Up until about a year ago, I disagreed wholeheartedly with religion. Well, not the practice itself, but those that practice it. For the most part, people who are a part of any organized religion try to force those beliefs on as many people as possible. I know what you are thinking, “What is wrong with being religious? Or wanting to share that religion with others?”
Well, there is nothing wrong with you praying to yourself every night before you go to bed, or reading you bible, but when you try to push that on others? There’s a problem. We all know this, and I’m not going to get into the whole debate or rant about that here. This isn’t the place for it and I would sound like I was raging at the sky. You can’t reason with a member of an organized religion (I’m generalizing).
Anyway, I have been thinking about spirituality for the past year or so. While there are quite a few religions whose basic moral structure I can get behind, everything else leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Mainly, the worshiping or praise of some wizard that created everything. I’m a history-geek and as such I believe in evidence. Measurable fact. Not some convenient coverall for the willfully ignorant and the children they are indoctrinating. Keeping that in mind and knowing that I will never practice religion, but I should at least know which one whose views I agree with the most, I took what I remembered from theology and based my research on the most practical religions. Those that don’t require anyone to commit to a lifetime of servitude, or attains to thinking themselves better than anyone else because of their imaginary friend. I also steered clear of those religions that keep you from experiencing things that are part of a normal life. I also made sure I kept clear of those teachings that either specifically state that homosexuality is “wrong” or have followers that interpret it as such. Also, fuck those people who think that it is their right to take away someone else’s rights or treat women/minorities as subhuman or second class citizens. Or those people that feel that their religious views should be forced upon others and usurp the law. Also, those that frown upon, or actively try to make abortion illegal. If you don’t like it, don’t get one. With all of that taken into consideration and knowing that I want to steer clear of a lot of the bullshit, I found myself leaning towards Buddhism. Mainly because I agree with the views and outlook of this particular “religion.” The philosophy of the Noble Eightfold Path and the Four Noble Truths are exemplary. They are absolutely an agreeable outlook, to me.
Also, it is partly because, from a scientific standpoint, re-incarnation makes sense. Energy is never destroyed, it simply changed form. It makes sense that when a person dies, that electrical spark (NOT A SOUL) or the energy that makes them function should go elsewhere. Either to a similar vessel, or into some other form.
Now, traditionally, Buddhism believes that life starts at conception; however, “Buddhists generally are reluctant to intervene in a woman’s personal decision to terminate a pregnancy. Buddhism may discourage abortion, but it also discourages imposing rigid moral absolutes.” To paraphrase, the decision to abort is a highly personal one and a willingness to carry the burden of whatever happens as a result of the decision.
Essentially, it is entirely up to the Buddhist. There may be some that disagree with it, but they won’t impose their views onto someone else. Which is the way it should be.
Another issue that I agree with is the matter of equal rights, mainly those of homosexuals. In Buddhist texts, there is no specific ban on any form of sexuality. Certain branches of Buddhism do ban all sexual acts. All people deserve to live happy, die happy, and be reincarnated.
While I don’t agree with the spiritual aspect, I think the teachings and the views expressed by Buddhism are certainly the most agreeable and sane of all the organized religions. Which is even more shocking because it is significantly older than most of the more widely practiced ones. And most of those have similar views, but are interpreted by those who wish to use them to repress and oppress others. My only gripes (which are minimal, but would make me a terrible practicing Buddhist), are the aforementioned spiritual aspects, and also my inability to give up a delicious cut of rare beef. Meat in general, actually. Not just steak. It may not be mandatory to be a vegetarian, but it is certainly frowned upon to eat a dead animal among people that believe in reincarnation.