Monday, March 28, 2005

*Why I'm Buddhist*

I'm not entirely comfortable speculating why people assume that I'm Christian.

Yes, I spent 7 years in a Methodist School (ACS Barker then ACS Independent). My cousins were from covent schools and I used to get infrequent doses of Gensis and Jesus Loves You kind of speeches. 7 years of morning service and imbibing of morning chappel (my mother refused to write me an excuse note on the grounds that knowing more never hurt). 7 years of prayer and Christian doctrine, some good, some bad, some simply sad.

I was raised and brought up in what might be termed Chinese Religion, a hodgepodge of various thoughts and religions merged with Chinese animism and historical deitification. The Chinese have a very economic relationship with their gods. Bribery was not merely accepted but ritually encouraged. One did not have to really do anything except be good and offer the appropriate offerings on the appropriate days.

I was notionally Christian for a while before I converted to Buddhism. It wasn't an overnight conversion. No voice that spoke to me telling me which path to adopt. But slowly and surely, my heart and mind took me on the Noble Eight Fold Path.

I was never really happy being Christian. Sure it was kinda fun to sing the hymms and to say Amen as and when appropriate. But the comfort was that of the conventional, to be one of the whole group of them in school. Faith means nothing to me, it always has and always will be the absence of reason, a crutch, nothing more than a self-perpetuated self delusion. You believe because you want to believe, and you close your minds to all the doubts and never never ever question.

So while I have great admiration for the teachings and doctrines of Christ and the Church fathers. I view them the same way as I do the teachings of Mohammad and the Qu'ran. Great philosophers but not with some exceptional link to the Dei.

When I read the Noble Four Truths the first time, I didn't understand it. But I came across it again as I was older and it began to make a lot of sense.
1) The Nobel Truth of Dukkha - Life is suffering: Blunt and honest, it needs no sophistary to explain evil and suffering in the world. To live is to suffer.
2) The Nobel Truth of the cause of Dukkha - Suffering is Caused by Selfish Desire (Cravings): Our attachment to a false notion of 'self' causes us to strive to satisfy this self. It can never be satisfied, life is temporal and transient. Attempting to satisfy this with transient and impermanent things mere leads to more pain, suffering and disappointment. Annata is the opposite (and hence the title of this blog noself)
3) The Nobel Truth of the end of Dukkha - Suffering can end by removal of the cravings in the mind. This is where we enter the state of Nibbana (nivanna), the state when we are free from the conditioning of life, the endless cycle of birth and rebirth and of suffering in life.
4) The Nobel Truth of the path leading to the end of Dukkha - The Nobel Eight Fold Path. The Path of Moderation. Enlightenment need not be achieve through extremism.

In the end, there really could only be one choice that appealed both to my heart and mind.



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