How study can change you

Sent in by Zen

Hi,

Call me Zen. I want to share my story as an ex Christian.

I am Indonesian Chinese. My father raised me as an “ordinary” Chinese, I mean, my father believes in God but never explain his faith deeply. He only pointed out that conscience is better than religions.

We lived in a small city and the best school in that city was Catholic school. Gradually, I became a Catholic, and so did my brothers and sisters. I remembered my father objections to my elder brother for his conversion to Catholic. My father saw Christianity as an evil religion that humiliated Chinese when he was a child in China. But my father was wise enough to say that we all could choose our own religion freely at 17 years old. So, unfortunately, all of his sons and daughters became Catholics when they were 17 years old. Until his death several years ago, my father was still “ordinary” Chinese, going to Temple once or twice a year in Chinese New Year (around January/February) and/or Qing Ming (every April 5th).

When I was at University in Jakarta, I began to be in doubt about Christianity. It was Zen that made me a skeptical one. Zen, as long as I know, was a hybrid of Buddhism and Daoism, so I learned Dao too. From Zen, I learn to be skeptical. From Dao, I learn to be natural.

Zen always teaches me about the Truth outside the holy books of Theravada or Mahayana. So I studied the teachings of Mahayana and Theravada in order to know Zen better. I found the absurdity of Christianity when I read articles from “atheist” Theravada that attacked Christianity.

I learned a lot of western literatures as well as eastern literatures while I was at University. I like Spinoza as well as Thomas Paine and Robert Ingersoll writings. I like Zen stories as well as Laozi and Zhuangzi sayings. Both Great Dao Masters make me appreciating natural way of life.

My change from Catholic to Zen or Dao was gradually. Finally, at 24 years old, when I had graduated from University, I could leave Jesus and God Father. Since then, I began to appreciate my father’s simple religion, especially the “conscience”. Conscience, I think, is the basic of the Zen or Dao. I know there will be a billion subjective interpretations of conscience. But I think conscience is natural: to be kind, free, honest, and simple. I am simply a “Zen” or “Dao” follower.

Now I am 37 years old and have an ex-Catholic wife and a 7 years old son. We are vegetarian family because we believe we are biologically or naturally herbivores like apes, based on evolution theory! You can laugh at me but 13 years of vegetarian way of life had cured my stomach disease I ever had as an omnivore teenager.

I had replaced Jehovah or Father with Nature or Universe like Spinoza or Einstein did. I believe human’s body came from meteorites, hit the earth, brought amino acids, then became microorganisms, and finally mammals, via a long and complex evolution. Shortly, I believe that our body was and is from Universe! I was born as a part of Universe and I will die as a part of Universe too. You can call my “faith” as Pantheism as well as Daoism. I don’t care much about terminologies!

When I look at the stars, I always feel I am a very tiny part of this Great Universe. I wonder if there is another planet like earth. I hope someday humans can make a real “Startrek”. But I think that cosmic journey will need billions of years to find another planet like earth. When humans find that planet, the earth actually had blown up and disappeared! That’s my natural/pantheistic way of thinking. But meanwhile, humans must live in this “sad” and “mad” planet, full with religious extremists.

After 1998 reformation, Indonesia suffered several religious conflicts, for example, Islam against Christianity in Ambon or Poso, driven by extremists from both sides. My wife and I realize that we must be natural and skeptical persons in order to be “glad” and “sane” while we live in Indonesia, the biggest Moslem population in this earth and also the biggest Overseas Chinese population in the world, but unfortunately most of Indonesian Chinese is Christian, the traditional enemy of Moslem. 911 made Christian-Moslem relationship worse. Indonesian Chinese is in a great danger of racial and religious riots! We can compare Indonesian Chinese in this 21st century with German Jews in 20th century. Horrible!But anyhow, all will die someday somewhere

Zen


Jakarta
Indonesia
How old were you when you became a Christian? 12
How old were you when you ceased being a Christian? 24
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? Catholic
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? Zen or Dao
Why did you become a Christian? cause of Catholic school
Why did you de-convert? study Zen

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Welcome, Zen.

It can´t be easy in Indonesia nowadays... I heard they have a Sharia police nowadays. I worry.

I have to comment on your father´s words: I think he was a very wise man.
Conscience has got every religion beat. No contest.

And yes, we are a part of nature. I think that´s glorious, but Christians beg to differ :D

SpaceMonk said...

Welcome Zen,

That was a great post.
You've lived a very different life to me, but ultimately we have come to similar philosophies - our conscience. It's a personal thing, a guide for self control.
Unfortunately religions are about control of others, with guilt, fear and punishments.
It's hard avoiding that kind where you live.
Indonesia is a neighbour country to mine, I knew it was the biggest muslim population in the world, but I never realised it was the biggest chinese population outside of China.
Good to have you here.

jim earl said...

Thanks and Welcome, Zen.

I enjoyed reading your post. The comment I offer is that no matter what culture we are born into, we can find the truth when we are willing and able to search for it. You father was a wise man and you are wise to follow his logic. Best of luck.

Nvrgoingbk said...

Thanyou for that charming post. You are quite articulate with the English language. I wish I could speak and write Chinese that well. :-)

My husband and I are both ex-christians and are very interested in Taoism and Buddhism as well. I learned a little about both last semester in my World Religion class. They are both atheistic but embrace spirituality, meditation, naturalism and a code of ethics that our souls can recognize as good and sensical. Now, this is only what I have been able to summize from my studies, so I am not suggesting we replace Jeebus with Buddha. There are some tenets of the "faith" that I do not agree with, but it's definitley closer to the "truth" than Christianity.

I was telling Xrayman today just how vast and glorious the Universe is and just how humbled I am to be a part of it all. This is something I was never able to do when I was a Christian. As a Christian, I was always waiting to fly away to a Heavenly home (wherever that is), and I could never appreciate the beauty all around me. I couldn't see the inherent worth in my fellowman's eyes, because I was brainwashed to see him as saved or not saved. I was too damned busy worrying about whether or not he was Republican or Democrat, Catholic or Protestant...etc. I had been conditioned to think that way. There was a dividing line that I was not supposed to cross, since we were not supposed to be "unequally yoked". Now, I am able to be who I really am. I am able to embrace all my brothers and sisters no matter race, sex, or creed. I don't know if there exists beyond this world any other, but if there is, I hope that you will all be there, because man, I have some great laughs with you guys. We have some stimulating "conversations" in here don't we?

If there is a creator, it has left us to figure things out for ourselves and has given us the freedom to fuck up and annihilate ourselves or to learn before it is too late. I hope that it is the latter. It's imperative that we learn the value of each human being and the value of truth. It's time to stop seperating ourselves into camps or considering ourselves members of some elite country club who are somehow more worthy of the air we breath then the next guy just because he sees the world differently. It's okay to dream; it's okay to have our fanciful notions, but to bind those dreams and notions between two leather covers and call it "The Word of God" is in err. I dream that one day, after I die, while my tissue and organs and bone are feeding the earth, my spirit, if I have one, will go off to explore distant lands with folks like Maya Angelou, Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King, JFK, Albert Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, and yes, Jesus (for clarity sake). I have BIG dreams and I have BIG faith and I don't have to be a Christian to have either.

Anonymous said...

Ni hao,

Wo shi da xue sheng. Wo xue Zhongwen. Wo hui shuo idiar Zhongwen.

I really enjoyed your post. I'm majoring in Chinese and I hope to be studying abroad soon. I love Asian culture and although I haven't really looked into Zen or Dao, your post has definitely encouraged me to do so.

"I don't know if there exists beyond this world any other, but if there is, I hope that you will all be there, because man, I have some great laughs with you guys. We have some stimulating "conversations" in here don't we?"

nvrgoingbk, I enjoyed your comment as well. Hope like this really brings a smile to my face.

Anonymous said...

Zen, it was good to read your story. I'm a christian, but i can agree with you that the concept of being able to do anything through the week as long as you made it to Mass is messed up. It's not only hollow, but, if you'll accept my saying so, it's not what Jesus intended either.

Zen said...

Anonymous wrote:
It can´t be easy in Indonesia nowadays... I heard they have a Sharia police nowadays. I worry.

Zen’s comment:
Sharia is only in Aceh Darussalam (Darus=State, Salam=Peace/Islam) as a part of peace treaty between Indonesian government and GAM (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka) or Freedom Aceh Movement. Islam in Aceh is the most fundamentalist one. Indonesian calls Aceh as "Mecca's veranda".

SpaceMonk wrote:
Indonesia is a neighbour country to mine, I knew it was the biggest muslim population in the world, but I never realised it was the biggest chinese population outside of China.

Zen’s comment:
Actually, in Taiwan, there is around 20 millions Chinese but most of countries in the world look Taiwan as a part of China. Indonesia has around 9-10 millions overseas Chinese. Thailand has around 8-9 millions overseas Chinese, and Malaysia has around 8-9 millions overseas Chinese too. Overseas Chinese in Indonesia-Thailand-Malaysia is about 60% of overseas Chinese outside China and Taiwan

Nvrgoingbk wrote:
so I am not suggesting we replace Jeebus with Buddha. There are some tenets of the "faith" that I do not agree with, but it's definitley closer to the "truth" than Christianity.

Zen’s comment:
as a Zen or skeptic, I don’t agree with many of “Buddhism” tenets. For example, I don’t agree with celibacy. I think becoming a monk or nun is not humane because sex is natural or biological. My father ever said that as a Chinese I must marry and have at least one child as an appreciation to my ancestors. I can accept my father’s opinion because biology told me something nice about gene and genetics.

Anonymous wrote:
I really enjoyed your post. I'm majoring in Chinese and I hope to be studying abroad soon. I love Asian culture and although I haven't really looked into Zen or Dao, your post has definitely encouraged me to do so.

Zen’s comment:
You must try it by yourself. Be independent, don’t be a follower of such a Zen or Dao master. To be a follower is to be a slave. To be a leader is to be a slave owner/trader. That's my only advice. Be free and be natural (Zhuangzi).

Joy wrote:
Zen, it was good to read your story. I'm a christian, but i can agree with you that the concept of being able to do anything through the week as long as you made it to Mass is messed up. It's not only hollow, but, if you'll accept my saying so, it's not what Jesus intended either.

Zen’s comment: Joy, I see religion as merely an institution established by human. My father ever said: a religion is a business! A business for its leader! I do believe there were wise persons like Laozi, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, etc but I believe they never wrote a holy book or established a religion. Their followers did it and exaggerate it. The truth is inside not outside (Buddha). Holy buildings or holy books are outside anyway.

Zen said...

Dear All,

This is my liberal poem. I hope you can understand my thinking by this poem. Please note that i don't want to convert anyone to any religion. I want all human free and happy! It sounds like "boddhisatva" goal, doesn't it?

ENLIGHTENMENT

Enlightenment is free
Free from greed
Free from fear
Free from heaven
Free from hell
Free from angels
Free from devils
Free from religions
Free from scriptures

RELIGION

Religion is a mix of fear and greed
You do the good because the greed of heaven
You do not do the bad because the fear of hell

Religion is a nice trap
If you enter it, it will welcome you as an angel
If you leave it, it will curse you as a devil

Religion is a hypocrite
If you criticize another religion, it will say, “Heaven is for you!”
If you criticize yourself religion, it will say, “Hell is for you!”

Religion is a schizophrenic
If you are rich and healthy, it will say, “God bless you.”
If you are poor and ill, it will say, “God test you.”

Religion is scriptures
If you have a question, it will say, "Let us look for the answer in the scriptures!"
If you have a problem, it will say, "Let us look for the solution in the scriptures!"


HUMANITY

Humanity is conscience
You do the good because it is good
You do not do the bad because it is bad

Humanity is friendly
If you enter it, it will say a welcome to you, “Nice to meet you.”
If you leave it, it will say a farewell to you, “See you again.”

Humanity is honest
If you criticize a bad person, it will say, “Aren’t you worse?”
If you criticize a good person, it will say, “Are you better?”

Humanity is normal
If you are rich and healthy, it will say, ”Don’t be arrogant!”
If you are poor and ill, it will say,” Do something!”

Humanity is reason
If you have a question, it will say, "Let us think together the answer."
If you have a problem, it will say," Let us think together the solution."

Dave8 said...

Zen,
Thanks for your passage, and giving us a glimpse of your life and the journey you have made thus far. We have walked in different paths, but it appears we have admired the same forrest, per se, and describe it in much the same way. Welcome to the site, and although I can only talk with fingers, may you be able to listen with your eyes...

??????

Dave8 said...

Zen, the ?????? at the bottom of the last post, was written in Indonesian, and meant "Peace through Nature"... The web interface componenet wasn't able to decipher the text. Take care.

brett brady said...

why do you spell Tao: Dao [is there a difference?] - very nice article -

she scoops-up the stars
in a cup't waterlily...
just to pour them out

-brett brady

Zen said...

Dear Brett,

"Dao" is pronounced "Tao". There is no difference. Since Communist ruled China, great reformation occurs including in Chinese words. And one of the reformation is to Roman-ize the spelling of Chinese word. "D" for example is considered to spell as "T" because "T" is considered to spell as "Th".

Anonymous said...

How can you leave the One and Only true God Who created everybody, everything and all that you believe? John 3:16 says "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." God proved his love for you when he sent his only son to die for your sins and so that you can have a relationship with the Father. But this relationship is built on His Son Jesus Christ, this what he said john 3:18 "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son". We know for ourselve that we will face death on day but my questions is "What if it is a True God? and What if it is life after death with Him? I believe we are FOOLS if we don't search the Holy Bible and find out for ourselves. We are all held accountable for our own actions and if we choose not to search for the truth, we choose not to live in His Glory. My friend, I believe you gave up because you could't find the answers to your questions. The truth is not looking for you, you have to go and look for it. It is written in John 14:6 "Jesus answered, "I am the way and the TRUTH and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me". He is all the truth you need and the truth is that his life and death was for you, me and all who would believes in Him. What was the reason God did all this? Acts 17:27 "God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us". Seek is a transitive and intransitive verb. It means to search for something: to try to find a person, thing, or place. He rewards those who seek Him. The scripture says Heb 11:6 "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him". Jesus revealed himself to me March 17, 2004 and that was the best thing that ever happen to me. I know for myself that he is REAL. No one didn't have to tell me, I find out for myself and He is ALIVE. He living in me and I am honored that He chosed for me for His Dwelling. Try Him and I promise you never leave Him. I am a product of what Paul said "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain". Gain what? LIFE.

Kent said...

If Jesus was God, why did he say on the cross? "My God!, My God! Why has thou forsaken me?"

boomSLANG said...

Fundonymous 5:16,

.....you are going to die, and you, Fundonymous---all of your "being"---will perish, just like every other living thing. I know.....the truth hurts. There is no "reward". 'Sorry....::sniff sniff::... Life 1:01

Zen said...

Anonymous : How can you leave the One and Only true God Who created everybody, everything and all that you believe?

Zen: If you believe in Creator then who creates the Creator? I don’t believe in Creation or Creator. It is too absurd.
The one and only true “God” (in my Dao perspective) is UNIVERSE.
The one and only true “God” (in my Zen perspective) is CONSCIENCE.
“God” is not in the bible or other holy book. Not in the religion or cult.
UNIVERSE is the “God” outside. CONSCIENCE is the “God” Inside.
And what is Conscience? Compassion (Love) and Reason (Wisdom). Humanity and Freedom (from religion, cult, slavery, oppression). That’s my very simple faith/belief.

Anonymous : John 3:16 says "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
God proved his love for you when he sent his only son to die for your sins and so that you can have a relationship with the Father.

Zen: Jesus died for your sins? Do you try to teach me about being irresponsible? If you have sins you must responsible with your sins yourself.

Anonymous : But this relationship is built on His Son Jesus Christ, this what he said john 3:18 "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son".

Zen: If you ever study Egyptian/China history a bit, this kind of condemnation was regular practice. Egyptian Pharaoh or Chinese Emperor was believed as the one and only Son of God and every citizen who did not believe it would be condemned and punished.

Anonymous : We know for ourselves that we will face death on day but my questions is "What if it is a True God? and What if it is life after death with Him?
I believe we are FOOLS if we don't search the Holy Bible and find out for ourselves.

Zen: I believe I am fool because I ever believed Bible. And "What if Jesus or Father is a False God? What if there is NO life after death with Him?

Anonymous : We are all held accountable for our own actions and if we choose not to search for the truth, we choose not to live in His Glory.

Zen: Yes we must responsible for our own actions and we must search for the truth but not in the “Zeus” glory. Study Greek/Roman history well and you will know that Father = Zeus = Jupiter.

Anonymous : My friend, I believe you gave up because you could't find the answers to your questions.

Zen: I gave up because I found that Christianity is a cult. And I can find the answer of my question (Is Christianity a cult?) in Ex-Christian website…

Anonymous : The truth is not looking for you, you have to go and look for it. It is written in John 14:6 "Jesus answered, "I am the way and the TRUTH and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me".

Zen: Well, Krishna said that too (I am the Way and the Truth and the Life) long before Jesus born. Study Indian and Hindu history well. Logically, Jesus went to India and studied Hindu and then said those popular words of Krishna to Jewish people.

Anonymous : He is all the truth you need and the truth is that his life and death was for you, me and all who would believes in Him.
What was the reason God did all this? Acts 17:27 "God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us".

Zen: I think your God is very greedy for popularity. If He was and is trying to be celebrity, well, He has an awful success now (2 billion of fans/slaves). But I am not His fan/slave.

Anonymous : Seek is a transitive and intransitive verb. It means to search for something: to try to find a person, thing, or place. He rewards those who seek Him. The scripture says Heb 11:6 "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him".

Zen: it means BLIND faith. Just believe without proof.

Anonymous : Jesus revealed himself to me March 17, 2004 and that was the best thing that ever happen to me. I know for myself that he is REAL. No one didn't have to tell me, I find out for myself and He is ALIVE.

Zen: Jesus revealed himself to me 13 years ago that he was neither prophet nor God. He died 2000 years ago and will not live again.

Anonymous : He living in me and I am honored that He chosed for me for His Dwelling. Try Him and I promise you never leave Him. I am a product of what Paul said "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain". Gain what? LIFE.

Zen: LIFE (after death)? Do you mean HEAVEN or REINCARNATION? I prefer the second than the first. But let me tell you the truth: BOTH ARE SPECULATIONS.
And about “product of Paul”, I think you must study that the teaching of Paul is totally different with the teaching of Jesus (Yahowshua). Here I give you an article from a Christian website: www.essene.org/Yahowshua_or_Paul.htm. This article say that if Jesus was the good man then Paul was the bad man. If Jesus was the Christ then Paul was the Anti-Christ.

pikd said...

zen
i musts say i am glad that to see someone from indonesia .I am pretty alone here....( i live in a country near indonesia

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