Yesterday was my first time visiting a Buddhist Temple, if you’ve been to Buddhist Temple before than you already know what it is, but if not, I can tell you that it is very different and may scare people away if they are not already somewhat invested into Buddhism already.
I had brought a friend with me that I felt needed some spirituality in her life, I guess her mother was very against the idea. She is a Christian and said she didn’t want my friend to bring any pneumonic spirits back home because they stay with you.
I was absolutely appalled by this reaction and felt the need to write this entry even more about the misconceptions of Buddhism. I am not judging her mother in any way, but I wanted to tell her all the reasons why she was incorrect and what Buddhism was, but she was not open minded to anything else other than what she already knew. This is a similar mentality that I believe many people have.
The concept of religion has been intriguing to me lately. When you find yourself growing up around one religion, one way of thinking your whole life, the most common religions in America; you find yourself not wanting to stir away from it. Recently, I have learned of many new religions and philosophies and have been so passionate to learn more about them and how they related to myself and life itself.
Buddhism being one of many that interested me most. For a moment, I wasn’t sure if I should feel guilty, for I had a certain book, certain beliefs and systems imbedded into my head, how could I go against my God? How could I shift my commandments?
The most common misconception about Buddhism is that it’s a religion that worships idols and Buddha, but it is not a religion at all. In fact, religion is a word most Buddhist don’t enjoy hearing. I very much relate to this, the belief that when you separate yourself by religions, you separate yourself from the whole. You distance yourself from the oneness, the fact that we are all just children of the universe, all the same and equal.
I’ve found many religions to judge another’s, like there is no better God, no better way of life than theirs. There are endless amounts of teachings that react differently to the word of God and so many religions that believe in a number of Gods or no God at all. It has made me realize that believing that there is only one way of faith is honestly quite arrogant.
Recently, when asked the question as to what my religion is, I have no real answer, but rather many different things that I believe or even things I’m still deciding on, because the knowledge of other religions and philosophies have been hindered from me for so long.
This is why I personally believe Buddhism fits me best, this is what led me to this Buddhist Temple just yesterday.
Buddhism is a philosophy, we do not worship The Buddha on an altar like so many people believe. Firstly, I should tell you that there a few different interpretations of Buddhism, there is no one way to be a Buddhist, therefore there is no right or wrong way, that can leave you feeling unsuccessful or sinful. Buddhist do not necessarily believe in sins, but rather work to banish the emotions that lead to sins, such as hatred, anger, stress and other negative energies.
This is how I see this philosophy and how I practice it.
Buddhism is about becoming enlightened, it is about living your life in a way that connects more with the inner spirit inside of you instead of the physical body it resides in. In a world full of hourly makeup tutorials and thousands of dollars on clothing and jewelry, it is a breath of fresh air.
Buddhist’s practice meditation regularly to quiet their minds and stay present in the moment. You may ask yourself, “but don’t I do that all the time?” Well honestly, most of us don’t, we are often someplace else in our minds. We slow ourselves down, we do nothing but sit, do anything else but think; this seems to confuse people and it is not as easy to do as you may think, in fact thinking of absolutely nothing for a steady amount of time takes practice. You get better at it the more you do it and the more you do it the more conscious you are, the more stress free and wise you seem to become.
You do not meditate to look for something specific, you do it for a practice of calm for yourself. For if it were to achieve something specific, it would often lead to dissatisfaction and failure.
Being a Buddhist, you can believe in any God that you wish! In fact, many Buddhist believe in the Christian God, which I do as well. Meditation is to bring yourself to your higher self, to your spirit, subconscious and closer to your own God. It is a universal way of worship.
I believe in Jesus Christ, I believe in the teachings of Buddha and I believe many beliefs of the Wiccan religion as well. By no means would I call myself a Wiccan, but that is the beauty of it, I can believe many things without the guilt of one thing being right. (I plan to write an entry on Wiccan within the next few weeks.)
One thing I appreciate most about Buddhism is that it is a way of life that acknowledges suffering and understands it. It is an element of life and rather teaches how to deal with suffering within your life and become more peaceful, this philosophy likes to know you as a person, not a church member.
When you bow your head in Namaste, it’s not because your praying to Buddha, I in fact pray to my God every morning before I start my meditation and bow my head in Namaste at the end. Namaste is a form of gratitude, a thank you to Buddha for being the first to discover meditation and his guidance to enlightenment. Buddhism has been a wonderful tool to teach me gratitude in many ways, no matter how small.
And when you attend a Dharma, Buddha’s teachings, it is not because Buddha is the almighty powerful being, it is because he was very wise and his words should be passed down through generations and not be lost.
Only a few years ago, if someone asked me what my religion was, my programmed respond was always Christian. Looking back, the only thing I did to call myself a Christian was believe in Jesus Christ. If any Christian asked me questions about scriptures I would probably not know, and I would most likely be questioned about my faith because of it.
I had a moment of second guessing in changing my habits, but I have never been happier with the way I live my life, I have never been more stress free, calm or in tune with myself. I am blessed to have had this knowledge come my way and excited to be sharing it with you today!
Love and Light