I’m not a religious man, but I do like religion. Like most of the things that pique my interest, religion confuses me. I was raised Catholic and I did most of the Catholic things. I was baptized in the church – which, if you really think about it, was against my will. I made my first confession in the third grade – the simple things, didn’t want to confess my “darkest” sins to the priest (who might have been turned on by some of the things I did…yeah, yeah. TMI, I know). I made it all the way to my first Communion. Never made it to Confirmation, though. By the time that rolled around, I had divorced myself from the church.
I danced through religions in hopes to find some sort of solace. From the major to the downright laughable religions – Wicca or Raelian, anyone? – there’s nothing out there that brought me peace of mind. All except, Buddhism.
…every one must bear the burden of his own sins, that every man must be the fabricator of his own salvation, that not even a God can do for man what self-help in the form self-conquest and self-emancipation can accomplished. —A Buddhist Bible, edited by Dwight Goddard
While I don’t subscribe to Buddhist mythology, their way of viewing the world – viewing life – is akin to how I feel about it. My ethical code – moral code – derives from a simple phrase I heard when I was a kid: Do good. However, “good” is relative. The philosophy then settled to “don’t screw people over.” Though, after living for nearly 28 years on this planet, I know some people deserved to have the wool pulled over their eyes. In the end, it settled to “do good and do not screwing over innocents.” It’s a far cry from the Dalai Lama’s words: “If you can, help others; if you can’t do that, at least do not harm them.”
When I met Rev. Adam E. Zuniga of the Hawai’i Cannabis Ministry a few years ago, he taught the importance of adaptation. Quoting the Dalai Lama – and I’m paraphrasing now – he told me, “My form of Buddhism might not be right for everyone, but it’s right for me.” People have been getting it wrong. Rather than allowing your religion’s dogma change your personal philosophy, you should alter your religion’s dogma to better the world.
I’ve altered Buddhism and some Christian aspects (which, if you really boil it all down, it’s all the same thing with different characters) to mold my philosophy. I don’t deny Christ existed, but I also don’t believe he was something other than a philosopher who mixed Judaism mythology with Buddhist philosophy. Jesus is probably a prime example of the whole religion adaptation, if you think about it – though some of you will probably call me blasphemous for suggesting it.
And I think that’s one of the reasons that I decided to read several religious texts next year – including Buddhist texts, parts of the Bible, gnostic gospels, parts of The Dead Sea Scrolls, pagan texts and even the much plagiarized Satanic Bible – yes, for you die hard Satanists, LaVey plagiarized several different texts to compile his “unholy” text. I’ll post a list over on A Book Hunter’s Journal when I get a better idea of what I plan to read.
One more thing: Last night, I was watching an interview show hosted by Chelsea Handler. Anne Hathaway was talking about her family’s decision to leave the Catholic church after her brother came out of the closet. She explained how they didn’t feel right belonging to a church that didn’t value the same things they did.
I found that empowering. Hopefully one day, religions who are still stuck in the past will catch up with society.
- Asian Buddhists are not atheists | Gene Expression (blogs.discovermagazine.com)
- Rowan, selfish genes, and atheism | Andrew Brown (guardian.co.uk)
- Many Americans Know Little About Religion — Even Their Own — Poll Finds (politicsdaily.com)
- Religious Pluralism Coexisting with Religious Polarization? (pastorbobcornwall.blogspot.com)