“Your Jesus was here”, they (Buddhists) told me right after the celebration they had one Thursday morning.
I came from a Christian country in Southeast Asia. Grew up first as a Catholic but pursuing Christ as an evangelical Christian. When I had the realization that tradition doesn’t really mean transformation, I decided to be different from my family. I choose a relationship with God rather than following a set of rules made by men. I am not perfect but I enjoy the fact that I get to experience the miracles of being free without many rules to follow. Free with the boundaries but inside God’s standards. I do fail from time to time yet God’s faithfulness won’t stop at those times.
It’s been a year and a half being in a Buddhist country. At first, temples and monks do scare me (a lot!). Then I thought of what would Jesus do if he’s around? Would he react the way I do or immerse himself then tell them about the good news? I prayed and I asked that my heart be changed and see the beauty of other beliefs without judgment.
In Christianity, salvation is the forgiveness of sins and bodily resurrection unto eternal life with God. This is not earned or merited but is the “gracious gift” of God which we receive through repentance and faith. (John 3:16–21).
The Buddhist hope is for the realization of Nirvana. I definitely know what I stand for as a Christian but am also giving myself the chance to witness different religions. It’s such a privilege to be interviewed both by old and young monks about what my faith is. They even agree that Jesus has once lived on this Earth as they get to do a meditation where they can visit both the 6 levels of heaven and hell (more levels). They also agreed that Jesus will come back. Reincarnation can be realized according to your merits. Reincarnation is not the ultimate goal but going to Nirvana where a house/place is waiting for you. They believe in karmas, do chant mantras, and visit sacred places.
Personally, I saw the differences and similarities between the two. I don’t want to discuss the technical side for each. I look at the hearts of the people around me who are modeling it. I am deeply blessed and loved by my Christian friends both here in Thailand and in the Philippines. At this time of my life, I am exposed to a family who is under the Buddhism faith but is divided with different practices. Just like Christianity, you don’t look at the person because no one is perfect and you will surely get disappointed. However, the kind of group I am always with now is mesmerizing. They like to pray for people in the past and the present, like to give gifts, offer help in any form, very concerned about how others feel, and many more.
I am fascinated by talking with people who are full of love, discernment, and kindness. I was once in the room where they were meditating but am not participating because I didn’t understand their language; yet, they were at some point mentioning my name. When they opened their eyes, they reported that they got to have a sneak peek at the house I have in heaven. They smilingly told me that I have a big and golden house. My student whispered and giggled sweetly, “Do you know about this?”. I answered proudly, “Of course, He has promised.”
I recall immediately what Jesus told me regarding this in the Bible that there’s a place waiting for me as a child of God. This is my faith. Either you’re a Buddhist, Christian, or have another faith; I do appreciate if you’re doing kindness genuinely.
“Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this: (1) to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and (2) to keep oneself unstained by the world.”James 1:27
I messaged my mentor who does selfless acts from the bottom of his heart. He didn’t fully agree with me because he said he is not consistent on the second one but I sent him that verse because his actions speak more powerful than how I think a religious person is. He does visit the fatherless/orphans and friends who are on their deathbeds.
How is it like living here? I thought I don’t have a place here. God made a way for me to understand how others see life and display their faith. One thing I am emphasizing to myself now is how am I with my faith? What about my deeds? Do they see a different religion in me or do they see LOVE? That I can’t answer but only God to whom I worship. So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it (faith) is dead and useless. This Thailand journey will soon be over but the priceless experiences are forever cherished.