Are you a Christian Buddhist? Now first up, I am no expert on Buddhism so my knowledge is limited and I am not beating up on their faith.
But as a Christian, sometimes we can be surprised how wrong concepts can creep into our faith.
One question I like to ask from time to time is, “Are you a Christian Buddhist?” What do I mean by that? Passion, emotion and desires are God given and beautiful things. Yet in a crazy way I often see Christians attacking them. The thinking is, ‘… if we can just eliminate that desire, squash it down, starve it out, I will be ok. I will be a good Christian, because desire leads to sin.’
Now if you are heading down that track you aren’t far away from what Buddhists believe. Buddhists see desire as the cause of suffering; and suffering is the core problem of life. So a Christian that fights their own issues at the desire end; if we spend our life trying to shut down our desires, ends up in a strange sort of place. It is a weird form of Christian Buddhism. Never God’s intention!
Now this isn’t just my idea…let go to the bible. Colossians 2:21–23 (NIV)
21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
Now the latin for this sort of living is called ‘via negativa’… or living life by, ‘do not’s’. This is NOT how God has asked us to live. He placed desire, passion, in us. Seriously no wonder Christians are viewed as Ned Flanders, boring, careful people that wear white jackets and blue shirts and conservative hair cuts (yes that is what I am currently wearing…) We were never called to live like that! What is the answer?
Love. Or as Augustine would put it – “Love in the right order”. We learn to love God first and all the other desires find their place. The next verses in Colossians there tell us the answer. “Set our heart on things above…” Ultimately we know that is Christ.
C.S. Lewis says, we humans are, “…far to easily satisfied…” In other words do we understand there is something far more beautiful on offer, and that is God himself.
So instead, we work our love for him into our life. When we enjoy time in nature, we recognize the creator. When we eat a good steak, we mediate on the one who made cows! When we laugh in good company take a second or too to know that rich relationships give us only a glimpse of God’s love for us.
Then we begin to see a sweeter thing and our desire finds its place.
So – desire isn’t the enemy. But love is the goal.