Buddhism or Christianity?

I have resisted Christianity for a long time.

Instead, I did yoga and bought a few Buddha statues to keep around my apartment.

I love all my books on Buddhism, and all that great stuff Pema Chodron and Chungpa Rinpoche and Thich Nhat Hanh say. The Buddha is really cool. But as much as I’d love to, I can’t go sit under a tree and meditate all day to find peace and answers, like he did. I have three kids to take care of. They need chicken nuggets microwaved and lunches made and to be driven to baseball and basketball games. And I need to make a living.

For a while, I had such a spiritual hunger in me, and I thought being a single parent was getting in the way of that. I loved my kids and would choose them over anything else in this life, but a big part of me just wanted to leave it all and drive around the desert, looking at the stars.

My kids, often, felt like a burden instead of the great joy they are.

When I turned to Christianity, out of no less than desperation, I found that everything I was looking for was right here, in my own home, in my own life. Everything was just as it was supposed to be.

A big reason I resisted—and still struggle with—the Christian church is because of all the men in charge of it. The men who have done horrible things, like molesting children. The men who have justified war and guns and big bank accounts, who have condemned others instead of loving them. I wanted no parts of that, and so I put a big cross up with my fingers and said, Nope. Not for me.

But then I went to a Buddhist meditation class, and there were pictures of men on all those walls, too. And in yoga studios, all the gurus were men.

We are all, not just women, looking for the Mothers to please stand up and tell us just how it is. Tell us what’s real. And most of us can’t spend our lives sitting under a tree, breathing. We have jobs to get to every morning, play practices and dinner to make. We have playgrounds where we need to push our kids on swings, and we have to go to Kohl’s during their super-sale so we can get sneakers for summer camp.

But that does not mean women aren’t spiritually aware or spiritually centered. In fact, putting the needs of so many others at the forefront of our lives makes us more spiritually-centered, not less. We mothers and wives and sisters and daughters are practicing yoga without the poses, all the time. We’re yogi masters. And that doesn’t require buying an expensive pair of pants at Lululemon.

We’re special and we’re fabulous. We are the heart and earth of civilization.

No one gets to the Father but through us, because, dammit, we birth the fathers and the sons and all their progeny.

But honey, this does not mean I dislike men. Quite the opposite.

I know there are men out there who have hurt and traumatized and done evil things. They’re still doing them. But the men I know, the men I come into contact with, are heart-centered and sweet and kind. They care about women, deeply. They want what’s best for their wives and their girlfriends and their daughters and their mothers. Most of all, they just want their women to be happy, but they don’t know how to make that happen. If they could snap their fingers and, Voila!, an elated, satiated woman would appear, they’d do it in a heartbeat. But they are only doing their best to love us in the way they can.

That is why women need to take the lead. We are the spiritual centers of our households and our workplaces, and we need to show that to our men. Because When Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. And if you’re not a mom, poof!, I just made you one.

We all thought, in the past few decades, that certain things would make women happy, and they have certainly helped. Birth control, for one. Right on. That was good. Better paying jobs. Check. Sexual liberation. Maybe. 

But what it comes down to is that we cannot define ourselves by our bodies or our jobs or our relationships to others. We need to uncover who we are, beyond what other people expect or want from us. We need to know ourselves from within.

We all have shadows we wrestle with that hide us from the truth of ourselves. We don’t want to see what’s in us, for some reason. We don’t want to admit we’re human. We’d rather assume we can control our lives. And part of the reason I became a Christian was because I had a few experiences that showed me evil really does exist in the spiritual realm, and yoga and Buddhism just didn’t prepare me for that. Bad spirits are everywhere, all the time, wanting in. Homeless souls who take root in us, sometimes from early ages, and want to stick around. We don’t know how to get rid of them, so we hold onto our pain and our blindness and our illnesses. We want to heal, but that shit just keeps coming up, no matter how much acupuncture you do, no matter how many reiki sessions or massages you get. Holistic healers are good, don’t get me wrong, but they only quiet the demons inside of us for a while. Then those beasts come back up, and we have to find a way to get rid of them.

That’s why we need a helper. That’s all I’m saying. Someone pure and holy and good who chases the demons away, who scares the demons shitless, like cockroaches flee when the light gets turned on. But how do we know what’s good? So often, the things that are “supposed to be” good for us end up hurting us or breaking us apart or stealing our money or convincing us of the wrong things. What’s the test to pure and total goodness?

For me, I’ve realized my safest bet is Jesus.

I live in a culture where it’s unlikely I’ll call on Buddha in my time of need. Or I can, but I’m not sure he’ll come, at least not to me. My neighborhood is filled with Christian churches, and I see the sign of the cross everywhere I go. I go to Quaker meeting every Sunday. I might as well just accept where I am and settle in. Because the man who bled to death and put his hands on the sick and needy and made blind people see? The man who wandered from place to place in sandals, teaching people how to transform? The man who spoke of compassion and flow and love and generosity? That’s someone I can get behind. That’s someone who recognizes my pain and helps me when I ask. And he is ever-present. All you have to do is say his name.

You don’t have to do this if you don’t want. It doesn’t really matter to me. I just know, from experience, that it can work wonders.

So here’s a game you can play. No one has to know. Start praying in the quiet of your living room, or in bed at night. Or in the bathroom while your kids are screaming outside. Jesus likes bathrooms. Say, Look, guy. (But say his actual name.) I don’t know what I think of you. You seem a little weird and I don’t know if you did that thing where you rose up after three days and healed all those people and stuff. And if you made water into wine and all that. That doesn’t matter. Just help me now. Here is what I’m working with. Can you just help?

And you know, just see what happens? Maybe nothing will? Maybe everything? It’s worth a shot. Especially if the wine bottle is empty.

 

“Sometimes we are just tired…”by ThePatronSaint is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Categories: spirituality and faith

Tags: , , ,

5 replies

  1. Good post thank you for sharing your heart with us. I ask myself what kind of Buddhist community you were part of. Or was it just a yoga class? Cause you see Yoga is not really Buddhist and a class is not really a sangha. Sangha can be, just like in a Catholic Church a monastic community or a community of lay practitioners both are necessary. The monastics in Buddhism do not represent the majority of practitioners. You would find such a group in most major cities in the internet. You would have noticed that nobody expects to sit under a tree and meditate the whole day, that is totally unrealistic and not required to practice Buddhism. Applying the Buddhist teachings in daily life with your children, your family and friends is a tremendous experience. A regular meditation practice and a sangha is all that’s needed. Being a Christian is a wonderful thing but Christians do not have a monopoly on practicing equality, love, compassion, and joy. These enlightened qualities are a part of every healthy Buddhist community. If you are happy with Jesus I not here to change your mind I respect you too much for that. I just wanted to say that you might have missed something along the way. Be well and may you find joy.

    QP

    Liked by 1 person

    • QP, Thank you for your comment! I hope I didn’t seem irreverent about Buddhism–it is in my nature to be facetious. I am often awakened by Buddhism and find so much solace in Buddhist texts, and I’ve met great people at the Shambhala Buddhist Center near me. The co-host for my podcast is a practicing Buddhist (although I’m not sure he sticks to that label). Jesus, in the end, just captured my heart in my time of need. I felt I needed saving, and he came, and I’m loyal to him now. So this is my path. Luckily for you and I, we know there are multiple ways to closeness with God. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 2 people

      • You definitely did not seem irreverent maybe a little conflicted but not irreverent. Whatever gives one solace in this dark and confused world is worth holding onto with both hands. I am convinced that Jesus and the Buddha would have been great contemporaries if not friends. Jesus saves those in need of saving and the Buddha helps those who can save themselves. Do you know of the book smiling Buddha smiling Christ, from Thích Nhất Hạnh? It’s a good read about how the two world views can actually complement one another very well.

        Nameste

        QP

        Liked by 2 people

  2. “That’s why we need a helper. That’s all I’m saying. Someone pure and holy and good who chases the demons away, who scares the demons shitless, like cockroaches flee when the light gets turned on. ” hallelujah! The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot comprehend it..

    Like

  3. I love what you said about how Jesus captured your heart in the comments here. That’s what He does like nobody else. He’s amazing. If you actually look at the word “helper” in the original language used to describe woman in Genesis, it is the same word used elsewhere to describe a time when “God helped man.” In other words, if God didn’t help man, man was busted. Our English language often does not due the original language justice. For example, we know about the word “love.” But in the language the Bible was written in they have more than one word for love to describe different types of love and the one they mention in the Bible is far more comprehensive, more whole, holistic, holy, and absolutely incredible than whatever our society can concoct up for a definition of “love.” Perhaps this is why there is such a great suicide epidemic in our same society. We do not really know love at all. God is love (1 John 4).
    My Bible tells me I can love because He loved me first. So if I am to love my neighbor AS myself, I better get to loving God and receiving His love so I can truly know how to love myself, and then, love my neighbor and those around me AS I love myself. I was meditating on this today. When I say meditating, I mean it in the Scriptural sense, meaning “think deeply” rather than in the middle eastern sense of “emptying yourself of thought.”

    To me it’s amazing how the Gospel is about becoming the love we receive. It was because of God’s love that He sent His Son. It was because of His love that He made forgiveness available through Jesus. It was because of His love that Jesus became love, and thus captivates my heart and leads me to want to know His more and more.

    I’m preparing to write on Buddhism contrasted with Christianity soon too, so if you’d like to follow, I think you’d like some of the material I write!

    Blessings!!!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s