Buddhism bigger than JWs in US - Why? Does It Appeal to YOU!

by Seeker4 36 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Seeker4

    There is an article on Yahoo News today that says Buddhists now-number over 1.5 million in the US, compared to about 1 million JWs, and that they grew 170% in the 1990s. Here are a couple of points they make in the article:

    "What is drawing people (after that fascination with Zen Buddhism in the '50s and '60s)? The Dalai Lama himself has played a role, some say, and Buddhism's nonmissionizing approach fits well with Americans' search for meaningful spiritual paths.

    "People feel that Buddhist figures like the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh of Vietnam are contributing something, not trying to convert people," says Lama Surya Das, a highly trained American lama in the Tibetan tradition. "They are not building big temples, but offering wisdom and ways of reconciliation and peacemaking, which are so much needed.""

    Here's the full link: http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20060914/ts_csm/cbuddha

    I've read Thich Nhat Hanh since I was a JW elder, and have gone to hear him speak. He was a strong influence on me, even for many years when I was still a JW elder. He has a monastary about half an hour from where I live.

    I thought that it was interesting that buddhism is growing about 10 times faster than the JWs, maybe much more now, and yet they take a "nonmissionizing" approach and are "not trying to convert people"! Again, I stress one of my main points about the Witnesses - preaching, and especially house to house preaching, does more harm than good. It is arrogant, impolite and invasive, making 1000 people angry for every one person it actually converts.

    A couple of other reasons I think buddhism has such appeal right now: There is no personal god in buddhism. You can be an atheist and a buddhist. Buddhism has no "holy book" agenda that makes it look foolish. Buddhism fully accepts science and evolution, so you don't have to make yourself jump through nonsensical intellectual hoops in order to believe . And finally, its approach to life makes a great deal of sense, and is a very practical and fulfilling way to live. Especially for ex-JWs, its approach to things like guilt and beating yourself up for all your failures is a very welcome relief.

    Any here been drawn to buddhism? I think part of it is that it really started, like taoism, as more philosophy than religion. Sure, they both have their branches of superstitious folk religion, but can be so much more than that.


  • GetBusyLiving

    It appeals to me. But its not the truth.


  • freedomloverr

    it appeals to me, but I feel as GBL. It's not all ABSOLUTE TRUTH-

    it really has helped me wade through many issues and spiritual crisis in my mind though.....

    interesting article. thanks for posting this.

  • Elsewhere

    It appeals to me too. I have always been drawn to it, however I don't think I can ever "be" a Buddhist because I have an extremely strong aversion to "joining" a religion.

  • frankiespeakin

    I've only been to listen to a zen master speak a couple of times and never thought of joining, although I don't think I ve ever felt any pressure to when there. I'm like Elsewhere And don't want to join anything. I do think highly of the Dalia Lama and Tibetian Buddhist ideas.

    I agree with the Dalia Lama's encouragement for all religions to take interest what science is telling us about the universe and change thier teachings where needed to fit, he speaks against Fundimentalism.

  • greendawn

    People got fed up with the over rationalistic attitude of western religions the JWs being a prime example of this. They also want to find that something mysterious and unknown that the spirituality of the east has.

  • parakeet

    getbusyliving: ***But its not the truth.***

    Buddhism does not claim to have "truth." It can, however, provide a way to experience truth.

  • skeptic2

    After reading through the core ideas of all the big religions when I was 13, I realized that Buddhism was the one I liked the most and maybe I'd be a Buddhist. But then I realized what I was doing, that it's a bit stupid to make judgements about the world based on what you want to believe... since then I have been a freethinker/atheist/agnostic/whatever-you-want-to-call it.

  • skeptic2
    It can, however, provide a way to experience truth.

    I disagree, I'd say it provides a way to experience something, which you can then label as 'truth'. But to me it's just mind-games, it's no truer or less truer than any other experience you have. And the whole Samsara thing is just as woo as paradise after armageddon. It's more of man's ego-centric constructions built on reality. I've seen some research to suggest meditation can have beneficial effects to the practicer, but nothing overly conclusive.

  • Seeker4

    Interesting responses. I'm in the same free thinker/atheist boat as you, Skeptic.

    I wouldn't think of "joining" the buddhist religion either. Joining is not my thing anymore in any way. I'm much more interested in buddhist and taoist ideas about how to live life, how to deal with guilt, how to live quietly in the moment, how to make simple things meaningful and not get caught up in thinking that the more I own the happier I'll be.

    For me personally, a few years after I left the Witnesses, I also left my wife of 33 years (who remained a JW). I've had to deal with a lot of guilt about that, not helped by three children who, to greater or lesser degrees, also felt I abandoned them - even though they were adults living totally on their own and I didn't for a second not make myself available to them. I get along better with my ex-wife than I do with some of my kids! Weird.

    Anyway, that carries a huge amount of guilt with it, and taoist thought in particular is very helpful in untangling what you can change from what you think you ought to be able to change, and learning to adapt to your circumstances. Learning to accept, and learning to let go, learning not to stress over things you have no control over.

    I love the ideas in a buddhist tale I read years ago, where two buddhist monks meet a beautiful woman on the side of a stream. They were all trying to get to the other side. The older monk offers to carry the beautiful woman across the stream, so he hikes up his robes, has her climb on his back, carries her safely across the stream, sets her down and they all go their seperate ways.

    Well the younger monk, who was self-righteous and critical, thought it was highly inappropriate for the older monk to have carried the beautiful woman like that, and he fretted about it all the rest of the day. Finally, in the evening, as the two monks prepared dinner, the younger monk could contain himself no more and decided to confront the older monk about it. "About that woman you carried across the steam," the younger monk began. "Are you still thinking about that?" the older monk told him, with a quiet smile. "I set her down hours ago."

    Those kind of stories appeal to me and teach me. They help me to see what is important, and change how I deal with life. And speaking of what is important and change, I just got back from several hours at my ex-wife's house running a chain saw and cutting and hauling trees and brush on a very warm afternoon. I think it is time to change my sweat soaked underpants and shirt!


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