Monday, April 16, 2007

Is Buddhism for me?

I was born and raised Jewish. Through my adult years, I've grown to be more spiritual than religious. This is how it works for me: I believe in a spiritual, higher power, God if you will. But I do not envision God as a being, a man, a real person, or even our creator. I believe this power is more complicated than we can ever understand.

I don't believe it is God who created us in his image, but more that man created God in his image and as man's own image changes so does that of his God. For example, some are starting to believe God could be female…the cause of present time feminism?

I don't believe in organized religion. It is man created and self-serving. For me, it's not what religion you are or what God you believe in, but more about the person that you are or become. I believe in compassion, decency, and respect for human beings. I believe in the basic DO NOTS: do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal and do not lie. Is it safe to say that these are principles of all religions? To me there is no right or wrong religion, it is your is in your heart. Go ahead, create your own religion.

Overall, belief (which comes from any and all religion) is important to life, a good way of life. In talking with someone recently about my personal distinct beliefs, he remarked saying "oh, so you're a Buddhist." My reply was immediately "no." But apparently my spiritual being is closely related to the teachings and beliefs of Buddhism than I ever knew. I never studied Buddhism before, unless you count reading the Siddhartha book in high school. It's amazing that my inner thoughts and beliefs on religion and philosophy are naturally drawn towards Buddhism. After my friends comment, I became more intrigued with Buddhism, to see how it fits in my belief system.

And so here are some things I found (since this is not a research paper, I am not citing...please forgive me):
  • One amazing fact that appeals to me is that there have never been any wars fought in the name of Buddhism.
  • Buddhism is not considered a religion, as defined by "a system of faith and worship owing any allegiance to a supernatural being." It does not demand "blind faith." Belief is based on knowledge.
  • True wisdom is not simply believing what we are told but instead experiencing and understanding truth and reality. Buddha himself asked his followers to test the teaching rather than accept his word as true. Buddhism depends more on understanding than faith.
  • Karma underlines the importance of all individuals being responsible for their past and present actions.
  • The law of cause and effect is known as karma. Nothing ever happens to us unless we deserve it. We receive exactly what we earn, whether it is good or bad. We are the way we are now due to the things we have done in the past. Our thoughts and actions determine the kind of life we can have. If we understand this, we do not need to fear karma. It becomes our friend. It teaches us to create a bright future.
  • All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.
  • Buddhism teaches that wisdom should be developed with compassion. Compassion includes qualities of sharing, readiness to give comfort, sympathy, concern, caring. In Buddhism, we can really understand others, when we can really understand ourselves, through wisdom.
  • Wealth does not guarantee happiness and also wealth is impermanent.
  • Nothing is lost in the universe. Matter turns into energy, energy turns into matter. If we destroy something around us, we destroy ourselves. If we cheat another, we cheat ourselves.
  • Rebirth is part of the continuous process of change. In fact, we are not only reborn at the time of death, we are born and reborn at every moment.
  • Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. ~ Buddha
  • Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it. ~ Buddha
This, my friends, is my way of thinking, my way of life. Without knowing it, I believe in a large chunk of Buddhism. Obviously, there is more to this religion/philosophy I need to explore, which is why I am now going to devote some time and energy studying Buddhism. It's the closest I've come to finding something that fits MY beliefs. Maybe Buddhism is for me?

Before I go, let me leave you with this story:
A daughter is learning from her mother how to make a pot roast. In preparing the roast, the mother cuts off the top layer of the roast. The daughter asks her mother "why are you cutting the top portion of the roast off?" The mother says "That's how my mom did it." The daughter later asked her grandmother. And the grandmother's reply was the same, "That's how my mom did it." To the daughter, this answer did not seem rational or sensible. So luckily, the daughter was able to ask her great-grandmother why she prepared the pot roast like that. Her reply was "Back then, my oven was too small to fit the whole roast."

The mother and grandmother had big enough ovens for their roast, but kept wasting the top of the roast.

What is the moral of the story? Why do you think I mentioned this story in a topic of religion? If I need to explain, just go back to church and do as you're told or you'll go to hell.

Don't be afraid to ask questions.

P.S. I think this is the longest blog ever. And, the original was even longer…I cut some stuff out.

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