Good Evening, (name witheld),
I would not, at this time, be comfortable inviting people to the group, although I joined myself in order to support you. There are two reasons for this.
- Dharma is traditionally passed on through direct teaching rather than discussion (except, sometimes, moderated discussion among those who are being taught).
- Neither do Buddhists proselytize. Seekers are free to find themselves in the Dharma if it seems right for them.
Personally, while I am in favor of providing information, both for the Sangha and for others who might be interested (as I attempt to do on my site) I am not in favor of the Barnes & Noble Buddhism that seems fashionable nowadays. Attempting to understand a complex religious tradition of more than 3,000 volumes and nearly that many years, via discussions with beginners, are doomed to provide very little it seems to me. To the extent that a few are moved to serious study, I suppose it’s to the good.
As an example, there are today practicing Buddhists who deem themselves non-religious, and some who even prefer not to refer to themselves as Buddhists, as the Dharma teaches us not to label people and ideas. Others continue to follow their birth religion while practicing Buddhist tenets as a life philosophy. Others yet consider themselves deeply religious, identifying Buddhism as their belief system and themselves as Buddhists. Still others — like the Tibetans — have grafted Siddhartha’s teaching and that of his followers onto previous religious systems, which have themselves become known as Buddhism.
Some, like myself, are firmly agnostic in the literal sense. We freely admit that we know nothing about metaphysical matters and believe it is not possible for humans to know such things, trying instead to live our lives in such a way that — at the end of the day — the point is moot. “Live a good life and let God (if She exists) sort it out,” in a manner of speaking. For such, the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path lead to being better integrated personalities and the ability (one hopes) to be of some help to others, and that is the whole point. The meandering thoughts of two millennia of sages only confuse the Buddha’s words.
That said, we have only the Tripitaka on which to draw, just as Western thought has only the Bible, flawed though it may be, and the Q’uran. It should come as no surprise — in fact, would amaze if it were otherwise — that there have been as many branches of Buddhism as of Jewry, Christianity and Islam.
This is a confusing issue, as are all belief systems that have evolved among millions of minds over centuries and in different parts of the world. Look at the People of the Book as perfect examples of that, and you will see why I question how a multi-“denominational” Buddhist “Bible study” will prosper.
That said, I will keep in touch and see how it goes. When it comes to expanding one’s knowledge and mind, little is wasted if the intent is good.