Does your religion grow you?
21st Jul 20167m42s
- As the title of my channel says, I'm not a believer but neither am I a total atheist. I'm somone who's interested in spirituality and philosophy and what it has to offer me and how it can benefit my life. And of all the spiritual traditions that I've encountered, and of all the religious texts that I've read, one of the ones that I think is really good is Buddhism. And when I talk about Buddhism, I'm not taking about the forms of Buddhism we see around us, where people who are chanting, or people who go to Buddhist temples and pray. I'm talking about the core tenets of Buddhism, what Buddha actually taught. In fact there's actually a great book called Mastering the Core Tenets of Buddhism: An Unusually Hardcore Guide to Dharma by Daniel Ingram. And I highly recommend anybody who's interested in the core concepts of Buddhism, to read that book. It's a great book. So why do I think Buddhism's great? The main reason actually, putting all the beliefs and things like that aside, is the fact that it encourages you to grow. In Buddhism, it's not just a question of you believing in something and then holding that belief and living in accordance to that belief throughout your life. And then after you die you're gonna get judged by a deity who's either going to put you into heaven or put you into hell, or maybe you get put into a new life as an animal or something. I don't know. It's not really about that. It's about progressively becoming more and more understanding of the nature of reality and the nature of yourself. So you start as a normal person and then you train yourself. You train yourself in morality. You train yourself in compassion. You train yourself in concentration. You train yourself in wisdom. And as you train yourself and as you practice you become better able to understand the concepts expressed within Buddhism. Become better able to get in touch with who you truly are deep down. And this is most likely gonna be a lifelong endeavor for you because it's really hard. It's really hard to become that good at concentration. It's really hard to be able to meditate so well. I mean, fundamentally this is all about meditation. So you train yourself in morality, in order to quieten your mind. It's not about doing what God wants you to do. It's not about doing things because that's what good people should do, it's about living peacefully and calmly so that your mind is peaceful and calm. And so certain things are recommended for that. For example, don't engage in unwanted sexual behavior. It doesn't talk about celibacy, it just says take a balanced approach to this. People can interpret it differently. But the end goal is to have a peaceful mind. Why? So that you can concentrate. In order to meditate effectively you have to be able to concentrate. And if your mind's agitated and you're distracted, you won't be able to do that. So once you can concentrate, then you can start to gain wisdom. Then you can practice wisdom in your meditation and truly understand the nature of reality and the nature of who you are. So this is quite different to other religions. Like say Christianity or Islam. Where it's not about this sort of practice, per se in order to meditate. It's all about beliefs. It's about how much you believe. The more fervent your belief, the better a Muslim, or the better a Christian you're considered to be. And the more you can live according to the rules and guidelines laid out in your religious book, the better a Muslim, the better a Christian, the better a believer you're considered to be. And you're supposed to live your whole life this way. Living according to the guidelines as strictly as possible, believing with your whole heart. And hopefully once you die, then God or Allah will judge you favorably and allow you to stay in heaven. So when I look at that I think, well, once I believe it fervently, once I have absolute conviction that what it says in the religious book is true, and I just live my life like that everyday. Am I really progressing? Am I really improving in my spirituality? I mean I just seem to be doing the same thing everyday. Am I gaining a deeper understanding of spirituality, a deeper understanding of God's will, so to speak. And I don't see that that's the case. The only thing I can think is, if you are a very devotional religious person, you're very devoted to the Lord and the Lord's teachings. Then for you to progress in that religion would mean for you to become a more loving person to all human beings. Because of course in most religions which have a deity, the idea is that the deity, God, created everybody. So they're all God's children. So no matter what they do, what they say, you ought to be able to love them as your own siblings. And this is Jesus's thing of, if someone slaps you on one cheek, turn the other cheek. It sort of ties into that a little bit. Because what he's basically saying is, "Love thy enemy." Love thy enemy. Because your enemy is also a child of God. And it's just that they are unconscious at that point when they're hurting you, or they don't understand the truth that you understand. So as a religious person, progress in your religion generally speaking would mean to become a more loving person. It would mean to be able to pray with more love in your heart when you are praying. When you're praying, to be more focused on your prayer, instead of thinking about what you're gonna eat that night or something like that. And yet, I feel still that in order to really make progress one would almost have to begin meditating, say for example, in order to hold love in my heart for everybody according to the will of God, I have to be focused on developing that love. I have to be focused on expressing that love. So in a sense, I have to be focused on the thoughts in my head. I have to be focused on the thoughts. I have to be in a way trying to cleanse my mind of negative hurtful thoughts and encourage positive thoughts. I have to live a positive life so that I can be calm, so that I can be peaceful. So that love can more naturally develop and emerge from within me. And when I'm praying, I have to be focused so that I can concentrate on the prayer and put more effort into it, put more passion into it. So that it can be more effective, so that I can pray for myself, and pray for everyone with absolute love. So in a way, it's a form of meditation. It's a form of concentration. Which is interesting, because in Buddhism that's what it's all about, it's all about the concentration it's all about the meditation. It's all about getting wisdom that way. So in a way I feel like Buddhism is taking a more direct approach to it. It's saying, Well this is what you have to do in order to become more effective spiritually, so why not just focus on that and do it. And make that everything. So it doesn't matter what you believe. You believe in God, you don't believe in God, that's not important, what's important is you understand the essence of things. You understand who you are. And you go deeper through the practice of meditation. So this is why I think Buddhism is, or the core concepts within Buddhism are really great. Because in every area of your life, you want to grow. Whether it's the money you make, the kind of job you're doing, in your relationship. We all would love to improve in all of those areas, so why not in the area of religion? The area of spirituality? And I believe that Buddhism and specifically meditation, spiritual meditation, provides you a path through which you can improve in your spiritual understanding throughout your whole life.