[Buddha-l] A lecture by Richard Gombrich

Jo jkirk at spro.net
Fri Nov 11 21:47:32 MST 2011

Someday I might go back, and like you remain a Buddhist. Wasn't the United
Church of Christ the former Congregational Church? If so my grandma belonged
to that one.  When I moved here I joined the local UU, but later became not
a member but a "friend of".....mainly because it wasn't sufficiently
oriented to social issues and was too into newagery. They also sang hymns
with new UU words that were sung with their ancient lyrics in days of yore
by one and all. So I go now and then, usually to memorials for people I
know. I'm not a successful joiner. (Also it seems like 98% of the people
here are Republicans....... a daunting reality.)

Joanna, I too left being a Christian, but returned a couple of years ago.
I'm a member now of United Church of Christ which I suppose could be
described as fairly latitudinarian, and which certainly is active concerning
issues of social justice. I'm still a real Buddhist though, and feel no
conflict whatsoever. At breakfast after church a couple of weeks ago I said
something to which my minister replied, "That is very Buddhist." I guess she
has my number too.


At 09:40 PM 11/11/2011, Jo wrote:
>Hi Randall,
>I found myself agreeing with him too, and also recalling why I left 
>being a Christian--because of what I saw as the hypocrisy of churches 
>and their congregations and all the mumbo jumbo. I was pleased to note 
>that Gombrich doesn't care all that much for ritual.
>I also began wondering yet again on the whys of the evangelicals and 
>other versions of Christianity that are so hooked on ceremony and 
>various taboos, and it dawned on me what he also said (no doubt said 
>many times by many others, but sometimes one needs a certain text and
moment to really 'get'
>something)--that all those Christians whom I disregarded were just 
>looking for a benevolent parent, father or mother, to comfort 
>them--that we all crave comfort in a harsh world. He's right, I think, 
>that the same motive affects people in the other universal religions.
>Once when I was in Bangkok photographing decorated trucks, and asked my 
>Thai friend what the inscriptions on the painted and carved board over 
>the top of the cabs said, he replied, They say 'O Mother'......and then 
>ask for blessings. The image on these headboards was always the Buddha, 
>under the bo tree.  In India poor people used to say of a benefactor--a 
>patron, a swami-- he is my maa-baap--my mother and father.
>Your story of the Thai monk is touching and instructive.
>Gombrich seemed to me to be appealing to the Thai sangha as an
>His criticism seemed to be addressed to the institutional, public roles 
>they often play, or don't avail of sufficiently to preach the dhamma, 
>rather than as criticism of monks or Thai Buddhism in general.
>Again, I thought as I read this, that's what I always thought was so 
>disappointing about our church organisations and ministers. That was 
>back in the forties. Then, nobody dared to oppose WW2 or the later 
>Korean war. Many of the more latitudinarian churches and fellowships 
>have changed since then, of course. Some of them as well as a few 
>Buddhists try to fight the death penalty. Some here are demonstrating
against an upcoming state execution.
>Thanks for sharing your Thai experience.
>On Behalf Of Randall Jones
>Sent: Friday, November 11, 2011 6:56 PM
>Thank you, Joanna, for this link to a very worthwhile read. I found 
>myself agreeing with most of the points made.
>I was just revisiting the who-is-a-Buddhist discussion in my mind 
>yesterday and remembering years ago when I was wondering if I was a 
>"real Buddhist." I made an appointment with a Thai monk at the Thai 
>Temple just outside New York and we talked about this. I got the 
>feeling that he thought the question was little silly, but even so, he 
>told me that usually a few things happened - talking about the dharma 
>with a Buddhist teacher/monk, taking refuge, sitting together.
>(He also shared a few fascinating stories about some renowned western 
>teachers who had ordained in Thailand.) On the train ride back into the 
>city I realized that we had done those things he described as how one 
>usually became Buddhist. I was rather surprised and also amused at how 
>natural, organic, it had been and how little ritualistic. The monk that 
>I talked with also offered to sponsor my ordination in Bangkok where I 
>was shortly traveling, but I decided against that.
>I share this because my experience was so different from what Gombrich 
>relates. Perhaps the Thai temple did not have a big outreach program, 
>but certainly they were open to non-Thais, tfluent in English, and more 
>than ready to talk and make one feel welcome - and even feel a real
>At 06:49 PM 11/11/2011, Jo wrote:
> >Recently the question, who (or what?) is a Buddhist was discussed here.
> >Gombrich has some provocative and, IMHO, worthwhile ideas to offer on 
> >the question.
> >
> >Joanna
> >
> >
> >
> >http://www.ocbs.org/lectures-a-articles-ocbsmain-121/144-comfort-or-c
> >ha
> >lleng
> >e
> >
> >
> >
> >To access page 2, do not use the Next link-go back to the top of the 
> >page and click on Page2, etc.
> >
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