“In the end, it’s not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away” – Shing Xiong

Monday, July 21, 2014

Spiritual But Not Religious SBNR

There ya go. Everything is relative, we probably agree on that. Relative to cultural or traditional Buddhists Great Determination could be said to be very much Spiritual But Not Religious SBNR. We prize flexibility and kindness as the Buddha did, remember he gave us asceticism and promoted the middle way. Ascetic practices are intended to be used short term to achieve a new level of understanding, awareness or experience but over time they have been perverted into a competition, a spiritual kickboxing match.

Relative to utter hedonism Great Determination is religious. The Buddha clarified the Dhamma and over centuries that was recorded and disseminated. The wonder of the Dhamma and the wisdom of the Buddha was the awareness that time multiplied by number of players inevitably erodes the information so built right in was the saving grace: check it out for yourself and if it doesn't work for you set it aside for now.

But we are fortunate to have so much text/scripture that does make sense and that does work. Today with the internet and other media as well as travel around the earth we have the opportunity to compare and contrast different translations and caches of ancient texts. We have no reason not to develop superb critical thinking skills so that we can efficiently gain the most benefit from translations. This guidance is being picked up by all sorts of psychologists, business leaders, medical practitioners and effectively put into practice enriching them and their clients lives. It is also being ignored by religious leaders who prefer to maintain their way of life rather than commit to change.

There are two ways to define religion - one is whatever makes sense of existence for you, the other involves a disciplined life. The Dhamma makes sense of existence for us and it also encourages - brings courage to - a guided spiritual practice.

Both Venerable Sensei and myself have a close connection to nature and together we hiked half the Appalachian Trail in 1999. This experience led to a bond that has endured and developed into Noble Friendship, the best kind of partnership to be found in any lifetime. Great Determination is found outdoors in the parks and desert, mountains and coves. The lessons we learned on the trail are the Dhamma written in experience not text. Those lessons are with us today and so we can relate to those who find the spiritual in the morning light or starry night. We are never far from it.

This post was inspired by an article I ran across here.

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