August 18, 2011
Can one person practice both Buddhism and Christianity or Judaism? Many will argue that mixing religions can't be done in good faith. Many will say that these traditions are fundamentally too different to be compatible. However, that argument ignores the fact that there are people who mix these traditions. Whether or not this mixing is philosophically foolproof, there are people who do identify as JuBus and Christian Buddhists.
To my mind, a more interesting question than whether this is right or wrong is: How do people mix religions in a way that is meaningful to them? What does their practice look like? These are questions that are being discussed now in the Tricycle Community on the post "JuBus and Christian Buddhists." Commenting on how he's landed upon his particular hybrid practice, Tricycle friend and contributing editor Clark Strand writes:
I'm now a Buddhist meditation teacher whose primary practice is saying the rosary... go figure. Some might call me confused, but if so it's a particularly satisfying confusion, and one that took a long time and a lot of soul searching to work out.
I like that: A "particularly satisfying confusion." Sounds very Zen. But I want to hear more stories. If you identify with both your Western religious roots and your current Buddhist practice, how do you make it work? One Tricycle Community Member wonders if it's possible:
Please, if someone could just please answer this question for me: I don't understand how there can be Christian Buddhists. Here are my thoughts… In Christianity, there is a soul. This soul goes to heaven or hell, whatever. Angels; Demons. Good and Evil.
On the other hand: There is no soul, There isn't even an I. Everything is a label upon a label that is merely imputed by the mind. Good and Evil are only concepts that are created by the mind. Heaven and Hell are only states of mind that we live in temporarily. Everything exists in the mind.
Without a soul, what would be the point of a God? Are you just picking and choosing teachings from different books that fit you the best? Or are there teachings of Jesus that I just happened to miss growing up in a christian household?
Are you calling emptiness the soul? The fact that everything is empty down to it's very base of energy particles? This mass collection of energy is our soul? But then where is God? What do you mean?! Please someone explain your view on how these seemingly opposite things can come together.
I'm deeply confused.