Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Zen and the Fear of Hell

My soul really wants to study, and hopefully absorb and FOLLOW, the teachings of Hinduism and Buddhism (Mahayana, esp. Zen).
However, the raised-Lutheran part of me has a real obstacle with this because I have such a deep-seated fear that I am gonna go to hell for forsaking the Christian God, even though I already despise the term Christian and disagree strongly with what passes as "Christian" behavior.
How on earth do I resolve this fear and contradiction?

I want my soul, on the planet, everywhere. Christianity cannot give me that.
I don't know yet whether Hinduism or Buddhism can...but I am determined to explore and find out.

My trip to India plans are developing and I know for certain that I will spend at least one month in Varanasi explorigin Hinduism, and hopefully an equal amount of time in Dharamsala learning about Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism.
After I return to the US I am hoping to move to a Buddhist center in California and spend a long time serving others while nourishing my spirit.

Whatever your spiritual path is, please pray for me.


  1. Hi CF
    It's Alan from Oz who heard about you through IndiaMike. I'm not sure how to msg you through that forum - think I have to make at least 10 posts, so may be a while before I can do that.
    Anyway, I thought this may be a more appropriate (and private) forum. You asked me about myself, and I'm a bit shy (and paranoid about spammers) to give too much info in a widely-read forum.
    I am from a Catholic background (8th child of 10!) but for years have been interested in learning about Buddhism, Islam and other religions. The only thing I have picked up thus far from the Bhagavad Gita is a belief (hope?) in reincarnation but am interested in talking about spiritual matters with people anywhere, anytime, except perhaps my wife who is a born-again Christian.
    Being married, I am also not interested in "casual encounters" as you so delicately put it.
    I was going to travel to Nepal with a friend but he is going later in the year so I will travelling alone, which is all right as there are always lots of wonderful interesting people to meet. I am landing in Mumbai in the middle of February and leaving from the same place 6 weeks later. I am hoping to check out the west coast, Rajasthan and Simla but I would prefer to stay for a week each in 6 places than to try to see everywhere.
    Anyway, if you want to communicate with me it is probably best to email me at info@ (and now I am hiding from spambots by putting a gap before my domain name) - check out where I live on my website.
    Hope to hear from you soon.

  2. I fall in a similar place to you, spiritually. I actually consider myself a Catholic (baptized as an adult by choice, not a typical raised Catholic type). But yet I have very Hindu-like beliefs and also believe in reincarnation, karma and other non-typical Christian beliefs. Though I really don't see the contradiction, personally. I believe that Christ must have believed in many of these things himself. I love the Hindu belief that God reveals himself (or herself, if you prefer that) to many people in many ways... everyone has a different path to God - which makes so much sense to me... seems so "right." Your path and my path could never be the same, nor should they be the same as we are different people. The thing to keep in mind is that many people over time have bent and twisted Christianity... it has become a lot of different things to different groups. The purity of what Christ taught also seems very true and right to me... and I don't think it takes away from other religions or truths... I don't think he'd put down or denigrate other religions that share the same basic tennents. He was not about being critical of others or their beliefs from all I can see. I don't think one has to forsake a Christian background to embrace other cultures or philosophies, and it's sad that so many feel constricted in that way. Jesus seemed more about open-mindedness than anything else... more about acceptance than condemnation. But many Christians have gotten far from these concepts. I get what you are saying. I hope you find a lot of helpful experiences in India. It will most certainly be a life-changing time for you! I envy you the journey, it sounds very exciting. I hope you can still keep up online and on Twitter as you go on this journey, I would love to hear what it is like!
    dieverdog (Pam)

  3. Pam, I never said I don't believe in Jesus or his teachings...I don't believe in Christianity because Christians do not follow the teachings of Jesus. They have corrupted his teachings so drastically that most now believe he taight exactly the opposite of what was actually intended.
    Whether or not I become a Hindu or Buddhist remains to be seen.
    I just can no longer identify with those who hate and kill in the name of Christ.

  4. I don't believe I implied that you don't believe in Jesus or his teachings - certainly wasn't my intention. I was only sharing my perspective. I think there are many, many people who 'get' what Jesus taught & was all about. It is unfortunate that there are so many Christians who give Christianity a bad name and give such a bad example and drive people away from god & religion. It is very sad really. The same must be true for other faiths- like Islam. People are people and always seem to mess beautiful things up. You have to look for the beauty in order to see it.