Buddhism vs Christianity (Saturday, January 11, 2003)

Although the title seems as if I were a very religious guy, in fact, it is wrong. I haven’t had any belief in any religion yet. Must I need one? I know one thing for sure. That is whenever I am in trouble, I pray to Buddha or God. Is it wired?

I am supposed to be a Buddhist because my family, grandfather, grandmother’s background is Buddhism. But I don’t think I am a Buddhist because I haven’t learnt or known very well about Buddhism even though I go to monastery or pagoda to pay homage.

I have many friends. Some of them are Buddhists and some are Christians. I go to Monastery and a few times to church as well. Then, for a long time, I have noticed something between these two great religions.
I think the way Christian community organized is pretty good. It is well organized and let their people get involved and well connected. Christianity teaching is easy to understand for any level of people. They are not only teaching about Jesus but also doing a lot of social activities. They share and discuss about Jesus, and work together very closely.

A few years ago, I was invited by a Christian friend to join a camping near Yosemite. So me and another three Buddhist friends participated in the group. It was about three hundreds people of all levels of age. So I observed their activities while having fun with friends. They had a very organized plan for daily activities. The programs include physical exercises, games, Jesus teaching, exchanging information, talent show, music, dance, and foods. The whole trip was great. I suddenly realized what Buddhist communities are missing, and why many people are getting less interest in Buddhism.

On the other hand, Buddhist community is different. Monks preach but most of the time their teaching is hard to understand. A lot of “Pali” language is in their words. Many Buddha teaching books are written in the language that is not easily understood by most people. Actually, I personally tried to learn Buddha teaching many times, but may be I am too dumb, I couldn’t understand very well. Later, I forgot everything. That is the problem that many people face. So slowly and slowly, they lost interest in learning Buddhism.

Another thing is that Buddhist people don’t persuade others. So many Buddhist people are like self-centered prayers. They pray for themselves and never tell or teach others what Buddhism is all about. They don’t have community outreach program.

I am glad there are at least four or five Burmese monasteries in San Francisco and Bay Area. I attended many Burmese religious festivals. What most people do at the festivals was waiting in a long line to get some delicious Burmese foods. The second reason would be to find out some old friends and have some chats. If you don’t know anyone, you just eat, hang around for a while, and go home. That is all for going to monasteries. So what did we learn about Buddhism?

So what can be done in order to teach or spread Buddhism to the world? I have a few ideas.

1. Basically follows some methods of what Christian communities do.
2. Not only monks but also people who have very good experience in Buddhism teach and share their experience to those who want to learn about Buddhism. They should use simple language instead of “Pali”.
3. Create some kind of organization, which will organize people, do meeting, outdoor activities, and at the same time teach Buddhism. (In this way, people can have contact with others, and help others.)
4. Invite some well-known Buddhism preachers to speak about Buddha history or Buddha teaching.
5. Create programs to let young people get involved in communities.
6. Form regular discussing groups let people question and answer about Buddha teaching.

Anyway, I think Buddhist communities should make some changes in a way to unite people, to make people get involved, to share love, and to show how to live together peacefully. Basically, I know all religions are very good. They all talk about peace and love.

Before we go to heaven or hell, let’s find a way to live together on the planet earth peacefully with love.