I want to respond to your thoughts and religious experiences which your mother related to me such as, “Why do they try so hard to change your belief? Why the many rules? Why do they suffocate you?”
My expansive background may be of help. I had many years in my quest to find some answers. I enjoyed the teachings of the metaphysical world. Then, on the back side of my quest, it became very simple. It took me what appeared to be forever to observe that the world seems to function on two dimensions of life: LOGIC and FEELING. Logic doesn’t sell. Emotion (feeling) is the primary motivator in life.
Religions, politicians, sales persons, and advertisers know this. Most all of us enjoy the feeling of being a part of a community – church, team sports, clubs, groups of friends, family, etc. Oftentimes, the feeling of fellowship is so satisfying that we want to share it with others and thereby feel even more a part of the team. All this is great but, logic often times takes a back seat.
During my ministerial years, I had a fortunate experience on a trip to Hawaii. It had a weird background. A friend of mine was working on a manufacturing plant in either Fiji or Samoa and said they had to move it because all the employees were 300 pounds or more and their fingers were to big for the assembly process. Today, I doubt if this is correct, but it set the stage. So, on the airplane going from one island to another, a 300 pound guy (he must be a Samoan, right?) moved next to my window seat to get a view. As I was chatting with him, I asked if he was a Samoan. He said, “No, I’m a Buddhist.” This threw me off and I had to start processing various things; is this like all Israelite’s are Jewish or are all Jews considered to be Israelis? So, trying to make nice and add to his comment, I said, “I like Buddha. I recently gave a presentation about Ben Franklin and life planning and Buddha was also into life planning.” As he responded with, “Buddha never said that.” I changed track, trying for harmony in tight quarters, “Well, I love Buddha’s Four Noble Truths,” thinking that would be a fun common ground for discussion. He was offended saying that Buddha had no such thing, got up and moved to another seat.
This was such a great lesson for me, it taught me that many, or most, of the enthusiasts of the many philosophies and religions know little or nothing of the origins and teachings of the Master.
By the way, my opinion is that Buddha’s teachings were more left-brain and logic-based than most of the treasure trove of religious thought. So, you’re on the right track. Question everything. I’m reminded of my friend referring to the Newsweek report that there are thousands of denominations of Christianity saying, “They can’t all be right, but they could all be Wrong.”
I’m also remembering Ben Franklin’s statement, “the bulk of ceremony and tradition tends to obscure the teachings of the Master.” And finally, I hope you remember that Martin Luther, the inspiration for the protestant movement 500 years ago said that every man (women had no rights back then) is his/her own priest. I hope you can continue to trust your own priest that is within you.
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