I’ve always been a bit of a soul-searcher. I do not have a religion as such, but on most days I would consider myself to be a philosophical Buddhist. What I mean by this is that there are many ideas in Buddhism that make sense to me. If one day these ideas stop making sense to me I’ll abandon them without a second thought. I even search the web for criticism of Buddhism, because I want to keep an open mind. In many ways my worldview is similar to the atheist, but I do not consider myself to be an atheist. I respect other believers too much for that, and there is much about atheism that makes me uncomfortable.
The Things I Believe In
I know that some people find it distasteful to discuss personal beliefs, but this blog has always been about me being open and honest about myself. I have no urge to convert anyone else to my worldview because there is a good chance that many of my ideas are wrong. Some of the things I believe in would be considered Buddhist but others would not:
– I think it is important to respect other people’s beliefs. I dislike the arguments of intellectual bullies who try to belittle the belief system of other people. Just because somebody is clever at debating it does not make them right. Trying to convert other people to a religion/philosophy is the opposite of respecting their beliefs.
– I suspect that nobody really knows the truth about ultimate reality. This includes scientists; just because scientific endeavor has been successful does not mean that it is ultimately right.
– I am agnostic about what happens to people after they die. I do not believe that anyone has ever made it past the barrier of death and then come back again to talk about it. A ‘near death experience’ is just that – it isn’t an after-death experience.
– I do not think it is important that the Buddha existed. All that matters is that his philosophy has some interesting things to say on how to make it through life. If the Buddha did exist then I do not believe he was any type of god.
– I am also agnostic about rebirth/ reincarnation. I’ve had meditation experiences that suggest it could be true, but that could all just be my vivid imagination. The idea of an individual soul moving from one life to the next does not make sense to me. The Buddhist idea of rebirth (this happens without a soul) is more likely, but I’m not convinced. I do believe in rebirth in one sense; everything that makes up a human will be recycled after they die.
– I’m convinced that the sense of self is illusionary.
– My own personal theory is that awareness (not consciousness) is a separate force in the universe. Wherever the right conditions exist then this awareness will arise. I like the idea of humans being similar to waves on the ocean; after they die they return to the ocean.
– I do believe in kamma/ karma; all actions do have consequences. If people do the right things then the right things will tend to happen. This is not to say that when bad things happen to people it is because they were bad. I see kamma as a value free force that is highly complex in nature. It is too simplistic to say that A causes B because there will be many factors involved in each effect.
– I’m convinced that it is possible for humans to become enlightened. This does not have to be anything magical; it just means seeing things a lot more clearly. People develop many internal filters that allow them to make sense of the world; enlightenment occurs when these filters are removed. I am not enlightened so the possibility of it occurring is a leap of faith on my part.
– I believe that meditation is a way to dampen down the filters that prevent people from clearly seeing reality.
– Spending more time thinking (positively) about other people leads to true happiness. This is an area of my life I need to work on.