Buddhism Humanism Religion

Balboa Park church

I’m again considering my spirituality, or lack thereof, in examining Buddhism more deeply.  I guess it gives me focus.  I know I should be able to focus on my own, but it’s nice to be surrounded by others of a like mind when I go and sit meditation.  There is a calmness and quiet to the Buddhist center that I find comforting, I guess would be the word.  I am finally beginning to understand what it is church going religious people feel–I think.  Yet, there is also a growing sense of being a Humanist, which doesn’t have any church or temple.  Maybe I crave the sense of community.

But I continue to fight against Buddhism because of the ‘organized’ angle.  At the same time, I’m drawn to it.  Can I still be true to my  core beliefs that there is no god; though Buddha was/is not a god, there is a tendency to revere him in a god-like way that I find particularly distasteful.  I don’t want to become a ‘born again’ Buddhist either; spreading the word, trying to convert others.  But I understand the urge to do so.  I think I understand the joy church-going people get from going to church and being with like-minded people.  I get the sense of community.

Kurt Vonnegut was a Humanist.

Yet, Atheism has defined who I am for nearly 40 years, though for the past two I tend to have gravitated to being more of a Humanist.  Belief in Buddhism has a very Humanist take on their way of life.  More so (I have found) than other religions.  If I fully embrace Buddhism, I feel I am ‘giving up’ and reverting to religion just because I’m now over 50.  I’ve tried to live the Buddhist lifestyle for ten years or so, and I struggle against the pull to embrace it more fully. Humanism isn’t a religion so much as a basic belief in the good of all people and treating all people good.  Much like Buddhism, without the multiple lives aspect; which I totally reject.  So how could I really consider myself a Buddhist?

I want to discuss this with someone, but don’t have a someone in my life outside of my therapist, and she’s not Buddhist (or religious) and I don’t think she knows any more than I do about Humanism, except it is Non-theist.  She will support me which ever way I decide to go.  I guess I need a spiritual adviser, and that’s part of why I subscribe to so many Buddhist-type blogs.  Need to look for some Humanist blogs to balance myself out maybe.humanism

I know the discomfort of a given situation is only uncomfortable because we are fighting against what we know to be right on either side of the fence.  Once a decision is made, the relief is huge.  I just feel like I am admitting I was wrong believing as I did since age 14, about the reason for religion and people’s continued need for it.  I have strong feelings of dislike about the sizeable, expensive churches and elaborate temples.  I find it sort of contradictory of the idea of giving to others. I like my little Buddhist center in the corner of a large strip mall.  Plain and simple.

Buddhst templeI still contend that the Romans used religion as a way to control the people, and that Catholicism used religion in horrible, evil ways over the eons.  I contend that the Inquisition was a horrific, black stain on religion and Catholicism specifically, meant only to increase the control of the common people and squeeze money out of them.  I’ve never heard an argument that the Catholics were correct or justified in their pursuit of ‘heretics’ – though I imagine there are some.

I hate being so confused and uncertain at this point in my life, but I suppose it’s normal to examine and readjust our moral position.  I suppose that’s not a bad thing.  I guess I don’t want to feel I was wrong before, when it’s perfectly ok to admit that and move on.  I don’t feel I am entirely wrong in my feelings toward organized religion, though I think I might have generalized various beliefs too much.

All part of the journey, I suppose.


27 thoughts on “Buddhism Humanism Religion

  1. I very seldom discuss ‘religion’ with you… because I know we differ in that area… I was curious though and looked up exactly what humanists believe and for the most part there is a lot that is the same as what I believe… one exception of course is that they believe in nothing supposedly that is not verifiable such as is included in my faith..and the teachings of the Bible… I found that interesting… I didn’t in detail look but enough to get at least some understanding.

    In any case I hope that you find what it is you seek…. It’s never wrong to question ourselves I don’t think… quite the opposite… if we don’t we’re just going through the motions…. ‘Can’t quite say what it is I’m trying to’… but I think you understand me by now…. Diane

    1. Thank you for your comment. It makes me like you all the more that you take me as I am, making no judgements. As for Humanists, yes, they believe in many things many religions believe in. Just as Christian beliefs can be found in Judaism, and Islam as well. They just take out the ‘god’ part.

      I’m glad you seem to understand.

    1. I am still learning about Buddhism, but yes, there are no gods, which is one of the things that attracts me. I may get more involved in the Buddhist center and learn more from some people there.

  2. I think the journey is more valuable than the destination – and we can all travel together even if we arrive in different places xx

  3. While my family has been traditionally Buddhist, I understand very little but somewhat share in your thoughts. Perhaps you can answer a question that has been clunking around in my head for a few years. Our country is propelled by religion…almost to the point of warring. H

      1. I feel that is interesting… One funny and quick story about Buddhism in my fam. There was – and still is – a Buddhist temple a hop, skip and a jump from the house. Grandpa was a stout Buddhist. Over 80 years ago, a Japanese man came to my grandfather’s house in Hiroshima hoping to marry one of his daughters (one of my aunts). The man immediately went to the “butsudan”, or alter, and chanted. That impressed my grandfather so much, he immediately have his daughter’s hand in marriage. Unfortunately, the daughter he gave up for marriage wasn’t the one he went to the house for.

    1. I wrote a blog about that just a few days ago. You can read that here: February Post for Peace (I hope that comes across as a link, I’m not too sure how to do a link.) I find that the saddest and most confusing thing about religion is the emphasis that “mine” is the “right” one. That’s what is so attractive in Buddhism, it tries to teach us to be tolerant of everyone, even people devoted to other religions. I’d be happy to attempt to answer any questions you may have. Though I’ve been reading/studying Buddhism 10 years, I’ve only followed it more seriously the past two.

      1. You are so right, appletonavenue… Nearly everyone has that feeling – that their religion is right, or the right one. I simply feel each should practice (or not) as he/she pleases and NOT force it upon others. Perhaps we’d have more peace?

    2. Saw your question and attempted an answer. You did make me interested in checking though, so I will do some research on whether any wars have been fought because of Buddhist religion.

      1. Thanks. I guess when I think back to my childhood years, all our textbooks focused on religion-based wars. I just feel that’s an oxymoron…and I’m not implying any perception of religion. 🙂 Everybody is free to believe as he/she pleases! 🙂

  4. Ah my dear friend, I agree with the comment that the journey is more valuable than the destination and that the journey itself is about self realisation, being able to understand ourselves and love ourselves first then try to help others. This is certainly a major part of Buddhist theory 🙂 I do hope you find a pathway that suits you and you find peace of mind along the way.

    1. I am learning that. I have already conquered the worry about the future. I live for now, knowing the future will be what it will be with or without my worrying. So why worry? Though I do have moments, like now, when I’m worried about when they will foreclose on my house, how long can I stay here? I hope at least through June, when we are planning a move and grandson is out of school. Just received something from the bank today that I don’t want to open

      I thank you for your input. It’s very helpful to me.


  5. I commented when I first read this days ago and then accidentally deleted it, so I’ll try again now that I have a bit of time. Reading your thoughts and emotions regarding religion really speaks to me. It’s comforting to hear someone articulate so well many of the things that I also feel. I think I’ve shared with you before that I currently attend a Unitarian Universalist fellowship, some call it a church, but fellowship is more accurate. There is no creed but rather a set of principles that members share and affirm. One can hold any opinion about the existence of a god and what to call that god and can change that opinion over time. It sounds vague and many are skeptical because of this. I feel the opposite — I like not being boxed in, and I’ve enjoyed gathering weekly with likeminded people. I’m free to share my personal beliefs without feeling as though I’m going to be judged or that someone is going to try to convince me to believe as they do. What I have discovered is a diverse group of people who truly love and accept me and my family as we are and encourage us in spiritual growth. Some members identify as Christian, many agnostic, some atheist, some call themselves seekers, but I’ve learned these labels over time — it’s not like they walked up the first time they introduced themselves and announced their beliefs. Some feel very comfortable discussing what they “are” while others have no interest in labeling themselves and certainly not anyone else. What I have found that UUs have in common is a commitment to learning and growth, and they strive to make the world a better place. They’re more concerned about the present rather than the afterlife. I have always detested conventional religion, but I have also always felt a strong spiritual connection with others with nature and just within. UU allows me to be just as I am. It’s been said that their only doctrine is love, and I have genuinely seen this in practice. I don’t know that I ever would have gotten involved in a church if it had not been for my children. We tried more traditional churches before finding UU, but I disagreed with entirely too much that was being preached and taught. I just couldn’t subject my kids to that. I feel like I’ve found my people. Anyway, I can not stand typical proselytizing, so I hope I’m not coming across that way. I agree that the journey is more important than the destination and I think you are doing exactly what you need for yourself. I would encourage you to try a UU fellowship if you want more community and if there is one in your area. Lots of love and glad to see you continuing in a positive direction.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to re-type your response. I’m happy to have been able to read it. UU sounds very interesting. My sister tried that (and may still attend one) and found it served her needs as well.

      I guess I am a seeker. Not that I would suddenly believe in the Christian version of God, and heaven and hell and Satan. Nor will I suddenly believe in reincarnation, but it’s good to keep my options open.

      I am learning that it is about the journey and I am learning to enjoy mine.

  6. at this point in my life i no longer search as you do and am so grateful for that. i admire your diligence (? sorry) honesty and probing spirit. i decided many years ago to follow what my grandmother taught me. being native american we have our own “religion” and belief system. she told me that when it comes to religion it is all true. she said for the people who have chosen to follow a path what they believe is real for them and we should respect their right to believe what has meaning to them. that has helped me vastly when working with people over the years.

    1. It is something I am working on. I hadn’t realized how unbending I’d become on the subject until I had a conversation with someone and I stuck my foot in it. Embarrassed and mighty sorry to have offended them. But sometimes my radical Atheism comes out. I like the Buddhist way of looking at ourselves; that we are all a part of the world and each other. We are all made of stars. Sometimes I forget that.

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