A 'meeting of two religious streams'
Extract from A 'meeting of two religious streams'
By LOUIS SAHAGUN, Los Angeles Times, May 26, 2006
As the world's leading Buddhist, the Dalai Lama, likes to say: If there is a problem and there is nothing you can do about it, there's no use worrying. If there is something that can be done, there's no use worrying. And with that understanding can come contentment, even joy.
I especially like these parts:
"Most people don't go very far into Buddhism; they just want to feel a little better," said Michael Shiffman, founder of L.A. Dharma, a nonsectarian Buddhist organization in Los Angeles. "But can you be Jewish and not believe in God? Good question."
Others, however, would say it all depends on an individual's definition of God.
Essentially, Buddhism creates a solitary and quiet path away from suffering and toward a moral life based on an all-inclusive vision of interconnectedness, wisdom and compassion. A method for achieving that awareness is daily meditation.
Being nondogmatic, Buddhism does not require that adherents join anything or reject anything — even the notion of God.
So in this regard it differs vastly from Judaism, a community-based tradition that relies on observances, laws and prayers such as the mourner's kaddish — the prayer for the dead — to connect adherents with a personal god."
"Suffering is at the heart of the matter," suggested David Gottlieb, whose autobiographical book Letters to a Buddhist Jew examines the life of a "Zen Jew" struggling to resolve his two identities. "Judaism, at its best, embraces suffering and, at its worst, enshrines it. Buddhism explicitly seeks to end suffering and doesn't look to the past."
Lee Rosenthal, 59, of San Diego found that powerfully appealing. He'd just returned from the Vietnam War and was facing the deaths of his two children shortly after they were born, and then his wife's cancer.
"I couldn't buy into the spiritual answers I was getting from people for why my little babies passed away," he recalled. "But I picked up a book on Buddhism and it spoke to me, streetwise and honest."
"Instead of sugarcoating things, it gave me a plain explanation for why I was suffering: Life is painful and difficult," he said. "It said also you can't run away from it. Deal with it."
"I'm a healthy mosaic of Judaism and Buddhism," Lieberman said. "Is that fair to either religion? Fair schmair! It's what I am.
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