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Namo Buddhaya!

My neighbor is a hardcore Christian & is a very nice man, the only thing is that he goes outside every once & a while with a water gun & kills insects (and even shoots rabbits with the gun). He also really pushes his religion on others and expects people to be Christians, otherwise, they will suffer eternally in Hell. This makes me concerned about the amount of bad Kamma he may be accumulating from his actions, thoughts, & speech.

I had 3 questions:

  • Is it skillful to not intervene in his acts of killing, knowing he will not understand?
  • What is an appropriate response to him asking if I "love Jesus only" or if I'm a "good Chrisitan"?
  • Should I not worry about un-deluding his mind to help him understand the Dhamma?

Metta to all!

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Is it skillful to not intervene in his acts of killing, knowing he will not understand?

If you wanted to, how about just saying, "Blessed are the merciful", see how he understands that?

I wonder if perhaps he'd understand better if you spoke from within the context of his (Christian) scripture.

I propose you shouldn't want him to perceive "conceit" however -- i.e. his perceiving you as comparing yourself to him, as your saying that you are superior.

See How are 'conceit' and 'identity-view' not the same? for some description of conceit.

Instead it might work better if he perceives "love" (or mercy, etc.) which he is inspired to emulate.

What is an appropriate response to him asking if I "love Jesus only" or if I'm a "good Chrisitan"?

I don't know, how about -- "Jesus said to love God, and love thy neighbour".

I suggest that, not because it's a Buddhist dictum, but because I reckon you might want to speak using someone else's language in order to communicate with them.

Be careful not to lie, though.

Incidentally there are said to be four ways to answer a question

First the categorical answer,
then the qualified,
third, the type to be counter-questioned,
& fourth, the one to be set aside.

For example:

  1. "Yes" or "no"
  2. "If when you say 'Good Christian' you mean 'X' then etc."
  3. "How do you think you would recognise a good Christian?"
  4. :-)

Anyway you might think you're required to give a categorical answer, but there are other ways to answer which might be better.

Should I not worry about un-deluding his mind to help him understand the Dhamma?

You asked about "skilful". One of the words translated "skilful" is kusala, try this essay for example, Kusala and Akusala (which seems to have been written for Christians, but anyway), one of the things it mentions is,

In the early Buddhist discourses, individuals are classified into four groups, in the following manner :

  1. The individual who pursues neither his own (moral) well-being nor others’ (moral) well-being
  2. The individual who pursues others’ (moral) well-being but not his own (moral) well-being
  3. The individual who pursues his own (moral) well-being but not others’ (moral) well-being
  4. The individual who pursues his own (moral) well-being as well as others’ (moral) well-being

I think that un-deluding another's mind is what a bodhisattva might aspire to.

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The suttas say to teach Dhamma only to those who ask for it. Therefore, you are forbidden to preach Dhamma to your neighbour (unless he wishes you do).

Etadaggaṃ peyyavajjānaṃ yadidaṃ atthikassa ohitasotassa punappunaṃ dhammaṃ deseti.

And this is the best of friendly speech: to teach again and again Dhamma to those who wish for it and who listen attentively.

AN 9.5

As for Christianity, Jesus taught people go to 'heaven' & 'hell' as a result of their actions rather than as a result of superficial faith or allegiance. Refer to Parable of the Good Samaritan.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – ChrisW Aug 20 at 19:32
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I empathize with you, having grown up around such people.

My advice would be to show this neighbor the same love and compassion you feel towards the rabbits and others. You may think of him as just another creature, acting out his natural tendencies, much like a tiger or alligator. Reflect on his positive aspects. Be mindful of your own reactions, feeling, or aversion toward him or his actions, and let go of that which you can't control.

Teach the Dhamma through your actions, they speak louder than words. Be compassionate towards the creatures under your care, and therefore be a friend to him. Change comes from within, so trying to teach at him or argue against his beliefs will never bear fruit. Show kindness, wisdom, positivity, and equanimity through your actions and the visible benefits of the Dhamma will become apparent to those with eyes to see and ears to hear.

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  • Is it skillful to not intervene in his acts of killing, knowing he will not understand?

You should tactfully intervene. One should point out animals also feel pain and one should not do to animals what one does not like done to oneself.

  • What is an appropriate response to him asking if I "love Jesus only" or if I'm a "good Chrisitan"?

You can point out it is good to love Jesus. Also to be a better Christian one can practice:

  • morality
  • mastery over the mind
  • wisdom

Whatever religion or faith system one can practice the above 3 trainings.

You can then direct him to a course which teacher these:

  • Should I not worry about un-deluding his mind to help him understand the Dhamma?

You should not worry. One should just try and accept whatever outcome.

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OP: Is it skillful to not intervene in his acts of killing, knowing he will not understand?
OP: Should I not worry about un-deluding his mind to help him understand the Dhamma?

Skillfulness applies to one's own thoughts, words and actions, and not those of other people. Of course the exception to this is that parents and teachers have the responsibility to correct their children, but this does not apply in your case.

In fact, if you think that you have to correct other people's actions, this is a slippery slope to feeling contempt for other people. Contempt is a type of aversion. I think we should avoid providing unsolicited advice to people who are not very close to us. Also see this question.

But if solicited, you can drop him a hint. For e.g. if he invites you to join him in shooting rabbits, you can decline by saying that you feel compassion for the suffering of harmless rabbits. (Luke 6:36)

OP: What is an appropriate response to him asking if I "love Jesus only" or if I'm a "good Christian"?

If he asks you if you "love Jesus only", you can reply "I love Jesus and all my neighbours too!" (Matthew 22:39)

If he asks you if you're a "good Christian", you can reply, "I try to be as good as Jesus wants us to be". (Matthew 5:48)

As ChrisW mentioned, it's important not to break the precept of not speaking untruth.

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