I have written a number of times on the subject of Buddhism as compared to Christianity. Buddhism attracted me as a young college student seeking truth. It lured me with the promise of harmony with the world and oneness with myself and reality. I was searching for meaning and purpose, and Buddhism promised a journey into a much larger universal reality.
Listening to the testimonies of ex-Buddhists is interesting to me. I could have gone down that road. I started tentatively down that road at one point in my life, testing the waters. When I found the Living Water, Jesus Christ, however, I didn’t need anything else to quench my thirst. I found what my soul was looking for.
As I listened to the testimony of a woman identified only as Madelena, I realized that part of the allure of Buddhism for her was just a mirage. She left the Eastern Orthodox Church she knew as a child to become a Buddhist, and she lived it for many years. The promise of losing oneself in some kind of cosmic oneness is the mirage she exposes in her testimony.
Madelena’s father was a priest in the Eastern Orthodox church. She described it as “intense”, but the religiosity turned her off. She knew what it was to fear God, but she didn’t know the love of God.
When her father separated from her mother, she and her mother were left without support from the church, feeling disconnected. A time of searching and experiences with depression and disconnection from family support led her to embrace Buddhism.
Madelena was lost and looking for something to empower her. She found empowerment in Buddhism and embraced it. She was convinced she would be a Buddhist the rest of her life. Indeed, she was a Buddhist for a long time, until she was 42 years old.
Madelena says she was attracted to the holistic promise of Buddhism, as was I, but she took it much further than I did. Her experience with Buddhism, though, revealed something else. Rather than lose herself into a larger universal reality, she found the focus of Buddhism “is on you, the individual” making one feel “empowered”, at least for a time. But, she says, that is just “the rebellious side of you.” At the core, it is the idea “that I am my own god; I can create my own destiny.”
And, this is the most significant thing she found: it doesn’t fulfill. It doesn’t quench the thirst we all have for God.
The harbinger of change for Madelena was when her husband converted to Christianity. She was scared of his change, but drawn to it at the same time. He was “completely cured” of depression, she says, and he was happy for the first time. “He became a completely different person altogether.”
About two years after her husband’s conversion, Madalena woke up one morning, and she sensed the Holy Spirit. She responded to it. Before this time, the Bible was “gibberish” to Madelena, and it didn’t make sense to her. After she responded to the tug of the Holy Spirit and began to read the Bible, the meaning came alive and a peace came over her. Her life has changed.
Madelena relates that experiencing God was like “returning to your best friend” In the following segment of the interview with Madelena, she describes her experience with God and her new found understanding that God has “always been waiting for her”. You can also watch the whole interview below by starting over at the beginning. It is worth a listen.
“[T]he Lord waits to be gracious to you….” (Isaiah 30:18)