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Old 09-07-2017, 07:27 PM   #1
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Unity of Religions (A Chinese restaurant story)

I have an amusing experience from a few years ago that, for me, is one way to look at the concept of a unity of religions.
I had begun studying Buddhism and particularly Zen meditation online thru forums like this and thru emailing with teachers. I started reading scriptures and gaining a solid background in several different Buddhist philosophical schools. I began to think of myself as Buddhist.
I noticed two of the local Chinese restaurants had small working shrines to the Buddha with used incense or food offerings, not just decorative. I started up a conversation with the owners.
"I noticed your shrine of the Buddha. It's very nice."
"Umm.. Thanks"
I began to ask questions about how they prayed and such since I didn't use shrines. Just like pretty much anyone of any faith they said they prayed for daily things or to bless the buisness. I asked about if they knew the significance of three figures and weather this was a Pure Land depiction of the past, present and future Buddhas or not. If they meditated or read this text or that one. Both owners looked at me blankly. They didn't meditate or read Buddhist sutras. They prayed to Buddha when their kids were sick. One owner got uncomfortable and didn't want to talk about it, I wasn't clearly not a real Buddhist. The second owner at the other restaurant was super exicited and called over her whole family amazed to have found this white, American Buddhist. But we still had basically nothing in common.

The moral of the story is that I don't know who was more Buddhist with my study of the inner meanings or their attachment to external signs. As a Baha'i though, I have access to the wisdom of the Writings and can "pierce the veil of plurality". So I can go to any church or mosque or synagogue. I might not know the prayers to each statue but I know the deeper wisdom there. I can pray my own prayers to God of us all.
 
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Old 09-07-2017, 10:54 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticMonist View Post
The moral of the story is that I don't know who was more Buddhist with my study of the inner meanings or their attachment to external signs. As a Baha'i though, I have access to the wisdom of the Writings and can "pierce the veil of plurality". So I can go to any church or mosque or synagogue. I might not know the prayers to each statue but I know the deeper wisdom there. I can pray my own prayers to God of us all.
Thanks for sharing your story... I like stories.

What mystifies me is why the Baha'i Faith is so clear to us yet it completely eludes most people... Having been a student of psychology for many years, I used to try analyze this but I came to the conclusion that Baha'u'llah had the answer...

“Great indeed is this Day! The allusions made to it in all the sacred Scriptures as the Day of God attest its greatness. The soul of every Prophet of God, of every Divine Messenger, hath thirsted for this wondrous Day. All the divers kindreds of the earth have, likewise, yearned to attain it. No sooner, however, had the Day Star of His Revelation manifested itself in the heaven of God’s Will, than all, except those whom the Almighty was pleased to guide, were found dumbfounded and heedless.” Gleanings, p. 11

“So blind hath become the human heart that neither the disruption of the city, nor the reduction of the mountain in dust, nor even the cleaving of the earth, can shake off its torpor. The allusions made in the Scriptures have been unfolded, and the signs recorded therein have been revealed, and the prophetic cry is continually being raised. And yet all, except such as God was pleased to guide, are bewildered in the drunkenness of their heedlessness!” Gleanings, p. 39

“Some were guided by the Light of God, gained admittance into the court of His presence, and quaffed, from the hand of resignation, the waters of everlasting life, and were accounted of them that have truly recognized and believed in Him. Others rebelled against Him, and rejected the signs of God, the Most Powerful, the Almighty, the All-Wise.” Gleanings, p. 145
 
Old 09-08-2017, 03:20 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticMonist View Post
The moral of the story is that I don't know who was more Buddhist with my study of the inner meanings or their attachment to external signs.
And on that note, I feel called upon to recall the famous Winnie-the-Pooh quote, "Tiddly Pom", which by its simplicity comes very close to revealing the inner meaning of all things.

Best

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Old 09-08-2017, 01:20 PM   #4
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I've found a different lesson on Unity in my local Chinese restaurant. Well, at least, it started as a Chinese restaurant. Now it serves Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Thai foods all together!! Unity of Cultures, right there on the menu!!

American cuisine and its tendency to just adopt anything from any other culture is an odd sort of unity, to be sure. But it's interesting to see the unity of culture there anyways, and the openness to accept nearly anything into the overall culinary culture is promising for the idea of future unity.
 
Old 09-08-2017, 03:07 PM   #5
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Thank for your comments.
Trailblazer,
I really enjoy writing little pieces like this. I really enjoy scripture so sometimes I think in parables.
I agree that it seems the Baha'i path of unity of religions and intensely mystical monotheism should be more apparent. I basically realized this on my own when struggling with the conflicting views of Judaism and Christianity. I knew they were both true but lacked the understanding and guidance. What seem obvious to me, no one else could see. So who would guide me? Then I read the seven valleys (thanks Walrus!!!!) and it was like being handed a map. I'm just amazed by the Writings.
Gnat, I'll have to read that thanks.
Walrus, sure! You can definitely take the story a different direction. It's the great thing about use of metaphor and story to convey truth. That's why I love the teaching of divine manifestations. They are described as mirrors or nightingales or jewels. As far as I've seen for far there isn't a long theological explanation like there is in the Christian trinity. It maintains the mystery while still conveying the Truth. Spelling everything out is the vain imaging show of man.
 
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