Friday, 20 July 2007

Faith and Belief in Scouting

"Faith and Belief" is an area of Scouting that I never thought I would end up doing.

Someone at Gilwell Park found out that I was a Buddhist and asked me to be the National Advisor. I was then contacted by the World Buddhist Scout Brotherhood and found myself the UK co-coordinator. As the Jamboree approached I was asked to take on the roll of the Buddhist Faith Co-coordinator.

The area of Scouting I enjoy the most is the International aspect. Meeting people from around the World who have the same goals and ideas as yourself is great. It's even better if you like learning languages. As they say "There are no strangers, just friends you have yet to meet"

Buddhism falls neatly into the International area, as I deal with the following Countries and territories:

Thailand, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Singapore,
Honk Kong, Macao, Brunei, Malaysia,
Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Bhutan, Ladakh,
Sikkim, Kalmykia and Buryatia.

And that does not include Buddhists in Western Countries!

As Buddhism is a Dharmic Religion as opposed to an Abrahamic one, it is
sometimes difficult in the West for non-Buddhists to get to grips with it.
At a National level I have been asked "What Hymns do Buddhists sing?"

At the Jamboree we have guide lines that everyone has to agree to that are
there to stop people proselytising, which is good.
Buddhist's believe that everyone should follow their own path and believe
what they wish. Sadly this view is not shared by some of the followers of the Abrahamic faiths.

I believe that HH Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatzo is the reincarnation
of Avalokitesvara the Bodhisattva of Compassion. But that does not make it true, and certainly does not make it fact!

I remember back in 1994 being on Summer Camp in Ohio, and when a certain Scout Leader found out that I was Buddhist and had "turned away from Christ" as he put it, he made it his mission to "save my soul". I had to endure 9 weeks of preaching.

One day, he was going through his daily list of the reasons why I was going to go to hell(the Christian one)and said that when I died I would stand before Christ. I disagreed with him, but he was adamant that this would happen.

I pointed out that I believed that when he died he would be reborn, and depending on his karma, he could even come back as an animal. He went ballistic - "I have never been so insulted in all my life". Bemused I pointed out that he did not seem to mind spending 9 weeks insulting my beliefs, but apparently that was acceptable because he was right!

If this was the case at Jamborees the area would be called the "Truth and Facts Zone", not the "Faith and Belief Zone"

I am hopeful that everything will be fine in the FAB Zone, but we will have to wait and see!

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