Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
Coyote
Posts: 845
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 12:42 pm
Location: Wales - UK

Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Post by Coyote »

While it's true that a noble life is the best example and proof of the Dhamma, aside from seeing it yourself, I would not be a Buddhist had it not been for those who have made an effort to make the Dhamma available. I think it is important to make the Dhamma freely available and accessible so that as many people as possible can benefit. As for whether this would include proselytizing and public preaching, I am not sure. I have never been put off the idea as some here due to Christian preaching - but look at the reputation of the Hare Krishnas for instance. Buddhism should not be like that. Perhaps a middle way - not keeping the Dhamma hidden or secret, giving it a presence in western countries and making Dhamma materials freely available for those who want/need it. I think that when the Buddha told his monks to preach he was not imagining knocking on peoples doors and shouting in the street.
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
Iti 26
User avatar
pilgrim
Posts: 1667
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2009 2:56 pm

Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Post by pilgrim »

People can be exemplary all they want, but I'll be too thick to notice. I am far from stream-winning but and am truly grateful to those who followed that advice and introduced me to the Dhamma.
User avatar
andyebarnes67
Posts: 33
Joined: Tue Jan 14, 2014 1:59 pm
Location: Tewkesbury, UK
Contact:

Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Post by andyebarnes67 »

arifinteh wrote:I THINK GOENKA MADE A VERY GOOD EXPLANATION ABOUT THIS. ITS NOT REALLY ABOUT THE RELIGION , BUT ITS ABOUT THE WAY OF LIFE. IT DOESN'T MATTER A BUDDHIST, A CHRISTIAN, A MOESLEM, OR A JEWISH. DHAMMA IS THE LAW OF NATURE, AND PEOPLE STILL COULD BELIEVE THEIR RELIGION BUT THEY CAN ALSO LEARN ABOUT DHAMMA BECAUSE ITS SUPPOSED TO BE UNIVERSAL. LAW OF NATURE IS UNIVERSAL TO EVERYONE. DUKKHA IS UNIVERSAL, THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE WHEN IT COMES TO SUFFERING. BUT IN MY OWN EXPERIENCE, ONLY TEACH TO THOSE WHO REALLY INTERESTED AND HAVE RESPECT.
I concur, though not sure I would have said so in capitals. :tongue:
Metta
:meditate:
Andy Barnes
My comments are by nature, subjective interpretations from my mind. As such, they are never wrong, They are as they are. They are never right, They are as they are.
Ananda26
Posts: 171
Joined: Fri Apr 04, 2014 2:41 pm

Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Post by Ananda26 »

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
The way with Buddhism is more to let people know about Buddhas invitation to study the Dhamma.

In Buddha's time there were some people with a following who declared that we were followers of Buddha. They knew that they would follow there decision. If you're sure you have family, friends, workers, or servants who would follow your decision to live in accordance with the dhamma, we also have that precedent in the suttas.
User avatar
TheNoBSBuddhist
Posts: 1614
Joined: Mon Apr 07, 2014 4:06 pm
Location: Loch Lomond, via the High AND Low road....

Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Post by TheNoBSBuddhist »

If people ask me a question to which I know a Buddhist-related answer is appropriate, I actually give them the choice:

"Do you want an abridged version, or shall I go into this, big-time?"

It's amazing how many people, given the choice, opt for the latter.

About a third of the way in (see, I KNOW how long this is going to take) I stop, and ask them - "Am I boring you?"

To date, bless 'em, nobody has ever said, "God yes, I can barely keep my eyes open!"

Most have engaged in a friendly and interesting way.

so, by actually giving people an option, they will actually opt for a good discussion.

But me? Approach someone and start a discourse with them, with the pre-meditated intention of 'Bringing them to Buddhism'....?

Not the done thing, in "my book" chaps.....
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



Image

Pay attention, simplify, and (Meditation instruction in a nutshell) "Mind - the Gap."
‘Absit invidia verbo’ - may ill-will be absent from the word. And mindful of that, if I don't respond, this may be why....
indian_buddhist
Posts: 153
Joined: Fri Apr 18, 2014 8:54 am
Location: Bangalore, India

Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Post by indian_buddhist »

If someone is truly seeking , truly asking for Insight, for Knowledge then show him the teachings. Otherwise keeping quiet is the correct thing to do. You will hurt others more by trying to teach someone who is not interested.
Identification with my country is one of my fetters.
indian_buddhist
Posts: 153
Joined: Fri Apr 18, 2014 8:54 am
Location: Bangalore, India

Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Post by indian_buddhist »

Also If I am not wrong, Trying to Convert others or even an urge to make others known the teachings comes under Bhava Tanha (2nd Noble truth) - Trying to impose yourself on others.....clearly not acceptable.

You would never realize as it is very subtle, When the urge to make known the teachings to others would often then lead to criticizing others beliefs which is a very very wrong thing to do. So best is to control that urge.

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.
Identification with my country is one of my fetters.
User avatar
Bhikkhu Pesala
Posts: 4156
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:17 pm

Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala »

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.
There are some people who hold some extraordinarily dangerous and false views. One should not be afraid to criticise where criticism is due, but one should do so with compassion for those who might be misguided by those views, not with pride or malice. The Buddha criticised those who held wrong views in his own time.
According to the books, the Buddha considered Makkhali as the most dangerous of the heretical teachers: “I know not of any other single person fraught with such loss to many folk, such discomfort, such sorrow to gods and men, as Makkhali, the infatuate (A.i.33).

The Buddha also considered his view the meanest — just as the hair-blanket is reckoned the meanest of all woven garments, even so, of all the teachings of recluses, that of Makkhali is the meanest (A.i.286).
BlogPāli FontsIn This Very LifeBuddhist ChroniclesSoftware (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)
indian_buddhist
Posts: 153
Joined: Fri Apr 18, 2014 8:54 am
Location: Bangalore, India

Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Post by indian_buddhist »

Bhikkhu Pesala 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.
There are some people who hold some extraordinarily dangerous and false views. One should not be afraid to criticise where criticism is due, but one should do so with compassion for those who might be misguided by those views, not with pride or malice. The Buddha criticised those who held wrong views in his own time.
According to the books, the Buddha considered Makkhali as the most dangerous of the heretical teachers: “I know not of any other single person fraught with such loss to many folk, such discomfort, such sorrow to gods and men, as Makkhali, the infatuate (A.i.33).

The Buddha also considered his view the meanest — just as the hair-blanket is reckoned the meanest of all woven garments, even so, of all the teachings of recluses, that of Makkhali is the meanest (A.i.286).

Ok so what do you want?. Force Dhamma down the throat of someone who clearly does not want to listen?. I am sorry NOTHING can be forced upon anyone including Compassion.

Yes teaching the Dhamma is an act of incredible Compassion but even Compassion cannot be forced upon anyone. How different is it from the Christian/Muslim view that they are only converting others to save them from going to hell?.

And the Buddha when he gained Enlightenment he decided not to teach precisely for this reason (The Dhamma is hard to grasp). When Brahma Samhapati said to the Buddha that there were beings in the world with little dust in their eyes who will perish of teachings are not known......It is only when Buddha verified with his Divine eyes that YES there were such beings in the world with little dust in their eyes who can easily learn the Dhamma.......It is only then that the Buddha decided to teach otherwise he would have kept quiet.

Having said that - there are religions in the world (Hinduism - who say you can only be born a Hindu in the so and so Caste and henceforth noone else can be a Hindu) or the Jews ( we are the chosen people and noone else can be).........That is wrong.

The Dhamma is open to all people of any caste and creed. But the teachings should never be forced on anyone. If anyone has a genuine need for the Dhamma then only it should be taught.
Identification with my country is one of my fetters.
User avatar
waterchan
Posts: 699
Joined: Fri May 07, 2010 7:17 pm
Location: Kamaloka

Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Post by waterchan »

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.
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur
(Anything in Latin sounds profound.)
indian_buddhist
Posts: 153
Joined: Fri Apr 18, 2014 8:54 am
Location: Bangalore, India

Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Post by indian_buddhist »

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.
Identification with my country is one of my fetters.
User avatar
waterchan
Posts: 699
Joined: Fri May 07, 2010 7:17 pm
Location: Kamaloka

Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Post by waterchan »

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.
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur
(Anything in Latin sounds profound.)
indian_buddhist
Posts: 153
Joined: Fri Apr 18, 2014 8:54 am
Location: Bangalore, India

Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Post by indian_buddhist »

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.
Identification with my country is one of my fetters.
Dan74
Posts: 3620
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:12 pm

Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Post by Dan74 »

Leading by example usually works well, then people might ask about it.
_/|\_
User avatar
waterchan
Posts: 699
Joined: Fri May 07, 2010 7:17 pm
Location: Kamaloka

Re: Should one try to convert non-Buddhists?

Post by waterchan »

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.
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur
(Anything in Latin sounds profound.)
Post Reply