Before I came to Buddhism, I was raised in the Baptist faith. I wont discuss why I didn’t feel at home, as I am a believer that all faiths come from the same source just dressed up in different names and procedural rituals. I often times find principles and themes of Christianity that mirror those in Buddhism, with one found in the book of John on how to reconcile faith with society. Most people of faith understand the difficulties of walking with their hearts open in the way of their religion; and being seen as soft, a dreamer, or just ignorant to reality. It can cause many to have a crisis of faith; asking how can I be true to what I know from my faith and what I see from what society is demonstrating daily. I personally don’t have the answers but I have some thoughts that might be helpful.
I don’t know the Bible well, but I have always wanted to understand the Bible as well as the Quran and other spiritual books. I don’t fear having a broad understands of other faiths will take me away from the loving embrace of the Dharma and Buddhism.I am just that person who likes to speak from a place of knowledge and self research, which I feel will only strengthen me in the long run. Because I had heard the phrase about being in this world but not of it many times before, I wanted to find its origins which appear to be John 15:19 and John 17:14-16. In my research, a similar theme can be found in Romans 12:2 and Ephesians 4:22-24.
The basics of each scripture talks about the evils of the world and how strength of faith will be tested. It is up to all of us to understand the world can be a scary place, but with faith, all things are possible. We must all continue our trust in faith, walk with our faith daily, and express the love that our faith have given us. As you can see I am careful to move away from Christianity only because I have respect for all faiths. I don’t see any as inherently evil, just sometimes people can become so focus on what they feel is the “right” way to be, they move away from the themes and message of faith which is love and respect for others. Anyone that spends time looking into other faiths will find the commonality of them, and see other people of faith as the brothers and sisters they are.
The shared problem facing people of faith is how to stay in the essence of faith while crime, hatred and lost are everywhere. It seems completely unnatural to have faith of any kind in the face of what is going on in the world. Some would say it’s just in these moments, faith is testing us, but for many it just seems like faith is a waste and ineffective as mass murder, racism, and the religious message gets used to perpetuate hate and separatism ( I’m looking at you Gov. Mike Pence). But in the face of all this, we can still make a difference and let our faiths be our guide.
I use to be caught up in wanting the big house, nice clothes and fame. I want the American dream on steroids and many of us have fallen into that trap. I found by having that as my guide, I was moving away from my core being which was already aligned with the Universe and the Dharma. It wasn’t until I focused my intention on Buddhism did I come to find my true path, and understand my American dream was mine to create and carry out. My American dream was to spread good will, loving kindness, and be the light in the darkness. I am able to do that with my individual meetings with friends and strangers, as well as my writings. I came to understand that through faith I was truly alive and myself. I found my purpose, but none of that knowledge held back the hardness of the world we live in, and that more is needed.
Everywhere you turn, something is telling you to stop being faithful and give in to the material. I’m not saying you can’t enjoy staying at a nice hotel, watching TGIT every week, or the pleasures of this world. The problem only arises when it’s done in excess and faith is put on hold. I can say I have fallen victim to that with my love of television, as I waste countless hours clearing out my DVR. I notice when I am not focus on staying mindful and my true path, I fall for doubt and become uneasy. It’s only when I come back to myself through my faith that I become sure again and know my strength and reason for being.
I share this because I recently lost a bit of faith. To me faith lives inside, so when I lose faith I am losing faith in myself and my purpose. What I needed to do, and did, was to come back to myself, understand where I lost faith, why and what I need to do in the future to carry on. This process in Buddhism is held with mindfulness and meditation. Those tools ask you to stop, breathe and become aware. This awareness is trusting your gut, your faith and brings everything into focus for the well-being of faith that resides in you.
We are all here for a purpose and it’s on us individually to find and decide what that is. The realities of the world don’t have to be what guides us. We can decide on more. We can decide on self. We can decide on love.