« Relationships | Main | Buddhism in the South »

May 20, 2012


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


thanks for posting this. with the current (republican) political chatter about christian based morals in our society, i have often wondered where such widespread support must exist because i don't see it here in new england either. maybe new englanders aren't as public about their faith or maybe there really is a difference. nevertheless some food for thought.

jill i

I recently visited a former college boyfriend who is very very ardent and active in his Christian faith. He is feeling a call to mission. My attempt to relate by telling him I respected Jesus as a teacher prompted an angry outburst from him because, he said Jesus is not just a teacher, he is the Savior! Anyway, we attended a wedding with 600 similarly ardent Christians and boy was it a culture shock for me.This was in conservative Scottsdale Arizona.Needless to say, my thought that there might be a rekindled romance were dashed as it was clear his faith and practice of Christianity did not include room for someone who did not share his beliefs as a mate. Just a riff here...


If you are going to compare, it is vital that you compare like with like.

Comparing a bead-holding Tibetan gandmother with an American teenager in a Jesus t-shirt wouldn't be fair for example.

But if you compared that devout Tibetan Buddhist grandmother with her American devout Christian counterpart, then I suspect that there would be very little difference between them in terms of spiritual maturity and compassionate response.


Compared to the South and midwest, you won't find very much ardent (not to say "strident") Christianity in New England, unless you go to rural places, especially north or west of Boston. Although, you'll find a lot more if you can get by in Spanish or Portuguese. But that brand of fire-baptized religion has gone way down in popularity in this part of the world, especially since the last world war. Or was it the death of the Mathers?

As for the Tibetan/Christian comparison, there is none. While superficially it appears that both are making a public show of their religiosity, the Tibetan is not terribly interested in whether you do likewise. The Christian, on the other hand, insists that you MUST believe as he does or face eternal damnation. It is in fact a cardinal rule of his faith that he spread his message--ironically dubbed the "good news"--to you and all the rest of the benighted world. However fervent the Tibetan, he would not consign you to the flames of hell for being...oh, let's say a Hindu. Or even a Christian.


"The Christian, on the other hand, insists that you MUST believe as he does or face eternal damnation."

Perhaps the difference is that I'm British and not American, but thankfully, I've yet to come across a single Christian like this.

(In fact, most Christians I've come across - including some who are my best friends, Anglicans, Catholics, and Quakers - are more respectful of differences and of other religions than many Buddhists I've met and practiced with).

Given that, I think it unfair to suggest that all Christians think the same!

The comments to this entry are closed.


  • Zen teachers sometimes use the Ten Ox Herding Pictures to describe the path of awakening. Within this metaphorical framework, the ox symbolizes the secretive, unruly human mind.

My Other Weblogs


  • I’m truly grateful to everyone who leaves a comment on this blog. Even though many comments are generous and thoughtful, I rarely respond. Thank you for your understanding.

American Zen


  • I extend grateful appreciation to my daughter, Susie, who designed this site; to Zen Master Seung Sahn, for crossing the ocean; and to all beings for their never-ending encouragement and teaching.
  • May we together attain enlightenment and save all beings from suffering.

Free e-Books

Finding the Ox