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View Diary: I sucked at Buddhism last night (257 comments)

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  •  I don't either--it seems too ego-satisfying. (2+ / 0-)
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    crystal eyes, mzinformed

    The first thing that appealed to me about Buddhism is the absence of articles of faith--i.e., to be a Buddhist you don't HAVE to believe in anything in particular. I see reincarnation as being a way of reconciling karma to the obvious injustices of life. A young child who does no harm to anyone, lives a miserable childhood and then dies young, must be redeemed through reincarnation if the karma is to have the force of law.

    I have a less compulsive view of karma, not so absolute as some would see it, but as a law that functions in MOST if not all circumstances--which is good enough for me. I have come to believe more fervently in Buddhism because it has worked very well for me, when applied to my own life. Most recently it has proven invaluable in negotiating my path through a divorce that was not my choice, but that I embraced as a blessing in disguise.  And sure enough, my acceptance of loss and suffering turned into measurable growth and spiritual reward.

    My happiness is shared with others in my work, and I try to be a positive force in all areas of my life within my sphere, which is a limited scope. I have anger and frustration about the world as it is--but remind myself that this is the same world full of injustice that Jesus and Buddha inhabited, and that they did as much or more for the good of mankind than many political leaders with good intentions have done.

    Many (but not all) of the people of the third world that you have so much compassion for may in fact be happier than you are, because they do what happy people do everywhere--accept the world for what it is, and recognize that they can only find and create contentment within their own sphere of influence.

    Your anger and frustration with the world as it is does nothing to change it for the better. It serves neither them nor you. Neither does your disappointment in others around you.  All you can do is to accept the world and everything in it just as it is and love it despite itself; find happiness within yourself and share it liberally; and then go do all the good for others that you feel like doing. But that should be enough to keep you busy.

    •  Beautiful comment (0+ / 0-)

      And much to consider deeply.

      Regarding the final paragraph, this is not my usual reaction to the world or the people around me. I think of myself as an optimist mostly and I can totally relate to 'loving it despite itself' and I think it's my natural mode. Something set me off on this occasion, be it internal or external or both. It's definitely something worth noting and exploring.

      The opposite of life is not death, but indifference. -- Jaki Gefjon (A.A.Attanasio)

      by Max Wyvern on Thu May 02, 2013 at 08:13:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you for your kind response. (0+ / 0-)

        I wrote this comment especially for you, unlike most times when I'm playing for a larger audience. That it found you and resonated with you is rewarding, and makes my time and effort more than worthwhile.

        Your experience makes me glad that I live someplace where there is no convenient sangha! Best of luck to you on your journey.

    •  My problem with the connection between karma (0+ / 0-)

      and reincarnation is the other direction. I asked a practicing Buddhist whether a child that was raped as a nine year old had that happen to her because of her own actions in a previous life. His answer was, "Yes, of course. But we wouldn't blame her for that."

      Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

      by Wee Mama on Thu May 02, 2013 at 08:42:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The teacher I studied under would say... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wee Mama

        ... the ocean of karma is so vast, and so complicated, that simplistic cause-effect explanations are pointless. You inherit from prior lives but you are not your past lives.

        •  I feel like that affirms my loosey-goosey model! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Wee Mama
        •  That helps some, but it still implies that people (0+ / 0-)

          who are born into bad situations or have bad stuff happen to them in some sense are reaping what they sow.

          Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

          by Wee Mama on Fri May 03, 2013 at 10:08:19 AM PDT

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          •  I don't think so (0+ / 0-)

            Buddhism explicitly rejects karmic determinism. (Along with the idea of a self or soul.) It's like saying that I was molested because my genes, personality, socio-economic status, and family norms put me in the path of my abuser with a "free chicken" sign on my face. Those factors are explanatory, not accusatory, and understanding all of them are beyond my comprehension.

            Buddhism, in my understanding of it, holds me responsible for the karma I create, not the incomprehensible effects of karma I experienced. (In Stoic terms, the past is fate or the infinite chain of existence. In theological terms, it's a mystery of god's will.) If I choose to be ruled by fear, anger, or longing, I create a hell for myself and quite possibly for others. Perhaps that hell will influence (but not determine) the "me" that follows me.

            And on the other hand, if I choose to practice the discernment that fear, anger, and longing can be experienced and acknowledged as ephemeral, I might make things easier for future "me" and avoid creating problems for others.

            And after having seen loved ones go into a hell of their own creation, it's an argument I find deeply compelling.

      •  That's pretty horrifying! (1+ / 0-)
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        Wee Mama

        I guess I don't have (or WANT) that much faith.

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