New to Buddhism...stuck in the Bible Belt

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Luke
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Re: New to Buddhism...stuck in the Bible Belt

Post by Luke » Wed Jan 20, 2010 2:40 pm

Hi Butterfly,

Congratulations for discovering Buddhism and for being strong enough to stick with it in spite of your environment!

I grew up in the northeast and I can't even imagine what Christians must be like down south. However, lots of conservative Christians in America seem to like the Dalai Lama. Maybe you can use that fact to your advantage sometime, even though your preference is for Theravada.

You can feel compassion for these pushy Christians by thinking about how their minds are clouded by ignorance and attachment. In contrast, the Buddha saw things clearly. He clearly understood the true nature of the mind, the true nature of reality, and the way to end the suffering of all beings.

Putting a few Buddhist images up on the wall in my bedroom cheers me up and inspires me a lot. Perhaps putting up some Buddhist images might inspire you as well.

Best of luck with your Buddhist path,

Luke

:buddha1:

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Butrfly_Nirvana
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Re: New to Buddhism...stuck in the Bible Belt

Post by Butrfly_Nirvana » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:30 pm

Thank you! I've been studying and learning more every day, and I feel like a different person already!

Basically, around this town if you aren't Christian they will do 1 of 2 things towards you: 1. Constantly try to convince you of their beliefs being the only way to go, or 2. Completely shun you and your family to the point that they don't even acknowledge you when you are out and about. :shrug: Seems sort of hypocritical to me... But to each their own... ?

Anyways, my personal life is just so much more fulfilling and positive, regardless of how others want to treat me!

Thank you all for the warm welcome!

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Kokoro
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Re: New to Buddhism...stuck in the Bible Belt

Post by Kokoro » Sun Jan 24, 2010 9:07 pm

You know, despite never visiting the Bible Belt myself, I live in a small, rural farming town in Ontario where everyone is of one denomination of Christianity or another, and I've found many of the people here are very similar to those you have described. I can't turn on the radio without hearing a country song about Jesus or "the Good Book" or pick up a local newspaper without finding stories of locals who have been "saved" or have saved others or a lengthy reprimand from one of our many pastors, ministers or revrends reminding us that Christ is the "only way" and that it is our duty to see to it that the whole world finds Christ.
Mind you, many of the people here are kind, polite and friendly and would give you the shirts off their backs (more impressive these days when the average tempurature here is well below freezing in both C and F!), but I have yet to find the courage to admit to anyone aside from my family that I am not only a non-Christian, but a Buddhist as well.
Welcome to our Forum and to the Buddha Dhamma. May your walk on the Dhamma Path be strenghtening, comforting and enlightening, and may you be well and happy in all you do.

If someone has not yet pointed it out to you, I highly encourage you visit DhammaWiki http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=Main_Page, which may prove very valuable in your ongoing study of the Dhamma.

:anjali:

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Butrfly_Nirvana
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Re: New to Buddhism...stuck in the Bible Belt

Post by Butrfly_Nirvana » Mon Jan 25, 2010 4:07 pm

Thank you. I will bookmark that site!

I've since told my former church that I've converted, as well as my father, and I'm sure that by next week the whole town will have heard about it...so I'm curious to see what will happen the next time I go to the supermarket! lol

Luke
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Re: New to Buddhism...stuck in the Bible Belt

Post by Luke » Mon Jan 25, 2010 8:57 pm

Butrfly_Nirvana wrote: I've since told my former church that I've converted, as well as my father, and I'm sure that by next week the whole town will have heard about it...so I'm curious to see what will happen the next time I go to the supermarket! lol
While I'm happy that you found Buddhism, I hope that you and your family will be safe. People can get crazy sometimes, especially when they are trying to prove something to their fellow group members. You can talk to and reason with some people, but with others, you can't. It might be best to simply avoid these kinds of people or at least to avoid discussing religion with them.

Or you could state things in a more watered-down way to some people, such as stating that you are interested in Eastern philosophy and meditation. That's what I often do, because most of the people where I live have a really weird stereotype of Buddhists.

I just hope that you'll be safe.
Last edited by Luke on Tue Jan 26, 2010 4:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Butrfly_Nirvana
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Re: New to Buddhism...stuck in the Bible Belt

Post by Butrfly_Nirvana » Mon Jan 25, 2010 10:53 pm

Thank for your concern! Around here the most "damage" that might be done is the looks we'll get out in public, or when saying "hi" they'll snub me. But that is their choice, not mine. I think most of it will be within the walls of the church--the groups praying for me, etc.

A couple of times my replies have been simply "we just haven't found a church that suits us yet." That seems to pacify some people!

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Kokoro
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Re: New to Buddhism...stuck in the Bible Belt

Post by Kokoro » Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:12 pm

Luke wrote:most of the people where I live have a really weird stereotype of Buddhists.
Indeed. Almost everyone who learns I am Buddhist 1) assumes I am worshipping the Buddha and that he is equal to Buddhists what God is to Jews, Christians and Muslims and 2) that the Buddha is the chubby Chinese monk Budai (Hotei in Japan) often seen in statue form as a decoration in many Chinese restaurants.
The funniest question I ever got was: "So you worship the fat Chinese guy who killed an evil giant elephant god to become immortal?" :rofl:

:anjali:

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Adrien
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Re: New to Buddhism...stuck in the Bible Belt

Post by Adrien » Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:26 pm

Or you could state things in a more watered-down way to some people, such as stating that you are interesing in Eastern philosophy and meditation. That's what I often do, because most of the people where I live have a really weird stereotype of Buddhists.
Totally agree. However, I have to recognize that (at least in France), a certain quantity of "buddhist" just fit in those stereotypes. Please don't think I mean mahayana (which I totally respect) when I write "buddhist". I'm just talking about people who don't really know dhamma, even if they think they do. They are sincere but the can convey some false image of the buddha-dhamma. I've even read someone who wrote : "I only read "buddhisme for dummies", but I don't need more"...
The point is that we can't totally blame people who have "a really weird stereotype of Buddhists"...

It's totally crazy this bible belt thing ! I already knew that some of american christianity was a little excessive, but I didn't thought it would be that much.

There is some evangelic christians where my parents live, and I had the occasion to frequent them : they always have been really kind with me !
Please don't hesitate to correct my english if you feel to

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Butrfly_Nirvana
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Re: New to Buddhism...stuck in the Bible Belt

Post by Butrfly_Nirvana » Tue Jan 26, 2010 2:49 pm

A lot of the people are kind...as long as you stay away from certain topics.

I also got those responses about "the fat laughing guy", "praying/worshiping Buddha", and once "so like with the dot on the forehead?"...I just had to laugh because they were way off from what I really am! lol I do make sure to explain it to them though so that they aren't left with the wrong impressions or ideals about it. The thing about books like "...for Dummies", etc is that while they are decent books, sometimes they combine the variations of a subject so it ends up being a very broad scan of things, which can end up confusing people more. I mean you can't really say that Buddhism is about worshiping Buddha, and then not expect people to think that included Theravada as well.

Anyways, while I like living in this town, and most of the people are the nicest you'll ever meet, you do have to tread lightly when religion comes up.

Luke
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Re: New to Buddhism...stuck in the Bible Belt

Post by Luke » Tue Jan 26, 2010 4:36 pm

That's good that you and your family are not in danger. I once read a horrifying news story about two men in Texas who beat a young boy to death because he refused to believe in Jesus. Religious fanatics can get creepy when they get into that "purging Satan from a person by violence" mindset.

I used to hate Christians, but now I see some parallels between their teachings on loving-kindess and altruism and those in Buddhism. One can still love Christians without agreeing with them.

There is also something else you should be aware of, Butterfly. When you are a Buddhist, you can't kill anything--and this includes insects! Of course, if you kill one by accident, there are ways to atone for it, but preserving all forms of life is very serious in Buddhism. This often sounds crazy at first to many westerners, but abstaining from all forms of killing is a natural conclusion when one believes in both karma and rebirth.

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Butrfly_Nirvana
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Re: New to Buddhism...stuck in the Bible Belt

Post by Butrfly_Nirvana » Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:22 pm

Luckily there aren't many bugs around my house! lol But when they are usually my husband or my son will take it back outside. We've always taught the kids not kill anything, and to have respect for it, even if it is a spider!

I've found that just since becoming a Buddhist my "short fuse" seems to have gotten much longer...almost could say I don't even have one! lol I used to be stressed out during the day, but now I just sort of see things as they are and think to myself "well, there it is, and in a moment, there it will go." I think I'm confusing my husband at times because he expects me to react like I used to towards stressful things...but I don't. Why waste my time, right? In a moment something else will be in its place anyways.

I'm so glad to have found this site!

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Adrien
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Re: New to Buddhism...stuck in the Bible Belt

Post by Adrien » Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:51 pm

We've always taught the kids not kill anything, and to have respect for it, even if it is a spider!
Great ! I think that this simple teaching can have great consequences on a child growing personality.
Please don't hesitate to correct my english if you feel to

shjohnk
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Re: New to Buddhism...stuck in the Bible Belt

Post by shjohnk » Sat Jan 30, 2010 1:08 am

Hi Buttrfly,

Great that you found this site! Welcome. I've neevr lived in such an overwhelmingly Christian environment but i have had quite a bit to do with evangelicals and I think the positive thing is they do seem to genuinely care about people, so their prayers for you can't hurt :smile: My main worry about them is their efforts to undermine Buddhism in countries like Lao and Sri Lanka where people are too easygoing to tell them to get lost. Anyway, you have found a great forum! metta to you and your family (and the fundies :smile: )

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Dhammarakkhito
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Re: New to Buddhism...stuck in the Bible Belt

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Sat Aug 05, 2017 7:48 pm

notself wrote:I have a similar back story and also live in the Bible Belt, Arkansas.
what part of arkansas? just curious
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Ziujoeng
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Re: New to Buddhism...stuck in the Bible Belt

Post by Ziujoeng » Sat Aug 05, 2017 9:58 pm

Is this helpful?
I used this site to find some things near me, and Googling them I found that they do exist, but I haven't tried any of them.

http://www.buddhanet.info/wbd/province. ... ince_id=57

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