Buddhism has started to influence a lot of different areas of our pop culture, meditation is being suggested by doctors for anxiety and stress relief, mindfulness retreats are becoming popular, yoga classes are offered all over, zen teas, herbal supplements and zen candles are being sold to name a few examples. With the rise in popularity of Buddhism I was curious as to how America has Westernized Buddhism. I chose Buddhism as my religion of study for the semester and while I feel that I learned a lot about this religion, I still fully stand for the exclusivism of Christianity and the belief of Jesus being the only way to God.
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I grew up without any religious influence in my life and to this day nether of my parents practice a religion. In my house, Christmas was about Santa similarly Easter was about the Easter bunny. Things changed for me when I was 16 after a friend of mine introduced me to Jesus, it felt like my eyes were finally open. Every situation in my life that I had gone through I could see how it was all intricately woven together for Gods plan. I’ve been a Christian for over 10 years now and I attend church and bible study regularly. Learning about other religions in the class has helped strengthen my faith and grow it even deeper.
I attended a Monday night meditation and dharma talk at the Buddhist Sangha of Bucks County. I was fortunate to be present for a guest speaker, Rebecca Li who led a guided meditation called Shikantaza or silent illumination. Shikantaza is a non-thinking meditation, where you let yourself experience everything without getting attached to anything. It is also called just sitting, however its not exactly about your postural position, it is better described as sitting within yourself and unplugging from the everyday distractions. Shikantaza is a way to free yourself from attachment, allowing your body mind to naturally drop off and the true Dharma to manifests. (Sugawara) When everyone entered the room, I noticed that they all bowed to the Buddha before taking a seat. I was naively confused at the time, but I have since researched this and found that they bow they are expressing gratitude for the historical Buddha as a teacher, gratitude for the teachings themselves, respect for their own capacity for awakening, and acknowledgement of the oneness of Being. (Segall) When Rebecca entered the room she went beyond just bowing before the Buddha, she did some movements with her hands clasped and then went on to do a five-point prostration and transitioned to a full prostration with her entire body in contact with the earth. Researching this I have found the five-point prostration is a visualization of the five negative emotions (anger,
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