My Kadampa understanding of the Bible: Motivation

The heart commitment of Dorje Shugden, which I consider to be perhaps my deepest commitment of all, is to follow one tradition purely without mixing while respecting all other traditions.  This is a middle way between the extreme of sectarianism, which believes one has a monopoly on the truth and all others must ascribe to your views, and the extreme of having no tradition at all, which believes one has the ability to mix and match different paths into own’s own personal religion.  Both extremes are wrong.  There are different ways up the mountain and even if we could forge our own path up the mountain (an unlikely possibility) it is much more sensible to simply take the well-worn path karmically closest to you.

The paradox is it is only by following one’s own tradition purely without mixing that one can gain an appreciation and respect for all other paths as being valid for those who travel them.  It is not mixing to understand all subjects through the lens of one’s own tradition.  Quite the opposite, every subject understood through the lens of one’s own tradition takes our understanding of the truth of our path that much deeper.

The Bible is probably the most important book ever written in Western civilization and its stories also form part of the foundation of the Islamic world.  It has shaped the consciousness of these civilizations for thousands of years.  To understand the Bible through a Kadampa lens, therefore, enables us to understand the cultural, historical, political and spiritual legacy of close to half of the planet.

Likewise, its stories provide powerful and profound illustrations of the truth of the Kadam Dharma.  As Western Kadampas, I consider it part of our responsibility to fully integrate the Dharma into Western civilization to understand how the Bible reveals the truth of the Kadam Dharma.  If we can succeed in this, there is great hope we will likewise be able to understand more deeply how the entire culture we live in in the West likewise reveals the truth of Dharma.  For those who live in the East, having a Kadampa understanding of the Bible will help you to better understand how the Western world and what it does also reveals the truth of Dharma.  From this perspective, I feel it is a worthwhile endeavor to go through the main stories of the Bible and consider them through the lens of the Kadampa teachings so as to be able to derive Kadampa lessons from them.

Likewise, we now have a new Pope, who, as a Jesuit, seems to be a departure from past Popes.  This seems a topical time to consider the stories of the Bible through the lens of the Kadampa.  Finally, of all of the posts I have done so far on this blog, one of the most frequently read has been “In Praise of Jesus!”  Many Kadampas come to the tradition after having previously been Christian, either as practitioners or simply as part of their family life.  Many people mistakenly believe we need to reject Christianity to become a Buddhist.  Not at all.  One of the best parts about being a Kadampa is we have no need to claim a monopoly on the truth.  Because everything is empty, there are many different ways of viewing things.  Each one will work for different people.  So there is no contradiction whatsoever in saying we encourage others to follow their Christian path and we can appreciate its beauty from the perspective of our own path.   For many people, it was their Christian path that brought them to the Kadampa.  It is senseless to reject the boat that brought us to the Island of the Kadam Dharma.  We can be thankful for it, but still understand we have moved on.  We don’t have to reject our past, we simple move beyond it.  If we still grasp at rejecting Christianity as part of our Buddhist understanding, I feel we are creating obstacles which prevent us from fully integrating the Kadam Dharma into our modern world, which is pervaded by Christian values and norms.

Based on this motivation, I will now share my own personal thoughts on the subject.  By no means should this be taken as a definitive account of anything.  Rather this is my own personal attempt to deepen my own understanding.  For me, putting my thoughts into words forces me to be very precise in my thinking.  I view writing as part of my own contemplation of the Dharma.  I hope that it may also prove useful for others.

5 thoughts on “My Kadampa understanding of the Bible: Motivation

  1. Thanks Kadampa Ryan. I look forward to your posts and I think this is a wonderful theme. We respect all other beliefs so, this will be a good chance to build bridges for those who think we need them (from our side, I believe we already have the ultimate bridges to others). I was brought up as a christian and got interested in Dharma in my twenties. I have only recently arrived at the Kadampa tradition; four years since reading my first book by Geshe-La – and yes, his books kept coming to my attention when searching for clearer teachings! This was very fortunate for me. It will be good to dwell on the wisdom of christianity through the eyes of good Dharma practitioner such as yourself.

  2. What a beautiful view. I think for most people, when we really get into something (could be anything) there is a tendency to on some level reject other things. It’s a kind of side effect of zeal. I never thought that this was what Geshe-la wanted for us, and was so happy to see that short yet deeply impactive sentence in the book Modern Buddhism ‘Today we can see many different forms of Buddhism. All these different aspects are practices of Buddha’s teachings, and all are equally precious, they are just different presentations.’ From this I believe we can extrapolate that all spiritual paths are precious in their own ways. Hence we can co-exist in a multi-cultural and multi-faith world, in harmony and respect.

  3. I also now believe that Dharma is everywhere, taught within most faith and even some non-faith systems. I believe most people have some level of Dharma wisdom, even atheists. Perhaps I’m on a wrong train of thought with this, but I’m seeing ‘Dharma’ more as a term Buddhists conventionally use to describe a set of understandings and realizations- the vast majority of which are not exclusive to people who use the label ‘Buddhist.’ Hence Dharma appears in the world in many different guises and under many different labels, and even appears in people’s minds with no label, it’s just there, as a result of previous practice. Thinking like this has given my rejoicing practice a super-boost, I see manifestations of Dharma wisdom all over the place now, not just in or from my Sangha friends 🙂

  4. Yes Ryan, i thinks it is important to difuse this idea ans thanks to do it.

    We CAN say the same for muslim Too. Nô need To reject the previous way To fully follow Kadam path . Just need To listen Kadamp teaching

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