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On Religion with a bit of focus on Buddhism

When someone asks me if I'm an religious I normally say, I consider myself spiritual but not religious. I've always held beliefs that were similar those of Buddhist. My parents had a strained relationship with religion, My father says the nuns at the Catholic schools beat it out of him and my mom's father was poisoned by his new wife because his Christian Scientist beliefs in no medical intervention or autopsies. My parents didn't want to deprive my brother and I of something so many found comfort in so they dropped us both off at the local Presbyterian church. I asked lots of questions, I tried to make logical sense of it and couldn't. They wanted me to just believe in the illogical things and everyone got upset at all the questions I kept asking. I spent a lot of time with my chair in the corner and one day I told my mom I didn't want to go anymore, and that was the last time I had to go.

In high school I worried that I was being made gay to punish me for not going to church. It took me a while to become ok with that aspect of myself. I was very open to all the religions of my friends I went to Jewish temple, Mormon Temple as well as a gamut of Christian churches. I was always freaked out by people who shared a cup, I'm sorry flu and halitosis are not scared of a priests handkerchief. I almost always was able to find something nice and something completely absurd about everyone I attended.

In College I met a Buddhist nun named Dong. She was in a Photography class I was in and I always helped her in the dark room. For one of my projects I put a fake barcode tattoo on her forehead and put her in a police line up. I'll have to see if I can find that photo somewhere. She amazed me in how happy she was and how she would light up if you asked her questions. I was always worried I was being rude and ignorant. I had asked her how often she prayed and she told me she prayed some insane amount of hours a day. I then asked her what she prayed for and she told me she prayed for everyone and that she even prayed for me every evening and night. Normally if someone told me they were praying for me I be tempted to take offense but I knew Dong thought I was wonderful.

A few years later I read a book that was a weird mix of eastern religions and while some of it I saw as wonderful other parts seemed downright stupid like if you believed you didn't have cancer hard enough it would go away. I know the mind is powerful but I think telling people they are sick because they don't believe strongly enough is horrible.

I talked a lot with my friend Nancy who due to her efforts helping Tibetan refugees has met the Dalai Lama many times and she always had the most wonderful things to say about him and the Buddhist religion despite the fact that she held her Jewish beliefs very dear.

When Dalai Lama's "The Art of Happiness" came out I bought the Audiobook and listened to it multiple times. It all made sense to me and quite a few concepts and beliefs were already ones I held. So I checked out a few more books. I just finished "See yourself as you really are" and there was quite a bit I just didn't get at all. The funny thing is one of the big things sounds like a block buster sci-fi movie to me. The buddhist pray for the end of cyclic existence for everyone in the whole world. Mmmm, so would that be the end of humanity? It sounds like the end of Arthur C Clarks "Childhoods End" to me. Why haven't they made that a movie?

I personally like Cyclic Existence. Yes I suffer, but I also enjoy. I like being alive in this physical world. I like feeling the range of emotions. I also think if only the most peaceful are able to getting out that is leaving more and more of the dregs, no wonder the world is so corrupt. Can non Buddhist escape cyclic existence? I think it will be a long time before I understand the Buddhist concept of I and inherent existence. "There is no spoon" only only makes sense to me in the Matrix. It's OK with me not to get it, I wouldn't mind another cycle or two to enjoy future flavors of ice cream.



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 21st, 2010 09:55 pm (UTC)
I LOVE that Israel K track...wonderful.

As you probably know there are loads of different flavours of Buddhists - personally the being and nothingness creed spooks me; but my dad follows Zen Buddhism and can meditate pain away - other people I know do the Malaysian Buddhism I think, with retreats and things...

I too was allowed to go my own way - Dad is an ex-Methodist Buddhist via Quakerism, and Mum was e-Methodist atheist...I wasn't even christened which I love greatly...I hate the idea of christening (get em young etc). I've got some slight spiritual leanings on the pagan side, but mostly I think it's all bollocks and am humanist/atheist. I keep the door open though if the gods (not God) should call; esp Dionysos but not happened yet.
Jan. 22nd, 2010 02:19 am (UTC)
Isn't his the best cover ever?

I think it's better to be spiritual and true to yourself than religious. I have been watching Celebrity Big Brother and Stephen Baldwin is blowing my mind. He wants to believe so badly he will ignore anything that doesn't fit and jump all over something that is likely random coincidence as a sign from God. He is a complete tool, but that makes for good (bad reality) TV.
Jan. 21st, 2010 10:24 pm (UTC)
I love this post!
Jan. 22nd, 2010 02:19 am (UTC)
Thank you, I really thought I was rambling too much and it would not really be an interest to anyone. Glad you enjoyed it!
Jan. 22nd, 2010 01:25 am (UTC)
Perhaps you're a Bodhisattva, who, though enlightened enough to escape this earthly coil, chooses to stay in order to bring all beings to the light.
Jan. 22nd, 2010 02:23 am (UTC)
I think I have the temperament of a Bodhisattva. I think there is so much wonderfulness in life on this earthly plane that it would be a shame to leave it behind never to return. There are still so many Doctor Who episodes to watch.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )