Saturday, September 11, 2010

Why Be Buddhist at All?

If you're "secular" why be Buddhist at all? Why not just be a secular humanist? Honestly, there is a lot of very common ground between Buddhism and secular humanism. What Buddhism offers is a way to inner peace that you don't find in secular humanism.

If you've ever been exposed to cognitive behavioral therapy, you know that this is a modern therapy approach that focuses on changing internal beliefs so that the patient no longer upsets or distresses themselves. In many ways, the Buddha was likely the first cognitive behavioral therapist. He emphasized that folks should look inward. They should examine their beliefs and realize how temporal and fleeting they are.

For me, Buddhism is all about stopping the cycle of upsetting yourself. It is about finding internal peace and happiness. That's why I often call myself a "secular Buddhist."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What is a Secular Buddhist?

Well here's the definition of "secular" from Websters:

  1. of or relating to the worldly or temporal
  2. not overtly or specifically religious
  3. not ecclesiastical or clerical
Now, what exactly is a "Buddhist?"

That's hard to define. One definition of a Buddhist is anyone who has studied the teachings of the Buddha. That's not a bad definition, since the teachings of the Buddha are often contradictory and very often too difficult to extract one firm understanding. In the schools of Buddhism one of the schools is the school of Zen. One of their teachings would be shocking to anyone who wants to view Buddhism as a religion. That teaching is that if you "see the Buddha on the road, kill him." This is a very subtle teaching What it means in essence is that if you've created some "image" or some "view" of the Buddha, then if you see it kill it. In other words, stop living in your mind and be free from what it says to you.

So, a "secular Buddhist" is someone who is not overtly or specifically religious. For many, it doesn't mean they are atheists. However, for others the "worldly or temporal" part eliminates any possibility for denying the existence of God.

Regardless, being "secular" or "Buddhist" mean many different things to many different people. This blog is meant to embrace them all. The definition is inclusive as opposed to exclusive. It can mean different things to different people.