A friend told me that Buddhism was life-changing. Her description of what Buddhism taught her sounded, to me, perfectly Christian and terribly non-Buddhist.
As she said, Buddhism teaches that pain arises from desire. But how did she understand this?
Her illustration and explanation said that trying to grasp onto things only leads to disappointment when they – inevitably – are taken away. So, instead, we should hold things lightly, happy to seek out good things but content even if they fade or prove unattainable.
But that’s not Buddhist, going by my (inadequate) understanding. It’s my understanding that Buddhist philosophy teaches that all desire causes pain and should be negated. Even a ‘gentle’ desire is, therefore, undesirable.
I could not help thinking that her ‘Buddhist’ ideas were profoundly Christian. And probably ideas she’d picked up in a society deeply shaped by biblical teaching.
It’s Christian to say that creation is good and that God made it for enjoyment (see 1 Timothy 4:4-5). It is also very important not to grasp on to what God gives us, for it is idolatry to exalt the creation over the Creator (Romans 1:27).
I think my friend exemplifies a very common situation: that someone ‘not interested in Christianity’ actually loves something that it explicitly Christian. The treasure of the Bible and its worldview is still a treasure, even when the giver receives no thanks.
In a way, all people raised in a place like Australia have Christan roots. We’re all ‘Christian’, even when far away from being a follower of Christ. In another example, I remember an atheist’s proposal for how atheist-Christian conversation should take place. It was full of good ideas like respect and true listening. Every one of the positive ideas was grounded in biblical doctrine: creation in God’s image justifies equal respect (survival of the fittest justifies no such thing).
I would like to know how to sensitively raise this with people. I don’t want to sound superior or triumphant – ‘You’ve just said a Christian thing, ner nernie ner ner.’ I would love to see people become open to investigate that which they’ve written off.
I didn’t say anything to my friend. What do you suggest?