Friday, November 02, 2012

Buddhist meets Evangelist

At the Post Office the other day, I met a tall man beside me who was tossing his campaign literature into the recycle bin.  I urged him to vote yes on F, and explained what it was.  He hadn't sent in his ballot yet so I also promoted No on 32 and Yes on 37. 

He started up a conversation about beliefs.  We often assume a lot about strangers that we meet.  Little did he know what a learned and graced tzadik that I am.  It turns out that he was a devoted Christian, and tried to convince me that the only way to Salvation was through Jesus Christ. 

He asked why not? 
My first example used the sin of coveting your neighbor's wife.  With Christians, a lusty thought of your neighbor's wife will send you straight to Hell and the only way out is through Jesus' forgiveness.  In Buddhism, there is no control over your stream of consciousness because it is Pure, being of the mortal body, but rather the "sin" comes when you get up and go do something about it, like grab your neighbor's wife.  In Buddhism, watching the stream of thoughts and impressions is all just a passing show. 
The tall Christian rolled his eyes that I would even compare Christianity with Buddhism. 

Then I gave an example involving the Mormons.  He glared and interrupted, "What do the Mormons have anything to do with this?"  I continued my example, but he didn't see any analogy.  He declared that the Mormons are a cult thus any evidence relating to Mormons is relegated to the dust bin. 
I replied, "No more a cult than people who think Mary was a virgin." 

When I mentioned 1500 years of genocide of Jews by Christians in the name of the Prince of Peace, he again rolled his eyes with a sigh and said that the 297 years of the Spanish Inquisition was by CATHOLICS, not Christians!  And the Holocaust by the Nazi's had nothing to do with Christianity.  He said people who do things like genocide are not "real Christians."

On the sidewalk in front of the Post Office he asked me if I had sinned.  It was only a few weeks since Yom Kippur when we had fasted and thrown our sins into Lake Mendocino, taken mikvahs, and chanted our sins, then I turned, and was turned, and returned to the One. 
He asked if I ever stole, and I thought of my little food stealing problem.  In Buddhism, you can only take something if it is given.  Anything less is unskillful action.  But when I am hungry on my job, I will take someone else's food, and I know it is stealing.  I don't take a whole lunch, just maybe a slice of bread from a loaf.  So I told him yes, I steal food.  He was delighted.  He asked if I lie, and agreed that I have been known to exaggerate. 

Vindicated, he declared that only Jesus can forgive my sins. I looked him in the eye and said, "I look in here (tapping my chest over my heart) for the answers.  I don't need Jesus to forgive me."  He asked if I hate, and I confidently declared no.  I saw before me a man who considers himself a cut above all others justified by his heartfelt faith in Jesus; to me, that kind of divisive arrogance is borne of hate.  Then retorted, "It is your own choice to hate the Mormons if you wish, and Jesus will forgive you, but I don't hate."  He denied that he hates Mormons. 

He towered over me by at least a head, and was dressed casually in a T-shirt and pants.  I looked up and noticed for the first time the emblem on his T-shirt was the River Church.  I asked him, of all the Christians in the world, what percent qualify for being what he called, a "real Christian"?  He shrugged his shoulders and said, "Well.  I know at least one.  Me!" 

And there you have it!  Of the millions of Christians in the world, only one qualifies for being a real true Christian.  Yet I know many people who walk the path of integrity and have advanced in their virtue to the level of tzadiks.  I am blessed to live in a community of spiritually advanced people from many schools of thought. 
The Rainbow sister inside me gave him a big hug and said, "I love you, brother.  God bless you." and we parted ways, me on my bike. 

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