Thoughts on Buddhism?

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Johnathan Graham's picture
Thoughts on Buddhism?

I asked this questions a while ago but never really had a fulfilling answer that explained their thoughts on the philosophy.
Myself, I've studied Buddhism for extensively 40 hours with a formal teacher of the philosophy. Its rather intriguing and something I consider a good option for people to look at.

Now, I'm not telling anybody to convert. I myself identify as a Buddhist Atheist(Follow the philosophy, 4 Noble Truths/Eightfold path) because of my views and I find studying the religion interesting. But, what I would like to know, is if any of you have studied Buddhist philosophy, practiced meditation etc. When I first started studying religions(I study religions for a hobby, also like learning about them) it was a nice sigh of relief that thankfully, not all "religions"(Buddhism is a philosophy, closest word to the meaning of it, not a religion in the sense of the word, as of following of blind faith towards a supernatural being. So lets refer to it as a "Way of life") that its riddled with crazy shit like virgin birth, its not riddled with hate and just evil. Its a nice philosophical look on things and incredibly interesting.

SO TL;DR 1.What are your thoughts on Buddhism?
2.Do you meditate?
3.Do you think its one of the few okay "religions" left?(I only think Lavey satanism and buddhism are the two "religions" I'd tolerate.), 4.Have you ever read anything about Buddhism?

Thanks for your time you godless heathens!

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cmallen's picture
When I was in my mid teens

When I was in my mid teens (this would have been 1984-ish) I read every Hesse book I could beg, borrow, or steal. After reading Siddhartha I asked my best friend and future roommate, Kalpesh (who is from India) if this Gautama guy in the book was real. He said, “that’s the Buddha, you dolt!” Thus began my decades’ long love affair with Buddhist crap. I identified as a Buddhist from then until my early thirties. I then wandered into the miasma of being a real live, believing Christian for 8 1/2 years, but that is inconsequential to this story.

My Buddhism was not what one could call… practicing. Okay, one couldn’t even call it remotely committed. I did participate in meditations and visited the odd temple. I fell in with a Nichiren Shōshū crowd for awhile in NYC and did the silly chanting every day. Maybe it’s a personality disorder or a character flaw, but I just couldn’t (and still can’t) seem to lose myself in meditation. Make no mistake, though, as the consummate hipster I did get off on telling everyone I was a Buddhist, regardless of my inability to reach inner peace.

But I did, and still do, believe in some of Buddhism’s tenets. The cardinal truths basically state that life is suffering -- a notion to which I still subscribe. I do still agree with the noble truth of the cause of suffering to a certain degree; but the truth of the end of suffering and the path toward that end I’m not so keen on now.

One thing that drew me to Buddhism, and which we still share to some degree, is the concept of continuous cycles. One cycle-theme is the reincarnation myth, which, to me, is very akin to the idea that matter and energy are never destroyed (at least as observed within our closed space-time universe), they merely change. Another cycle-theme is the notion of karma, which, to me, jibes with observations of material cause and effect. The main problem I have with these now is that reincarnation requires a transcendent spirit to continue on after death, where I don’t believe there is such a thing; and that karma tries to ascribe laws akin to those of physics to the decisions, actions, and even beliefs of people, which is simply not observed.

As to your comment about Buddhism not really being a religion, I can tell you that is folly. Buddhism and Christianity are merely two among a myriad of lenses through which I’ve tried to view reality, and having openly pursued and participated in so many faiths and belief systems, I can say with great certainty that Buddhism is a religion. In its purest form it is an atheistic religion, but a religion nonetheless. And there are plenty of sects which outright deify Gautama. It’s more than just a philosophy, it’s a transcendent explanation for why things are the way they are.

One great thing I can say for Buddhism is that I feel it prepared me for my current materialist world-view. It helped me to face the reality that my actions do have real and relatively lasting consequences in this world, however insignificant they may seem. And definitely my philosophy that no situation is ever really that bad came from my Buddhist travels.

Having dabbled in so many religions, I used to get a kick out of saying that my karma ran over my dogma. But I know that there is no karma and that any dogma is a subjective principal based upon imperfect and often imaginary perceptions of reality. Ironically, Buddhism is one of the aspects of my life that has informed that viewpoint.

I hope that wasn’t too much more than you were looking for.

Jeff Vella Leone's picture
Thanks for sharing your

Thanks for sharing your experience of Buddhism.
I think it is one of the most mature religions out there.

J.p. Lucas's picture
I like mindful meditation and

I like mindful meditation and the evidence backing it. I know that it is derived from a particular type of Buddhist meditation so I believe the philosophy of meditation to dissociate oneself from certain emotions is helpful. Buddhism pulled me in with the idea of balance in all things. I think that the clinical trials and research surrounding mindful meditation is really what has me practicing frequently. I can tolerate Buddhism for the most part except for in rare cases like the Khmer Rouge or the violent extremism it can, but rarely breeds.

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