Buddhism And Christianity: The American Way
Quick Show of Hands: Who has Read the Bible?
Most of us have read or otherwise heard scripture from the Bible, Christianity’s most sacred text.
But did you know that taking inspiration from the Bible, or using it as a guide on how to live, is practicing a form of esotericism?
Esotericism is an attempt to understand deeper, hidden truths.
Do you find meaning in a Psalm or Proverb or parable?
That’s esoteric thought: the deeper understanding provides food for our spiritual growth. (The root of the word “esoteric” is the Greek “eso”, meaning “within”.)
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Esoteric Teachings are all the Same
Buddhism, like Christianity, has an esoteric practice.
Called Vajrayana in India, or Tangmi in China, this teaching slowly changed into Shingon as it traveled to Japan and continued to evolve.
As recently as 1936, a branch of Shingon gave rise to Shinnyo-en.
At the heart of Shinnyo is the belief that all of us normal people are just as capable as anyone else in learning and understanding the deeper nature of spiritual things.
That you do not have to be a reverend, pastor, monastic, rabbi, or any other sort of specially ordained person: knowledge is, and should be, open to anyone.
Shinnyo teaches us life is not predetermined.
Our thoughts and actions carry consequence. It teaches us to look honestly at ourselves, how we think and act, and to change that which has a negative impact on our lives or the lives of others.
That this is the only way in which we can grow and be happy. Such views are not incompatible, but instead complimentary, with the doctrines of Christianity.
The Bible teaches love, tolerance and forbearance.
Judge not, lest we ourselves be judged.
An American Ideal
Shinnyo-en focuses on revealing and awakening our innate spiritual nature, a kind of “there’s a little piece of God in all of us, which we should focus on growing” approach.
No coercion. No force. No eternal damnation. No pressure. Become a better person. Lead a better life. Or don’t.
The choice is yours– a very democratic approach. And in that way, it embodies a very American ideal.
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