Speaking to a friend recently I said, “My Buddhist side would say …” when my friend interrupted me saying, “Are you Buddhist?!!”
I answered saying, “Well, in many senses I am Buddhist because:
- I strongly believe and value some central Buddhist teachings which I feel are counter to much “common sense”.
- I have sought out and read lots of Buddhist literature, including: philosophical works, mythical works, life of saints. They have inspired me more than any other religious tradition.
- I meditate and practice other Buddhist disciplines (albeit feebly) even though I am not a member of a Buddhist group.
My friend looked at me and said, “Yeah, I guess that counts as ‘Buddhist'”.
Since blogging, I have dialogued with liberal/progressive Christians who, back in my Christian days, I would not have considered “real” Christians because of their unorthodox view. Yet these folks still persist on calling themselves “Christian”. I have even learned about “Atheist Christians” — those who value what they feel are Jesus’ authentic teachings [what ever those are?] but don’t believe he was a god and yet still feel culturally Christian. So since blogging I have learned that the world contains of a broader spectrum of self-proclaimed Christians than I ever imagined.
So I thought to myself, “Well, hell, if they can be Christians, maybe I can be a Buddhist?” 🙂
So would that make me a progressive or liberal Buddhist? No, I don’t like the connotations of those words. Am I an “Atheist” Buddhist? Well, Buddhists aren’t theists though many of them hold theist-like beliefs and so “Atheist Buddhist” would help differentiate me from them. Up to now, I have often described myself as a “lazy unorthodox Buddhist” which, though accurate, may be a bit too pejorative. So “Atheist Buddhist” may do for now occasionally. But in many other ways, I am not Buddhist at all. See my other posts on Buddhism.
I was raised nominal Christian but became Atheist at 14 years-old only to re-converted to Born-Again Evangelical Christianity at 17 years-old when my best friend died. I remained a fervent Christian for several years. But prior to that, between 14 and 17 years-old I read a bit of Buddhism. I returned to explore Buddhism after leaving Christianity in my graduate school days and practiced at some Zen centers. When I lived in India, Nepal, Japan and China I engaged Buddhism a bit more. And though I am critical of much of what many Buddhists believe and practice, nonetheless some versions of Buddhism continues to inspired me in ways no other religion does. And I am not sure why. It is almost like I have some strange Yuan for Buddhism.
When I want to recommend books to folks to show them the aspects of Buddhism I find exciting, I can’t think of any because all the Buddhist books I know are very …. well, Buddhist. Hmmmm. In future posts I will explore Buddhism a bit.