A Talk with a Buddhist Part 4 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 the fourth part of a series of posts that will describe my interaction with a self-proclaimed Buddhist. Click here for part 1, part 2 or part 3.
In the end, it seemed Carrie is melding some agnostic, postmodern tendencies with Buddhist philosophy. It is a syncretism of philosophies rather than religions. She made clear that she didn’t see Buddha as a god and didn’t see the statues as idols. She rather described them as “vessels” through which one’s prayers go. “Buddhists think everything has a spirit,” she said, so the statue in some way does, too. How they facilitate a prayer, and to whom, I don’t know.
Because she was coming at a time when no one was around, and she specifically mentioned that she doesn’t join with the normal chanting times at the temple, I was reminded of the woman at the well. Carrie told me of her mother who says people who do bad things are punished, referring to believing the wrong religion. It seemed like she wanted to avoid judgment, and of a sort that I would steer clear of as well. But this woman at the well in Samaria is avoiding judgment also. Jesus, however, goes to her on purpose, and even reveals that she has multiple husbands and is living with someone who is not her husband. But he offers her living water and extends grace.
I didn’t press the issue because we had just met, but I did mention the story, saying that Jesus actually wants to use the cross primarily as a way for God to show love. The God of Christianity not only shows his love to outsiders, those who seek to be in public places without being noticed, but he wants to be known. I hope and pray that Carrie would shed her hope for peace through karma, which is works based, and encounter the true God of love as he really is.
This also led me to some thoughts regarding the Great Commission. To go and make disciples, baptize, and teach what Christ commands requires deep intimate relationships. It was fun and enjoyable getting to know Carrie. She was searching for peace, but she didn’t know God. She wants to, I think. I found that having a personal conversation with someone is a great way to find trust with them. She didn’t reveal everything in one sitting, but I could see how eventually Carrie may have become more open to the Gospel. And what if we, like her Buddhist friend, displayed a sense of peace? Maybe there would be greater cause for others to ask about the hope within us.