A few days ago I posted a fake conversation with god through a strange voice indeed. It was not completely a joke, but more of a way to lay aside something that had been troubling me for years. As much as I resent the Christian religion and its god at times, I still couldn’t completely set it down. Perhaps I didn’t need quite as much crassness in order to do so, but some times you just gotta do what you gotta do. Anyway, for anyone wondering where in the world did that come from? that’s the best answer I have. I’m not sure really why I’ve struggled so much with a particular god (that of Christianity) that I’ve never truly believed in (tried to, wanted to, yes; actually believed in, not really).
To me this is the ultimate problem with faith-based religions. In my experience at least, faith is not something that you have any control over. I simply did not have faith, and that was that. Nothing I did to try and foster it did anything; in fact it usually made it worse. To someone like me, a religion that says everything will be okay but you must have faith is essentially saying, sorry you’re just simply screwed — we don’t have anything else to offer.
That, perhaps more than other reason (although there are lots of other reasons), is why I have been drawn to Buddhism. It doesn’t really require faith any more than you have to have a little faith that exercise and diet will help you lose weight. It is all about improving oneself and the world through directed personal experience. Some people need faith to get started initially, and the Buddha noted this, saying that having a little faith to get started is okay, but soon after starting the path one would be able to evaluate from personal experience and then decide whether or not one wanted to continue. For me, simply reading Buddhist scripture and commentary has such a calming effect on my mind and emotions, and lined up so well with many things that I believed based on my pre-Buddhism personal experience and knowledge, that I never really needed faith. It provided a more complete framework of what I had already worked out about the world, along with an incredibly practical guide for how to improve from there. The benefits are some teachings, such as being aware of the consequences of your actions and choosing those that benefit yourself and others, are so obvious that they need not faith. The potential benefits of other teachings, like meditation, are quickly discovered in an experiential setting.
Although I’ve gone around in circles a few times, I seem to keep coming back to Buddhism, and the Theravada tradition in particular. I meditated for the first time in a long time last night before bed and had some of the most sound and peaceful sleep that I’ve had in a long while. I awoke refreshed and reinvigorated in my spiritual goals. I’m shifting back toward less thinking, more doing.
May our thoughts lead our actions and words for the betterment of ourselves and the world.
May we have the discipline to apply ourselves in our efforts of inner growth.