Buddhism didn’t seem like much of a stretch for me.

By an anonymous Ex-Christian Scientist Group Contributor

 

Leaving Christian Science is a journey that takes a long time for some people. In my case, I found it very easy to turn my back on it, but very hard to let go of the CS fanaticism. I took up Eastern Religion and Buddhism with immense enthusiasm when I left. But instead of listening to the simple message of accepting how things are and letting go of my sense of self importance, I spent hundreds of hours reading and searching for examples of healings and miraculous transformations. I was so brainwashed by growing up in Christian Science that my way of evaluating spiritual effectiveness was whether there was any evidence of physical healings.

Mary Baker Eddy, of course, ripped off a lot of Eastern religion when she started Christian Science, mostly the non-duality aspect around letting go, so Buddhism didn’t seem like much of a stretch for me. Except of course, she changed this simple and rewarding practice of letting go into something corrosive that makes people go steadily mad as they keep trying to let go inside to effect an outside change. A change that never happens, which makes them start obsessing about holding on to letting go so they can experience God’s love in their bodies, bank accounts, social lives etc. ‘Have I let go enough yet? No healing, must let go more!’ Repeat until insane.

They say that the only true wisdom is knowing that you know nothing. That’s the polar opposite of CS where we are taught from birth that we know everything, and the more we know the more we can control everything and everyone else. It took me a long time, but I eventually, by a process of endlessly walking into the same hole and floundering around trying to get out, realised all over again that Christian Science does not work, and that’s when I finally mostly freed myself of it. And it wasn’t that long ago either.

I would still say I am Buddhist—the simple forest tradition, mostly, which just focuses on awareness of impermanence and letting go. I like that it doesn’t make any attempt to explain why the world is like it is. CS put me off metaphysical explanations of reality. I just don’t think anyone knows. Though I don’t necessarily disbelieve in God, I can’t begin to imagine what God might mean. On the plus side, when I did finally accept this the feeling of relief was tremendous. Like finally laying down a very heavy burden.

Buddhism actively tells you to question it.

By an anonymous Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor.

I am rather a lapsed Buddhist at the moment but I would call myself that rather than anything else, and an old (doubtless now out of print) library book called The Heart of Buddhism by Guy Klaxon, that contained nothing otherworldly at all, led me out of Christian Science when I was a teenager, which I have always been very grateful for.the Heart of Buddhism

There are a lot of different ‘flavours’ of Buddhism that have taken on the cultural aesthetics of the countries they originated from. The thing that appeals to me is that the Buddha (allegedly) said to give his teaching a try and if you find it doesn’t work then discard it. I found that very refreshing after having tried to cram Christian Science blind faith cognitive dissonance into my head to the point I thought I would go mad, and that’s really the thing that put me off theistic religions in general. I just cannot make myself go back to trying to believe something I can see no evidence for. Not again.

In the end I settled on SE Asian (Hinayana, or the so called ‘Lesser Vehicle) Buddhism as it is very straightforward. There is no official stance on reincarnation, the Buddha is presented as a regular person who figured things out on his own rather than having been born from a magical tusk or whatever, and it is not in any way supernatural.

Buddhism is the only religion—although more a philosophy—I have found that actively tells you to question it while you are practising, rather than just believe something and get a reward after death which, like I mentioned, was important to me after Christian Science.

Continue reading “Buddhism actively tells you to question it.”

Everything I knew about Buddhism and the Dalai Lama I learned from Facebook memes

By Kat, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group Contributor

dali lama meme

Until recently, everything I learned about Buddhism and the Dalai Lama I learned from Facebook memes, which meant it was pretty much limited to some feel-good pull quotes espousing some fairly logical, universalsounding truths. It was a start and I was intrigued, so I looked up the Dalai Lama’s website. He’s a pretty hip dude who has accomplished quite a lot for being a “simple Buddhist monk.”

Instead of skipping straight to the Dalai Lama’s teachings, I instead decided to further investigate the origins of Buddhism. I listened to a few comparative religion podcasts and got some books about the subject.

I really liked what John Snellling says in The Buddhist Handbook, right up front on page 3:

Buddhism does not demand that anyone accepts its teachings on trust. The practitioner is instead invited to try them out, to experiment with them. If he finds that they work in practice, then by all means he can take them on board. But there is no compulsion; and if he happens to find the truth elsewhere or otherwise, then all is good.

This point is reiterated on page 43:

Buddhism is not a fundamentalist religion. Its teachings are not dogmas or articles of faith that have to be blindly accepted at the cost of suspending reason, critical judgement, common sense, or experience. Quite the contrary, in fact; their basic aim is to help us gain direct insight into the truth for ourselves. We are therefore invited to try these teachings in our everyday lives. If they work, then we will want to naturally take them on board. If they don’t work for us, then we can cast them aside with no qualms.

The Noble Eightfold Path (detailed on page 46) also holds basic appeal, and the echo (or are perhaps echoed?) by Paul in Philippians 4:8 (NIV) where he says:

whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

The Noble Eightfold Path is as follows:

  1. Right understanding
  2. Right thought
  3. Right speech
  4. Right action
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

If people are focused on doing/thinking/acting on what is right, pure, lovely admirable, excellent and praiseworthy in all aspects of their life, then their lives will likely neatly mesh with the eight “right” things.

My take-away from Buddhism is this: I like the message, I like the aspect of kindness, the lack of dogma and faith. I’m a little fuzzy on the issues of reincarnation and nirvana, but Buddhism seems to encourage people to take what works for them in a way Christianity does not. I don’t feel comfortable labeling myself a Buddhist, but I do feel the noble eightfold path is a useful system through which to filter thoughts and actions.

Buddhists Believe in Prayer

The following is a collection of contributions from members of the Ex-Christian Science collective who have turned to Buddhism.


Christian Science is so cerebral, with its focus on reading and research named ‘prayer.’ It’s been hard for me to let go of that in terms of believing in a power greater than my own. After twenty years away from Christian Science, I think I’m more connected to feeling than analyzing. The Buddhist practice of non-attachment has been helpful in that.

– Abigail


I am a Buddhist, and I don’t believe in god. I believe in the universe and the potential that each of us has to be in tune with the mystic law of cause and effect, and I believe that our actions have consequences. Buddhists believe in prayer, and we believe in healing through prayer. We just don’t believe in a bearded man in the sky who decides our fate.

– Katie J.


Christian Science borrows a lot from eastern philosophy to try and justify why a loving and omnipotent god allows suffering, so there are some analogues with Buddhism, in the same way there are some with traditional Christianity. That’s about where the similarities end though. Most religions point to surrender of the self. Christian Science is the polar opposite, the victory of the self over everything.

– Anonymous

From Christian Science to Buddhism

dharma wheel

Buddhism is one of many paths that some former Christian Scientists choose to explore. The following posts relate to our experiences and perspectives on the topic of Buddhism. 


Online Resources


John Snelling, the Buddhist Handbook

Books

The Buddhist Handbook, John Snelling.

An excellent introductory resource and overview of Buddhism, offering a comprehensive worldwide cultural and historical view.


Buddhism Plain and Simple -- December 29, 1998 by Steve Hagen (Author)

Buddhism Plain and Simple, by Steve Hagen 

A clear, straightforward treatise on Buddhism in general, presented in uncluttered, accessible language unencumbered by religious ritual.

 

 

 


The Ex Christian Scientist does not advocate any one particular path but acknowledge that there are many legitimate pathways that can be personally and spiritually fulfilling. The views and opinions expressed by our individual contributors do not necessarily reflect those of the The Ex-Christian Scientist.

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