Walking… Part Two: Destination
“I know what you are against. But what are you for?”
Emile de Becque in the movie “South Pacific”
In the recent post “Walking Away… ” I talked about my choice to leave behind my “former life,” the religion and tradition of my youth. I gave a few glimpses about why. But that post is only half the story. The quote above, one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies, reflects how we too often use negatives to prove our point without ever giving a positive reason.
In the movie a naval officer is trying to convince de Becque to risk his life to fight the Japanese. His leading argument is, “we’re against the Japanese.” The problem with being “against” is that unless we know what we’re for our fight will be meaningless. Leaving a bad place without a destination just creates a vacuum in our lives. Fear and emptiness sucks us right back to the bad or leaves us drifting, afraid, unsure.
If something is bad or wrong or causing suffering it should be left behind. But running in any direction is likely to lead to more wrong or bad or suffering. Before we leave it’s a good idea to have a destination in mind, a place that will be better.
I’ll admit that when I took the first few steps in the opposite direction from my Evangelical Christian past I had no clue where I was going. It was a terrible, fearsome place to be. For the first time in my life I was afraid, really afraid. “What if,” I asked, “…what if there IS no God? What if I should be… Muslim? Jew? Hindu? What is Truth?”
Being me I knew I could not just “choose” a path. Most people in this world do just that. Either they make a bed for themselves “the way they were raised” or they just run off to a different religion that feels “more comfortable.” That just seems stupid to me. Truth is not relative. If I don’t KNOW within my heart something is Truth I can’t accept it no matter how comfortable it is. In fact, if there really is nothing to this religion and we can choose our lifestyle my lifestyle would be hedonistic, selfish, self-serving and lascivious. Why not? Truth cannot be relative or it would not exist. Once I stepped into the darkness I had to find a light. I did.
The book I wrote, The Lies, The Truth, The Way, is somewhat of a chronicle of where I came from and where I started walking to. The book ends where my new direction began. This post is an update.
At the end of that book I concluded that the Creator exists, that Jesus loves us, and that through Jesus and others, especially Gautama Buddha, the Creator has sent us a message of how to live. Those were conclusions I made almost two years ago. How time goes by! In the months that have passed since then Christianity has become more and more distant. I have begun to recognize how that so much of my upbringing and practice was programming–brain washing–rather than true faith. But that was the Part One.
In the past two years I have been drawn to Buddhism more and more. As I move towards the practice and the philosophy, as I seek a greater understanding of Gautama’s words and all that have come to us through the great tradition sense then, the more peace I find. Jesus, of course, said exactly what Buddha said but Jesus’ words are few. There are no manuscripts with long discourses or decades of talks from him. I wish there were.
Jesus’ words are Truth and Light. But they give no specifics and little explanation. They point us to the Creator as author in a way that Gautama’s words don’t but they also reveal the universal nature of our Creator’s love for us and the true nature of man buried within us all and hidden most of the time under a veneer of selfishness and delusion. Though far removed in time and location Gautama’s words pick up where Jesus left off. As I move towards them and a respect for Buddha the man (not God!) I am becoming more and more at peace within my heart.
My destination, then, is to Buddhism. As a Buddhist I need not reject Jesus nor my belief in a Creator. Contrary to Evangelical misinformation Buddhism is not based on Buddha as a God. He never claimed anything of the kind. Neither is Buddhism about God, a God or any god. There are varying opinions about a Creator in different sects but unlike Christianity Buddhism is not an exclusionary religion. All points of view are accepted by all sects. Buddhists recognize that every individual has a unique path. That path is not and cannot be the same for any two people. Therefor the path they take, be it Theravada, Mahayana, Zen, some combination, or even some kind of hybrid, is not the ONLY path. I can, then, practice Buddhism as I am drawn and still believe in a Creator and the veracity of Jesus and be accepted within the Buddhist community.
I walk away from deception, confusion, misinformation. I walk towards Truth. I am convinced that Truth is found in the teachings of the Buddha. So there is where I’m headed.
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