Monday, February 18, 2013

God and Buddha walk into a temple. . .

Yesterday I went to the Temple Buddhist Center with a friend who was curious about the teachings, beliefs and practices of Buddhists.  I had been to the temple a few times before and when my friend mentioned that she'd like to go, I jumped at the opportunity.  It had been awhile.  I've been full of stress.  From memory, I knew the temple was just the place to let go, get centered and feel better.  It worked.  As I sat in quiet meditation, I could feel the stress leave my body.

Afterwards, we sat on a bench and chatted about all sorts of things.  One subject that came up was whether my friend felt any guilt about attending the Buddhist Temple.  She was brought up in the Catholic Church and I was more than curious about any guilt this venture of ours might have caused her.  I'm not certain that something as simple as attending a Buddhist Temple rises to the level of "venture", but when one is raised to believe one thing and then starts dabbling in another. . . well it certainly could.  So it was our venture.  And I was curious about any guilt she might have felt.  "Some," she said.  "I'm not really as devout as my husband's family, so my guilt is probably more about what they would think about me doing this then anything else," she continued.  And. . . then. . . she. . . said. . . the . . . most. . . awesome. . . thing!  "But it's my life and I have to start living for myself."  Love, love, love that!

As we parted ways, I started thinking about my own background.  My family had faith.  We believed in God.  You know, the supreme being that lives up in the sky or heavens somewhere?  You can't see Him.  But you know He's there, because the preacher said so.  Yeah, that guy.  I remember well the Baptist church I attended as a child.  Yuk!  What I got - really all I got - from attending church during those formative years was   a.  I was bad, bad, bad and b. I was going straight to hell if I didn't change my evil ways.  That's a whole lotta fire and brimstone for a four year old.  Is there any wonder I completely checked out at the earliest opportunity?

But then on my drive home, I thought about this gentle soul.  Had he been Buddhist I wondered?

And this caring, compassionate, loving, giving, kind and above all, selfless, soul.  Had she been Buddhist?

And what about him?  The Muslim - Islam - Prophet Muhammad?  Could he have been Buddhist?

Was Gandhi Buddhist?  Hinduism. . . Buddhism. . . there is a difference. . . I looked it up cause I wasn't so sure.  

Could Moses have been Buddhist before Buddhism was?  I think Moses lived first, right?  Before Buddha?  Either way, I think Moses could have been Buddhist.

How could I even contemplate such a thing as Jesus, Mother Teresa, Muhammad, Gandhi and Moses being Buddhist?  Probably because I'm a novice and know so very little about Buddhism.  Even though I know just enough to make a complete fool of myself, I'm going out on a limb here and saying that I think it's entirely possible.  Probable even.

Buddhism as a philosophy allows for the possibility that all people can accept as true any religion they like while at the same time being Buddhist.  The Buddha was awakened.  He believed, as do I, that everyone has the potential to be awakened.  That is to say that everyone has the potential to live fully present in the moment.  Through mindfulness, meditation and visualization, we can end suffering and be happy.  Abundantly happy one moment at a time.  God is different things to different people and for some, doesn't exist at all.  Regardless of one's religious beliefs, we can all awaken and live a life of happiness.  The God in which I believe wants that for all people.  And so do I.

If you are stressed today, take a minute or two for yourself.  Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, clear your mind and be the Buddha.

What are your thoughts?  Can religion be mixed with a Buddhist philosophy?  Should it be?

Thanks for stopping by the porch today.  Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you do, I wish you happiness.


P.S.  I'm sure this is obvious, but just in case. . . the photos are not mine.  They all came from the internet.  I didn't give proper credit, because artist's names were not available.  


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