Interesting Discussion About Religion and Human Nature With Buddhist Roommate
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28-12-2013, 02:24 PM
Interesting Discussion About Religion and Human Nature With Buddhist Roommate
I had a wonderful discussion with my Buddhist roommate Compassion4Life last night about religion and human nature. We sat on the screened in porch of our house and talked until nearly 5 a.m. I was glad to get a perspective of his own thoughts and experiences. Here are a few of them:

He said that he suffered the same kind of treatment as atheists with being shunned by people in our society for his beliefs, being a Buddhist in the U.S., which is a large majority of Christians. He got the same "If you're not a Christian then you're not worthy because you're following the wrong path!" attitude that we atheists are all too familiar with.

People are obsessed with explaining the unexplained, which makes Buddhism so confusing for creationists. He constantly gets this "Well, how did the universe begin? Where did we come from? How does Buddhism explain that?" He said "I tell them that Buddhism doesn't explain it, because the Buddha did not concern himself with the origins of the universe. That is why we have science. To make up something for which there is no evidence (like the existence of deities) simply because we want to comfort ourselves on the things we don't know was completely against the Buddha's teachings. He taught that knowledge and understanding are gained by questioning things."

The Buddha did not teach superstitious beliefs. These were cultural ideas that people held onto. For example, up to as far as the early 20th century, there were Irish people that still believed in the existence of fairies and banshees, something that they had held onto from the beliefs of the ancient Celts that they were descended from, even though nearly every person in Ireland followed Christianity for centuries by that time, and such things were not a part of Christianity at all. The same goes for supernatural beliefs among Buddhists. They differ from one area to another because different cultures have different beliefs. Buddhists who have superstitious beliefs can get angry when one criticizes their supernatural beliefs because they look at it as an attack on their culture. It's not criticism of Buddhism that they are getting angry about, it's the criticism of their culture, which they interwove with the Buddha's teachings, even though these beliefs contradict the Buddha's teachings. Hopefully the superstitious beliefs will be given up and the focus will go back to the Buddha's teachings.

So I asked him how would he bring up his kids without indoctrinating them? He said "I would tell them that there is no one path to happiness. We humans have an obsession with this 'Well, what is the one true path to follow?' The answer is that their is no such thing as 'the one true path'. We must find our own path to happiness. We are all unique individuals, and the Buddha realized this. That is why he taught all of his students differently. That is why he told his students to question everything, including his own teachings. People fear what they don't understand, and fear is a negative emotion. The Buddha's purpose was to eliminate the negatives in our lives. By questioning things we gain understanding, and thus eliminate fear. Everybody wants to feel loved and secure, to know that there are others who care for them and feel their pain in their most difficult times. Through love, compassion and understanding we can have a positive effect on others and ourselves, and hopefully this will have a ripple effect that will spread when they come across somebody else in a difficult situation. Happiness will never be achieved by stepping on others, or trying to make them feel inferior because they don't share our ideas. As the old saying goes "misery loves company", and when we belittle people we do it to drag them down into our misery. It never results in happiness."

A very enjoyable conversation to say the least.

“Religion was invented when the first con man met the first fool.” - Mark Twain
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28-12-2013, 05:55 PM
RE: Interesting Discussion About Religion and Human Nature With Buddhist Roommate
Science answers the "How's"
[Insert religion] answers the "Why's"


Dodgy

Buddhism is just as supernatural, irrational, patriarchal, dishonest, etc as any other religion.

It can adopt humanist ideas, but why include the religion garbage? Just focus on secular humanism, reason, empathy. All the good stuff without some mythical prophet.
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28-12-2013, 06:28 PM
RE: Interesting Discussion About Religion and Human Nature With Buddhist Roommate
(28-12-2013 05:55 PM)PoolBoyG Wrote:  Science answers the "How's"
[Insert religion] answers the "Why's"


Dodgy

Buddhism is just as supernatural, irrational, patriarchal, dishonest, etc as any other religion.

It can adopt humanist ideas, but why include the religion garbage? Just focus on secular humanism, reason, empathy. All the good stuff without some mythical prophet.

No religion answers the Whys. They may say they do, but they don't.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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28-12-2013, 07:41 PM
RE: Interesting Discussion About Religion and Human Nature With Buddhist Roommate
(28-12-2013 05:55 PM)PoolBoyG Wrote:  Science answers the "How's"
[Insert religion] answers the "Why's"


Dodgy

Buddhism is just as supernatural, irrational, patriarchal, dishonest, etc as any other religion.

It can adopt humanist ideas, but why include the religion garbage? Just focus on secular humanism, reason, empathy. All the good stuff without some mythical prophet.

The Buddha's original teachings did not include all the religion stuff. That was my roommate's point, that those things were added by people from their cultures, and that people should go back to studying his teachings, and eliminate all the supernatural stuff that got added in.

“Religion was invented when the first con man met the first fool.” - Mark Twain
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28-12-2013, 07:58 PM
RE: Interesting Discussion About Religion and Human Nature With Buddhist Roommate
(28-12-2013 07:41 PM)WindyCityJazz Wrote:  
(28-12-2013 05:55 PM)PoolBoyG Wrote:  Science answers the "How's"
[Insert religion] answers the "Why's"


Dodgy

Buddhism is just as supernatural, irrational, patriarchal, dishonest, etc as any other religion.

It can adopt humanist ideas, but why include the religion garbage? Just focus on secular humanism, reason, empathy. All the good stuff without some mythical prophet.

The Buddha's original teachings did not include all the religion stuff. That was my roommate's point, that those things were added by people from their cultures, and that people should go back to studying his teachings, and eliminate all the supernatural stuff that got added in.

You beat me to the punch to reply. Yes, that is exactly what I was saying. The Buddha did not believe in the superstitious or teach superstitious ideas. His only concern was about finding happiness in the here and now. Other cultures have corrupted those teachings by adding in their own superstitious beliefs.

The Buddha was not a mythical prophet. If you look him up you will see that he did actually exist. His name was Siddharta Gautama. He was a mortal man like anybody else. He had no supernatural powers and he never claimed to have any. I get frustrated by the fact that people have this attitude of "Well, many cultures have added these superstitious things in there, so his teachings no longer have any validity."
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28-12-2013, 10:28 PM
RE: Interesting Discussion About Religion and Human Nature With Buddhist Roommate
(28-12-2013 05:55 PM)PoolBoyG Wrote:  Science answers the "How's"
[Insert religion] answers the "Why's"


Dodgy

Buddhism is just as supernatural, irrational, patriarchal, dishonest, etc as any other religion.

That is the case for many sects of what is now called Buddhism, but that is not true of Buddhism (specifically the Buddha's own teachings) itself.

Quote:It can adopt humanist ideas, but why include the religion garbage?
It was originally humanist. But as it was adopted by superstitious people, the assimilation became less and less complete, including the secular nature and the ultimate rejection of superstitions.

Quote:Just focus on secular humanism, reason, empathy. All the good stuff without some mythical prophet.
The Buddha never claimed to be a "mythical prophet". You have very little knowledge, if any, about Buddhism.

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