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about my "religion"

A while back someone on my flist (whom I will identify if zie gives me permission) sistercoyote posted some questions for people to answer about their religion. These are my somewhat irreverent answers. I chose "Buddhism" for my religion, although it's not really a religion the way I approach it (this is explained further below).

tell me what is commonly known about your religion.
A guy named Buddha sat under a tree and got enlightened, and you can too by following these simple instructions, including sitting on a little round pillow a lot and being a vegetarian.

tell me what is commonly gotten wrong about your religion.
That it is a religion. As practiced in the West it is more of a philosophy of life and does not require belief in supernatural deities.
That it teaches "life is suffering."
That it teaches desires are bad.
That Zen means "a product that is kinda stylish in a minimalist, hip way so you should buy it."

tell me what you wish more people knew about your religion.
I'm not sure. I guess the distinction between "life is suffering"/"desires are bad" and what is actually taught, which I'm not going to articulate very well but is some combination of "everything changes," "everything is connected," "you can get better at dealing with life," and "how to be kind."

tell me something about your religion that you particularly find charming (this really isn't the word I want, but my English Major-ness is failing me)
You get lots of lists. I like lists.

If you're comfortable, tell me what drew you to your religion, how you apply it in your life (if you do), how it informs your life?
I need some kind of spiritual practice in my life; I figured that out in my late teens. For a long time I was pagan and shamanic, and I am still somewhat drawn to them. But I have become increasingly uncomfortable with the part of paganism that involves invoking deities, because I increasingly don't believe in deities even a little bit. Even when I think of the deities invoked as archetypes, it doesn't work for me as well as it once did -- I have this uncomfortable feeling that I am lying about something important that I oughtn't to lie about. (When I was a kid I hated having to recite the creed in church for the same reason.)

While I was on these paths I also maintained an interest in Buddhism but mostly just read books about it. I eventually started doing meditation practice as well because I thought it might help me become a happier person. It sort of has, and it has had other interesting and scary effects.

I apply it in my everyday life by checking in with what's up in the moment, by trying to be more kind and less unkind, and by using the moments where I am waiting for something to meditate. I go to a sangha once a month, where a bunch of people meditate together and then we listen to the teacher talk about something. When I am driving somewhere I sometimes listen to podcasts of these talks.

One other thing that I've gotten out of my association with Buddhism, which I only recently articulated...I've always been fairly quiet and conflict-avoidant (at least in real life, I am more of a loudmouth on the Internet) and I've tended to think of those as faults, but in this form of Buddhism silence and non-violence are important and positive concepts. So I feel support for those personality traits, and that's a nice change.

Comments

jillzilla
Jan. 26th, 2009 01:25 pm (UTC)
It was a pleasure to read about your approach to religion. I had never thought of the Buddhism side effect :) of supporting quieter personalities.

If you ever want to tell about the interesting and scary effects of meditation, I would love to hear it.
firecat
Jan. 26th, 2009 07:24 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the encouragement. I have a tag for this but I haven't made as many posts as I thought I might.

http://firecat.livejournal.com/tag/insight+meditation+thoughts

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