After all this Christmas Joy, I thought I would bring it down to the mundane for a post.
A quick nod to Progressive Buddhism for bringing these to my attention…
Stephen opens the retreat asking, “What is Buddhism?” Is it devout atheism or a godless religion? Over the next few days, we will individually look at what the practice means to us. The West has begun to look at the different Buddhist traditions and scriptures in a way that has never happened before. We are fortunate in that we have a huge amount of information available to us. Martine discusses the practical set-up of the retreats, and sets the objectives for the meditations.
Interesting topic but a 14 part series will easily take all day. I enjoy the sense created in the podcast and in the book (Buddhism w/o Beliefs) that Buddhism does meld nicely together with atheism, especially within the convert community. Many, like myself, are skeptics that didn’t find much of a home in other religions. Skepticism has a home in Buddhism (they snuggle nicely together…all cozy-like). While other religions focus on holy “infallible” texts and creator god(s) or forces, Buddhism focuses on self-growth and the removing of obstacles as well as the questioning of practice and teaching. And the reason why we remove these obstacles (the reason why we practice) are as diverse as our own backgrounds.
Some practitioners use these tools to become closer to their own religion (Christianity, Judiasm, Islam). Others use it to achieve the Buddhist realization of Buddha-Nature or Nirvana. And as the series alludes to, many utilize it to live fuller, happier and less deluded lives without any religious or supernatural additions or affiliations. It is that aspect, I think, that appeals to atheists and agnostics alike.
We can argue over whether or not this is “authentic” Dharma but why bother? When it is helping many people live their lives and allowing a few others to explore the Dharma more fully, it is serving a good purpose. The danger lies when people insist that this is the correct way to practice the Buddha-Dharma above all other schools (many of which that are not as grounded in the mundane and prefer to take a much more transcendental view). When the same skeptics insist that there is nothing to be learned from schools with a long and rich history and regulate it to regional or ethnic baggage is when the skeptic train flies far off the tracks!
Cheers and happy listening,