[BlogEntry] Clash of Faiths

We take the kids to a Catholic church. With our youngest under 2, my job is basically to keep him occupied for the time while my wife tries to explain to the older two what is going on.

So how surprised was I when the priest starts his gospel by talking about the Buddhist monks of Burma? Naturally I was interested. He explained the situation, the protests, the violence. And then he explained the symbol of the overturned alms bowls by saying that it was symbolic of the military having "turned away from God."

And that's when he lost me.

I was unfamiliar with the symbol in question, where the monks, who traditionally carry "alms bowls" for donations, carry them upside down. As soon as I heard him say it I assumed it was a symbol of "We would rather have nothing than what you offer."

But turning away from God? That's when you get into a very careful interpretation about whether Buddhism has a god figure. Some say absolutely not, Buddha himself said so. But there are those that revere Buddha himself as a god. So I suppose, by the most liberal interpretation that I can think of, that the symbol could in fact mean that if you are acting against the path of Buddhism, then you are in fact pointed in a direction away from Nirvana (or salvation, in the Christian interpretation), which is as close to "god" as I think it gets.

But hey, the Patriots just won, so I'm going to bed. 🙂