Monday, October 25, 2010

A Conversation between a Christian Evangelist and a Buddhist

This is a conversation between a Christian Evangelist and a Buddhist. Let's just call them Mr C and Mr B respectively. They were sitting next to each other in a plane. All along the trip, Mr B did not know Mr C was a Christian until the plane was just about to land. It was not until Mr C decided to "take his opportunity" against this simple looking guy, that looked probably somewhat naive, perhaps. So, he took out his bait and hope that Mr B would bite it. He opened the conversation with a seemingly innocent question. He might have noticed all the coloured strings or threads around Mr B's wrist, and that seemed perfect topic of conversation to lure Mr B into God's protection instead of the mantra-ed strings given to Mr B. Or, perhaps that was to check if Mr B was not a Christian.

Mr C:  What are those strings that you are wearing?
Mr B: O - these are obtained from the temple.

Mr B seemed peculiar about Mr C's motive. He was sure Mr C knew what those strings were. So, he kept the answer short and direct. He didnot say anything anymore.

Mr C could just muster: I see, you got them from your temple.

Then the conversation between them went dead. Because of Mr B's silence, Mr C's opportunity to turn the conversation into a religious one that would probably emphasise the uselessness of those striongs for protection, did not materialise. I feel Mr B's silence was appropriate since it defused a potential arguement or debate.

Then the plane landed. And as he was preparing to unbuckle himself (as he was sittign on the outer seat, nearest the aisle), after failing to stir an evangelist opportunity, he gave his last shot.

Mr C: So.. good luck to you and remember, Jesus loves you. Come to the church anytime.

The he unbuckled himself and was about to get up.

Mr B thought quickly and I am not sure why he had to even say anything else... but he retorted after some quick thoughts.

Mr B: I am sure Jesus loves me. Did you know that I had a dream of Jesus once?

Mr C's eyes sparkled. That was his opportunity that he must not missed. He grabbed it immediately and his true colours could be seen now.

Mr C: O- then you should come to the church...that's a sign.

Mr B : ...but Buddha also loves me. I also had dreamt of Buddha. And even those of other gods such as Hinduism. I am sure they love me too.

Mr C was stumped. He did not know what to say for a few seconds.

Mr C:  then you must be a good spiritual person.

Mr B humbly said: Hmm...not really. I am a bad person... that why they come to me.

Mr C then asked: What do you work for a living? 

Mr B: Oh, I keep records, etc...

Mr C: ...then you must be cheating on the records.

Mr B knew he meant it as a joke. Mr B did not mind that last bit of salvo from Mr C. It was to save Mr C's face and also to avoid any tension between them. It was not a debate. There's no Mr B's ego to be saved anyway. And they both laughed. Mr B wished Mr C a safe journey as Mr C grabbed his hand-carried bag and walked away.

Mr B felt it was a good conversation. There was something to be learned for Mr C and I am sure for Mr B too. It was blessings from the Buddha and Jesus that his wit was quick at that moment and that turned the conversation around and stopped Mr C right on his tracks. But Mr C was also intelligent and knew he had "met his match" and smartly turned the conversation into a more jovial mood. Mr B must learn this technique too.

On an end note, I am wondering if that's the way Mr C engages in conversation with strangers he meets anywhere. Is Mr C typical of other Christian evangelists? Do they always look for an opportunity to invite people to the church? Anyway... that's their business. On their side of things, that's nothing wrong. But on others' side, being approached by other religions and attempts to convert Buddhists over cannot be looked on as insignificant. And that's because Buddhists who do not know their Buddhism well enough are easy targets of these evangelists. And I understand from Mr B that that was not the first time he had had conversations with other Christians. He had actually previously learned from his past conversations. And that had helped him prepare for any such attempts. I had been told that there are many young Buddhists in Malaysia and Singapore who had this problem with being approached by this kind of evangelists. And they have voiced their concerns in Buddhist forums. That's one of the reasons I decided to relate Mr B's story on the plane here in this blog. Oh.. one more thing. I asked Mr B about his dreams...and it apepars that he did actually had had all those dreams he talked about. They were not lies. He had even dreamt of the Muslim azan (Islam's call for prayer) from a mosque which he interpretes as a sign from the Islam's God.

I just hope there is something useful to be shared from this blog post. Cheers and Namo Amitabha Buddha!

P/s: don't ask me who is Mr B, ok? He had asked his name not to be mentioned. Thanks.

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