Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom
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Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Postby indian_buddhist » Sat Apr 26, 2014 3:42 am

waterchan wrote:
indian_buddhist wrote:I believe that someone who criticizes others belief no matter what belief it is (many people do it) , the Person who has done this mistake (criticizing others belief) would most certainly goto Hell.

You are certainly free to believe what you want. even if it makes no sense. But this certainly isn't the view of Buddhism, or the view of any religion I know of.

The Buddha repeatedly criticised face-to-face many different beliefs during his time. According to you, he must be roasting in hell now.

indian_buddhist wrote:Ok so what do you want?. Force Dhamma down the throat of someone who clearly does not want to listen?.

I'm puzzled as to how you got that understanding from Bhante's post.


Waterchan you are very wise man. Generally I agree with everything you say. But if we criticize others views are we not hurting them mentally?. How is hurting others part of Buddhism?.

Yes I misunderstood with what Ven. Monk has said.
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Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Postby waterchan » Sat Apr 26, 2014 3:54 am

indian_buddhist wrote: But if we criticize others views are we not hurting them mentally?

To give gross examples, if your friend believed that sacrificing animals by slitting their throats would send him to heaven, or that having sex with very underage girls would increase his life force, what would be the wise thing to do? Explain the problems with his views, or just keep quiet to avoid hurting his feelings?

indian_buddhist wrote:How is hurting others part of Buddhism?

Intention is what matters. Not every criticism is accompanied by the attention to cause harm.
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Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Postby indian_buddhist » Sat Apr 26, 2014 4:01 am

waterchan wrote:
indian_buddhist wrote: But if we criticize others views are we not hurting them mentally?

To give gross examples, if your friend believed that sacrificing animals by slitting their throats would send him to heaven, or that having sex with very underage girls would increase his life force, what would be the wise thing to do? Explain the problems with his views, or just keep quiet to avoid hurting his feelings?

indian_buddhist wrote:How is hurting others part of Buddhism?

Intention is what matters. Not every criticism is accompanied by the attention to cause harm.


The gross examples you pointed out, Atheists or even Materialists would agree that those are wrong things.

I was talking about criticizing others religions (hindu/muslim/christian) etc and that is Wrong.
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Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Postby Dan74 » Sat Apr 26, 2014 4:04 am

Leading by example usually works well, then people might ask about it.
_/|\_

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Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Postby waterchan » Sat Apr 26, 2014 4:12 am

indian_buddhist wrote:I was talking about criticizing others religions (hindu/muslim/christian) etc and that is Wrong.

Well, now you're being specific about what you meant by "criticism".

Criticism of another person's religious beliefs can be right or wrong depending on many factors. It's not black or white. If you walk up to someone's face and tell them their religion is nonsense, that's wrong. If someone has a religious discussion with you and invites you to comment on their views, well... why should you not say what you think?

Sometimes it's hard to honestly respond to a question or comment without being critical. If a fundamentalist young Earth Christian asks a Buddhist about the role of a creator god in Buddhism, an honest reply is likely to be seen as criticism.

Right Speech:

[1] "In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial (or: not connected with the goal), unendearing & disagreeable to others, he does not say them.

[2] "In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, unbeneficial, unendearing & disagreeable to others, he does not say them.

[3] "In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, but unendearing & disagreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them.

[4] "In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial, but endearing & agreeable to others, he does not say them.

[5] "In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, unbeneficial, but endearing & agreeable to others, he does not say them.

[6] "In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, and endearing & agreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them. Why is that? Because the Tathagata has sympathy for living beings."


MN 58
Last edited by waterchan on Sat Apr 26, 2014 4:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Postby indian_buddhist » Sat Apr 26, 2014 4:15 am

waterchan wrote:
indian_buddhist wrote:I was talking about criticizing others religions (hindu/muslim/christian) etc and that is Wrong.

Well, now you're being specific about what you meant by "criticism".

Criticism of another person's religious beliefs can be right or wrong depending on many factors. It's not black or white. If you walk up to someone's face and tell them their religion is nonsense, that's wrong. If someone has a religious discussion with you and invites you to comment on their views, why should you not say what you think?

Right Speech:

[1] "In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial (or: not connected with the goal), unendearing & disagreeable to others, he does not say them.

[2] "In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, unbeneficial, unendearing & disagreeable to others, he does not say them.

[3] "In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, but unendearing & disagreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them.

[4] "In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial, but endearing & agreeable to others, he does not say them.

[5] "In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, unbeneficial, but endearing & agreeable to others, he does not say them.

[6] "In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, and endearing & agreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them. Why is that? Because the Tathagata has sympathy for living beings."


MN 58



OK Firstly we are not a Tathagatha for Gods sakes. Secondly be a Stream enterer( I am sorry if you already are, I dont know if you are ) before you start discussing about other's religions with others. Thats my view only.

Thirdly : your comment carries a lot of weight.

If someone has a religious discussion with you and INVITES you to comment on their views. INVITE is an important word. Only if someone INVITES you, you go forward.


I think thats an important point.........If someone is willing to listen and is all ears........then you speak..........otherwise you should not.
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Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Postby waterchan » Sat Apr 26, 2014 4:27 am

indian_buddhist wrote:OK Firstly we are not a Tathagatha for Gods sakes.


So? What's wrong with practising the ethical qualities of a Tathagata? Many of his deeper teachings were given to bhikkhus, brahmans, contemplatives, and yet we practice them anyway.
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Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Postby indian_buddhist » Sat Apr 26, 2014 4:31 am

waterchan wrote:
indian_buddhist wrote:OK Firstly we are not a Tathagatha for Gods sakes.


So? What's wrong with practising the ethical qualities of a Tathagata? Many of his deeper teachings were given to bhikkhus, brahmans, contemplatives, and yet we practice them anyway.


Ok so i continued my post after writing a shorter one.

For sure, we should emulate the Tathagatha otherwise how we would we achieve to be an Arhant?.

Our discussion was about Criticism of other religions which has a link to converting others(a fine but subtle link)......I only said that we should talk about other religions with other people ONLY IF WE ARE INVITED to do so otherwise we should keep quiet.
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Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Postby Buddhistboy » Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:36 pm

'Converting' (as most people would say) a person is alright provided the person who is prepared to listen is interested. The word 'conversion' is a loaded word and it could even imply methods which are usually associated with Abrahamic cultures. The Buddhist way of 'conversion' is a lot different from this. As Buddhists it is best to do it the 'cool way' where we do not make a desperate effort but if we come across people who are interested in learning about The Path, then we need to be pre-prepared on how to answer their questions. This is what I feel is best for Buddhist who are 'still walking The Path'.

For those who have already finished walking The Path (i.e. Enlightened) a different set of principles apply when it comes to 'conversion'. I cant speak for the Enlightened beings as I am still not Enlightened, but there are examples from the Life of Buddha and his followers in his time on how Enlightened beings (Arahants) converted those outside the practice of Buddhism into the Buddhist path.

As for the word 'criticism' this too can appear as a loaded word because of its negative connotations of disrespectfulness and arrogance. However when clearly looking at the literal meaning of criticism there is nothing bad about it. There are many things happening around us which does deserve criticism.

For example the killing of animals for the meat industry. The majority of the worlds population are not vegetarians and hence they depend on the slaughtering of animals so that they can have their meat. Killing of animals is an activity that deserves criticism for it is an act of cruelty and it is inhumane. But it is inappropriate to avoid the criticism of animal slaughter for the sake of avoiding offending those who kill animals. Now lets put this same example to another level. During the Buddha's time there were cults which practiced mass animal sacrifice. The Buddha criticized these sorts of activities - he simply pointed the faults so that people will have a better idea as to what path they should follow.

A 1000 years ago, majority of the people who lived on this planet did not believe that they were living on a planet. But through criticism and scrutiny of existing ideas people eventually understood and deduced that the Earth was spherical which have been proven to be the truth. Had it not been for criticism of existing ideas and beliefs (which were false) people would most likely still stick to them and be deluded and misguided.

Therefore proper criticism (when done fairly and appropriately like it should be) is a good thing and should not be confused with insult, disrespectfulness or arrogance.

Religions are also sets of ideas just like other sets of ideas (like communism, modernism, liberalism etc). All these ideas can be subject to criticism. Likewise just because a 'set of ideas' has the status of a Religion, it does not imply that it is above the level of criticism.
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Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Postby indian_buddhist » Sat May 03, 2014 4:04 pm

There are plenty of Deluded, Greedy and Hating people in this world. Most would not listen to Dhamma. What can you do?.

And then if i think if i try to tell something about Buddhism that would come under Bhava Tanha.........So best is keep quiet. Fix your life and move on.... my policy and when the situation comes show your infinite compassion in other ways.
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Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Postby waterchan » Sat May 03, 2014 4:33 pm

indian_buddhist wrote:There are plenty of Deluded, Greedy and Hating people in this world. Most would not listen to Dhamma. What can you do?.

And then if i think if i try to tell something about Buddhism that would come under Bhava Tanha.........So best is keep quiet.


It's only tanha if it proceeds from an unwholesome volition. Sharing the Dhamma with someone who is interested and willing to listen is very wholesome kamma, and it should be done. IIRC, the Buddha said that there is no greater gift than the gift of Dhamma
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Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Postby indian_buddhist » Sat May 03, 2014 4:38 pm

waterchan wrote:
indian_buddhist wrote:There are plenty of Deluded, Greedy and Hating people in this world. Most would not listen to Dhamma. What can you do?.

And then if i think if i try to tell something about Buddhism that would come under Bhava Tanha.........So best is keep quiet.


It's only tanha if it proceeds from an unwholesome volition. Sharing the Dhamma with someone who is interested and willing to listen is very wholesome kamma, and it should be done. IIRC, the Buddha said that there is no greater gift than the gift of Dhamma


True waterchan, I hope I get the opportunity to do so.
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Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Postby david.sojourn » Tue May 06, 2014 6:20 pm

Sati1 wrote:Hello,

I have been struggling with this question recently, having been raised as a Christian, where it was often emphasized that one must try to convert non-believers. From the doctrine of kamma, I would think that there is no point in trying to "convert" someone, since their kamma might prevent them from understanding the teachings, no matter what one says. This idea makes sense from my own experience in talking about Dhamma to others. None of the 5 Precepts, or the 8-fold Path encourage trying to convert others. On the other hand, it seems like bringing someone to the Dhamma must be a tremendously compassionate and meritorious act. While it often seems easiest just to live my Buddhist faith in private, that also feels like a selfish strategy. Any thoughts on this? And does anybody have a citation from a sutta on this topic?

Many thanks


It is inappropriate for any religion to attempt to Convert others. This is a manifestation of the "Social Ego".

Churches do this, largely for profits.

It is inappropriate to do anything regarding spirituality for the purpose of profit, membership, notoriety, or because you personally think "You are right". That is the very definition of Ego.

To Convert others, is a pure manifestation of the Ego.

Those who come to you with an interest, however, it is very appropriate to help them find the answers they are seeking, but be weary of simply repeating the things you yourself have only heard, read, and so on.

All of the Religions are wrong, to include Buddhism, to be honest. This is not to say that Jesus is a problem, or the Buddha, but that the Organizations themselves are run by men, who are unenlightened, often trying to profit and prosper off of other men who are unenlightened. The Catholic church is particularly bad in this regard.

The word "Convert" should never come from the mouth, or linger long in the mind of anyone seeking to live in accordance with the Dhamma.

Period.

That is your EGO that wants to convert others.

Find it. Look at it. Kick it out the door. Let it go.

Only harm comes from "Recruitment" efforts in Religion. The Universe does NOT like them, at all. I promise you this.

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Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Postby waterchan » Tue May 06, 2014 8:53 pm

david.sojourn wrote:Only harm comes from "Recruitment" efforts in Religion. The Universe does NOT like them, at all. I promise you this.


That's fine, I don't like the universe either. That's why we became Buddhists. :stirthepot:
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Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Postby cooran » Tue May 06, 2014 11:14 pm

Dan74 wrote:Leading by example usually works well, then people might ask about it.


We'll said! :smile: The only way is if people ask about Buddhism because they see you are obviously gaining a benefit from Buddhism.

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Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Postby indian_buddhist » Wed May 07, 2014 12:04 pm

david.sojourn wrote:
Sati1 wrote:Hello,

I have been struggling with this question recently, having been raised as a Christian, where it was often emphasized that one must try to convert non-believers. From the doctrine of kamma, I would think that there is no point in trying to "convert" someone, since their kamma might prevent them from understanding the teachings, no matter what one says. This idea makes sense from my own experience in talking about Dhamma to others. None of the 5 Precepts, or the 8-fold Path encourage trying to convert others. On the other hand, it seems like bringing someone to the Dhamma must be a tremendously compassionate and meritorious act. While it often seems easiest just to live my Buddhist faith in private, that also feels like a selfish strategy. Any thoughts on this? And does anybody have a citation from a sutta on this topic?

Many thanks


It is inappropriate for any religion to attempt to Convert others. This is a manifestation of the "Social Ego".

Churches do this, largely for profits.

It is inappropriate to do anything regarding spirituality for the purpose of profit, membership, notoriety, or because you personally think "You are right". That is the very definition of Ego.

To Convert others, is a pure manifestation of the Ego.

Those who come to you with an interest, however, it is very appropriate to help them find the answers they are seeking, but be weary of simply repeating the things you yourself have only heard, read, and so on.

All of the Religions are wrong, to include Buddhism, to be honest. This is not to say that Jesus is a problem, or the Buddha, but that the Organizations themselves are run by men, who are unenlightened, often trying to profit and prosper off of other men who are unenlightened. The Catholic church is particularly bad in this regard.

The word "Convert" should never come from the mouth, or linger long in the mind of anyone seeking to live in accordance with the Dhamma.

Period.

That is your EGO that wants to convert others.

Find it. Look at it. Kick it out the door. Let it go.

Only harm comes from "Recruitment" efforts in Religion. The Universe does NOT like them, at all. I promise you this.



Kind of agree with you. The problem about Conversion is that - A Muslim believes that his religion is right and the only way and his duty in life is to make sure that others follow his way, A Christian believes that his religion is right and the only way and his duty in life is to make sure that others follow his way.

There is a chap called Zakir Naik here in India. He is a Muslim preacher. He is all over Youtube and organises meetings in India. His speeches consist of utter negativity about all religions except Islam - he repeatedly viles Christianity call it as a false religion, He viles Hindu Gods calling them as fake and Hindu texts as distorted, He viles Buddhism misinterpreting the 4 Noble truths to suit his needs.

Some Christian preachers too use the methods above used by Zakir Naik.

I dont know if Conversion comes down to this......It is certainly not good at all.
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Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Postby indian_buddhist » Wed May 07, 2014 12:54 pm

However those that have Stream entry and more spread the message. its a duty for them to spread the message.
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Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Postby waterchan » Wed May 07, 2014 1:48 pm

indian_buddhist wrote:However those that have Stream entry and more spread the message. its a duty for them to spread the message.


I don't understand your obsession with stream entry as a minimum requirement in this thread and others. Where, in which sutta is it stated that stream entry is a requirement to teach the Dhamma to anyone? Most monks including arahants are not great teachers.

Those who are skilled in teaching should teach the Dhamma and those who are not skilled at teaching can progress towards their own final enlightenment.

Watch this video starting at 2:09 to understand what true "conversion" means in Buddhism:

phpBB [video]
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Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Postby indian_buddhist » Wed May 07, 2014 3:14 pm

waterchan wrote:
"I don't understand your obsession with stream entry as a minimum requirement in this thread and others. Where, in which sutta is it stated that stream entry is a requirement to teach the Dhamma to anyone? Most monks including arahants are not great teachers."



I only gave my opinion. No need for hard berating. If people dont like my posts I better leave this forum for good.

In my other posts too people just come and utter whatever they want on me and the Mods do nothing. Guess they too want me to go. Fine suit yourselves.
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Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Postby david.sojourn » Wed May 07, 2014 4:53 pm

waterchan wrote:
indian_buddhist wrote:However those that have Stream entry and more spread the message. its a duty for them to spread the message.


I don't understand your obsession with stream entry as a minimum requirement in this thread and others. Where, in which sutta is it stated that stream entry is a requirement to teach the Dhamma to anyone? Most monks including arahants are not great teachers.

Those who are skilled in teaching should teach the Dhamma and those who are not skilled at teaching can progress towards their own final enlightenment.

Watch this video starting at 2:09 to understand what true "conversion" means in Buddhism:


This is the problem.

This is why you are all so confused on the Dhamma. Why you have 9000000000 posts, and no answers on these forums.

An Arahant is always a great teacher. It can be no other way. Monks, on the other hand.....eh.....Most monks aren't Enlightened.

Those who do not have "Direct" experience of Dhamma, should not try to teach Dhamma.

It is this very behavior that causes so much confusion in the world. It is why a process, Enlightenment, which is very, very simple, is so very, very hard to obtain (Worst of all for buddhists, Christians find it easier).

How do you know if you have direct experience of Dhamma?

Oh, you will know.... When Dhamma is understood, Dhamma is understood. Oh, there's a little more to the story than just that....it's not quite that simple. But Dhamma is Dhamma, and it must be witnessed, experienced. Dhamma is an experience, not something to be analytically understood, or gleaned from books. If you are still confused about what "Dhamma" is, you have not yet experienced Dhamma. In the same way as one can't really say, "Well, I just don't know if I have had an orgasm or not." Dhamma is Dhamma. If you get it, you get it. If you don't, you don't. But sometimes even when you get it, you find you don't really get it....but that's another lesson for another day.

Blind leading the blind is what you get when non-Enlightened teachers, teach. It is an ego. To "Be" a teacher. And you are teaching from a position of ignorance, still. Ignorance does not begin to fade away until the Dhamma has been encountered, and understood.

One should not teach, if one does not have true happiness in ones own life.

Discovering the true Dhamma, brings true happiness. So when one teaches "My techniques", or "My theory", or "My Understanding", one is working exactly in the opposite fashion required to understand and reveal true Dhamma.

The Dhamma is received, by those who are prepared to receive it. It is not "Found", accumulated, or algorithmically attained.

If you are not sure if you have experience with Dhamma, do not teach. You are part of what is destroying the world. Part of why so few can attain Enlightenment. Every word spoken in Ignorance "About" Dhamma, causes another problem. Every time.

It is Karmically negative to try to teach without direct experience of Dhamma. Period. That people DO it all the time anyway, does not make it "ok".

And to charge for Dhamma teachings, violates all of the Universal rules. Period. No dhamma teacher will ever profit off of his teachings. You can identify the false Dhamma teachers right away, if they are charging you for their books, and keeping the profit themselves. Only false teachers profit off Dhamma teachings. Period. A true Dhamma teacher knows....that's not how this universe works...at all.
Last edited by david.sojourn on Wed May 07, 2014 5:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.


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