One idea that kept standing out in different forms in the books and the therapy sessions was this idea of mindfulness. It was presented in many different ways: prayer, meditation, ‘being with’ my emotions, being still. I quickly figured out that in the darkest moments of depression, just simply whispering to myself “I’m sad” made me feel a tiny bit better. When I was having a panic attack, just being still and whispering to myself “I’m scared”, was soothing. I was experiencing the benefit of mindfulness and yet only just scratching the surface.
I was very curious about this, the engineer within me wanted to explore it. Researching this lead me to read more about mindfulness and it’s connection to judgement, attachment, love, compassion, and empathy. Somewhere among the TED talks, the books, the Reddit discussions, these concepts kept coming up associated with Buddhism. I had believed that Buddhism was just another religion where they worshipped Buddha. But as I explored I began to see that there’s truths that I, someone who thought he was a Christian, could learn from Buddhism. And so I explored some more.
I quickly figured out that Buddhism isn’t about worshipping Buddha at all, Buddha was a teacher, no more, no less, and there have been more than one Buddha. Buddhism doesn’t have a deity, or an explanation of how the world was created. Buddhism is more about a compassionate way of living than it is a religion of worship. I liked what I was learning.
The thing I like best about Christianity is it’s message of love, compassion, and social justice. I’ve always been uncomfortable with the fact that in our culture Christians aren’t often seen as a loving, compassionate people. Rather they are seen as hateful people who judge the lifestyle choices of others as right or wrong. Buddism was looking very interesting to me because it’s emphasis was not on the right and wrong but on love, compassion and social justice.
I’ve always felt that one’s salvation is a very personal thing. I’ve never understood why some Christians are overly concerned with other’s salvation. It’s judgement, and it gets in the way of loving. If I think your lifestyle has put you on the path to hell and I’m going to try to influence you back on the path to heaven, I’ve judged you. I’d rather not be concerned with yours or my own salvation, your choices are yours to make and who am I to tell you they are right or wrong? Which one of us is interpreting the Bible correctly? I’d rather put the right and wrong aside, leave judgement out of it. Suffering is a fact of life, and I’d rather help meet people’s needs here and now than try to save them from hell. If I can’t meet their needs, then I want to be empathetic so they don’t suffer alone. This is the Buddhist way of life. This is what attracts me most to Buddhism.