A Talk With a Buddhist Part 2 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 2 of a series of posts that will describe my interaction with a self-proclaimed Buddhist. If you have not read part 1 please click here.
“What really drew you to Buddhism anyway?” I asked. Carrie told me that she has a fine arts degree, has travelled quite a bit, and “just became open to whatever.” She moved to California for a couple of years and met someone who seemed so much at peace. This person’s demeanor led Carrie to look into Buddhist teaching more. At some point she travelled to several places including the Middle East, where she became acquainted with Islam. But it was her interaction with a Buddhist that really resonated with her. She even visited Thailand because of this interest.
Buddhists “take out the equality of the Bible,” she said. “They believe multiple translations have caused it to be watered down.” I think by “equality” she meant “authority,” or maybe equal to the words of Buddha, meaning that Buddhists don’t view the BIble in the same authoritative way Christians do. She read a story online that said Jesus hung out with Buddha. She claims Buddhism because of its approach to life. “It is all about being self-aware,” said Carrie. “The Five Principles are about self-awareness.” I pressed her further to find out what the Five Principles are and their purpose. She couldn’t actually remember all Five Principles, but she knew they were to promote “more good will, doing good, and giving to nature.”
Carrie hit on several topics repeatedly: energy, meditation, and true belief. The way she spoke about energy was highly related to karma. She would keep talking about how what we put out there will eventually come back, if not tomorrow, then sometime. I couldn’t grasp exactly what “energy” meant so I asked. “Actions; how we meet people; how we discuss,” she answered. It’s the interactions that happen between us apparently. I really didn’t sense the meaning until I realized she was talking much quieter than I. She matched the Buddhist environment in the way she was speaking, whereas I was louder and more boisterous. However, I tried to contain myself after that.
She said that Buddhism gave her a center. She felt more grounded. “Meditation helps to just stop,” she said. Enlightenment and clarity are important elements of self-awareness. By pursuing these things through meditation, she found help setting goals. Her life became de-cluttered, and things, stuff, didn’t matter much anymore. She mentioned that she doesn’t care as much about material possessions. Peace is big deal. Carrie affirms, “It’s not about judgment; it’s about self, accountability to self.”
Brian Condra is the associate director of admissions at Dallas Christian College.