Mentioning Buddhism in public

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Mentioning Buddhism in public

Postby Animamia » Sun Jan 22, 2012 6:25 pm

Hi all

I've just posted my opinion regarding a completely unrelated matter on a public forum. Someone commented positively on my non-judgemental and empathetic response to a debate. I then mentioned I have recently taken refuge in Buddhism and am trying not to be judgemental or get angry etc. I was then slated by another person, and told it is against Buddhism beliefs to mention Buddhism at all in public, amongst other things.

I have been trying to learn as much as I can but I have not seen this anywhere? Is this correct, that I should not explain my behaviour or views as a result or related to being Buddhist?

Thank you for any advice x
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Re: Mentioning Buddhism in public

Postby Hickersonia » Sun Jan 22, 2012 7:11 pm

Interesting... I look forward to reading replies to this. I have never been told anything like that. I don't necessarily care to discuss it with everyone, but I don't think I have to hide integral parts of my thought process when t apples to why I act thee way I do about things.
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Re: Mentioning Buddhism in public

Postby perkele » Sun Jan 22, 2012 7:24 pm

Animamia wrote:Hi all

I've just posted my opinion regarding a completely unrelated matter on a public forum. Someone commented positively on my non-judgemental and empathetic response to a debate. I then mentioned I have recently taken refuge in Buddhism and am trying not to be judgemental or get angry etc. I was then slated by another person, and told it is against Buddhism beliefs to mention Buddhism at all in public, amongst other things.

I have been trying to learn as much as I can but I have not seen this anywhere? Is this correct, that I should not explain my behaviour or views as a result or related to being Buddhist?

Thank you for any advice x


Nothing wrong with what you did.
When you are praised for something and you look on what basis you are praised and you see "I learnt this from there and there" and you say that, then you pracitce humility and gratitude as well as generosity (by pointing others to its source) instead of getting infatuated.
I think you acted in a very good way. But you will always invite silly people to attack you. I think that is unavoidable in our day and age and particularly in most internet forums, but no reason to give up such good behaviour.
Those who are ashamed of what they should be ashamed of, and are not ashamed of what they should not be ashamed of -- upholding true views, they do not go to states of woe.
(suggested by SamBodhi)
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Re: Mentioning Buddhism in public

Postby Goofaholix » Sun Jan 22, 2012 7:26 pm

Animamia wrote:I've just posted my opinion regarding a completely unrelated matter on a public forum. Someone commented positively on my non-judgemental and empathetic response to a debate. I then mentioned I have recently taken refuge in Buddhism and am trying not to be judgemental or get angry etc. I was then slated by another person, and told it is against Buddhism beliefs to mention Buddhism at all in public, amongst other things.

I have been trying to learn as much as I can but I have not seen this anywhere? Is this correct, that I should not explain my behaviour or views as a result or related to being Buddhist?


I would ask him to quote where he got this from.

If it were against Buddhism beliefs to mention Buddhism at all in public there wouldn't be any Buddhist forums, or temples, and we'd all be meeting in secret like the Exclusive Bretheren. I think it is bad form to try and proselytise like other religions do without being invited, Theravadin monks aren't allowed to do this, but we aren't a secret society.
"Whenever we feel that we are definitely right, so much so that we refuse to open up to anything or anybody else, right there we are wrong. It becomes wrong view. When suffering arises, where does it arise from? The cause is wrong view, the fruit of that being suffering. If it was right view it wouldn't cause suffering." - Ajahn Chah
"Remember you dont meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Mentioning Buddhism in public

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun Jan 22, 2012 7:29 pm

Animamia wrote:I was then slated by another person, and told it is against Buddhism beliefs to mention Buddhism at all in public, amongst other things.
Obviously he/she was an ignorant fool, or just a troll. My advice is, don't try to teach the Dhamma to fools — they won't be able to understand it. On a public forum, even on some Buddhist forums there will be some who are fools, and some who are not. Teach Dhamma for the benefit of the good people, ignoring the others.

Even the Buddha sometimes met opposition when teaching the Dhamma.
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Re: Mentioning Buddhism in public

Postby Lazy_eye » Sun Jan 22, 2012 7:41 pm

Animamia wrote:Hi all

I've just posted my opinion regarding a completely unrelated matter on a public forum. Someone commented positively on my non-judgemental and empathetic response to a debate. I then mentioned I have recently taken refuge in Buddhism and am trying not to be judgemental or get angry etc. I was then slated by another person, and told it is against Buddhism beliefs to mention Buddhism at all in public, amongst other things.

I have been trying to learn as much as I can but I have not seen this anywhere? Is this correct, that I should not explain my behaviour or views as a result or related to being Buddhist?

Thank you for any advice x


Animania,

It's often said that Buddhists don't proselytize -- that is, unlike members of certain religions, followers of the Dhamma don't typically make it a practice to go out and convert people. In other words, you won't see too many Theravada Buddhist missionaries out knocking on people's doors of a Sunday morning. The person who replied to you on the forum might have heard about this and misinterpreted it to mean that Buddhists have a rule against publicly discussing their beliefs.

Quite a few aspects of Buddhism get mangled this way when circulated among people who haven't really examined what they are talking about. Hazard of the internet, I guess. The people who do this aren't always malicious or stupid, just insufficiently informed.
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Re: Mentioning Buddhism in public

Postby Animamia » Sun Jan 22, 2012 7:42 pm

Thank you. That is a relief. I thought I'd done something really bad.

The person was not opposed to Buddhism, they were in fact preaching to me the right and wrong ways to follow - telling me that judgement and control of behaviour is a Christian view and things. I'd not based what I said in the debate on anything to do with Buddhism. I just explained to someone who was interested the reasons behind my thinking.

I really appreciate your opinions, I feel so much better :)
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Re: Mentioning Buddhism in public

Postby Animamia » Sun Jan 22, 2012 7:50 pm

Sorry I didn't explain correctly. She didn't say I shouldn't mention Buddhism at all in public, what she said was that I should not show pride in Buddhism or use it as an explanation for the way one would act. I don't know if this makes any difference.

x
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Re: Mentioning Buddhism in public

Postby perkele » Sun Jan 22, 2012 8:25 pm

Animamia wrote:Sorry I didn't explain correctly. She didn't say I shouldn't mention Buddhism at all in public, what she said was that I should not show pride in Buddhism or use it as an explanation for the way one would act. I don't know if this makes any difference.

x


I think most people got what you meant.

If you explain the way you act as inspired by Buddhist principles that is not wrong if it is true.
Nothing to worry about, nothing to argue about really.
Those who are ashamed of what they should be ashamed of, and are not ashamed of what they should not be ashamed of -- upholding true views, they do not go to states of woe.
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Re: Mentioning Buddhism in public

Postby Tyler » Sun Jan 22, 2012 11:12 pm

There isnt anything wrong with mentioning you are buddhist in public but it doesnt go without its consequences. We have to remember that with any term to describe an identity comes with a certain amount of weight that will effect someones judgement of us and our practice. I try to remember that i can effect others thru following the dhamma without them knowing im a buddhist. This allows me to guage someones receptiveness to buddhism and i know when the time is right to let them know that its my spiritual beliefs that guide my behavior.

Here is an example of it backfiring on me when someone found out i was a buddhist too soon:

I was working a new job at a call center and would meditate on breaks. I thought i was choosing a spot where no one else would go as i didnt want anyone to get the wrong idea. One day i was meditating and felt eyes on me. I didnt stop. when i got back in from my break i heard a rumor was going around that i was outside sitting in a strange position and talking to myself. It went around that i was some type of Muslim or pagan and people were increasingly more uncomfortable around me. I thought it would make things a little better to reveal myself as a buddhist. It made things a little better but i got teased a lot. I was called a hippie and a pothead amongst other things that didnt bode to well in this apparently professional enviornment. It wasnt a surprise to me when i was let go upon my first and very minor customer complaint.

It was interesting how the stigma on who i was and what i was doing changed based on peoples stereotypes. I went from a good skilled employee to a dangerous Muslim to a stupid hippie in the matter of a few days. I was so much better off when they had just felt the dhamma thru my character instead of clouding their opinions with stereotypes.
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Re: Mentioning Buddhism in public

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun Jan 22, 2012 11:23 pm

Tyler wrote:There isnt anything wrong with mentioning you are buddhist in public but it doesnt go without its consequences.
Animamia is from the UK — I don't think she needs to worry about that kind of prejudice here, though there might still be some regions where the people are still living in the dark ages.
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Re: Mentioning Buddhism in public

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Jan 23, 2012 1:34 am

Animamia wrote:She didn't say I shouldn't mention Buddhism at all in public, what she said was that I should not show pride in Buddhism or use it as an explanation for the way one would act. I don't know if this makes any difference.


If you came across with a my religion is better than your religion type attitude then yes I'd agree with her. If you just gave credit where credit was due and explained what you learned you learned from Buddhism that should have been fine in an open minded discussion.
"Whenever we feel that we are definitely right, so much so that we refuse to open up to anything or anybody else, right there we are wrong. It becomes wrong view. When suffering arises, where does it arise from? The cause is wrong view, the fruit of that being suffering. If it was right view it wouldn't cause suffering." - Ajahn Chah
"Remember you dont meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Mentioning Buddhism in public

Postby Tyler » Mon Jan 23, 2012 4:34 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
Tyler wrote:There isnt anything wrong with mentioning you are buddhist in public but it doesnt go without its consequences.
Animamia is from the UK — I don't think she needs to worry about that kind of prejudice here, though there might still be some regions where the people are still living in the dark ages.


Its hard for me to believe that there is no religious intolerance in the UK. While we may not always see explicit forms of prejudice there are always implicit ones that happen institutionally. We may not always feel them if we follow a religion or have other more salient aspects of identity that are more normative.
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Re: Mentioning Buddhism in public

Postby Kim OHara » Mon Jan 23, 2012 6:27 am

Tyler wrote:Its hard for me to believe that there is no religious intolerance in the UK. While we may not always see explicit forms of prejudice there are always implicit ones that happen institutionally. We may not always feel them if we follow a religion or have other more salient aspects of identity that are more normative.

Hi, Tyler,
I'm not from either the UK or the USA but Australia has a lot of cultural contact with both, and a lot in common with both, so maybe I can comment.
It may be hard for Americans to understand, but their (your) religious views are far more conservative and intolerant than the majority of other 'Western' countries (politics, too, but that's off topic). In the Australia, the UK and (I think) the EU, discrimination on the grounds of religion is a crime. That makes people a lot more careful about what they say, even if they themselves are intolerant, but it also stands as a sign that most people in those countries do believe such discrimination is wrong.
Bhikkhu Pesala said, "there might still be some regions where the people are still living in the dark ages" but I think the pockets of discrimination are not regions so much as families and individuals.
Here in Australia, we don't normally talk about our own - or other people's - religious affiliation unless it is relevant to a particular conversation (as in the OP, for instance). I have known lots of people for twenty years - as members of a sports club, etc - without knowing (or caring, frankly) whether they have any particular religion or none at all. Most, I guess, are nominally Christian, but I reckon less than 10% of Aussies go to church/synagogue/mosque/temple in any given week. You could say we are very relaxed about religion and that would be true - but 'indifferent' might be a more accurate description of most of us.

:namaste:
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Re: Mentioning Buddhism in public

Postby Fede » Mon Jan 23, 2012 8:57 am

Tyler wrote:There isnt anything wrong with mentioning you are buddhist in public but it doesnt go without its consequences....


As a Briton, i can completely, categorically tell you that any time anyone here has found out I'm Buddhist, it has always engendered interest, positive discussion and an amiable curious attitude. All consequences, without exception, have been fruitful and pleasant.....
i would also mention that I am half-Italian.
contrary to popular belief, not every Catholic cleric sees Buddhism as a weapon of Satan and a damnable pursuit.
When my parents (who lived in Italy at the time) celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, they had the customary church re-affirmation service, and blessing.
I read a Buddhist text, both in English and Italian, for all guests present) and everyone applauded.
The priest himself was utterly delighted that I had participated and included the text....

I am reading Richard Dawkins' "The God Illusion" and it would appear from his observations that Americans are far more 'christianly' oriented-and fanatical than any other race he has come across, to the point of frightening enforcement.
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Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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Re: Mentioning Buddhism in public

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Jan 23, 2012 1:52 pm

Fede wrote:
Tyler wrote:There isnt anything wrong with mentioning you are buddhist in public but it doesnt go without its consequences....


As a Briton, i can completely, categorically tell you that any time anyone here has found out I'm Buddhist, it has always engendered interest, positive discussion and an amiable curious attitude. All consequences, without exception, have been fruitful and pleasant.....
i would also mention that I am half-Italian.
contrary to popular belief, not every Catholic cleric sees Buddhism as a weapon of Satan and a damnable pursuit.
When my parents (who lived in Italy at the time) celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, they had the customary church re-affirmation service, and blessing.
I read a Buddhist text, both in English and Italian, for all guests present) and everyone applauded.
The priest himself was utterly delighted that I had participated and included the text....

I am reading Richard Dawkins' "The God Illusion" and it would appear from his observations that Americans are far more 'christianly' oriented-and fanatical than any other race he has come across, to the point of frightening enforcement.


This is my experience also.
The vast majority of people are willing to understand not be ignorant.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Mentioning Buddhism in public

Postby Animamia » Mon Jan 23, 2012 7:05 pm

Thank you for your replies once again :)

I've only spoken to a few people about my beliefs, and those were chosen carefully as I knew they would understand my reasons and accept them. This lady who slated me was from the US. I've never experienced or heard in my presence these views before. But she was not discriminating, just argumentative and obviously misinformed. That is truly terrible what happened, Tyler. You would think in this modern world where we are supposed to be intelligent and civil, people would know better. Well, the joke is on them, as I can't think of a better example of ignorance.

The people that I have actually told have been very curious. Upon telling my best friend some basic principles she is reading about Buddhism herself with the view that it may well be for her, too.

I read somewhere that Buddhism is the way we can save our planet from the damage we have done and are still doing. As a biology undergraduate I fully agree with this. Of course I would never preach to anyone, but I will definitely encourage and help friends that are looking for it. If only I could get to grips with the meditation now! :)

Regards, Jo x
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Re: Mentioning Buddhism in public

Postby SamBodhi » Mon Jan 23, 2012 7:23 pm

saving our planet: I have a friend who speaks a lot about sustainability and even works for a not-for-profit devoted to this idea. I was tempted to say, "Sustainability? You mean Buddhadhamma right?" :)

Still, I am wondering if this person you encountered on the other board may have heard and misinterpreted something that I also heard once. This is that Buddhists are not supposed to "advertise" stuff that happens to them during meditation. Deeper states or higher states of being are not supposed to be a source of pride and therefore confusion. I do not know if my source is reliable since I cannot seem to recall exactly what I heard or where I heard it (best to let it go then). Still, maybe there was a misunderstanding that this kind of thing applied to the entire experience of being a follower of the Buddha.

with metta,
pung
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unentangled knowing,
All outward-going knowing
cast aside."
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Re: Mentioning Buddhism in public

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Jan 23, 2012 7:34 pm

pung S wrote:Still, I am wondering if this person you encountered on the other board may have heard and misinterpreted something that I also heard once. This is that Buddhists are not supposed to "advertise" stuff that happens to them during meditation. Deeper states or higher states of being are not supposed to be a source of pride and therefore confusion. I do not know if my source is reliable since I cannot seem to recall exactly what I heard or where I heard it (best to let it go then). Still, maybe there was a misunderstanding that this kind of thing applied to the entire experience of being a follower of the Buddha.


This is a rule for monks, and it only applies to what they say to lay people. I think the idea being to remove the temptation for monks to be able to set themselves up as guru like figures and get a lot of followers based on their spiritual attainments.

It's probably good for lay people also to be mindful of this, I think generally it's considered bad form to claim spiritual attainments publicly also, it's something to keep between yourself and your teacher(s).
"Whenever we feel that we are definitely right, so much so that we refuse to open up to anything or anybody else, right there we are wrong. It becomes wrong view. When suffering arises, where does it arise from? The cause is wrong view, the fruit of that being suffering. If it was right view it wouldn't cause suffering." - Ajahn Chah
"Remember you dont meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Mentioning Buddhism in public

Postby Kim OHara » Mon Jan 23, 2012 10:25 pm

Animamia wrote:I read somewhere that Buddhism is the way we can save our planet from the damage we have done and are still doing. As a biology undergraduate I fully agree with this. Of course I would never preach to anyone, but I will definitely encourage and help friends that are looking for it. If only I could get to grips with the meditation now! :)

Regards, Jo x

Hi, Jo,
This is off-topic (sorry) but worth telling you about: Eco-Buddhism http://www.ecobuddhism.org/
:focus:

:namaste:
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