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Week #14 Discussion Café

For this final Discussion Café, respond to class members' Reading Reflection postings for week #14. Due: by Sunday, May 3 (midnight).


In response to Stephanie R: I think this is a good insight to take from the class as well because it connects with my feelings of ambivalence towards religion. I have also had a distaste for organized religion – partly because it was forced on me as a child to go to church “or else” and partly because I could never really understand or agree with how the religion we practiced supported and taught male superiority over women. When I was old enough to decide for myself whether I wanted to practice any religion, I immediately stopped going to church because of these feeling. Although my family did not agree with my choice and saw it as abandoning my religion, I felt it necessary to search for peace through other outlets like within myself. Like Stephanie, now that I understand the “corruption in organized religion, and the positive actions that can come out of a love of creation and an ability to see how things are all connected, I have less fear of the church and a more open mind towards its teachings”. I can attend church aware of the fact that corruption like sexism does in fact exist, but I can separate the earthly sexism from the spiritual message that I can receive from the pastor. Also, the opportunity to reach out and make a difference by speaking out against such corruption gives me even more of a reason to be there in the church.

Reflection to 14 reading.
In terms of Christianity, I agreed with McCollum’s view that “Body is the origin of constructed reality” under the ordinary experiences of sickness, limitation, aging, and death. Since I am Buddhist, I like to share some opinion about this topic, we believe that the body is a temporary shell for the spirit and mind can concentrate on pursuing enlightenment. It is true that healthy body is more sufficient and effective performing physically activity and aging process can slower your physical ability. We also believe that people who are spiritually focused and follow a faithful regimen of meditation, balance diet, and exercise will not become sick. Buddhist believes that they could cure their illness by using the mind more than the medication treatment. Death in Buddhism is a last chance for enlightenment. During the dying process, the mind of the person should not be disturbed and the spirit of the dead body will be undisturbed. Death is not separated from life in Buddhism. I have seen many different death experiences. Some of them consider death is freedom from suffering for example, people who are in the long process of dying from painful cancer. I totally agreed with Natasha that “In our search for a new understanding of the relation between our bodies and us, we must somehow take account of the fact that bodies, by their very nature (because they are alive), not only are born and grow to maturity, but also grow old, sicken, and die.” As we know that our body and spirit are two separate things, when we die, the bodies will buried or cremated, but we believe that our soul and spirit will be exit.

In response to Tiffany, I couldn’t agree more with you about your comments on fear and how it impedes a person’s ability to look beyond “blind faith” and come to a place of better understanding. I found that I too, was judged and made to feel like a potential betrayer when I decided to move away from, or in a different direction, than my family had intended. I also found that when I raised questions or brought opposing views (scholarly viewpoints) to a discussion that my “conservative” Christian friends took offense and were unwilling to discuss or even entertain the idea that maybe our “traditional” understanding of the scriptures may in fact, be a product of—in one way or another—bias. I found this absolutely fascinating! Why would so many of my friends and family members be unwilling to think or talk openly about the man made facets of religion? Well it was fear of course.

Some years ago I heard a sermon by Chuck Swindoll and he discussed the absolute necessity of discernment for Christians—the requirement to fully understand and interpret “truth” from non-truth. Now, he wasn’t talking about that our faith—the Christian faith—as the only “truth” or that we should go to church to find that “truth”—in fact—he was talking about the need for a person (separate from the church and others) to do their homework, to study, to search, to reflect—to discern—what “truth” really is. I can’t tell you what a profound affect this had on me. It was one of the pieces to my puzzle and has really been the catalyst for my “ambivalence” and quest for a personal “truth”. So I applaud your courage and wish you the best in your journey to find your truth.

In response to Tenzin, thank you for sharing the details of your beliefs about the body and dying. You mentioned that Buddhists believe that the mind can cure illness and this is similar to the beliefs of Christian Scientists—interesting! You also mentioned that while a person is dying that the mind should not be disturbed because it’s their last time to achieve enlightenment—I would like to know more about this…

This struck me because, as I mentioned before, my Dad recently died and while he was in the active stage of dying our hospice nurse made a comment that my Dad was in the process of doing some “important work” and in the moment I didn’t ask her to elaborate, but she was obviously alluding to something on a spiritual plane. So when I read your comments it made me think back to that time and reflect on the work that my Dad must have been doing—it’s so hard to wrap my mind around the concept of a dying body yet an active mind and the potentiality of that disconnect—and maybe your faith tradition can help me gain some better insight into the process—so thank you!

Also, thank you to everyone else for your comments and candor which made the process of learning in this course a richer experience—my best wishes to all of you.

I want to thank everyone for your insights and the thoughtful discussions we've had in class and on line. I've learned from each of you.

Tenzin thank you for sharing Buddhism's teaching on death. It explained to me in a very clear concrete way what I witnessed right before my aunt died. I visited her in a hospice two weeks before she died. I won't go into details about her illness, just that she was so very aware of what was going on around her while she was in extreme pain and dying. Yet her soul and spirit were very present very aware. I didn't understand till now just what was happening. Thank you Tenzin.

Wendy good luck to you! Hope the graduation went well.