I make it no secret that I’m an atheist, but I don’t wear it on my sleeve. Still, there are those that wish to press on things because they, with good intention, want me to be like them.
I’ll let you in on a secret. If you’re religious, I’m not like you – and why I’m not religious can’t be found in religion. That is… sort of the point, really. But unlike the more vocal atheists, who are usually anti-theists, I have no real issues with religion or those who practice it. Just as they are astounded that I am not, I am astounded that others are – but it is not for me to judge, just as it is not for them to judge.
This is why, out of all the religious philosophy out there, I appreciate Buddhism. Not the Buddhism which is apparently popular, but the core Buddhism that comes from the writings of the monks 100 years after Gautama Buddha went beyond. Were the words that of the Buddha? As much so as other words of other people were their own, I suppose.
At the core of Gautama Buddha’s life was a search for understanding within his own context. And, while not his most known quote, my favorite is the essence of my own personal philosophy:
Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others.
Everyone leads their own path. While a musician may want people to listen to his music, even using a loudspeaker to assure that this is so, do they appreciate the writer by reading what s/he writes? Do they appreciate what others do beyond their own context? And so it is with religion; while it is good to find your own salvation through religion, it does not mean that everyone must.
Everyone finds their own way. Or not.
There are people who could wax less than poetic about religion, or anti-theism, but really… what’s the point? Is it to tear down others to feel better about one’s self? Is it to have the hubris that others need your instruction, or the instruction that you have received? Is it that you have a true love for others and wish them to follow your path when they may have their own?
I do not know. But I know that I know my path, and that my path has been off the paths of religion – the bristly world I live in does not fit with the worldviews that the many religions I have studied have. Only the core of Buddha’s teachings seem aligned, but I am no Buddhist.
Faith I do not have in this way. I have faith in people, in both the good and bad, and see no reason to drag religion into any of it – or have someone else do so.
Unstoppable forces – meet immovable object.
One thought on “On Being Challenged On Faith”
Religion is a pregnant word. It has a meaning based on each persons experience with it. Some people think that it means a belief in a creator god. In that sense Buddhism is not a religion because in Buddhism there is no creator god. In order for a spiritual journey to be meaningful each person must find their own way. What first drew me to Buddhism some thirty years ago was a passage I read from the Parinirvana Sutra. This sutra is about the Buddhas death. One of the other monks is asking him before he died what they should do and who they should believe after he is gone. He tells the monk that he should use the Buddhas teaching as a guide but that he should not believe that it is true just because the Buddha taught it. He is supposed to question it, ponder it, meditate on it, and only after he can prove it is true to himself should he believe or have any faith in it. The Buddha said likewise for anything that he did not teach. If you go through the same process and determine it true for yourself then it is true even if the Buddha did not teach it. So some of the later monks that you speak of discovered their own truths through their own practice. I also think that some of their teachings were the same as the Buddha taught just taught in a different way. Good luck on your journey!