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someoldguy

Why I left Buddhism

12 posts in this topic

I wanted to start my own thread instead of creating confusion on another about someone who was interested in learning about some of the concepts.

I'm never going to be completely critical of the Buddhist religion, but I found that it wasn't for me.

When I was involved in Buddhism, I never was like the typical agnostic and/or atheistic, bitter, hostile, slightly antisocial Westerner who usually got involved with it. (Mainly hippies or hippie wannabes at that time.) I wasn't agnostic either because I believe in God and that God is really, really big and can't be contained in one creed or dogma. (i.e. God is Great, literally.)

I was first attracted by Buddhism's view of mental health as it relates to spirituality. Buddhism seemed almost crystal clear in its approach. I began to have some faith that it was the "middle way" between belief and disbelief--i.e. it encouraged one to think, to observe, and to experience for oneself. That was like a breath of autumn air to me from the heat of summer.

But the outright hostility to theism from some of the believers was something I couldn't swallow. It didn't turn me off to some of the methods (vipassana, as a prime example, or zazen) or to the moral message of Buddha, but it did seem to be somewhat "empty" for me. Since Buddha did not encourage metaphysics, there still remained questions about God that I wasn't getting an answer to by means of that religion.

On the other hand, it didn't appear that Buddha himself was a complete atheist. The story goes that after his enlightenment "Brahma" came to him and encouraged him to "teach the Dharma (religion) for the weal of the world." Some traditionalists have assumed that "Brahma" was the Hindu god of creation, while others (myself included) insist that "Brahma" is in fact the Supreme Brahman (the Godhead.) This visitation or inspiration by "Brahma" was said to awaken the Buddha's "heart of compassion" and begin his mission as the Fully Awakened One.

Moreover, there is the story in the Tevigga Sutta (of the Pali canon http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/dob/dob-13in.htm ) that three brahmin (those of the "priestly caste" of Hinduism) came to Buddha with questions about this same "Brahma" (Brahman) and the way to Him. The gist of Buddha's answer was that no one could say what the way to Brahman was, unless they saw Brahman "face to face", as he did. And it is from this sutta, among others, that the famous "Four Divine Abodes" teaching of Buddha originated. In Pali, these were called "Brahmaviharas." English translation: "Abodes of God". These are: 1) loving-kindness or benevolence, 2) compassion, 3) sympathetic joy, and, 4) equanimity. The Buddhist teachings further suggests that a person doesn't have "enlightenment" (Bodhi) unless he is in full possession of these four "abodes."

A Hindu holy man of great renown in the 20th century, Sri Ramana Maharshi, provided about the best summary of Buddhism that you can get. Here is a quote from a book titled "The Teachings of Ramana Maharshi" by Sir Arthur Osborne:

Q. "Buddha is said to have ignored questions about God."

Ramana Maharshi: "Yes, and for this he has been called an agnostic. In fact, Buddha was more concerned with leading the seeker to Bliss here and now, rather than with academic speculations about God and so forth."

Of course, I can't speak for everyone else, but it eventually dawned on me that I couldn't continue.

I wasn't seeing anyone becoming "enlightened," as mentioned in the suttas, and, for as long as I was involved, I certainly never achieved it. (Of course, I'm speaking only from my own experience.)

So I became disappointed and disillusioned with Buddhism because it just wasn't working for me.

And this is a brief summary of my experiences with Buddhism.

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Buddha said you shouldn't try to analyze life too much because it is too complex for us to understand. Thats probably whats meant by "ignored questions about God"

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I convinced one of my friends out of Buddhism. There were way too many philosophical problems with the religion.

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Buddha said you shouldn't try to analyze life too much because it is too complex for us to understand. Thats probably whats meant by "ignored questions about God"

Probably so. It's hard to say definitively, but he may have respectfully encouraged many God-believing seekers to look for another teacher because his focus was on something different. That's pretty much what any good Hindu teacher/guru would have done, and what they still do. Because Buddhism didn't exactly originate in a vacuum. It originated right in the heart of Hinduism, which is a rich, vast conglomerate of different methods and points-of-view, even in Buddha's time.

So to really understand Buddhism in the way it should be understood, IMO you have to have a look at some of the teachings of Hinduism. (In particular, Shankara.)

It's also pretty obvious to me that quite a few early Buddhists weren't completely satisfied with the religion because they kept making things up to cover some of the gaps and the shortcomings.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahayana

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I've studied Buddhism quite a bit, and am quite fond of it. To me, though, I look at it more as a philosophy as to how I should live my life; my beliefs regarding theology and God come from other sources, however.

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my beliefs regarding theology and God come from other sources, however.

I coulda guessed.

;)

:D

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I convinced one of my friends out of Buddhism. There were way too many philosophical problems with the religion.

There are no such problems. "Religion" and it's "philosophical problems" come from others, no need to waste your time on them. Think for yourself, even Buddha said that, "don;t do like me , do it your way but be sure to think for yourself", many people today think they think for themselves but they are not.

Buddhism is not a religion

A story about why you should not waste time with the philosophies of others :

A renowned Zen master said that his greatest teaching was this: Buddha is your own mind. So impressed by how profound this idea was, one monk decided to leave the monastery and retreat to the wilderness to meditate on this insight. There he spent 20 years as a hermit probing the great teaching.

One day he met another monk who was traveling through the forest. Quickly the hermit monk learned that the traveler also had studied under the same Zen master. "Please, tell me what you know of the master's greatest teaching." The traveler's eyes lit up, "Ah, the master has been very clear about this. He says that his greatest teaching is this: Buddha is NOT your own mind."

http://www-usr.rider.edu/~suler/zenstory/impteach.html

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Sri Ramana Maharshi in my view is the greatest sage/mystic that ever existed.

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Posted (edited)

I wanted to start my own thread instead of creating confusion on another about someone who was interested in learning about some of the concepts.

I'm never going to be completely critical of the Buddhist religion, but I found that it wasn't for me.

When I was involved in Buddhism, I never was like the typical agnostic and/or atheistic, bitter, hostile, slightly antisocial Westerner who usually got involved with it. (Mainly hippies or hippie wannabes at that time.) I wasn't agnostic either because I believe in God and that God is really, really big and can't be contained in one creed or dogma. (i.e. God is Great, literally.)

I was first attracted by Buddhism's view of mental health as it relates to spirituality. Buddhism seemed almost crystal clear in its approach. I began to have some faith that it was the "middle way" between belief and disbelief--i.e. it encouraged one to think, to observe, and to experience for oneself. That was like a breath of autumn air to me from the heat of summer.

But the outright hostility to theism from some of the believers was something I couldn't swallow. It didn't turn me off to some of the methods (vipassana, as a prime example, or zazen) or to the moral message of Buddha, but it did seem to be somewhat "empty" for me. Since Buddha did not encourage metaphysics, there still remained questions about God that I wasn't getting an answer to by means of that religion.

On the other hand, it didn't appear that Buddha himself was a complete atheist. The story goes that after his enlightenment "Brahma" came to him and encouraged him to "teach the Dharma (religion) for the weal of the world." Some traditionalists have assumed that "Brahma" was the Hindu god of creation, while others (myself included) insist that "Brahma" is in fact the Supreme Brahman (the Godhead.) This visitation or inspiration by "Brahma" was said to awaken the Buddha's "heart of compassion" and begin his mission as the Fully Awakened One.

Moreover, there is the story in the Tevigga Sutta (of the Pali canon http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/dob/dob-13in.htm ) that three brahmin (those of the "priestly caste" of Hinduism) came to Buddha with questions about this same "Brahma" (Brahman) and the way to Him. The gist of Buddha's answer was that no one could say what the way to Brahman was, unless they saw Brahman "face to face", as he did. And it is from this sutta, among others, that the famous "Four Divine Abodes" teaching of Buddha originated. In Pali, these were called "Brahmaviharas." English translation: "Abodes of God". These are: 1) loving-kindness or benevolence, 2) compassion, 3) sympathetic joy, and, 4) equanimity. The Buddhist teachings further suggests that a person doesn't have "enlightenment" (Bodhi) unless he is in full possession of these four "abodes."

A Hindu holy man of great renown in the 20th century, Sri Ramana Maharshi, provided about the best summary of Buddhism that you can get. Here is a quote from a book titled "The Teachings of Ramana Maharshi" by Sir Arthur Osborne:

Q. "Buddha is said to have ignored questions about God."

Ramana Maharshi: "Yes, and for this he has been called an agnostic. In fact, Buddha was more concerned with leading the seeker to Bliss here and now, rather than with academic speculations about God and so forth."

Of course, I can't speak for everyone else, but it eventually dawned on me that I couldn't continue.

I wasn't seeing anyone becoming "enlightened," as mentioned in the suttas, and, for as long as I was involved, I certainly never achieved it. (Of course, I'm speaking only from my own experience.)

So I became disappointed and disillusioned with Buddhism because it just wasn't working for me.

And this is a brief summary of my experiences with Buddhism.

Hey. Well I cannot argue your feelings although it has been quite a different experience for me and I have continued to follow but one thing you talked about with hostility. Remember western Buddhism is much different than eastern thought. The western culture in itself has a whole different take on life and this plays a part in how they practice. I am not into any organized religion and one thing I love about Buddhism besides its philosophy is that it isn't about organization its about self advancement and yet selflessness. I do try never to base it on how others practicing it around me portray themselves through it because that in itself defeats the whole the purpose of what Buddha was saying. However if you're not comfortable with it than you would probably being doing yourself a huge injustice by continuing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking out something else for yourself, thats how you grow isn't it? I wish you the very best in your journey.

Edited by stargazer123

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Sri Ramana Maharshi in my view is the greatest sage/mystic that ever existed.

Indeed. He's still one of my greatest inspirations.

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I convinced one of my friends out of Buddhism. There were way too many philosophical problems with the religion.

I don't see how you're in any position to convince your friend against Buddhism, or for him to rely on your word.

You can consider Buddhism a religion or not one, but regardless it doesn't fit what we typically refer to as "religion", being that it's non-theistic and undogmatic. If there's something that Buddhism as a whole seems to generally conform to that you don't agree with, then forget about it. Who cares?

In addition, I'm reminded of the analogy of the finger pointing to the moon. You can't take Buddhist teachings for face value as some type of dogmatic ideology. They're like the finger; they're simply showing you the moon (or the truth). Don't mistake the teachings (the finger) for the actual moon (truth) itself. You have to practice zazen for yourself and come to the realization on your own. My guess is you haven't done this so I don't know why your friend would be convinced by anything you said. Buddhism doesn't involve blindly following some type of "beliefs", and if you or your friend were to sit down and develop a consitent meditation practice and see for yourself, you'd surely become progressively aware of what Buddhism is all about. Without that, you have nothing to base your statements on.

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Hello Korey, and Welcome to UM. I think you will find that there is something for everyone here, and I hope that you will become a contributing member during your stay.

That said, please keep an eye on the dates of the thread you are responding to. There isn't anything inherently bad about necroposting, but it is considered bad nettiquete, and often the people one is responding to aren't even on the board any longer. I will go ahead and close this thread, but please feel free to post in currently active threads, or, if you feel you have an interesting topic, start up a thread of your own. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact the moderating team.

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