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Monday, September 18, 2006

Buddhism: Science of the Mind.

Did you know that Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in America? Yep, most scholars and research buffs have it behind Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

The number of adherents rose by 170 percent between 1990 and 2000, according to the American Religious Identity Survey. An ARIS estimate puts the total in 2004 at 1.5 million, while others have estimated twice that. "The 1.5 million is a low reasonable number," says Richard Seager, author of "Buddhism in America."

Yet I have found that many people do not know much about Buddhism. This was really made clear to me last night in viewing the first episode of the new season of "The Amazing Race." This is a reality show where contestants travel around the world in hopes of winning $1 million. Well, one of the girls in the cheerleader duo team said, "Do Muslims believe in Buddha?" I was not offended by this statement of ignorance but it did make me think, "Do we Buddhists need to be doing more to inform the general public as to what we believe and what we are all about or should we just continue to focus on our own practice?

Generally we Buddhists do not proselytize and I think that is still the way to go. In fact, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said that people should not become Buddhists!! Interestingly, Buddhism is often called the "religion of no religion." The Dalai Lama would most likely agree with such a definition since he sees "Buddhism" actually being more a science then a religion as Buddhism urges personal experience/experiment rather then accepting things upon faith. In addition, the Buddhist master says, "If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change. In my view, science and Buddhism share a search for the truth and for understanding reality."

As we all know Buddhism is also very much about radical acceptance of the role change plays in samsara and that includes the very religion itself. We should not become attached to "Buddhism" and the idea of being a "Buddhist" as they are simply hallow words, things and just more attachments. And I believe also that numbers should not matter to practioners as those change too. People come and go. And perhaps one day "Buddhism" will no longer exist but that is nothing to fear. There will hopefully always be a path available to those trapped in samsara but it may not be known as "Buddhism."

Thus, in conclusion I believe that one's karma is what brings one to the path of the Dharma. It can be no other way can it? For if we come to Buddhism through coherson(sp?) or because it is "cool" then it actually becomes a negative as we simply see it as a "thing" rather then a path to liberation, a tool. Perhaps the saying, "when the student is ready the teacher arrives" is cliche but it is still none the less true.

Just my two cents anyway. Of course I could be totally off base so don't take my word for it--see for yourself. Look within for answers to your questions. Experiment with the "science of the mind" better known as "Buddhism" (smile).

~Peace to all beings~

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14 comments:

Angela Ferreira said...

Lovely writing, Buddhism makes me feel so good and at peace, and yes it not a religion but a philosophy and a way of life, everything starts to make sense…
Very inspiring!

alison koh said...

reminds me of a story from our late "chief" monk. an american tourist took shelter at the temple on a raining day. after chatting with the "chief" on her trip to malaysia, he asked her "what religion are you?" she aswered "oh...i'm not into anything, i don't believe in anything." to that the chief replied "ahh! you are a buddhist!" and later on she was named "khema".

"James" said...

Angela:

Thank-you. Yes, it is a way of life and a very peaceful one. I see the Dharma being like a big breath of fresh air.

Alison:

That is a great story. :)

Gurl said...

I think that fact that buddhism isn't a "fad" is one of the good things. I mean if someone is really serious or interested then they'll find it and start making adjustments in their lives. No great fanfare need. You know what I mean?

John Lockwood said...

I hate to be the one to bring this up, but "Science" of the Mind. :)

"James" said...

Gurl:

Exactly. There is nothing to do or undo.

John:

Oops! Thanks!! ;)

John Lockwood said...

Oh, and by the way, sorry to lead with a criticism. You have a wonderful blog that I enjoy very much, and your links have led me to some interesting things as well.

"James" said...

John:

Thank-you. :)

I bow to the Buddha within you.

The Geminean Power said...

Very very inspiring!!! Good work, mate!!

"James" said...

Geminean:

Thank-you. :)

Anonymous said...

I recently had a (Luthern pastor) family member of mine, who shall remain nameless, throw that old phrase at me ... "contemplating your navel" ... when describing my practice of meditation. ROFL! Interestingly enough, this evening I was also declined to assist in a orphanage in China as a result of not being Christian and being that I 'meditate'.

Interesting perspectives of Buddhism. Neither are true of course :)

Thankyou for your blog. It always amazes me the non-threatening way that Buddhist practitioners approach discussion of Buddhism.

~Trainee Buddhist~ :)

"James" said...

Anon:

It blows my mind that people wouldn't let you work in an orphanage because you weren't Christian. I think the sake of the children is the most important thing--not one's religion.

I'm happy that you enjoy this blog. It is a service that I am happy to provide. I look forward to hearing from you again in the future.

I bow to the Buddha within you.

Anonymous said...

Well written! Keep it up.

regards,
jack

"James" said...

Thanks Jack!!

Peace to you.

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