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Mon, May 15 2006 - 09:15 PM

My Beliefs

I'm a Unitarian Universalist who devotes a good amount of time to study.

When I was young I went to a Nazarene Church (although it might have been more on the fringe side, I was fairly religious and enjoyed church and even wanted to become a reverend.

But as time went on things started to make me think. For one thing I was at a function at the good revrend's home, and well he seemed to have a lot of expensive things and his home was very richly decorated. It seemed more than his means, it was not what I had pictured.

The Theology was also starting to turn me a foul. I could not accept the church's image of God and the Universe. I could not accept that God (if he cares at all about humans) was an unforgiving master who would only save a small elect and damn all others to an eternity of pain and torture.

Quite frankly, I would rather be damned to hell than serve a God which had little mercy and sent beings to an eternal torment for small mistakes in life or for just simply having a differing view. How does one claim to have the true view anyway? Especially when it gets into the factional clashes within a religion like Christianity.

There were other odd things such as music (except Christian music) being deemed sinful and evil and that Christians shouldn't listen to it.

Then came all the End Times talk. A youth pastor talked about how the US government would send Apache helicopters after the True Christians and a long lecture on how the UPC codes were the 'Mark of the Beast'. Other odd things too. things about refrigerators and other insane twists of the Book of Revelations.

The true final straw was when in an 'Orientation to Adult Life' thingy we were told that we had to marry within the church.... The small local church. At that point I had enough and stopped attending. Interestingly shortly after I left I heard that the Reverend had taken flight after the FBI issued an arrest warrant for his involvement in a Pyramid Scheme.

"If gold rusts what will iron do?"

After that I became Agnostic leaning towards atheism and stayed that way for a couple of years. Then my last year of high school I saw something about meditation and decided to try it, After a while I had what could be termed a 'religious experience' (a vision and a feeling of great comfort and love) and begun searching. So I started studying Buddhism.

Right now I am officially a Unitarian Universalist...

That doesn't mean much to anyone but I have my own mish-mash of beliefs.

I kinda lean towards Buddhist thought though, particularly the Soto Zen school of Buddhism. Although I pull from a bunch of other different places and kind of have my own independent religious view of the Universe. I do believe in something greater though, although it is pointless to argue about it's exact nature in my opinion, even if we could understand it with our limited minds.

That reminds me of a story of St. Augustine:

"God and the Sea"

There is a story told about what happened to St. Augustine as he tried to fathom the mystery of the nature of God. He gave himself to meditating on this mystery. One day as he paced up and down the shore of the sea he saw a child with a bucket in his hand. With the aid of this bucket the boy was fetching water from the sea and pouring it into a small hole in the sand. As he continued this apparently futile task Augustine approached and asked what he was trying to do.

The boy replied that he was trying to pour the sea into the hole that he had just dug. The Saint pleaded with him -- common sense clearly showed that it would be totally impossible to pour the entire sea into such a small hole. The young boy, revealing himself to be an Angel, looked at St. Augustine and replied: "It would be easier to put the entire sea into this little hole than for you to fit the concept of God into your mind.". Saint Augustine was silenced.

I also believe in a kind of reincarnation... In my view the person is made up of at the very least two parts: the Physical Self and the Spiritual Self. Both of these parts make up what we see as a person, how much each plays is debatable. I believe that the spirit is recycled in new life, how this is done, which creatures also have these spirits or souls, and what is in between I do not know.

Even if the spiritual side does not exist, I take comfort in the fact that there is still a type of physical reincarnation. In that everything that makes up you and me was once something else, and when we die our bodies shall decompose and what has composed us will be recycled into the environment.

As for beliefs I feel these words from Shakyamuni are a good way to evaluate beliefs:

"Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias toward a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, 'The monk is our teacher.' Kalamas, when you yourselves know: 'These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,' enter on and abide in them."

-From The Pali Canon, Anguttara Nikaya, 65th Sutta

or (probably paraphrased from the 65th Sutta):

Believe nothing just because a so-called wise person said it. Believe nothing just because a belief is generally held. Believe nothing just because it is said in ancient books. Believe nothing just because it is said to be of divine origin. Believe nothing just because someone else believes it. Believe only what you yourself test and judge to be true.

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