WHAT ABOUT YOGA?
“I was amazed by the holiness of Christians”
Interview with Anton Gotman, former Buddhist
Priest George Maximov, Anton Gotman
We continue to publish the texts of Spas TV program My Path to God, where Priest George Maximov interviews people who converted to Orthodoxy. The guest of today’s program is Anton Gotman, who had been practicing Buddhism for a long time. In this interview, he will tell us what he was looking for but couldn’t find in Buddhism and how Christ touched his heart. We will also discuss the personal and impersonal aspects of faith as well as the artificiality of “Russian Buddhism”.
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Priest George Maximov: Hello, you are watching My Path To God. The guest of today’s program is Anton Gotman, a man who has a firsthand knowledge of the Buddhist tradition. Anton Sergeyevich, here’s my first question: What did you think of God before you became a Buddhist?
Anton Gotman: I didn’t have a true faith in God. I was baptized when I was eight. Occasionally, I would go to church with my parents. Basically, they were believers, but I didn’t see any purpose behind their faith. Every now and then I’d come across some books but that was it… I didn’t have an in-depth understanding of the Christian tradition. Once in a while I’d go to church and meet the priest. I really liked him as a person, but I didn’t appreciate Christianity. Later, I got interested in rock music and martial arts and started to distance myself from religion, so that at some point I even began to think that Christianity was an utter nonsense. After a while, when I got into college, I got interested in the Orient. I tried to study the Roerichs’1 teachings, but they didn’t impress me at all and neither did other theosophical ideas. Then a difficult period of my life followed, and I was very depressed. By chance, I came across a Soviet book on religious studies that described Buddhism, and it became an eye opener for me. I learned about “the four noble truths”2 and became interested, so I started studying Buddhism with some people who practiced it. After a while, I decided that I wanted to be taught by a teacher of the true Buddhist tradition.
Father George: What did you find attractive in Buddhism?
Anton Gotman: I did not believe in God, and for people who do not believe in God but wish to live righteous lives or have something spiritual in their lives, Buddhism can show a certain way. In fact, Buddha taught many things that were right. For example, just like Christianity, Buddhism teaches that we must not kill. On the one hand, it is the same, but there is a significant difference. We can’t say that Buddhists follow God’s commandment, “Thou shall not kill”, because it is not God’s commandment for them. You can say that people follow God’s commandments only when they believe in God.
Father George: Yes, motivation is important.
—I saw Buddhism as an opportunity for developing certain qualities. My interest in martial arts was an influence too.—(Anton Gotman)
Anton Gotman: Even though there is no faith in God in Buddhism, it offers a certain spiritual way and a system of meditation that at some point attracts people and allows them to relax and experience certain positive feelings. In Tibetan Buddhism, where I was a member of the community of Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, everything was much more interesting, with more mystic experiences and opportunities to do yoga, etc… I’ll try not to overuse the Continue reading ““I was amazed by the holiness of Christians” – Interview with Anton Gotman, former Buddhist, Russia”