#Buddhism #Christianity #Islam: All #Religions Work—if you let them…

IMG_1559All religions want the same thing—goodness in general, peace brotherhood compassion and mercy in particular. But their prime proponent visionaries—Buddha, Christ and Prophet—each saw different ways of getting there—non-self and non-craving first, love and forgiveness next, and then finally submission and surrender. And all of them can work, if maybe more appropriate for different groups of people at different times in history…

In 5-600 BC, Buddhism was the perfect message, in a violent greedy war-torn world more or less centered around India, and ready for meditation (and anyone who imagines that the world was calm and peaceful before the advent of religion is tripping). In year 0-100 CE Christianity was spot on target for a world increasingly shifted westward to new fertile ground, the Fertile Crescent, and based on and around Roman power in the Mediterranean, ready for bread and circuses, passion and power…

By 6-700 CE changes in the world order—or lack thereof—were well underway, Rome was gone, and Islamic-style discipline was just right. So that seems like just the opposite sequence a child would go through upon being born, hence proceeding through youth, prime and old age, in order—first discipline and training, then creation and procreation, and finally wisdom and renunciation, analogous to Islam, Christianity and Buddhism, the prophetic religions…

Religions before that time were mostly shamanic and group-oriented, like Judaism and Hinduism to this day. In effect, it seems like the world at that time, or civilization, the world of people, was still being born, coming into being, in utero, until about 410 CE, when all our wildest dreams came crashing down. Then the ancient world ended, and the heyday of Islam began, which ruled until about 1492, more or less, at which time Christianity resumed its run, reinvigorated and ready for action, UNTIL…

Now. Now it’s time for Buddhism to make its comeback, preferably before we all kill ourselves with guns and/or global warming. Civilization now enters its mature phase, older but wiser, and Buddhism is just about right, just like it was 2560 years ago. Sure it could use some updating and fine-tuning, but that should be no problem. Just give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to Science what belongs to Science…

Religion is about certainties, not theories, and Science vice-versa. They should draw inspiration from each other, not heat. Still they can all work perfectly for any one individual, just maybe not best for society at large. Those are the two functions of any religion: individual fulfillment and societal fulfillment. Individuals go through all different phases, and societies do, too, though maybe not every particular society.

But they can all work for an individual because they provide a belief system that gives meaning and puts to an end all the other little nagging questions. And meditation can do that, too, with or without religion, i.e. put your mind at ease. The reason all these different systems ‘work’ is because they do what meditation does: they stop thought, i.e. worry, at least temporarily, by giving us belief, and relief…

So there is an objective and subjective component to each religion, pertaining to the society and the individual, respectively, and this also more or less corresponds to the emphases of the Mahayana and Theravada schools of Buddhism, respectively…

Interestingly, the Tibetan Vajrayana school, the most traditional Mahayanists, also use this Buddhist distinction similar to the way I use the distinctions between Islam, Christianity and Buddhism, with Hinayana (Theravada), Mahayana and Vajrayana the three stages of Buddhist life, at least in Chogyam Trungpa’s ‘crazy wisdom’ view…

Ironically it almost seems like each region’s predominant religion contains its most pathetic adherents, as if the religion specifically chose the people who needed it most, allowing it to adapt the details to fit the formalities. So East Asians are the worst Buddhists, of course, possessive and clinging, and Europeans are the worst Christians, violent and hateful, while Arabs and South Asians are the worst Muslims, if left to their own devices, lecherous and unbridled…

This is why the formalities of any one religion matter little, and underlying philosophy matters most. Whether you wear shoes, whether you eat pork, or whether you attend church or temple, even, are of little consequence, though they once were, of course, as dietary hygiene and membership affiliations. Now what matters most is what’s in your heart and mind, as any religious leader will attest, and all of them promoting sobriety and seriousness, at least for the most dedicated and devoted…

The fact that this seriousness and sobriety is so poorly reflected in our modern society is a testament to how far we’ve strayed from the very foundations of our civilization, so no wonder we’re at the brink of our own destruction, and loving every minute of it. Life is a cabaret, old chum—yeah, right. Uncool is the new cool and straight is the new high, mainlining purity and lifting hands to the sky. It’s time to get serious. We’re playing for keeps here…

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