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Friday, May 11, 2007

Lead a Good Life

Whether you believe in God or not does not matter so much, whether you believe in Buddha or not does not matter so much. You must lead a good life.

-His Holiness the Dalai Lama

James: I thought that this was a good quote to wrap up the discussion from the last post on Buddhism and Atheism.

It reminds me of another thing that the Dalai Lama said. He said that one does not have to be a Buddhist to understand and receive benefits from the Dharma. Just as we do not have to be a Christian to benefit from the teachings of Jesus or a Jew, Hindu, Muslim, Atheist, etc.

My parents are devoted Mormons yet find parts of the Dharma that ring true to them and thus adopt them into their path. I do the same with the teachings of Jesus--especially the beattitudes that Tim brought up in a comment on the last post.

There is so much that we can learn from each other.

And yet, at many times I find myself playing that game of us vs. them--especially being apart of a minority faith in a very fundamental and loud Christian country that does not have much respect for other traditions. Such energy makes me want to fight the Christians--defend my faith. The self (lower case "s") feels bruised by not being respected and even feels that its religion might be stamped out--and what if it does? Do not the teachings live on in ourselves? In our actions, words and deeds?? Good always has a way of surviving any attempted eradication.

One does not need the structure of an organized religion to do what is right and be compassionate, loving and tolerant.

Sometimes I see religions to be similar to universities (this is a bit of a complicated comparison but stick with me. It should make sense)--they can bring one an advantage in obtaining a good job (peace and happiness) but that is not always the case. No amount of classes or degrees (prayers, dogma, rituals, titles, mantras) can replace diligence, street smarts and real world experience (living a good life--including tolerance and respect for other people different from ourselves for example).

Many people (Atheists for one) avoid college (religion) altogether and still succeed in finding a good life (finding peace and happiness--knowing right from wrong). We must remind ourselves on a regular basis that we never have a monopoly upon Truth.

~Peace to all beings~

PHOTO: A mystical fog surrounds Po Lin monastery on Lantau island in Hong Kong, China.

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5 comments:

Greenwoman said...

"It reminds me of another thing that the Dalai Lama said. He said that one does not have to be a Buddhist to understand and receive benefits from the Dharma. Just as we do not have to be a Christian to benefit from the teachings of Jesus or a Jew, Hindu, Muslim, Atheist, etc."

One of the primary teachings of Sufism is that there is truth to be gleaned from all traditions. That teaching extended to the vow that I took not to be a tool or a catalyst for religious strife of any kind...to always seek and respect the truth in all traditions. Personally, I do my best to try to find truth in each person...not so much in all religions.

I don't succeed very well with some people. Our country's leader is one of them. I must admit to a very hateful attitude toward him.

laura said...

We attended a Sangha based upon Thich Nhat Hanh's teachings for a while and what they said was that the question itself (whether there is a God or not) was outside of the realm of Buddhism. It's the wrong question altogether as far as Buddhism is concerned. It's another way to get caught up in looking at the finger rather than where the finger is pointing.

Thanks for these posts.

They call him James Ure said...

GW:

I am very impressed with the Sufi tradition of mysticism. Rumi is one of my favorite spiritual teachers.

Laura:

Yes, in the end that is the bottom line. And you're very welcome for the posts--thank-you for being apart of the discussion. :)

alison said...

i posted my view but never seemed to get to you. :( can't remember exactly what i wrote but i'll try again.

i see religion as a temporary 'school' to learn and once one get the essence of the teachings, one can let go of religion, one does not need religion to find inner peace or enlightenment, because one has gone beyond religion.

i am myself somewhat reach that path where i call myself 'religionless' ... just spiritual.

:)

They call him James Ure said...

Alison:

Hmm, I wonder what happened? I'm glad you got through to me this time. :)

Good point. Leave the raft on the shore once you cross the river.

I'm kind of an "Independent Buddhist." :)

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