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Buddhism And Other Spiritualities Question


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Hi everyone,


Before I get into all this, I want to be up front and say that I identify personally as a Buddhist, but... I'm a "baby buddhist" in that... I have not read every single spiritual text for Buddhism, or even all of the most agreed upon spiritual texts. Part of this is a matter of not having gotten around to it and part of it is that I like to keep things simple when it comes to spirituality. To me the 4 Dharma seals, the 4 noble truths, and the 8-fold path, along with a meditation practice and just being a decent person is... enough. Going farther than that feels like unnecessary complication and adding layers of dogma that I neither want nor need since leaving Christianity. (i.e. I have run across a few very dogmatic/legalistic Buddhists and I do NOT want to be one of them.) I have a cosmology that fits within the Buddhist framework and accept reincarnation and karma, etc., but I'm not big on following any spiritual texts "to the letter" if that means forcing myself to fit into someone else's mold. (And I know probably not everyone here literally believes in reincarnation, and that's fine, but I do.)


At the same time, I'm pretty sure that's not what Buddhism is about (following religious spiritual texts to the LETTER). From my understanding, Buddhism is merely a tool to help people, not a "one true truth". Again, I could be wrong, but I don't think anyone is claiming any Buddhist text is the "infallible and divinely inspired word of God". It also seems from what I've read that most Buddhists also believe everything is transient... even Buddhism. So, I may be answering my own question in my post. But, since I AM such a new Buddhist, it's important for me to clear this issue up for my own conscience. (the issue I'm about to describe, lol)


I'm also working on a book about non-christian spirituality. Part of the book goes into the problems with Christianity and touches on the atrocities and such committed by Christians throughout history. I also touch on the idea that more liberal forms of Christianity still, in many ways, tacitly support the atrocities of the bible and etc. because they are merely compartmentalizing and reframing things, rather than out and out saying: "This is wrong". Some forms of liberal Christianity I know DO divorce themselves totally from it and make a firm stand against seeing the bible as the "infallible divinely inspired word of God", but given the nature of Christianity I'm confused over why they would even remain in that path since it's really not specifically Christianity anymore at that point. And there is just too much baggage in the religion. i.e. What is SO meaningful that it can't be found elsewhere in a less harmful path?


This got me to thinking about non-christian spiritualities and their roles in atrocities. There is no 100% innocent religion/philosophy. If we say someone can't/shouldn't label themselves a Christian because of the bad things done in its name, then is there justification for labeling as ANY religion?


But Christians have a LOT of baggage. It tips over the point of most people's comfort levels. And other paths... at least the non-monotheistic/non-missionary ones, seem to have much less baggage.


So I guess my question is... in order not to be a hypocrite... how much baggage is "too much baggage?" Doesn't every religion have baggage? And here is where I get back to Buddhism. Buddhism is, IMO a pretty moral spiritual path. And yet... there HAVE been bad things done in the name of Buddhism. Not nearly to the extent of Christianity since it's not a missionary religion, but still. I know that one of the reasons Christianity is considered a problem is because the bible ITSELF condones such evil. All through the damn book.


So... a Christian can say: "Well, those were just 'bad Christians'; They weren't 'true Christians'", but it's not hard to see just from a general read-through of their "divinely inspired" holy text, where psychos might have gotten the idea that all the awful shit they did was... okay by biblegod. Meanwhile, I THINK that Buddhist texts don't actively condone any violence (that would seem to be completely counter to Buddhism), so any Buddhist who DID do bad things is hardly doing them from something in the text itself. But again... since I haven't READ all the texts, I don't know that for a fact. (And while I do plan on fully reading many of the texts, I'm still trying to sort through and figure out which ones might be most helpful to me, since different schools of Buddhism accept different texts and I don't want to be part of any "official school of Buddhism" because when you're splitting hairs that much it feels it's already gotten too unnecessarily complicated...says the girl writing this CRAZY long post.)


And so here is where I try to get past all my rambling in order to set a baseline assumption and ask my questions both of Buddhists and then of other spiritualities who might be willing to weigh in here:


My Baseline Assumptions: Christianity is a harmful spiritual path in general because:


1. MASSIVE atrocities. (Liberal Christianity can no more really "erase that" than someone coming along following only a few innocuous ideas of Hitler's while calling themselves a Nazi.[i'm sure that mixed in with all that crazy he had one or two decent ideas like... dogs are awesome]. Most people would agree that the Nazi label is not salvageable. It's evil by definition. Just the label itself seems to support the atrocities of Hitler... and... because of extremeness, the label Christian seems to support the atrocities of Christianity.)


2. Atrocities are IN the Christian holy book itself, and supported as "holy". It isn't just one or two atrocities/flukes... it's all over the damn book.


3. Most Christians claim that the bible is the holy and divinely inspired word of God. i.e. God SAID all this was okay. Whether or not Christians think it's okay now, obviously it was okay at one point and most likely heavily instigated much of the evil carried out by the Christian church throughout history, so it's dishonest to say... "Oh, those were just bad Christians".



So my question now to Buddhists and members of other spirtiualities... addressing these same issues since NO religion is 100% spotless or free of evil-doers (wow, I can't believe I said that word. What am I? Batman?) And anyone who answers the question can you please specify which spirituality/religious path you follow? I'm interested in hearing from everyone who wants to contribute, no matter the path... for the book and my own general understanding... and of course especially Buddhism since that's the label I claim and it's important to me not to participate in hypocrisy.


1. How massive are the atrocities in the history of your own spiritual path? How do you deal with that and do you feel it tarnishes your spiritual label or that by carrying your spiritual label you in any way look the other way to such badness?


2. Do you have any holy books? If so, are they fully agreed upon by all members or do different people have different spiritual texts within your faith?


3. Are your holy books considered "the divinely inspired and infallible word of God"? Or... is it recognized that human beings wrote it in a different time and place and that just because they may have believed something was okay... if it's not something we accept now as okay, it is NOT justified as having been approved of by any loving deity? (And I recognize that not every spiritual path has only "loving" deities. Some may be a blend of light and dark and I would be interested in learning how that is accepted inside the context of "the problem of evil". i.e. I think PART of the Christianity problem is that Christians say God is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving, perfect, moral, etc... and THEN they say: "Oh, but Noah's ark and those old testament genocides were okay because God's ways are higher than our ways and he is good by definition." I don't think a fallible, not-all-powerful deity carries quite the same set of moral problems when it comes to all this, but I'm interested to hear others weigh in.)


4. Are there atrocities in your holy book that are attributed to the will of any deity? If so, how is that assimilated in your own path? (This might overlap totally with number 3 I'm not sure.)



Working Hypothesis:


The working hypothesis I'm going with, which is dependent upon the answers to the above questions is... that the difference in many non-monotheistic/non-missionary spiritualities/religions and Christianity is the following (If you have time and feel so inclined, please let me know how accurate you think the following assessment is, and specifically how accurate or inaccurate these assumptions may be in your own path):


1. People who did bad things in many religions really MAY be considered to have been not truly following the faith and just calling themselves that. (This will only apply to faiths whose official holy texts have no tacitly-endorsed (either by God or the religion as a whole) atrocities/outright evil.)


2. In paths that DO have outright atrocities recorded in spiritual books, IF the spiritual book is not considered the "divinely inspired and infallible word of God", then this again can go down to human error and cruelty/lack of spiritual evolution, not an immorality problem in the faith as a whole.


3. Additionally, some paths may not all agree on any text as 100% canonical and there may be just a collection of writings that various beliefs or ideas are pulled from. In those situations it would be hard to compare it in any way to Christianity since no one would be making empirical truth claims about the text, or even 100% truth claims for that religion/label, period.


In summation here... maybe the difference is... non-monotheistic/non-missionary faiths don't "call good evil and evil good". If evil was done, it is admitted to and NOT justified as "somehow" okay "back then" or okay "because God said so"... <---- This may be all that is necessary to morally hold to a religion/religious label that has had at some point in it's history something evil done in its name. And again, quantity of evil may come into play here. It's hard to imagine how much empirical GOOD has come from Christianity when weighed against the evil done by it. By contrast... even though there HAVE been some bad things done by Buddhists, it seems so small in comparison to the good influence that most people have no idea it even happened. Do things like that count, or am I, myself, justifying and splitting hairs?



Also, as a side note... it seems in the grand scheme it would be much simpler if people didn't even USE labels (though I actually see the label 'pagan' as not falling into this troubled area because it's so general it can mean nearly any set of beliefs without anyone automatically assuming what you believe and support.) However, people use labels for many reasons... as a short hand way to give people a general idea of their perspective on life... as a part of cultural identity... sometimes to reclaim cultural/ancestral heritage stolen away by Christianity. All of which is understandable.


Personally, I could follow Buddhist ideals and never CALL myself a Buddhist. I certainly also borrow some ideas from other places. I generally use the term to have a cohesive "spiritual identity", something I can point to as my foundation, and also to avoid conversion attempts by most Christians. Living in the bible-belt it's been my experience that when asked what my beliefs are, if I said anything that sounded in any way "wishy-washy", they took that as an "in". But if I say "Buddhist", discussion over. Buddhism also has such an overall "good" reputation that it's hard for most Christians to call it or you "evil" to your face. (exception of course for the real nut jobs.)


So anyway, I apologize that was SO freaking long. And I appreciate any answers or discussion I might get on this topic and my questions. It will help with my writing as well as with my own assimilation of ideas into my own spiritual path.




The Puppy

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Oh, and I'm a girl. Sorry. When I registered, I skimmed past the personal questions, where apparently gender was located LOL. I'll go back in and change it in my profile if I can.

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I am a Buddhist since 2008. I try to help people, and not hurt them. That is my intention. I do snipe at Christians who come on here preaching, but I don't make a habit of commenting on other people's beliefs. It is better to focus on myself and my own issues and work on them.


There are no "sacred texts" like the Bible, although the Sutras and Termas (Tantric texts in my Buddhist tradition) are valued. Various schools lay an emphasis on the importance of a living teacher.


I am not sure why you are so focused on historical wrongs of different religions. I would say that if you find a particular path to be harmful, then you should stay away from it. I found Christianity to be harmful - it makes you focus on other people and their faults instead of looking inward. Buddhism is much more helpful to me.

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Like Deva, I don't find it useful to focus on the past. I live my life as best I can.

But because I like to examine my own beliefs, I'll answer your questions, at least for my principle religion: Kemetic Orthodoxy. While it's a "new" religion, it's a revival of ancient Egyptian religion, so I'll take the ancient history into account, at least as much as I know, because, well, there's a LOT of it.

1. Yes, some Pharaohs/Nisuts (latter being the religious title of the same person) have nasty reputations, though I believe some of them are wildly undeserved. Like Hatshepsut, I don't believe for a minute she was as nasty as some historians make her out to be, and she made the nation very very wealthy, without war. And the whole slaves building the pyramids is pretty much false. But for the bad things that did happen, most were political (and yes, politics and religion could and did intersect), and I believe they were judged for their wrongs. I don't feel it tarnishes my faith in the slightest, because I am part of the spiritual nation of Kemet now, and it's up to me to be a good citizen. Now is what ultimately matters. And the current Nisut is a beautiful person, imo.

2. We have myths, but since we have about a dozen or so creation myths, they're not taken literally, and there is no single agreed-upon holy text.

3. I hesitate to say any of these texts we do refer to are considered "divinely inspired", because that usually means "infallible", as you said. But in a way, since we have Djehuty (Thoth), the God of writing, writing can be considered to be holy. Our myths are celebrated, we shape our festivals around them, but since most myths have several versions, it's not like we have a "bible" to wave and say is absolutely true. Many find the "42 Negative Confessions" to be a useful measure of morality and meditations on ethics, but it's by no means a list of absolute rules.

Our deities can be loving, but they can also be harsh, and terrifying. They are powerful, but not omnipotent. Some myths do have the Gods doing things that seem awful, like my own spiritual mother, turning into her Sekhmet aspect at Ra's request, to kill humans who were "plotting against Him." The problem came was when She was overcome with blood-lust, and didn't stop - She had to be fed beer disguised as blood to get Her to calm the fuck down. So, obviously, Her behavior was a problem, and disrupted ma'at (balance, which is what we strive for, what rules the universe, even the Gods, instead of "sin" or "good and bad"), but the people plotting against Ra were also acting against ma'at. I still struggle with this story, even though I don't believe for a moment it's literally true.

Yeah, and I pretty much just answered 4. There are a bunch of other whacky stories about Gods fighting amongst themselves, but those are pretty amusing. Also, there's a lot of debate over whether Set actually killed Wesir (Osiris) or just found Him dead, but at the end of the day, Wesir needs to be dead, because the Duat needs a king. So killing Him would still serve ma'at.

I hope this helps, and if I figure out the Sekhmet story, I'll let you know.

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@Deva, the focus is actually two-fold. I recently found out that a friend of mine is a fundamentalist Christian. I knew he was a Christian but I didn't realize that he was a FUNDIE Christian. He seemed so nice. And then he started going into all this blah blah justifying all the atrocities ordered by biblegod and it really bothered me because even though he's a nice guy... here he is supporting this belief system that has caused SO much pain. Not just in the past, but now, too. It's just a really harmful path and it's hard for me to get over that. i deconverted 10 years ago, and thought I had completely let go of my anger toward Christianity, but this discussion with this guy made it flare back up again and I realized I wasn't totally over it. But THAT got me to thinking about my own path and the fact that all religions have bad things in their history... so how much baggage is too much and where does the line get drawn? And then the secondary reason was the whole book think. I'm writing a book where this issue will come into play and I want to present something that is well-founded and not hypocritcal because hypocrisy is one of the things that really bugged me about Christianity so I don't want to be doing the same thing. I hope that answers your question. I, too have found Buddhism much more helpful. I've explored several different things and this is the first thing that I've felt really good about.


@lunaticheathen: Thanks! Very interesting to hear that. I looked into kemeticism early on. I can't remember why I didn't eventually settle there but I do still find a lot cool about the Egyptian myths. Maybe I'll explore them again. And it also seems that when gods are fallible and not omnipotent and not CLAIMING to be perfect and all-good, then it's easier to cut them some slack. After all, they aren't defining the moral code of the entire world.


@Noggy: LOL Noted.

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as I have stated before I follow the Micheal teachings. www.truthloveenergy.com


1) none or all. To my knowledge no one claiming to be a Micheal student has ever done an atrocity in the name of Micheal. However, based on the karma and reincarnation people who are Micheal students probably did commit them in past lives. Caveat: It is not considered holy or approved, nor is it condemned. It is viewed as a consequence of choice.


2)There are no Holy books. However, the personality system, reincarnation, past lives, and choice are the most consistent teachings across teachers. The messages from Micheal books are considered to be primary source material, but are admitted to being heavily edited and leaving sometimes important parts out.


3) see answer to #2)


4) With no holy book to have atrocities in, the short answer is no. Also, Micheal only provides the teachings and answers questions as asked by students. Many times in answers they will state "we have much more to say on this subject at a later time". However they never require anything.


As to atrocities, as stated above, it is never endorsed or condemned. It is simply a choice of the individual. Those choices will have consequences on the physical plane and you may incur karma with one or more others to be resolved in another life.


To choose the obvious example, Hitler did incur much karma for his actions. However, the personality that was Hitler honestly believed he was doing what was best for the German people. But, he always had a choice. He chose to go the direction he did. He chose to persist in his actions even when all other evidence showed it was working against him. While his action were atrocious, they were his choice.


The same applies to good actions. It is a choice of the individual. You could help that homeless person you see everyday or you could ignore them. Either option is valid as it is your choice. You could decide to not only help that one person, but then fund or open a shelter that focuses on getting homeless people the help and care they need to at least be able to live in a home again. You could then expand that operation to other cities, helping even more people. Or you could just help that person. Or walk on.


The choices in either scene are viewed as just that. Choices.


There is no black or white there is only choice.




Edit: sutipd slepling

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@Stryper, thanks for weighing in! Interesting stuff. Incidentally, I see you edited your post. I'm not sure how to edit my own posts when I have a typo or something to fix. I don't see a button for it but I may just not be looking in the right place.

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@Stryper, thanks for weighing in! Interesting stuff. Incidentally, I see you edited your post. I'm not sure how to edit my own posts when I have a typo or something to fix. I don't see a button for it but I may just not be looking in the right place.



Editing appears somewhere around 40 posts or so, I think. When the button shows up it will be at the bottom of your post on the right. Between Report and MultiQuote.


Also you may notice another forum topic show up around that same time.

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Thank you for the explanation, Badpuppy. It is certainly understandable why you would feel that way. I am not sure any of us who were indoctrinated in fundamentalist Christianity as children ever get over it. I am not as angry as I was, but from time to time people will say things that bring it all back, or I will have some nostalgic feeling for it despite how harmful I know it is.

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I don't have answers to all of your questions, but I can help you with a part of it.



Incidentally, I consider myself Buddhist. I do listen, learn and study. But I don't take things literally, and I do embrace the teachings that resonate with me.


The only two Buddhist ideals I follow are to try to live in the moment, embracing all things as perfect and to not harm other beings. With the exception of very big scary spiders.

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I would suggest rather than pondering the things you've found to be false, start with what you know to be true one item at a time. Try to fully understand why it is true before moving to the next item of concern. Once you've built a foundation of known truths, work your way into the gray areas.

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@Deva, the discussion with the fundamentalist Christian has actually caused me to see things a little differently (not in a going back to jesus way, LOL don't worry!). It's more about... people can use hammers to hurt people or build houses. It's not okay for me to attempt to take someone else's tool away just because i once got my thumb smashed by one. True, Christanity has done a LOT of harm, and even if it hadn't, it doesn't resonate with me. But newer forms of the faith are springing up... including liberal christianity and more literalist christianity that nevertheless follows universalism and doesn't believe in hell but that all are eventually saved. This doesn't change Christianity's bad history... or any of the current bad things they're doing... but if I believe human souls can change and evolve, then it's silly to think those same souls engaged in previously harmful religions can't change and be better. Christianity has a lot of wrongs to redress. If Christianity moves toward a more positive and less harmful place overall at some point... I guess my point is... if I would give a human being the opportunity to change, why not a whole religion? Though i do recognize there are still very harmful and dangerous forms of Christian belief at play which can come back and bite us all in the ass. It takes time for attitudes to change and most mainstream christians are deeply uncomfortable with the hell belief... I think there is hope they can evolve away from it. And while we may still find it condescending that christians might think they are still right and we're wrong but we'll eventually be saved anyway (LOL!), at least it's not actively harmful. Plus I think most faiths look for ways to assimilate the existence of other beliefs. Like, I used to work for a family of Hindus and when asked why they didn't try to convert people, one of them said: "We believe everyone is Hindu, they just don't know it yet."


That may or may not be how most Hindus think. I can only speak for how this family thinks. I didn't it condescending because I hadn't personally been harmed by the Hindu faith. Having been directly harmed by Christianity I can see why it might feel much more condescending coming from a Christian... as opposed to if they'd just left people alone.


@Izzy, thanks! I'll watch that. :)


@Foxy, I'm not sure how truth can be ascertained here, but I may have already figured it out... (in my response to Deva about looking at this from another perspective.)

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