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I am reposting here, because it might be of some interest to those who have this board on their favorites. I wouldn't mind seeing this board wake upI've been lurking here a while, but didn't have much to say that I hadn't already said on one side or the other of these matters years ago in all night dorm room rap sessions. Or whatever we called them then.

Back then, I was a pretty firm atheist, but I have watched myself become a bit more agnostic over the years, and more recently I have adopted a view that my Catholic parents would have no doubt found to be rather alien to their experience. Anyway, I came across this long passage recently, which I found rather interesting.

"Having lost their religion, many people feel the responsibility for everything now rests entirely upon them. At the other extreme is the thought that 'becasue there are some things I will not be able to do anything about -- in this lifetime at least -- there is no point in doing anything.' This is also a common apathy that afflicts many. It too is related to the loss of religion. People are no longer willing to act on faith that the quality of the action alone will ensure that it contributes to good in the world.
"The control fallacy is shaped for us by modern history. Religion in the West has been about relating to a God who was a powerful father figure. God was the creator and controller of the universe. What we have tended to do as a modern society has emerged is to replace God by Man. It is not so much that people have stopped believing in the God idea. It is that they have put humankind up as a new God. There is a current kind of humanism that puts people center stage and expects humankind, either individually or collectively, to solve all problems and right all wrongs. The modern person thus harbors a guilt whenevery they are failing to be perfectly happy and successful -- which is all the time. In the modern mentality, it is not so much that God has disappeared from our consciousness as that God has been internalized and we have become our own God. The self has to be appeased because it is now God.
"The Buddha taught a path that relies neither upon an external nor an internal all powerful god. In the tradition, it is said that a buddha is 'teacher of gods and people.' This means that it is more important to be enlightened than to be all-powerful. God is a power play. If we see God as outside ourselves, then we ally ourselves with him or her and this makes us the chosen people who have superior status and rights over others. If we see ourselves as gods, then we either fall into dissipative selfishness or we wear ourselves out trying to do the impossible. When we do wear ourselves out we can fall into despair.
"The Buddha, therfore, taught, firstly, that affliction is real and noble; secondly, that feelings that come up in us in response to it are also real and noble; thirdly, that we can capture and harness those feelings -- just as one might capture and harness a wild horse; and, fourthly, that by doing so we can enter upon a wholesom, constructive and satisfying way of life."
--"The Feeling Buddha," pp 123-124
By David Brazier, (Fromm International, 1998)
currently out of print

Buddha's "middle way" is said to be a path that is open both to those who believe and those who do not believe in God or gods. I have had zen teachers tell me that I could meditate before a crucifix rather than a Buddha -- both are equally empty. I have no interest in the crucifix, but I found the thinking behind that advice curious.

I can't say that I have bought entirely into this Buddhist world view, but I rarely find myself laughing in disbelief as I often did as a teenager in Catholic school or church.
I am in no way even close to enlightement, whatever that is, but since I started meditating seriously a couple of years ago, some interesting and sometimes amazing things have happened to me. These changes are mostly internal, and not nearly as profound as I might like, and they are not miracles, in the sense that we think of miracles as magic. When I used to argue atheism with Christians, they would resort to these "born again" type anecdotes, which I know are ultimately unconvincing to someone who has not experienced them.
Even so, I certainly recommend that anyone with an interest in the subject of Buddhism do some exploring. Many thinkers seem to believe it is not incompatible with atheism, Christianity or Judaism, although I imagine there are atheists, Christians and Jews who would disagree with that statement.

I hope this day finds you all well. It's certainly gorgeous here.


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