After 6 blog postings, I thought it a good time to dial things back and give you more of a personal view. I know I ask for comments and this topic is no different. I really want to get to know some of the opinions out there on this topic. I love to get different perspectives.
Some time ago, I got back in touch with an old friend. Way back when, I was likely the more religious one and I never knew that friend to be religious. Since that time the roles have reversed. I am not a spiritual person but this friend found religion. During one of our online chit-chats the topic of religion came up and I explained that I do enjoy the history of theism but I’m not a believer. Apparently that was the wrong thing to say. I was told if I didn’t believe in Jesus, I would go to hell. So I inquired, “Do you think Jewish, Buddhists and Animals go to hell?” to which I received a short response of yes, yes, no. I was slightly offended by this because I would never say to someone “you’re going to hell since you don’t believe the same thing I do” but on the other hand, I took it sort of like this “I care about you and don’t want to see you go to the wrong place”, lol.
I got to thinking and wanted people to understand my thought process. I went on to post that I did not believe in a heaven or hell but I could envision what the afterlive could be. I went onto say that when we die we are placed in the ground, for all intents and purposes, we become the compost for the earth. We become the dirt, sand, clay. We become the grass, plants and trees. (Just envision an indian fertilizing his plants with fish) We are the water, the rain, the wind and the storm. I know for some, that may be a sad realization but for me it seems closest to the truth of afterlife than other explanations.
When I first started learning about Buddhism, as a non-spiritual person, I felt conflicted upon hearing terms such as rebirth (although in retrospect, I can conceptualize it as I have done above) as well as being conflicted about hearing the terms heaven and hell realms. It has taken me a bit longer to write this blog because before I did, I wanted to hear what my teachers had to say. One teacher went on to say “What we believe depends upon our own investigation, experience of the teachings with its practical application in our daily lives, and then the faith (or confidence) that develops as a result. So in short no need to believe – just a need to explore. ” and another teacher stated something similar but also pointed me to the Four Assurances and when I read it, I immediately found the Second of the Four Assurances. (Following the link you can move back and forth to read all the entries for the Four Assurances)
“In the second assurance, the Buddha postulated a scenario contrary to his experience—one where there is no rebirth and no karmic retribution. He did this so that those who were doubtful could still benefit from his teachings”. is a quote from the above link.
I have read other varying information that rebirth is also a cycle of consciousness. Rebirth can be within a lifetime. I can envision anger and suffering to be a hell, happiness and blissfulness could be heaven and a rebirth being certain levels of awakening in this lifetime. Studying Buddhism and following it’s concepts has certainly been a rebirth for me mentally.
The same thing goes when I hear that we must understand/eliminate our suffering in this lifetime as well as future lifetimes! How do I know what my future sufferings will be? I would imagine that those sufferings are likely to be the same sufferings I experience in my current lifetime. What if the translation is off, maybe what he meant to say is that we must understand the sufferings we experience in the future of our (current)lifetime? We are born, we become a teen, we become an adult, then middle aged and then old age, with each stage of life, there will be different sufferings. As long as we can accept/eliminate the sufferings of each stage in life, we can eliminate those sufferings and lead a happy life?
Ultimately, every individual will have a slight variations on the philosophy of Buddhism. At the end of the day, what is important, is following the principles of Buddhism.
What do you think?