The Things I Believe In

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.

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13 thoughts on “The Things I Believe In

      1. No! You weren’t preachy…..there are people hurting from self doubt their whole life…Religious ideologies do not fill the hole in their psyche, yet years of indoctrination prevents them from imbibing into a belief systems that brings peace, happiness and security into their lives. Fear that they will lose their way to the afterlife prevents them from searching out a greater satisfaction. The Buddhist philosophy happens to be one that can emit loving-kindness into one’s live. Keep telling your personal road to self-esteem. Over the past two years your writing has become so clear, thoughtful and well organized…an audience drawer.

        Eul

  1. Great post as usual, full of thoughtful reflection. My head at the moment is consumed with study so I don’t really have the time to research many of these ideas at the moment, but I think I may be back here again to go over this more when I have the time. ‘sense of self is illusionary.’and ‘meditation is a way to dampen down the filters’ jump out at me. I like the last point most of all (o’

    1. Thanks Lynne. I feel the same way. I’m fascinated with the personal beliefs of other people – especially when such beliefs are based on more than just something they have read in a book. I’m less interested when people are trying to convert me to their way of thinking. This is due to my rebellious streak 🙂

  2. The issue of the soul in buddhism is a bit complicated. In Thai buddhism there is a thing called jit which does exist after someone dies and reincarnates. On the other hand there is the concept of “no self”. Needless to say this debate is complex and several thousand years old. But it is not technically accurate to say there is no soul, at least when it comes to Thai Buddhism/Theraveda.

    Another thing that makes the Buddha important is that he gave the Dhamma. That is the real source of his greatness and why he is worshiped, along with the Sangha. The teaching had to be realized and communicated to others, and so the necessity of the Buddha (who is an historical figure).
    Jeff McNeill recently posted..Evidence of Competence, and Lack Thereof

    1. Hi Jeff, I must admit that I do get confused by the whole ‘non-self’ debate. The thing that attracts me to Buddhism is the ‘try it and see’ attitude. I struggle with anything that requires faith – I pick at it until there is nothing left.

      My thinking is that if Buddhism has something of real value to offer the world then this would exist with or without the Buddha. I don’t subscribe to the view that the Buddha changed the rules of the game in any way. I do respect him greatly for sharing these truths and popularizing them, but I do not believe he invented anything – he just found something that was always there.

      I sometimes feel like mocking the ‘pick and mix’ attitude of many western Buddhists, but if I’m honest that is exactly what I do myself. That is why in recent years I stopped calling myself a ‘Buddhist’, and instead use the term ‘philosophical Buddhist’ – or to be more honest still “Buddhist Lite Practitioner’ 🙂

  3. Sorry for my grammar, My English never improve since grade 4 hehe.

    I just read some of your blog and found it’s interest me 😉

    well, you said that you’re not much into Buddhism but most of your way of logic seem to be alike.

    well, you should read this , it suit you alot.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalama_Sutta

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