Why is Christianity so complex?

MontyMonty Shipmate
So, to follow the Christian faith I need to pray (using a variety of different methods), study my Bible (with the help of commentaries to explain what can be very difficult to truly understand) take part in the Eucharist, serve, read other spiritual classics. I am expected to believe in a virgin birth, Christ’s atonement, and the resurrection of the dead.

Meanwhile, my Zen Buddhist friend just sits and follows his breath.

Am I missing something, or is Christianity unnecessarily complex?
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Comments

  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    I know next to nothing about Zen Buddhism, but it does seem to me that there have been quite a few books written on the subject. I wonder what those books could all be discussing, if the whole religion is just about following your own breath.
  • Raptor EyeRaptor Eye Shipmate
    edited January 2
    I don’t think that it is complex to follow Christ. Each one of the methods you list helps us to draw near to God, and we can also do so by sitting and spending time in meditation.

    As for being expected to believe in extraordinary events, we are not - but if God is God, we surely wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less than the extraordinary.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    Meditation is very important in the Christian faith. Simply listening to the Word as expressed in the Bible, and meditating on its meaning for you today is good enough. The virgin birth is of secondary importance No need to get hung up on the theories of atonement. The resurrection of Jesus is key, but no one can seem to explain it. Just experience the mystery of the faith.
  • Monty wrote: »
    So, to follow the Christian faith I need to pray (using a variety of different methods), study my Bible (with the help of commentaries to explain what can be very difficult to truly understand) take part in the Eucharist, serve, read other spiritual classics. I am expected to believe in a virgin birth, Christ’s atonement, and the resurrection of the dead.

    Meanwhile, my Zen Buddhist friend just sits and follows his breath.

    Am I missing something, or is Christianity unnecessarily complex?
    My guess is that you are greatly oversimplifying and underestimating your Zen Buddhist friend’s practice and what lies behind it.

    I also think you may be describing as things you “need” to do activities that really fall in the category of “may be beneficial to do.” I don’t think, for example, that to be a Christian you need to read a variety of spiritual classics.

    It doesn’t strike me that Christianity is really any more complex than other major religions. Which isn’t to say that Christians, being human, may not overcomplicate things from time to time.

  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    edited January 2
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    I don’t think, for example, that to be a Christian you need to read a variety of spiritual classics.

    Probably no more than a Zen Buddhist needs to ponder the significance of a particular koan.

  • stetson wrote: »
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    I don’t think, for example, that to be a Christian you need to read a variety of spiritual classics.

    Probably no more than a Zen Buddhist needs to ponder the significance of a particular koan.
    True enough.
  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    Monty wrote: »
    So, to follow the Christian faith I need to pray (using a variety of different methods), study my Bible (with the help of commentaries to explain what can be very difficult to truly understand) take part in the Eucharist, serve, read other spiritual classics. I am expected to believe in a virgin birth, Christ’s atonement, and the resurrection of the dead.

    Meanwhile, my Zen Buddhist friend just sits and follows his breath.

    Am I missing something, or is Christianity unnecessarily complex?

    Which of those is commanded in the gospels?
  • MarthaMartha Shipmate
    Maybe your friend is busy worrying about all the different types of meditation and Buddhist detail he has to know, and is thinking, "All Monty has to do is follow Jesus".
  • Alan29 wrote: »
    Monty wrote: »
    So, to follow the Christian faith I need to pray (using a variety of different methods), study my Bible (with the help of commentaries to explain what can be very difficult to truly understand) take part in the Eucharist, serve, read other spiritual classics. I am expected to believe in a virgin birth, Christ’s atonement, and the resurrection of the dead.

    Meanwhile, my Zen Buddhist friend just sits and follows his breath.

    Am I missing something, or is Christianity unnecessarily complex?

    Which of those is commanded in the gospels?

    Prayer? Given that Jesus is reported to have said *When you pray...*

    Loving others as one loves oneself is the *New Commandment*, of course, but people of other faiths do that as well. @Monty doesn't mention that in their list - I wonder why?
  • OhherOhher Shipmate
    Christianity (whatever that is) probably derives its apparent complexities from its tangles with human nature (whatever that is). As a species, we spend our modest 3-mebbe-4-score-&-10 in an ongoing negotiation between conforming to the requirements of the groups in which we claim membership and individual wishes / proclivities. I frankly doubt that this ongoing accommodation/sometimes struggle is actually radically different in nature or level of difficulty for members of any group -- Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc. -- which professes to claim unity with, adherence to, or veneration for some transcendent divine.
  • Jesus said something like 'One can approach God as if one is a child; with wonder, inquisitively, often grateful, sometimes tantrums; always loved, unconditionally'.

    (Mark 10 , Matthew 18, with apologies to shipmates who read and interpret the Bible properly)
  • Not being very knowledgeable about any of the groups @Ohher mentions, I hesitate to comment in detail - but I do see the point being made.
  • PomonaPomona Shipmate
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    Meditation is very important in the Christian faith. Simply listening to the Word as expressed in the Bible, and meditating on its meaning for you today is good enough. The virgin birth is of secondary importance No need to get hung up on the theories of atonement. The resurrection of Jesus is key, but no one can seem to explain it. Just experience the mystery of the faith.

    This in itself is surely up for debate. There isn't anything about meditating on the Bible in the Nicene Creed. There is quite a bit about the Virgin Birth. I would personally see the latter as more significant and certainly more unique to Christianity. I definitely would not see it as a secondary issue in any way.
  • The thing is, real things ARE complex, by and large. It is man-made things that tend toward the simple. Things are what they are, and there's no sense complaining that something (your liver, for instance, or the structure of a black hole) is too complex. It is what it is, and nobody invented it with the intention of inconveniencing us.

    That said, it is not necessary for you to make responses to all the complexity of Christianity. Take the virgin birth, for instance. That is a fact, but it doesn't require anything of us who believe it. We are not (for example) required to remain virgins ourselves, or to accomplish our own reproducing in some analogous fashion, or even to put a bumper sticker publicizing the doctrine on our rear car bumers. The fact is there, but our response to it can be minimal or non-existent.

    So following Jesus is at least partly an exercise in discernment (or being led, if you prefer). You disentangle the "bits" of Christianity that require an active response from you--for instance, the call to trust and obey Christ, the call to care for our neighbors, etc.--and you maybe contemplate with interest the bits that do not require some immediate action on your part (the Trinity, various models of the atonement, the precise nature of the resurrection body).

    Some of the less urgent bits may become urgent at other points of your life. But at any given time, what you have to actively comprehend and respond to is likely to be a pretty small subset of the whole reality. Just as my nursing child only had to engage with my face, my arms, and my breasts--my knees, feet, lungs were distant realities he could safely ignore at that point in his life. Things change as life goes on.



  • TelfordTelford Shipmate
    Raptor Eye wrote: »

    As for being expected to believe in extraordinary events, we are not - but if God is God, we surely wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less than the extraordinary.

    That's very well put.
  • There are different ways of practising Zen, actually, not just counting breaths. But I think it aims away from intellectual stuff. Well, some Christians do. I think these things are as complex as you make them, or want them.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    edited January 3
    Pomona wrote: »
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    Meditation is very important in the Christian faith. Simply listening to the Word as expressed in the Bible, and meditating on its meaning for you today is good enough. The virgin birth is of secondary importance No need to get hung up on the theories of atonement. The resurrection of Jesus is key, but no one can seem to explain it. Just experience the mystery of the faith.

    This in itself is surely up for debate. There isn't anything about meditating on the Bible in the Nicene Creed. There is quite a bit about the Virgin Birth. I would personally see the latter as more significant and certainly more unique to Christianity. I definitely would not see it as a secondary issue in any way.

    The Bible says a lot about Meditation. I give you Psalm 1

    1 Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
    or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
    2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
    *
    3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
    and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.

    4 Not so the wicked!
    They are like chaff
    that the wind blows away.
    5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

    6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction..

    * law of God= revelation of God

    Re: Virgin Birth. Considering only two Gospels mention the virgin birth but Mark and John do not and Paul does not mention it, nor is it mentioned in the other epistles, I am not going to insist that a new Christian has to accept it. While it is mentioned in the creeds of the 600s, people of the 2000s kind of stumble over it.

    BTW, you might want to read this article There is Nothing New About Virgin Births (Just Ask Plato).
  • Gramps49 wrote: »
    Re: Virgin Birth. Considering only two Gospels mention the virgin birth but Mark and John do not and Paul does not mention it, nor is it mentioned in the other epistles, I am not going to insist that a new Christian has to accept it. While it is mentioned in the creeds of the 600s, people of the 2000s kind of stumble over it.
    Some people stumble over it just as sure me people always have, while others don’t stumble over it at all. Regardless of whether you insist on it or not, the point @Pomona is making is certainly correct. The Virgin Birth is in the Creed (and in Scripture) and has historically been seen as an important claim in Christianity because of what it says about the nature of Jesus—fully God and fully human.

    You may see it as secondary. I really don’t think, though, that Christianity as a whole over the last two millennia has seen it as secondary.

  • SojournerSojourner Shipmate
    It seems that Christianity of itself is not complex, it’s the bloody Christians of all stripes which make it so with all the accretions, agendas and power plays which come with the human condition.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    Sojourner wrote: »
    It seems that Christianity of itself is not complex, it’s the bloody Christians of all stripes which make it so with all the accretions, agendas and power plays which come with the human condition.

    Though, arguably, what one person would consider an agenda or a power play, another person would consider a basic truth.
  • SojournerSojourner Shipmate
    Of course.

    My dogma vs your heresy😉
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    Re: Virgin Birth. Considering only two Gospels mention the virgin birth but Mark and John do not and Paul does not mention it, nor is it mentioned in the other epistles, I am not going to insist that a new Christian has to accept it. While it is mentioned in the creeds of the 600s, people of the 2000s kind of stumble over it.
    Some people stumble over it just as sure me people always have, while others don’t stumble over it at all. Regardless of whether you insist on it or not, the point @Pomona is making is certainly correct. The Virgin Birth is in the Creed (and in Scripture) and has historically been seen as an important claim in Christianity because of what it says about the nature of Jesus—fully God and fully human.

    You may see it as secondary. I really don’t think, though, that Christianity as a whole over the last two millennia has seen it as secondary.

    Look, the Christian faith stands or falls on the Resurrection, though I have to say it is very hard to explain. That is the primary teaching of the faith. Everything else is secondary. Who would care if Jesus was born of a virgin if it were not for his resurrection?

  • Gramps49 wrote: »
    Pomona wrote: »
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    Meditation is very important in the Christian faith. Simply listening to the Word as expressed in the Bible, and meditating on its meaning for you today is good enough. The virgin birth is of secondary importance No need to get hung up on the theories of atonement. The resurrection of Jesus is key, but no one can seem to explain it. Just experience the mystery of the faith.

    This in itself is surely up for debate. There isn't anything about meditating on the Bible in the Nicene Creed. There is quite a bit about the Virgin Birth. I would personally see the latter as more significant and certainly more unique to Christianity. I definitely would not see it as a secondary issue in any way.

    The Bible says a lot about Meditation. I give you Psalm 1

    1 Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
    or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
    2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
    *
    3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
    and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.

    4 Not so the wicked!
    They are like chaff
    that the wind blows away.
    5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

    6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction..

    * law of God= revelation of God

    Re: Virgin Birth. Considering only two Gospels mention the virgin birth but Mark and John do not and Paul does not mention it, nor is it mentioned in the other epistles, I am not going to insist that a new Christian has to accept it. While it is mentioned in the creeds of the 600s, people of the 2000s kind of stumble over it.

    BTW, you might want to read this article There is Nothing New About Virgin Births (Just Ask Plato).

    What creeds were written in the 600s?
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    edited January 3
    Gotta go with LC's answer. Christianity is complex because it's about something real, and reality is complex.
  • SojournerSojourner Shipmate
    But is Christianity complex?

    I would say not. Christ’s message is simple and the complexities ( as opposed to mysteries of same) appear to be largely accretions over the centuries.
  • The RogueThe Rogue Shipmate
    Christianity is simple. People stuffed it up but God sorted it because He loves us.
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    It appears to be reliably reported that on April 23, 1962, Karl Barth, in response to a student at the Rockefeller Chapel in the University of Chicago asking if he could summarise his theology in a single sentence replied: "In the words of a song I learned at my mother's knee: 'Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.'"
  • Monty wrote: »
    Meanwhile, my Zen Buddhist friend just sits and follows his breath.

    Am I missing something, or is Christianity unnecessarily complex?

    Possibly a detailed understanding Zen Buddhism ?
  • Penny SPenny S Shipmate
    I don't feel that the virgin birth emphasises that Jesus was fully man and fully God. It actually excludes part of being fully human.
    What bothers me about the complexity of Christianity is how it provides innumerable niches for people who want to evade the loving your neighbour as yourself part, and translating it as nothing less than hate.
    Starting with, for example, the likes of Cyril who saw to the killing of Hypatia in a particularly nasty way, right up to the present day when people in pastoral roles can simply make people feel it impossible to be part of worship with them. The whole lot of them feel justified by the way Christianity has become a shelter for them.
  • Christianity is simple. All we do is sit around in silence for an hour.

    And out of that silence comes the questions.

    The questions - and the search for answers - that is a lifetimes work.

    And that drives me to prayer, study, contemplation. Again and again. I think, sometimes, some people* demand that this is done in the wrong order.

    *Including me sometimes.
  • Martin54Martin54 Deckhand, Styx
    Sojourner wrote: »
    But is Christianity complex?

    I would say not. Christ’s message is simple and the complexities ( as opposed to mysteries of same) appear to be largely accretions over the centuries.

    The posited message of Christ in Himself is certainly simple: God exists. Then it gets complicated. The messenger has to be miraculous for a start, making Him the most complex entity to have walked the Earth. His life reinforces the message as much as it can. His words are ambiguous, paradoxical, contradictory, and how we get from Him to a weekly concert interrupted by a lecture with an occasional ritual of Him as message, is certainly a large accretion. We seem to have lost the lived message of His first post-mortem followers.
  • HuiaHuia Shipmate
    I think The Rogue and Schroedinger's Cat encapsulate the simplicities and the complexities for me.

    Penny, certainly there are the haters who seem to miss the message completely, but then there are also the people like Desmond Tutu.
  • DafydDafyd Hell Host
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    The Virgin Birth is in the Creed (and in Scripture) and has historically been seen as an important claim in Christianity because of what it says about the nature of Jesus—fully God and fully human.
    I don't think it has anything much to do with Jesus being fully God. That would make Jesus half-God half-human. I think it makes Jesus half old humanity, half recreated or newly created humanity.

  • DafydDafyd Hell Host
    edited January 3
    Monty wrote: »
    So, to follow the Christian faith I need to pray (using a variety of different methods), study my Bible (with the help of commentaries to explain what can be very difficult to truly understand) take part in the Eucharist, serve, read other spiritual classics. I am expected to believe in a virgin birth, Christ’s atonement, and the resurrection of the dead.
    I think the only things there that you need to do are to pray by at least one method, take part in the Eucharist, and I suppose read enough of the gospels to know roughly who Jesus is and what he's like. Everything else is there as a resource to help you if you need it. (As the CofE says of confession, All may, none must, some should.)

    What you need to believe is a bit more involved, but again it's there because we think it's true not as an exercise in mental gymnastics before breakfast.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    As so often, for me @Lamb Chopped hits a great many nails on the head. @Monty, if you're actually looking for an answer to your question, rather than just grumbling, I'd thoroughly recommend what she's said.
    Penny S wrote: »
    I don't feel that the virgin birth emphasises that Jesus was fully man and fully God. It actually excludes part of being fully human. ...
    I think you might have to explain that @Penny S. I'm possibly a bit thick but my reactions to that statement are 'How?' and 'Why?'

    Whereas
    What bothers me about the complexity of Christianity is how it provides innumerable niches for people who want to evade the loving your neighbour as yourself part, and translating it as nothing less than hate. ...
    is profound. I think you're onto something there. Thank you.

  • Belief in the virginity of Mary as more than a Christological statement (that his origins are both ordinary and totally extraordinary) compromises Jesus's humanity fatally by excluding sexual reproduction from his origin. In fact, it excludes Jesus from creation, since sexual reproduction is pretty much universal among animalia. I know there are some examples of something like parthenogenesis in nature, but they are few and far between, and none of them have involved mammals, to the best of my knowledge.

    It is a statement of the utterly compromised relationship between the church and human sexuality, and is something that needs healing before the church can be a positive factor in life. Until that happens, the church will always be based on a fundamentally paranoid structure - that Jesus's humanity is both complete and completely compromised - and therefore compromised in its ability to connect with people who are very sensitive to this kind of mixed, self-defeating message.
  • DafydDafyd Hell Host
    Penny S wrote: »
    I don't feel that the virgin birth emphasises that Jesus was fully man and fully God. It actually excludes part of being fully human.
    No more so than artificial insemination makes a baby not fully human. (I don't want to cross the Epiphanies line here, but there are many children whose mothers have never slept with a man.)
    There is a case that the interaction between the story of the Virgin Birth and its uptake by Greek and Roman attitudes to sex and virginity resulted in excluding part of full humanity from Mary.

    That said, Peter Brown, the classical historian, after describing one of the more sex-positive church fathers (Clement of Alexandria, IIRC) observed that if Christianity had gone done that particular road not taken it might have ended up like conservative Judaism or Islam. That is, not actually very sex positive for anyone other than married men.
  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    I think its because it deals with things that are beyond our understanding. So attempts at explanations are complex.
  • Gramps49 wrote: »
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    Re: Virgin Birth. Considering only two Gospels mention the virgin birth but Mark and John do not and Paul does not mention it, nor is it mentioned in the other epistles, I am not going to insist that a new Christian has to accept it. While it is mentioned in the creeds of the 600s, people of the 2000s kind of stumble over it.
    Some people stumble over it just as sure me people always have, while others don’t stumble over it at all. Regardless of whether you insist on it or not, the point @Pomona is making is certainly correct. The Virgin Birth is in the Creed (and in Scripture) and has historically been seen as an important claim in Christianity because of what it says about the nature of Jesus—fully God and fully human.

    You may see it as secondary. I really don’t think, though, that Christianity as a whole over the last two millennia has seen it as secondary.

    Look, the Christian faith stands or falls on the Resurrection, though I have to say it is very hard to explain. That is the primary teaching of the faith. Everything else is secondary. Who would care if Jesus was born of a virgin if it were not for his resurrection?
    So the Incarnation is secondary?

    I would say that the Christian faith stands or falls on Christ—his incarnation, life, death, resurrection and ascension. They are all related. He is the primary teaching (if that’s the right word) of the faith.

    And yes, with some others I think @Lamb Chopped has it.

  • LatchKeyKidLatchKeyKid Purgatory Host
    It's easy. All you need is love.

    However, that's not easy even if it's not complex.
  • RicardusRicardus Shipmate
    edited January 3
    FWIW I find arguments of the kind 'The Virgin Birth is necessary for the Incarnation to work' - or, conversely, 'the Virgin Birth makes Christ less than fully human' - depend on assumptions about personhood and nature that are probably unprovable.

    I suspect - and also can't prove - that the historic emphasis on Mary's virginity while she was pregnant was at least partly to distinguish the Incarnation from the sort of Graeco-Roman myth where a god fathered a child with a mortal woman by having sex with her. But understanding the full significance of that distinction is probably difficult if you don't live in that same Graeco-Roman world.
  • Monty wrote: »
    So, to follow the Christian faith I need to pray (using a variety of different methods), study my Bible (with the help of commentaries to explain what can be very difficult to truly understand) take part in the Eucharist, serve, read other spiritual classics. I am expected to believe in a virgin birth, Christ’s atonement, and the resurrection of the dead.

    Meanwhile, my Zen Buddhist friend just sits and follows his breath.

    Am I missing something, or is Christianity unnecessarily complex?

    Baby steps Monty. You don't have to do everything all at once, however tempting it is to try.

    My experience of salvific love planted an urge to dedicate the life I'd thrown away to God, who had saved me. I misinterpreted that as a calling to ministry. I did spend heaps of time studying and learning, but it turned out that I was called to work for people with disabilities, and more broadly, to try and be nicer. The studying and learning was part of my recovery from a gambling addiction.

    The big thing for me was prayer. For ages I asked everyone I came across what it was. I couldn't get a handle on it. It wasn't till I met people who would just sit and try to clear their minds, or focus on a bit of text, or a biblical image that it came together. My mate is getting into the Hours, but it just doesn't work for me. I'm too chaotic.

    I'm trying a bible in the year thing. We'll see how that goes - day 3!!!
  • LatchKeyKidLatchKeyKid Purgatory Host
    Ricardus wrote: »
    FWIW I find arguments of the kind 'The Virgin Birth is necessary for the Incarnation to work' - or, conversely, 'the Virgin Birth makes Christ less than fully human' - depend on assumptions about personhood and nature that are probably unprovable.

    I suspect - and also can't prove - that the historic emphasis on Mary's virginity while she was pregnant was at least partly to distinguish the Incarnation from the sort of Graeco-Roman myth where a god fathered a child with a mortal woman by having sex with her. But understanding the full significance of that distinction is probably difficult if you don't live in that same Graeco-Roman world.
    I understand that in the Graeco-Roman world that:
    • Herod was the "King of the Jews"
    • Emperor Caesar was Son of God, Saviour of the World, the one who brings peace on earth, the God of light and reason and imperial order
    and the gospel writers who used these terms for Jesus were using them subversively, or at least presenting an alternative understanding for the expected Godly reign.

    And in a world which did not know about male and female gametes it was not difficult to believe in virgin births or gods siring children with human women. In Genesis 6:4 we find
    The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterwards—when the sons of God went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children to them. These were the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown.
  • Penny SPenny S Shipmate
    First of all, those who have contributed above have explained most of what I was getting at.
    But before I get at the simple version, two explanations I have been given and politely said nothing about, and one historical one.
    A friend who preached in house churches when she felt she was given something to say (she would not give "lip service") believed that human's blood was inherited from the father. Thus if Jesus' blood were to be efficaceous in salvation, it had to be from God, not a human.
    The curate who prepared me for confirmation taught that Jesus could not be descended from Joseph, because Joseph was descended from David via a line which had been excluded from the kingship because of something one of his ancestors had done.
    Aristotle had something related to the friend's blood idea, that the whole infant was derived from the father as a sort of tiny homunculus which derived nourishment, but none of its nature from the mother. This would have been the general idea at the time, among those who thought about inheritance. This would, though, have meant Jesus was wholly divine.
    My feeling about the birth, and extending the idea to the immaculate conception, is that it is saying that the normal means of engendering new people is wrong. I can't think of a better word than that. And a lot of Christianity, and other religions come to that, seem to like this idea.
    I've been reading a book on Medieval Women - married couples weren't supposed to see each other naked, especially the men weren't to see their wives. And then an angel visited the man who was to become Saint Illtud and told him he was to be repulsed by the sight of his wife naked, which he was, and wouldn't let her back in bed with him, and later, when he was running Llantwit Major, and she came back to see him, she was struck blind (did get her sight back, though).
    Wouldn't it have been nice if God had come into the world through a joyful marriage of two normal human beings?
  • One obvious point is that Zen is not normally theistic. Just sit.
  • I think we discussed that very thing on the interminable Christianity v Buddhist thread. It's like comparing oranges with lettuce...

    I grant that the Christian faith can sometimes seem complex, given all the Stuff that's been added since Jesus' time, so perhaps @Monty could let us know what they think could be done to make it less so?

  • I think we discussed that very thing on the interminable Christianity v Buddhist thread. It's like comparing oranges with lettuce...

    I grant that the Christian faith can sometimes seem complex, given all the Stuff that's been added since Jesus' time, so perhaps @Monty could let us know what they think could be done to make it less so?

    I think Buddhism itself can become complex, and indeed, highly intellectual. However, Zen decided to get to the Ding an Sich* directly, and produced various techniques for doing that. Whether it succeeds is impossible to say.

    *the thing itself, as opposed to appearances.
  • @quetzalcoatl - thanks for that explanation!

    As others have already said, many faiths (whether theistic or not) are complex, or can appear to be so.

  • OhherOhher Shipmate
    Well, but. That "just sitting" thing, even in Zen, leads (eventually) the sitter somewhere: to a revelation, to a repudiation, to further sitting, to an acceptance that "this is all there is," and/or so on and so on, even if it's to the understanding that (generally speaking) human beings find "just sitting" quite a challenge and will concoct all manner of flotsam and jetsam to fill the yawning void which can or may or does open when one human simply "just sits."

    Absent a deity (and, some might suggest, ideally absent even a self), a "sitter" ultimatel released from requirements, commandments, rituals, practices, ceremonies, etc. is freed to confront or construct or experience reality.
  • Ohher wrote: »
    Well, but. That "just sitting" thing, even in Zen, leads (eventually) the sitter somewhere: to a revelation, to a repudiation, to further sitting, to an acceptance that "this is all there is," and/or so on and so on, even if it's to the understanding that (generally speaking) human beings find "just sitting" quite a challenge and will concoct all manner of flotsam and jetsam to fill the yawning void which can or may or does open when one human simply "just sits."

    Absent a deity (and, some might suggest, ideally absent even a self), a "sitter" ultimatel released from requirements, commandments, rituals, practices, ceremonies, etc. is freed to confront or construct or experience reality.

    Nicely put. An old teacher of mine would reply, "contemplate". Or sometimes, "you mean fucker". Highly unorthodox.
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