lordofelt, on Tuesday, February 5th, 2008, 1:30 AM, said:
I'll agree with the posters above that all of that has been written in this thread has been very interesting and enlightening (see what I did there?) and I appreciate everything that has been shared as I'm sure others do to.I'd just like to add that I'm slowly learning a little bit about Buddhism as a whole and all that goes along with it and the part I like the most is that I have yet to come across anything that directly contradicts my own "secular" values. My main problem with Christianity and other religions has never been the supernatural beliefs they hold (though I often find them ridiculous) but the parts/stories/teachings of them that are morally wrong and disturbing. Often these other religions either sweep these parts under the rug or try and interpret them in a positive light but neither of these approaches clears my own conscience.So far in my buddhist learnings I haven't encountered anything about the Buddha spreading his word by the sword or condemning the killing of thousands of "evil" people and thats what is encouraging me to learn more about it. That and the lack of judgement placed upon people who disagree with the religious leaders.Some more quick questions:Is there any type of exocommunication within Buddhism where someone could be "cast out" from their religion/temple etc.Most religions seem to have some opposement to science explaining the world what is Buddhism's opinion on science?As always thanks for the opportunity to learn.
Thanks for the kind words. I'm glad people are finding this useful. Tim's already answered well the questions about science and excommunication. As he said, monasteries will ask you to leave if you're not a good monk, but in general, I don't know of any group that is so rigid you can be thrown out for disagreeing. That's so _not_ the Buddhist way that I had never even considered it a possiblity until you asked.I'm with you in that it's not as much the supernatural stuff I have a problem with as it is the all-too-natural...the killing, the hatred of outside groups, and the many immoral ways the Bible's "moral" code has been put to use. I approached faith with a lot of curiosity. I read the entire Bible, Genesis to Revelation, plus several books of scholarship (Bart D. Ehrman is a good one). [Just as an aside, it never ceases to astonish and appall me that so many so-called Christians HAVE NOT READ all of their own "holy book." I dunno -- it's only the blueprint to _saving your eternal soul_, how important could it be? Nah, I'd rather just have a preacher tell me what's in there, read bits and pieces out of context, and thump it when I need to.]Decided that didn't work for me, so I read a few books on Judaism (again, historical and contextual scholarship, as that's my leaning). Not my style, either. Read some of the Vedic texts and books on Hinduism. Too many gods to keep straight, too much feeding and draping and pouring milk on statues for me. Finally, got to Buddhism and found my home, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually (whatever that word means). Had it not worked, I would have gone (rather skeptically) to Islam. Skipped it in my West-to-East direction because I was pretty certain I wasn't going to like it.IMHO, if you're searching for a faith at all (and nothing wrong with not having one), that's the way to do it. Know all of them, from the inside. Don't read what Christians say about Hinduism -- read what Hindus say of it, and vice versa (not that anyone in this country would do the vice-versa). Read scholarship on all of it. Try to learn how the modern version came to us from the past, and what turns it took along the way. And then ask yourself how the moral code in the books is actually played out in the real world. Are practitioners judgmental or cruel? Are they intellectually lazy? Are they warlike or violent? Or are they kind, peaceful people who are unafraid of honest questions?Colin McGinn is a philosopher (and atheist) who was asked by Bill Moyers if logic had any place in faith. Of course it does, he said, no matter what you believe, if it doesn't follow its own internal logic -- i.e., if it contradicts itself -- it's got a problem even on its own terms. If an outsider cannot ask questions of it, or is told that it will only make sense once he or she becomes a believer, then it cannot stand up to honest inquiry and it has a problem in terms of the real world. In short, he said, faith can be and _should_ be subject to logic. Not that logic can lead you to faith, necessarily, but that you should never have to discard logic in order to have faith. I find that fits well with Buddhism.I respect DN's faith because he's clear that it's all about being a better person and embodying the best of Christianity in his words and actions. I love the idea of embodying faith -- Buddhists put a lot of emphasis on it, saying, "What you do moment-to-moment is what you are." You cannot call yourself patient if moment to moment you are tapping your foot or watching the clock. You cannot call yourself hard-working if you're slacking off on a poker forum during the workday (oops!). He gets that. But I'm appalled at the number of Christians who seem to use their faith as a reason to feel they're better than everyone else, because they're chosen or saved or whatever, or, worse, treat Jesus as a cosmic slot machine, i.e., praying for a new car or help with their cable bill. I see that a lot around here. There's a range, but when you're used to seeing the low end of the range like 90% of the time, it makes it harder to align yourself with the little 10%, even though you know they are doing it right. I know it's rude, but when people ask me why I'm not a Christian, I tell them, "Two reasons: one, I've read the Bible; and two, other Christians."