Shaking Things Up: Atheism and Buddhism

Now some time ago, I wrote in a post that I would be studying up on Eastern religions and their concept of God; because, typical arguments against God in the West only really work towards the monotheistic Western deity of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Now, I have been reading up quite a bit between my studies at university. I can’t say that I’m finished studying up on these interesting and highly complex religions, but I will go over where I am, personally, at the moment.

Let me start out by saying, I was always leaning more towards existential nihilism to begin with and less towards humanism. Humanism sounds great, but for various reasons I found it problematic. Maybe I just don’t share Humanism’s optimism, but I digress.

So let’s talk about Buddhism. Buddhism, unlike many religions doesn’t require an all powerful, all good, and all knowing creator. Now, this doesn’t mean Buddhism is naturalistic. To assume this, would be far from the truth.

There is no “soul” and the “self” is an illusion, but the mind is not materialistic in nature. It is eternal, and we have all been through an infinite amount of deaths and rebirths due to bad karma. (Karma here being the law of cause and effect.) The earth is not the only place one can be reborn. Minds can be reborn in the lower realms, “hells,” or higher realms, “heavens.” Neither of the former are places people go for eternity.  However, the aim of Buddhism is to reach enlightenment, “nirvana,” and the end of the cycle of death and rebirth NOT to end up in heaven or hell.

Now, this is where the Buddha comes into play. The Buddha was someone who reached enlightenment, and then proceeded to teach others how to do so themselves. The idea is that we can all become buddhas.

Now perhaps interestingly, I, a materialistic nihilist, went to a Buddhist Sangha, a gathering of Buddhists. Why? Well, for one there is no better and easier way to learn about a religion than to go to their religious service. Secondly, I seek to meditate properly, as mediation has many beneficial effects. Thirdly, and most importantly, I am an open minded person.

I am starting to realize that the Buddhist view of human nature seems to be quite accurate. Human beings are not “fallen.” Still, every  intentional action has moral significance, and we would all be happier if we learn to control our mind. In a nutshell, it’s not the situation that’s the problem, it’s what we think about a given situation that’s a problem. If you think a situation is horrible, terrible, or unlivable it is. If you think the situation isn’t that bad after all you won’t suffer as much. Now, if you don’t believe me about the thinking part, consider asking any psychologist. I have. However, their supernatural claims are another story.

The Western monotheistic deity I, certainly, see as false. (See many of my other posts.) Still, I am playing around and toying with different ideas. I am not saying I am converting to Buddhism, but so far, it’s been fun!




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