So if anyone who knows me IRL is reading this, they may think that I’ve gone totally bonkers.
I mean, in the past I was vehemently against God, especially Christianity. A lot of terrible things have been done in the name of Christianity, and I hated it. I thought it was all fake, and anyone who believed in religion was an idiot.
Then, when I started dealing with fear and anxiety in college, I was attracted to Thich Nhat Hanh. I started reading all about Buddhism, and really liked it. I started learning how to meditate and be more mindful.
A secret part of me sort of missed God, but I shushed that and kept focusing on Buddhism’s principles.
Then, I found Thich had written a book about Buddhism and Christianity—how interesting! I decided to read it, and loved how Thich emphasized the similarities between the two religions. But I was shocked when I read this:
Real dialogue makes us more open-minded, tolerant, and understanding. Buddhists and Christians both like to share their wisdom and experience. Sharing in this way is important and should be encouraged. But sharing does not mean wanting others to abandon their own spiritual roots and embrace your faith. That would be cruel.
People are stable and happy only when they are firmly rooted in their own tradition and culture.
To uproot them would make them suffer. There are already enough people uprooted from their tradition today, and they suffer greatly, wandering around like hungry ghosts, looking for something to fill their spiritual needs. We must help them return to their tradition. […]
I always urge my Western friends to go back to their own traditions and rediscover the values that are there, those values they have not been able to touch before.
(my emphasis; Hanh 295).
WOW. The little part of me that missed God gave a little squeal of joy. Thich was saying that I should explore my own tradition again and find its value again. He was also saying that Buddhism isn’t about collecting followers, that it’s just about the practices. It’s about truly coming home to yourself, which means not abandoning your home tradition. He’s saying that there’s a reason we were born into that culture and that tradition, and we shouldn’t give that up so easily.
But at the time, I couldn’t really do it. I couldn’t go straight back to the Bible.
I asked the universe for help, and the Course showed up. It use Christian terms, but it redefines them. It also has been said to be a blend of Eastern and Western religions, in that it talks about meditation and encourages mindfulness while using Christian terminology.
It’s also not in your face—it’s not like, LOOK LADY, JESUS IS THE ONLY WAY. YOU’RE SAVED BY JESUS OR YOU’RE DAMNED TO HELL.
It’s like, “Hey friend. Here’s a guy who got to enlightenment, and he can be your guide if you like him, or you can have a different guide. It’s all Spirit anyway, so you’re good to go with whatever you like best!”
I mean, Helen Schucman was a Jewish atheist. She didn’t believe in God, so she certainly didn’t believe in Jesus. But when she asked for a better way, Jesus was the guy who came to her. He was her guide in her lifetime, and she developed a very close relationship to him, as Kenneth Wapnick writes about in Absence from Felicity.
Through my study of Course, I’ve also been able to come home to my tradition. I’ve been able to reread the Bible and understand things differently. I’ve been able to understand the God of my tradition differently and to recognize that the God of both traditions is. the. same.
All religions are pointing us to the same thing: a relationship with something greater, with the Divine Flow that takes care of us in everything and in every way.
As Thich says,
“When you are a truly happy Christian, you are also a Buddhist. And vice versa.”