A Talk With a Buddhist Part 3 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 3 of a series of posts that will describe my interaction with a self-proclaimed Buddhist. Click here for part 1 or part 2.
A phrase Carrie kept using was “I really believe that.” That led me to wonder if she really did, or if she was trying to convince herself of it. I think what she was trying to get across was that peace was the thing we were supposed to be striving for, something I could agree with. Her method for pursuing peace was primarily Buddhist, but she readily admitted that she did believe in a creator being of some sort. When I asked, “Who or what is god?” she responded, “There is a being that created us. I don’t know their name. It could be Buddha or Jesus.”
I followed up with, “Then, are you saying that they kind of just let us be, like created us, but then backed away?” So she said, “I’m not a big believer in evolution. Whoever created us let us be, which probably goes back to karma. We are not held accountable.” God for her is not specifically known by name, but he is allowing us to make our own choices, and won’t interfere. I think her version of god just letting us be is one that means that god won’t stir up contention, which if that god did, then it would be bad karma. However, she was quick to add, “I’ve never had to sit and think through the philosophy of it. It sounds kind of crazy out loud.”
A fish jumped out of a nearby pond a couple of times and moved above the waters like a speedboat. “Sweet!” I exclaimed, but she responded, “How beautiful!” We interpreted the scene a bit differently. She explained some of our surrounding elements, saying, “Water is for clarity; it is an offering to help open the mind in meditation, and fruit is for abundance of food.” However, she admitted, “You are supposed to bring an offering for the monks so they are taken care of. Most are vegetarians, but I’ve seen them at McDonald’s some.”
Her children actually still attend a Baptist academy near the Buddhist center. Her daughter says her prayers at dinner, which Carrie said she didn’t mind. “I won’t restructure that. Everybody is on their own journey,” she said. “Will I teach them Buddhism? Maybe, I don’t know.” She seemed less inclined to raise them in a similar fashion to her own upbringing. Because she is more focused on what brings her peace, the idea is more about feeling than anything else. For Carrie, in my opinion, if Jesus brings her daughter peace, then that’s all right.
Brian Condra is the associate director of admissions at Dallas Christian College.