Have you been following Shami Kanse Capon in his path, “walking withCaptain James blog”?
There was a very interesting situation on his journey that he encountered Jehovah Witness believers.
Of course, like most feverant religious believers they had the simple mindset to comb the masses until a few disinchanted or fearful people that they were able to catch with their message, strayed from the heard. Many people for example, the woman who chanted loudly “Namu Myoho Renge Kyo”, stated that they simply bothered her morning.
What should be our behavior in this situation?
I would like to share with you what I have learned through the many encounters that I have had throughout my life with zealous religious believers.
Since I was 18 years old, I have wore Buddhist robes. To to many Western religious people this was seen as confusing and they treated me as never being able to be brought back from the dark side. I have fine too far, they thought.
I remember one time meeting with a Bishop in Buffalo and upon meeting him he immediately asked where I was from, I stated that I was from Wheatfield New York and that my mother was Chatholic. He then said, “well what happened to you?”. I was so irritated by this offhand humor, that I stated, “what do you mean?”. The room went silent. Of course, at that time the Church was growing it’s relationships with other Faith’s.
I remember from that point I became more direct with my practice. Of course, I had seen the ridiculous behavior of some other Nichiren Buddhist groups doing the same thing, basically barking until you believed it or walked away. So I made a few rules of how to approach a religious conversation. First is appropriate timing? Secondly that I would actually listen to their points wholeheartedly and thirdly that I would make it known that they should listen as well and that if you want to discuss this we will it do it frankly and with no quarter. If you can accept all of this we will have a religious discussion.
It is interesting to see that when there is the potential of a blunt conversation, that I will not simply and politey let them ramble and what is expected expected to happen. Without fail, almost all change the subject or attempt to move forward at their own peril.
I believe that we are Bodhisattvas and that when a “searcher” comes to us, it is our responsibility to teach them in the many ways of our faith, respectfully and maturely. As Nichiren Shonin stated, “I will never submit, until defeated by a man of reason!”
Kanjin Cederman Shonin