Do You Need it, Though?

That’s a question from another blogger and it really got me thinking.  I don’t know if I *need* Buddhism, now that you ask.  It’s all part of turning 50 and examining my life.  I decided I didn’t want to live that life any more.  I needed to make changes, embracing Buddhism was a significant change to make.

I think I get the point though, why do I need to structure these changes around a religion at all.  I can certainly live as good a life without the pomp and circumstance.  When you ritualize something it starts to become a religion.  (Ah, now I get that Buddhism is a religion.)

religionWhy should I drive somewhere to meditate, when I’m perfectly capable of practicing at home?  Am I right?

Why buy into the ceremony of it all?  That’s the thing, it’s the ceremony of it that bothers me, the reverence of Someone that lived a thousand years ago.   I can live the Buddhist way without going overboard and joining a monastery.

No matter the religion there are deep similarities.  And when looked upon a new way, the whole thing suddenly seems absurd.  Why are we worshiping someone who’s been dead 1000 or more?  I guess that’s why you have to be a god, then you can be forever.

Now, will I continue as I am or do I put aside the *instruction books* on how to live a better life.  Do I need Buddhism?  Do I?  Such a cynical question.  Yet, it makes me think.

I’m not sure about abandoning my current plan.  I feel a need to connect with other people right now.  With Buddhists I’ll have something in common with them walking in the door.  Talking shop would seem a good way to break the ice and eventually get to know some people.  It seems it’s a need we all have, or religion would never have been invented.  I guess it brings a sense of community and togetherness.  Maybe it’s a remnant of the days of the Neanderthal.  Maybe that’s where religion was born.  A reason for people to come together?  An extension of story telling?

Really something to consider.  Thanks for your marvelous question, Pink.  ((hugs))

28 thoughts on “Do You Need it, Though?

  1. It’s interesting to see the evolving of your thinking and questions.. I believe that’s what we have to do to decide what it is we want to believe… Coming together as a community of like-minded is part of it…. Diane

  2. I think it’s really cool that you’re thinking about all of this. It sounds to me like you do need it and it seems to be helping you in many ways. I’ve been planning to blog about religion for a while now — lots swimming in my head, but no action yet. I’ve been attending a Unitarian Universalist church/fellowship regularly for almost two years now. I started going more for my kids — we live in the Bible Belt, so all their classmates attended church regularly, and they were asking why we didn’t. I visited lots of supposedly more liberal churches in our area. I would have checked out a Buddhist Temple as well but the closest one to us is 45 mins away. I had stumbled into a UU church years ago when I started taking an Iyengar yoga class that was held there. I was curious and read about UU on the internet but never felt I needed religion so I never actually went to a service. Anyway, I made a promise to myself that I would try it for an entire year. I liked the focus on deeds rather than creeds. UU has no specific creed and our church includes everyone regardless of your particular belief — we have Christians, Jews, Buddists, pagans, non-believers, seekers, whatever. You’re welcome. We uses teachings from a variety of sources but we’re united by seven basic principles. It works for me. Before UU, I would say I was closest to a Buddhist than anything else, but like you, some of it didn’t sit well with me. Long story short, though this one is kind of long, I’ve been surprised at how much I’ve grown to love coming together each week with like-minded people. It is different than just having regular friends, of which I’m blessed with many — and most share similar values and life philosophies. I have a hard time explaining it. I like and find comfort in the rituals, and I leave each week feeling more peaceful. I can’t say it’s all been UU. I’ve always felt that having a spiritual life is important, and I think I was spiritual before I started attending UU, but religion really turned me off because it felt so confining. Anyway, UU works for me and I’m glad I found and was able to be open to it. It sounds like overall your experience has been a positive one. I would continue with what you’re doing and keep seeking. Thinking of you and wishing you the best on your journey.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. It does give me something more to think about. Do I need that sense of community right now? Will I learn to be comfortable in a room full of strangers? But the rituals and ceremony doesn’t sit well with me. Still, I may keep going for a while until I’m sure?

      Thanks again for your support and your comment.

  3. I just said it because I think it’s time you start paying attention to yourself rather than worshipping anyone else. You’re a smart, kind and funny woman. That’s not a terrible thing to be. The real question is a practical one: What changes will improve your life and get you where you want to be?
    Tough question. I once answered my therapist that I wanted to live in Paris and once he was finished with his interrogation of why I wanted that- I realized everything in my life at that point made me unhappy and my only chance would be to make major changes. I ended up separating from my fiancée, moving and ultimately changing careers. Of course I was only in my early 20’s then. Now I get annoyed if the local supermarket reorganizes (moves) the counters where they put the vegetables…

    1. I feel I am somewhat floundering for meaning in my life. I was drawn to Buddhism because it was the least ‘church-like” of the religions. Now I do wonder if I am throwing my energy into something that asks me to give so much up? I’ve been unhappy for a long time, and I’m grabbing different things in an effort to make changes.. that will make me happy.

      Then there’s the other part. I want to make a mark. I want to be remembered. I know, I’ll be remembered by a few, but I’d like to exist in a short history. Is that wrong? Known not for 15 minutes, but at least a decent number of years. I’d be nice to know I’d at least be noted in an encyclopedia. Sort of egotistical, I know.

      1. This is not directed in any way at you or something like that… your post and replies lead me to remember/think this:

        Life is not what you want it to be. It is what you make it. You cannot make it your own by following someone else’s recipe. Search.. far and wide. When you’re done you find that the you that you want to be was sitting at home the whole time. There is no calling, no mark to be made. The wife of the Einstein family butcher is not oft remembered but she was important to someone and that someone was important to other people and we find that one of them was Albert. We cannot all make a mark like Einstein or Tolstoy. We can make a mark in the little part of the world that we inhabit. If you make your mark there and it is worth telling to others, your renown will grow to be the mark you hope to make.

        As you meditate, consider what that mark means. Will it actually give meaning to a life you find no meaning in? Will it make contentedness out of a lifetime of problems?

        Perhaps the answer that you seek is not a change or method. Perhaps what you seek is the wisdom to accept what is, and the wisdom to know that heroes and leaders do not need accolades and renown, the seek only satisfaction in doing what they know is right.

        To be is the thing, to exist. Yet, this is not all there is for a rock exists. We experience life and that, all by itself, justifies being here. It is said that if your occupation is what makes you happy you’ll never work a day in your life. We get one chance here, that’s it. If you or I were here before we do not remember it, so it does not matter. This one chance is it. The goal? Who knows. If you watch a butterfly sitting on a leaf, can you say your life is more important? Is it necessary to be more important than the butterfly?

        Happiness can’t be bought or found. It is what comes from within when we stop trying to force the world to be as we desire it to be. Watching ducks at the park or a child laughing… these are the rewards for this life. Still moments of thought…

        If you are searching for a way, perhaps the way is to accept what is just the way it is. Contentment is not getting what you want, but wanting what you get.

      2. All true. Thank you for a thoughtful response. I hear the wisdom in your words. But that’s what a midlife crisis is all about…mourning the loss of things not done, and planning what changes might need to be made.

        “Is it necessary to be more important than the butterfly?” Beautiful question. One that makes me stop and really think. (That needs to be on a T-shirt.)

      3. Every day I look at my dogs and pet my cat and I realize that I’m not in need of being more important that the butterfly or humming bird. I’m happy as I am.

      4. You don’t need another mark. You ARE a mark. Your personal impact is more than a Kard-ass-ian impact. A real person with a real, palpable contribution- wife, mother etc.- that’s worth a lot.

      5. Lots of people in my family have dedicated themselves to different varieties of public life/careers which include great notoriety- the flip-side is they gave up a whole lot. Including being there for their children/spouses.

      6. Very true. I need to just be content with my life the way it is. And once I get a little more respect at home (and it’s getting there) there will be nothing wrong with it.

        I have to learn to trust that my life is a good one because I am a good person.

  4. buddhism is more than a religion it is a way of life. any religion affords the participants to engage socially with others that think and believe the same way they do. why not buddhism? as far as need is concerned yes you need the belonging, you need the intellectual stimulation, you need to keep learning and growing. we do have basic human needs that go beyond our basic needs. maslow had it right, once the basic needs are met then we must start attaining or meeting our other needs to reach self-actualization.

    as we age it is with (hopefully) wisdom we did not have at the age of 20 or even 30. then we are usually commited to raising a family/building a career so put those higher needs on hold. then we reach that golden time when we stop and ask if this is how we want to spend the rest of our life. if the answer is no then what do we need to do? you know some of the things you want in your life that aren’t there now, now is the time to bring to yourself the gifts that will enrich you and make your life seem like it was not wasted.

    we all want to be remembered. the sad thing is we don’t always live a life that makes that possible. you can though. i know you can.

    1. How to respond to such wise advice? “now is the time to bring to yourself the gifts that will enrich you and make your life seem like it was not wasted.” That’s what it mainly is. There must be a reason I am here, a reason. Maybe reading up on Maslow and his theories.

      I’m just this moment thinking if I just put all my energy into a single change my chances of success would increase. Writing has always been my passion. Success (or progress) there would probably make a big difference.

      As always, thank you for your valuable insight and wisdom.

  5. That is a very good question you are asking yourself. You know for me, not going to church does not mean that I have no spirituality. There are times I could get on the ground and kiss it because I am so happy to be able to live on it. Maybe better see it as a bunch of flowers? You take the ones you like and that fit into your garden and let the other ones try to bother anyone but you?

  6. Thanks for allowing us to share in your very personal explorations! Keep trusting yourself. Keep asking questions and making decisions and then ask more questions and make new decisions. It’s inspiring for me to know I’m not the only one floundering around. I am comfortably atheist, but there are other things in life that I struggle with. It is great that you have such a supportive group of people reading your blog and commenting. It shows that you have surrounded yourself with good people, and naturally means you are good, too.

    1. More great advice. Thank you so much for caring enough to comment. I look back on some of my writing and I look just like a new convert of any religion: born again. My friend posed the perfect question. Made me realize ‘born again’ wasn’t me. I guess it was just something I had to try on.

  7. I have never really been comfortable with any”organized” religion but Buddhism is one that I borrow a lot of ideas from 😉 I have learned quite a bit about their ideas while getting in a country where out is a major part of daily lives. There are things I don’t like about it, butt most if it I do. Like anything else important, my spiritual development is an evolving one.

    1. Obviously, I am a work in progress as well. The question really got me thinking and looking back it feels as if I was getting really carried away in an unusual headlong rush. This question has solved my dilemma of balance. I don’t need to balance religion and life. I just need a balanced life.

      1. Balance is good if it’s been unbalanced in the wrong way 🙂 Or rather, a non-productive way….but in truth, is anything truly non-productive? I think the fact that you recognized it and took steps is a good thing 🙂

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