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Do You Need The ‘Happy Buddhist Card’?

While chatting with friends on the ‘Agree to Disagree: Conversations on Conversion’ project (http://conversion.buddhists.sg), I suggested doing something in addition, that is handy and easy to use, for swift dissuasion against the ways of pushy preachers. I call it the ‘Happy Buddhist Card’.

A friend recently expressed the need for such a card, when she encountered someone who sang a religious hymn loudly in her face – in an elevator, about how a certain deity loves her. It was an obvious attempt to ‘convert’ her, as he knew she is Buddhist. She was taken aback but on hindsight wished she had such a card to show… to get him to instantly end his insensitivity and rudeness. Here are the contents on the credit card sized card…

Front: Picture of the Buddha, Heading: I Am A Happy Buddhist, Text: Just as I respect your religion, may you also respect mine, by not sharing with me what I am not interested in. Thank you for upholding religious harmony. May all be well and happy.

Back:
To the cardbearer: Please report unwelcome proselytism to the authorities [which is whatever organisation that is appropriate], or email tde@thedailyenlightenment.com for advice.

‘With good will for the entire universe, cultivate a boundless heart of love, above, below, and all around, unhindered, without enmity or hate.’ – The Buddha (Metta Sutta) [Note that this quote from the Discourse on Loving-Kindness reminds the cardbearer and reader that the card is essentially a message to be shared and received in good faith.]

This card is especially for those who might not know how to fend off persistent religious hassling in a clear-cut, serious yet polite way – with no need to argue or be angry. It is not a refuge certificate, but for lending the other party to see. Here are two examples of the card in use…

Scenario #1: An old lady is approached by someone at a hospital, who invites her to his place of worship. She says she’s not interested, but the person is relentless… on several occasions too. Finally, she reaches for the card for him to see. He reads it, is surprised and backs off respectfully.

Scenario #2
: A cab-driver relentlessly talks about his religion and why it should be subscribed to, despite the passenger asking him to stop. At a red light, the latter shows him the card. Realising he might receive a formal complaint, he instantly stops being preachy.

As above, usage of the card is simple. It can be gently read aloud too. While we should always be open to amiable inter-religious dialogue in meaningful two-way exchanges, in times when a dialogue is overbearing or one-directional, this card might prove useful. Do you, and/or your family and friends need the Happy Buddhist Card?

You can now get ready printed cards by emailing tde@thedailyenlightenment.com with your mailing address for 10 cards at SGD$2 (to cover printing, delivery and admin costs).

You can also print your own cut-and-fold cards (in English and Chinese) at http://thedailyenlightenment.com/download/1.jpg and http://thedailyenlightenment.com/download/2.jpg respectively.

Do share your thoughts and experiences too, on using the Happy Buddhist Card at the comments section of http://tinyurl.com/happybuddhist (below). May all religions co-exist in respectful harmony!

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69 Responses to “An Easy Way To Say ‘Thanks, But No Thanks’”

  1. avatar

    Dear all,

    Can anyone feedback the effectiveness of this card? The application of this card in practices will determine the value of its existence.

    Has anyone actually used this card since its inception about 2 years ago?

    Those who have used it effectively or not, kindly share your experience?

    If the card is able to do exactly what it was designed to do and it worked to great effect, then what else has the critics (including me, perhaps?) has to say?

  2. avatar
    ABuddhist March 16, 2012

    The card is a wonderful idea. I have one in my wallet. And I’ve passed copies of it to friends who saw great sense in its existence. This can be read in many comments above too. I notice that in a comment above, the text was used creatively for a sign too.

    As the card is already carefully worded, it is only how it is used that determines its success in application. Hopefully, no one needs to use the card at all! No news is good news as it would mean there are no extreme preachers encountered.

  3. avatar

    Goodness, what is it with you and the card that you have to evaluate it so hard. Leave it alone if you don’t need it. It doesn’t use taxpayer money to print it that need any good citizen to monitor it. I have it and i have friends who have it too. We don’t go around shoving this card in anybody’s face. In fact, I hope i do not need to use this card. If i have to, it means there is an inconsiderate someone who think he or she can save me from hell, and probably say my belief is satanic.

  4. avatar
    wordless March 16, 2012

    Hi Randy,

    I can relate to where you are coming from. I have similar concerns and views. However, seeing that many firmly believe in the effectiveness of the card (even for those who have yet had the chance to use it), I think for now, we can only observe and experience for ourselves, in order to truly understand whether our concerns are valid at all.

  5. avatar

    Dear all,

    Perhaps i need to clarify the stand i choose over this matter is that i am neither for nor against this card, if it works find, so be it.

    One nagging issue is how this episode relates to Buddha’s Kamala Sutta (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalama_Sutta) What I am offering here is for everyone to explore and ask why? Keep exploring the whys, never settle for a ‘good idea’, if it is a ‘wonderful’ idea, the ask why is it a ‘wonderful’ idea. if it is not the why is it not a wonderful idea?

    The reason i ask for any applied experiences for the card, is so that we can all learn how the card is useful and how it can be improved,and if it is not useful, then why is it not useful. I trust the folks in this forum that they will not gloat on how well this card has ‘ward off’ what it was meant to ward off.

    From the general response towards my post, I can assume that the opinions i offer do not sit on the ‘favourable’ side of the matter. I continue to urge everyone to think long and hard, as i do myself, as to why do i even bother to engage this issue when i can choose not to? afterall, i can pursue other issues that can make me potentially more ‘popular’? why? why? why?

    Many might see how ‘attached’ i am towards this seemingly trivial matter, after all it is only a ‘card’. We must bear in mind that little actions make big actions, our response and feelings towards seemingly minute matters will at the end of the day make big difference. Tell that to a sprinter who lost the gold medal by a mere 0.01 second and let’s see what his/her response is, after all it is only 0.01 seconds!

    This entry, your contributions helped me learn, a great deal about opinions and perceptions about Buddhism and the inter-faith ‘process’. if it is simply ‘just a card’ then it makes me wonder why has this topic become THE most popular topic in TDE? My ‘barking’ alone cannot do that, hence we all need to ask ourselves again, its it really ‘just a card?’

  6. avatar
    cardcarrier March 22, 2012

    The Kalama Sutta encourages testing for ourselves, not believing out of what could be ‘hearsay’ anywhere, including in the comments here.

    No need to ponder about its effectiveness to no end. The article has a link for printing the card. Why not just use the card to know how it works? But do follow the recommended guidelines of usage though.

    I believe many already have interesting adventures with the card, but they might not be in this comment thread.

    It is not just a card. It is also an invitation card… to exercise the Kalama spirit. Just try it instead of only doubting it. If there’s no perceived need for one to try it, just let it be. Well, there are no complaints of actual abuse of this card anyway, while there are clearly many folks who appreciate it here.

  7. avatar
    wordless March 23, 2012

    Hi Randy,

    Again I share your line of thought and concerns.

    I also agree in part, that for those who see no need to try using the card, we need not say anything further to such groups of people.

    For those who are not interested or keen in in-depth exploration of any issue in discussion, we too need to quickly recognise, accept and let things be.

    Perhaps people like Randy would find it more fulfilling to discuss this with fellow practitioners who share similar concerns and are willing to keep alive an open discussion on in-depth exploration of any social issue such as this card.

  8. avatar
    Doitorleaveit March 23, 2012

    It’s bizarre how some like speculating so much. Why not just try and see? The Kalama spirit, remember? Basic Buddhist teaching. Putting it in practice beats endless speculations and possibly unfounded concerns, which lead to no conclusions.

  9. avatar

    generosity, compassion, loving kindness & tranquility is the principle of buddhism known as non dualism. By having a card form, it develops a stigma against something that does not really present in the quintessence pure loving mind. Namo Amitabha

  10. avatar

    Generosity, compassion, loving kindness & tranquility are reflected in the card and the way it is meant to be used. Do reread the article again and the comments above for more on this. It IS meant to be a skilful means.

  11. avatar
    Sheila May 8, 2012

    This card would be awesome to have. However I don’t think it would stop the small minded people of the world. I was at a grocery store in Texas when I ran into a friend of my moms who asked me why I don’t go to church with my mom who is catholic. I replied very kindly that I was Buddhist and the lady smacked me an told me to believe in god.

  12. avatar
    Protector May 8, 2012

    Wow Sheila! Tough!

    Maybe you can print the card, keep it in your wallet, and in future, flash it from a safe distance!

    :aie:

  13. avatar
    Jagu IN Texas October 9, 2012

    The card would show a lack of patience on my part.I would have to try and meditate a bit more to over come my lack of tolerance. The card sounds like a good idea on the surface but may disguise a lack of determination on ones part.

  14. avatar

    ‘This card is especially for those who might not know how to fend off persistent religious hassling in a clear-cut, serious yet polite way – with no need to argue or be angry.’

    It is a last resort, after the usual means can’t work – mainly, as in the article, due to super disrespectful in-your-face preaching.

  15. avatar

    While we argue about this card, while we talk about inter-religious harmony, while we say we are compassionate while this is still on going, we are letting weak Buddhist, non-Buddhist being convert to example Christianity.
    How can we call ourselves compassionate when are not spreading dharma to this group of people. For those who do not attempt to share dharma with the other proactively, how can they be call compassionate. The Buddha message is help sentient being be free from suffering. As a Buddhist we should be active in this aspect. If not, it can be considered selfish rather than compassionate.

  16. avatar

    I see no problem with a card like this -on the front. The only thing that concerns me is the section on the back stating:
    ‘Please report unwelcome proselytism to the authorities’
    What happened to freedom of speech? Now if someone is threatening to harm you, that is something different, but if we are so intolerant or uncomfortable with the strong belief of another that we are encouraged to report them to the authorities then I feel we must examine our own hearts. We only need to look at the countries around the world that have made proselytism illegal to see where this attitude leads and it ain’t pretty.

  17. avatar

    As in the article, this card is shown for those who are overly pushy only. In this sense, their proselytism is already overwhelming and unwelcomed, on the brink, if not already, of crossing respect for the cardbearer’s right not to listen to the preachiness any more.

    Even so, the front of the card shown first assures that there is goodwill. For those who are super preachy, who really don’t stop talking and insisting us to listen, asking them to read the card might work in halting their overbearing-ness, which ain’t pretty either.

    ;-)

  18. avatar

    You can verbally say it even without a card. “Just as I respect your religion, may you also respect mine, by not sharing with me what I am not interested in. Thank you for upholding religious harmony. May all be well and happy.” (Y)

  19. avatar

    Yes indeed! The card can remind us of what to say.

    However, as in the article, ‘This card is especially for those who might not know how to fend off persistent religious hassling in a clear-cut, serious yet polite way – with no need to argue or be angry.’

    Some folks who are enraged or not so good (or comfortable) with speaking might prefer using the card. The card also helps to get the preachy person to pause their preachiness to read. This is useful as there are some super-preachy folks who are unwilling to stop their preachiness, not even pausing for you to speak your mind. Reminds me of the taxi-driver case in the article.

    :[[

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