How do you answer people who try to convert you?

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Adder
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Re: How do you answer people who try to convert you?

Post by Adder » Fri Jul 31, 2015 8:21 am

BTDT & God told me Buddhism was the best practice to actualize Christian faith, LOL, does the answer have to be true....

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Re: How do you answer people who try to convert you?

Post by theanarchist » Fri Jul 31, 2015 11:43 am

Ayu wrote:Since I once lead a discussion with two bapstists, I now refrain from any covincing discussion with christians.
That day they started this discussion with much joy and faith. They felt superior and blessed. After half an hour of discussion I had turned the tables with a line of argument. Then they were quite unsteady, because I proved them that their accusations against me were actually their own weaknesses in their faith. :( Sorry, I was young and stupid.

After seeing their faces, their loss and having no reasonable argument anymore, I felt ashamed about this victory and I promised myself to never lead such a discussion again."


If you do that out of pride it is indeed not appropriate.

But the accounts in ancient India and Tibet are full of religious debate where reason was used to dismantle the logic of the opponents arguments.


If the argument of those Christians doesn't hold up to logic reasoning, then it's not your fault if they get frustrated in a discussion. They sought the discussion, not you.

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Re: How do you answer people who try to convert you?

Post by Ayu » Fri Jul 31, 2015 12:48 pm

theanarchist wrote:
Ayu wrote:Since I once lead a discussion with two bapstists, I now refrain from any covincing discussion with christians.
That day they started this discussion with much joy and faith. They felt superior and blessed. After half an hour of discussion I had turned the tables with a line of argument. Then they were quite unsteady, because I proved them that their accusations against me were actually their own weaknesses in their faith. :( Sorry, I was young and stupid.

After seeing their faces, their loss and having no reasonable argument anymore, I felt ashamed about this victory and I promised myself to never lead such a discussion again."


If you do that out of pride it is indeed not appropriate.

But the accounts in ancient India and Tibet are full of religious debate where reason was used to dismantle the logic of the opponents arguments.


If the argument of those Christians doesn't hold up to logic reasoning, then it's not your fault if they get frustrated in a discussion. They sought the discussion, not you.
That is a possible view on that incident. But I hurt them. I pulled the rug out under their feet and I wonder if that was necessary. It was not worth it. They were friends.
I did not act out of pride, but I blindly stepped into a debatte without considering the end of it. I'm not interested to proselytize or to draw a christian away from their belief.
That's why I wouldn't do that ever again.
For the benefit and ease of all sentient beings. :heart:

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Re: How do you answer people who try to convert you?

Post by theanarchist » Fri Jul 31, 2015 1:08 pm

Ayu wrote: That is a possible view on that incident. But I hurt them..


No. They hurt themselves. They assumed they have the superior argument and then found out that this is not the case. Their hybris got cut back to a realistic outlook. That they didn't like it is entirely their problem and I find it rather healthy for them.

It's not good or compassionate to spare people disappointment and frustration.

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Re: How do you answer people who try to convert you?

Post by Ayu » Fri Jul 31, 2015 1:20 pm

theanarchist wrote: It's not good or compassionate to spare people disappointment and frustration.
I had this kind of discussion already sufficiently in meatspace. I understand your point. Maybe you are right for your case - but for me, I'm not convinced.

There are so many stresses and pains, people have to undergo. I am not willing to force that further. In my view it is a difference if
a) I build a wall to protect myself, and then somebody runs against it with his head. That is not my fault.
b) Or if I eagerly pit myself against that person to show him he is WRONG. That is unnecessary, IMO. I'm just a deluded person myself, and people learn better for themselves.
For the benefit and ease of all sentient beings. :heart:

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Re: How do you answer people who try to convert you?

Post by theanarchist » Fri Jul 31, 2015 1:44 pm

Ayu wrote:
There are so many stresses and pains, people have to undergo. I am not willing to force that further..

The truth sometimes is stressful. But the stress of the truth is the only stress that is actually positive.

If you tell an alcoholic he is an alcoholic, then you might stress him, but you might also be part of the factors that help him recover from his addiction. And of course it's appropriate to have compassion for the alcoholic and his situation.

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Re: How do you answer people who try to convert you?

Post by Urgyen Dorje » Fri Jul 31, 2015 2:59 pm

As Buddhists, I think it's really important to understand that many people are motivated by genuine compassion and love when they seek to convert others to their faith. Their motivation is really no different than a vajrayana buddhist making visible "liberation on seeing" images. It's really a negative karmic association to meet genuine compassion with hostility. It's really hard for that person offering out of love and compassion, and it's also problematic for us.

There are also those who evangelize as something of a samaya of their faith. They have to put it out there as they are commanded to do so. And there are those who are putting their faith out there largely for selfish reasons, as doing so helps put ground under their feet. That is an entirely different matter, and a very different motivation than those who offer their faith out of genuine love and compassion.

Speaking for myself, I feel it's a violation of my great vow to be dismissive and condescending to those who offer their faith out of compassion and love. Love and compassion need to be encouraged, yet at the same time, the form it is offered really has less to do with my choices that others'. It may just be about the karma of the time and place.

Garchen Rinpoche says the Christian path can lead to liberation if one generates love and compassion and anihillates self grasping. So I doubly feel bound to not discourage anyone on that path in being compassionate, and for many, sharing their faith is one of the biggest big loves they can do.

The rest of them-- the evangelists and those who seek to puff themselves up-- meh.

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Re: How do you answer people who try to convert you?

Post by joy&peace » Fri Jul 31, 2015 3:31 pm

Shantideva would seem to agree (Ayu).

It is an opportunity to do some good.

It is Samsara. Stay strong.

Think of Buddha on his enlightenment, when he was approached by Mara. He held his ground, summoned Mother Earth as his witness;

Maybe focus on the 8th bhumi, be immovable.

The skill involved may seem like a lot, but it is very easy to stay strong, without attachment, without aversion, to simply be at peace;

' There is no Nirvana in Samsara,
But there is no Samsara in Nirvana, either.' - Dogen Zenji

Just be kind -

and not from a condescending point of view; from a wisdom point of view.


I won't act like there's anywhere for to be -
If we are emptying the hatred sea;
Loving kindness is victory.


' If you are bothered by one thing,
you will be bothered by all things. ' - Dogen again.


Simple. No bothering. :anjali:
Om Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate bodhi svaha

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Re: How do you answer people who try to convert you?

Post by theanarchist » Fri Jul 31, 2015 4:07 pm

Urgyen Dorje wrote:As Buddhists, I think it's really important to understand that many people are motivated by genuine compassion and love when they seek to convert others to their faith. Their motivation is really no different than a vajrayana buddhist making visible "liberation on seeing" images. It's really a negative karmic association to meet genuine compassion with hostility..

Sorry, but that's not compassion but ignorance, just like peddling tupperware. There is no genuine compassion without wisdom and wisdom is what these Christian fundamentalists definitely don't have (I don't say that wisdom is exclusive to buddhists, of course there are Christians, Muslims, Hindus, etc who have wisdom, but it's usually found in those who don't try to convert, because they don't see other people as deficient because of their beliefs)

And trying to convert someone is definitely something else than religious art in public as an inspiration. If I put a mantra, statue of the virgin Mary, an islamic calligraphy or other religious symbol in public with the intention of creating a positive impact, then I don't intrude on anyone.

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Re: How do you answer people who try to convert you?

Post by Urgyen Dorje » Fri Jul 31, 2015 4:17 pm

As I think I said in my original post, there are certainly those who do it for other reasons, obligation, puffing themselves up, etc. I would call those the Tupperware peddlers as there is a transaction at play.

I was referring to those who do it out of compassion, outside a transaction.

Jigten Sumgon said compassion is common to many paths. It's not based in transcendent wisdom. Bodhicitta is. I never said they had bodhicitta, but compassion.

I guess I've met really elevated Jesis peeps as well as Buddhist who were every bit the Tupperware salesmen as the JWs.

theanarchist wrote:
Urgyen Dorje wrote:As Buddhists, I think it's really important to understand that many people are motivated by genuine compassion and love when they seek to convert others to their faith. Their motivation is really no different than a vajrayana buddhist making visible "liberation on seeing" images. It's really a negative karmic association to meet genuine compassion with hostility..

Sorry, but that's not compassion but ignorance, just like peddling tupperware. There is no genuine compassion without wisdom and wisdom is what these Christian fundamentalists definitely don't have (I don't say that wisdom is exclusive to buddhists, of course there are Christians, Muslims, Hindus, etc who have wisdom, but it's usually found in those who don't try to convert, because they don't see other people as deficient because of their beliefs)

And trying to convert someone is definitely something else than religious art in public as an inspiration. If I put a mantra, statue of the virgin Mary, an islamic calligraphy or other religious symbol in public with the intention of creating a positive impact, then I don't intrude on anyone.

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Re: How do you answer people who try to convert you?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Fri Jul 31, 2015 5:14 pm

theanarchist wrote:
Sorry, but that's not compassion but ignorance, just like peddling tupperware. There is no genuine compassion without wisdom and wisdom is what these Christian fundamentalists definitely don't have (I don't say that wisdom is exclusive to buddhists, of course there are Christians, Muslims, Hindus, etc who have wisdom, but it's usually found in those who don't try to convert, because they don't see other people as deficient because of their beliefs)

And trying to convert someone is definitely something else than religious art in public as an inspiration. If I put a mantra, statue of the virgin Mary, an islamic calligraphy or other religious symbol in public with the intention of creating a positive impact, then I don't intrude on anyone.

Sure, there are times where you need to be direct and honest with people, because going along and agreeing is worse than disagreeing.

However, those are specialized circumstances I think, generally it is just stirring up bad feelings where it's unnecessary. No matter what you point out to a fundamentalist Christian about their belief system, 9 out 0f 10 are not going to even consider anything other than their current worldview. That being the case, try to "counter-evangelize" or de- evangelize actually just becomes an exercise in needing to be right, and we know where that sort of thing leads. Even if you have no respect at all for their beliefs and consider their intentions primarily negative (I don't think they are, personally), you could think about it like trying to argue with a paranoid schizophrenic about his worldview, a terrible idea, and you ain't getting through.

Personally I would never pretend to be Christian or anything similar, at the same time though, I don't argue with them unless it's an unusual circumstance. I've had a couple encounters where you can tell they were actually interested in conversation about religion generally, after a fashion.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

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Re: How do you answer people who try to convert you?

Post by KathyLauren » Fri Jul 31, 2015 5:43 pm

theanarchist wrote:There is no genuine compassion without wisdom and wisdom is what these Christian fundamentalists definitely don't have
I have to strongly disagree with that statement. Compassion is the wish to free other beings from suffering. Being without wisdom makes implementing that wish problematic, and will result in unskillful actions, but the wish itself can still be genuine.

Compassion needs to be recognized, acknowledged, and encouraged wherever it occurs, even when it is not supported by wisdom.

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Re: How do you answer people who try to convert you?

Post by steveb1 » Fri Jul 31, 2015 8:11 pm

... I just thought of another means of response. As a Shin Buddhist, it just now struck me that "Shinners" could reply to the fundamentalist Christian question, "Are you Saved? If you died right now, do you know where you're going?" / and to the assertion, "Jesus is Lord" / by citing simple, basic Shin teaching:

1. "Yes, I believe that I'm saved by Amida Buddha - meaning that Amida sees to it that I am liberated from Samsara and that I will become a Buddha in the Pure Land."

2. "For Amidists, Amida Buddha is 'Lord' - not only does He possess the Name Above All Names, but He confers the Name on us through our practice of the Nembutsu."

So it's possible to "mirror" the fundamentalist basics of "Who is your Lord? Where will you be when you die? Are you Saved?" - with, of course, appropriate explanations which they may not want to stick around to hear...

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Re: How do you answer people who try to convert you?

Post by Kaccāni » Fri Jul 31, 2015 8:19 pm

There once was a guy who had a decent strategy what to tell people who tried to convert them. At the time, slavery was big, and people were easily "converted" to slaves of the empire. So a typical answer would be "Oh, I can't serve you, because I already promised to a master. My master is eternal being, my father. Good luck trying to convince him to give myself to you." I think they called him "Jesus".

Would be fun to pull a Jesus strategy on so-called Christians.
Last edited by Kaccāni on Fri Jul 31, 2015 8:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How do you answer people who try to convert you?

Post by Urgyen Dorje » Fri Jul 31, 2015 8:20 pm

The whole question rests on intention.

What is the intention of the evangelist? Are they sharing with love and compassion? If so, take their gift. If they are on a trip, engaged in a spiritual war, or putting ground under their feet, that's a different matter.

It also depends on our intention. If we have an axe to grind, or take delight in rattling the cages of people with narrow minds, then that's a different matter.

Personally I find more in common with Christians than with materialists and nihilist.

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Re: How do you answer people who try to convert you?

Post by theanarchist » Fri Jul 31, 2015 8:41 pm

Urgyen Dorje wrote:
Personally I find more in common with Christians than with materialists and nihilist.

Depends very much on which type of Christian.

The current pope? Yes, definitely? The local Jehova's Witnesses with their threat of eternal damnation? Nope, certainly not, in that case I prefer a humanist agnostic.

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Re: How do you answer people who try to convert you?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Fri Jul 31, 2015 9:21 pm

Urgyen Dorje wrote:The whole question rests on intention.

What is the intention of the evangelist? Are they sharing with love and compassion? If so, take their gift. If they are on a trip, engaged in a spiritual war, or putting ground under their feet, that's a different matter.

It also depends on our intention. If we have an axe to grind, or take delight in rattling the cages of people with narrow minds, then that's a different matter.

Personally I find more in common with Christians than with materialists and nihilist.

I agree with Theanarchist that it depends on the type of Christian (though btw, IIRC Witnesses are not that concerned with damning - that's evangelicals), with Bible-belt fundamentalists, I don't feel I have much in common at all, other than the fact that I have doubts about materialism. However, having doubts about materialism based on philosophy is a world apart from believing hte earth is 6000 years old because scientists are engaged in an anti-religious conspiracy, carbon dating is wrong, and gays are servants of the devil. I don't think that constitutes having anything in common, as much as it proves the old saying about a broken clock being right once a day.

Of course, I'm going to endeavor to treat them well whether we have anything in common or not.

The issue with the above is that there are times in history where that desire to "share" their religious zeal translated into people like Charlemagne, happenings like witch burningss etc..we cannot pretend that all expressions of compassion minus wisdom are ok, can we?
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

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Re: How do you answer people who try to convert you?

Post by undefineable » Sat Aug 01, 2015 12:09 am

theanarchist wrote: There is no genuine compassion without wisdom
Says who?
theanarchist wrote: _ _ Muslims, Hindus, etc who have wisdom, but it's usually found in those who don't try to convert, because they don't see other people as deficient because of their beliefs
I've not heard of that kind of religious racism - Even when people try and convert others so as to feel more secure themselves, how is compassion not an ideal response?
theanarchist wrote: If I put a mantra, statue of the virgin Mary, an islamic calligraphy or other religious symbol in public with the intention of creating a positive impact, then I don't intrude on anyone.
You do. As for being approached directly, whatever happened to "Sorry; Not interested"?
you wore out your welcome with random precision {Pink Floyd}

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Re: How do you answer people who try to convert you?

Post by undefineable » Sat Aug 01, 2015 12:17 am

Urgyen Dorje wrote:The whole question rests on intention _ _ _ _ If they are on a trip, engaged in a spiritual war, or putting ground under their feet, that's a different matter
Why so?
you wore out your welcome with random precision {Pink Floyd}

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Re: How do you answer people who try to convert you?

Post by Urgyen Dorje » Sat Aug 01, 2015 3:56 am

I once dated a woman who was a very serious Christian. What she took away from her faith was that the most important thing to do was have compassion and love for everyone, and to work on her self grasping. Her whole life was really dedicated to service to others. For whatever reasons, she let all the straight edge hard core stuff from the Old Testament go, focused entirely on the ministry and example of Christ. She was really cool. She had some strange prescientific and premodern ideas about the world, but to be honest, no less so than many nonreligious people. Her whole trip was that a source of infinite love and compassion existed in the world, and the path to that was through her Christian faith. She had more love for beings, showed more compassion, and gave more of herself, than most Buddhists I know. As wacko as her path seemed to me, and still seems to me, she somehow bypassed snake handling, speaking in tongues, homophobia, sexual hangups, guilt, and all that good stuff. Was she evangelical? Sure. Not in a tract literature way, but in a desire to share her thing with people. It was less a sell and more simply revealing and sharing her own journey. I never heard her say God hated or disliked anyone or anything. All she talked about was love and compassion, grace and forgiveness, tolerance, joy, gratitude. That's a hell of an attractive set of qualities in a human being, and a set we should all aspire to cultivate as Buddhists. She was a damn beautiful woman too.

So, sure there are Christians who scare the hell out of men, and there are just as many who annoy they shit out of me. I live in the deep south. Trust me. I get it. I know how badly Christian zealotry can go. But in the end, people are people. What's in their hearts is what matters. What's written on the binding of their religious books doesn't say much about that.

When I look back on my lady friend, what I'm reminded of are the words of Garchen Rinpoche and Khenchen Khenpo Palden Sherab Rinpoche. Love, compassion, joy, devotion, selflessness. I would much rather roll with my old lady friend than many Buddhists I know, even though Buddhism is more familiar to me, and I really had no idea what her trip is about--- because she had the qualities I work to develop.

... so that was my only real point. If somebody comes to you and has a beautiful compassionate and loving heart, and wants to pray for you or tell you about their religion, or make you sandwhich, or whatever, it can be anything, then take their blessing, take their gift. They're just reflecting their own buddhanature. If they're coming loaded for bear, some spiritual bear, then give then there's nothing to receive.
Johnny Dangerous wrote:I agree with Theanarchist that it depends on the type of Christian (though btw, IIRC Witnesses are not that concerned with damning - that's evangelicals), with Bible-belt fundamentalists, I don't feel I have much in common at all, other than the fact that I have doubts about materialism. However, having doubts about materialism based on philosophy is a world apart from believing hte earth is 6000 years old because scientists are engaged in an anti-religious conspiracy, carbon dating is wrong, and gays are servants of the devil. I don't think that constitutes having anything in common, as much as it proves the old saying about a broken clock being right once a day.

Of course, I'm going to endeavor to treat them well whether we have anything in common or not.

The issue with the above is that there are times in history where that desire to "share" their religious zeal translated into people like Charlemagne, happenings like witch burningss etc..we cannot pretend that all expressions of compassion minus wisdom are ok, can we?

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