The book I'm reading is "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron. In each chapter there are quotes from notable historical heroes and people of note on the margins of each page. In the section I was reading today was a quote from Buddha. It said, "To keep the body in good health is a duty. Otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear." Now, my immediate thought was, "This may be true, but why is it coming from a man who is always portrayed by artists and stonemasons as morbidly obese?" Now perhaps the real Buddha was trim, taut and terrific. I've heard this theory, but if this is the case, why do his statues make him appear as if he's a candidate for the cardiac ward and ought to go on a diet and get to the gym?
I'd like to add that I've known a few practising Buddhists and they've been lovely, caring people. I had to study Buddhism, along with the other major world religions, at High School in a subject called, "History of Ideas." I've even read some texts by authors who have tried to integrate both Buddhism and Christianity into their own personal lives. However, I know that any understanding I have is fairly shallow. Coming from a Christian background, I don't know a great deal about Buddhism, but here are a few observations.
Julia Cameron herself, in "The Artist's Way" says, "Creativity requires action and part of that action must be physical. It is one of the pitfalls of westerners adopting eastern meditation techniques to bliss out and render ourselves high but dysfunctional. We lose our grounding and with it, our capacity to act in the world." Interesting thought!
My pastor and a team of others, including one of my sisters-in-law, have just returned from a missions trip to Sri Lanka. They showed us all some beautiful slides and told us interesting stories. The pastor mentioned the prevalence of Buddhism among the people of Sri Lanka and told us that it's amazing to visit the country with an Australian perspective. Over here, most people we come across who practise Buddhism (and there are relatively few) emphasize the peaceful, introspective aspect, and karma, nirvana, respecting all living creatures, and searching for happiness within. That was what they expected to find from the Buddhists in Sri Lanka but instead, they are far, far more militant, throwing their weight around and persecuting minority groups. Also interesting.
It's fairly late at night and I wasn't really sure where I was going with this when I started it. I guess I'm just glad to be born into a Christian culture with a chance to practise my Christian beliefs without persecution. Because when you think about it, in spite of the reputation we sometimes have of being "pushy" and "intolerant" of others, Christianity is by far the least "pushy" and aggressive of all major world religions. We don't arrest, molest or torture anybody who differs from us, unlike the others, especially in their home countries. And that's just part of what Jesus meant when he spoke of his followers being the light and salt of the world. Praise God for that!