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Advancing the sum total of human knowledge and endeavour!
A fairly major change 
16th-Sep-2008 05:53 pm
There was a Millibritcon over the weekend, as I know I've mentioned. It was fantastic and brilliant and a great time was had by all, I believe. This is not a conreport post, but because I'm starting by talking about it, I thought I'd throw in the disclaimer that it was awesome.

At a couple of times over the weekend, someone had to say Debi, you're being a bitch, quittit, which (I hope) I did, and then was embarrassed that someone had tocall me on it, because I feel like mostly I've let go of a lot of that bitterness I'd been hanging on to. Not all of it, though, and that's for me to work through. But I am, definitely working through it and I really do think I'm improving as a person. Which is nice.

I've mentioned more than a few times here that I've been listening to zencast a lot. I'm listening from the beginning and am only on about week 40, but I'm learning a lot - about meditation techniques, about how to learn about myself, and about Buddhism.

I was born  agnostic, in the same way that everyone's born agnostic, damnit, but brought up atheist,with an emphasis on thinking for myself and finding my own way. It's always suited me fine. However, the more I find out about Buddhism, the more it seems to coincide with what I believe and think already. And as Gil Fronsdal describes it- for everything I understand about it comes from him at the moment - disagreeing with the teachings and finding a compromise is an important part of it anyway.

The sticking points include, which I'm sure isn't a surprise, the idea of a continual consciousness and of rebirth. Because I'm a materialist, and I believe our thoughts and selves are rooted in the workings of our brain. I haven't read Buddhism Without Beliefs without Stephen Batchelor, despite it being on my wishlist since forever- wait til I get a job then i'll finally buy stuff up, you'll see. However, from what I understand so far, one doesn't have to subscribe to every belief to call oneself a Buddhist. 

Other doubts come from how much I don't know. I  don't know everything there is to know about the major beliefs. I don't feel like I know much at all - but again, what I do know is that not knowing, and learning, is a major part of the practice.

I do know that I agree with the Four Noble Truths*, and that I agree with ideas that nothing is permanent, actions have consequences and change is possible. I also have been trying to follow the first four precepts** I don't just agree with those, I think that they're just plain common sense.

So what I'm saying is - I think it might be time to just admit that this is my actual 'religion'. Or the closest I'm ever going to get. And I may start seriously trying to incorporate what I'm learning in my life. Starting nowish.

I need an icon for this.

*1) Life means suffering. 2) Suffering is caused by attachment. 3) It is possible to end suffering. 4) One can end suffering by following the eight fold path
** The fifth precept is abstainance from mind altering drugs. I am seriously considering giving this a try and seeing if it makes me happier.
16th-Sep-2008 05:17 pm (UTC)

Once upon a time, it helped me. I hope it does you.
(Deleted comment)
16th-Sep-2008 10:56 pm (UTC)
*nodsnods* This wasn't so much a sneaky in-not-so-many-words apology, as it was a note to self. I know we're good, but I noticed things in my behaviour that I'd be happier if I checked.

And it was great to get to know you, as well. I love cons for the very reason that face to face is always better.
16th-Sep-2008 05:40 pm (UTC)
I have further reading I can suggest/send if interested.

(I don't talk about religion much on my lj or in real life. This is about as close as I get as well.)
16th-Sep-2008 05:53 pm (UTC)
Yes please.

Audiobooks preferred for this.
16th-Sep-2008 05:58 pm (UTC)
=T I don't know how much I can help you with the audiobooks request, but I definitely have a lot of material left from my Buddhism classes. It's gonna have a bit of Hinduism thrown in as well. I'll see what shakes out of my shelves later.
16th-Sep-2008 06:05 pm (UTC)
It's all good. <3
16th-Sep-2008 07:08 pm (UTC)
There's (almost) nothing I can find wrong in *philosophical* Buddhism, as far as it relates to happiness and good behaviour. I'm not a fan of rejecting the world or seeing guilt/sin everywhere, which is a trap when you get paranoid about stepping on ants damaging your karma, but there are ways to do it right.

Then I discovered I'm just too energetic and committed to physical things to cultivate enough detachment for Buddhism, and most of what I liked was in Taoism too :)

Anyway, Eastern philosophy saved my life and you should totally, totally throw yourself into it for a bit if you're feeling drawn to it.

Best Buddhism icon I've ever seen is wheeler's "Love to love you, baby" Dalai Lama icon :)
16th-Sep-2008 10:53 pm (UTC)
My take on karma is not that there's sin everywhere - it doesn't really involve sin - but that actions have consequences even if it's just a consequence within your own esteem. As far as I'm concerned, stepping on ants damages my karma because it's easy enough to avoid harming a living thing in that way and I'd be aware afterwards that I did it.

And I'm so energetic and committed to physical things that it causes me unhappiness and anxiety, so learning to detach from it will I hope, help with this.

Thanks for commenting, I remember loving what you had to say about Taoism.
17th-Sep-2008 05:47 pm (UTC)
This is kind of how I feel about Buddhism too; a lot of it resonates with me but I'm just too damn fond of these things, and having grown up Catholic I'm still trying to get rid of guilt and the bad habit of looking for sin everywhere (I know, IB, that not all Buddhisms are like this! but it's one of the first things I found out about it so it's left a lasting impression on me). I wonder if this means I should go back to trying to figure out Taoism again...
17th-Sep-2008 05:58 pm (UTC)
I'm probably being unfair. I know the fault lies with me and not Buddhism, but when I see an injustice I can't detach myself from it. Ideally I would feel compassion and do what I can to help, but take no offensive action. I'm not strong enough for that :)

The only other thing I ever had a problem with was Karma dictating your circumstances in this life - handicapped people deserving it because they're paying off Karma from previous lives, etc. It's the same reasoning that allows the utterly repugnant Indian caste system. If I *really* believed in reicarnation and carry-over karma, I'd have no problem with it. But I don't, so I'm sticking to philosophical Buddhism instead.

Strangely, I've been drawn strongly to Buddhism recently, and might have to look closer at it again. As I say, for all the negatives I'm bringing up here, I am staggered at its worth and goodness. I have huge respect for it, and the real test is I have huge respect for just about everyone I meet who does it. When people show the worth of their path, many systems produce egomaniacs and weaklings. Buddhists I've met (including monks) tend to be the most remarkable, noble, compassionate and mighty people. (If only neopaganism could produce anything like that success rate. But no, we get the opposite 90% of the time).
17th-Sep-2008 01:07 am (UTC)
I'm sort of also sitting in your boat, or at least, the next boat over. I'm not sure I would call myself a materialist as such, but I would say that's my de facto stance day-to-day, and I share your puzzlement whether that could be reconciled with Buddhism or not.

I suspect it could be reconciled, and yet I have the nagging suspicion this might actually be square-pegging a round hole, at least to some degree. So I'm intrigued by Buddhism; I read about it from time-to-time; and I've tried Zen meditation as part of my aikido training, which has been an interesting experience.

A friend who knows me well once recommended the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead to me, and I've been meaning to follow up that suggestion. Not sure if it'll be any help (Whitehead's writing is said to be dense to the point of being impenetrable), but I give that friend the benefit of the doubt because he's a practicing (and politically left-wing) minister who also has a Ph.D. in neuroscience, and, therefore, is a good person to ask when it comes to matters of science and religion. =)

Looking forward to seeing where you go with this.
17th-Sep-2008 11:51 am (UTC)
You're considering dumping Jack? On his birthday?

17th-Sep-2008 11:54 am (UTC)
Good point. I'd never do that to such a serious long term relationship.
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27th-Sep-2008 09:59 pm (UTC)
You're welcome!

I've always believed the mind is capable of an awful lot without drugs, but until this I've never really tried applying my mind to it. I'm glad it's helped you.
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