Living in the south east of the United States, where most have never heard of Pureland Buddhism and Amitabha’s Deliverance, I have talked with many American born citizen that want to become Pureland Buddhist, but out of fear of rejection, discrimination and religious persecution, choose to remain silent about their new Buddhist beliefs.
They say, “I believe in Amitabha Buddha but fear telling others. My parents and their parents before them are devout Christians and I fear that they will hate me for going against our family and cultural traditions. Also, almost all my friends and coworkers are Christians and I fear that they will try to get in endless religious debates and arguments with me and try to convert me.
Religion, culture and traditions are creations of humankind for the purpose to separate us from one another. Religion is not truth, but is a product of the ego. There is religion and there is truth. Most people do not believe in religion because it is true. Most believe in religion because it is associated with their traditional and cultural identity. Sakyamuni Buddha taught only the truth. Therefore, Buddhism is not a religion created for the purpose of separation, but Buddhism was taught by the Buddha to unite all living beings in the truth. Buddhism is truth itself.
Amitabha Buddha does not care what cultural identity a person may have. He does not care if one is Christian, Muslim, Hindu, etc. The Buddha knows that such labels and identities are only the result of causal connections and are ultimately and truly empty. He wishes to save all living beings and loves everyone equally. He just respects our free will and waits for everyone to accept his deliverance in their own time. Many religions confuse Buddhism as another religion and reject Amitabha’s deliverance simply because it is not part of their cultural and religious identity. This is why, as sincere believers of the Buddha, we should not mistake Buddhism as a religion, but only accept it as truth.
If your fears are still too great, it is perfectly fine to “stay in the closet” as a Pureland Buddhist. Amitabha Buddha knows what is in your heart. He knows that you feel socially obliged to still honor your families cultural traditions. Just recite Amitabha’s name to yourself. As you recite, your faith will grow, and your fears will soon disappear. I used to have these same fears of rejection and religious persecution. But after I “came out of the closet” as a Pureland Buddhist, I quickly learned that people can sense your sincerity and conviction.
When a person’s faith is sincere,his conviction is strong and they really believe that their beliefs are truth, others can sense this. Feeling this, they will not try to get in endless religious debates and arguments with you or try to convert you. Almost all of my friends, family and coworkers know that I am a Pureland Buddhist and are perfectly fine with it. I am very open about my beliefs and not ashamed to share them. Ever since I “came out of the closet” as a Pureland Buddhist , I have not gotten in one religious debate or argument and no one has tried to convert me. When others see my sincerity and strong conviction, they choose not to debate, argue or try to convert me. They respect my beliefs as I respect their cultural traditions.
Also, I believe that every person, on a deeper level, already knows the truth, and can feel the Light and presence of Amitabha Buddha around me and on a deeper level, already know that the teachings of Pureland Buddhism is real, true and good when they hear them. Therefore, they accept me as a Pureland Buddhist and do not reject me.
Namo Amitabha Buddha