Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Root of Evil?

Last Monday, to kick off the University at Buffalo's Day of Education, His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, gave a short speech at the conclusion of an interfaith service. After listening to various priors from several faiths, including Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, and a Native American welcoming chant, the His Holiness finally took the podium to give a small welcoming speech. In this speech, He politely thanked all for coming, and than proceeded to talk about a recurring theme in his two lectures, the importance of having a warm heart, and being compassionate towards all. His Holiness stated the point of all religion was this, to help to foster a warm heart. His country's struggle against Red China is an excellent example of how faith can help to prevent death. Starting in 1950, the PLA attacked Tibet, and began slaughtering and torturing innocent Tibetan citizens and monks. The Dalai Lama, the leader of Tibetan Buddhism, instead of encouraging violent rebellion, recommended that his people pray for their enemies. Instead of declaring a holy war against the PLA and China, His Holiness tries to educate people worldwide of his culture. If religion really is the source of evil and violence as people on this blog have claimed, and Dawkins claimed in his "Root of Evil" clip, than how can you explain the passive resistance of the Tibetan Buddhists?


Hasty said...

Though I won't claim to be an expert on Buddhism, I will make some claims on the nature of Christianity and Islam. Both latter religions have been notoriously expansionist throughout their histories. Buddhism is a far more 'internal' religion than the 'externalizing,' faith-spreading, missionary religions of Abraham. I think the concept of religion being the root of evil is a gross generalization - just as I have generalized above for the sake of simplicity. Generalizations are always dangerous and misleading, and could very well be the catalysts for racism, sexism, and anti-religious sentiment from all sides.
One further point: a Buddhist point of view is far more compatible with Judeo-Christian theosophy (and maybe Islamic as well) than Christianity is compatible with Islam, and vice-versa. Though it makes me happy to see members of many diverse religions coming together for events such as this, the hope that such compromise could take place on the world stage is fruitless.

Jay C. said...

Growing up in the hills of Appalachia, I always questioned the doctrine of the church. I was taught I should accept the words of the Bible in its entirety. When I began to think of Jesus as a radical, I was questioned and confronted by my parents as well as the good folks from the church community.
I left the church, but later became deeply committed to the message of peace, political activism, and compassion I saw in the stories about Jesus. I wanted an object through which to pass my own experience of radical love, and attended seminary, graduating with multiple honors, grants, and prospects. However, I was denied ordination after voicing my belief that homosexuals should be granted full civil rights and acceptance in the church. I too am a homosexual, although those in charge did not know it at the time.
I am currently still searching, and practice my idea about life by working as a homeless advocate in a busy urban area. I listen and try to cultivate hope without attaching it to the Christian motive. I’m not sure that religion is the root of all evil but I do believe in the sin nature of man. Perhaps the two have unfortunately become simultaneous. At any rate I am at peace with my belief in God, striving to serve my God by serving mankind but at the same time void of any particular religion.

Anonymous said...

Wow, when I read Jay C.’s blog entry yesterday I was quite moved by it. I agree in his belief in the sin nature of man however, I believe that this nature is fueled by organized religion. This is my experience.
I was enrolled in a christian school at the age of nine, and a little way into that first school year, I converted to christianity via the sinner's prayer. My family attended a Pentecostal "Charismatic" church starting then, and for the next 14 years.
I grew up in a christian school, which I attended all the way through high school. When I was depressed during my teenage years, my pastor did nothing to help. He probably didn't even know I existed. And my parents did nothing either, but imply that I was being "attacked by Satan" and I should "snap out of it."
The worship in the church was hollow -- hardly anyone even bothered to sing. There were attempts at joy, but they were forced. Nobody /enjoyed/ being at church on Sunday, that was obvious, and the ones who did were the same ones who talked about gay people going to hell and giving money so that mass conversion in foreign countries could take place.
I ended up feeling like my faith hadn't really rescued me when I needed it to, and not a single "laying on of hands" or being "slain in the spirit" or "speaking in tongues" or "holy laughter" would heal the medical problems that I fought with during those years.
Eventually I realized that I was a lesbian, and grew to deeply resent it every time I heard people talking about gays going to hell. I started slowly "phasing out" parts of christianity at this time -- the belief in hell, and the belief that anyone who didn't follow the bible to a T was going there were the first to go.
And then I discovered paganism, and the ability to use my physic abilities for healing and doing the things I had always felt a longing to do. I currently do not "worship" any god or goddess, although I do recognize their existence. Curiously enough, I am now closer to the god that the bible was written about than I was when I was a christian. Some things really weren't meant to be written down, and "inspired" does not mean "dictated."
I believe that life is about living happily, taking care of your fellow humans and animals, and being joyful in everything you do. I have finally reached the place that christianity could never get me to.