What is more, feeling this void of no one being home, Buddhism has produced a plethora of Boddhisatvas to make up for it.

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  4. John, I had to laugh at your comment that “it is almost impossible for westerners … to even begin to understand the subtleties and paradoxes of Buddhist philosophy, practice and Realization” as last time I checked you were just as much an Australian citizen as me.
    So are you saying you can’t understand it yourself, or are you saying we can learn? If the latter, well my response is Ive studied the paradoxes as well, from the inside just as much as you.
    I find your interpretation of the Christian understanding of God rather simplistic and from my perspective you seem to be projecting quite a bit of scary parent fear onto Steve’s comments which would seem to say more about yourself than him. It would be good if you could treat this as a real conversation, a real exploration of the connections and challenges, rather than just a ranting session. You show yourself to be just as aggressively self-righteous as the fundies you fume about.

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