The last time my class met, someone brought up that they were raised Christian but are currently exploring Buddhism. She went on to say that she felt she could never truly call herself Buddhist because she only picks and chooses the Buddhist practices she wants to follow.
I really like the idea of dabbling in other practices and pulling pieces from them.
It’s kind of like a Pandora bracelet. When I got a Pandora bracelet for my mom, I first picked the specific band that I wanted. When you look through the catalogue, each band has a picture of suggested looks and charms that you can buy. Or you can browse everything individually and choose the bead and charms for your band regardless of what the catalogue suggests.
The suggested bracelets are beautiful and stunning, but it becomes so much more personal when you pick the individual charms that catch your eye and add them to the band that acts as your base.
I have been Catholic all my life; I was raised in a Catholic family and attended Catholic school. I’ve never really had any friends who practiced other faiths because I made all my friends in my Catholic school setting. And because of this I was never really exposed to the idea of practicing inter-religiously.
Watching the video of Buddhist chanting really intrigued me. At first it sounded strange to me. Chanting in general usually sounds out of place and foreign to me especially chanting in a foreign language. But listening to people explain it and how it works opened my eyes and mind to it. There’s something beautiful about that kind of focus.
I am already a big fan of meditation. That’s not necessarily inter-religious. Some form of meditation exists in every religion, I’m sure.
I can be a very anxious person at times. Little things upset me, and I stress over pretty much everything. I’m pretty good at keeping up a facade of cool, calm and collected, but when things don’t go as planned, there’s a good chance I’m freaking out on the inside. I frequently turn to meditation and prayer for solace.
Like I said, I’m not sure if I would consider this inter-religious because my usual forms of meditation include going to Mass and praying. Sometimes I pick up my guitar and reflect using that as a medium to expel stress and relax.
The idea of chanting is something I would like to try. I wonder if I could actually do it. I’m a big fan of silent meditation and music. So I’m not entirely sure I could get myself to focus while chanting. It’s definitely something I would like to try.
Yoga is another practice that has stemmed from religion but has become part of American culture. When I was at home, one of my favorite things to do was yoga on my WiiFit. Now, when you’re doing yoga with a virtual instructor, religion isn’t the first thought that pops into your mind. The central purposes of yoga, concentration and focus on breathing and discipline, mental and physical, are still present.
It’s definitely possible to engage in inter-religious practice. No one can tell you that your faith is wrong. If you are a Christian who finds comfort and peace in some Buddhist practices, some Hindu views, and some Confucian ideas, well…then you are simply a Christian who engages in Buddhist practices, appreciates Hindu views, and Confucian ideas. Simple as that. Are some people going to deny that such practice is appropriate or allowed? Of course.
Even in such a case, I doubt a person would actually refer to himself or herself as a Christian-Buddhist-Hindu-Confucian. Like the girl in my class stated, she wouldn’t call herself Buddhist even though she engages in Buddhist practices. One would still probably refer to him(/her)self by their primary religion or the religion of their family, but it is certainly possible to practice inter-religiously.
There isn’t an example I can think of that would suggest that any religions are completely incompatible. I’m not going to pretend that I know a lot about religious traditions outside of Catholicism. In fact, I’m not familiar with the traditions of most other forms of Christianity. How embarrassing, right? When I first chose the college I would be attended, my boyfriend would ask me every day “Does it have a religious affiliation? What is its religious affiliation?” And it was never a big deal to me so every time he would ask I would forget to look it up and actually find out. Eventually he went on the school’s website and did it himself (lol). But basically if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have found out that my school is Methodist until….ever, probably. Now he told me and my reaction was, “oh….ok.” And then he gave me a speech about how I should really care about that. But I wasn’t familiar with Methodist Christianity at all. I proceeded to ask him to enlighten me.
So, are there religious traditions that are incompatible? If followed strictly, yeah I’m sure there are. But in reality don’t we adapt. Yes. So any practice or tradition we might be interesting in pursuing, we would adapt to fit out beliefs.
Inter-religious practice really interests me. At their heart, aren’t all religious so similar in purpose? They are simply different lenses which we use to see the same scene or subject. Can we take filters from many lenses and use them with one lens? Why not!