Why should I…

Dave posed this intresting question a few days ago, and I really wanted to highlight it and my response to it.

Let me ask you something else. In a simple paragraph, can you answer why I should follow Buddhism? What benefits it will give me and what I will miss out on if I don’t?

You should not. You should follow what ever path your own feet lead you to. You should also see that other people’s paths are just as valid as the one that you tread on. Religions are based on faith, which by definition is unprovable, so to assume that you know better then your neigbhor is silly. Acting on that assumption by forcing them to follow your beliefs is a special kind of Hubris.

Honestly, I do not care if you worship God, Satan, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, Zeus, Bob, Eris or Dogbert. You can believe what ever you want, as long as you do not try and force me to believe as you do.

Note the use of the word Force. That’s important.

So, in an earlier post, I expounded on a way of looking at reality and the universe that depends on your internal filters. To sum up, there are three universes. The real external universe, the universe of what you perceive and the universe of how you comprehend what you perceive. You cannot directly interact with or perceive the outermost real universe, because of the time delay between when something emits a signal and when that signal makes it back through your sense receptors and sense processors to your subconscious.

Your interaction with the middle universe is tenuous at best, as everything that comes out of your signal processors in your subconscious is filtered through the interface between your subconscious and conscious minds. Your culture, perceptions, upbringing and everything else ‘spins’ the data slightly and then presents it in the altered fashion.

Since we cannot interact with anything more then an approximation of the real universe, to say that there is some ultimate truth that I or You or We have is an untenable platform. Ultimate truth should be able to be proved with empirical experience. However, most of the ultimate truths that I have seen bandied about are beliefs. Things like ‘God/Allah/Zeus is real, powerful and good’ or ‘it is a universal truth that sentient beings should be free to act according to their own consciousness’.

Neither of these statements will pass any evidentiary tests.

Back to force. If these ‘universal’ truths cannot pass any evidentiary tests, and are in fact nothing other then closely held belief structures, might others feel differently? If there is that possibility, then forcing your beliefs on others seems to be a might bit silly, since beliefs cannot be proved.

So, in summary –

if belief truth && belief proof
then
universal_truth = 1
else
universal_truth = 0
end

6 thoughts on “Why should I…”

  1. If a Jr. Highschooler asked you what he would get out of college, could you give him an valid answer beyond ‘an education’? I could not. I would need to know what college, if he was going to party or study, what major, etc…

    There are lots of schools of Buddhism – everything from Zen Buddhism to Tibetan Buddhism and Agnostic Buddhism. There are several core beliefs; live right and be somewhat happier, introspection is a very good path to enlightenment, enlightenment is a ‘good thing’, the Buddha was enlightened.

    Buddhism is not a perfect path – it is flawed by the very pilgrims on it’s path. However, I feel that it’s teachings are more direct, and less encumbered by mysticism then most other spiritual paths.

    While in a store today, I saw a refrigerator magnet that really summed it up for me "<i>People who are spiritual inspire me, People who are religious frighten me</i>". I think that this statement really cuts to the core of what I am trying to say.

    <blockquote> <a href="http://www.answers.com/religious&r=67&quot; rel="nofollow">re·li·gious (rÄ­-lÄ­j’É™s)</a>
    adj.

    1. Having or showing belief in and reverence for God or a deity.
    2. Of, concerned with, or teaching religion: a religious text.
    3. Extremely scrupulous or conscientious: religious devotion to duty.</blockquote>

    vs.

    <blockquote>In recent years, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirituality&quot; rel="nofollow">spirituality</a> in religion often carries connotations of the believer’s faith being more personal, less dogmatic, more open to new ideas and myriad influences, and more pluralistic than the faiths of established religions. It also can connote the nature of a believer’s personal relationship with God, as opposed to the general relationship with Deity understood to be shared by all members of that faith.</blockquote>

    One tends to be open and understanding, and the other tends to be closed and not open to new ideas. I believe that this closedness is in fact a part of the problems that we are having in the world today. People hate each other to much. People fling stones, or stomp off in a huff when their sacred cows are discussed.

    The only way out of this, in my eyes, is to teach understanding and love for our fellow beings. Right now, we need the threat of force to cause a large portion of the populace to act reasonably. I believe that threat of force could be lessened by simple education in tolerance, understanding and morality.

    Those three have to go hand in hand. If we do not teach understanding and tolerance, then the morality goes out the window when we meet some one different then us.

    Tolerance is taught by teaching us to love one and another. Understanding is taught by learning about what other people feel and do. Morality is simple right and wrong.

    I can hear it now – I do not believe in universal truth, how can I espouse a moral system? Easily. It’s not universal. Communities should be formed where their morals can be taught, with the understanding that others feel different then they do, and that is acceptable.

    Sounds like utopia? I really do not think that we will get there. However, just because a goal is hard to reach, should we not even try?

  2. <blockquote>If you want everyone to become Christian, or Muslim, or Buddhist, you need to show them why it would behoove them to make these choices.</blockquote>I agree. Which is why I wonder why you haven’t answered the question that started this post.

    As for using of force, there are of course many people in the world who believe using force is a legitimate means to accomplish their ends. It seems to me that the only effective means of stopping that is using force as well. Because force is, by nature, a dangerous technique to employ we construct rules for legitimate and illigetimate uses for force. One, although not the only, condition for the legitimate use of force is that it be employed by Government. Hence, it is ok to have cops use force against mafia members who use force to extort money. The first use of force is legimate in most peoples minds, the second is not.

    We generally consider it ok to use for to provide for necessary government functions as well. If you don’t like the school example (which puts you in a minority) then perhaps you support taxes to pay for the police. However, without the use for force to collects taxes (and it is certainly there) there would be no police. Force is something that we will either use, or we will be at its mercy when it is used against us.

    Using force of course, without being corrupted by it, is perhaps the greatest moral challenge. It is not a challenge that can be avoided though.

  3. <blockquote>It think that your statement that you believe everyone should follow their own path is partially disingenuous. You have written quite a few posts that more or less can be boiled down to Christianity is foolish while Buddhism is good.</blockquote>

    I feel that everyone should be allowed to believe as they see fit. I also do not feel that folks should be allowed to force others to ape their beliefs. However, I <b>never</b> said that folks should not discuss their feelings about others beliefs – some times in spirited manners.

    It’s only through the crucible of discussion that we can truly come to understand who we are, and what we really believe.

    <blockquote>The problem I have with this whole line of logic is at some point belief has to be translated into action or it is meaningless.</blockquote>

    This line of logic says nothing about action, other then to not force others. You can take actions that you believe to help situations, such as donating time and or money to aid efforts, or what ever.

    The real difference is I do not believe that Force works in the long run. If you want everyone to become Christian, or Muslim, or Buddhist, you need to show them why it would behoove them to make these choices. If you want folks to stop drinking or smoking or driving too fast, it’s an education thing. If you simply make it illegal, folks that do not care about the law will continue to commit these acts which you find offensive.

    In your case of education of children, I think that rather then forcing everyone to pony up ‘their fair share’ for a monolithic force fed solution, we should allow the parents to choose what they think is best for their children. Some will make bad choices – but that is their freedom. Their freedom to make their own choices based on what they believe.

    <blockquote>Saying we shouldn’t ‘force others to believe as we do’ if taken to the extreme means we cannot have any government or laws, which would of course result in many people forcing others to do what they want them to do</blockquote>

    I disagree. If I cannot force you to believe as I believe, then you cannot force me to do the same. Government exists to assure us that our rights are sacrosanct. They exist to assure us that no one takes away from us. At least, that is what I believe and I vote. :)

  4. <blockquote><p>Saying we shouldn’t ‘force others to believe as we do’ if taken to the extreme means we cannot have any government or laws, which would of course result in many people forcing others to do what they want them to do. – Dave Justus</p></blockquote>
    <p>This statement was not meant to be taken to the extreme, and I’m fairly certain we all realize that we need laws and rules so that we can all play nice together in this huge sandbox of ours.</p>
    <blockquote><p>It think that your statement that you believe everyone should follow their own path is partially disingenuous. – Dave Justus</p></blockquote>
    <p>Dave, you just contradict this statement by saying,</p>
    <blockquote><p>I perfectly accept that you don’t want to force anyone to embrace Buddhism, but it seems to me that you would happily encourage people to embrace, or look into Buhhdism… -Dave Justus</p></blockquote>
    <p>Encouraging, discussing, or teaching folks about what you believe is not the same approach as getting onto school boards to mandate teaching Buddhism in the classroom, or changing the pledge to read, ‘One nation, under Buddha”.</p>
    <p>I was reading <a href="http://www.lonsberry.com/writings.cfm?go=4&quot; rel="nofollow">Bob Lonsberry’s article</a> this morning where he talks about his son and the mission his son went on in Mexico. Even though I don’t really agree with the Mormon religion, I applaud the fact that they do these missions to spread their teachings to others. I think it’s great that these young folks go out and experience the world and help give others hope. The Mormons definitely know how to do religion right. They encourage large families, close bonds to their temples, and missions to spread the word of their religious beliefs.</p>
    <p>Do I want to force Mormons to renounce their religion and become atheists? No.</p>
    <p>I like to talk about my views on religion. Not because I am trying to convert the world, but because I am fascinated by the subject matter. Discussion and zealotry are not synonymous.
    </p>

  5. I would note that if we cannot know anything certain about the real universe, then by definition we cannot know for certain that we cannot know things for certain.

    The problem I have with this whole line of logic is at some point belief has to be translated into action or it is meaningless. We also have an interdependant society, and we have to force others to behave in certain ways for that to work. I believe pretty strongly that we should do the minimum forcing that is required, but it seems to me that some force is needed.

    For example, we believe that education of our children is an important community value and therefore we force everyone to pay for it, whether they agree or not.

    Saying we shouldn’t ‘force others to believe as we do’ if taken to the extreme means we cannot have any government or laws, which would of course result in many people forcing others to do what they want them to do.

    We must choose what we value, and, where appropriate, advocate its promotion in our society. In some cases that will necessiate the use of force. At its most basic, we generally advocate the use of force to prevent/punish others from using force (police using force to stop a murderer for example.)

    It think that your statement that you believe everyone should follow their own path is partially disingenuous. You have written quite a few posts that more or less can be boiled down to Christianity is foolish while Buddhism is good. Now, I perfectly accept that you don’t want to force anyone to embrace Buddhism, but it seems to me that you would happily encourage people to embrace, or look into Buhhdism, and, as you are a generally descent person I imagine that you do so because you believe it would benefit them to do so.

    Maybe I am wrong about that, but no other explanation seems to fit what I know about you. I was not hostile in my question, I sincerely wanted to know what benefits you think a person in general would get from Buhhdism and why they should, at the very least, investigate it.

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