After my appointment Friday with the Estate attorney, I was fortunate enough to visit with one of my old high school friends for a little chat. I wasn’t anything serious, but it was nice to talk with him — it had been a couple of years since the previous occasion.
He took the opportunity to ask a few questions about my “new” spiritual path — something which had not developed by the time of our previous talk some two or three years ago. While it all seemed curious to him, I don’t feel like it made him uncomfortable or that it alienated me from him.
I have often been surprised by the responses to me when others find out I’m Buddhist. Of course, I don’t try to hide it, so anyone paying even the slightest attention (even if only on Facebook) is going to notice. There is an inevitable question and answer session that takes place, of course, and I’ll admit that I tailor my responses to each listener. It isn’t that I lie — I don’t have to nor would I choose to. Buddhist philosophy and religion is so deep and complex that I can honestly cherry pick what I think is appropriate when asked and leave other parts of a discussion for a later time.
What this means is I often try to keep my discussion on a level that can be, by my estimation, quickly understood in Christianized terms. This sort of discussion makes it easier to put emphasis on Buddhism’s commonalities with Christianity while leaving certain issues out of the discussion. For instance, in these initial chats I can sidestep issues that go beyond my actual level of attainment or ability to explain (the Jhana states and the idea of Nibbana come to mind) and I can decide whether the listener actually wants to learn ideas like Dependent Origination, the Noble Eightfold Path, etc.
There are many parallels between Buddhism and Christianity if one remains open-minded enough to see them, and discussing Buddhism in this light makes it a lot easier to discuss the subject in certain contexts.
I suppose I could go into more detail, but i think I will save that sort of thing for future posts. I will simply say that discussing the Buddha’s teachings should always be done without disparaging the beliefs of others. It is never useful to leave a listener feeling disgruntled and defensive. The Buddha’s teachings cannot be forced on others, but the power of compassion and love, whether it be that of the Buddha or Jesus, is never decreased by honest and open sharing.
Be well, friends.