Thursday, February 16, 2012

Kinda Buddhist

Not hardcore, mind you, what since I do like beer and wine on occasion.  Pretty sure that doesn't fall into the Buddhist philosophies, but I kind of dig the cut of their jib.

The reason that I think Buddhism makes sense, to me, is that it’s a quest to find morality and peace in a world that seems to be focusing more on self-interests and/or pushing religion through acts of violence or fear. I appreciate the fact that Buddhism stresses that we, as individuals, should try to live a moral life, always be mindful of our actions and thoughts (especially as they pertain to others), and strive for wisdom & understanding. It ties in with my Libertarian political leanings.

I was raised as a Lutheran. My mom tried to get us to go to church every Sunday, but my dad wanted no part of it. As kids, we went through the motions – went to church, went through catechism, did our altar boy duties. All the while, I thought Lutherans were very depressed.

The religion stressed that we should fear God and it showed in the way services were held…very somber events. Even celebrations like Easter, Christmas, etc… seemed to be lacking any semblance of joy. After high school, I started exploring other religions.  I moved out of the area and would just drop in to different churches at random on Sunday, regardless of denomination.

My brother personally dropped out of religion. My sister shifted to a religion that is more Bible based than on practices recommended by Catholicism, Lutheranism and so on.

I guess if I were to try to relate how I live the Buddhist lifestyle as compared to my familial religious traditions, the biggest takeaway is that I want to follow a path with more optimism and hope. As I mentioned, I found that Lutheran services were very somber events – that didn’t seem like an approach that would provide joy, so I struck out for more peace and happiness in my beliefs.

One other aspect of Lutheranism that I’ve found – both while growing up and during my religious search – is that many Lutherans are very judgmental of others. I find this to be in direct odds with what the religion suggests – “judge not lest ye be judged” – but it’s very much accepted. I take people for what they are and, so long as they do not harm me, I will not harm them.

A quick snapshot into Buddhism shows that the roots are founded in the 4 Noble Truths.
  •  Life is suffering.
From the day we’re born, we all suffer in some way or another. It may be a poor childhood, disease, lack of love, harm by others, disappointment, et al. The fact is, we all suffer. What Buddhists believe is that, because we are all to suffer in our lives, we must find ways to either accept the suffering as an inevitable fact or find ways, as reasonably feasible, to manage or avoid as much suffering as possible. It will still happen, but we have learned to accept it.

  • Suffering is caused by desire.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed this about me or not, but I don’t want for the new, shiny gadgets or fancy new clothes that companies (and the media) expect me to desire. I want what I need and I need what I want.

While this leaves me looking like I’m in dire need of an update, my old cars run fine and they’re paid off, my clothes fit me and they are not in need of replacing, my family has plenty to eat and we live in an older house that doesn’t need repairs.

The more of the shiny stuff you want, the less you end up having in the end – because you’ll always be left wanting for more. It’s best to appreciate what you have.

  • One can eliminate suffering by eliminating desire.

Agreed; see above. However, this is the one of the hardest Truths to attain. While we can all be happy with what we have, it’s human nature to look at what others have and not be left wanting for some of it. If we’re able to fully dispense of desire, true happiness can be found.

  • Desire is eliminated by means of the noble eightfold path.

Haven’t gone this far into it. Yet.

. . .

As I’ve applied it to my life, I’ve found it to be a quite comforting religion. I’m more at peace with myself and my life, as well as the world around me. I try to do the best I can for others and help when I can, but if I’m unable to offer assistance, I’m comfortable that I at least consider it. I haven’t been to any worship services – we don’t have temples nearby.

I also haven’t been very good about some of the precepts – I do like to have beer and wine and I do hunt. That said, I haven’t killed a deer in many years (I’ve let many pass by recently), but I have shot some in the past. I think that I have passed on shooting deer recently is more of a reflection of my “harm no other” doctrine that Buddhism preaches, which is something I’ve just recently took up.

I take worms off sidewalks when I can and put them in the grass and, rather than kill spiders like my wife wants, I will move them outside to a tree.

All religion serves a purpose for people, but there should not be just one religion that is considered better than others. Religious wars are ludicrous, in my mind, as the core behind all is to love thy neighbor…yet they often have no qualms with killing people who do not follow the same religion.

This does not pertain to any specific religion as almost all religions have, at some point, committed religious genocide.


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