QUESTION: If Buddhism is technically a philosophy and not a religion, is it a sin to meditate in a Buddhist temple? How much could one practice Buddhism without renouncing the Lord?
DAVID: So Buddhist meditation typically has the purpose of emptying oneself, ultimately seeking destruction of the ego by eliminating itself of all attachments (I’m oversimplifying a bit): Christian meditation is focused on realigning our disordered desires and attachments so that they are rightly ordered (God first, then other goods) and increasing our capacity for the Holy Spirit and accompanying grace. Meditation in a Buddhist temple isn’t sinful in and of itself; but denying one’s dignity of being made in the image and likeness of God by seeking dissolution through meditation is problematic.
Jesus didn’t have any earthly knowledge of Buddhism, but when he tells the parable about the guy who empties himself of a demon only to have seven more come back, I’ll admit Buddhist meditation comes to my mind …
44 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a person it roams through arid regions searching for rest but finds none. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my home from which I came.’ But upon returning, it finds it empty, swept clean, and put in order. 45 Then it goes and brings back with itself seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they move in and dwell there; and the last condition of that person is worse than the first. Thus it will be with this evil generation.
Buddhism contains great psychology (or philosophy) in rightly identifying that suffering comes from disordered attachment, that we are in some kind of fallen state, that the middle way is often the most virtuous, and that control of desires is necessary to progress in the spiritual life—inasmuch as the techniques taught by Buddhists are helpful, go for it: just be aware of what your final object is