Posted by Sam on February 24, 19100 at 16:50:21:
In Reply to: Relationships posted by Desiree Moore on February 22, 19100 at 04:35:01:
I was brought up Presbyterian. I am still, technically, a member of my parents' church. I won't call myself Presbyterian, nor Christian, nor even Buddhist. I believe that all religions have merit -- or at least that all religions deserve a serious study for your own personal growth. I admire you for making this extra effort to understand your boyfriend's choice in religious practices.
To answer your questions: A Buddhist doesn't simply "let things be" -- he or she strives VERY hard under intense meditative practices to understand the Four Noble Truths, follow the Eightfold Path, attain enlightenment. (Ask your boyfriend about these terms, or scan the forum for definitions.) But that's a personal quest. What of others, you asked. "What if someone is doing harm to another or themselves?" It all depends on the circumstances. I wish there were an easy answer to that, but not many religions (Christianity included) provide those answers in such a cut-and-dry fasion. It almost always "just depends".
No, of course you wouldn't have to convert. Buddhism -- as a faith -- is very tolerant of other religious beliefs. It is also very compatible with other beliefs. When I studied religion in college, the main religion professor was a Presbyterian minister, but he always said that he enjoyed very much the similarities between Buddhism and Christianity, and he even went so far as to incorporate certain Buddhist lessons into his sermons or lectures when he gave them. (In fact, he came late to Presbyterianism and had to "convert" from basically a nonbeliever in much of anything, and I've always felt that if he'd found Buddhism before Presbyterianism, he'd probably be a Buddhist today.) Some sects of Buddhists believe that Jesus was a Buddha, and some even agree with the prophesy that Jesus will return again, calling him a boddhisatva -- one who had attained enlightenment but foregoes Nirvana and continues to reincarnate in order to help others achieve enlightenment.
Personally, though I follow many beliefs and practices in Buddhism, I have not renounced my belief in some force/entity/God, nor in the works and words of a man named Jesus. I am among those who believe that Jesus was enlightened.
Buddhism is a very private religion, so no, Buddhist families don't attend what you would call "Sunday service" (or Wednesday night service, as the case may be). But just because the religion is private doesn't mean that the practitioners are private. In my experience, Buddhists tend to be very supportive of each other and act very much like an extended family. This is partly because some Buddhists feel a solidarity of faith and understanding the way some Christian groups do, and partly because some Buddhists focus very heavily on the Buddhist doctrine of compassion for all living things. Either way, though the communinty will be different, you won't lose out on much should you immerse yourself in a Buddhist community.
The most important thing -- and this is not necessarily Buddhist, but my own advice -- you must do what you feel is right. You say you love your boyfriend dearly (and this enquiry is evidence of that); I'm sure he loves you just as much, and that he will accept your beliefs as much as you are willing to accept his. To use the Christian wording of the very universal axiom: "Do unto others..."
I wish you much luck in your quest, much satisfaction and insight in your answers, and much happiness in your relationship.
Peace and much compassion... Sam :)
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