A Talk With a Buddhist Part 1 of 4
Recently, I was tasked with an assignment at seminary that called for me to interview someone with a different religious belief from mine. The purpose was to get to know someone and engage in a conversation that revealed what beliefs they had specifically. What follows is Part 1 of a series of posts that will describe my interaction with a self-proclaimed Buddhist.
I arrived on a Dallas Buddhist temple ground to interview a local Buddhist about their beliefs. Oddly enough, the first person I encountered was a Thai monk wearing an orange robe. The problem was he only spoke Thai. I knew I couldn’t interview a non-English speaker, so I decided to walk around more. The place was quite peaceful and well taken care of by monks. There were ponds with huge goldfish, fountains that produced a tranquil ambience, and idols of Buddha in various places.
I had only seen one person until I was headed to the parking lot to leave, where I saw a woman walk by. She was American. I asked her if she worked there, and she said with a smile, “No,” and continued to head toward an area with a statue of Buddha in order to meditate. She had just gotten off work, so she looked like she was in a bit of a rush. “I stopped by to meditate after a long day at work,” she told me.
Her name is Carrie, and she is a 40-year-old mother of two. She grew up in a Christian home and used to be Episcopalian. Her grandmother was Episcopalian, but her father was Lutheran, and her mother, Baptist. She told me her mother “disagrees” with her decision to become Buddhist. She grew up in Texarkana, and when she moved to Dallas, she actually volunteered at the church for a while playing piano.
Carrie has only been Buddhist for about two years. She admitted that she probably isn’t considered a true Buddhist because she doesn’t meditate every day, nor does she come to the temple to chant with everyone else. She tells me she has statues of Buddha in her house, but that’s about it. For her it was all about the meditation. That’s where she has found peace.
“Divorce made me rethink religion,” Carrie admitted. She didn’t provide all of the details, but she said her divorce was messy. Her oldest is four, and she gave up Christianity six years ago. At one point she began to cry but doesn’t want to say why. “I always found myself wondering, was it real?” and she added, “I never could share my Christian faith because I didn’t believe it.” It seems that the divorce kind of put the nail in the coffin of Christianity. After that, she was seeking true religion.
Brian Condra is the associate director of admissions at Dallas Christian College.