September 6, 2009

Buddhist Cat.

Buddhism is the only major world religion that is non-theistic: it doesn’t require you to believe anything you yourself haven’t experienced, in the famous words of the Buddha. It’s up to you. That said, you can believe in pain:

The basic notion of non-theistic symbolism is that whatever exists in our life-our birth, our death, our sickness, our marriage, our business adventure, our educational adventure-is based on symbolism of some kind. This type of symbolism may not be the vivid visions you see by tuning your system into a mystical state of mind, such as fantastic auras with symbols in the middle.

In fact, from the point of view of non-theism, such perceptions are regarded as bullshit. Maybe you need more rest or another cup of coffee. We do not go along with any kind of high-falluting colorful adventures, cosmic explosions of color after color, or fantastic visions. Looking for magical messages, as opposed to a direct relationship, creates a barrier to understanding symbolism.

In the non-theistic discipline of Buddhism, we do not glorify that because we want to confirm this. Instead we simply go along. We are not denying God, but we are simply trying to approach reality as simply as we could. A tortoise walks and carries a heavy shell; a cow walks along and grazes by itself in a green meadow, depositing its dung; pigeons make their own noises and live on the roof. Things have their own place. They don’t have to be commanded by the higher or the greater, particularly. Things are as they are, ordinary and simple. Seemingly, that is a very simple-minded approach-but actually, it is very profound and extremely deep.

Symbolism usually comes as messages. It is a very simple eye-level relationship: me and my world. You could forget the sky, or the It, Him, or Her. That makes the whole thing extremely simple: there’s no Big Brother watching you. Symbols of all kinds occur throughout our life, and whether you believe it or not, the most penetrating and powerful symbol in our life is pain.

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Bob Weisenberg Sep 2, 2009 10:19pm

Here what I wrote about this topic on my website. (If this is too long for a comment, just let me know and I'll condense it or resubmit it as an article.)


Some of the ancient Yoga sages believed in a very personal God and others believed in an impersonal God, or God as simply the life-force of the universe.

Many religious thinkers define God as “that which is unknowable, but which drives us towards love and goodness”.

Given this commonly accepted definition, almost everyone believes in God. In the end what matters most is that we all agree there IS some universal drive toward making the world a better place, not where that drive comes from.

The result is the same, whether one believes it comes from an unfathomable life-force or a personal divine being. Both are equally mysterious, both can legitimately be called “God”, and both lead us to love, goodness and morality.

The Historical Background

The sages who wrote the ancient Yoga texts were themselves in disagreement about God. Their debates are evident in the three major Yoga texts, the Bhagavad Gita, the Yoga Sutra, and the Upanishads.

In the end the texts themselves allow for the entire spectrum from secularism to traditional religion. That’s one of the things that makes them so amazing and enduring.

In the time of theYoga Sutra (about 2400 years ago) the sages couldn’t agree on whether or not there was a God, and if there was a God, was it a personal God or an impersonal God. So Patanjali cleverly wrote the Yoga Sutra to appeal to all these sides.

Yoga was itself a comparatively rational attempt to deal with all the irrational Gods and rituals of the Indian religious culture of the time. It was quite rebellious in that it wanted to learn about consciousness from direct experience rather than the ancient Vedic hymns and priests.

The more scientifically-minded sages simply made everything they couldn’t accept as reality into a metaphor and moved on accordingly. That’s what they did with the entire pantheon of ancient Gods — they made them into powerful metaphors of our inner stuggles.

And that’s what each of us individually should do today when the texts challenge us with concepts we can’t accept as literally true — turn them into powerful metaphors. The essential message will remain the same.

Bob Weisenberg

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